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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May 14, 2008

My Daily Diet

By Mark Sisson
51 Comments

Last week in my post about Washboard Abs on a High-Fat Diet, No Ab Workouts and No Cardio I got a number of questions regarding my diet. So here it is. I’d recommend everyone visiting FitDay and giving it a try. I know when I have clients send me their FitDay records, it’s usually an eye-opener.

Daily Caloric Breakdown

As noted in the previous post I am getting well over 50% of my calories from fat and am right at 1 g protein/lb. I try to keep my carbs at 100 grams a day plus or minus a few. This keeps me in a predominantly fat-burning state without ever being ketogenic (in the strictest sense). This is an important concept. Low carb does not necessarily mean ketogenic, as some people seem to believe.

The above figures correspond with the following foods and serving sizes. Though the vegetables and meat choices often change from one day to the next it is very typical of my diet.

Daily Food

FitDay also keeps track of your micro-nutrient intake:

Vitamins

Minerals

One notable thing here: Despite eating a diet largely based on nutrient rich vegetables, healthy fats and some fruit it is still possible to not meet RDA of some vitamins and minerals. In this particular case I came up short on Vitamin D and Calcium. This is precisely one of the reasons why I spend some time in the sun each day and why I choose to take a multi-vitamin supplement. Sometimes even a great diet won’t meet all of your needs.

Further Reading:

My Daily Salad

What I Eat in a Day

What is the Primal Blueprint?

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51 Comments on "My Daily Diet"

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jameson
8 years 4 months ago

Thanks for posting… great info.

Questions:

1. What kind of physical activity or exercise did you perform on this day?
2. how many cals did you burn while exercsising?
3. net calories total for day after cals burned from actvity?

Just curious… I am an endurance athelete and still experimenting with how many calories work for me based on activity/exercise level.

Jay
8 years 4 months ago

Mark;

Get Post, thanks for sharing your Fitday profile.
I check you blog at least once /twice a day, cross post on mine along with posting articles on our company bulletin boards.

Thanks again.

primalman
primalman
8 years 4 months ago

That’s an interesting self study. I have recommended Fitday to patients of mine for years and many find it a pleasurable way to study one’s eating habits.

If you don’t mind, I think that you should do this for about 2 weeks and make your results public on Fitday. It would be interesting see any trends that break out over a 2 week period rather than sampling just 1 day. It would also be easier to look at rather doing a screen capture and putting it on your site.

Tee
Tee
8 years 4 months ago

Mark,

Thanks for posting, but it is really hard to read what the “Today’s Foods” says. Anyway you could make it more legible?
Thanks.

L
L
8 years 4 months ago

Tee,

Right click the photo and select “view image” (PC). This should allow you to view the capture in a new window at actual size. Not sure what the commands are on a Mac, though.

Scott Kustes - Modern Forager
8 years 4 months ago

Mark, I actually started putting my food intake into FitDay a couple days ago as I’ve never examined it that closely to know my breakdown. Your abs post prompted it. I assumed I was around 50% fat, 30% protein, 20% carbs. I assumed wrong! Monday I came in around 70% F, 18% P, 12% C, and yesterday flipped the P and C numbers a bit with a sweet potato. Very interesting stuff…amazing I’m not dead with my 21% saturated fat yesterday.

Cheers
Scott Kustes
Modern Forager

J. Bella
J. Bella
8 years 4 months ago

I noticed just 1 cup of milk would easily get you out of the red on the only 2 nutrients you seem to be lacking (Vitamin D and calcium).

Any specific reason you steer clear?

Andrea
8 years 4 months ago

Mark,
My fitday calcs seem to indicate that their “egg, fried” includes the butter already. Or are you adding more than they specify?

If not, I’d do “egg, whole, raw” by itself and then add your butter separately. That is, of course, if that kind of a detail makes a difference to you. πŸ™‚

Andrea

Mike OD - Fitness Spotlight
8 years 4 months ago

…and less than 35grams of fiber in a day? You must be constipated and bloating by now. More whole grain cereal for you! (note sarcasm)

Good breakdown…honestly that seems like the perfect ratio of macronutrients for health…even of sat/mufa/pufa fats. Well done sir, no wonder you have abs!

