Dear Mark: Vegetables on a Budget, Low Ozone Sun Exposure, Eating Breakfast, and PrimalCon 2015

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got four questions. First up is from Chris, who wonders whether vegetables are worth buying on a limited food budget. He’s finding it difficult to justify spending money on low-calorie vegetation when fatty meats, avocados, coconut oil, and other calorie-dense foods are available. Is he right? Next, how do low atmospheric ozone levels modify my recommendations for sun exposure? Then, is there actually any justification for the oft-heard claim that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? For some people, maybe. Find out if you’re one of them. Finally, rumors that PrimalCon 2015 has been canceled have been circulating. Could it be true?

Let’s go:

I am 4 weeks into my new Primal lifestyle. My wife has put me onto a $100 budget per week to sort out all my meals (slow cooker is my friend). It didn’t take me long to figure out if I am going to stay satiated I am not going to spend half my budget on spinach and tomatoes that provide little energy/satiation back – I would starve on them eventually. No, I am going to spend my money on energy dense high fat foods such as fatty meats, avocados, coconut oils etc that fill me up for the entire week. I do understand the importance of vitamins and minerals vegetables can provide – I just don’t have the luxury at the moment of them being the predominant item in my shopping basket. I thought that was a good analogy of what Grok might have gone through in lean times, he would have been straight after the high caloric reward foods before he harvested an acre of spinach. Thanks for the website, true to one of the videos I saw of you on YouTube my daily caloric intake has dropped substantially now that I am further into it. I find I am having more money left over in my budget every week which is good. It’s good to be finally kicking that emotional eating to the curb.


I know it’s tough to spend money on what essentially amounts to non-caloric leaves, grasses, and random plant trimmings when hearty chunks of animal flesh beckon. But they really are important, and they don’t have to shatter the budget: nutritious (often moreso than “fresh” vegetables that have been sitting around) frozen vegetables are your friend.

If nothing else, consider frozen spinach. At just 8 ounces a day – or half a pound bag of the frozen stuff costing a couple bucks — you’ll get:

  • Almost 50% of your daily magnesium.
  • Over 100% of your folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K (but not vitamin K2; you still need to eat aged cheese, natto, or take supplements for that).
  • 88% of your manganese.
  • Almost 30% of your potassium.
  • 77% of your iron.
  • And decent progress toward daily levels of vitamins B1 (15%), B2 (33%), and B6 (26%).

That’s a decent chunk of micronutrients, including many of the ones Primal or paleo eaters find themselves lacking (magnesium, folate, manganese, potassium), for maybe a dollar’s worth of essentially non-caloric leaves. And just because spinach is low in calories doesn’t preclude it from filling you up; spinach contains special alkaloids that reduce hunger and cravings, and adding spinach to mixed meals increases satiety and lowers blood glucose.

Pick up a few 16-ounce bags of frozen spinach a week and call it a day. Then, when the budget expands, you can branch out.

Dear Mark,

I would like to ask if all sun exposure is created equal. For instance, take Singapore and New Zealand as examples. While the former possesses a tropical climate temperate, it does not have a depleted ozone layer like the latter. Hence, the former’s sun rays are not scorching, unlike the latter.

While you have preached on the many benefits of getting some sun, should there be a difference in the way we approach our suntanning when it concerns ozone depletion? (i.e., would sun exposure under a depleted ozone layer area be more harmful than beneficial?)

Any light you could shed on this issue would be greatly appreciated.



Ozone depletion makes sun more “nutrient dense.” If Singapore sun is ribeye, New Zealand or Australian sun is grass-fed beef liver. You need far less of it to get the same effect, and going beyond that point grows more perilous. You don’t want to overdose on vitamin A with a pound of liver a day. You don’t want to overdose on UV radiation with an hour of full midday sun under a low-ozone sky every day.

You can still benefit from sun exposure in these conditions, but taking precautions becomes more critical than ever:

  • Avoid burning.
  • Avoid that dry, tight, leathery feeling your skin gets when it’s had too much sun.
  • Know how long it takes for your skin to turn pink and cover up or get out of the sun half way there.
  • Don’t go weeks without sun and then try to “catch up” with a full day of exposure.
  • Acute, infrequent sun exposure (like going on a vacation to a sunny place a couple weeks out of the year and spending the other 50 weeks indoors) is even more dangerous in a low ozone region; chronic, moderate sun exposure is safer and even healthier.

In other words, do everything you already do when getting sun. Only now, there’s less room for error.

Hi Mark,

I’ve looked through your blog and while you have many posts about eating/skipping breakfast, I’m interested to know how the conventional breakfast recommendation to “eat within 30-60 minutes of waking up” came to exist. I’ve been trying to do a little research on the web and through pubmed myself, but am coming up empty handed. From what I have found…there is no research to back it up; it’s just nutritional dogma that keeps getting perpetuated.


If skipping breakfast works for you, as it does for me, keep skipping it. You can’t fix what isn’t broken. But I wouldn’t say there’s no research. There is some indication that for some people, breakfast helps:

Breakfast skippers who aren’t losing weight on their current eating schedule. Skipping breakfast can be a boon for easy weight loss. But some people just don’t do well with a morning fast (or any fasting). Women in particular seem more likely to respond poorly to skipped breakfasts.

Breakfast skippers with ravenous hunger early in the day. If you’re hungry in the morning, eat! Don’t try to hew to some imagined optimal eating pattern. Just because typically skip breakfast doesn’t mean you should. I skip breakfast because I’m not very hungry in the morning — that’s it. If I’m hungry, I eat. When you do eat, make sure to get enough protein. A big protein breakfast can really help stave off hunger and keep you sated through lunchtime. A study in breakfast-skipping adolescent girls found that high protein breakfasts reduced their neural response to food stimuli later in the day, suggesting that steak and eggs for breakfast makes cafeteria chicken nuggets and French fries far less appealing.

