Good morning, everyone. I’ve got a Weekly Link Love coming up, but first I wanted to share some news with you.
So, it’s a big day. One of the biggest in my life.
Twelve years ago I set out on a mission to change lives with the beginning of the Mark’s Daily Apple blog. The ancestral health movement was at its very beginnings then, and the push for more natural and organic food choices was still small compared to the conventional offerings and messaging out there. Time went on, and that vision grew into vast new dimensions, including the creation (and dizzying growth) of Primal Kitchen®, my vision for the world’s best-tasting, health-enhancing, real-food pantry staples.
And change lives, we have. Over the last decade, I’ve had to adjust my goal from helping 10 million people claim better health to helping 100 million people do just that. It’s a good problem to have.
I’m excited to share news that I believe will help our Primal community knock that goal out of the park.
The Kraft Heinz Company—the leading player in condiments, makers of the iconic Heinz Ketchup and Grey Poupon mustard—is acquiring the Primal Nutrition and Primal Kitchen® brands. We’re joining Kraft Heinz’s Springboard, a dynamic platform created to partner with founders and brands that will disrupt the food industry.
Primal Kitchen will continue to operate autonomously, the entire team will stay on (with our headquarters based in Oxnard), and Morgan and I oversee the explosive growth of our brand. The products you have come to know and love will continue to be available (and now at more locations), made using the same awesome ingredients, curated as always by yours truly. And I get to spend even more time on my favorite part of the business—developing new sauces and dressings.
Kraft Heinz understands where the consumer is headed: better-for-you products with high-quality ingredients; which is why I’ll continue to man the helm. Primal Kitchen will continue our vision of offering real food products with nothing processed or artificial. So, rest assured—and I say this with certainty—the integrity of our ingredients won’t change. You’ll find the same high quality food products you’ve come to enjoy and trust from Primal Kitchen.
We founded and built the Primal Kitchen business on the unyielding commitment to creating the best-tasting, health-enhancing, real-food pantry staples on the market. This philosophy will stay with us as we leverage the resources of this new partnership. It’s an incredible development for the brand and an amazing opportunity for the Primal health mission.
And, I have to say, it’s a huge testament to how far we’ve come as a movement….
Kraft Heinz recognizes the value of our Primal Kitchen mission and the consumer demand for it. While Primal Kitchen’s growth to date has exceeded all industry standards and expectations, our partnership with an industry leader like Kraft Heinz now offers an unrivaled opportunity to reach millions more of the consumers who have been seeking products like ours for years. Based on the significant time I’ve spent with the Kraft Heinz team, we share a common vision regarding the future of food and the importance of consumer choices. I want you to know that I’ll be staying on as the face and guide for the brand, and I look forward to working with them to grow this partnership.
Finally and most importantly, I want to offer my immense gratitude to my amazing staff and to you, our incredible readers, customers, supporters and fellow travelers on this Primal journey. Twelve years ago, I couldn’t have envisioned this moment or the phenomenal growth of this movement. Your enthusiasm and encouragement have inspired me more than I could ever say and contribute to this vision every day. I’m thrilled to see what’s possible as we move forward together. Thank you for being a part of it.
It’s about that time of year. Whatever your inclination or creed, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah or nothing at all, gift giving is a solid, time-honored way to establish and maintain bonds and friendship, show people you care, and make another person happy (and, as you’ll see after today’s post, healthy). Today I’m going to lay out some of my favorite products. These are purchases I’ve made and loved, gifts I’ve received and given. (And I’m throwing in one of the best deals I’ve ever offered that combines new and old favorites on the Primal scene—but you’ll have to scroll to the end.)
Without further ado, here’s the 2018 Primal Gift Guide.
Full disclosure from the outset—I’m an investor in this, and I only invest in products, services, and companies that I strongly believe in and use myself. This one I’ve used for about two years now, and it’s made a substantial difference in my sleep. ChiliPads are climate-controlled mattress pads with microtubes of water running through them. Heat the water, and the bed gets warm. Cool the water, and the bed cools off. The Single Zone pad can do one temperature at a time. If you or anyone you know has ever fought with their significant other about the temperature, they need the Dual Zone pad. It has two temperature zones, so the bed can be warm on one side, cool on the other.
