Hey everybody, I know some of you are stopping in this morning for your Sunday dose of salient news—all the latest on epigenetic findings, human oddities, and other Primal worthy items.
No worries. We’re not abandoning Weekend Link Love, but we are rescheduling it—this time to Mondays—and adding to it for good measure. You’ll find all the things you love—latest research, stuff I’m up to and interested in, quote of the week (and more)—on Monday mornings, right when you’re just about ready for that first morning break and second cup of coffee.
Still looking for some Sunday content? Newsletter subscribers now get a Sunday morning note from yours truly. No ads, no promos, just me talking about the latest fitness routines I’m trying, books I’m reading, studies I’m pondering—a casual weekend check-in from me to you. I’ve gotten great feedback, and I appreciate all the emails from readers the last few weeks about it. So, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter (there’s a sign-up form just below this post and on the home page), this is a great time to do it. I’d love to have you join us.
Many of you enjoyed the Low-Carb Pumpkin Bread a few weeks ago, and we thought we’d cook up another pumpkin treat before the season passes. For a special breakfast or an afternoon indulgence, this grain-free granola is full on taste and relatively low in carbs (10 grams per serving).
For those who miss the crunchiness of morning cereal or otherwise crave a lot of texture, this recipe is for you. Nuts and seeds are soaked overnight to reduce anti-nutrients. Coconut flakes add rich flavor (and healthy fats), and dates or golden raisins add just enough sweetness to this fall favorite.
Time in Kitchen: 30 minutes (plus 45 minutes cook time and 13 hours of overnight soaking)
½ cup flaxseeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups almonds, chopped
1 cup golden raisins or 1 cup pitted dates
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
(To switch up the flavors, try: citrus zest (lemon or orange), other spices such as cardamom or cloves, pure vanilla extract, or cocoa powder.)
Place nuts and seeds in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak overnight. Place raisins or dates in a separate bowl, cover with 1 cup water, and soak overnight.
(The next day) In a strainer, drain and rinse nuts and seeds and discard soaking water.
Place raisins or dates, along with their soaking water, in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add nuts and seeds to raisin or date puree in food processor and pulse until they resemble the consistency of granola. Briefly pulse in coconut oil, vanilla, spices, and salt to incorporate.
Transfer mixture onto two large baking sheets Bake for 45 minutes in oven at 250°F.
Top with shredded coconut, and mix well to combine. Cool completely then store in airtight container for 7–10 days.
Hey all, I know some of you are stopping in this morning wondering where the usual recipe is. Where’s the beef marrow? Where’s the sweet meats? Where’s the roasted veggies.
Fear not. The team and I will be bringing you the same Primal fare as always, but we’re in the midst of adjusting our publishing schedule to reach more folks during the week. Look for more robust recipes and food related articles on Thursdays from here on out. We’ve got some great meal prep ideas and warm autumn dinners coming up—along with a truly Grok-size Thanksgiving menu to come.
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!
Hello Mark and the Primal Blueprint community! I usually don’t do stuff like this, but like many others who have discovered the Primal Blueprint path, it’s changed my life in such a positive way that it’s hard not to share. Growing up I was always athletic – trim, quick, and agile. I excelled in every physical activity I was into, without much effort. Karate, soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, even golf came easy for me. Within my group of friends, I was the guy that was better at everything than everyone else (at least in my mind LOL). It seemed like I could maintain this level of health and physical ability forever.
Then of course life happens. In my late 20s I meet the love of my life. We get married and in short order, our first son is born. As a parent, you know how life-changing that event is, and being still in our 20’s, my wife and I went into daily survival mode and did our best. I never thought much about eating right or exercising, being one of those people who could (and did) eat anything under the sun and come out (seemingly) unscathed. Fast food, chips, pizza, ice-cream, candy, processed food from boxes, you name it. And it wasn’t just what I ate, it was the time in which I ate it. I never gave much thought to pounding huge meals late at night, or right before bed-time. In fact, it was like I had a “second” dinner every night. And of course, this was all the usual SAD stuff; tons of bread and grains, corn, fried foods, processed sugars, the usual suspects. I ate like this through my 30s.
