For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, does the renewed vigor assailing the keto diet have me worried about my business? Should I start going vegan to cover all my bases? Second, did the “ketones for overtraining” study from last week control for calories? And third, how can a person eat enough fat if they’re avoiding lactose?

Let’s go:

Interested to see if Mark’s focus on keto will continue now that the trend factor is wearing off. That VICE piece, flawed though it may be, is part of a much larger media pushback against keto. What are the business implications of aligning yourself with a so-called “fad diet”?

I’ve built a pretty good business by aligning myself and my writing and my products with “fad diets.”

I generally use several factors to determine where to align myself and target my work:

  1. Personal experimentation. What am I trying? What kind of diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications am I experimenting with? The quality of my work suffers if I’m not fully engaged on a personal level. I’m not a technical writer. I need to live my subject matter for it to come alive on the page.
  2. Personal needs. What works for me? What gets me going? What am I interested in, drawn toward on an intuitive level? What am I missing? Even my best products were designed with my own selfish desires in mind. I made Adaptogenic Calm because I needed a way to recover from excessive endurance training, and it turned out that tons of other athletes needed it, too. I made Primal Mayo because I was sick of whipping up a batch of homemade mayo every time I wanted tuna salad without all the soybean oil. I went keto because the research fascinated me. It turns out that the things I vibe with tend to resonate with others, too. Humans are often quite similar to each other. Not all of them, but there are enough that are.
  3. Your needs. What does my audience want? What do they need? What kinds of questions are they asking me? What feedback am I getting from them? How are they responding to what I’m putting out?
  4. New information. I’m always ready to pivot when new information is made available or when new research arises. Sometimes a reader will point something out and it will change the trajectory of my thinking and writing. I try not to wed myself to my ideas, to the things I want to be true, even though that’s a human foible that’s unavoidable. I always try to approach a subject in as intellectually honest a manner as I can. To me, new developments, even if they appear to contradict a stance I hold, breathe new life into my work. For example, I’m definitely biased toward lower-carb approaches for most people. They just clearly work better for the bulk of the people who encounter my work and who struggle with their health and weight in modern industrialized countries. Most people don’t perform enough physical activity to warrant perpetual “high-carb” diets, and most people find weight loss is easier and hunger lower on lower-carb, higher protein/fat diets. But at the same time, there’s room for higher-carb intakes, or even moderate-carb intakes. And can people eat high-carb and be healthy? Have populations lived well on high-carb diets? Absolutely.

Keto still satisfies these factors. Now, I’m always looking toward the horizon; I think my ancestors were probably explorers of some sort. It’s in my blood. So I probably will write about something else—next week, next month, and years from now. But my overall “thrust” will still be low-carb/Primal/keto because, well, the stuff just works.

What I wonder after reading this is: Would there have been a significant inter-group difference had calories been controlled for? Ketone esters obviously have some caloric value that the control group did not receive. How much of the benefit is merely having a better caloric intake to support this intense training protocol?

Good question—this is in regards to the study discussed last week. They actually did control for calories. The experimental group got the ketone ester drink. The control group got an isocaloric medium-chain triglyceride-based drink. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories.

Having tracked through to Michael Eades’ blog on cholesterol—how do you increase fat when you are lactose intolerant? A problem for myself and my adult children. I hadn’t realized that high fat was the actual content rather than the percentage!

Oh, man, there are so many ways to increase fat while lactose intolerant.

My favorite way is to focus on whole food sources of fat, rather than isolated fat sources:

  • Fatty animal foods: a ribeye, a beef shank, some ground beef. A lamb shank, some lamb chops. Bacon, eggs, sausage.
  • Fatty plants: olives, coconut, nuts (favoring higher MUFA nuts like macadamias), dark chocolate. Salads, which aren’t “fatty” without the dressing and meat but I’m counting as “whole foods” because that’s the effect of eating them.
  • Whole avocados: great source of potassium, fiber (if you want that), and polyphenols.

Foods like my Primal Mayo or avocado oil dressings, while technically “isolated” or “refined,” allow and promote the consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods like tuna (tuna salad), eggs (deviled eggs, egg salad), cruciferous veggies (slaws), and steaks (try searing a steak covered in mayo). And even our mayo isn’t nutritionally bereft—it contains choline, folate, and all the other good stuff found in eggs. And our dressings are full of spices and herbs that confer health effects through their phytonutrients.

Also, don’t think you have to focus on “increasing fat.” That’s the mindset that leads to things like chugging olive oil and eating a bowlful of sour cream. High level athletes who need calories at any cost can get away with and even benefit from that, but for most people it makes more sense to focus on reducing excess carbohydrates and eating whole-food sources of fat as they appear naturally.

Also, the lactose intolerant can still have dairy. Try hard cheeses, Greek yogurt, and yogurt and kefir that’s clearly marked “low” or “no lactose.” Butter is fine in all but the most severe cases, and cream is not far off from butter. Ghee is another good cooking fat that should be near zero in lactose.

Anyone else have good “lactose-free” fat sources? Anyone else worried about “keto as a fad”?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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The post Dear Mark: Abandoning the Keto “Fad,” Ketone Study Calories, and Low-Lactose Fat appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a question about taking ketones for overtraining from a reader.

Hi Mark,

I just saw this article the other day and I’m wondering what you think of it. Should high-carb athletes (or regular carb athletes) be taking ketone supplements? Is there any reason why they shouldn’t? It’d be awesome to get the “best of both worlds,” but is it safe?

Thanks,

Bill

I saw that one too. Very interesting. Here’s the full study they reference.

Okay, so what’s this all about?

Most ketone ester studies have looked at the benefits to performance. An athlete takes ketones prior to training, then they measure the effect it has on subsequent performance. It’s useful in that situation, improving performance by a few percentage points. I’ve noticed the same thing. Whenever I use ketones—which is rarely—I’ve usually taken them before an Ultimate Frisbee session.

Other studies have looked at post-training ketone supplementation, but only acutely. They’d have trainees work out or compete and then take ketones, with the effects including increased protein synthesis and glycogen repletion. Good to know, but what about long-term post-training supplementation? Would those acute effects translate to long-term effects?

This recent study aimed to find out. Instead of having the athletes take the ketones before or during training, or after but only in the short-term, they had them take them post-training consistently over a period of several weeks to see if they’d aid in recovery. They did.

All the athletes in the study trained twice a day. In the morning, they did either HIIT—high intensity interval training, 30 second all out cycle sprints with 4.5 minutes rest—or IMT—intermittent endurance training, 5 × 6 min with 8 min recovery or 5 × 8 min with 6 min recovery. Evenings, they did steady state endurance training. This was a heavy schedule designed to promote overtraining. There was a lot to recover from.