Primal Kitchen® Gift Kits
We’ve got a few to offer. Got someone who you know wants to take the dive into keto but doesn’t quite know where to start (or who can’t cook a lick)? Grab them one of the Primal Kitchen Keto Starter kits. They’ll get mayo, dressings, avocado oils, and other delicious products to make eating keto easier, tastier, and healthier. If you’ve got a general foodie on your hands, get the Primal Kitchen Gift Kit, which includes a great chef’s knife and an engraved cutting board with some Primal Kitchen staples.
This is the best light therapy device I’ve used. It provides both near infrared light and red light that enhance healing, improve collagen production, and boost ATP production. I lay my JOOVV lengthwise on the ground against a wall and lie down next to it for 5-10 minutes a day. That’s plenty.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love standup paddling. Anyone with access to a large body of water—the ocean, lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs—should consider getting a paddleboard. Inflatables are the easiest entry point, and the Xterra is probably the best one around.
Buy Ranch Direct is offering free shipping on any order with this link. In addition to the great beef, poultry and pork offerings, they have a killer All-Natural Salami Variety Pack.
Vibram just re-released their classic KSO Trek, my favorite model of theirs ever. It’s leather, and I actually wear it as a “dress shoe” with suit and tie (not that I recommend showing up to your big interview in a pair—unless it’s with me), jeans, and pretty much anything else. I keep several in rotation, shifting them to “turf shoe” once they lose their newness. I haven’t used better footwear for playing Ultimate Frisbee.
If you know a man looking for a good moisturizer, beard oil, or cologne alternative free of artificial fragrances, look no further than Alitura’s Santal Black Oil. It’s great for women, too, but I’ve found that men respond pretty well to it. Another option for anyone who digs a bit of pampering without leaving the house is the Instant Radiance Package, which offers spa-grade facial treatment.
Harvested from ancient Utah sea beds, Redmond Real Salt is loaded with trace micronutrients and great flavor (it’s not just “salty”). If you’re shopping for a serious cook, Redmond Real Kosher Salt should be on your list.
This thing can handle a lot. It won’t quite do a beef femur, but I’ve successfully chopped through pork feet, ribs of all kinds, and lamb bones. Poultry parts part like butter. What’s great is that in addition to the bone-splitting power of the main blade, the upper curve is surprisingly sharp and agile for making smaller, more detailed cuts.
I’m going to recommend two sous vide products. If you’re shopping for a serious cook who wants permanent sous vide residency on the counter, Dr. Eades’ Sous Vide Supreme is a good purchase. If you’re shopping for someone who just wants to try the sous vide method in several different settings, get the JOULE—an immersion sous vide device that turns any container of water into a sous vide.
Stumbled across these recently and didn’t even realize Amazon was making cast iron skillets, so I took the plunge. The quality is pretty good. Takes seasoning, gives a good sear. I’ve got mine up to the point where I can scramble eggs without them sticking. I credit lots of bacon and roasted chickens. If 15 inches is too big, they have smaller ones.
You can go one of two ways with the chest freezer, both relevant to Primal eaters. Your giftee can use the freezer as a freezer, as a way to stock up on meat or even buy a quarter cow. Your giftee could go the way of Brad Kearns, who keeps a chest freezer full of cold water and hops in it for a few minutes every single morning (***after unplugging the unit). What would I do? Buy the freezer and pass along the article where Brad lays out his use of the chest freezer as a cold plunge tank so whomever receives it can decide.
This book isn’t out til December 4th, but it’ll definitely arrive in time for the holidays. It’s a great cookbook for people who want to eat the comfort food we all (let’s face it) miss and stay gluten-free, Primal, and dairy-free.
No, it’s not a crockpot that instantly turns off whenever a Whole30® non-compliant food is added. It’s a cookbook for Whole30 people who don’t have the time or inclination to slave over a hot stove or pot. For people who want the convenience of tossing a bunch of healthy ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal.
The Keto Reset Set of Books
What can I say? It’s the ultimate set of resources for understanding the logic of keto and for implementing keto as the healthy, nourishing and delicious diet it can be. Get step by step instructions for making the full transition in The Keto Reset, and enjoy hundreds of amazing recipes you can easily make in your own home kitchen in The Keto Reset Diet Instant Pot Cookbook and the The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook. They will literally change your life.