As I reached my 40s, however, I noticed that I was getting fatter and slower, and had developed a severe case of IBS. I was always fatigued, irritable, and always had a constant feeling of dis-ease and malaise. Though I was still physically active playing soccer and bike commuting religiously, it seemed like I was always pulling a muscle, or getting injured. My reflexes seemed slower. I didn’t sleep well and my head was always in a cloud. I experienced my first panic attack and developed severe anxiety. I was always getting sick, and never had any energy to really play with or interact with my son.
When our second son came along, these symptoms became compounded. I was miserable, and felt ground-down by the pressures of life as a husband, father and sole-breadwinner of our family. I thought what I was feeling was just life happening, and that it was just a part of getting older.
Being now in my early 40s, I was feeling like crap, looking like crap, and had no idea what to do about it. One day I looked at myself in the full-length bathroom mirror (with my IBS, the bathroom was my second home), and I realized I was at a crossroads. Like Tracy Chapman sang, “leave tonight or live and die this way,” I decided it was time to leave my current unhealthy state and go on a new journey; one towards teaching myself how to be a Fat Burning Beast. Through Mark and the ever expanding Primal/Paleo community, I’ve reclaimed my health and fitness. I’ve discovered and use Intermittent Fasting as another tool, and read Mark’s Daily Apple daily for knowledge and inspiration (and dark chocolate recipes).
I’m also being mindful of things like chronic cardio, stress management and finding time to “get wild.” I’m constantly trying to figure out how to implement the Primal philosophy into the choices I make, not only with nutrition, but with life in general. My six-year-old son is now one of my Primal coaches (even though he doesn’t know it). He loves his “Primal” wrestling sessions with daddy, and being used as daddy’s weight lifting equipment. He also likes joining daddy and mommy in our family burpee sessions before dinner.
So, in about a year’s time of living the Primal/Keto life, I’ve transformed my body (and my mind). I’ve cured myself of IBS, and feel great overall. My head is clearer, I sleep better, my energy level has increased. Somehow, I feel more optimistic. My anxiety has lessened enough that I can enjoy coffee again (yay!)
What’s also cool is that through my enthusiasm for this path, my wife is also now onboard the Primal/Keto train (it was hard doing it alone, especially since she does all the cooking for the family). After only a few months, she is looking and feeling great herself, and enjoying more energy than she’s ever had. It hasn’t always been easy of course, but overall, being on the Primal path has been an incredible epiphany in my life. I have co-workers, friends, and family wondering what the heck happened and how I did it.
Thanks Mark for all you’ve done and continue to do. How great it must feel to be helping so many people improve their health and well-being. Congrats on being a game-changer and positive force in the world.
Today’s guest post is generously offered up by Craig Emmerich, husband to—and co-author with—the queen of keto herself, Maria Emmerich. Enjoy!
When we consume macro nutrients, our bodies go through a priority for dealing with them. This priority can be very useful in understanding how our bodies work and how to leverage it for losing weight.
The body doesn’t like having an oversaturation of fuel in the blood at any time. It tightly manages the fuels to avoid dangerous situations like hyperglycemia or blood glucose that is too high. But it also manages and controls other fuels like ketones (beta hydroxybutyrate or BHB levels) and fats (free fatty acids or FFA and triglycerides) to keep them under control and not oversaturate the blood with fuel.
It is like the engine of a car. You don’t want to give the engine too much fuel and blow it up. So the body controls the amount of fuels in the blood to ensure you don’t “blow up.” To do this, the body will address the most important (or potentially most dangerous) fuels first. It does this in a very logical way—in reverse order of storage capacity.
Here is a chart showing the breakdown of oxidative priority for dietary fuels.
Modified Source: Keto. By Maria and Craig Emmerich Original source: Oxidative Priority, Meal Frequency, and the Energy Economy of Food and Activity: Implications for Longevity, Obesity, and Cardiometabolic Disease, Sinclair, Bremer, et al, February 2017.
The #1 oxidative priority is alcohol because there is zero storage capacity for it. It makes sense that the body would address this first, since it can’t store it anywhere and too high blood alcohol means death.
The second oxidative priority is exogenous ketones. These are ketone salts that raise blood BHB levels. There isn’t a storage site for ketones either, so the body must deal with this before addressing other fuels. That is why exogenous ketones aren’t the best option when trying to lose weight. They displace fat oxidation, keeping fat stored while it uses the exogenous ketones as fuel instead.