Both groups showed evidence of overtraining:

  • Lower adrenaline at night. Increased adrenaline at night is a hallmark of overtraining and can make it really hard to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Blunted decrease in resting heart rate. Acutely, stress increases heart rate. But over the course of several weeks of overtraining, an athlete’s resting heart rate will drop. Taking ketones led to a lower reduction in resting heart rate, indicative of lower stress.
  • Improved bone mineral density. Ketone-takers had slightly higher bone mineral density than the control group, in whom bone mineral density decreased. This is a marker of positive response to training. In overtraining, bone mineral density tends to drop.
  • Increased tolerance of training. Those who took ketone esters had a higher subjective tolerance for training on subsequent days, indicative of improved recovery.

The group who drank ketones had better numbers, though.

And when they tested both groups with a two-hour endurance session at the end of each week, the ketone-takers had better performance: more power output during the last 30 minutes.

In the past, I’ve expressed skepticism over high-carb eaters adding exogenous ketones to their diets. It just seemed physiologically “wrong” and unnatural to mix ketones and high-carb intakes, since the normal prerequisite for ketosis was a low-carbohydrate intake.

But this study, and some other research I’ve since explored, makes me wonder if adding ketones to a high-carb training schedule might make physiological sense. There are instances where exercise alone is sufficient to get someone into ketosis. For instance, in multistage ultra-marathoners—men and women running 240 km/150 miles over five days, no amount of dietary carbohydrate was able to keep them out of ketosis. They ate over 300 grams a day and they were still deep into ketosis. They even tried eating over 600 grams a day, and they still couldn’t keep themselves out of ketosis. That tells me that ketone production during protracted training is a feature, not a flaw, of human physiology. The two can naturally co-exist even in the presence of carbs.

The key is “glycogen stripping.” As far back as the 1980s, researchers knew that depleting glycogen stores was a prerequisite for ketosis. Now, back then, most researchers saw ketosis as a negative side effect of glycogen depletion, as something to be avoided and mitigated with “proper” carbohydrate intake. They were unaware of the potential benefits ketone bodies can deliver to athletes.

Ketones are anti-inflammatory. I even know a few high-level athletes who are experimenting with extended fasting during de-load periods to reduce the effects of overtraining and speed up healthy recovery. I make the distinction between healthy and unhealthy recovery. Healthy recovery is true recovery; it speeds up the process without inhibiting healing or training adaptations. Unhealthy recovery can get you back out there quicker but you might miss out on some of the benefits of training. One example of this is using ice baths to recover from intense performances. Doing so will blunt pain and help you get training/competing, but it may inhibit some of the benefits of training, like hypertrophy. Useful when you have to get back out there (it’s the playoffs). Not so useful if you’re trying to adapt to the training (it’s the off-season).

Ketones are protein-sparing. When ketones are present in the body, you are less likely to break down muscle tissue and organs for amino acids to convert into glucose. This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? As an alternative source of fuel for the vast majority of your body’s tissues, ketones reduce the amount of protein you need to break down to provide glucose.

Thus, contrary to my earlier assessment, what was unnatural about the study wasn’t the combination of ketones and carbohydrates. That can clearly occur in natural settings where glycogen is depleted and elevated levels of physical activity are maintained. The unnatural aspect of this study was the insane level of training these subjects were doing.

Humans are built for high volumes of low-intensity work and movement—walking, hiking, gathering, low-level labor.

Humans are built for low volumes of high-intensity work and movement—fighting, killing and field dressing large mammals, carrying heavy objects.

Humans are not built for high volumes of high-intensity work and movement—”two a days,” sprinting in the morning and going for long bike rides in the afternoon. We can do it, but there are consequences.

So what the ketone esters are doing is restoring the natural balance. They are physiological tricks to restore order in a highly-stressed body asked to perform supranatural feats of endurance.

If you try them out for this reason, I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t use ketones as a way to get back out there and keep overtraining. Instead, use them to enhance the training effect—to improve your recovery, to make your time off more meaningful and effective.
  2. Consider simply going keto. Adding ketones to a bad diet might be better than nothing at all, but the real benefits come when you commit to going keto, build up those fat-burning mitochondria, and become truly fat-adapted.

Taking ketones after a training session clearly works. But you can get there just as easily, with likely downstream benefits, by going low-carb. I’m reminded of the study from a few years ago where athletes “slept low“: after similarly grueling training, they’d eat a low-carb meal (rather than refuel their glycogen) and go to sleep.

They rapidly reached the very-low carb/ketogenic state for a good portion of the day by depleting glycogen and failing to replace it, from the afternoon snack to the post-workout breakfast. They weren’t just “high-carb.” They were smart carb, filling the glycogen, depleting it, and forcing their bodies to run on fat for a while.

To me, that’s a better (cheaper, too—ketone esters are expensive!) way to get similar results.

But whatever route you take, it’s a good way to spend time in the ketogenic state. The presence of ketones, especially paired with training, is a good thing for anyone.

What’s your experience taking ketones? How do you incorporate ketogenic states into your training schedule?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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The post Dear Mark: Ketones for Overtraining? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering one question from a reader. It’s all about synthetic peptides, small chains of amino acids with potentially huge effects on your health and physiological function. In most cases, these synthetic peptides are based on naturally-occurring compounds found in the human body. Scientists isolate the “active component” of the compound and whip it up in a lab by stringing together the right amino acids. Many of these peptides are available for purchase online, strictly “for research purposes.” But people are using them.

Are these safe for humans? Are they effective?

Mark, I would love if you did a write-up on BPC-157 and LL-37 with regards to gut health. I’m surprised with all your articles on collagen peptides you haven’t written once about “synthetic” peptides. Thanks!

Sure.

Let Me Cover PBC-157 First….

BPC-157 is a partial reconstruction of a string of 15 amino acids that’s already found in Body Protection Compound, a naturally occurring healing compound the body produces. Its creators took the natural BPC and figured out the most “biologically active” section of its amino acid chain, then synthesized that section alone. You can find the real thing in human stomach juice (and presumably throughout the body doing its job). You can buy the synthetic version online.

What Does BPC-157 Allegedly Do?

It enhances healing and recovery from injury. In one study, BPC-157-treated Achilles’ tendon tissues were more resistant to injury, spread more quickly on a petri dish, and recovered faster than untreated tendon tissues.

In another rat study, their cecums—the beginning of the large intestine—were perforated. Applying BPC-157 enhanced healing, stopped bleeding, and sped up recovery.

It counteracts NSAID toxicity. BPC-157 blocks aspirin-induced bleeding and improves healing of NSAID-mediated lesions in the gut, brain, and liver.

Another rat study even used BPC-157 to improve healing from a spinal cord injury. BPC rats regained functional autonomy, had better control over their tails, and were less spastic.

It can treat periodontal disease, reversing inflammation and reducing bone loss.

It can treat colitis, reducing gut inflammation and restoring mucosal integrity.

Briefly looking through all the anecdotes online, most people are using this peptide to heal joint or tissue injuries, which seems to be the best use. Ben Greenfield swears it healed his tennis elbow and hamstring damage. I even saw one person who used it to improve brain health and function after years of stimulant abuse. Some research does show that BPC-157 can restore dopaminergic function in the brain. Some are even reporting restored sensitivity to stimulants (although using a healing peptide just to restore your ability to get high off Adderall again seems counterproductive).

What Are the Downsides?