And Now For the Deal…
The award-winning Primal Connection was my favorite book to write, and it remains the top resource for extending the Primal Blueprint beyond the realm of physical health to encompass everyday peace, prosperity and fulfillment.
It also happens to make a pretty awesome gift…for anyone looking to deepen their Primal commitment or for someone who’s totally new to Primal. (I’ve had a lot of folks tell me over the years that The Primal Connection was their entry point to Primal living.)
To celebrate the gift-giving season—and to highlight the New Primal Kitchen® sauce line, I’m offering one of the best deals I’ve ever put together here.
Buy Classic and Golden BBQ Sauce + Steak Sauce, and I’ll throw in a Classic Primal Kitchen Mayo…plus a copy of The Primal Connection. But hurry—this deal expires 12/7/18 at midnight PST.
Click through HERE or use code GETSAUCY at checkout on PrimalBlueprint.com.
Honking horns, loud office chatter and whirring machines batter our ears with incessant noise. Artificial light and digital stimulation overstress our nervous systems day and night. Traffic jams, long lines, interruptions, distractions and big egos pervade daily life in such a manner that we don’t even realize the piece—or rather the peace—that’s gone missing. Mark Sisson, the leading voice in the Evolutionary Health Movement and author of the bestseller The Primal Blueprint, extends the primal theme beyond diet and exercise basics in this much-anticipated sequel. The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness presents a comprehensive plan to reprogram your genes and overcome the flawed mentality and hectic pace of high-tech, modern life so that you can become more joyful, carefree and at peace with the present. You’ll learn to make scientifically validated, highly intuitive connections in all aspects of your life, and emerge with a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life and our most precious gifts of time, health and love. The Primal Connection allows you to have it all; you’ll honor your ancient genetic recipe for health while still enjoying the comfort and convenience of modern life.*
Now let’s hear from you. Write in down below with the health and fitness-related gifts you’ll be giving and receiving. I’m always interested in something new.
One of the first things people do when they start working out is focus on their abs—crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, bicycles, and the like. I mean, who doesn’t want a six-pack? Entire fitness schools have sprung up around the idea of targeting your abs with direct work. Take Pilates. In its purest iterations, it’s considered a “total body” philosophy, but the way most classes seem to go you end up spending all your time doing a bunch of complicated crunches and other targeted ab work (and grimacing every time you cough for the next week).
Let me make a radical proposal here. All this ab work isn’t necessary.
Don’t get me wrong. The “abs” are extremely important. Not only do they round out the physique and look great, but abdominal strength also provides stability, supports good posture, and improves movement. Strong abdominals allow and enhance the full expression of a person’s athleticism. Running, jumping, lifting, throwing (balls, spears, or punches), and basically any movement all require—and are improved by—strong abs (i.e. a strong “core”).
When you think about training the abs, consider what the abdominals’ purpose is: to provide a stable foundation for the rest of your body as it moves. They can move, but it’s not their primary function. As such, the way most people train abs is completely superfluous and ignores that essential function—maintaining stability and resisting movement. When you think about it that way, crunches and sit-ups don’t make a whole lot of sense.
What Kinds of Ab Work Make Sense?
Deadlifts make sense because your hips are designed to hinge to allow you to pick up objects.
Squats make sense because your knees are meant to flex and extend under load.
Pull-ups make sense because your lats and biceps are designed to pull your body’s weight upward.
But crunches? Abs are best at holding steady and supporting all the other tissues and limbs as they move through space. Using your abs to move heavy weight a few inches is just weird. It “works,” but is it ideal? No.
If you insist on direct ab work, focus on movements where the abs don’t actually move all that much.
Instead of crunches (abs moving), do bicycle crunches (abs stationary, legs moving).
Instead of sit-ups (abs moving), do hanging leg raises (abs stationary, legs moving).
In both cases, you’ll be blasting the hell out of your abdominals, but you won’t be flexing and extending your spine.
Okay, with all that out of the way…
What Do I Do For Ab Work?
I don’t do much direct ab work. You won’t find me doing crunches or bicycles. Instead, I’m using my abs all the time.
When I’m doing pushups, I’m tightening my abs. A strong, stable, cohesive abdominal complex makes my pushups better and stronger. Do a pushup without tight abs, and your hips will dip toward the ground. You’ll be sloppy and weak.
