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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Month: November 2006

Smart Fuel After Turkey Day

SMART FUEL

Today’s Smart Fuel isn’t any particular item. Instead, let’s address the real topic at hand: the mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers lurking in the fridge. Perhaps you really indulged yesterday and felt more like a stuffed turkey yourself than a human about to eat one. Or, perhaps you were the model of restraint. No need to reveal which one.

For the weekend, for everyone, the smartest way to fuel up is to give away the sweets, get in a few good workouts, and enjoy the turkey. High in protein and some good fats, turkey is a fairly healthy choice (certainly in comparison to pie, candied yams and stuffing).

I don’t want to be responsible for any Pilgrims turning over in their graves here, but I’m always a little amused (no…annoyed) at what Thanksgiving has become. Why can’t we have a holiday where we all get together and exercise? Or make food for the homeless? Or how about a potluck where everyone has to bring a new, undiscovered healthy food?

If Americans didn’t already eat like it were Thanksgiving every single day (as many do…look at the portions at most restaurants), I’d say dig in, gobble, and don’t wear your belt. Unfortunately, I don’t see many belts at all these days.

[tags] Thanksgiving, turkey, Pilgrims, leftovers [/tags]

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Social Networking Out

Last week we brought you a great new way to track your dieting progress with The Daily Plate. But The Daily Plate isn’t the only ‘Web 2.0’ application in the online universe that is designed to help you cut the fat. Introducing Traineo. The philosophy behind Traineo is that having a coach, friend, or spouse to motivate you through your journey of weight loss is the best way to see results. Having a personal motivator talk you down from that box of doughnuts you were about to consume can pay huge diet dividends. With this in mind Traineo was designed to connect you with people that have similar health goals that may be able to offer words of encouragement and support. If you don’t like the idea of having friends and family follow your weight loss journey you also have the option of allowing other Traineo members track your progress. Having someone there when the going gets tough – someone to motivate you and help you through the difficult times – can be all it takes to push you over the edge and into a healthy lifestyle.

Traineo has a slick interface which makes it a cinch to use. While you can’t pick and choose your food items from a database of thousands of dishes there are many other features that set this website apart. Beside the ‘motivator’ feature, there are online forums, featured articles on health and nutrition, and a ‘My Stats’ page that allows you to track you weight loss over time. The greatest part of this incredible resource is that it is entirely free. If you are looking for yet another tool to help realize your health goals and would like to unite with similarly minded people this may be just the ticket.

[tags] Traineo, web 2.0, Daily Plate, free resources for health, weight loss, online diet help [/tags]

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Why Melatonin Is a Dangerous Supplement

Melatonin is a popular supplement for the sleep-deprived, namely because it carries rather innocent associations. Melatonin is “natural” and “safe” and “herbal”, right? Wrong. I’ve been arguing with the melatonin prophets for years because I believe the image melatonin has, and what melatonin really is, are vastly different. Like so many things that we trust in, consume or think we understand, the truth may not be what we want to believe. My caution with melatonin is simple: melatonin is a hormone. That’s right – a hormone. Like estrogen. Like testosterone. And just like taking estrogen (whether it’s Hormone Replacement Therapy or the Pill) or testosterone therapy, melatonin comes with risks. Frequent melatonin use – especially in the typical dosage of 3-6 milligrams – can trigger a bit of a vicious cycle in the brain. Supplement with melatonin regularly to get to sleep, and your body is going to produce even less, creating even greater need for the hormone. It’s not that you can’t ever take melatonin; but I think it’s important that people understand the facts. A caveat: While I am generally against using hormones (it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature), I am in favor of using the natural version of the hormone melatonin to “reset” the diurnal clock when traveling across time zones. Because, after all, you got there by fooling Mother Nature in the first place! Humans did not evolve a mechanism to adapt to changing time zones. Jet travel can be some of the most destructive stress you can encounter, especially the older you get. In fact, a recent article in ScienceNow Daily News reported on the growing concern in the scientific community over the dangers of jet lag. Turns out it’s more serious than we previously realized. Jet lag increases risk of cancer, ulcers, and sleep disorders, as well as weakening the immune system. Now, this isn’t reason to stop traveling; simply be aware of the risks and take some smart precautions (drinking alcohol on the plane: not a good idea). I travel frequently, and I don’t suffer from jet lag, because I use melatonin judiciously in these instances. I also have a few rules about travel (feel free to crib my notes): – Once you’ve landed and checked in to your lodgings, immediately get an aerobic workout. This will help stimulate circulation, hormones and serotonin production – it’ll just be that much easier adjusting to the new time zone. Don’t tuck into a glass of wine or take a nap. Spend 30 minutes getting your heart racing instead. – Eat a small, protein-rich meal that also includes some fiber. But keep it light so your body isn’t further stressed. – Reset your watch and then… lie to yourself. Don’t think about it; just immediately adapt to the new time zone. – Of course, the goal is to adjust as soon as possible to your new time zone. If you’re flying overnight or flying to a place where everyone else will have just finished sleeping, … Continue reading “Why Melatonin Is a Dangerous Supplement”