Breakfast skippers who have trouble getting to sleep at a reasonable time. Food is a circadian entrainer, and eating late at night can blunt melatonin secretion and disrupt circadian rhythm. Women with “night-eating syndrome” — characterized by, well, eating at night — have their nighttime melatonin secretion delayed.

Breakfast skippers who have trouble waking up in the morning. Animal studies show that the timing of food availability conditions wakeup time. You feed a rat breakfast on a regular basis and it’ll start waking up earlier to get the food. Rodents even display distinct “food anticipatory activity” in the hours just before their regular mealtime if the master circadian clock is damaged or removed, suggesting evidence of an independent “food-entrainable oscillator” that responds to food intake schedules. Similar results in other mammal and primate studies lead me to believe that humans may also have it.

Breakfast skippers who are type 2 diabetics — or perhaps even related to them. Type 2 diabetics seem to benefit from getting more energy earlier in the day and less energy at night. Type 2 diabetics who eat larger breakfasts and smaller dinners experience lower daily blood sugar than those who eat smaller breakfasts and larger dinners. And these breakfasts should contain a nice whack of protein; a recent study in type 2 diabetics found that high-protein breakfasts, relative to high-carb breakfasts, induce lower insulin responses to subsequent lunchtime meals.

How to do it? Well, just eat, making sure it contains a good amount of protein — about 25-30 grams at least. Even if you have to force yourself to eat, the presence of the above symptoms may indicate that you’ll benefit from breakfast, or that it’s worth trying. It’ll get easier, too, the more you do it. The more you eat breakfast, the more your body will expect it, and the hungrier you’ll get earlier in the day.

If you’re happy skipping breakfast, and pleased with your progress, keep skipping it. Evidence suggests that habitual breakfast skippers have better responses to skipping breakfast anyway, while habitual breakfast eaters suffer more hunger, decreased satiety, and higher insulin responses to lunch when they skip it. If things aren’t working, though, consider breakfast.

Mark, I heard that PrimalCon has been canceled this year? Is it true?


Unfortunately, I must admit with a heavy heart that it’s true, PrimalCon 2015 has been cancelled. We could not supply the resort with an adequate amount of reservations by the severe financial deadline they specified, so they had to release our contract with them for those allotted days.

We’ve had a fantastic run of 9 PrimalCons across North America over the past five years, but frankly these events are very difficult to justify from a business standpoint. Since I still love to connect with primal enthusiasts in person, we may consider the PrimalCon Vacation model in the future, where we simply descend upon an all-inclusive resort and everyone gets to enjoy a vacation, even our staff and presenters. Thanks for your support!

To wrap up this edition of Dear Mark I’ll leave you with the following teaser video and details about an episode of the new paleo cooking show Camille’s Paleo Kitchen I’ll be appearing on:

Camille’s Paleo Kitchen Episode 3: Paleo Myths & Fast Paleo Tricks with Mark Sisson airs Tuesday night at 5:30PST/8:30EST on FoodyTV. You can also view it on

That’s it for this week, folks. Comments? Concerns? Additional advice for Chris, Josiah, or Brenna? Add ’em below!

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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91 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Vegetables on a Budget, Low Ozone Sun Exposure, Eating Breakfast, and PrimalCon 2015”

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  1. Frozen vegetable are amazing. Not only do they last so much longer than fresh (and cost less) but they often go on sale which regular produce does not. I keep an eye out for BOGO’s at Publix on frozen veggie and clear out the shelves of my favorite kinds.

  2. I don’t know how one spends $50 a week on Spinach and tomatoes. I buy about 10 lbs of produce for around $30 a week, all organic, at the farmers market.

    1. It’s very easily done when one doesn’t live where farmers markets are available year round. During the winter months (what I like to call the deep freeze), all produce we buy is imported from the USA or Mexico usually, which significantly jacks up the price.

      1. There’s other ways around it. I’m fortunate enough to have a Costco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and a farmers market within 1 mile of each other. If you have a Costco, they have frozen organic broccoli for ~$1.50/lb, bags of avocado’s for cheap, etc. Frozen veggies are also cheaper and more price stable compared to seasonal veggies.

    2. I live in San Francisco and $40-50 per person per week is about what it costs for produce. A single bunch of organic spinach is $3 (we use a bunch a day for 2 people). Kale and chard, around S2.49 a bunch (one per day). Organic tomatoes. $3-4 per pound. Carrots are $1.99 per pound. Those are Safeway prices, not Whole Foods. I’m starting to buy non-organics because our income doesn’t rise in synch with food prices..

      1. SuzU carrots are roughly .90/lb when you buy the 5 lb bag from Whole Foods. They are meant for juicing but they are a huge bargain and are a staple in our house. Also, look up the lowest pesticide load foods that you don’t need to buy organic. These include avocados and cabbage to name just two right off the top of my head.

      2. Forget Safeway – prices at Trader Joe’s are way better on produce (often you can get organic for same price as Safeway conventional) and quality is also way better (I’m also in the SF area).

        1. I mostly shop at TJs and at my local butchery – one of the very few left where real blockmen with real skills break down actual carcasses. I can regularly get grassfed beef and Mary’s Chickens there. Grassfed beef from Marin Sun Farms is $9.99/lb at Guerra’s; when TJs has grassfed, it ranges around $7.99/lb, but seeing the packaging declares Australian, Venezuelan, and US ingredients, I’m rather iffy. I’d rather buy Marin Sun meat even if it’s more expensive.

          I used Safeway as an example of a generic supermarket I very rarely shop there, but stopped in on Saturday on my way home from work to pick up some detergent, and checked the veggie section out of curiosity because one of my coworkers said the chain now stocks a good range of organics.

          I bought spinach at TJs last Thursday: organic spinach was $2.99 for a 1lb bunch. We use a lot of spinach because it’s one of the few veggies my husband actually likes. We have a green smoothie for breakfast every day – heavy on greens and light on fruit.