When I’m doing deadlifts, I’m tightening my abs. My abs are resisting the pull of the heavy bar. They’re preventing my spine from rounding and hurting itself.
When I’m doing pull-ups, I’m using my abs to maintain a cohesive frame. Try it. Instead of kicking your legs or flopping them around to propel yourself upward, keep them straight and tight. Tighten your abs. Think of your entire body, from top to bottom, as a single piece. Pull that piece up past the bar. Feeling it in the core, are you?
When I’m standup paddling, I’m using my obliques, my “outer abs.” They support the paddling motion. They’re my base of support. Go paddle for an hour as a beginner, then see how your sides feel the next day.
When I’m doing band pull-aparts (a great shoulder pre/rehab movement, by the way), I’m tightening my abs.
Heck, when I’m driving my car or carrying my groceries or walking the dogs, I’m tightening my abs.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. The abs figure prominently.
There’s probably one exercise I do specifically for my abs, and that’s the plank. But again, the planks work the abs by resisting movement, by keeping your body straight and solid against the pull of gravity. They aren’t moving.
I made a short video on how I work my abdominals without a specific abs routine. Take a look.
Finally, the single most important thing you can do for your abs in terms of looks, of course, is to become a better fat-burner. Hidden underneath even the most sedentary, flabby exterior is a rippling six pack. Simply possessing basic human anatomy means you have visible abdominals somewhere under there. Get lean enough and you’ll see them.
Thanks for stopping in today. Questions, thoughts? I’d love to hear them.
Once you’ve had real Bolognese sauce, you never look at spaghetti sauce the same again. Bolognese has a richly nuanced, deeply umami flavor that satisfies in a warm, homey (and foodie) way. Paired with lower carb, higher nutrient spaghetti squash, this meal makes for a true Primal favorite everyone at the table can enjoy. And with the convenience of an Instant Pot, you’ll be out of the kitchen in around 20 minutes, with dinner on the table in about 45 total. Simply cook the squash while you’re busy prepping the sauce ingredients for the ultimate in efficiency. The end result? A rich and meaty Bolognese dish that tastes as good as sauce that simmers for hours.
Time in the Kitchen: 20 (with additional 30 minutes cook time for sauce)
2 spaghetti squash (for double batch)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (15 ml)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or thinly sliced
2 pounds ground pork (900 g)
2 teaspoons dried oregano (10 ml)
2 teaspoons salt (10 ml)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (30 ml)
½ cup beef bone broth (120 ml)
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, and their liquid
1 bay leaf
Garnish: fresh basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cut spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise makes shorter noodles and crosswise makes longer noodles). Scoop out the seeds in the center.
Add a cup of water to the Instant Pot. Place a steaming trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot and set the squash halves on top. Cover and make sure the pressure release valve is set to “sealing.” Select the “manual” setting and set the cooking time for 20 minutes on high pressure.
After cooking time, do a quick release by moving the pressure release valve to “venting.” Remove squash and pour out any liquid that has collected inside the squash. Use a fork to pull the squash apart into “noodles.” Set aside.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking, prep the sauce ingredients.
When you’re ready to make the meat sauce, select the sauté setting on the Instant Pot, and heat the olive oil. Cook the pork about 10 minutes until fully browned, then remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Leave a tablespoon or two of pork fat in the bottom of the pot (draining the rest to discard or save for other cooking uses).
Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and sauté about 5 minutes to soften the veggies. Add ground meat and season with oregano and salt. Break the meat up into small pieces.
In a bowl, whisk together the tomato paste and bone broth. Pour into the Instant Pot with the diced tomatoes and bay leaf. Mix well.
Cover and make sure the pressure release valve is set to “sealing.” Select the “manual” setting, and set the cooking time for 30 minutes on high pressure. Move the pressure release valve to “venting” for a quick release.
Store half of the Bolognese in a food storage container.
