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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Category: Diet & Nutrition

Dear Mark: Your Challenge Questions Answered

Last week, you guys asked me a ton of questions as part of a contest. Today, I’m going to answer an initial batch. (If you don’t see yours, check back on Mondays to come when I’ll take up others.) First, can excess fat be stored as body fat? If so, how? Second, can this way of eating help with seasonal allergies? Third, what’s the proper pushup progression for someone who can’t do a full one? Fourth, when should I take my probiotics, vitamin D3, and fish oil? Fifth, is canned fish a viable way of obtaining omega-3s, or does the canning process damage the fats? Sixth, is there a trick to beating a weight loss plateau? Seventh, is there a way to make sardines palatable? And eighth, if you can’t walk one day, can you make it up the next?

Let’s go:

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Primal Transition 101: Insider Kitchen Tips

Transitioning to the Primal Blueprint way of eating should be simple. There’s no need to invent the wheel at every meal. That said, it does likely mean shifting some of your routine in the kitchen. If you’re used to processed food, enjoy getting your hands a little messier. If you’re used to take-out, capitalize on the chance to use your creative skills. (Don’t worry, you’ve got an abundance of recipes and cookbooks right at your fingertips.) That said, all Primal cooks—beginners to old-timers—can make life easier with a few select tactics.

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Dear Mark: Raising HDL Particle Number, Who Should Try Ketones, and Where’s My Keto Energy?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what’s the best way to increase your HDL particle count? There are dozens of articles explaining how to reduce LDL-P, but what about HDL-P? Second, are ketones right—or necessary—for everyone? The final question comes from a reader who, despite sticking with the diet for four months, hasn’t felt the fabled “keto energy.” Should she try ketone supplements, give it more time, or what?

Let’s go:

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A Primal New Year’s Eve Survival Guide

New Year’s Eve approaches. Parties beckon. Arsenals of alcohol accumulate. Whether you venture out into the wild night or keep it quiet with close friends and loved ones (that’s me), people will probably offer you a glass (or several) of something containing ethanol to mark the occasion. As always, it’s not about a right or wrong choice but about assuming responsibility for your health. I’ve heard a lot of readers over the years say going Primal has made them much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. If you’ll be partaking, you can gird your system to deal with the incoming toxicity.

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My Experience with Exogenous Ketones: Tale and Truth

I woke up the morning of the ceremony with butterflies in my stomach. I’d done the necessary prep. I’d abstained from carbs the past week and food the past 24 hours. I’d performed four consecutive full-body circuit workouts to deplete muscle glycogen, and undergone a liver biopsy to confirm full depletion of liver glycogen. I wasn’t taking any chances. Although I had extensive experience generating endogenous ketones and subsisting on my own body fat, exogenous ketones were another matter entirely. You don’t want to mess around with a holy sacrament without doing due diligence.

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14 Weird Plant Bits and Where to Find Them: Foraging Ethnic Markets

Five years ago, I wrote about all the odd animal bits one can find at ethnic markets. I procured and photographed the blood, the guts, the tendon, the tripe, the tails and heads and feet and all the other weird things you can and should eat—meaty bits you won’t find in the local Whole Foods.

Today, I’m going to talk about the weird plant bits available in ethnic markets—spices, greens, roots, noodles, and fermented things.

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Dear Mark: Protein Powder Dangers, Fermented Polyphenols, Whole Foods’ Farmed Salmon, and K-Cup Bone Broth

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four reader questions. First, a recent NY Times article makes some scary claims about protein powder—and protein in general. Should you worry? Next, what does a study about probiotics and polyphenol absorption mean for probiotics in general? Third, what do I think about Whole Foods’ new farmed salmon, which purports to be way healthier and more sustainable than other farmed salmons? And finally, I discuss K-cup bone broth.

Let’s go:

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My 8 Favorite International Dishes to Expand Your Primal Palate

Standard Primal eating is quite simple. Meat, veggies, and perhaps some starch. That’s partly what makes it so effective and intuitive. As far as dietary lifestyles that call for making most of your food from scratch, the Primal Blueprint is one of the easier ones.

As a red-blooded American, most of the recipes I post on MDA and publish in my books are “Primalized” versions of American cuisine. It’s only natural. So you get Primal meatloaf, Primal casserole, Primal pancakes, and other familiar fare. I even published an entire cookbook devoted to it called Primal Cravings.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like different flavors. I do.

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5 Common Prescriptions That Should Require Nutritional Counseling

I’m not a drug denier. For the most part, at the base level, pharmaceuticals do what they’re supposed to do. Statins lower cholesterol. Beta-blockers lower blood pressure. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Whether those changes save lives or reverse disease is another question entirely. But we can all agree that pharmaceuticals deserve a place in modern medicine. And even if we don’t, they objectively have a place, and we must acknowledge reality.

We can also agree that many of the most common prescription drugs affect the way we absorb, metabolize, utilize, and excrete vitamins, minerals, and other important health co-factors. People taking them deserve nutritional counseling. This is my quick and dirty attempt to encourage that.

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Dear Mark: Transdermal Magnesium and Vitamin D/B12 Products for a Vegetarian

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. The first one concerns transdermal magnesium. Does it work? Can magnesium actually permeate the skin and enter circulation? Probably. And for the last question, I provide a bunch of examples of natural products—foods and behaviors—that can increase vitamin D and B12 levels for an ailing vegetarian.

Let’s go:

Mark, what’s your two cents on transdermal magnesium? I take between 200-600 mg mag glyconate daily. I then add mag chloride via ‘magnesium oil’ to my shoulders and anywhere my muscles are tighter than usual. Anyone else use the mag oil or gel?

I like it.

If you rely solely on the scientific literature, there isn’t a ton of strong evidence. But there is evidence.

In one study (PDF), subjects took daily 12-minute epsom salt (containing magnesium sulfate) baths for a week straight. After a week, magnesium levels had risen significantly in most subjects. Those who’d already had replete magnesium levels saw their urinary excretion increase, suggesting that excess magnesium does get absorbed but not retained. Epsom salt baths also provide bioavailable sulfate, a hugely important but underappreciated mineral in our physiology.

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