(This post is an update to an earlier post version.)

A Big-Ass Salad, as you know, is a perfect main meal of the day. However, with a little creativity there’s no limit to how (or when) you can enjoy your favorite combination of vegetables, greens and more. While Primal Kitchen® now offers a literal rainbow of 11 ready-made dressings and marinades that are all natural, whole-food, and fully Primal choices (including vegan and Whole30®-approved options), there’s always room for DIY creativity to fit your favorite salad varieties. Check out these 10 Primal-worthy ideas—and share your own in the comment section. Enjoy!

1. Raspberry Vinaigrette

This salad dressing is a summer classic. It’s tasty and refreshing—especially when paired with a salad of mixed baby greens, feta cheese and toasted walnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen (defrosted) raspberries
  • 1/3 cup of Primal Kitchen® Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 1/2 packet of stevia or monkfruit (or equivalent of other natural, low-carb sweetener)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

Method:

Finely chop mint leaves or shred in food processor. Set aside.

Puree fresh or defrosted raspberries in food processor until smooth. Pour into a mason jar or other container with a tight lid.

Mix raspberry puree with extra virgin avocado oil and white wine. Add sea salt, black pepper, sweetener and shredded mint leaves. Close the jar or container tightly, and shake to combine.

Serve immediately over salad and enjoy!

2. Citrus Vinaigrette

Liven up a regular salad with this crisp and refreshing summer-inspired salad dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Primal Kitchen Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Again, in a large mason jar or container with a tight lid, combine the orange juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and lemon juice. Drizzle in the avocado oil while whisking vigorously with fork. Once mixed, add the walnuts and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Dill Vinaigrette

This salad dressing is so tasty, you’ll want to double the recipe so that you can have it again when dinner time rolls around!

Ingredients:

Method:
In a blender or food processor (low setting), combine the oil, vinegar, dill weed, onion powder, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

4. Balsamic Vinaigrette

Although this makes a great, simple salad dressing, it’s equally delicious as a marinade for meat or drizzle on steamed vegetables.

Ingredients:

Method:
In a mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all the ingredients. Shake until all ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Basil Vinaigrette

Delicious year round, this salad is especially tasty when paired with an Italian-themed salad laden with fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes.

Ingredients:

Method:
In a bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, wine or vinegar, basil, and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

6. Parsley Dressing

Try this flavorful dressing on a salad of mixed greens or other mild-flavored salad combination.

Ingredients:

Method:
In a bowl, combine the avocado oil, lemon juice and onion powder. Once combined, add in the chopped parsley, mix thoroughly with a whisk and serve.

7. Lemon Caesar Dressing

Try this citrus-infused spin on the popular salad dressing option.

Ingredients:

Method:
In a bowl, whisk all ingredients except oil and sour cream. Once combined, slowly add oil, whisking constantly until smooth (if you stop, the dressing could break). Once combined, whisk in sour cream until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

8. Asian Dressing

Add a taste of the orient (without the added sugar) with this tangy Asian-inspired dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Primal Kitchen Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Asian mustard (should be easily found in the ethnic food aisle of your local grocery store)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, minced

Method:
In a bowl, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, sesame seeds, mustard, sugar, salt, and garlic. Once combined, slowly whisk in sesame oil.

9. Ginger-Asian Dressing

A second spin on the Asian dressing theme, this dressing is delicious on salads as well as steamed or grilled veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, fresh, peeled and finely shredded
  • 1/2 cup Primal Kitchen Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp coconut aminos
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tsp hot mustard
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, grated

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

10. French Style Dressing

Looking for a way to get the kids to eat their greens? This tasty recipe is sure to wow them.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Primal Kitchen Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 2 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Method:
In a large mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all ingredients, shake it up and serve.

Thanks for stopping in today, everyone. Which dressing looks like something you’d try? Any DIY recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you on the comment board. Have a great end to the week.

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The post 10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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People go keto for many different reasons. Some want to get better at burning fat so they have a clean, reliable source of steady energy at all times. Some people are treating a neurodegenerative disease, or trying to prevent one from occurring in the first place. Others just want to lose body fat, take advantage of the cognitive effects of ketosis, or stop seizures. Those are all common reasons to go keto. Another reason people go keto is for the benefits to physical performance.

Keto increases energy efficiency. You can do more in the aerobic (fat-burning) zone than a sugar-burner.

Keto spares glycogen. The more fat you’re able to utilize, the more glycogen you preserve for truly intense efforts.

Keto builds new mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells. More mitochondria means a larger engine.

That said, the performance benefits take a few weeks to manifest. During this time, a common side effect of the keto transition is reduced performance in the gym. People report feeling sluggish, slow, weak, and flabby in the days and weeks leading up to their adaptation. It’s understandable (and somewhat expected) why this can happen:

Fat provides tons of energy at a slow rate—but you’re not great at accessing it yet.

Glucose is more scarce but provides energy rapidly—and you just took it out of your diet.

Is there anything you can do to improve your performance in the gym during the transition?

Preserving Performance During the Keto Transition

Increase Fat Content

This goes without saying. Of course you’ll be eating more fat on a ketogenic diet. Right? What I mean is you should increase fat even more than you think for the first week. This has the effect of increasing AMPK activity, which hastens the creation of fat-burning mitochondria, upregulates fat metabolism, and speeds up your ability to utilize ketone bodies.

Increase Intake of Specific Fats

Certain fatty acids seem to increase AMPK more than others. The most potent ones I’ve found are:

Include some mac nuts, EVOO, and wild fatty fish (or quality fish oil) on a regular basis.