Serve the other half on top of the spaghetti squash (if needed, reheat the squash briefly in the microwave) with fresh basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Nutritional Info (per serving—8 servings from doubled batch recipe):
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Primal eating was not a reality for me for a very long time, I did not even hear the words until I was 27. But flash back to when I was 12-years-old, and had just found out that I was 203.2lbs. I remember that number so clearly because of how hard I sobbed that day on the scale at the doctor’s office. When my 8th grade self saw that I had crossed in to 200+lbs, I immediately I lost any self worth. Media in the 90s made it clear that being fat was social destruction and meant that you were “less than.” Living in this culture of perfectionism, I continued to eat and cope with my “imperfections” with sugar addiction and exuberant amounts of terribly processed foods.
Upon entering adulthood, the word “nutrition” alone made me uncomfortable as I did not have any real understanding of what it meant. I was taught and believed that all fat was bad and grains were healthy for my heart, that carbs were evil but these “magical” grains were somehow exempt. When I moved out at 17, I weighed 300lbs and felt miserable. My diet consisted of lunchmeat sandwiches, egg salad, coffee and fast food. I hated my body and avoided mirrors.
I decided that I wanted to make a change. Over the next several years I took the “beat my body in to submission” approach and paired it with diet plan after diet plan. I even took diet pills (now recalled) until the side effects were too much to for me to excuse. I ended up losing 60lbs of weight but at the cost of my adrenal health. I traded in the sugar for coffee and was not sleeping nearly enough for how hard I was working and training.
In 2011, I met and married my wonderful husband. He had previously been a physical trainer, and he helped teach me a lot of what he knew. It helped a lot to understand what he shared with me, but we both still had questions about the science of nutrition and biology. Over the next 6 years, together we sought out the answer for our health and wellness concerns. One of the first sources we came across (after watching ALL the food documentaries ever) was your website. That year, I attended Paleocon online and felt like I was drinking from a firehose. We almost immediately became as primal as possible in our eating and also in our lifestyle and exercise. We both experienced the amazing results. Aside from losing weight and feeling stronger, we noticed our skin and digestive issues were much improved. We were also thinking more clearly, and our sleep was much improved.
In 2015, I gave birth to my son, and over the next year I gained back all of the weight I had lost. Postpartum depression and anxiety encompassed my every day, and I began to spiral in to unhealthy eating once again. By 2016, I was nearing 300lbs again and felt so ashamed of myself. I began to go to therapy regularly and was diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I began working diligently with my therapist to unpack the trauma and my body responded with anorexia nervosa, which can be a side effect of addressing trauma.
I did not have a dysmorphic issue, however. At the time, I was averted by any food and my throat would restrict if I attempted to swallow. After some time, I wasn’t able to to eat meat due to digestion. However, sticking to a primal way of eating at the time is what kept me out of the hospital when it was difficult to eat. I chose soft foods, and the blender was my bestie. My ability to eat improved, and my diet since then has mainly consisted of all organic Coconut Oil, Ghee, Avocados, Eggs & Sweet Potatoes and other vegetables and some fruits.
I have continued therapy and have stayed dedicated to the same diet with the occasional deviation from my favorite bakery that offers paleo/keto options. Over the past year, have watched my weight plummet (with my Dr.’s supervision) very quickly. I stand here now today 158lbs, and my mind is still catching up with the reality of my transformation. I lost over 100lbs this year.
The combination of therapy and sticking to a primal lifestyle has led me to where I am today. I am still getting to know the woman in the mirror, but I am thankful for where I am every single day. Thank you, Mark, for providing us with a launching pad for our primal journey and for being a constant resource of information and encouragement. You are a part of my success story.
The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.
Good morning, everybody. I hope you all had an excellent holiday weekend. I’ve got one awesome success story coming up in a bit, but first I wanted to share a quick note to let you know about the blow-out Cyber Monday deal the team and I put together.
Get $10 off a purchase of $50 or more—with free shipping.
Plus, take advantage of a “secret sale” at checkout….
Yup, $10 off your order of anything you want from our Primal Kitchen® line of collagen and whey proteins, bars, oils, mayos, dressings, condiments and sauces.
Did I say sauces? Yup. I’ve got three new sauces I know you’re going to love. (Hint: they’re the perfect gift for your inner carnivore.) And I’ve even got a great “secret” deal for you on those, too….
Just click through the link or use code CYBERMONDAY to receive $10 off your order of $50+ with free shipping—and to unlock that secret sale.
Happy Cyber Monday, everyone, and wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.
