For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering questions from last week’s olive oil post. First, is there a way to identify real olive oil and distinguish it from fraudulent olive oil? Second, should EVOO be used when grilling food? Third, how can we know if our canned seafood is packed in real, actual olive oil and not some industrial seed swill? Fourth, is algae oil worth eating? And fifth, what about just eating whole olives? Finally, why not just eat beef fat, which is also relatively high in MUFA?

Let’s go:

I’ve read that some “olive oil” has canola or other oils mixed in, fraudulently. Is that still an issue, and is there any way to be sure (reliable brands or sources) that what you are buying is pure and authentic?

It’s still an issue.

It all started after a raid by Italian police discovered that many olive oil producers were adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and passing it off as EVOO. Later, UC Davis conducted a study on popular brands of imported EVOO, finding that about 70% were adulterated with seed oils. Other studies have found similar results.

Find a brand you trust. Research a maker, whether it’s a local market or a specialty brand you find at the store.

There’s this master list of olive oils certified by the North American Olive Oil Association for quality and authenticity. Many are commonly available in grocery stores.

I like it drizzled over cottage cheese for lunch or brunch, topped with cracked pepper, yum!

Finally someone agrees! This is indeed the best way to consume cottage cheese, for those who don’t know. Use at least a teaspoon of pepper, as much as you can handle.

I typically use an EVOO spray on meats before searing on the grill. Could this be harmful with the flame on high?

I wouldn’t recommend EVOO for high heat or direct flame. Personally, I use an oil made for high heat cooking in that kind of situation.

Mark,
How can one be assured that they’re packed in genuine EVOO? Is there some source/website that lists those that have been tested and verified? Call me a skeptic. If I’m Crown Prince, King Oscar, Starkist, or whoever, I’m buying massive quantities of olive oil for my fish packing operation. And the cheaper price gets my business. I’m not sending samples off to a lab to test if it’s authentic EVOO.

Good question. I can’t attest to any particular brand. It’s possible some adulterated oil could slip in, and I was unable to find any mention of it in the online literature.

If you’re concerned, drain the oil. Even if a half gram of omega-6 PUFA were to slip by, the actual fish in the can is rich enough in omega-3s that I wouldn’t worry.

For what it’s worth, I doubt something like Wild Planet sardines (what I generally buy) uses fake olive oil. Unless I’m including it specifically for a recipe, I usually pour the oil into a bowl for my dog to eat, since it’s good for her, too. (You can imagine how much she enjoys it….)  Her fur shows the benefit as well.

Terrific info, thank you!
Can you do the same breakdown and analysis of algae oil? Please. I’m using ‘thrive’ brand. Thanks!

Algae oil is a good source of long chain omega-3s and has been shown to improve omega-3:omega-6 ratio in people and animals, a strong indication it “works.” Algae represents the “source” of DHA for most of the seafood we eat, in fact. Great way for vegans and vegetarians to get them.

Don’t use it for cooking. Omega-3 fats are very fragile in the presence of heat, unless protected by the

To what extent do you get the same benefits from just eating olives? I’m usually more inclined to do that… wondering if there’s any research on the health benefits?

Yep, olives are great. Love them. There isn’t really any research into olive consumption, and you’d have to get about two dozen olives to get a tablespoon worth of EVOO, but they’re bound to be good for you. Just account for the sodium intake.

Every time I see these claims about EVVO, I think:
1. EVOO is rich in MUFAs; so is BEEF FAT.
2. BEEF FAT is rich in SFAs; so is EVOO.
3. EVOO is rich in polyphenols. Does polyphenols show some improvement in healthspan and longevity in humans in a prospective study?
4. EVOO is a liquid fat. There are some studies showing that liquid fats increases intestinal permeability.
OBS.: yes, I´m doing carnivore.

1. Agreed. Beef fat is rich in MUFAs, just like EVOO.

2. Beef fat is rich in SFA, but it’s a particular type of SFA (stearic acid) that turns into MUFA in the body. EVOO isn’t really rich in SFA, though it’s rich in the MUFA that stearic acid becomes.

3. Plant phytonutrients actually do have consistent inverse associations with mortality in humans. More phytonutrients, longer lifespan. However, this isn’t measuring cause and effect. It’s very possible that people who eat more polyphenols also do other types of healthy behaviors, like exercise regularly and avoid smoking, that definitely improve longevity.

4. If anything, MUFAs (the primary fat in liquid EVOO) along with omega-3s are protective against intestinal permeability. And let’s not forget that less intestinal permeability isn’t necessarily a good thing. Increased intestinal permeability can be physiological, or it can be pathogenic.

