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?
Since you’ve worked so hard to heal your chronic pain by making longer, stronger, more supple muscles and connective tissue, let’s make sure you never again regress into plantar fasciitis hell! Today I’ll detail how to transition gradually and sensibly toward a more barefoot/minimalist lifestyle—and what types of shoes will interference the least in that process (when you have to wear them).
As you increase your barefoot competency, you’ll reduce the risk of chronic pain and injury to your feet and throughout your lower extremities. You’ll also improve your technique (in running and other sports) as well as your balance, explosiveness, speed, endurance, and kinesthetic awareness when doing all manner of physical activity. Yep, bare feet are functionally superior and more comfortable than shoes in most every way—except when you need the support and protection of shoes for specialized physical endeavors that could easily injure exposed feet.
Why and How To Transition To a Barefoot Lifestyle
While I don’t have concrete proof at my fingertips, I’m going to make the bold proclamation that Grok did not suffer from plantar fasciitis. Our ancestors walked, hiked, sprinted, and even ran long distances over assorted natural terrain for 2.5 million years using bare feet, or rudimentary sandals or moccasins. A shoe-dominant lifestyle came into play only as recently as the Industrial Revolution. The epidemic chronic foot pain and assorted conditions suffered by modern humans are strongly influenced by spending a lifetime in cushiony, constrictive footwear with an elevated heel. Modern footwear weakens your lower extremities, messes up the synchronistic functioning of your entire musculoskeletal system and central nervous system, compromises correct posture, and makes you vastly susceptible to injury, dysfunction, and chronic pain.
You may be aware of some backlash in the minimalist footwear movement in recent years, as naysayers caution about the increased risk of injury with bare feet or “flimsy” shoes. As misguided as these negative claims are, it’s reasonable to gracefully acknowledge the inherent injury risk of being foolish when transitioning to more barefoot experiences and to learn how to do it the right way. Accordingly, here are some tips for making a safe and comfortable transition:
Do the stretches and mobility exercises mentioned in the How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis regularly. Consider adding some barefoot strengthening exercises, such as those listed in my awesome eBook, Amazing Feets. (Check the end of this post for how to get yourself a copy.) If you just start by making aggressive circles with your feet while watching T.V., you are in business here.
Try to spend as much time as possible barefoot around the house (or in stocking feet if you need warmth)
For runners: complete your training sessions in your typical shoes, then jog on grass or other soft surface for a few minutes at the end of each run.
For workers on feet: If you have to wear orthotics to make it through your nursing shift, pair that with some barefoot time around the house after work.
Suggestions For Minimalist Footwear
Acquire a pair of minimalist shoes that you will integrate into daily life here and there. Here are some athletic shoe models, listed in order of progression from most support to most barefoot-like: Nike Free’s (flexible sole, but well-built on top), New Balance Minimus (minimal heel elevation, but well built on top), Merrell Trail Glove (fits your foot like a glove, with little or no heel elevation, but a full toe box and good support for trail running), Luna Sandals (inspired by our ancestors, and invented by the irrepressible Barefoot Ted McDonald), Vibram Five Fingers (the ultimate barefoot experience with the independent toe operation; today there are many similar brands).
Choose the lowest heel elevation option for your dress shoes, leisure shoes, and athletic shoes. For women who are accustomed to wearing heels, any reduction in heel height will make a difference, but ideally you’ll move to flats. Guys, this might mean choosing a different dress shoe that looks the same, but with less heel. Elevated heels promote shorter, weaker, Achilles tendons and calf muscles, unwinding all the hard work you did stretching and mobilizing.
Over time, strive to make progress. Start using minimalist shoes during strength training sessions at the gym. Progress through the footwear options to the least support. Reject the “shoe mileage” ethos and keep your shoes until they are battered and worn down to the bare minimum!
Finally, please employ the tips in the proper context of your personal situation. Your barefoot efforts should feel great and should be free from any sort of pain and suffering. If you experience next day muscle tightness after jogging a mile on the grass, work through it with stretches and drills, and expect improvement and increased resiliency over time. If you’re hobbled and inflamed after spending a full or half shift in your fancy new minimalist shoes, dial it back to a goal of one hour in the minimal gear and the rest in regular.