Hi, everyone. Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday morning. For those of you accustomed to receiving Sunday With Sisson in your inbox, I wanted to give you a heads up that the team and I are making some changes (just technical) with the newsletter and “Sunday With Sisson” for just a few weeks. Some of you may notice some temporary interruption in your email delivery from MDA. It’s all part of upgrading our systems. Unfortunately, there’s never a good time for these things.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting “Sunday With Sisson” letters each Sunday on the blog until we’re back to our full mailing capacity. Enjoy, and—as always—thanks for joining me here.
Good morning, everybody.
I hope you enjoyed a good holiday (those of you in the U.S.). Last week’s Sunday with Sisson was pretty heavy, so I’m going much lighter this week with a list of things I’m liking, media I’m consuming, and anything else that comes to mind.
Conventional wisdom-buster: Humans delayed desertification of the Sahara. Recent estimates suggest that nomadic pastoralists actually held off desertification of the Sahara region for at least 500 years by introducing densely-packed ruminants that fertilized the land, improved soil quality, and fostered growth of grasses. How about that?
Listening: For whatever reason, I’m on a Celtic music kick, which I don’t usually listen to. The Pogues’ “Rum Sodomy and the Lash,” a classic Celtic punk album is great. It doesn’t get much better than their version of Dirty Old Town. I’ve also been liking the Chieftains “Chieftains 7” album. Try Away We Go and O’Sullivan’s March.
Watching: A smattering of food shows on Netflix. I like doing this to get inspiration for posts and Primal Kitchen products and kitchen experiments. Oftentimes, one random thing will get my creative juices flowing, wondering how I can make something similar in a pre-packaged, healthier, Primal-friendly form. Ugly Delicious and Chef’s Table are both great—and both very different from each other. From the former, try the barbecue episode. From the latter, the “Mallmann” episode from the first season is a must-see. The “Ivan Orkin” (American guy who did ramen in Japan) episode of Chef’s Table is also worth a watch. Meat Eater is also good, a combination hunting, philosophy, nature, and cooking show.
Question for you (reply to this week’s Sunday With Sisson blog post): What was the best thing about Thanksgiving this year? Food, family, funny comments, anything at all.
That’s it for me. What are you liking, watching, or listening to?
Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.
Plus, want free steak?? ButcherBox is running their hottest offer of the year. New members will receive $75 worth of free steaks (2 ribeyes, 2 NY Strips, 2 Filet Mignons) in their first box. Guys, their stuff is unbeatable….
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
GoFundMe I’m happy to share with the Primal audience: Buy Ranch Direct Fire Relief. The good folks at Buy Ranch Direct, a community of family-owned and -operated grass-fed beef ranches in California, lost their warehouse this fall in an electrical fire. They’re in the process of rebuilding, but insurance isn’t covering most of the loss.
I certainly hope it works (without side effects): Scientists hope to block the molecule that accelerates the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria.
I can’t help but admire the entrepreneurial spirit, I just hope it doesn’t become standard: Air quality is so bad that San Francisco Uber drivers are selling masks to customers.
This is a powerful story: How winning the nation’s “best cheeseburger” caused a Portland burger joint to close down.
Question I’m Asking
With Google stopping development of its glucose-monitoring lens and all the other failures and dubious advancements, tech is realizing that biology’s a hard nut to crack. Do you think technology will ever figure out human biology and vault us into sci-fi territory?
“When you’re a gardener, a home is much more than just a place to keep your stuff. My husband and I are finally enjoying fruit from trees that we planted 5 years ago and have cared for since. In just the past few months alone, we have put in hundreds of hours of work wheelbarrowing woodchips to the backyard in preparation for a permaculture food-forest. I’m in Santa Rosa, CA, where we had the Tubb’s fire raging within a quarter-mile in October 2017. I feel very thankful to still have my home and garden.”
It’s time to give some thanks. Certainly if you’re in the U.S. today—but, honestly, there’s never a bad time to do it.
Think about everything for which you have to be thankful…because there’s a lot.