Take Your Electrolytes

Electrolytes are already essential when transitioning toward a ketogenic diet. Since they regulate muscle contractions, heart function, intracellular fluid balance, and nerve impulses, they’re even more important when you’re exercising,  Try 4.5 grams sodium (about 2 teaspoons of fine salt or a little under 3 teaspoons of kosher salt), 300-400 mg magnesium, and 1-2 grams of potassium each day on top of your normal food. Going keto really flushes out water weight, and tons of electrolytes leave with it.

Stick To Weights and Walking

The big problem with physical performance during the keto transition is that you’re not great at burning fat, you’re still reliant on glucose to fuel your training, and you don’t have much glucose coming in. For the transition window, this makes high intensity, high volume training a bad idea.

Running a race-pace 10k is going to be hard. Participating in the CrossFit Games is a bad idea. You haven’t yet built the machinery necessary to make those work, nor do you have the glucose necessary to tide you over. You know what will work? Weights and walking.

Walking is totally aerobic, using almost no glycogen of note. Weight training can be glycogen-dependent, but doesn’t have to be if you keep weights high and volume low. Think low (2-6 reps) volume weight training. Whatever you do, the key is to make sure your training is low-stress.

Stick to weights and walking and you’ll hasten keto-adaptation, not harm it. Then you can resume some of your normal activities.

Take Creatine

Creatine boosts muscle content of phosphocreatine, which we can use to generate large amounts of ATP in a short period of time for quick bursts of speed or strength. This doesn’t dip into glycogen or fat. It’s ATP-PC, or ATP-phosphocreatine. If you’re going to sprint or lift heavy stuff, you’ll definitely want extra creatine in your muscles.

No need to “pre-load” creatine. Just take 5 grams a day and be sure to drink plenty of water and get plenty of electrolytes (which you’ll already be doing on keto).

Sprint Carefully

If you’re going to sprint on keto, keep a few tips in mind.

Short sprints—3-5 seconds.

Plenty of rest—as much as you need to go as hard and fast as the last one. This gives you the chance to replenish some of your phosphocreatine.

This won’t fully replenish your ATP-PC stores. You won’t be able to go as hard, or do as many reps as you’d like in subsequent sprints. But if you absolutely must sprint, this the way to do it without relying on glucose. Look for the sensation of diminished power. That’s when you’re hitting the PC wall and will start dipping into glucose. Avoid that sensation. Stop short of it.

Don’t freak out if you “dip into glucose,” though. Yeah, dipping into glucose constantly will inhibit keto-adaptation in the early stages, but once or twice won’t make a big difference. Just don’t make glucose-intensive work a habit.

Get Primal Endurance

Brad Kearns and I wrote Primal Endurance because endurance athletes needed a better, safer, healthier way to do the thing they love-hated. I know, because that was us. We both got out of serious endurance athletics because it was harming more than helping us. But that doesn’t mean we stopped missing it. Once an endurance athlete, always an endurance athlete. You can’t shake the bug.

Primal Endurance shows you how to build a powerful, long-lasting aerobic base using primarily stored body fat. It’s the perfect complement to a keto lifestyle, especially if you want to optimize your athletic performance and make your physical activity support rather than inhibit keto-adaptation.

Understand the Purpose of Training

Lifting in the gym isn’t a competition. You’re not being paid. The whole point of lifting weights, running sprints, and doing low level aerobic activity is to get better at doing those things. It’s not about “winning” every workout. That’s what training is—accepting paltry results with the assurance that you’re getting better. Think about it.

When you add 50 pounds to the bar, it’s harder. The bar moves more slowly. You can’t do as many reps. From your brain’s perspective, you’re suddenly “weaker.” Yet, it’s the best way to get stronger in the long run.

When you try a new sport or physical activity, you’re no good. You’re a beginner. People you’re sure you could trounce in your preferred activities are destroying you. This doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you have to get better. And if you stick with it, you will get better.

When you train on your newly keto diet, think of it like you’re increasing weight, upping the intensity, or learning a new sport. You’re not weaker. You’re not getting worse. The training is getting harder. The pain is increasing. And, although it might not feel like it right now, you’re going to be better off in the long run.

Once you’re fully fat-adapted and able to utilize fats, ketones, and glycogen, you’re going to be an unstoppable force.

Okay, that’s short term. What about long term?

How To Enhance Performance Long-Term With Keto

Carb Cycle When Necessary

Once you’ve been keto for at least a month, don’t be afraid to cycle in carbs to support your intense training. If you’ve depleted muscle glycogen with an intense training session, you’ve created a glycogen debt and any carbs you eat in the hours following that workout will go to repleting that glycogen. Best of all, intense training upregulates insulin-independent glycogen uptake immediately post-workout. That means if you do it right, you don’t even need to increase insulin to shove those glucose molecules into your muscles.

Carb Cycle the Right Way

Many people do carb cycling on keto completely wrong. They spend two days binging on bear claws and gummy bears then wonder why they’ve gained weight and lost progress. A few tips:

You probably need fewer carbs than you think. A little snack of 20-40 grams of carbs right after a really intense workout can make all the difference in the world without knocking you out of ketosis, provided you’ve accumulated enough of a glycogen debt.

Choose the right carbs. A sweet potato the night before to top off glycogen stores, a cooked-and-cooled white potato (diced and quickly seared until crispy in a pan is my favorite way to eat these), or UCAN Superstarch (whose slow absorption has minimal impact on insulin and thus ketones) are all good choices.

Do it for the right reasons. Don’t carb cycle because you miss French fries. Carb cycle because you’ve depleted glycogen.

And hell, briefly exiting ketosis isn’t the end of the world. Most people doing keto aren’t doing it as a life or death intervention. They just want to look, feel, and perform better. Don’t let keto become an ideology. It is a tool for your pleasure.

Chase Results, Not Ketones

In my experience, the people who focus on results rather than ketone readings do best.