I get the carnivore thing. I’m not against it. Beef fat is great, too. But the evidence in favor of EVOO is quite robust. Definitely robust enough for my taste.

Thanks for reading, writing, and asking, everyone. Take care and be sure to comment down below if you have any more questions!

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References:

Kim Y, Je Y. Flavonoid intake and mortality from cardiovascular disease and all causes: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2017;20:68-77.

Cândido FG, Valente FX, Grze?kowiak ?M, Moreira APB, Rocha DMUP, Alfenas RCG. Impact of dietary fat on gut microbiota and low-grade systemic inflammation: mechanisms and clinical implications on obesity. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018;69(2):125-143.

The post Dear Mark: Olive Oil Followup appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Olive oil is the great uniter of the dietary tribes. While your Ray Peatians might grumble at the 10% PUFA content and hardcore carnivores will balk at its vegetal origins, the vast majority of dietary camps—vegans, vegetarians, paleo, Primal, keto, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, etc.—consider olive oil to be a healthy fat. I have it on good authority that Walter Willet oils his mustache with Croatian olive oil, Dean Ornish conditions his hair with Cretan olive oil, and Peter Attia keeps a bathtub full of Damascan olive oil behind a secret panel in his library that only unlocks if you complete a tabata session on his Peloton. I even saw Shawn Baker sneaking sips from a flask with green oily fingerprints when we recently hung out. Everyone likes olive oil. There are almost no exceptions.

This is about where I usually step in to make a contrarian claim about the super-popular food, citing some arcane study or pointing out an evolutionary argument against it.

Not with olive oil. As much as I love my avocado oil, I see no reason to question the legitimacy of extra virgin olive oil as a valid member of your diet. Personally, I include both. Here’s why….

Healthy Components of Olive Oil

Its MUFA content. Monounsaturated fats are pretty much universally lauded. Almost as resistant to oxidation as saturated fats, they raise HDL and lower LDL. Cellular membranes and mitochondria with a lot of monounsaturated fat function better than ones with more polyunsaturated fats. They’re the rock of the fatty acid world.

Its polyphenol content. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are the plant nutrients that act as antioxidants in the plant—protecting it from predators and oxidative stress and heat and light. They act as minor toxins in us, provoking an adaptive hormetic response that makes us stronger, fitter, and healthier. Polyphenols get mixed reviews from different dietary camps. Carnivores often call them outright toxins with no benefit. Conventional skeptics usually miss the whole “hormesis” thing altogether and assume proponents think polyphenols are antioxidants that directly block oxidative stress in us. My nuanced take is that polyphenols can be pretty useful, but that there’s likely a U-shaped relationship: Too little is suboptimal, and too much is too much, just like with exercise, sun exposure, and any other type of adaptive stress we experience.

Its prominent role in classic Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil has been eaten (and used in cosmetics, to cleanse gladiator champions, etc.) in the Mediterranean (including areas of Africa, Europe, and Asia) for thousands of years. It’s got a good track record of human use.

Those are all good theoretical reasons to use olive oil. What do human studies say?

Research Supporting Olive Oil Consumption

  1. Overweight women ate one of two breakfasts for a year. The first was supplemented with soybean oil. The second was supplemented with extra virgin olive oil. Both breakfasts were identical save for the fat source. At the end of one year, those who ate the EVOO breakfast had higher HDL, lower inflammatory markers, better blood pressure, and lower body weight.
  2. Type 2 diabetics with bad blood lipids either took a statin or EVOO. The statin was slightly better at reducing LDL and increasing HDL, but not by much, and the EVOO didn’t impair any physiological pathways or cause any undesired second order effects. I’d take the EVOO every time.
  3. Among a Mediterranean population, high EVOO consumption was linked to a reduced risk of fractures and osteoporosis. High consumption of regular olive oil was not.
  4. Extra virgin olive oil, but not corn oil, reduces postprandial oxidative stress.
  5. Women who ate high-polyphenol EVOO every day for 8 weeks enjoyed reduced oxidative damage to their DNA.
  6. Dietary EVOO reduced the number of oxidized LDL and increased HDL in proportion to the phenolic content of the oil; the more phenolics, the greater the effect. Tested LDL was also more resistant to oxidation after being removed from subjects and exposed to oxidative stress. Similar effects were found in a more recent study, in which men were given either EVOO with high phenolic content or refined olive oil with zero phenolics present. Men consuming high phenolic EVOO had less oxidized LDL and more phenolics present in LDL, indicating that olive phenolics reach serum LDL and exert antioxidant effects in real live actual humans.