It must be subcutaneously injected for maximal efficacy. This isn’t as hard as it looks (millions of diabetics do it every day) but some people are really nervous around needles. Orally-active BPC-157 is available, but I’m not sure how it compares.

There is the small problem of the total lack of published human studies. If there are any, I didn’t see them. The animal studies are impressive, though, and the fact that the peptide chain does naturally occur in our bodies suggests it’s relatively safe, but we don’t know for sure.

A big problem is that you can’t verify the purity of the products available online. You have to read reviews, know the right people, and do the research. These aren’t legally intended for human consumption, so there’s no testing authority regulating the safety and content of these products.

Now For LL-37….

LL-37 is an anti-microbial peptide found naturally in people. It’s heavily involved in the immune response, and its role in health isn’t very clear. It isn’t consistently “good” or “bad.” For instance, its presence can suppress tumor growth in colon and gastric cancer, but it’s been shown to promote tumor growth in ovarian, lung, and breast cancers. But it’s also able to bind to and negate the effects of lipopolysaccharide, the bacterial endotoxin secreted by many gut pathogens, and selectively target apoptotic white blood cells while leaving viable ones unaffected.

Why Are People Using It?

There are online forums populated by people who are using this peptide to heal gut issues, deal with inflammatory diseases, and treat autoimmunity—or, they’re at least buying the peptide, injecting it, and hoping that it works and not always following up with the results. I’m skeptical about using these as justification to experiment. As one recent paper put it, LL-37 is a tiny peptide with huge effects:

Some of the functions of LL-37 are anti-inflammatory, particularly those involved in blocking Gram-negative signaling pathways through TLR4. However, in the context of the inflammatory response, this peptide may also provide proinflammatory signals that can propagate inflammation, stimulate type I IFN production, and result in induction of autoimmune diseases. Further research is needed to fully understand the big effects of this little peptide on immune system function so that potential therapeutic uses can be explored.

Sticking Points With LL-37

Much of this could be a guilt by association situation: LL-37 is often found elevated at disease sites and in diseases states because it’s part of the inflammatory response. It isn’t necessarily causing the disease. But the immune response is a delicate one with huge ramifications. I’d be very careful with injecting a peptide that the body normally produces in times of acute inflammation. That sounds a lot like trying to attempt top-down regulation of innate immunity—a decidedly bottoms-up process.  Probably better to wait for human trials rather than rely on positive anecdotes from unsourced forum posts. I’m not saying these people aren’t helping themselves with this compound. I’m saying the risk of complications or unwanted effects would be too high for me.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment down below. Do you have any experience using these synthetic peptides? How about any others?

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a bunch of questions from readers. The first one concerns another inflammatory marker, homocysteine. How could CRP be low but homocysteine be high? What could cause that? Next, I answer a barrage of kefir questions, including ones on kefir carb counts, pasteurized kefir, and water and coconut kefir. Finally, I address the elephant in the room: stressing out about your diet.

Let’s go:

How do Homocysteine levels figure in this equation? I have C-reactive protein under 1, but Homocysteine levels of 15, slightly high. Seems odd one so low and one a bit high.

Both indicate elevated inflammation, but they can have different causes. There are many nutrient deficiencies and interactions that go into elevated homocysteine levels—that’s why they indicate inflammation. What are they?

It all comes down to methionine. That’s the essential amino acid most abundant in muscle meats, the one most of you are getting a ton of if you’re eating a standard Primal, keto, or carnivore diet. We use it to perform cellular communication, regulate gene expression, repair cells, and build new tissue. It does some really important stuff, but it needs several different co-factors to work properly.

B12 and Folate—Vitamin B12 is a major one. So is folate. In fact, I lumped them together in one section because they are co-dependents. Vitamin B12 requires folate to do its job. Folate requires vitamin B12 to do its job. Both vitamins are necessary co-factors for methionine to do its important cellular work. Without either one, methionine builds up and contributes to homocysteine.

They even tested this in a controlled human trial. Giving a big dose of methionine without increasing B12 or folate increased homocysteine levels. Supplementing with B12 and folate protected against the methionine-induced increase in homocysteine.

Riboflavin—Some groups may need extra riboflavin to deal with homocysteine levels.

Glycine—After teaming up with the B-vitamins to do the gene expression and cellular repair/buildup, any excess methionine combines with glycine to form glutathione. That’s the body’s main antioxidant, and it’s very helpful to have. If you have low glycine levels/intake, then any leftover methionine goes into the homocysteine cycle.

B6—Vitamin B6 is also used to mop up and convert into glutathione any excess methionine after methylation.

Betaine—Similar to glycine, betaine acts as a buffer for excess methionine. In fact, high intakes of methionine deplete the body of betaine, while supplementing with betaine reduces homocysteine levels.

Choline—Choline is another methionine buffer. High methionine increases the need for choline, while adequate choline or supplementation reduces homocysteine.

If you’re missing those co-factors, methionine fails to assist with cellular communication, gene expression, cellular repair, or new tissue formation. Instead, it generates homocysteine.

For a primer on obtaining adequate B-vitamins, read this post. Meat of all kinds, eggs, organ meats, seafood, dairy, green vegetables, and even legumes are ways to obtain them.

For a primer on obtaining adequate glycine, read this post. You can get it through collagen, gelatin, bone broth, or bone-in, skin-on meats with a lot of gelatinous connective tissue.

To get enough betaine, include some beets and/or spinach in your diet. Wheat germ is the best source, but most of you aren’t eating wheat germ (nor would I recommend you start).

To get choline, eat egg yolks. That’s the single best source. If you’re not going to eat betaine-rich foods (beets, spinach, wheat), eat extra choline; you can make betaine from choline.

Isn’t there a relatively large amount of carbs in kefir, when consumed in quantity?

The fermentation process digests most of the lactose present in milk. The sourer the product, the lower the residual lactose. The sweeter the product (or even just less sour), the higher the residual lactose. At any rate, I wouldn’t worry too much about the carb content of kefir. It’s assuredly lower than advertised, and probably low enough for even keto eaters to incorporate at least a little.

There are even lactose-free kefirs that will be definitely near-zero in carbs. If that’s the case, it will be prominently displayed on the label.

Mark, don’t they at least partially”clean up” kefir? Does it really contain all that good stuff, or is pasteurized?

Commercial kefir uses pasteurized dairy, but the fermentation takes places after pasteurization. This means the finished product is fermented with living bacteria (and yeast, in the case of kefir).

I’ve never seen a commercial kefir that pasteurized after fermentation. If you’re worried, you can always get your own kefir grains and make your own kefir. It’s pretty easy and delicious.

Kefir – I just did a test of dairy and it definitely gives me a reaction. I’d love to read your take on water kefir though I’m not pleased that the recipes use sugar. What about coconut milk kefir?

Don’t worry about water kefir that uses sugar. All the sugar gets consumed by the kefir grains, leaving little to no residual sugar for you. You can tell by the taste (and I admit I’m no fan/expert of water kefir, only because I can tolerate dairy kefir). If it’s sweet, it contains sugar. If not, it doesn’t. Even if it has some sugar left, it’ll be far less than indicated on the label.