Heck, if you spend half your time stressing about your ketone levels, the resultant cortisol will probably trigger gluconeogenesis and inhibit keto-adaptation by introducing a flood of new glucose into your body.

Are you leaning out? Thinking more clearly? Skipping the afternoon nap and breakroom donuts without even thinking about it? Lifting more? Running easier? Lab tests improving?

Then you’re good. That’s what matters.

Besides, the point of keto-adaptation is fat-adaptation—the ability of your muscles to utilize free fatty acids. That’s the real power of going keto, because once the fat-burning machinery is established and your muscles can use fats directly, you have more leeway to eat protein and cycle carbs.

Those are the tips I’ve found to be most useful for people acclimating to exercise on a keto diet. What’s worked for you?

omegas_640x80

The post Exercising While Keto: 11 Tips for the Transition (and Long-Term) appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering several questions from readers about my own personal routines and interests as well as a Primal take on beginning fitness. First, what’s my sleep hygiene routine? Do I even have one, and how has it changed over the years? Second, how do I make sure I’m staying on track in life? What’s the “one marker to rule them all”? Third, are there any good supplements or interventions for DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness—due to training? Fourth, what are two places I’d love to live, and live Primally? Fifth, how should a totally inexperienced person who’s just lost a bunch of weight through eating alone get started with exercise? And sixth, how do I handle myself in eating situations where I have no direct control over the quality of ingredients (oils, etc) used?

Let’s go:

Question for you – what does your nighttime sleep hygiene “routine” look like? I am experimenting with the best ways to wind down and prepare my body and mind to fall asleep, and am curious to learn more about your regimen or any tips you have.

Thanks!

Be sure to check out the upcoming post on sleep I’ve got in the works. It will help answer your questions.

But I’ll talk a bit about my personal routine. My ultimate goal is to wind down from the work day—clearing my head of current and future concerns and stressors so that I can focus on the here and now, spend time with family, and turn off for the night. That’s not to say I’m not thinking about work or business at all. I’m just not doing so actively. In fact, it’s when I’ve cleared my head of the day-to-day stuff that new ideas hit me. I’ll jot ’em down if they seem to have legs and move on.

Up until a few years ago, my “wind down” routine involved a couple glasses of wine with dinner. It did the trick, sure, but there were side effects. I started waking up around 3-4 AM every morning. And my gut health really took a hit, with my old IBS symptoms returning. Those weren’t acceptable to me.

I limit the wine at night more carefully now. I’ve also switched to dry farmed natural wine from Dry Farm Wines—lower alcohol content, zero added preservatives, minimal sugar, more ancient fermentation methods—and I don’t have the same negative effects. But even then, I don’t use wine to relax before bed.

I’ll turn electronics off; the blue light they emit kills melatonin and makes your circadian rhythm think it’s daytime. If I’m on top of my game, I’ll light a bunch of candles around the house and forego artificial lights altogether. If I have to attend to some business or write an email or anything, I’ll wear blue light-blocking goggles and make sure f.lux is activated on the computer and the phone is on night mode, both of which reduce blue light.

I’ll spend quality time with my wife, be present in the moment, talk quietly about our day, laugh about something or other. I won’t be scouring social media trying to find something out in the world to feel angry or powerless over.

If it’s been a particularly trying day (or week), I’ll take some Adaptogenic Calm to take the edge off the cortisol.

My routine is mostly about avoiding or eliminating the supranormal stimuli that occupy our brains, suppress our natural melatonin, and make getting to sleep at a reasonable time impossible. It’s very basic and very effective.

If you could only choose one way of measuring/tracking your performance (in life generally, across the board) for the rest of your life, what would you select eg how you feel when you wake up, or your ability to play ultimate frisbee intensely for 60 minutes, or how your posture looks in the mirror etc?

LDL cholesterol.

Just kidding.

I’d ask myself “Do I feel excited about my day, my week, my month, and my year?” If the answer is “yes” to all, I’m in a good place and everything else is working to support that.

I would be interested to learn about the best ways to combat muscle soreness following tough workouts. Sometimes I feel like my progress is slowed because I’m too sore to workout again. Any special recommendations?

The main thing is to just weather the storm. Soreness is unavoidable, especially if you’re really pushing yourself.

Massage can help. If you don’t have access to someone who’ll massage you, self treatment with a foam roller or lacrosse ball can be effective.

Compression garments may help with muscle stiffness.

Taurine helps. Eat beef hearts or take supplements.

L-citrulline helps. Eat watermelon or take supplements.

I’d love to hear about your ultimate primal food destinations. Where you’d love to go for certain wild delicacies, bluff oysters in NZ etc… & your top three areas in the world to live primally.

Fun idea. I’ll do two fantasy scenarios. Maybe more later when I can think of them.

Hawaii, Big Island or Kauai (can’t pick): Swimming/paddling every day, spearfishing, keeping centipede-fed chickens and goats and grass-fed cows for eggs and milk and meat, grinding my own coconut butter, hiking through jungles and valleys, across lava beds. In the mornings, Carrie does yoga and I do pullups and KB swings. There’s nothing quite like the tropics. I think maybe a long lost ancestor of mine washed ashore in some South Pacific island, ingratiated himself among the locals, then married and sired several children, one of whom caught a merchant ship back to northern Europe.

Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey, southern Italy): We walk down the slope through gnarled olive tree grove to our small boat, sail out onto cobalt sea, drink unpronounceable local wine, nibble hard sheep cheese, and grill the pair of fish (and unexpected octopus!) I just caught on charcoal grill. Afterwards go for a swim, diving down to wrecks of Bronze Age warships; coming up to lay on the deck just in time for midday UVB-rich sun.

What are suggested ways for overweight and/or “out-of-shape” people to start an exercise regimen (after they have dialed in their diet)?

