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
I’ve written about what to eat. I’ve written about what not to eat. I’ve even discussed the benefits of occasionally eating things you “shouldn’t eat.” I’ve written about skipping breakfast, eating a big lunch, and skipping entire days of meals altogether. I’ve discussed sleeping low (carb) and punctuating a low-carb diet with occasional high-carb refeeds. But I haven’t written very much about when to eat.
I won’t tell you when to eat. There are many paths. You must find the one that takes you to your goal. But there are some physiological “truths” that impact how we process food depending on what’s happening in our lives which seem to apply to all humans. I’ll discuss several ways to think about meal timing, and then you can decide which concepts make sense for you and your life.
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?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, what’s the deal with IGF-1, growth hormone, and intermittent fasting? Some people say fasting increases growth hormones, while others say it decreases them. Who’s right? And what’s it all mean for our health? Next, how can a former CrossFitter ensure she’s maintaining her former fitness levels? And finally, what’s my take on Barre training and other “feminine” training schools?
Jean-Paul Sartre in one of his famous plays said, “Hell is—other people.” I think most of us might sympathize with that claim depending on the day and the person we’re dealing with. On the flip side, people can be the source of our greatest joys. His sentiment, regardless, speaks to the strong impact others can have on us. Whether we like it or not, we all live (and need to live) in some relation to others. None of us exist in a vacuum, and research on extreme isolation suggests the real hell on earth might be exactly that. So make no mistake—how people make us feel is not just the stuff of poetry and philosophy. Other people can and do influence our immediate physiology as well as our ongoing health. What does this process look like though? How does it play out in our lives? Let’s examine a few examples.
There are many meaningful reasons people go Primal: they want to improve their fitness, increase their longevity, feel younger, reverse lifestyle conditions, heal hormonal imbalances, enhance fertility, get off prescription medications, and lose fat. With regard to losing fat, some want to lose a good deal of it—to significantly alter their body composition. This goal, while it has the power to shift one’s entire health trajectory (not to mention life experience) may also be the most likely to come with unforeseen, even undesired results. I’m talking particularly about those who undergo dramatic transformations—the kind that can leave them feeling incredible, enjoying vitality, and (in particular) looking substantially different.
The entire premise of the Primal Blueprint is enabling you to be the architect of your health and happiness. If we can identify the environmental triggers and selective pressures under which the human genome developed, we’ll have a great roadmap for engineering our optimal lifestyle. And for the most part, it works. Not everyone will get the exact body they desire. You won’t all lose every extra pound. I can’t guarantee a six pack or a complete eradication of baby weight. But all in all, eating and living this way seems to produce good results. You can, it seems, affect your health, body composition, and fitness.
But genes still matter. And there’s a large trove of evidence showing that a person’s genetics are really good at predicting their risk of obesity.