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
8 years 4 months ago

Wondering if you eat more carbs (fruit, sweet potatoes) on a day of vigorous activity?

denner
8 years 4 months ago

Mark, whats your cholesterol like?

Steve Liberati
Steve Liberati
8 years 4 months ago

Mark,
Thanks for posting! Wasn’t sure if I read that right, but did I see that you use regular sugar or an artificial sweetner in your coffee? Just asking, not judging;>)
Thanks!
Steve

Dave C. - DaveGetsFit
8 years 4 months ago

It’s sugar–I know because I do the same thing based on a suggestion from Mark. I thought that was a little strange when he said it but then I decided that it’s a very small indulgence compared to a day’s total intake. There’s more sugar in the small container of Greek yogurt that I have with my breakfast. What I really like is the taste that using heavy cream gives the coffee. I’m toying with the idea of drinking a cup of cream with a dash of coffee for flavoring! πŸ™‚

Mark Sisson
8 years 4 months ago
Good questions, all. Just got in off the golf course (foraging for lost golf balls, while carrying a bag and swinging a stick). 1) Physical activity on that day was extremely hard 30 minute stationary bike ride. 2)Irrelevant how many calories I burn during exercise. That’s a problem with FitDay because they overestimate your “burn.” FWIW, I burned 675 calories in a half hour according to the bike. Net calories don’t faze me either. Metabolic advantage evens everything out. 3)Don’t drink milk because our ancestors didn’t, and I hate the stuff. But I do consume rotted milk in the form… Read more »
DaveC
DaveC
8 years 4 months ago

Just got in off the golf course (foraging for lost golf balls, while carrying a bag and swinging a stick).

Yea!! So how far you figure Grok could hit his five iron? πŸ™‚

I enjoy golf so much more now that it’s major function is exercise rather than worrying about lowering my handicap (which I’m NOT doing).

primalman
primalman
8 years 4 months ago

Mark,

Here is one way that I can tell you how to improve your diet and add great enjoyment to your life:

Learn to appreciate and then pull your own perfect espresso. It is one of my great enjoyments in my life and it is guilt free. Seriously, putting any type of dairy or sweetner into great espresso is nothing short of a crime.

Scott Kustes - Modern Forager
8 years 4 months ago

Mark,
I notice on my reports that I’m not deficient in vitamin D and Calcium, but if I remove the 1 can of sardines that I eat most days, I am. Something worth noting is that those yummy little fishes (with the bones of course) contain both of these vitamins/minerals and a single 3.75oz can will bump you up to or above the RDA.

Cheers
Scott Kustes
Modern Forager

Judy
Judy
8 years 4 months ago
The thing I find most interesting is that I maintain my 115-120 pounds (on a 5’4″ frame, after having had 3 children) on about the same number of calories per day as Mark, without much in the form of “formal” exercise (up and down playing with the kids, gardening, housework and such), and my balance of carbs and protein is about exactly the opposite. Lots of fruit and whole grains around here, and it sure doesn’t seem to be hurting any of us. Not trying to be totally antagonistic to the whole “primal” thing, but it surely is not the… Read more »
Mark Sisson
8 years 4 months ago
Judy, You are correct. Grok didn’t drink milk or eat cheese (or drink wine or a protein shake). Here at MDA we espouse a Primal Blueprint “style” of eating. Ideally, you’d get up with the sun, go to bed when the sun goes down, hunt for animals and forage for veggies in your neighbor’s garden. Unfortunately, modern life interferes with that idealistic style. So we make compromises. We call them “sensible vices” http://www.marksdailyapple.com/index.php?s=sensible+vices or “minor indulgences” that let us enjoy trappings of modern life without too much sacrifice. Generally, these also have research to back the fact that they have… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 4 months ago
My micronutrient breakdown looks quite a bit like yours, except I’m usually OK on calcium. When I saw this, I gave up my multivitamin. I don’t sweat the vitamin D when it’s warm enough to get a little sun (I have light skin, so it doesn’t take much exposure), but I take some cod liver oil in the late fall, winter, and early spring. When I first experimented with low-carb back in 2002, my doctor insisted I would develop a vitamin C deficiency. When I found Fitday a year or two later, I laughed my (_|_) off when I saw… Read more »
Martha
Martha
8 years 4 months ago

Can’t tell you how much your site has encouraged me and helped change my eating habits. This post in particular I found helpful, with the introduction of Fitday– an application I’m now using. Thanks!