Coconut milk kefir is a good option too. Again, I prefer the dairy kefir, but I see nothing wrong with coconut milk kefir. I even put up a coconut milk kefir recipe some time ago.

Funny you mentioned to drink bone broth (for the glycine) to help with sleep. I have been keto-carnivore for 9 months and recently realized that the high level of histamines in bone broth was giving me insomnia. I can eat most foods that contain a moderate level of histamines, but canned fish and long-cooked bone broth have derailed my sleep on carnivore.

If that’s the case, straight glycine can work. That’s what several studies actually used to improve sleep in humans—isolated glycine.

Collagen may also work for you.

Could all this be too much worry from being obsessed with checking if they are doing the keto diet “right” ?

Ha! Yeah. That’s the issue with a certain subset of the Primal/keto crowd. Worrying about every little thing until it becomes a stressor. Ketone numbers running through the head as you lie awake. Waking up at 2 AM to test your urine. “Did I remember to Amazon Prime the MCT oil?” Wondering “Is the olive oil in my canned sardines truly the highest quality olive oil?”

Then there’s the true classic: stressing out about the stress you’re inducing from worrying about your diet. Educate yourself, but don’t forget to enjoy life. There’s only so much diligence we can orchestrate without losing the forest through the trees.

That’s it for today, everyone. Take care and be well, and make sure to leave any comments or questions down below.

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The post Dear Mark: Homocysteine, Some Kefir Questions, and the Stress of Worrying appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a couple questions. The first one is a big one, one that multiple people have asked me across several different mediums: why don’t I do a full review of “Game Changers,” the vegan documentary on Netflix, or at least watch the film? I explain why I won’t watch it, why I don’t think it’s worth your time, and why I’ve already addressed it all before. Then, I answer why sugar is such a fixation for us and give some options for avoiding or mitigating it.

Let’s go:

Mark,

How come you dismissed the “Game Changers” documentary without watching it?

Because it’s not worth my time. The premise is simply preposterous.

Humans are omnivores. We have eaten meat for millions of years. And not just “eaten meat.”

We used animal femurs as bone marrow storage containers. We fought off massive African predators just to get at the meat and crack the bones for the goodness inside. We slurped brains. We smashed bones to bits and boiled them in animal skin bags to extract every last ounce of collagen and fat. We drove entire species to extinction in our lust for large portions of fatty animal meat.

Even after we were hunter-gatherers, the importance of animal products persisted. The biggest influx of humanity that provided a large portion of extant DNA across Europe and huge parts of Asia were livestock-driving nomadic herdsmen who ate cheese and yogurt (animal products—and not low-fat), drank blood, and hunted game. They farmed a little but relied so heavily on animal products for their calories that they had to borrow the agricultural words from the populations they displaced. To give you a taste of how important animal products were to them, their word for wealth was the same as the word for cattle.

What—that just goes away? Those millions of years of slurping and gnawing and atlatl-ing and spear throwing and stalking and weapons-craft and herding…don’t matter?

So, when a persuasive documentary comes out preaching about the evils of red meat (and let’s face it: it’s always about red meat) and the benefits of excising all meat from your diet in favor of plants, I laugh. I shrug. I smirk even.

Red meat consumption is down across the board. People listened to the “experts.” And guess what? Health got worse. Waists grew. Healthcare spending shot up. Diabetes spiked. Heart disease persisted (deaths decreased, thanks to better emergency care, but incidence is still there).

Does the documentary address all that? Does it mention the word “evolution”?

My time matters too much to me to waste it on the documentary. The arguments I’ve laid out in other responses to attacks on meat eating stand and, most likely, apply to the arguments in the documentary. Check these out for a few of my explorations of the “meat is bad” topic:

Is meat as bad as smoking?

Will meat give you diabetes?

Is charred meat bad for you?

Does red meat give you colon cancer?

Will red meat kill you?

Is saturated fat deadly?

Read those, then get back to me. And I probably still won’t watch the documentary.

I’d rather spend my time:

Helping people who want the help.

Coming up with interesting new products that help people make better choices in the grocery store.

Standup paddling.

Playing Ultimate frisbee (and playing in general).

Writing about new topics or new developments of old topics.

I have yet to see a new argument from the plant-based crowd. I’ve heard the same things for years upon years. Nothing changes. “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

We have better things to do. Bigger fish to fry (in a gluten-free breading using low-PUFA oil kind of way).

How to conquer sugar addiction and is there a primal need to eat something sweet? Would Grok ever get the urge for something sweet?

Our relationship with sugar goes way back. In ancestral situations, sugar was rare. The urge to eat something sweet was so strong because it was so hard to get—a powerful urge was required to coerce the organism to do the work required to get the sugar. And in those situations, sugar was beneficial. An odd trove of honey represented a potent source of caloric energy, a way to replenish glycogen stores. Acute doses versus chronic overload. We have old cave paintings from 25000 years ago of honey hunters climbing trees to grab hives; that’s how much they prized it. Fruit, while not always plentiful or as oversized as today’s fruit, definitely existed—albeit to varying degrees depending on the climate and region. The farther you got from the equator, the scarcer sweet tastes became.

Even up to a few hundred years ago, when sugar was actually available, it remained a luxury item. It had to be imported, out of reach for most regular people.

Today, sugar is everywhere. We’re glutted with the stuff. We can’t escape it. And yet we still retain that ancestral mindset of sugar scarcity. Our bodies still crave it. Our physiological desires were molded in the context of low sugar availability. Introduce them to a sugar-replete environment and you get obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and tooth decay.

I’m not sure if there’s a physiological need today to consume sugar. But there’s certainly a physiological desire to consume it. And really, the only way past it is to erect artificial barriers to sugar consumption.

Don’t keep sugar in the house.

Don’t use artificial sweeteners or even natural ones like stevia or monk fruit if they trigger the craving for real sugar.

Just say no. Sheer willpower may not hold out forever, but in those instances where you’re faced with an intense dose of sugar and you don’t want to eat it, don’t give in. You can do this.

Chronic doses of sugar are the real killer: those little peanut butter cups at the co-worker’s desk you grab every time you walk by, those peanut M&Ms at the secretary’s desk, those half donuts in the break room—they add up. They always add up. Acute doses of sugar probably aren’t a big deal for most reasonably healthy people. High quality dessert after a great dinner out? Birthday party and the host is a legit whiz in the kitchen? Try it.

Avoid anything you’re intolerant of or allergic to, of course. Avoid gluten whenever possible.

Whatever you do, don’t waste your acute doses of sugar on garbage. Don’t eat a Hostess donut. Don’t eat a half gallon of low-fat frozen yogurt from those places that charge you by the ounce.

Eat real ice cream made with great ingredients—just a child’s scoop. Don’t get the weird “ice cream” shake from the fast food joint.

Don’t get the microwaved lava cake from the chain restaurant. Share a portion of real panna cotta from the fancy restaurant.

That’s it for today, folks. If you have any other suggestions or comments or questions, throw them in down below.