Even if you follow all the guidelines well, realize that your decades of using cushiony, elevated shoes has generated significant atrophy in your lower extremities. Consequently, you’ll have a moderate to significant risk of injury during your transition. If you have to retreat here and there from an aggressive strategy, don’t be discouraged. As with transitioning from carb dependency to becoming fat- and keto-adapted, everything that happens can be a positive learning experience—even an indulgence followed by a recalibration.
Check out this video for more about minimalist shoe wear and how they support long-term plantar fasciitis recovery (as well as general foot health).
Let’s hear from you? How has your healing process for plantar fasciitis gone? What shoes have you settled on, and how has barefooting made a difference in your recovery? Thanks for reading today. (And if you’re interested in learning more about a barefoot lifestyle, take advantage of the special offer to download the “Amazing Feets Ebook” for free on my website.)
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!
“Aren’t you tall!” they cooed, and they were right. I was tall at six foot five.
“And aren’t you skinny!” they chorused, but they were both right and wrong; only parts of me were skinny, others were not.
Skinny arms with pencil thin wrists and skinny legs with non-existent calves were all stuck onto a torso that—in direct contrast—was well rounded. Not massive, of course, though my elder brother oft compared me to Mr Potato Head, but enough for me to have a bulging gut, love handles (or should it be handfuls!) and a chest devoid of muscle yet plump with fat.
“It isn’t fair!” I frequently told myself, staring mournfully into the mirror, and it wasn’t! For ten years, as one of the million UK commuters to London, I would rise early; breakfast on toast, cycle to the train station (six miles) walk/run/stagger from the other end of the line to work and slump exhausted in my chair where cheap instant coffee would keep the twin pangs of hunger and fatigue at bay until the midday refuel. Oh, hang on, I would snack frequently…on cheap rainbow coloured heartburn tablets in futile attempts to ease the daily bouts of heartburn.
Lunch would be one of those meal replacement shakes or couscous, followed by a session at the gym, more work followed by my jaunt home. Prior to getting back to the house I would collect my children from an after-school club and scold and chide their slow walking pace home simply because I was absolutely ravenous— desperate even, for some food. On some days, I would leave the children stumbling in my wake to dash across the threshold and dive into the cupboard to cram some toast, cheese or both down my throat.
“I should be as skinny as a rake!” I would tell my glum faced reflection. He would nod in agreement, patches of wobbly fat shaking slightly as he did so.
“Calories in – calories out,” they told me, so I bought smaller plates and began restricting calories to starvation levels. My wife joined me in solidarity and together we punished ourselves for 30 long days with tiny bowls of risotto, meagre portions of pasta and more high sugar, low calorie milkshakes (skimmed milk of course!). We gave up in unison, neither of us having lost any weight.
“No Pain, No Gain” they told me, so I upped my exercise. Mind you, I had always been fairly fit; cycling and running were my main forms of fat-fighting, with annual half marathons being my motivation (“You need to have something to aim for”). But my knees were starting to hurt. In the car or cinema I would often have to contort my body in some weird way so that I could stretch out my legs, thereby staving off the dull pain that would creep in after about 20 minutes of sitting. I purchased a popular DVD workout series, the name of which rhymes with Banality, though it was anything but! I loved the smug feeling I got when I told friends and family of my nightly sweaty exploits on the kitchen floor (the workout DVD, ladies and gentleman!) and I loved the endorphin buzz and the feeling that this was it…I would finally blast away those fatty deposits in the burning furnace of my exercise regime.
I lost a single, solitary pound in that sweat drenched, grueling, exhausting 60 days. I couldn’t even purchase the “I didn’t it” tee-shirt because I wasn’t a U.S. citizen!
Even worse, my gut still hung low when performing any kind of horizontal movement. My chest still wobbled when I ran. My knees still hurt. My love handles still called out to be handled.