Aaron
8 years 4 months ago

Martha,

We are so glad to hear we could help in any way! Keep up the great work and if you have any questions or need any help either bring it to our comment boards for all of our informed readers to weigh in on or contact us directly by clicking “Ask Anything!” at the top right of the page and sending us an email. Thanks again!

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[…] Mark Sisson posted his daily intake, a few days after a mention of his high-fat diet and a shot of his abs, I decided to see what the […]

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[…] (6/7/08): Scott and Mark are down with fitday.com.Β  How ’bout […]

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[…] you find yourself truly overrun by cravings, however, you might want to visit FitDay and do some calculations of your daily diet. A lot of people starting out on a low-carb diet don’t include enough fat right away. […]

Justin
Justin
7 years 6 months ago
Hey Mark, I’ve been looming around your blog a bit recently while converting my diet to paleo/primal and I have a question regarding your protein spacing. At what intervals do you eat this protein (assuming that the 8 servings of steak you show there isn’t consumed in one meal). I’ve often read that anything over 30-35g (for someone your size) in one sitting is just excreted through urine. I too am around 165 pounds and am very interested in the maintaining (as well as continuing to gain) muscle mass when on the primal diet. Thanks so much for this great… Read more »
Mark Sisson
7 years 6 months ago

I don’t measure protein and I don’t space intervals really. I eat what I want when I’m hungry…or not. Might be a whole chicken some nights, might be a small steak others, or nothing. Low carbbing means never having to count protein or fat (except to be sure you are getting enough – and that happens intuitively after a while). The whole 35 grams thing has more to do with the idea that you can’t assimilate more that that at one meal. But you can certainly digest it and probably convert some to glucose.

Justin
Justin
7 years 6 months ago

I guess what I’m asking is spacing 160 grams of protein over about 4-5 meals (when you’re hungry, of course) better (or more efficient) than consuming that protein in three meals of 50 some-odd grams each when working out hard (intense, under 40 minutes, multi-joint exercises) and trying to build muscle. I’m not worried about counting calories, but rather making sure I am getting enough protein daily and utilizing that protein as efficiently as possible for my muscles.

Justin
Justin
7 years 6 months ago

Or maybe I’m just having trouble transitioning from a 6 meals a day, 30 grams of protein each meal to a relaxed “eat when hungry, however much you want” type of diet. I do think I’m over-thinking it, but unless I put at least some structure into my diet I find myself not getting the 160 grams needed (from what I’ve read) to keep growing muscle.

Mark Sisson
7 years 6 months ago

Justin,

There is a danger of overthinking this. The reality is that at 165 pounds, you probably only need 100 grams protein a day to sustain or even to build. More is OK, but not necessary. Less is OK some days. A 50-gram meal here or there won’t hurt, nor will a 20 gram meal. Go for w weekly average instead of a daily average. Remember, If your power-to-weight ratio is good and your body fat low, you may be already at ideal. Adding more muscle may just be too difficult and metabolically expensive.

Justin
Justin
7 years 6 months ago

Thanks Mark. Your website is a fountain of knowledge, I can’t believe you find time to update daily.

Jedidja
7 years 4 months ago

I think you should write more about this: “Remember, If your power-to-weight ratio is good and your body fat low, you may be already at ideal. Adding more muscle may just be too difficult and metabolically expensive.”

I agree gaining muscle (and maintaining) it is tough; I wonder when it is we should be happy with the strength we’ve got. If we can do 20 pull-ups? 50 push-ups? Carry someone out of a burning building? πŸ™‚

ebrunner
ebrunner
7 years 3 months ago

I second that idea – a list of primal fitness markers…

fritchbeetle
7 years 1 month ago

I use MyNetDiary.com – I really like it’s layout and how it updates to the server immediately. It’s fast and gives me concise or detailed and customizable reports! Love it!

kady
kady
7 years 14 days ago
I’ve been wondering some things mark, if you would be so kind as to help me understand them? If you eat no carbs (or very few, say, less than 10g carbs) you’ll need to convert some fat and protein to glucose to maintain blood glucose levels…so i was wondering how much gets converted in one day? – i.e how much of the protein you eat will be converted into glucose? (i know some fat component can be converted too…does this make things more complicated?) Also, it seems IFing or only eating 1 or 2 meals a day is very primal.… Read more »
Mark Sisson
7 years 14 days ago

Kady, the body makes up to 200 grams glucose per day on a zero carb diet. Much of the detail is in the Primal Blueprint book.