Take care, everyone.

The post Dear Mark: Why “Game Changers” Isn’t Worth My Time and Sugar Addictions appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering five questions taken from this Twitter thread. First, does collagen offer anything special above and beyond glycine? Second, what’s the relationship between keto and gallstones? Third, do I recommend eating raw liver, and why or why not? Fourth, why does one reader’s scalp itch when eating stevia? And finally, what’s the best way to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?

Let’s go:

If collagen is broken down into amino acids in the gut before being absorbed, is it just the amino acid profile (i.e. high glycine) that makes it so beneficial? Anything else?

Glycine is a major reason why we need collagen in our diets, but it’s not the only one.

When you feed people collagen derived from pork skin, chicken feet, and cartilage, many different collagenous peptides appear in the blood. You don’t get any of these from isolated glycine:

Proline-hydroxyproline, a peptide with protective effects on osteoarthritic cartilage degradation.

Glycine-proline-hydroxyproline, a peptide that makes it into the blood and turns into proline-hydroxyproline, which makes it into the skin.

Collagen peptides have beneficial effects above and beyond glycine alone—although glycine is great for balancing out methionine intake from muscle meat consumption. It’s also been used in several studies to improve multiple markers of sleep quality.

A family member has a complicated health history including cancer and wants to eat keto. But, now she finds she has gallstones. Any thoughts on a good way to attack this complicated issue?

Has your family member already gone keto? Did going keto come before the gallstone reveal?

If so, that’s actually normal.

The primary role of the gallbladder is to collect bile from the liver, concentrate it into potent super-bile (my term), and release the concentrated bile to break up incoming dietary fat into smaller molecules that lipase can attack and digest. Dietary fat is the biggest driver of gallbladder emptying.

If the gallbladder isn’t regularly emptied, gallstones can form. Usually made of hardened cholesterol, gallstones are quite common and often produce no symptoms. Problems arise when normal gallbladder emptying flushes out a stone small enough to make it into but too large to pass through the bile duct and a blockage occurs. Gallstones can also directly damage the walls of the gallbladder, leading to cholecystis, or gallbladder inflammation.

A high-fat diet can exacerbate or even uncover gallstone issues by increasing gallbladder emptying. Remember: the more fat you eat, the more often you empty your gallbladder—and everything in it.

But high-fat diets don’t generally cause gallstones to form. They only reveal pre-existing ones. The biggest risk factors for gallstone formation are:

  • high intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates.
  • High estrogen levels, which concentrate cholesterol deposition in the gallbladder. This is why women, especially pregnant women and/or those taking hormonal birth control, are more likely to have gallstones.
  • Obesity, which also increases cholesterol levels in the gallbladder.
  • Weight loss, with a caveat: high-fat weight loss diets reduce and even prevent gallstone formation. In fact, when you compare people who lose weight on a low-fat diet to those who lose it on a high-fat diet, research shows that 45% of the low-fatters develop gallstones while none of the high-fatters develop them.

Once the gallstones are all clear, keep up with the keto eating, as eating more fat will keep your gallbladder regularly flushed and clear of stones.

Is Raw Liver safe to eat?

I’ve eaten raw liver before. I know people who eat raw liver. I can’t recommend it, however, because I don’t know what kind of liver you have access to. Who raised the animal? What did it eat? What were the processing conditions?

But because I know people are going to try this…

Freeze it first for several days.

Buy from a trusted source.

Buy only liver from well-raised, grass-fed, organic animals.

If it looks unhealthy, it probably is. I would never eat a pale, flaccid liver with ugly spots, cooked or raw.

Don’t eat raw (or even medium) pork liver. A huge percentage of pigs carry the Hepatitis E virus, which is transmittable to humans and concentrates in the liver.

Why does stevia make my scalp itch?

Stevia can be an allergen actually. It’s not very common, but as more and more people use stevia, more will be revealed to have an allergic reaction.

I’d just skip it.

Is it possible to gain muscle and lose weight with properly timed IF around workouts?

It is possible, although you may not actually lose weight, but rather body fat (which is better).

The best way I’ve seen people do it is the classic Leangains method.

Fast from 8 p.m. to 12-1 noon.

Fasted workout in the afternoon, perhaps with a little BCAA or whey isolate before the workout. Lift heavy, compound movements.

After the workout, walk for 20 minutes. Brisk pace to utilize all the free fatty acids swimming around.

Then eat. If you’re going to eat carbs, do it in this meal and keep the fat low-to-moderate. Load up on protein.

Eat as much as you like until 8 p.m.—the end of your eating window. Favor protein and, again, if you’re eating carbs keep fat lower than usual.

Maintain the fasting period every day. On rest days, eat low/no carb and higher fat. Protein always high. Go for walks on rest days.

That’s it. That usually works really well, but it presupposes you have a flexible schedule and can actually train in the afternoon whenever you want. Your mileage may vary—though it will work at any time.

Muscle gain won’t be as rapid as it would drinking a gallon of milk a day, eating pizza smoothies, and cramming ice cream made with whey protein at night, but it will minimize fat gain and perhaps even help you lose fat as you gain muscle. No guarantees, but it’s the best method I’ve seen.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, take care, and be sure to leave a comment down below if you have any questions.

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The post Dear Mark: Collagen or Glycine, Keto and Gallstones, Raw Liver, Stevia Itching, and Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering another round of questions asked by Twitter followers. First up is a three-parter, including a query about extra virgin olive oil, one about supplements everyone should take, and one about autoimmune arthritis in an athlete. Second, I cover whether sauna is a hormetic stressor or a way to relax (or both). Next, I give my recommendation for staying keto or carnivore while camping (it’s a quick one). And finally, I explore a potential protocol for using exogenous ketones to curb autoimmune inflammation.

Let’s go:

1. Is very-high-polyphenol EVOO legitly far superior to easily-avail. qual EVOO?
2. What handful of supplems (broadly defined) make sense for almost everyone?
3. Any advice for age 20 elite athlete cursed w genetic autoimmune arthritis where keto, paleo, Mediterranean all failed? Carnivore?

Olive oil:

All else being equal, very high polyphenol EVOO should be superior to normal EVOO. Be careful in weighing messaging around this, however.

But, yes, the more polyphenols your oil has, the better it will resist oxidative damage when exposed to heat, light, and the ravages of time. By extension, the more an olive oil is sheltered from heat, light and the ravages of time, the more polyphenol content will be preserved.

And when you consume high polyphenol EVOO, your LDL actually becomes more resistant to oxidative damage. One study found that men who ate high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil had lower oxidized LDL levels than men who ate normal EVOO. They even had higher HDL levels, another indication of improved heart health.

Supplements for all:

Collagen—vast majority of people don’t get enough collagen/gelatin in their diets, whereas historically people were eating the entire animal, including skin, bones, tendons, fascia, ligaments, and cartilage (about 40-50% of animal by weight). A couple scoops of collagen gets you most of the way there.