Think back to the purported first Thanksgiving—the best elements of that story, which is a complicated one, I know. Think back a thousand years before that. Realize that everyone who lived and everything that transpired did so to lead up to this moment—to your existence and your life. We know all the the great shifts and great figures that show up in history books, but what of the faceless millions that trudged alongside, working and living and laughing and suffering? Most people who lived never made it very far. Most human lineages trail off and die. You are the chosen few who can trace their history through wars and famine and pestilence and genocides and environmental catastrophe, all the way back to the primordial soup. Your ancestral line has survived hundreds of millions of years. And now you’re here, taking it all in. If that isn’t humbling, I’m not sure what is.
But we can be humble. And we can be thankful for the opportunities we all have. When you think about it on a cosmic scale, it’s remarkable that we’re even here.
Give thanks and love to your family, friends, neighbors, and pets. Give thanks and love for your food, for the land around you, your gym, your barbells, your hobbies, your favorite park, your favorite coffee mug. Give thanks for the memories of another year—the joys and triumphs amid difficulty, the love and friendship that gets you through the weeks. And when it’s time for everyone to go around the table giving “thanks,” be ready with your answer and ready to be grateful to hear others’.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Take care and have a great rest of the holiday week.
The holiday season is notorious for unwanted weight gain. Although the average weight gain isn’t all that high—1 to 2 pounds—the real danger is that people rarely lose the weight they gain during the holiday season. So, if you go through ten holiday seasons, you’re looking at a very realistic and permanent gain of 20 pounds.
But it’s not just the weight you gain. Even if you manage to avoid gaining any weight, the onslaught of sugary foods you’re not used to consuming will play havoc with your blood sugar and insulin levels, leave you bloated and fatigued, and generally make what should be a joyous time a sluggish, low-energy one.
Imagine having your full measure of energy over the full holiday season. Imagine putting on a Santa suit and clambering around on the roof and shimmying down the chimney, giving your kids a real show. (Not recommending this literally of course.) Imagine enjoying the winter weather, rather than holing up indoors with a box of cookies waiting for it to pass.
One thing I like to do in suboptimal food conditions is use it as an opportunity to fast. If I’m traveling and my choices are airplane food or McDonald’s, I simply don’t eat. If I’m at a hotel where the idea of a complimentary breakfast bar consists of bagels, orange juice, and those tiny boxes of cereal, I don’t eat. Quite honestly, the holiday season is one big block of suboptimal food conditions.
Sure, it’s delicious. Sure, some of it is even nutritious, if we’re talking roasts and gravies and veggies and large crispy birds. But the quantity of food we consume and the frequency at which we consume it—combined with the prevalence of delicious treats and the “emotional” context—makes for an impossible situation. It really is the perfect scenario to pack on some mass—or the perfect opportunity to employ an intermittent fast.
How should you do it? Are there any tips, tricks, or strategies particular to the holidays that make fasting easier and more effective?
Breakfast around the holidays can get quite ridiculous. How many of you have done this or know someone who has done this: having pumpkin pie/a half tin of Danish butter cookies/big bowl of mashed potatoes for breakfast? Even if no one is digging into the leftovers (although a turkey leg is a nice way to begin the day), you’ll see the likes of pastries, quiches (heavy on the crust), bagel spreads, pancakes, and waffles, etc.
So, just skip it, particularly when treats abound and beckon. You’ll avoid the problem entirely, give your digestive system a rest, keep the fat-burning going, and make any subsequent feasting later in the day more rewarding and less damaging. Have some coffee and cream instead. Heck, you could even whip the cream if you want to feel like you’re having a “treat” with everyone else.
Snacking kills during the holidays. While in more normal times I recommend against constant or absentminded snacking, at least then it usually just means a handful of nuts, a few pieces of jerky, a cup of broth. During the holidays, snacking means candy, cookies, and pie. There are mountains of junk almost everywhere you go and dozens of evangelists scurrying around foisting it on you. I don’t see it because I move in a curated culinary environment at my places of residence and work, but back before I went Primal, I can remember the ubiquity of treats during the holidays. If you’re the snacking type, you’ll likely make some bad choices.
Simply “not snacking” doesn’t sound like much of a fast, but going those 4-5 hours between meals can allow you to slip into a mild “fasted” state multiple times per day.
Don’t Nibble As You Cook
Whoever’s in charge of cooking the myriad holiday feasts and meals needs to understand how to handle themselves behind the stove. Quality control is one thing. Checking how things taste is understandable and necessary. But that’s not what gets you into trouble. What gets you into trouble is the constant nibbling and gnawing and chomping throughout the cooking process.
