Tag: dear mark

Dear Mark: Hardgainer

Dear Mark,

I am 6 feet 2 inches tall. I have been eating and exercising in the “evolutionary” or “primal fitness” way for about 18 months, and I was in good physical condition prior to that. I have been lifting weights for years. I am fit and active with a low percentage body fat. My stomach is flat. You can tell that I have abdominal muscles. But here is my hang up: I can’t seem to pack on any extra muscle. I weigh in at 150 pounds. I am the ultimate hardgainer, as they say in the iron game. I’m not looking to become huge. I have a lanky, Jimmy Stewart kind of frame, and no amount of training will turn me into Arnold. But what the heck does a guy have to do to gain a lousy 5-10 pounds of muscle? — Ed

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Dear Mark: Vegetarian Protein Possibilities

In response to last week’s “Encore on Omegas” post, reader dunim asked this question about alternative protein sources:

Mark, how can an active person who doesn’t eat meat or fish and wants to eat minimum soy get good quality protein? Would you suggest whey supplements in case the protein requirements are not met? How much whey is too much?

As everyone and their grandmothers know, I strongly advise a meat and fish eating diet for the most complete nutrition. That said, I know that vegetarians won’t die of protein deprivation. However, they need to make more of a concerted effort to get the full “family” of amino acid building blocks. There are 22 amino acids that the human body uses to manufacture muscle and other vital tissue. Together, these 22 are essential for the body’s repair and regeneration needs. For vegetarians, getting enough of all 22 amino acids generally entails consuming more protein-containing carbohydrates and more calories to get the full amount of necessary protein.

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Dear Mark: Encore on Omegas

The posts involving omega-3s have spurred a lot of discussion and a good number of excellent questions. Thanks to Ed Parsons and company I thought I’d give more time to the topic and see if I can complete the picture a little more. Thank you for your comments and questions.

Dear Mark,

Can you give us some rules of thumb for getting into the 1:1 ratio ballpark? Should I be trying to hit the ratio for every meal, for each day, or by the week, or even over a longer time period?

Just to review, the hailed 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids provides your body with the appropriate balance thought to keep inflammation at bay. I would advise making the ratio a priority each day. Targeting the ratio for every meal can get unnecessarily complicated, and longer spans like a week don’t take into account your body’s constant hormonal production, which is influenced by the fatty acids.

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Dear Mark: Weightlifting Weary

After last week’s great discussion about chronic cardio, we wanted to highlight a related question we received recently.

Dear Mark,

I workout 5-6 days a week and do a lot of weightlifting in my routine. I’ve made good progress in the last several months, but I notice myself feeling more run down lately. Got any advice?

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Dear Mark: Chronic Cardio

Dear Mark,

I’m still having a hard time understanding what “chronic high level training” is, exactly. How much is too much? Is there a heart rate zone you guys can give me? A time limit? Am I overthinking this??

Thanks, Charlotte, for posting this question last week. As is so often the case, another MDA reader (hats off to you, Mike OD!) offered great advice. We thought the question was well worth revisiting. First off, let’s investigate the concept of chronic cardio. Intense cardio as we commonly think of it today means long stretches at a sustained heart rate in the 80+% range.

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Dear Mark: Sugar Cravings

Dear Mark,

I do pretty well in the fitness department, love my veggies and get plenty of protein. My problem is that I can’t seem to shake my sugar cravings. Suggestions?

I get some version of this question on a fairly regular basis. A common theory says that we evolved to crave sweet tastes in order to seek out healthy fruits to diversify our diets. The problem comes in the current age when our inclination is bombarded with the likes of Coco Puffs, Snickers and pudding packs.

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Dear Mark: Family Dinner

Dear Mark,

I come from a big family that loves food. It’s a cultural thing, in part, but it’s also just the way we’ve always celebrated together. In the last couple years, I’ve really gotten myself on track with healthier eating and working out, but I feel a lot of pressure when I’m with the family. I also worry about their health, especially my parents’.

As personal as a commitment to health is, there’s always a social dimension. Whether you’re more health conscious than your family and friends or simply have a noticeably different approach to healthy living, it’s common to find yourself in some uncomfortable situations and conversations.

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Dear Mark: Pondering Protein

Dear Mark,

I hear conflicting advice on the percentage of protein in a healthy diet. How much protein should I be getting?

The subject of protein intake is, as you’ve noticed, a contentious issue. It’s gotten a lot of attention (and scrutiny) since the Atkins and derivative diet plans became all the rage several years ago. Let me first say that, while I can tell you my perspective on protein, it’s not a stand-in for your physician’s advice. Individual health history is crucial to determining appropriate protein intake, and your doctor will be able to look at the full picture with you.

That said, I think high protein diets get a bad rap for a number of reasons. Too many people approach a high protein diet as a free pass to eat whatever meats they crave, and that too often means fatty, cured, conventional meat. They also don’t balance their diet appropriately.

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Dear Mark: Pregnancy Diet Tips for Inquiring Minds

It’s been a good long while since I opened up the proverbial mail bag. Maybe it’s resolutions for the New Year or the extra time off everyone’s had the last week or so, but my inbox has been working overtime with your questions and comments. They’ve run the gamut—questions about everything from herbal supplements to strength training tips to farm policy.
As always, thank you for your thoughts and questions—and, of course, for reading. I try to answer as many messages as I can, but know that the good folks in the forum community offer great perspectives as well.
This week’s round is for all the expectant moms (and dads) in the MDA community. However many of you fall into this category, I’ve received a string of inquiries lately from the expectant set. Congrats, and here you go!

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