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: Weight Loss

Akrasia, or Why You Act Against Your Own Better Judgment

Akrasia: it’s the word of the day. It may be a 25¢ word, but it’s a concept with which we’re all familiar. Essentially, it’s acting against one’s own best interest. We’re not talking here about the noble, altruistic deeds that purposefully put others’ needs before our own. Akrasia encompasses that irrational, confounding state of mind in which we wittingly throw caution, reason, and consequences to the wind in order to pursue a choice we understand will be bad for us. In other words, we know better. In fact, we know pretty much exactly what repercussions will befall us. That chocolate donut in our hand, for example, will undoubtedly cause our IBS to flare up – or have us bemoaning the paunch look later. Staying up late to watch one more episode of Breaking Bad will leave us comatose in tomorrow’s big meeting. Skipping yet another workout keeps us on track to lose all the gains we’ve built up the last few months. Stewing over the day’s stresses and playing out angry scenarios in our heads will keep our kids and partner at arm’s length and us up half the night with stomach pain.

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Dear Mark: Sun Beds, Skipping Breakfast, Cooking with Essential Oils, and Glycerol

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another round of Dear Mark questions and answers. This week I’m answering four reader inquiries. First, I discuss the suitability of tanning beds, and try to give the best answer I can muster given the lack of hard evidence either way. Next, I cover whether or not a guy should definitely eat breakfast. Dr. Jack Kruse’s leptin protocol, which prescribes eating a high protein breakfast upon waking, is getting pretty popular and having some incredible results, but is it necessary for everyone? Then I field a question about cooking with essential oils. They may not be the powerful healing agents promised by aromatherapy, but can they replace dry and fresh herbs and spices? Looks like it (maybe). And then I give a quick response about glycerol-bound stevia versus powdered stevia. All in all, a nice little selection of questions, I think.

Let’s dig in:

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Dear Mark: Pregnant Exercise, Low-Carb and Alcohol Tolerance, Ancestral Sun Dosages, and Knee Mobility

Today is Monday, which heralds another edition of Dear Mark. This week, I’m giving my two cents on what could be causing the widespread incidence of lowered alcohol tolerance in Primal eaters. It’s nice to be a cheap date, but sometimes we want to keep up with everyone else, right? I give a few ideas on exercises for pregnant women who want to remain active without any complications arising, and I discuss whether the amount of sun our ancestral homelands saw play a role in how much sun we should get. Finally, I discuss whether a knee should be mobile or stable, along with a few strategies to have and maintain healthy knees.

Let’s go.

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The Problems with Antibiotics: They Kill the Good Guys and Make You Fat

Whenever I think about antibiotics, I stymie my inner Star Wars fan and admit that it’s a good thing the Force isn’t real and Art Ayers is not actually a wizened microbiologist version of Ben Kenobi. Otherwise, he’d be internally wincing every few seconds as another round of antibiotics commences somewhere in the world and a few billion flora cry out in terror and are suddenly silenced, never to be heard from again.

I jest, sort of, but this much is true: every time you take antibiotics, billions of domesticated gut flora die. As I mentioned last week, antibiotics are designed not to target human cells, but the same cannot be said for the commensal bacteria living in our guts. See, most antibiotics don’t discriminate between “good” and “bad” bacteria. They target bacteria. They aren’t us, they are foreign entities, but we wouldn’t be us without them. We need them to function properly. It’s a bit like bringing in an exterminator to kill the bugs infesting your house, and the guy ends up killing your dog and making your cat act funny, along with killing the insects. The job is done, and he technically did what you requested, but now you have to tell your kid that Buddy moved to a farm upstate to go be a sheepdog and figure out how to deal with your cat peeing on the sofa and scratching up your stomach (leaky gut, get it?). Not very fun, and not what you bargained for.

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Dear Mark: Matcha Tea, Runner’s High, Stress and Weight Gain, and Fasting for Teens

Yesterday was the Malibu Marathon (and Half Marathon), and yeah, I snuck a peek. I could never do it myself, not ever again, but I always like to take a gander at the hordes of faithful. Tons of folks in Fivefingers (and even a few totally barefoot runners), about half of whom were either still heel striking, running with a total disregard for midline stabilization, or bobbing their heads up and down like pigeons trolling for scraps of bread. At that point, their heads are in the right place but they’re doing even more damage to themselves. Barefoot running isn’t a panacea. In fact, it opens you up to even more injury if you persist with the same shoe-centric running form you used before. Oh well. They’ll learn. I just hope the lesson takes before any serious damage is done.

This week, we’ve got questions on whether IF is safe for teens, whether the runner’s high is worth pursuing, whether stress can lead to weight gain, and whether matcha green tea matches up to the hype (see what I did there?). Let’s go.

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Gateway Foods: The Slippery Slope of “Just a Bite”

The holidays are coming and with them the food. Maybe with Halloween come and gone, the season is already upon you in your social/work/family circles. Beyond the actual meals themselves, there are the umpteen parties, open houses, potlucks, lunches, brunches, happy hours, coffee hours, bake sales, soup suppers, and bazaars – as well as the continual conveyer belt of office/shop/home display of every sweet and savory (mostly sweet) treat known to humankind. As fun as it all is, the holidays can be a seasonal equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle – a festively decorated abyss where good intentions get swallowed along with the latest Martha Stewart recipe.

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