Start walking every day. Half hour minimum, hour ideal. Take your walks in as interesting a location as you can find. Nature trails are better than treadmills. Dense city streets are better than empty suburban sidewalks. Do that for three weeks.

Lift something heavy twice a week. Your own bodyweight may suffice. Weights are great, too. The Primal Blueprint Fitness program is very simple and very effective, especially if you’ve never done any exercise before. Start there.

That’s it.

Hi Mark,

I would like to know how you handle eating in social situations, restaurants, personal residences, weddings, etc.

Do you ask a lot of questions (like what kind of oil was used) or totally avoid anything suspect as politely as you can, or just not worry about it?

I vet all my friends for cooking oil preference, so there’s no danger there. Anyone who uses an oil containing over 20% omega-6 PUFA get the boot from the Sisson circle.

(Kidding.)

If I’m at a restaurant, I don’t make much of a fuss. If it’s a breakfast joint, I’ll request that they cook everything (scrambles, omelets, etc) in butter because every breakfast joint has butter on hand. I’ll ask what kind of oil’s “in the dressing” because that info is readily available.

If it’s Indian, I’ll request that they cook with “real ghee” or “desi ghee” (as opposed to “ghee” made from vegetable oil). I did have a Thai place I loved where they kept a jar of coconut oil around for our orders. It may seem like an awkward request, but most places just want to please their customers.

I have no qualms about traveling with and busting out my own Primal Kitchen® products, though.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week. I’d love to hear any of your responses to these questions, too.

saladdressings_640x80

The post Dear Mark: Bedtime Routine, One Marker, DOMS, Primal Fantasy Lives, Basic Exercise, and Outside Eating Situations appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering several questions from readers about my own personal routines and interests as well as a Primal take on beginning fitness. First, what’s my sleep hygiene routine? Do I even have one, and how has it changed over the years? Second, how do I make sure I’m staying on track in life? What’s the “one marker to rule them all”? Third, are there any good supplements or interventions for DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness—due to training? Fourth, what are two places I’d love to live, and live Primally? Fifth, how should a totally inexperienced person who’s just lost a bunch of weight through eating alone get started with exercise? And sixth, how do I handle myself in eating situations where I have no direct control over the quality of ingredients (oils, etc) used?

Let’s go:

Question for you – what does your nighttime sleep hygiene “routine” look like? I am experimenting with the best ways to wind down and prepare my body and mind to fall asleep, and am curious to learn more about your regimen or any tips you have.

Thanks!

Be sure to check out the upcoming post on sleep I’ve got in the works. It will help answer your questions.

But I’ll talk a bit about my personal routine. My ultimate goal is to wind down from the work day—clearing my head of current and future concerns and stressors so that I can focus on the here and now, spend time with family, and turn off for the night. That’s not to say I’m not thinking about work or business at all. I’m just not doing so actively. In fact, it’s when I’ve cleared my head of the day-to-day stuff that new ideas hit me. I’ll jot ’em down if they seem to have legs and move on.

Up until a few years ago, my “wind down” routine involved a couple glasses of wine with dinner. It did the trick, sure, but there were side effects. I started waking up around 3-4 AM every morning. And my gut health really took a hit, with my old IBS symptoms returning. Those weren’t acceptable to me.

I limit the wine at night more carefully now. I’ve also switched to dry farmed natural wine from Dry Farm Wines—lower alcohol content, zero added preservatives, minimal sugar, more ancient fermentation methods—and I don’t have the same negative effects. But even then, I don’t use wine to relax before bed.

I’ll turn electronics off; the blue light they emit kills melatonin and makes your circadian rhythm think it’s daytime. If I’m on top of my game, I’ll light a bunch of candles around the house and forego artificial lights altogether. If I have to attend to some business or write an email or anything, I’ll wear blue light-blocking goggles and make sure f.lux is activated on the computer and the phone is on night mode, both of which reduce blue light.

I’ll spend quality time with my wife, be present in the moment, talk quietly about our day, laugh about something or other. I won’t be scouring social media trying to find something out in the world to feel angry or powerless over.

If it’s been a particularly trying day (or week), I’ll take some Adaptogenic Calm to take the edge off the cortisol.

My routine is mostly about avoiding or eliminating the supranormal stimuli that occupy our brains, suppress our natural melatonin, and make getting to sleep at a reasonable time impossible. It’s very basic and very effective.

If you could only choose one way of measuring/tracking your performance (in life generally, across the board) for the rest of your life, what would you select eg how you feel when you wake up, or your ability to play ultimate frisbee intensely for 60 minutes, or how your posture looks in the mirror etc?

LDL cholesterol.

Just kidding.

I’d ask myself “Do I feel excited about my day, my week, my month, and my year?” If the answer is “yes” to all, I’m in a good place and everything else is working to support that.

I would be interested to learn about the best ways to combat muscle soreness following tough workouts. Sometimes I feel like my progress is slowed because I’m too sore to workout again. Any special recommendations?

The main thing is to just weather the storm. Soreness is unavoidable, especially if you’re really pushing yourself.

Massage can help. If you don’t have access to someone who’ll massage you, self treatment with a foam roller or lacrosse ball can be effective.

Compression garments may help with muscle stiffness.

Taurine helps. Eat beef hearts or take supplements.

L-citrulline helps. Eat watermelon or take supplements.

I’d love to hear about your ultimate primal food destinations. Where you’d love to go for certain wild delicacies, bluff oysters in NZ etc… & your top three areas in the world to live primally.

Fun idea. I’ll do two fantasy scenarios. Maybe more later when I can think of them.

