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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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August 27, 2009

Less Cardio, Less Fat, More Muscle

By Guest
16 Comments

I’ve been a distance runner who fights my weight for the past 24+ years. I started running to lose weight in 1985, when I weighed 180. Right now, I’m in the mid-190s. Funny how that worked (not).

Two-plus years ago, I started lifting, which helped with fat loss. Some of the time. As long as I was very careful about what I ate.

In the past few weeks, I think I may have finally found the  answer. I’ve made a number of changes:

1) No grains
2) No sugars
3) Less cardio
4) More lifting
5) Less structure and rigor to my workouts. I still don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow from an exercise perspective.

So far this month, I’ve seen the following changes:

1) Carb cravings are gone – completely
2) I’m gaining muscle mass at age 47
3) People other than my wife are commenting on changes in my physique
4) I’ve dropped almost 2 inches from my waist and tomorrow, I’ll measure my BF% to see how it’s changed this month
5) I’m falling asleep when tired and waking up on my own
6) My weight is dropping

Lastly, it all feels sustainable.

Oh yeah, long cardio is hard while eating this way. I learned that the hard way.

I have been an ultramarathon runner since 1994, but maybe it’s time to simply move on, save the time normally spent running for hours on end, day after  day, and spend that time with my family.

Right now, I simply feel great and my body is changing. I need to see where I am six months from now, but I’m more optimistic now than ever that I’ve found a sustainable way to be fit and lean and happy.

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14 Comments on "Less Cardio, Less Fat, More Muscle"

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C2H5OH
C2H5OH
7 years 3 months ago

Beautiful story! You can provide photos if you want:D

Q-Dawg
Q-Dawg
7 years 3 months ago

I’m also a long distance runner. I eat mostly a vegan diet but have been throwing in a few of the primal meals into my weekly rotation.
But I find it really hard to run long distances the day after eating primally.
I feel like I’m 10 to 15 pounds heavier.

Cynthia
7 years 3 months ago
Dear Distance Runner, congratulations on finding what works for you! I’m also a distance runner, and find I do function best with some carbs (usually less than 100g) depending on what running I’m doing- I try to earn them though, and otherwise (on rest or short days) keep it lower. What is helping me with my weight loss is more mileage (but easier) ample protein and veggies after running, with carbs as an afterthought (a pound a week weight loss right now). I can’t imagine eating the amount of carbs that conventional wisdom says are needed though! I also find… Read more »
Grok
7 years 3 months ago
Seems strange, but my running performance is going up the more I slash carbohydrates. I’ve been averaging 40 daily for the past month. My body isn’t dying mid-run and I feel way better at the start and all the rest of the time during the week. I’m zero grain and only trace amounts of sugar from my fermented foods. Basically just meat and green vegetables for the time being. I am looking forward to more variety when the fat is all gone. Soon…. I’m still burning it like crazy & gaining muscle 🙂 Scale & shirt sizes going up, jeans… Read more »
thehova
thehova
7 years 3 months ago

I have mixed feeling towards long distance running. I did it in my early 20’s. I felt great after a long run and the hours which followed it.

But I also dreaded it and ultimately couldn’t keep it up (not for health reasons…I just dreaded waking up early and running even though I felt great after such runs).

I’m a firm believer in Marc’s belief that long distance running is harmful to your health. But I still sort of miss it and thinking about trying to run 2-3 times a week.

thehova
thehova
7 years 3 months ago

I might have mischaracterized Mark a bit (and spelled his name wrong). I’m not sure if he’s ever argued that long distance running is bad for your health. I think he’s just said that it can be.

Grok
7 years 3 months ago

I think his position is that it’s ok every once in a while, as long as it doesn’t fall into “chronic cardio”. Humans are built to run, but why would they waste all that energy unless it was absolutely necessary?

Maybe he can chime in.

I run a lot more than I want to, but until I win the primal phone call… I won’t have the answers I need for my training 😉

dml
7 years 3 months ago
I’m the person who wrote this. I don’t really have any photos at the moment, to be honest. I have some photos from earlier in the summer and maybe I’ll take some new photos in a couple of months and send them to Mark. And, I might find that the distance running gets easier after I’m more adapted to eating this way. It’s only been a month so far since I really changed my diet. Until a month ago, I was using carbs during my workouts and then more after my workouts. These days, I might eat some fruit after… Read more »
JaredE
JaredE
7 years 3 months ago
I would suggest checking out http://www.CrossFitEndurance.com I used this site (and got the certification last year) when training for my Ironman distance race. I feel like this style would much more suit your new lifestyle and mentality. It involves doing CrossFit (check out http://www.CrossFit.com) regularly, along with interval and tempo work for the running, instead of the long slow distances that you have done (or so I am guessing) in the past. There are people on the site, including the creator, who do ultras of 50-100 miles on 8-10 hours total per week. Feel free to hit me up if… Read more »
Grok
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the tip. I’ll comb it over.

avoid debt
7 years 3 months ago

thx for the advice i shall listen to it and get skinnier

VJ
VJ
6 years 17 days ago

Hi I came across MDA recently and have started doing grain-free meals for the last 5 days – But I am still unclear about some details – When you say no-grains – exactly what grains do I avoid? Can I have lentils / gram / sprouts? What about corn? I am a vegetarian and have fish occasionally. If I could add any of this into my diet, it would greatly help! Right now I am doing it safe by not eating any of these. Thanks!

Lisa
Lisa
5 years 5 months ago

I found that my distance and speed ultimately increased on a primal diet. There was defiantly a “breaking in” period, though. I am an avid cyclist, and routinely put 150+ miles on my bike a week. for my 50+ mile rides, I usually have some almond butter with a little honey. It seems to suffice.

bob redford
bob redford
5 years 5 months ago

Gyday;

Try ‘Coconut Cream” as a carb replacement….

The fats will keep you going mate; without the coma inducing sugar reflex.

If you must run so much then chuck in some bananas with the cream.

Yummy!

Zeph.

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