          Eggs from pastured chickens are not easily available. I go to the Alemany Boulevard Farmers’ Market when I can – I’m working Saturdays at present, making it impossible – where there are one or two vendors selling these eggs for $6-$8/dozen.

          I already buy non-organic versions of foods outside the dirty dozen. I get these from my local greengrocers, where the prices are better than Safeway. I prefer supporting small businesses within easy walking distance of my home.

        2. I shop at Safeway because the next grocery store–a Smith’s–is 80 miles away. So is Sam’s. Costco is is over 100 miles away, and there isn’t a Trader Joe’s I know of within driving distance. But my weekly grocery budget for a family of six is about $150. That’s taking into account what we spend on local milk and eggs, and the price per lb. we paid for a whole beef and pig.
          You might try looking into Azure standard and seeing if they have a drop in your area. Fresh and frozen veggies are much cheaper from them, if you have the space to buy in bulk.

    3. My guess would be it was a bit of exaggeration…or he simply lives in an area where food prices are higher.

      Now that it’s getting warmer, I’m skipping the farmer’s market and getting most of my vegetables as local as they can be….my backyard. 😀

      1. I just dug through the foot of snow still covering my backyard and failed to find any veggies in my garden… Don’t take for granted how lucky you are if you can grow things in March.

        1. Not harvesting anything yet. Just got the seeds planted in a few pots last weekend. Should be seeing the kale, spinach, and lettuce sprouting soon.

    4. I agree. First of all, only in the first world is $100 a week considered a “limited” budget.

      Second, you have to make your choices. Who says you have to buy the expensive stuff? I rarely buy fresh tomatoes because good ones cost so much. Greens can be expensive. So my staples are broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, beets, and squash (in season). And apples. I just bought a bag of organic carrots for 79 cents at Trader Joe’s — only about 10 carrots, granted, but still a darn cheap snack.

      Also, the LW should look into a CSA bin if they are available where he is. Mine is $15 per bin, which holds enough to eat a ridiculous amount of vegetables for a week. And as others have said, frozen veggies are good too.

  3. What about being outside and staying in the shade? My Sicilian fiancee lives and breathes to be on the beach. Her skin turns darker within 30 minutes, and she will stay out the from sunup to sundown if I don’t nag her. She’s good about reapplying sunscreen but I worry about her skin health 10+ years from now.

    1. Find her some photos of how ageing sun damage is, that may work where health concerns don’t.

  4. I love frozen veggies for an economical option. I can’t wait till my Farmer’s Market re-opens too– they have better prices than the grocery stores!

  5. That’s sad about Primal Con. I could never go but it was nice to see that much Primal enthusiasm. I notice the number of folks logged in to the forum is down too. Hopefully folks aren’t getting fickle since this is not a fad diet. I saw the same thing happen with Atkin’s and that was the first real path that actually worked.

    1. People have probably found their happy place, and no longer need Mark’s (or anybody else’s) guidance.

      1. +1 Wenchypoo. Now that I’m going on 4 years of my primal journey, I feel like I have most of the knowledge that I need to keep myself at optimum health so I don’t check MDA everyday like I used to, or log in to the forums at all since I have no more burning questions that I really need answered. I mostly just check MDA now for Sunday’s Link Love looking for new information. It’s bittersweet, but also totally natural.

  6. I live in Houston, TX, so perhaps being closer to the border helps with cheaper prices, but I still about fell out of my chair at the idea of $100 a week for groceries.

    For $30 a week I have more vegetables than I know what to do with and for $30 EVERY OTHER week I come home with 2 weeks worth of eggs and meat. That adds up to $120 a month on tons of produce + $60 on protein. Every other month I might shell out an extra $30-50 to replenish my oils (olive, coconut, nuts, etc).

    I feel like I eat like a king – and while I live alone, I also frequently cook larger meals to share with friends and family, which is included in my budget.

    Learn to shop on sale and appreciate the cheaper vegetables. You don’t have to get the $4 thing of parsley. $10 easily gets you a big bag of carrots, a big tub of greens, and a bag of bananas. OR – $10 gets you 2 of those huge $5 bags of frozen cauliflower/beans/carrot mixes. And those mixes are pretty tasty in a stirfry.

    If you are spending $100 a week on just meat/fats alone, reconsider shopping on sale. I don’t mean to be mean – just – you wife is being pretty dang reasonable if that’s the budget you have.

    1. I don’t think it’s hard at all to spend $100 just on “Primal” meats a week, that is grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and pork, etc. I could buy three times the meat I buy now if I bought conventionally-raised meat.

    2. $30 for two weeks worth for eggs and meat? Impossible, even if going for “low” cuts and offal; not to mention free range/organic eggs and grass fed beef. So how do you do it? I just spent $30 on 12 ounce steak (granted more then I planned but I had a hard workout and I didn’t have a steak in days), 2 pounds of beef (ribs meat) cubes for stew (all grass fed) and 4 Avocados. Granted, meat is expensive at my part of the world but still. For example: butter from grass fed beef cost a whooping $5, red or black raspberries cost between $2.25 – $3.75 for a box of 300 grams (and that’s on the low side as some places have the nerve to charge triple that), but I rather spend it on these and eat a small portion, then on Bananas (which I do like but cost $1.5 and up for two pounds though) or apples. Big head of Romain lettuce on the other hand could be had for about a dollar so I usually get two of them; and I haven’t mentioned our other cost of livings and lower income. Being primal is wonderful but carry a heavy price tag. And for that alone, I toy with the idea of moving back to the States …. (;

      Great Q&A today and so was that of Monday.; Thanks Mark!

      1. I don’t eat a ton of red meat. I mostly eat fish – it’s significantly cheaper and doesn’t leave me feeling lethargic like red meat does. To each his own. I suppose if I were eating more red meat, that would be more expensive.