Hawaii, Big Island or Kauai (can’t pick): Swimming/paddling every day, spearfishing, keeping centipede-fed chickens and goats and grass-fed cows for eggs and milk and meat, grinding my own coconut butter, hiking through jungles and valleys, across lava beds. In the mornings, Carrie does yoga and I do pullups and KB swings. There’s nothing quite like the tropics. I think maybe a long lost ancestor of mine washed ashore in some South Pacific island, ingratiated himself among the locals, then married and sired several children, one of whom caught a merchant ship back to northern Europe.

Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey, southern Italy): We walk down the slope through gnarled olive tree grove to our small boat, sail out onto cobalt sea, drink unpronounceable local wine, nibble hard sheep cheese, and grill the pair of fish (and unexpected octopus!) I just caught on charcoal grill. Afterwards go for a swim, diving down to wrecks of Bronze Age warships; coming up to lay on the deck just in time for midday UVB-rich sun.

What are suggested ways for overweight and/or “out-of-shape” people to start an exercise regimen (after they have dialed in their diet)?

Start walking every day. Half hour minimum, hour ideal. Take your walks in as interesting a location as you can find. Nature trails are better than treadmills. Dense city streets are better than empty suburban sidewalks. Do that for three weeks.

Lift something heavy twice a week. Your own bodyweight may suffice. Weights are great, too. The Primal Blueprint Fitness program is very simple and very effective, especially if you’ve never done any exercise before. Start there.

That’s it.

Hi Mark,

I would like to know how you handle eating in social situations, restaurants, personal residences, weddings, etc.

Do you ask a lot of questions (like what kind of oil was used) or totally avoid anything suspect as politely as you can, or just not worry about it?

I vet all my friends for cooking oil preference, so there’s no danger there. Anyone who uses an oil containing over 20% omega-6 PUFA get the boot from the Sisson circle.

(Kidding.)

If I’m at a restaurant, I don’t make much of a fuss. If it’s a breakfast joint, I’ll request that they cook everything (scrambles, omelets, etc) in butter because every breakfast joint has butter on hand. I’ll ask what kind of oil’s “in the dressing” because that info is readily available.

If it’s Indian, I’ll request that they cook with “real ghee” or “desi ghee” (as opposed to “ghee” made from vegetable oil). I did have a Thai place I loved where they kept a jar of coconut oil around for our orders. It may seem like an awkward request, but most places just want to please their customers.

I have no qualms about traveling with and busting out my own Primal Kitchen® products, though.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week. I’d love to hear any of your responses to these questions, too.

saladdressings_640x80

The post Dear Mark: Bedtime Routine, One Marker, DOMS, Primal Fantasy Lives, Basic Exercise, and Outside Eating Situtations appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering several questions drawn from the comment board of last week’s post on fasting vs carb restriction. First, how do I square my recommendations with the successful reports of potato dieters losing weight on a high-carb tuber diet? Second, is Leangains optimal for mass gain? Third, how do I use extra virgin olive oil, butter, and ghee? Fourth, could exogenous ketones help a man with dementia, MS, and seizures? Fifth, how should a woman with stalled weight loss integrate fasting?

Let’s go:

Walter Sobchak asked:

If “carbs” are so bad, how do people eat only potatoes and lose large amounts of weight? Andrew Taylor (SpudFit.com) and Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller) are two high-profile people, but there are lots more. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend an unbalanced diet of only one food, but the point is that potatoes are a natural food and are not inherently detrimental.

I agree that potato-only diets are a quick weight loss hack.

Potato-only diets work well because they’re so monotonous. When your only option is a plain potato, it’s extremely hard to overeat. It’s the combination of fat and carbohydrates that’s so easy to overeat, and that causes the most metabolic problems.

Potatoes are surprisingly nutrient-dense. They have complete protein, containing all the necessary amino acids. You won’t be bodybuilding on all-potatoes, but there’s enough protein in there to stave off muscle loss for a week or so.

Cooking and cooling your potatoes converts some of the glucose into resistant starch, which feeds your gut bacteria and cannot be digested by your body. This lowers the effective glucose load.

I could recommend the potato-only diet, ditch the keto/low-carb/Primal talk, and people who listened to me would still lose weight. But they’d miss out on all the other benefits, not least of which is the delicious food. In short, the potato-only diet isn’t the worst thing out there, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term strategy.

Check out what I’ve written about potatoes in the past. You might be surprised.

Mattias Carlsson asked:

I have a question for advice if someone know. According to most sources I find the so called anabolic window persist at least 24 hours after resistance training. How can then an intermittent fasting with 8 hour eating as in lean gains, from what I understand, be optimal on training days. It seems to me that a bit of overeating on carbs and protein during all this time would be most beneficial?

I don’t know that it’s optimal for sheer mass gain. But it does seem to strike a nice balance between “gains” and “staying lean.” You may not bulk up as quickly as you would cramming food in your gullet. You will gain lean mass without gaining so much of the squishy mass that normally accompanies what passes for “gains.”

Michael Levin wondered:

Question: EVOO, Ghee and grass-fed butter–which to use when and for what?

EVOO: salads, marinades, sautéing. It’s actually far more resistant to heat than most people think; the polyphenols protect against oxidative damage.

Ghee: Indian cooking, Thai cooking, high heat searing.

Butter: Cooking eggs and other breakfast items, melted with broccoli/shrimp, finishing steaks and reduction sauces.

Beth Olson asked:

What are your thoughts on exogenous ketones? My dad has MS and dementia and seizures way too often. Should we try adding these?

I can’t give your dad any medical advice. You can talk to his doctors, however, and show them this study where exogenous ketones reduced seizure activity in mice. You can show them that coconut oil and MCT oil—two other routes for generation of ketones—have shown efficacy against cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

I suspect exogenous ketones can help. I also suspect they’d be far more helpful on top of a low-carb, high-fat diet with plenty of healthy lifestyle modifications.