Then I found this site, and I found hope.
Within a month I had ditched grains, pasta and those popular shakes. I ate eggs, cheese and fatty cuts of meat with large rainbow coloured piles of vegetables. I lost weight—half a stone in a month, and felt great.
It was as if I had been made privy to the secret! Suddenly, health was something I could actually achieve rather than as a result of lucky genes. I read and read and read from Mark’s Daily Apple to Grain Belly to all of Taubes work, and as my wisdom and knowledge grew, my waistline shrank.
My knees stopped hurting (and as a bonus people stopped staring at me in the cinema!), and my heartburn vanished. I began walking more—moving to take in scenery and fresh air. The family came too and together we began to appreciate the little things.
This year I ventured into Primal 3.0 (to quote Mr. Sisson), and in one swoop I went Keto and enrolled on the Primal Health Coaching Course. As I write this, it has dawned on me there are clear parallels between the two: both are scary to contemplate, tough when you first start but incredibly rewarding once you give it your all.
The final parallel is this: I am still not at the end of my journey, but I am now, finally, in control and I want others to be in control too.
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.
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.
So, California is on fire. You’ve probably heard the stories and seen the videos of people racing along burning highways to escape. It’s unlike anything the state has ever seen.
I no longer live in Malibu, but I did for 25 years, and my daughter Devyn has been living in our old Malibu house with her boyfriend and three dogs.
She was in the house last week as fire raced down the valley toward our home. They watched as it got closer and only left when the flames finally reached our backyard, assuming they had more time before it was upon them. They didn’t.
I was following along on live stream news from my place in Miami. When I saw local L.A. reporters standing on the street below our house with 30 foot flames roaring directly behind them, I called and told her to get the hell out. Devyn had no idea because the power and Internet were all cut. She and the dogs went to Santa Monica; her boyfriend stayed in Malibu to protect our house (successfully) and a few other friends’ homes in the area.
When I got confirmation that she was all right, I went to sleep. I’m a worrier—as longtime readers will know—but I went to bed with a clear mind, knowing that everyone was safe. Sure, I worried about the house, which has been on the market for a few months and contains 15 years of dearly held memories along with some lingering belongings, but I was also totally at peace with whatever happened. We’ve got insurance and houses are just stuff. The people who live in the house and the memories we form there are what matters. That sense of home doesn’t just disappear. It stays with you.
The house survived anyway, albeit with a fair amount of fire and water damage to two sides of it. Two of our neighbors weren’t so lucky and lost their homes entirely.
It’s interesting to me that just two weeks ago I was writing about the importance of practicing gratitude. These events asserted a real life reason why gratitude is so essential: life is fragile—and it can be taken away at any moment. Even if you think you have nothing, you have life, and the promise and opportunity that represents.
Gratitude asks us to resist the temptation to judge the height of our own fortune (or the depth of our misfortune) by comparison with others. It’s self-referencing, which is the seat of its power. So many things become possible when we operate from that place.
I’ve said before on the blog that Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday. This year I’ll be celebrating its message more than ever.
Enjoy your Sunday, everybody, and a good holiday to you and yours.
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 Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
My story is not one of miraculous weight loss or diseases cured, but I have experienced great relief from autoimmune conditions such as eczema, endometriosis and celiac. Primal found me when I was not particularly looking for it, but it has ended up changing the lifestyle of my entire family.
I gave birth to my first child in October of 2010. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009, so had been eating gluten free for quite some time. However, I had embraced gluten free products such as GF breads, cereals and granola bars not realizing that they were probably making me feel much worse. I thought, like many pregnant women do, that the high carbohydrate, low fat diet I was following throughout my pregnancy would help stave off the frequent nausea and hunger pangs I was undergoing.
After having my son, I felt strongly about wanting to breastfeed him and didn’t have any issues with keeping up with it. This made me very happy and it felt so natural and nurturing. At his 1-month check-up, the Doctor noticed that my son had developed severe eczema all over his body in patches, but mostly on his face. His poor little face was covered in red angry looking rashes.
