The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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...Tell Me More
Gaining mass and building strength while CrossFitting should be a breeze. You’re lifting heavy things using compound full-body movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses, providing a potent growth stimulus to your muscles. Yet, many people fall short of their goals, perhaps losing weight and improving performance but failing to really gain any real muscle or strength.
Today, I’m going to explain how going Primal can help you achieve both goals.
First, you must understand the very Primal reality of your body’s hormonal systems and their relation to the environment: Acknowledge that you are an organism whose endocrine system is acutely attuned to the inputs it receives. It’s actively engaged in the world around you, making predictions and taking actions based on your perceptions. If your body thinks it’s living through a famine, it will conserve energy and eliminate wasteful extravagances like big muscles and 2x body weight back squat. If your body thinks it’s living through plentiful times, it will be more liberal with energy and allow the growth of extracurricular tissues, like big muscles. Create an environment of abundance—or even the impression of one—and you will be more likely to gain muscle and strength.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering/addressing four questions/comments. First, will my new Keto Reset book provide detailed meal plans or vague recommendations? Second, is there a better weight scale than the scale? Mathieu thinks there is, and I agree. Third, if you’re doing the Primal Blueprint Fitness program, do the recommendations I made in the Crossfit and carbs posts apply? And fourth, what’s the best fish sauce?
Note: Many of you have written to me wondering about my newfound obsession with CrossFit. I’m responding to a steady stream of requests from CFers who want to do Primal but have been led to believe that the two are incompatible. Even if you have no interest in CrossFit, understand that much of the advice contained in this series also applies to people following a different training path.
As much as CrossFitters claim to concern themselves primarily with increasing physical performance and work capacity across broad modal domains, they also want to lose body fat. There’s nothing wrong or superficial about that, mind you. Excess body fat is unnecessary and, depending on the quantity and location, dangerous to your long-term health. It also impedes performance, acting as dead weight. We have every reason to want to lose body fat.
CrossFit is well-known for leaning people out. But there’s also a small but significant portion of people who struggle to lose body fat despite—or perhaps because of—hitting the box religiously and doing all the workouts. This post is for them.
The microorganisms that reside in, on, and around our bodies influence almost every facet of our well-being. Part of maintaining microbiome health is maintaining homeostasis. Another is supporting diversity.
Our goal, then, is to improve our microbiological real estate in the many areas of the body that commensal and symbiotic bacterial like to put down roots—the gut, mouth, lungs, skin, reproductive organs, and so on. The average Primal enthusiast is well-versed with the role of food choices and smart supplementation (although research is always uncovering new wrinkles—more on this to come).
I thought I’d give a little attention to some of the other basic practices that can influence microbial diversity and homeostasis. There are more answers and nuances than I can cover today, but let’s start with some of the fundamentals.
Over the past two posts in this series, I’ve explained how a Primal way of eating can not only support a heavy CrossFit schedule, but elevate it. Today, I’m going to explain how going Primal can help fix a common complaint among CrossFitters: fatigue. No energy. No pep. A distinct lack of physical and psychological motivation to train, let alone hit PRs. This doesn’t just make it hard to finish workouts and make gains. It bleeds into the rest of your life and makes that worse, too.
One of the reasons CrossFit tends to produce excellent physiques in both men and women is that it forces you to do everything. You’re lifting heavy, sprinting, going long and slow sometimes, going short and intense. You’re tapping into every energy system and stimulating anabolic pathways. It’s a recipe for fat loss and muscle gain.
If you eat enough to support your activity levels, that is.
Historically, that’s been the big knock against paleo by CrossFitters: It’s too satiating a diet. The food you eat is so nutrient-dense that you end up eating fewer calories than you need to maintain the activity. What makes paleo so great for weight loss—inadvertent calorie reduction—makes it tough for CrossFit.