The third oxidative priority is protein. Protein is a bit different, as there is a limited storage space for protein, but protein is not a good fuel source. It takes 5 ATP to turn protein into a fuel (glucose through gluconeogenesis) and another 2 ATP to burn in the mitochondria. Why would your body expend 7 ATP for something it can do for 2 ATP by just burning glucose or fat from your body? Protein is only really used as a fuel when other fuels (glucose and fat) are not present and it is forced to use protein. Protein gets preferentially used to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It builds and repairs lean mass.
The next oxidative priority is carbohydrates. It has a moderate amount of storage capacity at 1,200 to 2,000 calories.
The last oxidative priority is fat. This makes sense, as there is a theoretically unlimited storage capacity for fat. There are people with upwards of 400 pounds of stored body fat, which represents 1.6 million calories.
Oxidative priority can help you understand what happens when you put certain fuels into your body. If you are drinking alcohol while eating carbs and fat, the carbs and fat will primarily go into storage while the body deals with the elevated alcohol.
To understand the power of oxidative priority take the case of an alcoholic. Alcoholics will have very low A1c levels (in the 4s) no matter what they eat! If they eat tons of carbohydrates they will still have an A1c in the 4s because the chronically elevated alcohol levels force the body to store all glucose while dealing with alcohol, creating a low A1c. I am not recommending anyone become an alcoholic to lower A1c level—but quite the opposite actually.
So, what does this mean, and how can you leverage your body’s biology to lose weight?
If you avoid alcohol and exogenous ketones, get a just enough protein to support maintenance of lean mass (about 0.8 times your lean mass in pounds for grams of protein a day), limit the carbs and then reduce dietary fat a bit to force the body to use more stored body fat for fuel you will lose body fat. When you restrict carbs for long enough (4-6 weeks for most people) the body gets used to using fat as its primary fuel (keto adapted). This means it can burn body fat or dietary fat equally well. Eliminating other fuels and keeping dietary fat moderate allows the body to focus on body fat for fuel resulting in fat loss.
That is our bodies system for processing fuels coming in through the diet. Leverage it for improved results and body recomposition.
Craig Emmerich graduated in Electrical Engineering and has always had a systems approach to his work. He followed his wife Maria into the nutrition field and has since dedicated his time researching and looking at nutrition and biology from a systems perspective. Over the last 8 years he has worked with hundreds of clients alongside Maria to help them heal their bodies and lose weight leveraging their biology to make it easy.
Thanks to Craig for today’s keto insights, and thanks to everybody here for stopping in.
I’m 65, and though I’ve been able to stave off the worst of what normally passes for the “aging process”—as can almost anyone by paying attention to how you eat, sleep, train, move, and live—the fact remains that I’m not training like I used to.
It’s not so much that I’m “losing” a step, although it happens to the best of us. It’s that I’ve totally transcended the need or desire to train hard for the sake of training hard. There are no more competitions. My ego is content on the training front. I’m not wrapped up in pounds lifted or miles run.
I get regular questions about what I do for workouts and how they’ve changed over time. Today I thought I’d answer this.
Miami has a fantastic gym culture with impressive facilities to support it. I almost have to go the gym. It’s something I still enjoy. I just make it count.
I’ve managed to compress my time in the gym with “super-sets” for each exercise.
These aren’t always super-sets where you’re bouncing between the squat rack and the bench press every other set. The kind of super-set I’m talking about is a rest-pause super-set. I try to hit between 12-20 total reps—that’s my goal—in three mini-sets with minimal rest. The super-set is broken up into three subsets with very short rest periods.
An example: Deadlift, 9 reps. Rest 30 seconds. Deadlift, 6 reps. Rest 30 seconds. Deadlift, 4 reps. You’re done. That’s a total of 19 reps. Once I hit 20, I’m adding weight.
Why I like this method:
Over fast. I get in, get a great workout, and get out.
No meandering and wasting time between sets. There are hard rules (30-second rests) that I must follow.
Hard to go heavy enough to hurt yourself. If you’re doing 15-20 reps with little rest, by necessity the weight you use needs to be manageable.
