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: Low Carb Diet

Dear Mark: Raising HDL Particle Number, Who Should Try Ketones, and Where’s My Keto Energy?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what’s the best way to increase your HDL particle count? There are dozens of articles explaining how to reduce LDL-P, but what about HDL-P? Second, are ketones right—or necessary—for everyone? The final question comes from a reader who, despite sticking with the diet for four months, hasn’t felt the fabled “keto energy.” Should she try ketone supplements, give it more time, or what?

Let’s go:

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Why Breakfast Isn’t the Most Important Meal of the Day (For Everyone)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m always interested in exploring those time-tested bits of advice, those old wives’ tales, that folk wisdom handed down generation over generation because they’re often right, or at least contain a kernel of truth. And if a piece of conventional folk wisdom turns out to be wrong or misguided, understanding why it endured for so many years is a fun exercise and usually reveals other messages and truths. Today, I’m looking at the importance (or lack thereof) of breakfast. For years, you’ve heard how important breakfast is. Your grandma says it. Your doctor probably scolds you if you’re not eating it. We all grow up having this “fact”—breakfast is the most important meal of the day—drilled into our subconsciouses. Even the people who just don’t feel hungry in the morning feel guilty about it and compelled to stuff something into their craws.

Is it right or wrong?

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Dear Mark: Do I Need to Eat More, Testosterone Levels, HRV and Carbs

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three reader questions. First, if things are going well on a relatively low-calorie intake, should you just keep on keepin’ on or should you increase food intake to “get ahead” of your needs? Next, what’s the deal with a study showing a high-carb diet is better for testosterone levels than a high-protein one? What does this mean for your Primal way of eating? And finally, can an improvement in heart rate variability after a carb refeed indicate a greater need for carbs?

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Staying Aerobic, Glycogen Depletion, and Sleep-Low for Strength Training?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three reader questions. First, do anaerobic workouts—sprints, lifting, etc.—interfere with your ability to become a fat-burning, aerobic beast, or can you integrate them? Next, in last week’s post I talked a lot about glycogen depletion in the context of the “sleep-low” carb partitioning. How can we actually achieve this without doing the intense intervals the elite triathletes were doing in the study? And finally, does carb-fasting after strength training also work?

Let’s go:

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Should You Sleep-Low to Boost Performance?

Thought experiment time. Say you train hard, hard enough to deplete a signifiant amount of glycogen. Your muscles are empty, sensitive to the effects of insulin, and screaming for a couple potatoes to refill glycogen. What do you do?

In most circles, the answer is to eat those potatoes and refill those glycogen stores. And why not? The post-workout period is a special window of opportunity for eating a bunch of carbs and having them go to the right places with minimal insulin required. They won’t contribute to fat storage. They’ll go straight to your muscles. Restocking glycogen sets your muscles up to repeat the hard work and keep up with your training. It makes sense.

What if you didn’t eat the potatoes after a hard workout? What if you abstained from carbs entirely after a glycogen-depleting workout? What if you just went to bed without any (carbs in your) supper? What if you were an elite athlete and skipped the carbs?

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Dear Mark: 21-Day Challenge Rapid Fire Edition

For one of the 21-Day Challenge contests last week, you guys asked dozens of questions. Today, I’m answering a bunch of them in rapid fire style including how to get kids to eat more meat and veggies, how to get adults to eat greens, whether keto can coexist with high-carb, if it’s better to eat seasonally and many, many more. Don’t expect long, drawn-out answers. I’m answering quickly and succinctly. If you have any further questions after hearing the answers, toss ’em in the comment section. There will always be more Dear Marks down the line.

Let’s get to it:

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The Definitive Guide to Using Your Recent Ancestry to Determine Your Optimal Diet

Go back 160,000 years and we all share a common ancestor: The emergence of the first Homo sapiens in East Africa. Since then, humans have spread across every environment imaginable and adapted to those environments. Much remains the same. We all breathe oxygen, require protein, produce insulin, oxidize fatty acids. But extended stays in unique environments have created genetic proclivities in different populations. For example, descendants of people who settled in high-altitude areas like the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Ethiopian highlands tend to show greater resistance to low-oxygen environments, while the Greenland Inuit show unique adaptations to cold environments, including increased activity of heat-stimulating brown fat. And among the island-dwellers of Sardinia, where the landscape constrained the amount of available food, there’s considerable evidence of positive selection for short stature.

What other differences exist, and how can we explore them to inform and improve our own diet and lifestyle choices?

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8 Reasons Why Low-Carb Diets Actually Work

The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this:

Reducing your carbohydrate intake lowers your insulin levels. Since insulin keeps fat locked into adipose tissue, lowering insulin can increase the amount of fat released to be burned for energy.

For the portion of the overweight/obese population with insulin resistance and chronically-elevated insulin levels, this is a fairly accurate description of why low-carb diets work so well. When you’re an insulin-resistant hyper responder in whom even a baked potato can cause elevated, protracted spikes in insulin that hamper fat-burning for long periods of time, or a person living under the backdrop of perpetually-elevated insulin, dropping the most insulinogenic foods can be your way out of obesity.

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Dear Mark: Foods for a One-Year-Old, Vegan to Primal, and Low-Carb Failing Fibromyalgia

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three reader questions. The first comes from Chris, who’s a little worried his one-year-old isn’t eating a wide enough variety of foods. As it turns out, he doesn’t need to worry, though I do offer a few suggestions for foods to include or offer. Next, how should Verria, a long-time vegan, transition to Primal? Is there anything to watch out for? What physiological and psychological issues will Anita have to face and overcome? And finally, what tips do I have for a fibromyalgia patient whose condition hasn’t improved on a strict very low-carb, high-fat diet?

Let’s go:

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Joining the Status Quo

The other day it occurred to me that we’re coming up on 10 years with this blog. In 2006, I started publishing (what were then) wacky, newfangled ideas about how people should go barefoot (or wear Vibrams), eat more animal fat, slash carbs and eschew grains altogether, avoid (most) vegetable oils, stand up while they work, expose themselves to cold, get off the chronic cardio wagon and climb trees or sprint down their streets like 9-year-olds. Finally, there was the proverbial (and ironic) icing on the cake of suggesting people ask what would Grok do—that now illustrious posterman for all things evolutionary. Ten years ago many of these ideas were still viewed as strange or even flat out wrong.

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