Recently by Mark Sisson: A Sea Change Coming to Wash Your ShoesAway
Although the Primal Blueprint leaves ample room for individual determination, I do try to offer folks a clear picture of the impact different dietary and lifestyle choices have on their overall health picture. At times I even offer specific recommendations or ranges that readers can tailor to their particular needs and situations. I’m often asked, however, about the upper ceilings I would set for various elements of the PB (fat, fish oil, etc.) I thought I’d take on those questions today and cover good ground by applying a rapid fire approach for several of the most common u201Cexcessu201D inquiries. Enjoy, and be sure to share your thoughts!
My general recommendation is one gram per pound of lean body mass on an average day. If you IF, it might weigh in at half that or less on your fasting days, whereas special occasions like Thanksgiving or your uncle’s annual steak fry might tip the intake scale at 1.5 grams per pound or so of lean mass. For the average active person, these amounts will be well utilized and fully sufficient. Any more than that, however, and you run the risk of excess protein being converted to glucose, which of course defeats the purpose of a low/lower carb diet. If you’re adequately hydrated (which doesn’t take much), eating an overall alkaline diet and ensuring adequate intake of bone supportive nutrients like magnesium, calcium and vitamins D and K, the common (but generally outdated) concerns about kidney load and osteoporosis aren’t significant issues.
Eating Primally will almost always mean that more than half of your calories will come from fat, and there’s no reason to be concerned about that – in fact it’s a reason to rejoice. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate at least that and, in some cases, considerably more. There isn’t really an upper limit for fat intake. For the vast majority of us, a useful way to approach the fat question is to first dial in your protein intake and then look at what carb intake you’re shooting for. (Check out the Primal Blueprint Carb Curve for a good summary of ranges.) You could potentially go zero carb – although the prospect is extremely impractical (and boring) for most people and must be well thought out and rather meticulously executed. After accounting for adequate protein and desired Primal carbs, you can fill out the rest of your caloric needs with fat, prioritizing the cleanest saturated fats you have financial and logistical access to, then monounsaturated fats and then healthy, intact polyunsaturated fats like certain nuts and fish oils.
Conveniently, that brings me to our next category in question….
I generally recommend 1-3 grams of fish oil each day to counter inflammation and balance out dietary omega-6 content toward a healthier ratio approaching 1:1. The more Primal and clean you’re eating, the less you need. As for upper limits, it depends. More than three grams a day on an otherwise healthy diet (and/or in conjunction with certain medications/high alcohol intake) can thin your blood too much and impair its necessary clotting ability. Keep in mind not everyone is affected equally by a higher dose. Some people do fine with higher amounts. Other people notice excess thinning at well below three grams. For people with certain medical conditions, dosages above three grams have served as effective therapeutic treatment options. Of course, just because a certain dosage has been used in scientific studies doesn’t mean it’s necessary or advisable to take that much if you have a given condition. Talk to your doctor, and keep in mind that quality fish oil isn’t the cheapest thing in the world. One-three grams is nothing to sneeze at. It’s potent stuff. There’s no use taking more than you’ll fully benefit from. Better to take an adequate dose and spend the extra money on better quality food than to down megadoses of fish oil you don’t need.