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[…] an active person, I eat (here’s an example of my daily diet break down) about 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass each day. For me, that’s about 150 grams […]

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[…] instinctively know what to eat without straying over. But for you beginners, opening a free FitDay account can make a huge difference. I have one myself, as do most of my readers – so head over to […]

Ashley
6 years 12 days ago
Mark, You noted that you don’t reach the RDA of Vitamin D and Calcium, above. Keep in mind that the RDA’s are silly – you only need 1200 of calcium per day if you are also eating things that damage the gut lining, like grains, which contain antinutrients that make absorbing calcium and magnesium more difficult because they damage the gut lining. If your diet is squeaky-clean paleo, you don’t need as much of those minerals/vitamins – you aren’t eating grains, (much) dairy, legumes, and other foods that irritate the intestinal tract and worsen your abilities to absorb nutrients. Mat… Read more »
Chris
Chris
5 years 5 months ago
Mark, So I have been adapted to the grain style of eating my whole life (much like the rest of the world). I first started experimenting with low carb diets in the ways of the bodybuilding world. Now I’m starting to rely on just fruits and vegetables and along with my other macro nutrients. For my own personal reasons, I would like to be around 4-5% body fat. This may seem very low to most. I see plenty of people who can maintain this fairly easily because of their body type and fast metabolisms. I am about 195 lbs. My… Read more »
Mark Sisson
5 years 5 months ago
Chris, you pose a complex series of questions, all somewhat dependent on the answers to each other. First, 4-5 % body fat is extremely low and not something I would advise for extended periods of time. Dont’ get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re not there, but most people who think they are 4% are somewhat higher. If you did try to keep to a legit 4-5%, then you’d need to either keep carbs on the lower limits of ketosis all the time and/or ramp up the expenditure (glycogen depletion) daily. Also, I’m not a fan of working out hard… Read more »
Chris
Chris
5 years 5 months ago

I guess I should have said I don’t necessarily want to be 4-5% year round. I agree that 6-8% would probably be the best fit for year round maintenance. I guess the real question is how low of a body fat percentage can be maintained without sacrificing performance or sacrificing your body’s normal biological functions? I suppose with anything though there is a high degree of variability.

Taylor
Taylor
5 years 4 months ago

Hi Mark,

Am I missing something? At 4 cals/gram, how does 91g of carbs add up to only 248 calories?

Mark Sisson
5 years 4 months ago

Taylor, there’s 29 grams of fiber. No calories in those.

Taylor
Taylor
5 years 4 months ago

Hmmm, so should I be trying to keep my total carbs below 80g/day for fat loss? Or just net carbs?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Mark,
Great post. I think we should keep in mind that the RDA is not actually based on much science, so taking supplements to reach an artificially stipulated number isn’t necessarily necessary. Right?
Elizabeth

Drini
Drini
5 years 2 months ago
Hi everybody, I’ve been primal for a couple of days now and yesterday I discovered this post so I started using DailyFit to track down my intake. So my first breakdown of macronutrients looks as follows: 2417 calories, 67% fats (187,3 g), 15% carbs (97,7 g), 15% proteins (92,3 g) and 3% Alcohol (1 OZ Single Malt). The %RDA of 95% of the nutrients is met. My question is, are these ratios ok, considered that i get enough nutriton? Or, should I eat less fats (65% seems to be quite high, also compared to the intake of Mark)? thanks in… Read more »
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[…] However, check out this diet page http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fitday-results/ […]

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[…] you’re interested, run your meals through a Fitday or a Cronometer or something similar, and track your sodium, potassium, and fructose […]

Cheryl
4 years 3 months ago

I have been trying some great recipes from the web….how the heck do you calculate the carbs for,as an example, bacon muffins made with coconut flour? I’m clueless

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