Tips For Incorporating Olive Oil

There aren’t many foods you can’t make better by topping off with a little olive oil. The flavor of a good olive oil is nuanced enough to elevate the simplest dishes, and that’s what I enjoy about it.Think everything from marinated nuts and olives to a light dinner of Cacio e Pepe zoodles.

Cream of garlic (or cream of anything) soup? Better with a drizzle of olive oil before serving. Savory Labneh yogurt? Also better “finished” with olive oil. And don’t forget olive oil sauces. I just shared one of my favorites this week: pesto. It’s a totally modular sauce you can make with your favorite oil, nuts and herbs, but extra virgin olive oil remains the traditional choice.

And salads? Like extra virgin avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil is good with anything you throw together, this Turkish Salad being one great example. Sardine Nicoise Salad is another. Speaking of canned fish, choosing those packed in genuine extra virgin olive oil can be a flavorful option. No need to discard the oil here, especially if you incorporate the oil into the dish itself like this Olive Oil Packed Tuna and Seared Tomatoes recipe does.

Okay, so drizzling extra virgin olive oil across your dinner salad is healthy, but isn’t olive oil sensitive to heat? Aren’t you supposed to avoid cooking with it? Actually, no. Extra virgin olive oil is resistant to low and medium heat.

Despite being heated at 180 ºC (356 ºF) for 36 hours, two varieties of extra virgin olive oil exhibited strong resistance to oxidative damage and retained most of their “minor [phenolic] compounds.” Another study added olive phenols to vegetable oil, then heated it. Adding the olive phenols made the vegetable oil more resistant to oxidation and preserved the vitamin E content, offering more protection than even a synthetic antioxidant designed to do the job.

It’s not just that nothing bad really happens when you cook with EVOO. It’s also that uniquely good things happen when you cook with it.

When you cook sofrito, that Spanish staple of sauteed onions, garlic, peppers, and tomato that forms the basis of many recipes, with olive oil, it gets healthier. Cooking sofrito using olive oil has been shown to protect and enhance the polyphenols found in the various vegetables increase the bioavailability of the polyphenols. The same thing happens to other vegetables cooked in olive oil. Tomato lycopene content, too, is enhanced after cooking with olive oil.

Now, how do I use olive oil?

How I Use Olive Oil

I’ll occasionally take a teaspoon straight up, if it’s good stuff (and I only have good stuff). I really relish that peppery bite you get in the back of your throat—that’s the polyphenol burn.

I drizzle it on cooked lamb—often marinated in nothing but the same olive oil—and follow with flaky salt. Lamb stands up well to more complex marinades, but it’s also great grilled plain and drizzled with good EVOO and salt. Nothing else.

Tomato and cucumber salad. Tomato, cucumber, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt. Nothing fancy.

If you haven’t noticed, I like to use good EVOO where I can taste it.

I love preparing fish with olive oil. There’s even evidence that olive oil and fish fat have a synergistic effect on blood lipids and oxidative stress, combining to exert greater benefits than either fat alone or through simple addition.

To sum up…

Olive oil is great for eating cold and dressing salads. This really brings out the flavors and preserves the polyphenols.

But olive oil is great for many cooking methods, too. Olive oil is resistant to heat damage in low and medium heat applications like slow roasting, baking and light sauteing, thanks to the stability of the fatty acids and antioxidant capacity of the polyphenols. It preserves and even enhances nutrient content of vegetables when used to cook.

Olive oil has been around for millennia, and it will continue to stick around. I happen to love Mediterranean food, so you’ll always find it in my kitchen.

In fact, when researchers tried to justify replacing EVOO with canola oil as the primary fat in the Mediterranean diet, they couldn’t do it. Wanted to, but couldn’t. Can you imagine? You’re on your honeymoon, traveling through Tuscany. You stop at a rustic vineyard. The proprietor, Giancarlo, wants to show you his prized homegrown oil, just pressed. He brings in a cask of the finest canola oil; you can still smell the hexane residues.

No thanks.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you like olive oil? How do you use it? What’s your favorite way to consume it?

Take care.

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References:

Galvão cândido F, Xavier valente F, Da silva LE, Gonçalves leão coelho O, Gouveia peluzio MDC, Gonçalves alfenas RC. Consumption of extra virgin olive oil improves body composition and blood pressure in women with excess body fat: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(7):2445-2455.

