Tag: hormones

Why Some Like It Hot

We’ve explored the health benefits of cold (water) exposure. What about heat?

I decided to explore the health benefits of acute heat exposure in the form of saunas, baths, and steam rooms for one main reason: the sauna is a near-universal human tradition, and I’m always curious about those. Indigenous peoples of North America had the sweat lodge, those of Central America the temazcal. The Romans had the thermae, which they picked up and refined from the Greeks. Other famous traditions include Finnish saunas, Russian banyas, Turkish hammams, Japanese sentó (or the natural spring-fed onsen), and the Korean jjimjilbang. Are all these many billions of people across time and space sitting in heated rooms for the heck of it?

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How Quickly Can You Lose Weight?

Take your average guy or gal that decides they’re committed to finally losing that extra weight that’s crept on over the years. They’re going to eat healthy (primally, of course), start working out, and stop all the nonsense they know to be unhealthy. This might be you.

A few days go by, then a week. The scale is budging, but barely. “This is going to take forever! How long is this going to take?” We all want instant results, right? Well, what is realistic? What is safe? What is effective? And what can you expect when you attempt to lose excess body fat and reach your ideal body composition?

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This One Simple Trick Will Make All Your Meals Taste Better

I have several close friends in the restaurant industry, and whether they’re helming hip eateries or Michelin-rated restos requiring reservations booked months in advance, these chefs and owners are all very good at what they do: giving people food that tastes really, really good and gets them coming back for more on a regular basis. Yes, they pick the choicest ingredients and use the freshest produce. Yes, they employ cutting edge kitchen skills and cooking techniques. But a lot of restaurants do all those things and never get over the hump to become truly great. So, how do they do it?

They have one simple trick. It’s universally accepted among people in the know that hewing to this trick is the key to making it or breaking it in the restaurant industry. That’s how crucial this weird trick actually is. Today, I’m going to introduce it you and explain how you can use it to excel in the Challenge.

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Should You Eat Periodic “Cheat” Meals?

I get a lot of questions about cheat meals. Are they allowed on the Primal Blueprint? Is there a reason someone should actively seek to eat unhealthy food from time to time? The allure of the cheat meal is obvious: you get to eat stuff that’s otherwise off-limits and extremely delicious. You get to throw caution to the wind for a night. It’s like vacation and you’re a food tourist. But are there actual benefits? Today, we’ll take a look.

As I see it, there are three arguments to be made for including periodic — that is, scheduled or preordained — cheat meals in your otherwise solid Primal eating plan.

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How Exercise Makes Us Feel

How did you feel after your last workout? (Apply as many adjectives as fit the occasion.) Now think about how others perceive exercise. Let’s say you stop a random hundred people on the street and ask them how exercise makes/would make them feel. I’m going to guess you’d get an interesting cross-section of answers, likely slanted toward the negative (mostly from people who don’t regularly exercise, but – hey – that’s just MY guess, right?). Call me cynical, but when many people think about exercise, I think their minds go directly to pain, soreness, sweat, and the general unpleasantness of it all. That’s unfortunate to say the least. I’m not going to claim that my most intensive workouts don’t leave me tired or even slightly sore (genuine pain is something different). Nonetheless, I get way too much out of my Primal exercise to feel it’s something to be “endured” – or even avoided. This brings me to those other answers – the ones more likely from folks who exercise on a regular basis (whether their workouts involve gym time, outdoor play, an active hobby or something else). What else does exercise make us feel – in the moment, after the workout and later once the results start showing?

Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

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Why We Eat: Hunger

It sounds like the question of a 4-year-old making his first forays into understanding life, biology, and the nature of the universe: “Mom, why do we eat?” On some level, there’s an answer that’s both basic and true – the kind with which we’d respond to little Junior: “We eat because we’re hungry.” If it – and we – were only that simple…. Beyond the hormonal cues that tell us our bodies need feeding exists an intricate constellation of reasons. They stem from the gamut of higher order thinking, social reference and self-organization that characterize the human mind. And just when you thought the biological picture was at least an easy call, it’s important to note the environmental inputs that can skew our hormonal responses and convince us we need to raid the refrigerator at midnight. (Yes, analyzing human instinct can feel like nailing Jello to the wall.) So, what are the various reasons we eat? What influenced your food intake today? Truth be told, sometimes we’re not even conscious of our simplest motivations. I thought I’d take up the multifaceted question in a series of articles. We spend a lot of time talking about what we eat/should eat, and the why can lead us down some interesting roads in terms of both research and experience. But let’s start today with the fundamental biology behind our food intake.

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Dear Mark: Young Guy, Low Testosterone; RS for Babies; and Sprints vs Tempo Runs

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I answer three questions. First up is a young guy with low testosterone. He eats the right foods, does the right exercises, and has lived the right number of years, but he’s saddled with the testosterone of a much older man and wants to know why. Next, I discuss whether resistant starch is suitable or important for infants. The parents are benefiting from it, but does that mean an infant needs it, too? And finally, I explore the value of tempo runs – tough but doable runs maintained at the anaerobic threshold pace – for fat loss. How do they compare to my favorite fat burning exercise – sprints?

Let’s go:

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Does Skinny Equal Healthy?

Everyone has that friend with an interdimensional portal for a stomach. They eat whatever they want in massive quantities and never seem to gain a pound. They’re skinny, despite their best efforts to the contrary and our barely concealed envy. And everyone assumes that they’re healthy because they’re skinny.

But are they? Is skinny all it’s cracked up to be? Does it always equal healthy? Are these effortlessly skinny people more likely to be healthy than the person who struggles with their weight and has to watch what they eat?

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You Are What You (Think You) Eat

Last week’s post on marketing took me in an interesting turn this week. I stumbled on an article on NPR highlighting a past but very provocative study that I’ve been toying with for a couple of days now. Having spent years researching the placebo effect, Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist and researcher for Columbia Business School, was intrigued by the possibility that food could also be subject to certain physical placebo-generated outcomes. She wondered if our beliefs about a food or drink could influence the effects it physically elicited in us. After all, if what we believed about a sugar pill could make a measurable difference in our physiological functioning, why would a food product be any different? And on that note, weren’t we all being constantly fed (pardon the pun) elaborate messages about the food we bought? Did the variety of labels and claims somehow weave themselves in our mental fabric enough to not only impact our consumer behavior but maybe our body’s responses themselves?

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The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch

A few years back, I briefly covered a throwaway Yahoo! article about how “carbs will make you lose weight” because so many readers had emailed about it. It turned out that the “carbs” in the article were resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that our digestive enzymes cannot break down. I’ll admit now, with regret, that I didn’t look as deeply into the matter as I might have. I didn’t dismiss resistant starch, but I did downplay its importance, characterizing it as “just another type of prebiotic” – important but not necessary so long as you were eating other fermentable fibers. While technically true, we’re fast learning that resistant starch may be a special type of prebiotic with a special place in the human diet.

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