Magnesium—vast majority of people don’t get enough magnesium. Our water is stripped of it and our soil is deficient in it. Foods that a generation or two ago were excellent sources of magnesium are now middling. Get one of the magnesium “-ates,” like citrate, glycinate, or threonate.

Vitamin K2—another nutrient most people miss that’s absolutely crucial to heart, bone, dental, and hormonal health.

Egg yolks—best source of choline and a great source of many other nutrients in a highly bioavailable package.

Liver—eat it once a week at least.

If you don’t get sunlight or eat a lot of vitamin D-rich foods (wild salmon, pastured eggs, salmon eggs), vitamin D is a good one.

If you don’t eat seafood regularly, a good fish oil is worthwhile. Omega-3s are a critical nutrient.

Autoimmune arthritis in athlete:

I saw that the athlete in question has done “everything right”: Primal, paleo, the whole nine. Right?

Assuming that’s the case and they’re not eating grains, seed oils, sugar, and other things known to be inflammatory and irritating:

Carnivore is an option. Mikhaila Peterson battled a particularly severe case of autoimmune arthritis for most of her life and reports that going carnivore was the only thing that really fixed things.

Elite athletes often overdo it. I certainly did. And although exercise is a crucial part of preventing, recovering from and defeating arthritis, too much exercise can have the opposite effect. It can be too much. It can increase stress rather than mitigate it. It can overload the tissues rather than strengthen them.

I’d also consider trying exogenous ketones to blunt autoimmune inflammation. Check out the last answer in today’s post for more insight on that one.

Is sauna best utilized as a relaxing tool for recovery like meditation or as a hormetic stressor like a challenging workout?

Physiologically, saunas are stressful. A 30-minute sauna session at 174 ºF/80 ºC raises body temperature by almost 1 degree C, spikes your flight-or-flight hormones, raises cortisol, and triggers a powerful hormetic response by the rest of your body. That’s a stressor.

But ultimately, they reduce stress by making you more resistant to it. After such a sauna session, for example, subjects report feeling “calm” and “pleasant.” This isn’t a surprise, if you’ve ever completed a tough workout. That’s how a training session makes you feel, isn’t it?

Just because sauna resembles exercise doesn’t mean you have to keep them separate. It even gets better when you stack the two. For instance, people who frequent the sauna and the gym have a drastically lower risk of heart attack death than people who do either alone. That combo also reduces 24-hour blood pressure in hypertensive patients and confers special protection against all-cause mortality above and beyond either variable alone.

That said, post-workout sauna appears to be especially good at enhancing the training effect.

In runners, post workout sauna use increased time to exhaustion by 32%, plasma cell volume by 7.1%, and red cell volume by 3.2% (both plasma cell and red cell volume are markers of increased endurance performance).

In cyclists, post workout sauna increased plasma volume. This is important because increasing plasma volume improves heat dissipation, thermoregulation, heart rate, and cardiac stroke volume during exercise.

Any thoughts on how to stay keto/ carnivore when camping or backpacking?

There’s a Facebook group devoted to Ketogenic Backpacking. Join that for some ideas.

As for car camping, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do keto or carnivore.

Bring some cast iron pans, some meat, and a cooler full of ice.

Gather a ton of wood.

Light the wood on fire. Allow it to cook down to coals.

Place cast iron over fire. Cook meat on cast iron.

Repeat as needed.

What should the timing and dosage be if you are planning to use exogenous ketone supplements as part of treatment for an autoimmune condition or flare?

Unfortunately, this stuff is so new that there aren’t any established guidelines. However, a recent case study gives a hint at a protocol someone might want to try. This isn’t medical advice, mind you—just a suggestion for further reading and consideration.

The subject had Crohn’s disease, a pretty serious autoimmune gastrointestinal condition characterized by chronic inflammation, painful and frequent bowel movements (around ten per day in this subject’s case), and elevated inflammatory markers. In other words, something that ketone bodies should be able to help.

Every morning for two weeks, he took 4 grams of sodium betahydroxybutyrate (BHB). This helped, but after two weeks he increased the dosage to 8 grams split between sodium BHB, magnesium BHB, and calcium BHB. He took half in the morning and half in the early afternoon. Did it work?

Following the intervention, the subject reported feeling “dramatically better” with significantly lower GI issues and trips to the bathroom. The subject provided weekly urinary and blood ketones following supplementation to ensure a significant rise in ketone levels. Blood glucose levels fell back into the normal range after the intervention (105 mg/dl to 94 mg/dl). White blood cell (WBC) count, neutrophils, and monocytes returned to the normal range following the intervention. The most remarkable finding was that following the intervention, C-reactive protein returned to the normal range from 62.5 mg/l to 4.4 mg/l.

I’d say 4 grams of BHB would be a safe start. If your bowels tolerate it—no small feat, as exogenous ketones can really hit that hard—and they seem to be helping, move toward 8 grams. As always, work with your physician and discuss supplement protocols or changes to them.

That’s it for today, everyone. Take care, be well, and comment down below if you have anything to add or ask.

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The post Dear Mark: EVOO, Supplements, Autoimmune Arthritis, Sauna, Keto Camping, Ketones for Autoimmune appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering six questions from some of my Twitter followers. Yesterday, I asked the community for questions and got some great ones in return. For instance, how much oily fish should one eat each week? And how does diet and nutrition influence posture and coordination? Third, how should a low-carb diet affect acid reflux? Fourth, is there a good replacement for whey protein? Fifth, does milk with your coffee break a fast? And sixth, how does one stop viewing and using food as an indulgence? I’ll get to the rest next time.

Let’s go:

I’m wondering, should the average person limit oily fish per week? Kresser says eat up to a pound. Masterjohn says fish PUFA should be no more than 4-8 ounces per week.

I’ll defer to the Chrises on matters concerning biochemistry, but here’s how I look at fish consumption:

It’s very self-regulating. I’ll go on wild salmon benders where I’m eating it every single day for a week or two, then none for awhile. Back in Malibu, I used to have my fish guy save King salmon heads for me, which I would then roast—the things were huge, fatty, and extremely filling. Between the brains, the cheeks, the collars, and all the skin, I reckon a King salmon head had about 20-30 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe more. Every time I ate one of those I didn’t feel like even looking at fish (or fish oil) for a week or so.

Ancestral background matters here. Your average Inuit is going to have a very high tolerance of (and likely requirement for) dietary long-chained omega-3 fatty acids because that’s the environment his or her ancestors inhabited. As someone of Northern European ancestry, I have a higher baseline tolerance for and requirement of long chained omega-3s; my ancestral food environment was very high in cold fatty fish. Someone with South Asian background is going to be better at converting shorter-chained omega-3s (ALA) into the long chained ones, so they don’t need to eat as much marine fat as a guy like me.

What is the influence of diet and nutrition on posture and coordination?

First and foremost, the micronutrients and macronutrients in the food we eat help program and provide substrate for the hormones, neurotransmitters, proteins, and energy used to coordinate movements and maintain posture. Every physiological process has a physical corollary; a good diet full of vital vitamins and minerals and absent toxic foods is a diet that supports good posture, energy generation, and movement.

