Category: Weight Loss

Amber’s Keto Success Story

Today I’m sharing Amber’s story of making her way from vegan to pescatarian to keto—and, ultimately, to health! Have you improved your health, tackled a fitness goal, or overcome obstacles with the help of the Primal Blueprint? Inspire others by sharing your success story with the MDA community. Contact me here. Hi, Mark! I wanted to share how putting the steps provided in your book into practice has changed my life. Thanks for reading. I was already 20 pounds overweight when I gave birth to my son in 2016. During pregnancy I put on another 40 pounds, which put me in the obese category. I let myself indulge in every craving (mainly strawberry shortcake) and paid no attention to the scale. I was overly confident the weight would fall off after delivery, but when it didn’t, I started to think this was just my new normal. Six months later I joined a gym. On day one I stepped on the scale, and when the number was displayed I was completely mortified. I had zero muscles in my abdomen, and they often had to create different exercises specifically for me as I could not participate in their regular classes. I was embarrassed but determined, and after 11 months I was down 30 pounds and feeling proud. However, I was hungry most of the day. In an effort to drop the weight, I had “tinkered” with diets. At the time, I was on a vegan diet that quickly turned into a pescatarian diet. One day, my gym announced they were moving locations and could no longer provide daycare for my son. Just like that, my gym days were over. I tried to “will” myself to the gym at 5 a.m. but it NEVER went well. I could barely keep my eyes open let alone do a proper workout. I let the membership expire and quickly noticed the weight coming back. I could not understand how this was happening. I thought I was making healthy meals. A normal day went like this: One piece of sourdough toast with avocado and some juice. For lunch I would make vegan nachos comprised of a starch-like substance to substitute for cheese along with black beans, rice, lettuce, and tomato served over chips. For dinner I would make yet another dish with beans or fish with gnocchi. It went on like this for the next two years, and abruptly white wine enters the picture. Wine became a constant in my life and—surprise!—I started gaining even more weight. I was tired all the time; I went to bed at 8 and yet woke up exhausted. At age 32 I thought for the first time that this was not any way to live life. I decided to address this extreme exhaustion with my doctor. She ordered labs, and when the results came back (sparing you the details) everything was elevated to “red” in EVERY category. I was shocked and ashamed. My doctor explained a “new” diet she heard remarkable … Continue reading “Amber’s Keto Success Story”

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Are There Any Good Carbs?

I’ve long espoused a fairly low-carb lifestyle for optimal health, but “low-carb” means different things to different people.

For some, it means eating the fewest carbs possible, as in a strict carnivore diet or something more like carniflex, a meat-centric approach that strategically includes some plants.

For others, it means a keto or Atkins-style diet that restricts carb intake.

Some people don’t count carbs at all but still consider themselves “low-carb” because they eat mostly meat, eggs, and vegetables, and they limit things like grains, fruit, legumes, and added sugars. Sound familiar? That’s the classic Primal or paleo approach.

What all these low-carb folks have in common is that they need to decide what to eat day in and day out. Thinking about food all the time can become tedious, especially when you’re trying out a new way of eating and don’t know what’s “allowed.” It’s tempting to sort foods into discrete categories based on macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) and quality (“good” versus “bad” foods) to reduce decision fatigue.

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The 12-3-30 Workout: All Hype or Worth Trying?

In today’s Dear Mark, I’m tackling a reader’s question regarding a new workout that’s apparently all the rage on social media. I’m not much for hopping on viral fitness trends myself, but I’m always interested in keeping my finger on the pulse of what people are doing in the name of health, strength, and weight loss. You never know when the next truly great thing is going to come along, right?

Let’s get into it:

 
Dear Mark,
I’m seeing a new fitness trend all over my TikTok: “12-3-30.” Other users are claiming it changed their bodies in just a month, and I’m tempted to try it, but as far as I can tell it’s just… walking uphill? Is this trend too good to be true or worth trying? Do you think something like this could be considered “primal”?
Thanks for asking—and for thinking that I might be hip enough to already know about a TikTok trend! As a general rule, if a “get fit quick” scheme seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, let’s not discredit the actual value this trend might hold without examining it more closely.
What is the 12-3-30?
A quick dive into Google explains the “12-3-30,” aka the 12.3.30 treadmill routine, is walking at a 12 percent incline at 3mph on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Credited to influencer Lauren Giraldo, this workout’s short time frame and relative ease have piqued people’s interest. I’m sure the testimonials from people claiming to have made big physique gains in a short time don’t hurt either.

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Why Am I Not Losing Weight?

“I’m doing everything right, exercising and eating well. So why am I not losing weight?” 

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Or rather, it’s the $72 billion question, since that’s how much the diet industry apparently rakes in. I’ve spent enough years talking about food and exercise to know how common weight-loss plateaus are. It’s frustrating when something that seems like it should be simple isn’t working for you.

Let me start by challenging the assumption that weight loss is simple or easy. A 2007 report from the UK Government’s Foresight Programme identified 108 factors that affect weight loss. Of course food and exercise are represented on the list in various ways, but so are genetic, economic, social, and psychological influences. That’s why I roll my eyes when I hear people espousing “just eat less and exercise more” platitudes—as if it’s that simple. 

Anyway, anyone who’s bothering to ask the question that prompted this post already knows about eating less and moving more. They’ve probably tried multiple versions of eating “less” or “right” or “better,” plus a variety of exercise protocols. Yet, they’re still feeling stuck and frustrated. 

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Dear Mark: CLA Supplements

CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is the “good” trans-fat that occurs naturally in meat and dairy, especially from grass-fed animals. In the stomach of ruminants like cows, sheep, or goats, millions upon millions of bacteria help the animal digest its food. They also help convert dietary grass-based linoleic fatty acids into saturated fatty acids. Well, that conversion takes several steps, and one of the steps is the creation of CLA, some of which never gets fully saturated and instead shows up in the animal’s body and milk fat.

Twenty-eight different CLA isomers, or structural arrangements of the molecules, appear in CLA-rich animal fat. It’s very complex and quite different from trans-fat created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. Those lab-created trans-fats have definite negative metabolic and health effects, while the panoply of various CLA isomers from grass-fed dairy and meat seem to be beneficial.

What about CLA supplements? Is synthetic CLA just as good for you as naturally-occurring CLA?

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Keto and the Menstrual Cycle: Is There Reason To Worry?

Every “keto for women” forum abounds with stories about menstrual cycles gone haywire in the first few months of keto. Common complaints include:

Irregular menstrual cycles
Breakthrough bleeding
Sudden changes in menstrual cycle length, especially periods lasting much longer than normal

Keto critics love to cite these stories as evidence that keto isn’t good for women. After all, for premenopausal women, menstrual cycle activity acts as a barometer for overall health. Menstrual cycle disruptions are usually a sign that your body is under some kind of stress.

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