Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Month: January 2010

The Wonderful World of Coconut Products

Coconut seems to have a special place in Primal hearts. Judging from the forums, people are pretty taken with the fatty pseudo-nut and they’re always interested in new ways to consume the stuff. For some who abstain from dairy completely, coconut products make a great replacement for creams and butters. Others see the evidence from South Pacific traditional groups who thrived on a diet of coconut and fish, and want a bit of that in their lives. The milk makes a great base for smoothies, soups, and curries; the oil is a great source of saturated fat that stands up well to heat; the water beats commercial sports drinks with its impressive electrolyte content; the nut itself can be used as a projectile weapon. It’s just a well-rounded, versatile food with some interesting characteristics and a ton of offshoot products. Unlike most food “products,” however, coconut products are legit. They’re real food, and they’re real good. To help you guys wade through the often-confusing world of coconut products, I’ve put together a little guide to them all. Of course, I’ve probably missed a few things, so share your thoughts with me in the comments section.

Without further ado:

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Dear Mark: Trans Fat

The message has been circulating for a few years now: trans fats = bad. It’s one of the rare times I find myself in alignment with conventional nutritional guidelines. (Of course, it’s not so simple, but I’ll unpack that one in a moment.) The fact is, manufacturers have done a better job sending the anti-trans fat message than public health agencies. Everywhere you turn in the grocery store the “No Trans Fat!” tag leaps out at you, complete with manic font and exclamation point, from hundreds of boxes, bags, and packages. (“Well, it must be healthy then!”) Unfortunately, the marketing push has crowded out the real science when it comes to the public’s engagement with the real issue. As you can guess, there’s more to the trans fat picture than the self-congratulatory manufacturer claims.

Dear Mark,

I know trans fats are unhealthy and I avoid them like the plague. But like so many things sometimes I need a little reminder why. (I regularly brush up my knowledge by visiting your site so that when a friend asks why I avoid grains I don’t say something like “Grains are bad because… something about lectins and phytates – can’t remember why… but they’re bad.”) Could you write up an easy to remember primer on what trans fats are and why are they unhealthy?

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Weekend Link Love – Edition 80

Primal is spreading. If you haven’t already seen it, the New York Times ran a piece on modern cavemen in the big city. You’ll probably recognize a few of the people they interviewed.

Zen Habits included me in his recent post about health bloggers’ favorite blogs. Even for the hardcore Primal fans, there may be a few blogs you haven’t heard of.

If you haven’t read Good Calories Bad Calories yet, I’d suggest heading over to Higher Thoughts where you can read extensive notes on the entire book.

Barefooters gain the upper foot after more research comes out on the ineffectiveness of high tech running shoes.

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Sweet and Salty Primal Trail Mix

Sweet and salty. Few combinations of words can simultaneously strike both fear and pleasure. On one hand, a sweet/salty combination can result in amazing flavor, like a savory Apple Stuffed Chicken or Pork Loin with Mango Salsa. On the other hand, the food industry caught on long ago that sweet and salty was an addictive combination and proceeded to load snack foods with obscene amounts of salt and sugar.

The great thing about making your own snack food at home is that you control what goes into it. You can have a little sweet and a little salty together without any fear of sending your healthy diet into a nosedive. Sara Hatch adds a teaspoon of sea salt and 1/4 cup of raw honey to her Sweet and Salty Primal Trail Mix (Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook contest submission) to give it tons of flavor and a sticky, clumpy texture similar to granola. When you make this recipe in your own kitchen, tailor it to your own sweet/salty preference. Add a little more or less salt and cut back on the honey if you like, or, for that matter don’t add any – the dried fruit will add plenty of sweetness for some. However you make it, this trail mix is still a fresher, healthier option than most store-bought versions.

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An Open Letter to Taco Bell

Dear Taco Bell,

It has come to my attention that you have recently created a Drive-Thru Diet. You are clearly taking bold new steps to change the way Americans view healthy eating, so I am writing this letter to express my gratitude and enthusiasm and to offer insight for further improvement.

I first noticed your “Drive-Thru Diet” ad on a billboard outside of a childrens’ extra-curricular learning studio in west Los Angeles. Ever the inquiring mind, I visited Tacobell.com for some heavy research. I read Christine Dougherty’s 80 word story about losing 50 lbs over 2 years with Taco Bell. Very convincing. Then I watched TV personality Chris Rose interview four paid actors, and every single actor praised Taco Bell’s seven healthy Fresco menu items. Next I learned from registered dietitian Ruth Carey that some food choices are nutritionally better than others. These people clearly weren’t lying. The Drive-Thru Diet looked legitimate, so I decided to make a Frescolution. I hit a road block when attempting to fill out my pledge. The form required me to fill out “what I know.” I attempted to write, “I live a healthy lifestyle based on the 10 immutable Primal laws validated by two million years of human evolution…,” but Taco Bell overrode that with, “My idea of exercise involves the all-you-can-eat buffet marathon.” Oh well, I suppose what I know isn’t nearly as important as eating Taco Bell Fresco menu items.

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5 Sweet and Savory Primal Shakes

Some days, a fork and spoon can feel like a bit of a hassle. Okay, not really, but the temptation to simply drink our food is one we give into now and then when convenience is a priority. A Primal shake is a good way to mix things up, treat yourself to a healthy snack in the afternoon or add a little extra something to an evening meal. Some shakes, even without the addition of dairy or added sugar, can even satisfy a hankering for dessert.

When you’re making a shake, it’s tempting to throw anything that looks good into the blender, stick a straw in it and suck it down. But be careful; what started as a healthy snack or meal-replacement can quickly turn into a huge glass of carbs and sugar.

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