Our doctor suggested that the breast milk that I was providing may be the culprit and that we should switch to formula because it would be way too hard to embrace the type of diet that might help. I, not wanting to stop breastfeeding, asked what type of diet she had in mind. I was willing to give up anything to help my son. She said, “You need to stop eating any dairy, soy, and gluten.” I was a little nervous to try, but I figured that I had already cut out gluten for quite some time so attempting to get rid of the other 2 couldn’t be all that bad.
While searching online for recipes without dairy, soy, or gluten in them I came across this website and started learning all about the Primal/Paleo diet and lifestyle. I started to read article upon article and blog post upon blog post about it. When you are breastfeeding a newborn, you have quite a bit of time for reading! I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of it and that it made so much sense to me. I decided to give it a try and leave all grains, legumes, non-fermented soy, dairy and refined sugar behind. It was the best decision I ever made.
Over about a month or so of adopting this diet, my son’s eczema dissipated. That was an amazing result in and of itself, but even more amazing to me was how I had begun to feel. As a first time Mother of a newborn baby I should have been absolutely exhausted and running on fumes. But surprisingly, I had more energy than I could remember ever having in my whole life. I don’t think that I realized that I had been missing out on this great supply of steady energy until I experienced it firsthand.
In addition to the increased energy I also noticed positive changes like not being hungry every 2 hours and needing to be constantly snacking. I also found that during workouts (my usual workouts included running with a jogging stroller) I had more stamina and could perform high intensity sprints throughout. Before embracing Primal/Paleo, that would have been out of the question.
Another benefit I experienced was the fast rate at which I lost all the baby weight and then some more as well. I was down to 10 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight in just 6 months after giving birth. While I was a healthy weight when I got pregnant, it was still a nice bonus that came along with the whole lifestyle shift.
When it came time to wean my son when he was around 18 months old, I didn’t even think twice about wanting to stick with the new diet and lifestyle. I had also done a lot of research by this point, and I knew that my son would be so much better off by eating this way as well, especially throughout his developmental years.
My husband played along very nicely throughout the whole transformation. He would still have beer and an occasional “treat” while out with his buddies. Mostly though, he saw how our son had been healed, and he saw the positive changes in me and he couldn’t ignore the source. He also experienced more energy and stamina when pursuing his hobbies of mountain biking and dirt bike racing.
In 2012 I became pregnant again with our second child. This time I maintained a Primal/ Paleo diet and lifestyle throughout the entire pregnancy. Even though my first pregnancy was conventionally “healthy”, this one was a lot better. I had much more energy and kept up with pre-natal yoga, running and walking until the very last week. I was also able to give birth naturally (no pain meds at all) in a birthing center with a midwife. My second birthing experience was vastly different from the first (in a hospital with an OB-GYN) and I partly attribute my diet and lifestyle changes to the fact that it was such a smooth delivery and overall a very positive experience.
In 2014 my husband and I, sick of desk jobs where we sat all day, decided to buy a farm in the Midwest, raise our own meat and have a big garden. My husband luckily found an IT job which allowed him to work remotely and also permitted me to quit my 9-5. This was a big change for us and allowed us to make a lot of positive lifestyle changes. I got to spend a lot more time with the kids, we had way more outside time as a family, and we learned how to raise and butcher animals for our own consumption.
My children (now 7- and 5-years-old) have both been eating mostly Primal since they were introduced to solid foods (at 6 months). For their first few years of life they didn’t know that it is not what is normally consumed by most children on the SAD (Standard American Diet). My son once saw a picture of chocolate ice cream in a book when he was a toddler and naturally thought it was meat. I am forever grateful that we found this way of eating and made the lifestyle changes that we did. I am excited to see my children grow and develop further with such good nutrition as a basis.