Khan TM, Iqbal S, Rashid MA. Comparison Of Lipid Lowering Effect Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Atorvastatin In Dyslipidaemia In Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad. 2017;29(1):83-86.

García-gavilán JF, Bulló M, Canudas S, et al. Extra virgin olive oil consumption reduces the risk of osteoporotic fractures in the PREDIMED trial. Clin Nutr. 2018;37(1):329-335.

Carnevale R, Pignatelli P, Nocella C, et al. Extra virgin olive oil blunt post-prandial oxidative stress via NOX2 down-regulation. Atherosclerosis. 2014;235(2):649-58.

Salvini S, Sera F, Caruso D, et al. Daily consumption of a high-phenol extra-virgin olive oil reduces oxidative DNA damage in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2006;95(4):742-51.

Marrugat J, Covas MI, Fitó M, et al. Effects of differing phenolic content in dietary olive oils on lipids and LDL oxidation–a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2004;43(3):140-7.

De la torre-carbot K, Chávez-servín JL, Jaúregui O, et al. Elevated circulating LDL phenol levels in men who consumed virgin rather than refined olive oil are associated with less oxidation of plasma LDL. J Nutr. 2010;140(3):501-8.

Allouche Y, Jiménez A, Gaforio JJ, Uceda M, Beltrán G. How heating affects extra virgin olive oil quality indexes and chemical composition. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(23):9646-54.

Casal S, Malheiro R, Sendas A, Oliveira BP, Pereira JA. Olive oil stability under deep-frying conditions. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010;48(10):2972-9.

Fullana A, Carbonell-barrachina AA, Sidhu S. Comparison of volatile aldehydes present in the cooking fumes of extra virgin olive, olive, and canola oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(16):5207-14.

Esposto S, Taticchi A, Di maio I, et al. Effect of an olive phenolic extract on the quality of vegetable oils during frying. Food Chem. 2015;176:184-92.

Rinaldi de alvarenga JF, Quifer-rada P, Westrin V, Hurtado-barroso S, Torrado-prat X, Lamuela-raventós RM. Mediterranean Sofrito Home-Cooking Technique Enhances Polyphenol Content In Tomato Sauce. J Sci Food Agric. 2019;

Rinaldi de alvarenga JF, Quifer-rada P, Francetto juliano F, et al. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil to Cook Vegetables Enhances Polyphenol and Carotenoid Extractability: A Study Applying the Technique. Molecules. 2019;24(8)

Ramírez-anaya Jdel P, Samaniego-sánchez C, Castañeda-saucedo MC, Villalón-mir M, De la serrana HL. Phenols and the antioxidant capacity of Mediterranean vegetables prepared with extra virgin olive oil using different domestic cooking techniques. Food Chem. 2015;188:430-8.

Vallverdú-queralt A, Regueiro J, De alvarenga JF, Torrado X, Lamuela-raventos RM. Carotenoid profile of tomato sauces: effect of cooking time and content of extra virgin olive oil. Int J Mol Sci. 2015;16(5):9588-99.

Hoffman R, Gerber M. Can rapeseed oil replace olive oil as part of a Mediterranean-style diet?. Br J Nutr. 2014;112(11):1882-95.

The post Primal Guide to Olive Oil: Why and When to Use It appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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As I’ve written before, although most people’s lipid numbers improve across the board, some people get interesting cholesterol responses to Primal ketogenic diets. LDL skyrockets, even LDL particle number. The jury’s out on whether or not they indicate negative health concerns or if keto dieters are a special breed that hasn’t received enough study. (There may be a few genetic profiles, such as APOE4 carriers, that react differently to certain dietary inputs.) Either way some people just want their cholesterol numbers to look good in a conventional way. These days, whenever I run into someone in the real world with these or similar concerns, I tell them to try “Mediterranean keto.”

What is that, anyway?

The Mediterranean diet can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask. On one side, you have the folks who make the ridiculous claim that the Mediterranean diet consisted of pasta, low-fat dairy, beans, green veggies, seed oils with a “drizzle or two” of extra virgin olive oil for good measure, a handfuls of nuts, and a single filet of sardine once every three days. They avoided salt and red meat and full-fat cheese, somehow ignoring the vast body of salt water on their shores and the large population of sheep and goats roaming the land. I guess that livestock is only there to keep the weeds down.

On the other side, you have the people claiming that the true Mediterranean diet consisted of fatty lamb, hard cheeses, fish filets dripping with oil, skins of homemade red wine, cured meats, endless olives, vegetables at will, and the occasional legume bathing in mutton juices and a tiny piece of bread crust submerged in extra virgin olive oil.