But heavy and intense enough to produce benefits. I know, I know, feeling sore the next day isn’t a good barometer of how effective the workout was. That’s what they say, but everyone secretly loves and craves the feeling of DOMS. Really makes you feel like you did something worthwhile.
I’ve fallen in love with the trap bar.
At this point in the game, I don’t need to hit PRs on the straight bar deadlift. Trap bars just feel safer, more natural, more versatile. Some great possibilities (many of which I throw in) include:
Trap Bar Deadlift With Squat Bias—Deadlifts with more knee flexion, almost a half squat.
Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift—Knees soft but mostly straight, almost a straight leg deadlift with or without touching the floor in between reps.
Trap Bar Power Shrug—Deadlift at a pretty good clip, explode upward and shrug the bar. Almost like you’re jumping without leaving the ground.
Trap Bar Squat—Squat down, grasp bar, stand up, repeat. Stack some weights and stand on them for added range of motion/squat depth.
Trap Bar Split Squat—Stand inside the hexagon, place foot on elevated surface (1.5 ft, about) behind you, perform a split squat, wake up sore.
Trap Bar Row—Stand inside the hexagon, bend over at the waist, row that bar up toward your belly.
The average person can get 90-95% of the benefits using a trap bar instead of a straight bar. Maybe higher, even.
I lift for a different purpose now.
As for the weights I use, now that my PR days are behind me, I lift to avoid injury now more than anything. That means knowing what “heavy” really is and backing down a hair. I’ll do one or two upper body days, and one leg day each week. That’s it. Two, maximum three strength sessions.
I base my workouts around standup paddling and Ultimate Frisbee games.
Both of these are stressful enough (in a good way) that I want to be rested for (and from) those activities before I engage in a lifting session. Just to be clear, I play Ultimate all-out for up to two hours, so it’s become my sprint day.
The Miami Ultimate Frisbee scene is very high-level. I’ve fallen in with a regular pickup squad, and the level of competition rivals Malibu’s. So, that aspect of my activity hasn’t changed. I’m still getting my one day of Ultimate a week.
If I’m feeling up to it, Miami beaches are fantastic for sprints. You don’t go as fast because the sand is so powdery, but it makes you work even harder.
Miami has also really changed how I spend time with my favorite activity, standup paddling.
In Malibu, it was a bit wilder. I’d head out past the breakers and paddle in any direction. It was huge, free, open, and infinite.
In Miami, you have the ocean side which is great and much calmer than Malibu, but you also have these inland waterways, like huge canals running through Miami. I’ve been spending a ton of time exploring them, checking out the beautiful homes and boats and even the occasional manatee popping up. And because it’s so calm, I can really go hard without worrying about waves. While paddling is fun, I go pretty hard for at least an hour and up to 90 minutes, so it’s a serious aerobic day for me.
I walk more.
I can walk so much more in Miami. In Malibu, I had to drive somewhere to walk, whether it was a trail head for a hike, down to the beach for a stroll, or to Venice or Santa Monica to just wander. In Miami, Carrie and I can walk out the door and go the market, the water, the book store, the cafe, or just wander. It’s integrated into our day, not something we have to schedule. People don’t really think of Miami as a ‘walking city,” and it’s certainly no New York or San Francisco, but it beats the pants off Southern California.
Trap bar, rest-pause sets, and environment aside, what I train hasn’t changed all that much. I’m still lifting heavy things, running really fast, moving frequently at a slow pace, and doing activities I love. But somehow I’m doing a better job of seamlessly integrating them into my daily existence. I’ve minimized the amount of time I spend lifting without compromising my results. I’m using my compressed training to fuel the activities I love doing, giving me more time that’s also higher quality.
A lot of this could be the simple result of moving somewhere new after living in the same city for twenty years, sort of a honeymoon phase. We’ll see. My workouts here are even more a part of my general lifestyle. They’re, for the most part, parts of my life rather than interruptions to it, which is the ancestral model at its modern best maybe. That’s how I choose to see it.
Thanks for stopping by today, folks. I’d love to read your feedback and questions and hear what new routines you’re trying out. Take care.
Putting dinner on the table just got easier with this meal prep plan that bangs out three dinners at once. All the mix-and-match ingredients you need for three different meals are cooked on single sheet pans, making cleanup easy, too.
