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: research analysis

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.

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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:

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Is Processed Meat Actually Bad for You?

While popular media coverage of people following a Primal way of eating tends to paint us as carnivorous meat enthusiasts gorging on steaks, bacon, bun-less hotdogs, and little else without regard for quality, in truth we are far more discerning about our choices of meat. We prefer pastured pork and poultry, grass-fed and finished beef, lamb, and bison, and generally deplore the conditions of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). And many of us actively limit processed meat – sausages, bologna, lunch meats, bacon, and the like. You’ll often catch us coming down quite hard on processed meat altogether, making a point to distinguish between its health effects and those of unprocessed meat when responding to studies that lump the two together as “meat.”

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Dear Mark: Leg Fatigue, Too Much Muscle Meat, Starch Persorption, and Hadza Study Author Responds

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got four questions. First is a question from a reader who exemplifies the “between a rock and a hard place” situation inherent to chronic cardio. Second, I address a reader who worries that I’m not worried enough about exclusive muscle meat consumption. Third, I give my thoughts on whether starch persorption into the blood stream is a real problem for most people and a black mark against resistant starch. And finally, one of the lead authors of the fascinating Hadza gut biome study mentioned in a recent Weekend Link Love clarifies the precision of their sample preservation methods.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Is a High Protein Diet Really As Bad for You As Smoking?

It’s about that time, boys and girls. A new “protein kills” study has arrived to throw you into the pit of existential angst and self-doubt you recently managed to crawl out of from the last one. As you may know, I’ve just spent a week in Tulum, Mexico for PrimalCon (which was amazing, by the way, absolutely fantastic) where I managed to avoid most contact with my inbox. Oh, I took a couple glimpses here and there, enough to notice an endless stream of frenzied email subject lines, but I didn’t read the contents until the flight home. I still knew what was coming.

I finally have a little time to dig into this paper (which actually covers two studies) to see if there’s anything we can learn. Let’s jump right in…

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We Don’t Know What Constitutes a True Paleo Diet

Critics often lambast the Primal Blueprint and other ancestral/paleo ways of eating for what they see as fatal flaws:

First, that we don’t know what our ancestors were truly eating.

Second, that there wasn’t just one paleo diet.

Third, that even if we could know exactly what our ancestors were eating, it doesn’t mean those foods were the ideal foods; they were trying to eat whatever was available, not whatever was most nutritious or synergistic with their genome.

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Why Does the Paleo Diet Continue to Receive Low Points from “Established Authorities”?

You may have heard the big news: the paleo diet ranked dead last in the US News and World Report diet rankings. When my inbox floods with links to the latest paleo bashing in the media, I don’t even get surprised or annoyed anymore. It amuses me. The one downside of this stuff is that work grinds to a halt for a few hours because a popular pastime around the Primal headquarters whenever one of these reports comes out is to see who can pick the ripest, most ridiculous misconceptions or blatant falsehoods. The big upside is even more publicity, more notoriety, and more laughter. Laughter is always a good thing.

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10 Common Arguments Against Dairy Consumption Explored

I’ve celebrated the goodness of dairy fat quite enthusiastically in recent weeks. If you were just joining us, you might have gotten the wrong impression that you’d stumbled into a PR wing of the dairy industry, and that the streets of Mark’s Dairy Apple run whitish-yellow with grass-fed milk fat. No, children aren’t busting open fire hydrants on warm days to dance around in the effervescent spray of kefir, and on winter days it doesn’t rain milk and snow globs of thick Greek yogurt in these parts.

I’m well aware of the darker side to dairy, and today I’ll be exploring the common arguments against dairy consumption. Let’s jump right in:

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The Evidence Continues to Mount Against Chronic Cardio

It’s been awhile since I did a post on chronic cardio. I had a good string of them going several years ago, and I thought I’d done a good job explaining why I was so opposed to excessive endurance training. Despite my attempts to clarify, though, I still receive a lot of questions and comments about cardio. People just have a tough time divorcing themselves from the notion that cardio – as much as you can cram into your schedule – is the key to health and fitness. I don’t blame them, really. It’s conventional wisdom, after all, and it’s what I thought for years and years. Clearly, another post is needed.

Evidence against chronic cardio continues to mount, so there’s a lot to cover. But before we get to all the research, I have a few thoughts about the heart.

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Does Your Blood Type Determine Your Optimal Diet?

I get a lot of emails about the “Eat Right For Your Type” diet, also known as the blood type diet, which asserts that specific optimal diets exist for each blood type. In this post, I’ll take a look at whether there’s anything to this idea, and whether you should change the way you’re eating based on whether you’re Type O, A, B or AB.

The proposed diets all tend to be pretty decent, whole foods-based ways of eating, and they’re all better than the standard American diet of industrial processed junk, but differences do exist. Here’s the basic breakdown of all four blood type diets:

Type O (PDF): The “original” blood type and the oldest one, proponents claim it evolved among hunter-gatherers in response to their (Primal) diet of animals and plants. People with this blood type do best on meat, fish, and certain fruits and vegetables while limiting starches and omitting grains (especially wheat), beans, legumes, and dairy. It’s pretty much a strict paleo approach.

Type A (PDF): The agricultural blood type, proponents claim it arose after the advent of agriculture. People with this blood type do best on vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, legumes, and limited fish. They should avoid meat, wheat, and dairy. It’s basically a vegetarian diet.

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