This is probably closer to the truth, but both are a bit hyperbolic.

It also depends on where you’re looking. The Mediterranean is a big sea. Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Crete, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and even France are all technically Mediterranean countries. Are their diets identical? No. Are there common threads running through their respective cuisines? Yes.

  • Olive oil
  • Fish
  • Wine (excepting Muslim dietary practices)
  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Grains and legumes (Yes, they do eat beans and pasta and bread, although perhaps not in the quantities the grain-addicted would prefer)

And that’s not even mentioning all the various social, spiritual, and lifestyle components of the Mediterranean way of life. The sun, the walking, the hills, the family connections, the religious leanings. Today’s label is all about the diet.

The Mediterranean keto diet emphasizes olive oil, fish, cheese, meat, low-carb vegetables, and red wine. In other words, it takes all the keto-compliant foods readily available to denizens of the Mediterranean and constructs a nutrient-dense diet out of them.

And you know what? It seems to work really well.

In one of the most impressive studies, people with severe obesity and metabolic syndrome tried a Mediterranean keto diet for 12 weeks. That’s three months.

Here’s what the diet consisted of:

  • No calorie counting
  • Unlimited protein
  • Lots of fish. At least (and often more than) four days a week, subjects ate over a kilogram of fish each day, mostly sardines, trout, mackerel, and salmon. On the other days, they got their protein from shellfish, meat, fowl, eggs, and cheese.
  • Lots of omega-3s. Subjects were getting over 15 grams of omega-3s on their fish days and supplementing with 9 grams of salmon oil on their non-fish days.
  • At least 200-400 mL of red wine a day, 100-200 mL at lunch and dinner. That’s up to over half a bottle.
  • At least 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of olive oil a day, 10 mL per meal.
  • Maximum two portions of salad and one portion of low-carb vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, etc) per day.
  • A comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplement covering all the basics.

What happened to these subjects after 12 weeks on this Mediterranean keto diet regimen?

On average:

  • They lost 30+ pounds.
  • Their BMIs dropped from almost 37 to 31.5, from the middle of class 2 obesity to the bottom of class 1 obesity.
  • They lost 16 centimeters, or 6 inches, from their waist.
  • Fasting blood sugar dropped from 118 (pre-diabetic) to 91 (ideal).
  • Triglycerides dropped from 224 to 109.
  • HDL increased from 44 to 58.
  • They went from prehypertensive to normotensive.
  • Their liver enzymes and liver fat reduced and in some cases completely resolved.
  • All 22 subjects started the study with metabolic syndrome and ended it without metabolic syndrome.

That last bit is pretty interesting. Note that the majority of the participants were still obese (BMI over 30) by the end of the study, yet every single one had cured their metabolic syndrome. Sure, they lost weight, and the trend was fantastic and heading down, but they weren’t there yet. Something about the diet itself was incredibly powerful.

The only limitation? It was a pilot study, not a randomized controlled trial pitting the Mediterranean keto diet against a control diet in real time. But considering that these people were coming off control diets—which clearly weren’t working for them—and onto the Mediterranean keto diet, it has more real-world power than you might think. You can bet the participants weren’t complaining about a lack of placebo control.

I’m not saying this is the best incarnation of all the potential Mediterranean keto diets out there. But if you’re having mixed metabolic results from the keto diet and looking for a ketogenic option with more monounsaturated fat and omega-3s, it’s the one that has some clinical research behind it. It’s one that doesn’t possess any glaring red flags.

This is also a form of ketogenic dieting that most people will view as “healthy.” It can be hard to get people to accept that putting real cream in their coffee and steak on their plates is good for them, even if they’re approaching death’s door eating what they’ve always eaten. It’s not so hard to get people on board with a diet of olive oil, fish, red wine, and salad. That’s no small feature.

In the end, the ketogenic Mediterranean diet appears to be an effective way to treat metabolic syndrome without scaring people away. For that reason, it might be a good option to try if you’re having issues with cardiovascular markers, blood sugar, hypertension, body fat, or any of the components that make up the metabolic syndrome.

What do you think of the Mediterranean keto diet? Think you could stick to it?

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References:

Pérez-guisado J, Muñoz-serrano A. A pilot study of the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: an effective therapy for the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food. 2011;14(7-8):681-7.

Pérez-guisado J, Muñoz-serrano A. The effect of the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2011;14(7-8):677-80.

The post What is Mediterranean Keto? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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(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?

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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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