One specific example is thiamine, a B-vitamin. Extreme thiamine deficiency is a disease called beri-beri, characterized by nerve tremors, difficulty moving, and extreme fatigue (among other serious symptoms). Almost no one in developed nations gets beri-beri anymore, but low level thiamine deficiency is common enough and can most likely result in deficient neuromuscular coordination.

I know that a diet deficient in collagenous materials (collagen powder, connective tissue, bone broth, skin) will worsen the health and resilience of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and fascia—the connective tissues that support and enable your mobility.

And finally, a diet that results in low energy levels, unwanted weight gain, and bad aesthetics will worsen your mental health and leave you down in the dumps—itself an independent predictor of poor posture.

But this is a difficult question to answer with specific references to individual nutrients or foods because no one I’m aware of is running studies on the connection between diet and posture. Just know that “it matters.”

Perhaps I’ll revisit this in greater depth.

What is a low-carbber to do if he deals with acid reflux? I’m told that a high fat diet aggravates symptoms… and it has for me. Is there any way I can stick to a healthy diet without having to resort to a “conventional wisdom” reflux plan?

That’s pretty strange. Normally, low-carb diets are great for acid reflux. There’s actually a lot of evidence showing that low-carb is the best diet for the condition, even a “cure.”

However, there’s also evidence that high caloric density within meals (in other words, huge meals) can worsen GERD severity and high fat intakes can increase the frequency of acid reflux episodes.

How do we square this evidence away?

In one study, the very low carb (under 20 grams a day) anti-GERD diet that treated obese individuals allowed unlimited meat and eggs with limited portions of hard cheeses and low-carb vegetables. That’s a standard Primal diet, but it doesn’t say anything about the fat content of the diet. If you’re eating ribeyes, that could be a pretty high-fat diet. If you’re eating sirloin, that could be a very high-protein and moderate-fat diet.

I’d stay low carb, but try eating more protein and not overeating. Avoid huge meals; don’t drink melted butter.

I’m allergic to whey protein. What can I use instead?

Egg protein powder is a good option. High bioavailability of the protein, good amino acid profile. Although whole eggs do work better.

Does coffee with milk impact fasting effects on keto?

It depends on how much milk you’re using.

Milk itself is rather insulinogenic, owing to its lactose and protein content. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but anything more than a few tablespoons will effectively “break the fast.” I’d opt for heavy cream over milk. It tastes better in coffee, provokes a much lower insulin response, is mostly just fat, and thus allows the fat-burning metabolism of fasting to continue relatively unabated.

Hello Mark! Thank you for everything! – Question – what can be done to change how food is viewed? As life – not as a indulgent part of our lives?

That’s a good one.

You have to LIVE. You have to stop mulling over the thoughts swirling through your head. You have to go outside and do the things you’ve been considering doing.

I know people who have all the knowledge they’d ever need to know (and some they wouldn’t) about health and human happiness and nutrition and productivity and business, yet they act on very little of it. Instead of taking the lessons to heart and living out the conclusions of the latest study, they just move on to the next bit of research.

Food, like any substance or activity that triggers the reward systems of our brains, can fill a void in a destructive way. Fill that void with meaning, with love, with purpose and direction. The food will still taste good (or even better), but it won’t become an end in itself.

That’s it for today, everyone. Take care. Be well. And write in down below with any further questions or comments!

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The post Dear Mark: Oily Fish Limit, Diet and Posture, Acid Reflux, Whey Replacement, Milk and Fasting, and Remembering to Live appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions.

First, is psyllium husk insoluble or soluble fiber? Second, how do I structure my hex bar deadlift workouts? I give a couple options. Third, what kind of training (and eating) should a person do who doesn’t want to gain much muscle or “get big”—just strong? And fourth, what do I think about isometric strength training?

Let’s go:

Insoluble fiber may be linked to increased colorectal cancer mortality.

Question: is psyllium husk the insoluble fiber they are referring to in this study that was associated with increased colon cancer? I’ve read it several times and I’m confused.

Some prebiotics are included in my probiotics like MOS and inulin. I think these are soluble. Am I right? I’m confused

I wasn’t able to pull the full study, so I don’t have a complete breakdown of what prebiotic supplements these women were specifically taking. They do mention that 3.7% of the women used a prebiotic made primarily of psyllium, which is an odd aside. What about the rest of them?

At any rate, psyllium is mostly soluble fiber—about 70% soluble, 30% insoluble. MOS and inulin are also both soluble fibers.

What is the set/ rep recommendation for the Hex Bar DL? Also how many times a week are you doing this? I am a coach/teacher and love the minimalist type of exercise you provide. Awesome stuff

It really varies.

Somedays I’ll do rest-pause supersets on the hex bar:

Lift it as many times as I can comfortably (I’ll push hard but stop well short of failure).

Rest 30 seconds.

Lift it as many times as I can comfortably (this will be fewer reps than the previous set).

Rest 30 seconds.

Lift it as many times as I can comfortably (even fewer).

Drop the weight by 10-15%, then do max reps.

Once you start hitting 25 total reps for the first three rest-pause sets, you can increase the weight. The beauty of this method is that it’s very intense without you needing to throw on a ton of extra weight—great for older folks who don’t want to mess with extremely heavy weights. Compressing the sets gives you less rest and gives it an anaerobic component; you’ll be breathing hard when it’s over. And it’s over quick. No more pacing around the gym between heavy deadlift or squat sets. No more working up the courage to lift the weight. You just do it, set a 30 second timer, and do it again (and again).

The rest pause method is when I want to be in and out real quick.

Another way is to just have it loaded up and ready to go around my house. I’ll grab a quick little set every time I walk by. Out the door to walk the dog? Do a set. Making coffee in the next room over? Do a set. Taking a break from writing? Do a set. By the end of the day, I’ll have accumulated 4-6 sets of solid hex bar deadlifts. This is the exercise snack or microworkout method.

Both of these methods work great with any exercise.

This video left me thinking about muscle strength vs muscle growth a little bit. In my mind, my ideal body composition would be lean, relatively small, and freakishly strong. I’m wondering, Mark, if there are ways to train what you have to be stronger without making gains in terms of mass?

In a very general sense, lower reps and higher weight will get you stronger without adding as much hypertrophy.

Doing compound movements that recruit multiple joints and muscles at once will get you strong without necessarily “bulking” you up. Doing isolation movements will also get you strong, but they’ll also build specific muscles. It makes sense why:

When you do a compound movement, the weight is “spread” across all the joints and junctions and tissues that perform it. So the system as a whole gets stronger—gets better at moving the weight—but the individual components don’t “blow up.” They grow, but in a cohesive, integrated manner with the rest of the body.

That’s why most bodybuilders don’t rely on squats and deadlifts and pullups. They do those movements because they’re important for their physiques and their strength, but they’re generally not enough to get huge. To get really “bulky,” you’ll probably need isolation movements.

But remember that larger muscles are also stronger muscles, all else being equal. Getting bigger will allow you to get stronger. You’ll have a bigger “strength ceiling.”