The cooked ingredients are simply seasoned with salt and pepper for maximum versatility. Add more varied flavors when you dish up by incorporating the suggested herbs, spices, dressings, and garnishes.
Each meal provides 4 servings. The food can be served at room temperature, reheated in a microwave, or reheated by sautéing the ingredients briefly in a pan with oil.
Primal Sheet Pan Dinners Menu
Chicken Fajita Bowl
Steak & Broccoli “Stir-fry”
Greek Chicken Plate
This menu is only a guide. Feel free to mix and match the ingredients with your tastes in mind.
Cover sheet pans with parchment paper or foil (optional). IMPORTANT NOTE: Parchment paper cannot go under a broiler. Do not use parchment paper under the steak when broiling.
Sheet Pan #1
Cut the small potatoes into ½-inch-thick rounds. Spread the potatoes out on a sheet pan. Lightly coat the potatoes with avocado oil.
Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken thighs, skin side up, on the sheet pan with the potatoes. Set aside.
Sheet Pan #2
Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, peel the red onion and cut in half, stem and seed the bell peppers. Cut all vegetables into 1/2-inch slices.
Spread the vegetables out on a sheet pan. Lightly coat with avocado oil. Set aside.
Sheet Pan #3
Cut the broccoli into florets. Spread broccoli florets out across one side of a sheet pan. Spread the cherry tomatoes out on the other side of the pan. Lightly coat everything with avocado oil. Set aside.
And finally…pat the steak dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt. Set aside on a plate.
Season the ingredients on all three of the sheet pans with salt and pepper.
Put all three of the sheet pans in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Gently mix and toss the vegetables once or twice while they cook.
After 20 minutes, remove the squash, onion, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes from the oven. (If the vegetables aren’t cooked enough for your preference, they can stay in the oven a bit longer.)
Set the timer for 10 minutes, and continue to cook the chicken thighs 10 minutes more until the skin is browned and chicken is cooked through (165 °F).
While the chicken finishes cooking, scrape the vegetables off one of the sheet pans into a food storage container. Set the steak on this sheet pan. (NOTE: Parchment paper cannot go under a broiler. Remove parchment paper before broiling the steak.)
When the timer goes off, remove the chicken from the oven. Turn the broiler on to high.
Place the sheet pan with the steak on the top rack under the broiler. Broil the steak, flipping once, until the meat registers 135°F (medium-rare) and the meat is charred on the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes a side. Let the cooked steak rest outside the oven for 10 minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain.
Set food storage containers out on the counter. Separate the chicken and steak into containers. Store the potatoes in one container. Store the delicata squash, onion, and bell peppers in another container. Store the broccoli in one container and the tomatoes in another. All of these cooked ingredients will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Assembling the Meals
When you’re ready to eat, take out the containers and assemble a meal. You can assemble the ingredients into meals any way you like, but here are three ideas:
Meal #1: Chicken Fajita Bowls
Shredded chicken with roasted delicata squash, red onion, and bell peppers, plus avocado, green onion, salsa, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime
Shred the meat of four chicken thighs. Toss the meat with ¼ teaspoon cumin and chili powder. In each bowl, combine shredded chicken with half of the delicata squash, red onion, and roasted bell peppers.
Add garnishes:sliced avocado, green onion, salsa, cilantro, squeeze of lime
Steak and broccoli over ginger and garlic cauliflower rice, garnished with green onions, toasted nori, and coconut aminos
In a saucepan, sauté a few finely chopped garlic cloves and a 2-inch piece of ginger root (peeled and cut into thin strips) in avocado oil until fragrant and lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
Heat cauliflower rice according to package directions. Mix the garlic and ginger into the cauliflower rice, and portion into bowls. Top the cauliflower rice with sliced steak and broccoli.
Add garnishes:green onion, toasted nori (or Seasnax)
Add extra flavor:Drizzle coconut aminos on top
Meal #3 Greek Chicken
Chicken thighs with roasted potatoes, tomatoes, delicata squash, red onion, bell peppers, and sautéed garlic spinach with kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and a squeeze of lemon
On a plate, serve whole chicken thighs with the roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and leftover delicata squash, red onion, and bell peppers. Saute the bags of baby spinach in extra virgin olive oil with several cloves of minced garlic until the spinach wilts. Add spinach to the plates.