That’s the thing with dementia: there isn’t a pill that fixes everything, or even a single intervention. In the one study that actually got major results, researchers had Alzheimer’s patients undertake a dramatic diet, exercise, and lifestyle shift. Here’s what each subject did:

  1. Eliminate all simple carbs and follow a low-glycemic, low-grain (especially refined grains) diet meant to reduce hyperinsulinemia.
  2. Observe a 12-hour eating window and 12-hour fast each day, including at least three hours before bed.
  3. Stress reduction (yoga, meditation, whatever works for the individual).
  4. Get 8 hours of sleep a night (with melatonin if required).
  5. Do 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 days per week.
  6. Get regular brain stimulation (exercises, games, crosswords).
  7. Supplement to optimize homocysteine, vitamin B12, CRP levels.
  8. Take vitamin D and vitamin K2.
  9. Improve gut health (prebiotics and probiotics).
  10. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and spices (blueberries, turmeric).
  11. Optimize hormone balance (thyroid panel, cortisol, pregnenolone, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone).
  12. Obtain adequate DHA to support synaptic health (fish oil, fish).
  13. Optimize mitochondrial function (CoQ10, zinc, selenium, other nutrients).
  14. Use medium chain triglycerides (coconut oilMCT oil). You could possibly use exogenous ketones here too.

Bring that study to your dad’s doctors and see what they have to say. If they aren’t blown away by the possibilities and open to give it a try, I’d be shocked. Hopefully your dad is game. I’d love to hear how it works.

Lisa Chupity asked:

I went Primal/Paleo back in March of 2012. I lost the 15 pounds I wanted to lose. In 2015, 7 pounds crept on, and for the life of me, I can’t lose ‘em! April of this year, I went Keto. I track my macros, and do my best to keep my carbs to 20 grams per day, tho I don’t beat myself up if I have 24. I haven’t lost an ounce! I’m going to have to do the IF thing, I’m sure. As it is, my breakfast is bone broth (1 1/2 cups) and a mug of Coffee with Brain Octane in it. Lunch is yer basic “Big Ass Salad”. Dinner is good, too, and within Keto guidelines. I try to keep my caloric intake to ~1600 calories/day.

To add to the mess, I have Multiple Sclerosis, so stuff like Cross Fit is outta the picture. I can manage some stationary cycling, and some Pilates, with lighter modifications. Any advice?

If you try IF, do the “early restricted feeding” rather than late. You’re already doing a kind of “fast” in the morning, just drinking broth and coffee with MCTs, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

Eat some fat and protein for breakfast with a few carbs. Eggs and bacon with a side of cantaloupe or berries. An omelet with spinach and onions and cheese. Steak and greens and half a banana. Emphase whole-food fat and protein. Have coffee and broth, too, if you like. This and lunch should be your biggest whack of calories.

Eat your Big Ass Salad for lunch. Drop dinner, or make it really light and no later than 5 or 6 PM.

Terry Wahls has a great Primal-friendly MS protocol. Check out her Ted talk and go from there if it interests you.

Good luck and keep us apprised of your results.

That’s it for today, folks. Take care, be well, thanks for reading and writing!

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The post Dear Mark: Potato Diet, Lean Gains, EVOO/Butter/Ghee, Exogenous Ketones, and Early IFing appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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As humans, our most important bodily endowment isn’t our claws, sharp teeth, powerful haunches, iron grips, prehensile tails, venomous secretions, or aerosolized musk. It’s the brain. We use it to shape the world around us, to bend physical reality to our will, to manipulate matter and create powerful technological terrors. These days, the human brain is more important than ever. If you want to enjoy life, pursue and succeed at your passions, to conquer your little corner of reality—you need a healthy brain. Brain health is key to total health—and quality of life.

By some analysis at least, however, neurogenerative diseases remain on the rise and take an ever more extreme emotional and economic toll. So, how do we keep our brain health intact? While much of it comes down to doing the things that keep your brain healthy and avoiding the things that harm it—exercising instead of sitting on the couch, breathing exclusively fresh air instead of tobacco smoke, sleeping instead of staying up—another big variable is the food we eat.

First, I’ll list the most important nutrients for brain health and function, keeping things brief to get through them all. To be honest, this isn’t even “all.” It’s likely that every single micronutrient we’re supposed to be consuming plays a role in brain health, so central is the brain to our basic functioning.

Then, I’ll highlight some of the most critical food sources of these nutrients.

Let’s go.

Nutrients To Note

B Vitamins

The B vitamins are co-factors in every pathway related to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Choline

Precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter involved in focus, memory, and processing.

Vitamin E

Reduces oxidative stress and inhibits oxidation of fragile polyunsaturated fats in the brain. Also reduces lesion formation in brain white matter, a strong risk factor for cognitive decline.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of those compounds that interacts with seemingly every pathway in the body. Whether it’s immune function, hormonal production, musculoskeletal maintenance, or even UV protection, vitamin D plays an important role. Dementia patients tend to have very low vitamin D levels, and good vitamin D levels predict strong executive function ten years down the road. High-dose supplementation may even improve visual memory in D-deficient subjects. For those who need more in their lives, sun is key. Quality supplementation can help.

Magnesium and Iron

Magnesium and iron are two more nutrients that are involved with everything, including the brain. A recent study found evidence that patients with either mild cognitive decline or full-blown Alzheimer’s tended to have lower magnesium and iron levels and higher oxidative stress loads.

Zinc

Regulates absorption of copper and prevents overloading, which can inhibit cognitive function. Along with magnesium and vitamin D3 (among others), helps testosterone production. Testosterone is critical for cognitive function, especially mental energy and drive.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Typically valued for their beneficial effects on eye health, these plant-derived carotenoids are also linked to cognitive function. Seniors with low levels of both exhibit lower neurological efficiency—their brains work harder during cognitive tasks. And a year of luten and zeaxanthin supplementation slows cognitive decline in community-dwelling adults. Even young healthy adults see improvements to memory upon supplementation, if their baseline levels are low.