Oh, I almost forgot. Your food (and calorie) intake might be the major determining factor in how much muscle you gain in response to training. If you fail to consume more calories than you expend, you won’t gain much muscle. You’ll definitely retain it, though. If that’s what you’re going for, you can try eating less food and protein. Or at least don’t eat more than you burn (this is inexact, I know; a ballpark works).

Have you tried isometrics? I am getting great results with them, in a very short time frame.

I haven’t tried them much myself, but we had a guest post a few years back all about isometrics.

For those who don’t know, an isometric contraction is when the muscle contracts without lengthening or shortening. Concentric contractions contract the muscle as it shortens (lifting a weight). Eccentric contractions contract the muscle as it lengthens (lowering a weight). Isometric training purports to strengthen the muscle by using isometric contractions.

A few examples:

Pushing against an immovable object, like the wall.

Holding yourself in a difficult position, like a wall squat.

Trying to lift an object that’s too heavy to lift, like a barbell.

Hanging from a bar with flexed arms and just holding the position.

Standing in a doorway with your back against the frame, pressing hard against the opposite frame with one arm.

Trying to lift your car.

Sitting in a chair and pulling up on the seat as hard as you can.

You get the idea.

It clearly works at some level.

Isometric training lowers high blood pressure, for example.

It can also help people learn to activate their muscles, simply by forcing you to focus entirely on the feeling of the muscle.

It goes to show that there’s always a way to train. Always.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, take care, and have a great week.

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The post Dear Mark: Psyllium, Hex Bar Deadlifts, Getting Strong vs Getting Big, Isometrics appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a few questions. First came in from an email and regards a new study showing a link between chicken eating and several types of cancers (melanoma, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) among British adults. What do I think of the study? Second, did I really tell people not to neuter or spay their dogs? Third, can dogs take collagen powder, and if not, are there any alternatives? And last, I address a comment about early time restricted feeding.

Let’s go:

Hey Mark,

What are your thoughts on this study that showed a link between chicken consumption and cancer?

https://www.9news.com.au/national/eating-chicken-cancer-link-oxford-university-uk-study-health-news-australia-world/6944a0bd-20dc-44b9-9063-16db54cd2f7c

Okay, let’s do this.

First of all, the link wasn’t between chicken and cancer, it was between chicken and specific cancers. The specificity suggests that there may be something going on here.

Look, I love a good roasted chicken. There’s almost nothing quite like crispy chicken skin.

But today’s birds are exceedingly high in omega-6 fatty acids. Your standard battery-fed bird—which is what most people in these studies are eating—eats a diet of soybean oil, corn byproducts, and other junk high in omega-6 fats. Those dietary fats are incorporated into the animal’s tissues, which get incorporated into your dinner, which get incorporated into your body.

Most of the cancers in question have been previously and mechanistically linked to elevated omega-6 levels and/or reduced omega-3 levels.

Melanoma and other skin cancers?

One study out of Australia—land of skin cancer—found that adults with the highest serum concentrations of DHA and EPA had the least “cutaneous p53 expression.” When your skin is in danger of damage from the sun, p53 expression is upregulated to protect it. The fact that p53 expression was low suggests that the skin wasn’t in danger; the omega-3s were protecting the skin and reducing the “perceived” (and real) danger. Acute intakes of EPA reduce the inflammatory skin response to UV radiation.

One problem of excess omega-6 fats is that they crowd out DHA and EPA from the serum and cellular membranes. The more omega-6 in your diet, the less DHA and EPA you’ll have laying around to protect you from the sun.

Prostate cancer?

Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (found in seafood and fish oil) are generally linked to lower rates of prostatic inflammation and a less carcinogenic environment; omega-6 fatty acids can trigger disease progression. A 2001 study of over 6,000 Swedish men found that the folks eating the most fish had drastically lower rates of prostate cancer than those eating the least. Another study from New Zealand found that men with the highest DHA (an omega-3 found in fish) markers slashed their prostate cancer risk by 38% compared to the men with the lowest DHA levels.

I didn’t see any solid evidence one way or the other with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but omega-3 intake is linked to a lower risk. If that’s a causative connection, and excessive omega-6 is competing with your omega-3s for physiological supremacy in the body, that could increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But again, this isn’t a sure thing.

I couldn’t find the study mentioned in the article, but according to the article the scientists focused only on “meat consumption patterns.” They weren’t looking at other foods or nutrients—just what kind of meat they ate. If that’s the case, they wouldn’t have controlled for the intakes of fries and mayo and other junk foods often consumed alongside chicken.

British are eating more chicken than ever before, and they’re moving increasingly away from big family chicken meals—roasts and such—toward individual chicken meals for one—pasta and stir fries.

The fastest growing fast food in Britain is fried chicken. That’s chicken that’s been breaded in flour and fried in reused, rancid vegetable oil, then served alongside french fries and smothered in mayonnaise.

Now, I’m not going to say you should eat chicken for every meal. Red meat, fish, and eggs offer far more nutrients than chicken, and they’re much lower in omega-6 fatty acids. But I’m not going to shy away from a good roast chicken, or even a chicken chili, especially if I’m using well-raised, preferably pasture-raised chickens.

I’m sorry, are you recommending people DON”T spay/neuter their pets?!? Am I reading an article in The Onion? Is it April 1st? What the hell is going on??? Dear Bob Barker is rolling in his grave and thousands of dogs and cats will be unnecessarily euthanized today (and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next….) because there are just too many of them.

Nope, I’m just recommending that people read the literature and understand that spaying/neutering can have unwanted health effects, especially if you do it too early.

Most experts agree that fixing the dog after they’ve stopped growing is pretty safe and reduces the risk of later health issues. That to me is a good compromise.

And I’m not speaking to the masses. I’m speaking to the people reading this who are in general a reliable, conscientious bunch.

Also, a vasectomy is a good option that few people consider but more vets are offering.

Mark, would there be any harm or benefit in throwing in a scoop of collagen on top of my dog’s raw meat&veggie patty?

You could definitely do it. Just be aware that I’ve found some dogs have bad digestive responses to protein powders of any kind. A raw chicken foot will do the trick, if you’re up to trying it. I’ve also seen freeze-dried tendons in pet stores.

After a few years of IDF that had me mostly eating between noon and 8, I recently tried early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) and man it seems to work well for me. I did it under the influence of this guy’s posts: https://www.patreon.com/CaloriesProper/posts

And I learned about him from an MDA post…

Awesome.

Two things.

Yes, some people for whom intermittent fasting doesn’t seem to be working may want to switch to an early feeding system. The vast majority of people who skip meals every day are skipping breakfast. It’s easier that way, you can just have some coffee and keep trucking. But not everyone benefits from it. If that’s you, try eating breakfast (and lunch) and skipping dinner.

And yes, Bill Lagakos is a great resource. Always love his stuff, even or especially if it conflicts with something I held to be true.

Thanks for reading, everyone. If you have any more questions, drop them down below!

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The post Dear Mark: Does Chicken Cause Cancer, Should You Neuter, Dog Collagen, and Skipping Dinner appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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