        Eggs are 2.5 a dozen organic for me – and I go through a 1.5 dozen a week. So 2 weeks worth of eggs = $7.5.

        Meat, I usually eat fish or chicken. I don’t care too much for red meat, and I’ve never liked pork, so I have no idea how much those usually costs. A good bag of wild frozen salmon usually is $8-12 at Trader Joes or Costco. Tuna/canned fish I also eat without shame, and it’s pretty cheat at the dollar store.

        I watch for chicken breasts at the whole foods near me and every other month they go on sale for $3-4 a pound and I stock up. Sometimes I grab a Costco rotisserie chicken for $6, and that’s a good 5-7 meals of meat + soup for broth.

        It’s not rocket science, but Paleo hasn’t been very expensive for me. Maybe I’m just boring :p I suppose if you were super into expensive meats, it could be way more expensive.

        1. That doesn’t sound boring at all! But like I said, good quality food is very expensive in my neck of the woods; I just didn’t imagine by how far – except for grass fed beef which is expensive no-matter where you are. Organic eggs for instance cost me $5 which double the the US. I don’t eat too much chicken but when I do, I end up paying around $3 a pound for whole one (not organic but without added hormones and antibiotics); for breast, thighs etc expect to pay double. Fish is expensive just the same and in particular if aiming for wild fish (farm raised Norwegian Salmon cost about) $12 a pound, so you see that no matter how you look at it it’s expensive. That’s why I stock on canned Sardines or Mackerel in olive oil when they go on sale – still around $1.25+ a can. Am I envy of your excess to lower priced good? Certainty! And maybe it is time to move again… 10 years is along time to be away… but the again, the weather is great here and the Mediterranean is 10 minutes away… (-: Cheers!

        2. Pastured eggs here in yuppy-ville are between $8-$9/dozen! For a family of 4, we go through a lot of eggs–my monthly egg budget alone is $40. Sometimes we get the cheaper pseudo-pastured, organic, vegetarian-fed “cage-free” eggs for $5/dozen, but still it’s expensive.

          If only my husband would build me another chicken coop (we halted a near completed project when my youngest was very allergic to eggs. Not realizing it would not be a permanent thing, we didn’t complete it and gave our chickens away). Sigh!

    3. Living in CT, we spend over $100 a week EASILY thanks to buying organic produce and grass fed beef. Our budget is almost $200 and we struggle to stay under that. It’s expensive to eat healthy in some places.

      1. That’s really expensive – I admit I don’t buy organic produce. I buy as good quality as i can get, but I don’t have budget for organic and farmer’s markets aren’t really around in a city.

        1. I have a membership to Restaurant Depot. They have fantastic prices on big bags of spinach and spring mix. Like a 3.5 pound bag of spinach for about $4 and same size of spring mix for about $6. I don’t go that often because it’s in The Heights, but if you wanted to go half or something, we should get together.

    4. I would find it so helpful if you would list a breakdown of what you buy and where for a week. I live in Austin and I spend about $100/week just for me, and a lot of the stuff I buy is conventional!

      1. I use a mix of Kroger, HEB, Fiesta Mart, and the 99Cent store produce sections.

        -Greens; huge spring mix for $5; heads of Romaine/Green leaf/Kale for $1-2 each. Sometimes I get the giant bags of cut kale for $3 each. Kroger also often has reduced price, bruised produce that I watch for.
        -Carrots; 99c a pound bulk
        -Berries; these tend to go on sale at Kroger every few weeks for 1.50-2.50 a thing for strawberries/other berries.
        -bananas; 39c a pound

        FiestaMart/99cent store
        -This really varies, but I tend to find bell peppers, avocados, tomatoes, apples, pears, citrus, melons, cucumbers, and other vegetables on sale from 25cents to 75cents apiece per item.
        I get carrots, greens, and bananas every week, and the rest of my produce haul just depends on what’s on sale.
        The 99cent store product section is AWESOME – and I can often find gems like a whole head of cauliflower for 99cents.

        -Sometimes I just find myself at HEB, and I’llg et about the same things as Kroger there. I usually go to HEB if I want something from a bulk bin like nuts.

        Eggs = I get them wherever they are cheap. Meat is similar. Usually I go to the store for the purpose of produce, and I browse by the meat section and get the proteins as they go on sale. I very rarely pay full price for a meat product of any kind, unless I am at Costco once in a blue moon.

        Coconut oil = Costco once every few months. I usually find bulk nuts on sale at Kroger or HEB once every few months and will stock up then, but Costco is cheapest if I get in a pinch.

        CVS also tends to have super cheap almonds/peanuts for making your own nut butters.

        Hope that helps!

    5. If you have any Aldi stores in Houston you could easily stay within a $100 budget. It depends on what you’re buying, but even a fifty dollar note will go a long way further there than elsewhere. They have a good range of fruit, fresh and frozen vegetables, and meat and a fair selection of seafood, canned and frozen. (Though I’m talking about here in Australia and can’t speak for the States)
      Also when I go to the other stores for the few things I can’t get at Aldi, I’ll check the green grocery department for special offers. I’ve got some real bargains that way.

  7. “Animal studies show that the timing of food availability conditions wakeup time. You feed a rat breakfast on a regular basis and it’ll start waking up earlier to get the food. Rodents even display distinct “food anticipatory activity” in the hours just before their regular mealtime…”

    Clearly the authors of this research have never owned dogs (or cats, although I find the kitties are less annoying about this). Daylight Saving Time only fooled the furry family members for a few days before we moved back to histrionics every morning about being fed. And every day it’s slightly earlier than the day before that…

    1. When I first read the article, I read “You need a rat breakfast on a regular basis.” I wasn’t ready to go THAT primal.

