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...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected

Tag: research analysis

What Does the WHO Report Mean for Your Meat-Eating Habit?

I’m sure you’ve seen the rash of fear-mongering headlines proclaiming red meat to be as carcinogenic as smoking. In fact, I know so because dozens of you have asked me for my thoughts. What’s going on? Do we need to worry? What actually happened? Why have your vegan friends become even more smug than before? Why did your crazy aunt send an email in all caps pleading for you to stop eating “so much beef”?

Citing a short summary paper of a much larger study, earlier this week the World Health Organization (WHO) named processed meat a definite human carcinogen and red meat a probable human carcinogen. That’s frightening at first glance. I mean, the WHO? Great band, weren’t quite the same after Keith Moon died, but for my money they’ve always delivered quality health information. When they issue a report about dietary carcinogens, I listen up.

Read More

A Brief History of U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Prior to 1980, how in the world did anyone know how to eat? When you think of all the centuries, the millennia of human existence, how did the species manage to survive bumbling their way through day after day of undirected eating patterns? I’m guessing those of you who know me expected a few irreverent remarks when you read the title of today’s post. Still, I’ll try to keep myself on a short leash today. It’s a legitimate and even, in some regards, culturally (and probably politically) significant question: why were government dietary guidelines ever put in place—and what was the backstory of their uses and modifications over time? Finally, what perspective can it bring to our understanding of embracing a “niche” dietary model like the Primal Blueprint?

Read More

Dear Mark: Anti-Paleo Guardian Column (Plus, Did Big Brains Need Carbs?)

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering one question. First up is the latest anti-paleo piece of clickbait, this time from the Guardian. Apparently the ancestral health movement has had a really bad year or something, and we’re barely hanging on after being dealt a series of devastating blows from the scientific community. Will we make it? Find out below. I also use the original question to springboard into a larger discussion on the new study claiming that carbs were necessary for the evolution of the enormous human brain. The media is selling it as a total refutation of the Primal way of eating, but I’m not so sure. It turns out we have way more in common than you might think from reading the headlines.

Let’s go:

Read More

Is the Paleo Diet Supported by Scientific Research? – Part 2

Last week, I countered claims that “paleo gots no science” with summaries of five recent (and not so recent) papers supporting the paleo/Primal approach to diet. The reception to that post was strong enough that I got requests to cover a few more this week. So today, I’m going to explain the findings of five more relevant studies. Not all of these studies come from the original list, but each gives an accurate and important portrayal of the effects of eating in accordance with one’s biology. More importantly, these are all interesting approaches to the diet, with some examining higher-carb paleo, some looking at higher-fat and downright ketogenic paleo diets, and still others trying to disentangle the beneficial effects of the weight loss that normally occurs on paleo diets from the effect of going paleo.

Let’s dig right in:

Read More

Is the Paleo Diet Supported by Scientific Research?

People constantly demand proof for the efficacy of the Primal eating plan. And I’m glad they do. The Primal Blueprint makes sense on an intuitive level, and those success stories we see every Friday sure are persuasive, but it’s also important to see broader support in the scientific literature. Many times, people demand proof without really wanting any; they assume it’s all imaginary just-so stories. “Where are the studies?” has become a retort rather than a legitimate query.

Well, it’s time to retire it. With 22 paleo diet papers and counting, the scientific research is quickly accumulating — and it’s quite positive. In last Sunday’s Weekend Link Love, I shared a list of (most of) the available paleo diet studies. Today, I thought I’d summarize some of these studies for you. Not everyone can be expected to have access to, read, and be able to interpret all of the research that is published. But there’s some really interesting stuff in there that I think you might benefit from knowing (and passing along to interested parties who ask). But be sure to have a look for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.

Read More

Do Low-Carb Diets Cause Insulin Resistance?

A few weeks back in the “How to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity” post, I apparently dropped a bit of a bombshell: that very low carb diets can induce insulin resistance. Many of you wrote to me asking about the effects of low-carb dieting on insulin sensitivity and wondering whether you should begin eating more carbohydrates to counter it. Well, maybe, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat carbs if you’re low carb. The wrong way is to just add a ton of carbohydrates on top of your low-carb Primal eating plan without changing anything else. Doing that, especially in perpetuity, will likely lead to weight gain, hyperinsulinemia, and even more insulin resistance. Bad all around.

Now, many people are perfectly happy on a perpetually low-carb diet. I function quite well on a low (but not very low) glucose diet, hovering around 100-150 grams a day and often dipping below that. I might go even lower if I didn’t love vegetables and berries so much. But, assuming you are experiencing physiological insulin resistance caused by a very low carb or ketogenic diet, what happens when you do want to incorporate carbohydrates in your diet?

Read More

Essential Oils: Separating Fact from Fiction

If you spend a day or two on social media sites, you get the idea that essential oils are a panacea that can replace every modern medicine, both over the counter and prescription. Kid got a fever? Rub a little of this oil on his feet. Big job interview coming up in a few minutes? Inhale a little of this to relax. Fungal infection? Splash some of this on. It’s gotten particularly out of hand on Pinterest, where multi-level marketing schemers attempt to convince everyone they absolutely need to become essential oil wholesalers. Conversely, if you hang around in the online skeptic communities (Science Based Medicine, Quackwatch, etc.), you come away with the impression that essential oils are at best pleasant-smelling placebos and at worst expensive poisons. So – who’s right? Who’s wrong? Are essential oils simply glorified air fresheners without any evidence of efficacy, or does the truth lie somewhere between the two extremes?

Let’s first dig into the common claims and the evidence for some of the most popular essential oils.

Read More

Dear Mark: A New Whole Grain Study, Advice for a Teen, Broken Leg Sprints, and The 3 Mules

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got four questions and four answers. First up, there’s a new whole grain study, and some people are claiming it demonstrates that low-carb diets will lead to early mortality. Does it do anything of the sort, or is this yet another flawed observational paper? Next, a teen on top of his diet game who hopes he’s doing it right writes in with a list of questions. I answer them. Next, what can a person recovering from a broken leg do in the way of sprinting? Or should she just focus on recovery? Finally, a wild and free man is roaming California with three pack mules, flouting convention and leading a nomadic existence. Police are occasionally called and media attention is often attracted. What are my thoughts?

Let’s go:

Read More

Why I Don’t Trust the Acceptable Daily Intake Levels for Pesticides

The supernaturally rational adherents to the Skeptic religion irk me. And it’s not because I disagree with all their stances. On many issues, they’re right. But the systematic, overarching, a priori denial of the viability of anything that even sniffs of “alternative” health is ridiculous. I’m not even annoyed at how they deride the ancestral health movement. What really gets me is their flippant dismissal of the potential risks of agricultural pesticides.

One article in particular, from Slate in 2012, exemplifies the sloppy, dangerous thinking on the subject. On the surface, it’s quite reasonable, persuasive, and it hits all the marks.

Read More

Dear Mark: Eggs and Colon Cancer; Softened Water and Health

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a two-parter. First up is a question about a sensitive subject: the collective Primal love of all things egg. They form the backbone of millions of breakfasts across the ancestral health community on a daily basis, but David wonders if they might be contributing to colorectal carcinogenesis. There are a few studies that appear to suggest a connection; should we worry? After that, I discuss the effects of softened water on human health. Is it safe? Is it healthy? Read on to find out.

Let’s go:

Read More

Join Over 300,000 Subscribers!

Signup and get:

Primal Blueprint Fitness plus 7 other eBooks
7-Day Course on Primal Fundamentals
Special Offers and More!