The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions from readers. First, I field one of the dozens of emails I received concerning the latest low-carb versus low-fat study making the media rounds. The reports have ranged from declarations of low-carb dieting’s imminent death to more reasonable discussions of the actual paper. The Time article actually keeps things closer to the latter, which was nice. For the final question, I discuss the merits of regular old olive oil. Is extra virgin olive oil the only one worth entertaining?
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.