    2. One of my dogs wakes us up on the daily by staring into our faces and clicking his nails all over the bedroom floor because he is SO excited for breakfast… we’ve slowly changed the time from 5:50am (WHY) to about 6:25am… our alarms don’t go off until about 6:30. Sometimes I feel like we’re not feeding him enough but he looks fantastic, so I think he’s just super pumped for food!!

  8. I can’t imagine fully skipping breakfast but it does happen about 2 hours after I wake up, sometimes more and that’s fine with me. I buy all the fresh produce I can but have nothing against frozen, especially when things are out of season.

  9. I have adapted to breakfast. I used to never eat breakfast so I’ve experimented with skipping and it doesn’t work that well for me anymore. Immediately after waking up food looks disgusting, but 45 minutes later I’m starving and look forward to a large amount of protein and fat.

  10. Ok, I’m moving to Texas Celeste. Our farmer’s markets are consistantly twice the price for veggies or more. Sadly here in the middle of the farmland where we live, perhaps the assumption that we are all wealthy folks, the price at the farmers markets is way too high. I would rather support that industry than the imports from Mexico or big hot houses but it’s only a treat once in a while to eat local produce.

    1. Should move to Texas anyhow. Real Texas, not those wannabe’s in South Oklahoma around DFW.

      1. Noted….. maybe I’ll move to someplace way out and have chickens and maybe some other animals…. and a garden!!!

        Our pastured local eggs are 9 to 12 a dozen here in NW Oregon, which is way too rich since we eat about 4 to 6 dozen eggs a month.

        I buy grass fed animal meat when it gets down to $6-something a pound, normally it’s almost $9 a pound.

        I like the idea of Texas, I have a friend who moved there, nothing but good from her about where she is.

  11. A little over a week into the 21 day challenge and I’m feeling great. The “late breakfast, early dinner” thing is working for me. Even though I wake up around 4 I don’t eat until 8 (okay, I have black coffe before 8 but I don’t eat”) then after 5 pm I dont eat again for 15 hours. So far, it’s been easier than I thought it would be.
    I did a 9 day fast once. I don’t reccommend it, but one thing I learned is that eating nothing is easier than eating a little. Maybe that is why just saying, “Okay, I’m done.” At 5 is easier than negotiating late night snacks with myself.
    And guess what? You cannot starve to death between dinner and breakfast. Who knew??

  12. I’m not a fan of frozen spinach cause when it thaws it wilts… or you have to eat it warm and I absolutely cannot stand hot or canned spinach. A spinach salad, though? Heck yeah!!! My local Costco and Sam’s club both sell a large container of organic baby spinach for about $5-$6. One container provides enough spinach for me to have a salad 6 days a week for lunch, to shred some into some eggs on the weekends, and to use as a side salad at dinner. Often times I have left over. One container can last me 1-1.5 weeks if kept in the fridge. If I had to choose between spinach and tomatoes, I’d take the spinach. Also, Trader Joes sells a smaller bag for $3 of organic, baby spinach that will last me exactly 6 days if used for lunch salads only. So if you’re budget is $100 a week, you should be able to get some spinach. Honestly, my family isn’t on board with being primal (yet) so I shop for groceries as though I’m eating alone. I spend about $250 a month at Costco and Trader Joe’s. You just need to read the labels a lot. 🙂 And, FWIW: Costco’s coconut oil is a way better deal than Trader Joe’s is.

    1. I eat spinach everyday for breakfast with my bacon and eggs. The only way I will eat it now. After I fry my bacon I fry my eggs in the same bacon grease then after my eggs are done I throw in a handful of spinach in the grease for about 30 second until wilted. It’s awesome.

      1. Same here, or I add a big handful of spinach to scrambled eggs. Its a sure-fire way to make sure I get greens for the day.

  13. Mark – do please consider a vacation PrimalCon. I missed Tulum, but with adequate warning (for the cost) would love to combine vacation with being able to completely relax about food choices, learn from wonderful experts, and get solid workouts in every day.

    1. +1
      And make it someplace to bring the family!
      Have kiddie primal activities while mom & dad take in a lecture (or a snooze… that’s primal too).

  14. I’ve turned into a breakfast skipper ever since I started drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning. So I don’t know if this is technically skipping breakfast, since I blend my coffee with one tablespoon of grass-fed collagen, a tablespoon of brain octane oil, and two tablespoons of ghee. Well over four hundred calories. Nonetheless, it’s still not solid food, which I’ve actually lost a craving for in the morning time.

    I’m wondering if any of you lovely primal geniuses might have some advice for me, as a twenty-four-year-old girl who’s on the smaller side. (People even tell me to gain weight sometimes.) Ever since going off the birth control pill a year and a half ago, I haven’t had another cycle. Nada. Zip. I have a history of disordered eating (restrictive diets, veganism (lol), etc.) so I think my lack of a menstrual cycle might be a combination of that and having been on the birth control pill for five years.

    ANYWAY, my question is, as someone who is already at risk for not being fertile, is intermittent fasting not suggested? The link Mark posted above about women and IF has me thinking. But bulletproof IF is different than regular IF though, and I know that other women have said that they do okay on BP IF. I’m trying to get my period BACK with this diet (high-fat/low-carb/primal) so I don’t want to be doing anything to negate my efforts.

    I might have gone a little off topic here, sorry, but the question about breakfast skipping sparked my interest! I would greatly appreciate any advice!

    1. Calories, my dear. Let your body know it is safe to come out and support another functional human being. And give it time. Also, pull back on your exercise regimen. You may be over-stressing your body and giving it a rest for a while will not turn you into a bowl of goo. I do not mean binge watching Dr. Who, but rather, eliminating the low-intensity long-duration stuff like the treadmill.

