Tag: dear mark

Dear Mark: All Things Sweet (Plus Cheese and Gut Health)

This week instead of focusing on one reader question and giving a lengthy, detailed response I thought I’d change it up a bit by publicly addressing a number of reader questions with quick responses and links to archived posts. Let me know if you like the format. That is, do you prefer an in-depth analysis of a single reader’s question as per most of my “Dear Mark” posts or would you rather see more questions answered in a succinct, to-the-point manner? Give me your feedback and I’ll handle “Dear Mark” posts accordingly. More than likely I’ll do a good mix of both in the future. Thanks, everyone!

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Dear Mark: Fiber, Fat and Fasting

Weekly Reader Mail

Dear Mark,

I have two questions. My first regards training and rest days. Simply, how many days of complete rest should I take for an entire week? I someone who’s been overweight for most of his pre-teen and teenage life, and who was able to lose that excess weight at 17 (I’m 20 now). My current goal is to “look fit” (and be healthy), which primarily entails eliminating the stubborn fat on my body that have refused to go away. If I’m doing three days of high-intensity interval training, for around 15-20 minutes per day, and three days of 1 hour lifting, for a total of 6 days per week with one day of rest, is that doing too much?

Secondly, where do I get most of my fiber on a primal blueprint diet if most high-fiber vegetables can only be attained sparingly (I’m a poor college student)? I’ve been looking around your site for the answer, and the only thing I’ve read mentioned in passing was flaxseed. If that is your suggestion, where can I buy it? I couldn’t find it in the cereal aisle of my local grocer.

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Dear Mark: Best Fruit Choices

Dear Mark,

Right now there are so many kinds of fruit in season at the local farmers’ market. I know that we should limit fruit consumption and that some fruits offer more nutrition and higher antioxidants than others. I live alone and can’t afford to fill my small fridge with 20 different kinds of produce, so I need to make choices sometimes and want to buy greater amounts of highly nutritious food and lesser amounts of moderately nutritious food for variety.

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Dear Mark: Low Energy on Primal Challenge

Dear Mark,

I’m finding that I have low levels of energy in the evenings only. Could this be because my body is still adapting to primal living and adjusting to less carbohydrate intake? How long does this usually last? I’m also finding that after my sessions of intense Muay Thai training, I don’t have the energy the next day to do much of anything regarding exercise. (My Muay Thai routine includes two hours of jumping rope, calisthenics, ab work, sparring, focus mitt work and pad work in 92-93 degree heat three days a week.) Any suggestions?

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Dear Mark: Primal Compromises for Athletes

I’ve been getting a slew of emails lately from marathon runners and other endurance athletes among our group, many in response to our 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. Questions have run the gamut but generally get at how to combine endurance training and Primal Blueprint methodology:

How do I combine a low carb diet with marathon training? (Hint: you generally can’t)

What would you recommend for carb refueling post-race?

Can I even do the PB challenge if I have to adapt the diet for training purposes?

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Dear Mark: Ketosis

Dear Mark,

What are ketones? How does ketosis play into the Primal Blueprint? Did our bodies evolve to run on ketones? If not, why do they exist?

Ketones, to put it briefly, are compounds created by the body when it burns fat stores for energy. When you consume a diet very low in carbohydrates, the body responds to the significantly lowered levels of blood sugar by flipping the switch to another power source. The body converts fatty acids in the liver to ketones. Ketones, then, become the main energy source as long as blood sugar levels remain low.

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Dear Mark: Better Nutrient Forms

Dear Mark,

What’s the story about certain kinds of vitamin C, calcium, etc.? Does it make any difference?

Because we live in a more complicated, modern world with chronic stress, pollution, etc., I always suggest wise supplementation for optimum health. The best supplementation is effectively comprehensive, properly balanced, and efficiently bioavailable. Some forms of some nutrients are simply more readily absorbed than others. Additionally, some forms of certain nutrients are easier on the digestive system than others, particularly in those with stomach sensitivity.

When it comes to food, you want the best your money can buy, and the same thing goes for supplementation. Different supplements (we’ll stick with “multivitamins” for now) fulfill their nutritional claims differently. Some forms of certain nutrients, generally the more bioavailable and stomach-friendly forms, are more expensive than less bioavailable or harsher forms.

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Drink Less Water?

Dear Mark,

I always hear that I should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, but it takes a lot of unnatural effort to get close to that. Is it just me? What’s your take on the water rule?

Best,

Jaime

As you know by now, my job is to question Conventional Wisdom. One of the classic health paradigms I’ve always had a problem with is the blanket recommendation by the general health community that we all should be consuming copious amounts of water. It just doesn’t make sense to me and it never has. Face it, Grok did NOT walk around with a canteen or an Evian bottle affixed to his loincloth. He and the Grok family thought Nalgene was the name of the tribe across the valley and they never owned a sippy cup with which to gulp down mass quantities of H20. Day after day it was a drop here and a mouthful there – if a source of water other than a dewy leaf was even available. Since Grok and his cadre probably didn’t spend too much time hanging around the water hole. (All those predators you know…) 8 glasses of water a day is unlikely a physiological necessity, not to mention an evolutionarily relevant model. Grok obtained most of his water directly from the food he ate, and I believe that we probably should, too.

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Dear Mark: Primal Personal Products?

Dear Mark,

What are your thoughts on using personal products such as lotion, deodorant, or even toothpaste? I use these daily, but it certainly doesn’t jive with my “caveman diet” philosophies.

Thanks to reader Steve for his question. It’s true, old Grok wasn’t exactly getting facials and eyebrow waxings at the spa over yonder. While he might not have been the dusty, grungy figure he’s often made out to be, he was undoubtedly rumpled and unkempt by our standards. Alas, we find ourselves in a much different age, an era of rather obsessive personal sanitization (if you ask me) and more attention to “product” than to health. Nonetheless, few of us are happy to take up residence in a backwoods shack. We’ll readily make compromises to live among the rest of civilization. But, when it comes to lotions, soaps, deodorant, etc., how can we be healthy in the primal sense but still accepted by contemporary, “polite” society? Call it the modern caveman’s/cavewoman’s dilemma.

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Dear Mark: Decline in Mental Energy

Dear Mark,

Have you noticed a decline in mental energy or focus since not doing “cardio”? I have read several reports that indicate that aerobic exercise is best for mental performance. Any thoughts?

Thanks to reader Phillip for his question on the comment boards. I’ve talked a lot over the course of the last few months about chronic cardio and the very real disadvantages of this type of training (higher cortisol levels, oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depressed immune system and decreased fat metabolism, etc.). However, just because I don’t do chronic cardio anymore doesn’t mean I don’t get huge cardio benefits from the high intensity sprints and other interval exercises I do. This high intensity part of my workout is short compared with the hours I used to used to spend training. I choose to consider efficiency as a factor in my training program, and (as I’ve said on a number of occasions) I’ve never felt better than I do now.

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