Creatine

Creatine doesn’t just enhance physical performance. Creatine is also found in the brain, where it maintains cognitive function by recycling ATP, the basic energy currency of the body. Studies show that vegetarians who supplement with creatine enjoy improved cognition and physical performance. Vegan brains and muscles, which have even less (small amounts of creatine are present in eggs), should benefit even more from supplementation. Creatine also provides quick ATP for intense, short-lived physical feats.

Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Having a good ratio of omega-3:omega-6 in our tissues sets us up for a healthy inflammatory response to oxidative insults—not too little, not too big. There’s evidence that balanced omega-3/omega-6 ratios can actually prevent the “initiation and progression” of many neurological disorders by improving the efficiency of our inflammatory response.

What Are Some Of the Best Foods For These Nutrients?

Red Meat

A great source of creatine, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Its even got a little-known nutrient called carnosine, which acts as a brain antioxidant.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A great source of monounsaturated fat, which is critical for stable cellular membranes in the brain and other parts of the body. Spicy or peppery EVOO indicates the presence of high levels of olive phenols, which show efficacy in slowing the onset of dementia and preserving brain autophagy.

Avocados and Avocado Oil

They’re rich in vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Leafy Greens

A great source of minerals like magnesium and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Also, we can’t just eat multiple avocados every single day (can we?).

Chicken Hearts

They’re rich in every B-vitamin except for thiamin (still have thiamin, just not as dense as the other B-vitamins). They are loaded with zinc and iron. They’re a good source of cholesterol, which can help repair damaged brain junctions. And despite being an organ meat, they’re very mild. I like marinating chicken hearts in lime juice, garlic, onion, cumin, and olive oil, spearing them with skewers, and roasting over open flame.

Wild Sockeye Salmon (Skin On)

The intense red color indicates the presence of astaxanthin, an “animal carotenoid” with . Farmed salmon producers even dose their flock with synthetic astaxanthin; otherwise, the fish will be grey. Salmon is also a good source of (highly bioavailable) vitamin and, of course, long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Those omega-3s and that astaxanthin probably have a synergistic relationship, each increasing the effect of the other. Here’s a quality option for those who prefer a supplement to regular fish intake or want the added assurance a supplement provides.

Pastured-Raised or Omega-3 Enhanced Egg Yolks

Not only do they have tons of choline and additional folate and other brain-supportive micronutrients, they contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids bound up in phospholipid form. When an egg is formed inside a bird, many of the fats come embedded in phosopholipids—highly bioavailable vehicles that deliver fats and nutrients directly to the brain. DHA-rich phospholipids enable faster, more fluid transmission of data across brain synapses. A good pastured egg will also have appreciable amounts of vitamin D in a form 5 times more bioavailable than vitamin D3.

Blueberries

A number of studies in both young and old, healthy and cognitively impaired, find that eating normal amounts of blueberries can improve cognitive function. Just a single dose of a blueberry drink (made with actual blueberries) triggers an acute boost to memory retention in children; a single dose of freeze-dried wild blueberries triggers boosts performance in children engaged in a cognitively demanding task. Older adults with cognitive impairment who eat blueberries improve their cognition. Older adults without cognitive impairment who eat blueberries improve brain activation. Plus, they taste great.

Look for blueberries that stain your mouth, an indication of high polyphenol content. Wild Boreal blueberries from Trader Joe’s have been the best I’ve found to date (and they’re quite affordable without being overly sweet).

Dark Chocolate

In case you needed another reason to eat some high quality high-cacao dark chocolate, cocoa flavanols enhance cognitive function in the elderly with and without cognitive decline.

That’s a pretty strong start. For further discussion of this topic, do your brain a favor and pick up a copy of Max Lugavere’s Genius Foods, in which he lays out a definitive guide to eating right for brain health. And be sure to check out his recent chat with host Elle Russ on the Primal Blueprint Podcast. 

If you have any questions about supplements, nutrients I might have missed, supplemental foods, and brain health, feel free to ask down below. Thanks for reading!

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The post Supplements For Brain Health: What Nutrients and Supplemental Foods Make the Most Difference appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Inline_Ancestry Fat Choices.jpegOne of the more exciting developments over the past few years has been the explosion in population genetics research. People are a diverse lot, and even though we’re all people who essentially want the same things out of life (and we’re working with the same basic machinery), there’s a lot of wiggle room. It’s not just information for curiosity’s sake. The information researchers are uncovering about human ancestry can have real ramifications for how said humans should eat.

A couple years ago, I wrote a post laying out a few guidelines for using your personal ancestry to inform your diet. Today, I’m going to talk about another one: polyunsaturated fat metabolism.

For years, it’s been “common knowledge” in alternative health circles that most people just aren’t very good at converting the omega-3s (ALA) in plant foods into the long-chained omega-3s found in seafood (DHA, EPA), and that everyone should just eat fish for their omega-3s. This remains solid advice, but the reasoning needs a little tweaking. It turns out that the genes that encode the proteins responsible for conversion of ALA into DHA/EPA (and linoleic acid into arachidonic acid)—known as FADS—have a couple variants. Some variants make conversion less effective and some make conversion more effective. Furthermore, the distribution of these variants vary across populations.

For instance, the variant that increases conversion of ALA into DHA and EPA is more common in South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan) populations and African populations than any other group, while it’s moderately common in Europeans and East Asians and rarest in Native Americans and Arctic natives. Why?