    2. Jenni, check out this post by Stefani Ruper for a more in-depth look at the potential issues for women:

      I don’t think every woman responds the same way, and I also think there is a difference doing a BP fast versus a true reduced eating window. Irregular periods are a fairly common complaint, though, and it seems worth looking into. I think if I were you I would do a self-experiment – maybe a 30-day span of eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. See if you see any changes in your cycle. Also, I might try taking my temperature each morning at the same time to check if you see variation – that’s a common way to track ovulation, so you can see ahead of time if your body is responding and you have ovulated.

      It’s possible you may be eating fewer calories than you think. I’ve had a history of eating disorders as well, and it took me awhile to get the hang of eating enough. I am sure you are trying to stay away from obsessive tracking if you were very restrictive before, but if you put a couple of past days into FitDay or something just to see where you are landing, that could give you a sense of how much more you might need to add in. At first I would occasionally eat a tablespoon or two of cashew butter to make sure I was getting enough, because I was landing really low on calories. Just a few ideas. Good luck!

    3. Ever had your thyroid checked? I went through a stretch of not having a cycle for about 8 months. A few months after starting thyroid hormone replacement, it started up again. Good luck.

    4. Based on what you’re saying, it’s highly likely that your amenorrhea is due to being underweight. Female athletes that train at high levels and eliminate too much of their body fat deal with similar issues. Perhaps you might consider figuring out how many calories you’re actually consuming in a day. Less is not necessarily better for women if they’re wanting to protect their eggs/fertility. If your body fat is under 13-17% of your total weight, you might really want to consider eating more and more often. I would say (based on the way our country looks overall) that most people are trying to lose or maintain weight with the primal lifestyle, so if intermittent fasting works for them, it’s probably not what you want to be doing. I’m not a doctor or dietician, so take that for what it’s worth. What we consider to be an “ideal body” based on fashion industry/Hollywood aesthetics is often very unhealthy, particularly for women concerned with their fertility, actively TTC, or trying to maintain/sustain pregnancies.

    5. My wife and I both have BulletProof coffee in the morning. Mornings I go to the gym, I eat eggs AND BulletProof coffee otherwise I just do BulletProof Coffee IF 4 out of 7 days. My wife on the other hand does BulletProof IF pretty much whole week. She loves it and has had no issues so far.
      If you feel amazing on BulletProof coffee keep doing it. But you want to get your vitamin D levels tested (it’s needed to make sex hormones). Do you know your current D3 levels?

    6. It took my daughter about a year to get her period back after getting off birth control pills. She did not have any dietary changes either.

    7. Play with carb levels. Not all women (not all people!) do well on “low” carb (depending on what you mean by that). My body completely wigs out below 150 g net carbs per day, including menstrual effects. Going too-low carb can also affect the thyroid for a lot of people, which can affect hormones.

  15. What about the oxalic acid in the spinach? Spinach is, admittedly, way way yummier than kale and collards, but if that’s going to be your only veggie seems like you’d do better to choose a veggie whose nutrients are more bioavailable.
    I’d add some sweet potatoes and onions, which are both cheap. The onions have flavor and antioxidants, the sweet potatoes have nutrients and carbs, and a zero-carb diet isn’t really “paleo” in the historical sense of the word (Grok ate tubers). The sweet potatoes also have some reasonable calories per dollar.
    Have some almonds/sunflower seeds for the magnesium, sardines for the calcium, and liver and sweet potatoes for the vitamin A, and now you only have to eat 1/3 pound of kale/collards per day…

  16. Here in Las Vegas (NV) we have the same problem of high produce prices. I feed a family of 4 (myself included) and our grocery bill is roughly $1,000 per month, half of that coming from produce, and that’s not eating out, all meals are prepared at home. I shop at farmer’s markets when practical, but often times they are so far from where we live that the price of gas is not worth it. We have to make compromises for the things that are important to us, and our health should be top priority.

  17. I feel for the guy and the $100 budget. It adds up VERY quickly, especially when you’re as overweight as I am and need to eat more than a 150-pound person. Restarted eating this way last week and I got my burst of energy a few days later. I stopped briefly because it was too time consuming to cook every single solitary meal every single weekend, but these moments remind that it’s worth it! Last Friday, my boss brought in bagels (and I LOVE a good bagel) and I wasn’t even tempted. This afternoon, my office manager brought in donuts and I felt no craving at all. Even when I was in pain because I ate too much for lunch on my old diet, I would always find room (and, more importantly, CRAVE) for one of those treats. It’s absolutely fascinating how this works, plus the 3″ lost around my waist isn’t bad either.

    1. Hi Susan, it’s Chris here that was in the article above (Mum I’m famous! How exciting). Yes first of all it’s Australian dollars and a tray of 100g spinach cost about $3 over here and I could easily go through one a day by breakfast time ($21 gone), it costs me about $25 to fill a slow cooker up with meats, fats, coconut creams, frozen vegetables and then divvy that up into 7 dinners for the adds up pretty quickly, a big tray of sausages for the week is $15 to do the lunches, a block of cheese is $10, a bag of almonds to nibble on is $12 to $14 – not all primal but I am going for high fat in these early stages, getting started rather than getting perfect. On top of that I am pretty over weight and eat like you said more than a 150 pound person. Then on top of that I have just come from a history of high carb eating and have to train my stomach to run off fats more efficiently, which made me hungrier again. Before all of this a ‘drive through’ cappuccino on the way to work would cost me $4.20 ($30 a week). I hit a massive boost on the weekend when I realized it was 2:30 in the afternoon and I had simply forgotten to eat that day…it is amazing to be running off fat! I can relate to how you don’t have the cravings, eating after dinner was a big one for me and now I just don’t have to worry about it. Fasting and feasting instead of grazing! I can relate to your story and am happy it is working for you to. I hope the people at work see me lose 50kg so I can start evangelizing this lifestyle. Thanks for your support in the comment. I can see comments are going to come fast and heavy but I would be lucky to have spent $50 on food this week, just haven’t been interested in eating really, which is great for my particular situation. I take that to mean I am hopefully running off body fat for a change.

