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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Dear Mark: Low-Carb Sauce Thickeners

Dear Mark,

I’m trying to stay strictly primal/paleo, but I always run into problems when I need to thicken sauces or soups. I grew up learning to use flour/cornstarch like everyone else, but is there a good low-carb/primal alternative?

Thanks,
Raul

I received this email a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t the first. A number of readers have expressed their confusion when it comes to thickening sauces, gravies, or soups without using traditional floury methods. The question of thickening sauces is one of the hurdles I face every time I put up a recipe post – it’s become a bit of an internal struggle (as seen with last week’s beef and broccoli stir fry recipe, in which I hesitatingly called for a teaspoon of flour as a thickener) because while adding a bit of flour or cornstarch to a larger recipe may not drastically impact the carb count, it does complicate the consistently Primal message I try to convey. This post, I hope, will resolve that struggle.

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Dear Mark: The Primal Cat Diet on the Cheap?

Dear Mark,

What’s the least expensive way to move in the direction of feeding raw? What raw meats can I ask my butcher for that might be very cheap and suitable for cats?

Thanks, Greg, for the question.

Contrary to popular belief, the toughest thing about feeding your cats a raw diet isn’t the cost. It’s the convenience factor. The types of meat that you should be feeding your cats can actually be had on the cheap, especially so since adult cats only need about 2-3% of their body weight’s worth of meat per day. For example, one of our Worker Bees manages to feed his 75 lb dog a healthy, robust raw diet for around $2.50 per day – not as cheap as bargain bin kibble, necessarily, but far more affordable than buying premium, nutritionally inferior store chow. Now, consider that your 10 lb cat only requires a fraction of that amount (plus the vet bills you’ll save by having a truly healthy cat) and it becomes clear that the only thing standing between you and transitioning to a raw diet is how much effort you’re willing to put forth (and, I suppose, the intrinsic fickleness of a cat).

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Dear Mark: Vitamin K2

Dear Mark,

I’ve been hearing a lot about vitamin K2 lately. Should I be taking vitamin K2 supplements or is a Primal diet sufficient?

Kate

Thank you, Kate, for the question.

You find it in politics, fashion, entertainment, art, even cooking: the “it” figure, new notable, celebrity du jour. As odd as it is, the seemingly humble world of micronutrients isn’t immune from spotlight blitz. Some vitamin or mineral, subject of a timely string of studies, gets thrust into the limelight, and the medical media jumps on the news. Sometimes the hoopla is warranted. Oftentimes, it’s overblown. Most of the time, it’s here today gone tomorrow. Such an odd frame for public health education, I think – and likely the reason many people shut out such reports all together. One day, it’s a miracle nutrient. The next, it’s torn down as “not all that.” Recently, vitamin D has been the one to adorn the marquis. But there’s another novel nutrient chasing its heels: the nebulous, little known vitamin K2.

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Dear Mark: Blood Markers

Dear Mark,

Could you write an article on blood “markers” (cholesterols, triglycerides, blood sugar and … C-reactive protein)??? What are they?  How can they be monitored and managed? Thanks mucho!  Can’t wait for your book.

Thanks to Rob for the question today. Blood markers are essentially detectable and measurable substances in the blood. Their interpretations are based on the levels found and their correlations with disease or other health concerns the medical/research community has assigned to these substances. A blood workup can vary and run into the hundreds of markers, but (for today at least) let me focus on the key categories Rob mentioned.

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Dear Mark: Don’t Call it a “Diet”

Dear Mark,

I’m fairly new to your blog and have been reading your commentary on motivation/failure (the Oprah post, Excuses and Get Real) with interest. I’ve been moving toward primal eating in the last few months more for general health reasons than any need for weight loss. I’m curious though because it seems like a lot of readers use it as a weight loss plan. I have friends who are interested in what I’m doing but tell me they’re looking for more of a diet. What should I tell them?

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Weekend Special: Human Foie Gras

Rejoice!

A new clinical study was just released linking a low-carbohydrate diet to reduced liver fat. Get this, though – the scientists actually compared the low-carb diet to a low-calorie diet and found the low-cal diet severely lacking. Their results aren’t surprising, especially to our readers. In fact, we’re almost tempted to put this in the “Duh” files, but these guys seem to be on our side: they went into it with a hypothesis that maybe, just maybe, a low-carb diet could be helpful, and the results speak for themselves. A study that’s actually intended to investigate the advantages of a low-carb diet without the underlying assumption that CW-driven low-cal diets are better? No way we’re passing up a chance to discuss it!

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Dear Mark: Should I Join a Gym?

Dear Mark,

The last year or so I’ve been trying to get in better shape but have had to start from a pretty low level. With the help of some pretty major weight loss (thanks to the Primal diet) and a steady exercise routine I’m ready to kick it up a notch or two. I’ve thought about joining a gym but wonder if I should put my money toward some home equipment instead. I’ve been pretty basic up to this point. Where would you suggest I start? Is it worth it for a beginner like myself to join a gym? I don’t think there are any CrossFit clubs where I live.

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Dear Mark: Common Stumbling Blocks

Dear Mark,

As a newbie to MDA I’m interested in doing the Primal Challenge for the year. I’m sold on the idea of PB and understand how it should work. The problem is I’ve had one failure after another when it comes to diets, and I’m a little gun-shy going in. The PB is definitely different than diets I’ve tried in the past. I just want to feel prepared this time for the stumbling blocks and know what to look out for. I’d love to hear your advice and tips!

I’ve been hearing from a lot of new folks since the New Year’s Primal Challenge. Thanks for your comments and questions. I’m thrilled you’ve all joined us!

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Dear Mark: Brain Pills

Dear Mark,

I’ve been a faithful reader of your blog for a couple of months now since Tony Horton turned me on to it at one of his fitness camps. Anyway, the reason I am writing today is to refer you to an article about some scientists who are proposing “cognitive enhancing drugs” for healthy people. I had to check the dateline to make sure it wasn’t recycled from April 1st. I’m sure you’ll be interested in it and I’m sure your readers would enjoy your commentary on it:

Scientists Back Brain Drugs for Healthy People

Thanks to reader Dave for forwarding the article. A number of people I know actually sent me the news with various questions and comments of their own. It’s made for a lot of interesting conversations, shall we say, in the last several days.

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Dear Mark: Flu Shots

Dear Mark,

I’m sure you know it’s gearing up toward flu season again, and the folks at work have started pushing for flu vaccination sign-ups.  I’m always a bit wary of Big Pharm and the “common knowledge” of what’s good for us (more so than ever since I first started reading MDA), so you’ll understand my hesitance in claiming my free shot. What’s your take on this issue?  Is it worth getting stuck, or am I better off left to my own healthy devices?

Thanks to Sarah for the timely question. You’re right that the ads and advice are everywhere this time of year. Some people rush to get their shots as soon as they’re released in early fall. Others swear them off. And then, I think, there’s a large group in the middle who waffle back and forth about the need for them.

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