In Africa, anatomically modern humans initially crowded along the coasts because that’s where the food was, especially the omega-3-rich seafood that provided the nutrients necessary for brain expansion. When humans began expanding into the omega-3-deficient interior of the continent, those with the FADS gene variant for improved long chain PUFA conversion were more successful. They could live in areas totally bereft of marine foods and still make enough EPA and DHA to survive and produce big-brained babies. Researchers estimate that the new variant became entrenched in African populations around 85,000 years ago due to positive selection. To this day, African populations almost exclusively carry the variant that increases conversion.

Then, as modern humans left Africa and moved into Europe and Asia carrying that same genetic variant, they encountered new environments that placed new demands on their genes.

In South Asia, the gene variant persisted. Plants were plentiful and long-chained omega-3s were not due to warm water reducing the omega-3 content of marine life, and the ability to efficiently convert fats offered a survival advantage. About 3/4 of the population carries it today.

In East Asia, about 1/2 of the population carries it.

In Europe, meat and fish were more widely available. Conversion was less necessary when you had a regular intake of pre-formed EPA, DHA, and arachidonic acid. Thanks to European admixture with existing archaic populations who still had the conversion-decreasing variant, its frequency increased until the arrival of farmers from the East, whose agricultural innovations selected for and genes contributed to the conversion-increasing variant.

In Native American populations, including Arctic, North American, and Latin American natives, the variant is almost completely absent. They were getting all their long-chain PUFAs directly from animal and marine foods, and it shows in the genes.

That’s a broad overview. The story’s more complicated than that, of course. East Asia is a big place with many different ethnic groups. Same goes for Europe, and Africa, and everywhere else. Except for the Africans and Native Americans, the frequency of the variants vary within these populations.

In European populations, for example, the conversion-increasing variant has the strongest selection in southern European populations (Tuscans), slightly less strong selection in Iberian populations (Spain/Portugal), moderate selection in Britain and northern Europe, and the weakest selection in far northern Europeans (Finns).

The ancient European groups that fed into modern populations followed a similar north-south pattern of variance. West and Scandinavian hunter-gatherers in the north show the least selection for the variant, since the cold waters of northern Europe offered plenty of cold water fatty fish and elongation of plant omega-3s just wasn’t very helpful or necessary. Pastoralists and farmers to the south show the most selection.

What’s it all mean?

People with African ancestry are almost certainly homozygous (2 copies) carriers of the increased-conversion variant. South Asians, including Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans, are also strong candidates to be homozygous carriers. Southern Europeans are most likely heterozygous (1 copy) carriers, Western and Northern Europeans less so.

Indigenous ancestry (unless African) probably means you’re a carrier of the decreased-conversion variant. Alaskan or Greenland Inuit, American Indian, Mexican mestizo—they tend to have lower FADS activity due to the relatively recent inclusion of agricultural foods in their ancestral diets. The farther north your people hail from, the more likely you are to carry at least one copy of the decreased-conversion variant.

If you carry the FADS variant that increases conversion:

  • Watch your linoleic acid intake. A major reason linoleic—>arachidonic conversion was selected for was the rarity of both long-chain PUFAs and linoleic acid in the ancestral environment. Being able to convert all your linoleic acid to AA is great, assuming you’re not cooking with soybean oil, eating fries fried in corn oil, and snacking on potato chips in between meals. Seed oil high in concentrated linoleic acid is a historical aberration for everyone regardless of ancestry.
  • Don’t think you can skip the fish and start glugging flax oil just because your mom was Sri Lankan and your dad was Tuscan. Studies show that the benefits of long-chained omega-3s like DHA are not modified by FADS gene status. Everyone can benefit from fish. Some people just need it more.

If you carry the FADS variant that reduces conversion:

  • You need pre-formed DHA/EPA and arachidonic acid. You don’t make it very well. That means eating fish, shellfish, eggs, and other animal foods. Hard sell, I know.
  • And if you eat a ton of vegetable oil—as most people do these days—you’re in troubleResearch shows that people with the conversion-decreasing variant who eat a lot of linoleic acid have lower HDL, higher triglycerides, and a bigger waist than those who eat very little.
  • Your absorption and incorporation of DHA from food may be enhanced. One study in infants with the conversion-reducing variant found that taking fish oil increased DHA way more than in other babies. This could be a feature of infants with the variant—mom eats fish, passes DHA through breastmilk to baby, who absorbs every last drop—and not of adults.

Don’t know your FADS gene status? No problem. It’s actually more fun this way.

I would take the time to get your ancestry tested, unless you’re absolutely certain of your family tree—and it stretches far enough back to actually say something about your deep ancestry. That way you can look at the various populations from which you hail and make some educated guesses. And you can even plug the raw genetic data into a service that spits out your nutrition-and-health-related variants.

Even then, you may not get any hard and fast answers. FADS gene variant frequency data isn’t widely available for every possible ethnic group on Earth, so a lot of this is more art and intuition than hard science.

If the traditional diet of your immediate ancestry is plant-based—not vegan, just not buying steak from the non-existent grocery store—you probably carry at least one and perhaps two copies of the conversion-enhancing variant.

If your people lived near the sea or ate a decent amount of animal foods, you’re probably carrying one of the conversion-reducing variants.

Whatever you do, take it easy. Have fun with it. Very few people represent the tail end of an unbroken line of ethnic purity. Most people will vary a bit here or there, or a ton here and a ton there. I have a lot of Scandinavian ancestry, which explains my need for a lot of pre-formed DHA and EPA from wild seafood (I’ve confirmed with genetic tests).

As this topic is a moving target, with new data coming out constantly, I’ll probably revisit it from time to time. Until then, what do you all think about the field of ancestral influence and health? What’s your ethnic background, and what do you think it means for your ability to metabolize PUFA? And what other questions do you have regarding ancestry and diet?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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