      1. P.S. I don’t know where some of these people got the idea I am not eating vegetables, I wrote that I don’t have them as the predominant item in my shopping basket. How could you expect to go primal and not eat vegetables anyway? I was eating 4 meals a day which puts the cost of each meal at $3.50 a meal AUD. A cup of coffee costs more than that. If I had a punnet of spinach a day that would be a 1/5 of my budget gone. I’m just not loading up on them as the centerpiece of my meal at the moment.

  18. My docs told me to avoid spinach (and most other greens) because of oxalates. (I have had kidney stones in the past, although I think that was from taking too much D3 without K2.) A nephrologist told me to just get some calcium at exactly the same time as high oxalate foods. There is some research to support this.

    But the thought occurred to me that, as Alicia mentioned, the calcium is not very bioavailable because of the oxalates. So why would I need to take calcium with spinach? The calcium in the spinach is going to bind up the oxalates in my intestines rather than in my kidneys.

    However, this morning I had spinach with some aged, pastured cheese on it. Because I wanted to. But not sure how that all comes out in terms of nutrients.

  19. Regarding sun exposure. I live in the Austin area and last year we experimented with all of us, me, my wife, and daughter going without any sun screen. We didn’t burn, ever, any of us in the Texas sun.

    We were using at home and our work and school lunches no industrial vegetable oils. Grass fed butter, lard, coconut oil for cooking oils. Yes we went out to restaurants and I am sure we got some industrial vegetable oils.

    But our o6/o3 ratio had to be better than ever before.

    I was lucky enough to go to PrimalCon last year. Bummed it was cancelled. Very special experience. I didn’t use sun screen and had a lot of sun exposure. No burn.

    I think people are burning up, literally, because their skin cells have fake fats in them now, and they just burn much easier. Now will the three of us never burn? No. But vastly improved ability to not burn in the sun.

    Frozen organic veggies can be a great value. We use them in our daughter’s school lunches a lot.

    1. I burn because my ancestors lived in Scotland. They passed to me the ginger gene. There may be those lucky folks who can be in the sun all day without issue. I am not one of those no matter how I eat.

    2. Again – regarding sun exposure. That is what we have found my husband and I do not burn anymore and are in the sun more than before. Wondering if it was due to the diet change and less chemicals being ingested. Is there a study on that?

  20. Check out Costco! They have an ever expanding selection of organic produce and other organic products. Examples: 10-pound (!!!) bag of organic carrots for $4.69. Three gigantic bunches of organic celery stalks for $3.something. 2-lb bag of organic broccolettes for $4.99.

    I live in California, so I don’t know if the selection is the same in the rest of the country.

  21. Many here are complaining about the “high” prices they are paying for produce. I would like to give a shout out to the small farmers who supply our food, It is a lot of hard work for not much reward monetary wise. Anyone who can grow their own produce should give it a try or at the very least, if possible volunteer to work on a farm for a week or so. (A farm vacation?) I don’t think until one actually experiences what it takes to grow food one can truly appreciate what it takes to do so.

    One thing I like about farmers markets is that I can thank the farmer personally for growing some great food.

  22. Can fasting/skipping breakfast – on a blood test day – cause a higher fasting blood glucose reading ?
    If your body senses that you’re in IF or even starvation mode, can it cause gluconeogenesis.
    Could that give you a higher than otherwise FBG reading.
    Just wondering, because when you fast before a blood test, it could be 16+ hours since you’ve eaten.

    1. My A1c tests are all fasting, but I get better results with the glucose reading by drinking a pint or so of water between rising and the blood draw (about an hour). Hydration makes a difference!

  23. I’ve never been a big early-breakfast eater, either…as you say, just not hungry. Conventional pancakes/biscuits or heaven forfend, DOUGHNUTS, just made me nauseated, and toast or cereals made me hungry in a short period of time. So I wait and eat breakfast when I AM hungry…usually 11 or so. Then skip lunch (because I’m not hungry!) and on to a good (fairly early, 5 pm-ish) dinner.

    works for me!

  24. I very rarely eat breakfast ( as i am usally not hungry) but the times I do it tends to be after eating lots of carbs the day before. I will also eat breakfast if it for a social event or when I have had a poor nights sleep.

  25. Sorry, don’t mean to hog the comment section but I had one other thing to say about budget produce– Small Asian Markets.
    When supermarket chains buy produce they want stuff that will stay on the shelf a week. If it’s at its peak of freshness this morning, they won’t buy it. Small Asian markets whose clientele is culturally accustomed to marketing every day, will by that fresh stuff deeply discounted for retail sale the same day. When I lived in Silverlake Gelsons would have bell peppers for $3.00 a pound but the little A-1 Asian market would have a bag of 10 for a dollar.

  26. Breakfast is my favorite meal. (It’s also Bobby Flay’s favorite meal, haha,

    My morning ritual is to chop onions (purple) and chop mushrooms, green onions, red bell pepper, half-piece of chopped sausage, spinach, and let it all saute.

    When it’s all nice and soft, (five minutes) I pull it all out and place it on a plate. Then I add some olive oil and pour in the beaten eggs, when they are firm I add all the ingredients back on top and make a delicious omelette. I’ve been doing this same thing for over ten years. It makes my day.

  27. Oooops, I forgot to mention about my morning breakfast. I’m not a “chewer” in the morning, I prefer drinking. So into my coffee goes 1 tablespoon each of butter and coconut oil, a teaspoon of 100% cacao and an egg. I will have two of those typically, some days one is enough. I am not ready for lunch until about 3 so if I wait until 5:30 it’s fine.

    I do IF and it seems to work well, however, it’s been a while since I was “young” so maybe that’s why it works for me as a woman.

      1. Yes, all of that is emulsified by my blender so it’s just a frothy coffee.
        Fat + protein + coffee = mmmm good

  28. As a resident of Southern Australia, I manage sun exposure in summer by limiting my shirt-less periods to the first few hours of the day and the last few hours.