I have now been Primal/Paleo for 7 years and am very grateful for resources like Mark’s Daily Apple and various others that have helped so much along this journey. I am aspiring to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant to help others with similar health hurdles to myself. I blog about holistic nutrition and movement at eatmoverestheal.wordpress.com
Well, folks, I’d say this does it. When I asked the bees to come up with some Primal Thanksgiving fare, I caught the looks exchanged that suggested they saw it as a personal challenge. Now I only regret that I wasn’t there to personally sample and enjoy the results. (They didn’t save me any either.)
This week our very own Dr. Lindsay Taylor offered salient points on making a conscious T-Day plan whether you’re Primal or Primal-keto. Today the question may be answered you for you (and I’ll wager you’ll like the solution) with this full-on Primal (and mostly keto) menu. The bees have outdone themselves this time with a truly Grok-worthy Thanksgiving extravaganza. Check it out, and let us know which recipes are inspiring your holiday planning.
Most of us grew up with bread as a staple. And breads—or, more likely, rolls and biscuits—at the holidays took on a special significance. Maybe a certain person in the family always made the best kind. Perhaps it was a long-time family recipe. Whatever the case, passing the breadbasket at the holiday table holds meaning for us still, even when we’ve forgone grains for the sake of better health.
All this said, there are ways to enjoy these “traditional” foods when it means the most to us. These cheesy keto biscuits are one such recipe. Hint: make a double batch—because you’ll be competing with the non-keto eaters for these goodies.
Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap that has everything to do with poor cooking than inherent taste. The truth is, you don’t need to cook Brussels sprouts at all (but done well, they are amazing roasted, too), and this salad proves it.
Bacon is, not a surprise to anyone here, one of the best complements for Brussels sprouts—cooked or raw. Here the warm bacon added to the shredded leaves with tasty goodies like pecans and gorgonzola make this salad a hearty side. With the addition of a bacon vinaigrette dressing, you’re officially in Primal heaven.
As everyone knows, the turkey is the main event of the day—both in terms of preparation and enjoyment. Cooks spend hours prepping and basting with the hopes of a bird that puts the entire dinner crowd in awe. Guests wait in anticipation of the grand unveiling, not to mention the eating….
The end goal of every cook is succulent meat and a perfectly browned skin, but it can be a feat to balance. A “dry brining” process the day before and a creamy herb mix applied to the bird right before cooking offer a simple way to achieve the ultimate roasted look and juicy meat everyone will appreciate.
For many people, potatoes are synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner. And while the carb count of potatoes suggests moderation is best, at the holidays many Primal types choose to fit tradition into their eating plan.
Mashed potatoes might be the go-to, but another flavorful option is scalloped potatoes. It’s the perfect complement for beef and ham, of course, but with the taste of traditional herbs like sage and thyme, you might have a new favorite dish for your holiday turkey meals as well.
This recipe uses coconut cream and ghee, but you can substitute regular whipping cream and butter if you tolerate dairy.
Among the best parts of slow roasting meat are the delicious drippings. Rich, savory and flavorful liquid gold… To discard it, we’d suggest, borders on criminal.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying drippings on their own, most of us grew up enjoying the creamy texture of gravy on meats and vegetables. For some, it’s an indispensable element in a real holiday meal. And there’s no reason to deprive yourself if gravy is your thing. Even if you’re living keto, this recipe keeps your commitment. Most of all, it feels and tastes like indulgence itself.
Nutritional Info (per serving):
Carbs: .8 grams
Fat: 75 grams
Protein: 0 grams
Stovetop Un-Stuffing with Oysters
Stuffing seems like it would be one of the hardest holiday recipes to adapt, but it’s really quite easy to capture the spirit of stuffing using only vegetables and herbs and spices, as in this oyster “un-stuffing” recipe from the new The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook.
(If you want a more traditional stuffing, add Primal “cornbread” such as this one from Mark’s Daily Apple to the recipe below. Simply cut the cornbread into chunks and stir them in gently when you add the oysters. For a keto option, check out this cornbread recipe from our friend Elana Amsterdam.)
In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium heat. Turn the heat down a smidge and add the daikon radish. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the turnips, onion, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are starting to become soft, but are not yet cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
Add the butter to the pan and let it melt. Bump the heat back to medium and add the mushrooms. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the herb/spice mixture to the vegetables in the skillet. Stir well and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes more.
