Tag: dear mark

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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Dear Mark: Nuts

Dear Mark,

Can you give me more explanation about nuts and seeds? I eat a ton of them and am always confused about which ones are actually nuts and which are seeds and which are legumes. Does it make any difference if you eat them whole, roasted, raw or as nut butter?

Thanks to reader Charlotte for these questions in response to last week’s “Get Primal” post. The classification question does get tricky.

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Dear Mark: Alcohol

Dear Mark,

I keep hearing news stories about how alcohol is good for you, but I wonder how that figures in with the Primal Blueprint. What’s your take? Can I have that beer when I come home from a long hard day at work and not feel guilty?

It’s true that we tend to hear a lot about a given piece of advice publicized again and again with a slightly different spin from varied studies. While researchers will often pursue subjects that are “timely,” I sense the media (popular and even medical journals to some extent) is more the influence in this case.

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Dear Mark: Beans/Legumes

Dear Mark,

I’m a former vegetarian who still enjoys cooking with all kinds of beans. I don’t see them in any of the MDA recipes. What’s your take on them?

Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, etc.) aren’t, by any means, the worst thing you can eat, but they don’t make the ideal meal either. In my estimation, legumes fall into the “O.K.” category with wine, chocolate, cheese and other dairy, etc.

On the upside, legumes offer protein, and they tend to be good sources of several minerals like potassium and magnesium. On the downside, they offer only a moderate at best amount of protein (generally 4-9 grams per ½ cup serving). As the How to Eat Enough Protein post showed, legumes’ protein content is dwarfed by the 28 grams you’d get from a cup of cottage cheese or the 50+ grams you’d get from six ounces of several meats. And this relatively small amount of protein comes with a hefty carb content: as high as 28 grams for that same ½ cup serving!

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Dear Mark: Saturated Fat

Dear Mark,

In one of last week’s Cheap Meat discussions, you said something about ratios and saturated fats and how saturated fats aren’t really the issue in your mind. I might have been missing something in the conversation. Can you fill me in?

The issue of ratios within animal fat was raised by reader Jaana as she shared Cordain’s discussion of the varying polyunsaturated fat content and corresponding omega ratios in muscle meat versus different organ meats. Cordain compares wild game (that we can assume are comparable to the meats our pre-agricultural ancestors ate) with the domestically raised livestock we eat today. As a general rule, the muscle meat of conventional livestock today has less polyunsaturated fat than wild game does. Conventional domestic meat also has more saturated fat than wild game.

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