    1. lol – SA – home of that crazy fruitarian “durianrider” – he really gives Aussies a bad name. I was drawn into a video he did where he toutes that getting a goods nights sleep is good for testoterone levels, unlike what Mark Sisson says – hold the phone – what ? – I don’t beleive Mark’s ever promoted not getting sleep – Hmmmm, maybe he should do his research before bagging people out – apprantley the evil primal blueprint diet specifies that you should not get a good night’s rest…

    2. Rough! Glad I’m under cover of the concrete jungle of Melbourne 🙂 My friends tend to use umbrellas on the worst of days, Not much help, but it’s something if you HAVE to be outside.

    3. Maybe I should have added that – as a farmer – I work outside in almost all weathers….. Including 45C days.

      It’s not something to be afraid of, you just deal with it.

  29. We easily spend $300 a week on food for two adults, a 3yo and a baby. I can’t believe people eat primally for much less than that. I buy from farmers markets too, buy frozen produce, and we eat mostly the cheapest cuts of meat, like ground chuck, chicken thighs, etc., but to really fill up all of us it takes a lot of food. I guess appetites and activity levels vary but I can’t believe people aren’t starving on smaller budgets if they are t filling up on grains. We go through a minimum of 4 dozen eggs a week. And the Kerrygold…lets just say the Trader Joe’s cashiers always give me a look and ask me if I’m baking something!

    1. You’re exactly right, Ginger. TJ employees always give me a sideways look when I come to the register with 5-10 packages of bacon ends lol.

  30. I find I cant afford not to eat primal. If you add up the costs, you can not only do primal cheaper than a diet of junk food and take-away, what are the costs you save in the long term in reduced medical bills and costs for precription drugs like blood pressure tablets, statins, and diabetes tablets, let alone disasterous health issues that will need who-knows-how much in money to treat them ?

  31. I totally agree it’s worth the cost. I spend $0 on prescription or even OTC medication, I don’t even have Tylenol or anything like that in the house because we never need it, but I can’t say it’s easy to eat cheaply. Unless you are very small and/or have a small appetite. My family eats a lot.

  32. “Since I still love to connect with primal enthusiasts in person, we may consider the PrimalCon Vacation model in the future, where we simply descend upon an all-inclusive resort and everyone gets to enjoy a vacation, even our staff and presenters.”

    If you’d consider going international, how about Phuket? (Please,please,please…)

  33. I was all set & registered for my first PrimalCon! disappointed but I just know a future Primal vacation will be even better! May I suggest Costa Rica? Love the bits of the Pacific side I’ve seen (Drake Bay area) and way less expensive than Hawaii! Hope to meet my tribe someday…

    1. I’d like to meet the tribe too, that’s why I suggested where I live!

  34. Thanks for answering my question mark. I realize “NO” evidence was a little exaggerated. I just couldn’t find anything specifying the time of 30-60 min after waking. I eat breakfast 2-3 hours after waking up, but it’s still 8am so it’s breakfast, and for me skipping it doesn’t work.

  35. $100 per person? A Week? I feed a family of 5 primal but not much organic on $150 to $200/wk plus our backyard hens’ eggs. I wish I could lower it more but food prices are crazy inflated compared to the official rate of inflation. I know it varies place to place but mostly you just need to learn to shop sales, skip pricey treats, buy in season or frozen stuff, and slow cook tougher cuts of meat.

  36. I eat A LOT of veggies, mostly organic. I eat only moderate amounts of protein, like 3 oz (1/2 can sockeye salmon or 2/3 can tuna, about 21g) for lunch and dinner each. BF is one piece of Organic Praire turkey breast. I eat some avocado at BF and lunch, fills me up. All meals and snacks have lots of veggies. Lots of protein makes me HUNGRY! Still haven’t figured that out. I also cannot eat a lot of protein for BFor my blood sugar goes up! I have a large piece of romaine with guac , scallions and some sprouts with that 1 piece of turkey. Side of kale/chard or collards. Lunch is a salad or another wrap with protein and a side veg. Dinner is spinach salad, side veg and wrap/salad with protein. I don’t know how much I spend but NOT buying grains, dairy and junk food helps a lot. I just have a routine I guess so I but the same things all the time. I do most shopping at Costco and Traders but they don’t have organic chard/kale so I have to go elsewhere. I found the places with the cheapest prices and shop there.

    Any ideas why any more than 3 oz of protein makes me ravenous??

  37. Right now (St Patrick’s Day) grocery stores in my area have cabbage for less than half price (29 cents per lb). I just bought three heads. Uncut, they’ll keep for a month in the fridge and be perfectly crisp and delicious.

    Cabbage is a staple for me. It’s a “clean fifteen” so I am okay with buying conventional (such as at today’s bargain price).

    I love it raw so I generally slice a head up very thin (as if for cole slaw) and put the sliced cabbage in a ziploc bag in the fridge. Then I use it as the base for salads, or toss a couple of handfuls in a pan and sautee it to have with eggs or meat.

    Wedges or “steaks” are excellent roasted. But I find I eat through it faster roasted than I do when I chop it thin while it’s raw. (Just mentioning if conserving dollars is an issue.)

    I love cauliflower too but I can eat a whole one in two meals. Cabbage is more affordable.

  38. I’ve been all over the board with various eating patterns. What works for me now at age 50 is fasting from 7pm until about noon. But I eat earlier if super hungry, maybe just some fruit to get me to lunch time, I don’t stress myself too much. Black coffee only was a huge key for me in weight control.
    Then I focus on more of a PHD approach, lots of veges, 1 fruit, 100-200 calories of starch, not going overboard on protein, and enjoying good fats. Some wine and dark chocolate.
    I am well fed, I feel great, weight is more easily managed.