Reserving the oil from the cans, drain the oysters and chop into smaller pieces if desired. Add the oysters and the oil to the pan. Add the broth, and stir well, scraping the pan to loosen any browned bits stuck on the bottom. Cook until the oysters are warmed through. Taste the radishes and turnips to make sure they are soft. If not, cook a few more minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a serving dish. Stir in the pecans and parsley (if using) immediately before serving. Serve warm
Second only to the bird itself is, for many people, pie. Not just any pie will do on this day. There’s a finely tuned range of tastes to be orchestrated, and the finale isn’t to be compromised. One classic variety, most will agree, is sweet potato pie.
While some recipes take this the way of confectionary, that doesn’t have to be the case. Pie, done well, doesn’t have to taste like candy. But there should be a light sweetness and, in this case, a rich, creamy texture. This recipe delivers on all fronts.
‘Tis the season… for wondering “Seriously, what the heck am I going eat this holiday??”
I’m guessing that most Mark’s Daily Apple readers can relate to the angst that comes with trying to be a “healthy person” during the holiday season. Are you going to indulge? How much? How will you feel physically and mentally if you do? How will other people behave if you don’t?
Particularly if you’re somewhat new to a Primal lifestyle, it can be hard to figure out what will be best for you—and keto comes with a whole additional set of considerations. Compared to a more general Primal way of eating, keto requires stricter adherence to carbohydrate limitation. Moreover, it is possible to measure your ketone levels and tell objectively whether you have crossed the line (not that you have to do so). If ketosis is your goal, there is no chalking up that chocolate pecan pie to the 80/20 principle and being on your merry way.
Luckily though, it’s actually quite easy to stick to Primal and keto during the holidays if your brain doesn’t get in the way. In my experience, the struggle is largely mental—saying no to foods that don’t serve your goals and resisting social pressure—not a lack of delicious, healthy options. Of course, it’s up to you whether, and to what degree you are going to stay Primal/keto.
To Indulge or Not: A Few Considerations
It’s important to remember that there’s a huge range of options between 100% compliant and “I ate 2 whole pies by myself.” Just because you dip your toe in the water doesn’t mean you have to dive all the way in.
Many of us can probably indulge a little and be totally fine. To me, this is the spirit of metabolic flexibility. It means that your body can use different fuel substrates for energy. And…if and when you eat foods that are out of the norm, it’s not a big deal. In other words, your body can handle what you throw at it—within reason. That doesn’t mean you can necessarily stay in ketosis, but unless you have a medical need, there’s no rule that says you have to stay in ketosis all the time even if you consider yourself a “keto person.”
There’s a difference between “can” and “should.” Even if you can indulge without obvious negative consequences, whether you should really comes down to your health and your personal goals. You have to figure it out for yourself, and you might not know exactly where your line is until you’ve crossed it. It’s up to you whether you want to test it and find out.
While I’m a big fan of self-experimentation, there are people who are probably better off being mostly—or totally—compliant through the holidays:
if you’re still dealing with Type 2 diabetes,
if your gut health is suboptimal,
if you have recently switched to Primal or started a Keto Reset,
if you’re in the middle of an AIP or FODMAP elimination diet.
In these scenarios, indulging even a little will set you back more than it would if you were further along in the process (I can’t quantify how much). Also, if getting away from sugar and carb-dependency was a tough road for you, you might not want to risk it.
Primal and Keto Options Abound
Although a lot of the focus is on treats, the truth is that much of the traditional fare is Primal- and keto-friendly. I bet you can find something you feel good about eating at almost any meal or party even if your family is as standard as the Standard American Diet gets. Of course, you can always bring your own food to a gathering (bring enough to share—it’s the holidays after all), or you could host and serve whatever you darn well please.
This holiday, skip the dinner rolls and opt for:
Meat (Lots of meat—sugary-glazed ham being your last choice)
Salad (Ideally, use your own dressing and skip the croutons.)
