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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Tag: Grok

5 Obscure Nutrients: Why We Need Them and How Grok Got Them

Everyone reading this knows about the macronutrients. You’re all eating enough protein, fat, carbs, and the various sub-categories, like fiber, omega-3s, MUFAs, SFAs, linoleic acid, and so on. You know the major micronutrients, like magnesium, calcium, vitamin B12, and most of the minor (but still vital) ones, like plant polyphenols, iodine, and vitamin K2. Today I’ll be talking about the truly obscure nutrients. The ones health food hipsters were super into like, five years ago (“I’m taking beta-1,3-glucan, you probably haven’t heard of it, there’s only one group at Hokkaido University doing any research, you can only get it off the DarkNet using bitcoins”). The ones Grok was super into like, 50,000 years ago.

What are they, what do they do for us, and, if they’re so great, how did Grok obtain them?

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How the Grok Narrative Motivates Me

The Primal Blueprint is more than just a health and nutrition blog. You can find thousands of health and nutrition tips online, many of them quite sound. You can read well-researched and cited articles telling you what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, how not to exercise—and following their advice will give you good results. The Primal Blueprint does not enjoy a monopoly on results.

A big reason why the Primal Blueprint resonates with so many people is that it’s not only couched in hard science and useful information. It tells a story to which all of us can relate on a deep and meaningful level.

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Dear Mark: Do Hunter-Gatherers Sleep Less Than We Thought?

For years, we’ve thought that hunter-gatherers slept like babies: long and hard. They’d drift off as the sun dropped, lingering around the ubiquitous campfire only for a short time, sleep a good 8-10 hours, and waking up at first light bright eyed for the next day. For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m examining a study that calls these assumptions into question. What if hunter-gatherers don’t actually sleep any more than us? What if the absence of artificial light doesn’t lead to a ten hour session of blissful repose under the stars?

Let’s go:

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Are Elite Athletes Inadvertently Training Like Grok?

Modern elite athletes have different goals than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Their training loads are higher and their physical activity is contrived and somewhat artificial. But for the most part, elite athletes are working with the same metabolic and neuromuscular machinery as Grok. The activities and movement patterns that benefited and shaped the evolution and performance of our hunter-gatherer ancestors should thus prove useful for contemporary humans seeking optimal physical performance. According to a recent paper (PDF), many top athletes have settled upon the hunter-gatherer fitness modality as optimal for performance. Even highly specialized athletes without much room in their routine for generalizing – like marathon runners who have to be able to log insane mileage at high intensities above all else – are incorporating aspects of paleolithic fitness to improve their training. These athletes and their coaches aren’t combing the anthropological records to devise their programs; they’re inadvertently arriving at similar conclusions because that’s where the latest exercise science points.

What movement and training patterns am I talking about, exactly?

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Would Grok Work Overtime?

There’s that infamous question interviewers often ask job candidates to try to catch them off guard: “Name one of your negative qualities and talk about how it’s played out in the workplace.” Some people end up stunned by the question and stammer their way through some off-the-cuff remark they hope isn’t too fatal. Others, however, heard about some version of this question on LinkedIn or from their best friend’s girlfriend’s cousin down at 31 Flavors and spent days strategizing an answer: “Crap – what could I say that might satisfy the committee but not make me look bad?” I’d venture to say a sizable percentage of these folks settle on “confessing” their overcommitment to their jobs and a minor penchant to overwork. After all, what could be more endearing, right? What could make us look better in an interview or even a social venue than to come across as being diligent, virtuous and important enough to work as much as possible? (So says the dominant culture anyway.) We pay a price for this virtue, however. A recent survey suggests that more than half of us are stressed out over our work situations. Research demonstrates that Americans are working more hours than they have in decades since national statistics were regularly gathered. Likewise, we’re apparently working more than our counterparts in the rest of the industrialized world. (There’s a bummer of a fact for you.) If Grok were a fly on the wall…

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What Did Our Ancient Ancestors Actually Eat?

A few weeks ago, I made the point that even though we may not have access to our paleolithic ancestors’ (yes, all of them) food journals, and even though there were many different paleolithic diets depending on climate, latitude, topography and other environmental contexts, the ancestral eating paradigm remains viable, helpful, and relevant to contemporary interests. That almost goes without saying, right? It’s kind of why we’re all here, reading this and other blogs, and asking the butcher for lamb tongues and goat spleens with straight faces. This stuff works.

But make no mistake: we may not know the day-to-day eating habits of our ancestors, but we know some things. And we can use what we know, drawing on several lines of evidence, to make some educated estimates.

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Dear Mark: Grok’s Mobility, Too Much Walking, Fertile Eggs, and the Best Shoes for Babies

Hey folks, it’s time for another edition of Dear Mark. This time around we’ve got a four-parter. First up, I discuss why Grok probably didn’t need to foam roll with boulders or consult with a proto-Kstarr sporting a prominent brow ridge. Next, walking. It’s good, it’s vital, it’s low-stress, but is it possible to walk too much? Yes (but read on). After that, I delve into the extensive fertile egg literature. Er, maybe “extensive” isn’t quite accurate. Let’s go with “nearly non-existent.” And finally, I give the Primal pick for the best shoes for kids.

Let’s go:

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Starch: Fallback Food or Essential Nutrient?

I’ve always said that carbs aren’t bad in and of themselves. They’re better in certain contexts and worse in others.

Are you CrossFitting five days a week? Training for the Olympics? Breastfeeding? These are contexts in which carbs are warranted, helpful, and even healthy.

Are you insulin-resistant and hyperinsulinemic? Are you a moderately active person with a few extra pounds? Are you diabetic, or nearly so? These are contexts in which a low carb intake would be warranted, helpful, and even healthy.

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Why It’s Important to Cook Your Own Meals

When was the last time you made a great meal? From-scratch prep, serious gratification result. This morning? Last week? Last month? Although I imagine Primal folks cook much more often than most non-Primal types, we all get caught up in the busyness of life. Eating – even healthy eating – often gets boiled down to convenience and strategy. I get it. Few of us have the luxury of basking in culinary ventures at every meal (myself included), but I do find real cooking to be an underappreciated indulgence – and there’s the rub.

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A Different Kind of Fitness Resolution

It’s the month when gym memberships spike and fitness equipment flies off store shelves. I think most of us begin the year wanting to be healthier, and fitness stands as an essential element of that endeavor. Logical. Reasonable. Commendable. Yet, the common interpretation of what it will take to get there suddenly veers off in a white knuckle, nonsensical detour. Yes, let’s hear it for the chronic cardio model. As a former cardio king, I rack my brain questioning why so many people still subscribe to the “exhaustion or bust” mentality. (It’s unfortunately one of the reasons many said memberships will go unused by the middle of next month and the aforementioned equipment will begin gathering dust in a corner.) As with so many aspects of healthy living, the conventional fitness culture often misleads because it ignores what can and should be its ultimate guide – the nuanced role of physical activity in evolution and the simple but rather elegant connections that movement has to overall vitality.

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