Spoonful of gravy here. Handful of mashed potatoes there. Oh, how’d that turkey skin turn out? Gonna have to try that. Oh, I wonder how it tastes dipped in the gravy. Boy, that dark meat sure is looking nice. Hmm, does the breast look a little dry to you? I’m going to try it. Now with some gravy and cranberry sauce—yeah, that does the trick.
By the time dinner is served you’re 800 calories deep, and you’re not even very excited about eating more (but you still do). Imagine if you’d fasted during the 4-5 hours you were preparing dinner. Not only would dinner be more satisfying and taste better, you wouldn’t have spent 4-5 hours in “fed mode.” Rally others to do the sampling. It’s never too hard to find takers.
Make Fasting a Tradition
Our success as a civilization rests upon our traditions. Heck, the Primal Blueprint is about respecting the oldest human traditions around, the “informal” and natural ones established by hundreds of thousands of years of hominid evolution. And yes, specific traditions can become outdated or run counter to currently accepted modes of thought and behavior, but the idea of tradition—a foundational behavior whose utility and importance has been tested through time—remains essential.
If you don’t have any traditions of your own, if they’ve been lost or ground down to pathetic shadows of their former selves, what do you do? You make your own. Fasting is a good choice, and it’s one that many other populations and cultures have performed. Pick a time frame—maybe a single 24-hour fast every Saturday, or “fast before each big holiday feast,” or “skip breakfast the week before each major holiday”—and suggest to everyone that the entire family get on board.
Do Leangains Style Fasted Training
Skip breakfast. Train around midday, lifting hard and heavy. After training, break the fast. Eat your last meal by 7 or 8 P.M. Aim for a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour eating window. Fast every day, train every 2-3 days. There’s even a book if you want more details.
This intensive method of fasting and training allows you a little more leeway with the food choices when you do eat. Much of what you eat will go toward repairing and rebuilding what you’ve broken down during training, and the everyday fasted periods will help you minimize fat gain. It can be quite intense, and people may have disparate responses to the rigidity of the schedule. If hard boundaries work well for you, if you like establishing rules and then sticking to them, this is the holiday fasting method for you. If you’re more fluid and balk at hard lines, you may have trouble. Women may have more success using 12-14 fasting windows.
Pair Your Dietary Transgressions With Fasts.
Are you the type to really go all out during Thanksgiving—dropping the Primal guidelines and just going for it? Mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, that weird sweet potato dish with marshmallows on top, pumpkin pie, the works? A one- or two-day fast right before or after the meal can mitigate the damage of the meal.
Even if there’s not much of a physiological benefit other than reducing your calorie intake to balance the overindulgence, the psychological boost we get from not eating will stave off the potential guilt of abandoning the Primal guidelines. I don’t support guilting or shaming ourselves because of what we eat, but I know it does happen. This can be a powerful antidote.
Whatever You Choose, Stick To a Schedule.
Once you figure out which fasting plan seems to work for your holiday situation, stick with it. Skip meals if you like, but try to eat at roughly the same time each day. This conditions your body to expect food (and get hungry at the right time, not before), and it improves the metabolic response to eating.
This applies whether you’re fasting in the morning or at night. In one recent study, the authors actually tested the effect of breaking your eating habits by separating overweight women into habitual breakfast skippers and habitual breakfast eaters and then having them either skip breakfast or eat breakfast.
Habitual breakfast eaters who skipped breakfast experienced way more hunger at lunch, had worse blood lipids, and higher insulin levels. They had worse blood lipids and their insulin skyrocketed. Habitual breakfast skippers who skipped breakfast experienced none of these deleterious effects.
Meanwhile, habitual breakfast eaters who ate breakfast were more satiated at lunch. They had better blood lipids and normal insulin levels. Habitual breakfast skippers who ate breakfast were still hungry at lunch. Eating breakfast didn’t inhibit their regular lunch-time appetites.
Fasting isn’t a magic bullet. IF won’t fix all your metabolic issues and counteract every cookie, cake, and slice of pie you eat during the holidays. But it is a strong bulwark against the worst of the holiday excesses.
Are you going to fast this holiday season? Have you used IF in the past? What do you do to get through the holiday season without unwanted weight gain?