Sweet Potatoes (not the marshmallow casserole obviously) for Primal, limit on keto
Raw Veggies with Dip or Pâté
Salami or Other Charcuterie and Cheese
Baked Brie (bonus points if it’s wrapped in prosciutto, avoid sugary toppings)
Then there are the traditional holiday foods that aren’t Primal/keto-friendly in their most common forms but which can be adapted fairly easily:
Mashed Potatoes – Potatoes are a borderline food for Primal eaters and a mostly-no for keto folks (who wants a tiny serving?), but cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga, or parsnips all make decent substitutes. Throw some butter, sour cream, chives, horseradish, cheese, or bacon (or all of the above!) on there, and you can hardly tell the difference. (The secret with cauliflower is to squeeze out the excess liquid after cooking but before mashing.)
Gravy (Thicken with arrowroot powder or gelatin instead of cornstarch or flour.)
Green Bean Casserole (Avoid the canned soup and fried onions—you can make both with healthy ingredients if you want; check out the recipe in The Keto Reset Dietbook).
A word of advice: Try your recipes ahead of time! Thankgiving afternoon is not the time to discover that the keto gravy recipe you found online really makes gravy jello instead.
But what about dessert??
The best option is to help yourself to another serving of turkey and homemade cranberry sauce, but what if you really want dessert? There are TONS of blogs devoted to paleo/Primal/keto desserts made with honey, maple syrup, stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and so on. Let’s not kid ourselves, however: these are still treats.
I know I harp on this point, but I really think it’s important to have a game plan when you know you’ll be facing temptation or have conflicting desires (e.g., stay Primal/keto but also eat the crescent rolls). Decide what you want, establish boundaries for yourself (even if they’re somewhat flexible), and prepare for foreseeable obstacles. Consider the following:
What is your intention in terms of staying compliant (or not)?
How are you willing to compromise if you find yourself in a situation where there aren’t any great options? (Salads with questionable dressing? Vegetables cooked in cream sauce if you usually avoid dairy? Not at all?)
What will you say to pushy/nosy/disrespectful relatives and coworkers? (You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but “That makes me feel poorly, and I want to enjoy the evening with you,” usually works pretty well.)
What can you do to manage stress during the holidays instead of turning to food?
If you are feeling conflicted, allow yourself to sit with those feelings. They’re totally normal, especially if you’re fairly new to this. Once you’ve been at it for a while, you’ll have a better sense of the personal lines you don’t want to cross. If you make a choice that you wish you hadn’t, the great thing is you’ll get a do-over at the next meal.
Lastly, don’t allow food to carry too much importance during this season. Instead, crank up the music, put on your coziest footie pajamas, and enjoy all the non-food related things there are to love about this time of year!
What’s your plan this holiday? Will you be eating keto at Thanksgiving or taking a looser approach? What are your favorite low-carb holiday recipes? Thanks for reading, everyone.
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A study that claimed low-carb dieting was terrible for heart health has been retracted due to concerns with data integrity and conflict of interest.
What about for someone who isn’t fat adapted? I take a fairly liberal primal approach which is high in all 3 macros, am I likely to still see the benefits?
Yes, you will see the benefits.
Fasted workouts (and fasts in general) are going to be more difficult to initiate for the average person eating higher-carb. It may be hard to decide to train in a fasted state and actually stick with it. But I’d argue they might even be more important, the more carbs you typically eat.
Fasted workouts supercharge the fat-burner within all of us. I’ve always said that everyone should spend time in a ketogenic state from time to time, even if they’re eating a high carb diet. The best way for a high-carb dieter to reach ketosis is through the occasional (or regular) fasted workout.
Fat oxidation goes up.
Glycogen drops (from utilization). You can’t help but turn to fat for energy.
Mitochondrial function improves. You may even start building new mitochondria that are better at burning fat.
Metabolic flexibility increases. This is the phenomenon of that athlete everyone knows who can eat whatever and still look and feel great. High enough activity levels bestow a superhuman metabolic furnace.