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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Category: 80/20 Principle

Dear Mark: More of Your Challenge Questions Answered

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering 11 questions. I answer questions about nutrient deficiencies and tremors, breastfeeding on the 21-Day Primal Blueprint Challenge, cheating without apparent consequences, sun exposure without vitamin D, maintaining insulin sensitivity, going high protein, recovering from a labral tear, going 90/10 vs. 80/20, black beans vs. potatoes, why I chose to live in Malibu, and recovering minerals lost to glycogen depletion.

Let’s go:

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7 Ways to Deal with Food Anxiety

People frequently wax sentimental for what they call “simpler” days—presumably times when the rules were fewer and clearer, when choices weren’t so overwhelming, when demands were less and common sense was more prevalent. Eating, of course, is no exception to this. If you listen to the dominant voices in the social-media-marketing-medical culture, it’s enough to ruin your dinner and make you feel guilty for skipping breakfast (Don’t buy the guilt trip). We’re fed contradictory studies, warned of the latest threats lurking in our food supply, told every bite squashes the life out of another ecosystem, and led through fluorescent-lit warehouses filled with more food options and label claims than one person should ever be reasonably expected to handle. It’s exhausting, frustrating and on certain days defeating. So what’s a reasonable approach in an age when anxiety too often overtakes enjoyment of eating?

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How Defining Moderation Can Help You Reach Your Health Goals

We’ve heard it a million times: “Eat a well-balanced diet with everything in moderation.” After all these decades of clear failure, it’s a hazy cliché still delivered by physicians, dietitians and nutritional “experts” with earnest assurance. The same goes for exercise and stress. Moderate amounts of stress are okay, moderate cardiovascular work is good, etc. We accept the concept of moderation so readily, I think, because it sounds so rational and simple. If we follow common sense, moderation suggests, we’ll be fine. But if it were that easy, most people would be healthy—and statistics on the rising rates of obesity and chronic illness tell us otherwise. So what’s the problem?

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10 Common Primal Mistakes You Might Be Making

Most of us go Primal to solve problems created by Conventional Wisdom. The importance of whole grains and daily cardio, the dangers of dietary fat and animal protein, the primacy of carbohydrates for “energy,”—these untruths are promulgated so widely and fail so conclusively that you can’t help but look to the people saying the opposite for direction. That’s where we come in. Most of us go Primal to solve problems created by conventional dietary and lifestyle recommendations. Often these solutions involve doing the opposite of what the authorities are telling us. For the most part, it works.

Sometimes eschewing conventional advice goes too far, though. Sometimes we make serious blunders in our pursuit of Primal perfection.

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Can Exposure to Non-Primal Foods Actually Help?

Are we shortchanging ourselves by complete elimination of potentially allergenic or sensitizing foods like wheat, peanuts, or dairy? Do we become even more sensitive to “bad” foods by avoiding them entirely? This question stems from two things I recently encountered. The first was a recent rewatcing of The Princess Bride. The second was the recent peanut allergy study.

If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride yet, go do it (the book is also good) because a small spoiler is coming. The hero Wesley spikes the wine he and the villain Vizzini are sharing with iocane powder, a fictitious ultra-lethal poison that kills instantly. But because Wesley has spent the last several years ingesting incrementally-larger doses of the poison, he has complete resistance to its effects. Both men drink. Only Vizzini dies. What else can this apply to? I wondered.

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5 Things You Learn Being a Primal Lifer

Being a Primal lifer is nice. You get to pat the heads and tousle the hair of precious newbies who just learned the words “lectin” and “phytate” and can’t stop talking about it. Navigating your local farmer’s market is a breeze, and you’re such a regular that you can show up half an hour past closing and still get the choicest produce. But there are other benefits, too. Bits of wisdom that you glean over time, and that can only come from years of adherence. Today, I’m going to discuss the five biggest ones.

Newbies: don’t expect to use these as a guide for your own immediate existence. These aren’t necessarily suggestions. Much of what long term Primal adherents learn about their bodies and their lifestyles requires that they put in the time to learn the things directly. You can read about it, but don’t be dismayed if you’re unable able to implement or integrate them immediately.

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Dear Mark: Sugar in Blackstrap Molasses, Eating Cheat Foods All at Once or in Installments, and Healthy Pooping with a Fused Knee

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. The first one concerns blackstrap molasses, a type of sugar I’ve suggested people eat for its rich mineral content. Does the value of the minerals outweigh the impact of its sugar content? Next, say you’ve got a slice of birthday cake you’re committed to eating. Is it better to eat it all at once or piece it out across multiple days? And third, how can someone who’s unable to squat obtain the benefits of squatting while pooping? In the absence of actual squatting, is there anything a person can do to smooth out the process?

Let’s go:

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Why Is Regaining Weight So Common?

It’s an age-old story. A person has a huge amount of weight to lose and gets rid of most of it through a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle modification. And they feel fantastic. They’ve got energy for days, their skin glows, they exude newfound confidence, and they experience other small miracles. Many of you have lived this. But then something happens: the weight loss stops, or, worse, it reverses. They can keep the weight at bay as long as their diet is ironclad and they don’t skip any workouts, but as soon as they slip up even a little bit, they gain weight. And when they gain, they seem to gain it faster and more easily than should be normal. It just doesn’t seem fair.

What’s going on here?

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Dear Mark: More of Your 21-Day Challenge Questions Answered

Today, I’m doing another batch of 21-Day Challenge questions pulled from the ones you asked me two weeks ago. I managed to make it onto the third page of comments. I’d hoped to get through all of them, but with over 200 questions asked, the task proved insurmountable! Since they were by and large really great questions that deserve serious answers, though, I expect I’ll be drawing on them for future editions of Dear Mark. Stay tuned for that in the future.

This week, we’ve got questions about weight machine training, indoor sprinting, eating for drinking “more than moderately,” feeding kids, going Primal with a failing kidney, exercising kids, balancing sleep and exercise, going Primal as a vegetarian, and much more.

Let’s go:

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8 Signs You Probably Don’t Need More Protein

Protein: it’s the only macronutrient everyone embraces. Vegans, vegetarians, SAD dieters, and paleos always seem to be cramming more of it down their throats. And usually, more protein is a pretty good move. Dieters, the elderly, the stressed, the wounded, the burned, and many other populations tend to benefit from more protein. A few months ago, I even talked about 12 signs that indicate a person needs more protein. But there is an upper limit, particularly for your wallet; protein is expensive. If you can find ways to reduce it in your diet without harming yourself or losing the benefits, why wouldn’t you do it?

Today, I’m going to explain the 8 signs that indicate you may have topped out on protein. It’s not that more would necessarily harm you. More just might be pointless.

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