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How Do You Say ‘No Shame’ in Spanglish?

I have to hand it to Taco Bell for being both devastatingly brilliant and unforgivably evil. In a new campaign called the Fourth Meal, they’re pumping the fourth meal (yes…“the meal between dinner and breakfast”) with a dazzling disregard for health, ethics, decency and taste. Normally, I tend to admire rebels and rule-breakers. I don’t exactly have best friends over at Big Pharma. And I understand Taco Bell isn’t in business to kiss babies and hug Aunt Sue. Taco Bell is in business for the same reason everyone else is: to make some cash. Hopefully, you can make some cash while doing something good. Not so with el Taco. To that end, their marketers are brilliant. Running a late-night campaign obviously aimed at college kids, night owls and (let’s be frank) bar flies – and being so blatantly cavalier about – is smart business. The website is so cool, it’s appalling. At the site, viewers can choose to enter as a hip young man or woman. Next up, you pick trendy threads to wear. You navigate a late-night, funky urban street. Via a glossy black virtual handheld device (of course), you can talk, make buddies, and play – you can become a “Fourth Mealer”. That’s right: Taco Bell is pushing an entire online community a la MySpace, Friendster, Squidoo (and your very own Mark’s Daily Apple) devoted entirely to feeling cool about scarfing a late night meal complete with the Taco Bell version of the four food groups: Melty, Crunchy, Spicy, Grilled. Hey, I was a college kid once; maybe you were, too. We’ve all had a wild night (or ten) at some point in our lives. I don’t hold anything against Taco Bell for wanting to make a buck. In fact, I advocate a fourth meal – in the sense that I advocate several small meals throughout the day to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels and keep the metabolism firing full speed ahead. But let’s consider, just for a second, if Taco Bell could have done something different. Kids are smart. They also like to rebel against authority. Don’t we all? What if Taco Bell had incorporated a few healthy items into their menu, marketed them as still being tasty (surely the food chemists can handle that order), and gone with the whole Fourth Meal campaign anyway. Only, instead of advocating the late-night consumption of complete garbage, pitching the healthy Fourth Meal as something only college kids and night owls would really “get”. Taco Bell: “Hey, it’s late. The parental units are home in bed and feeling great about their three squares. Your boss thinks you’re still at the office and your professor thinks you’re studying for that exam. Right. All the nerds are probably reading and listening to Beethoven. But you need a little veg, a little protein, and a little taste – now. So you’re eating a cheap, fast, healthy meal because you have a life. You’re a fourth-mealer. You either get it or you don’t.” [tags] … Continue reading “How Do You Say ‘No Shame’ in Spanglish?”

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What – Lardsicles Didn’t Have Enough Carbs?

Just when I think I’ve seen it all, along comes fried Coke. Earlier this year I saw a major Southern California “quick service” food chain promoting their deep-fried fries. That’s right – fries that are breaded and … fried.

I barely had time to recover from that one before fried soda burst onto the scene in several versions. There are fried Coke rings, in which the corn-syrup liquid is frozen, breaded in some variation of corn starch, and deep fried in (of course) corn oil.

The article linked below highlights what appear to be deep-fried Coke bonbons. Fortunately, they are drizzled with syrup and powdered sugar, thereby accelerating consumers from mere obesity, diabetes and heart disease to plain old death. I’m glad to see that science and the spirit of innovation are alive and well across our great land. Of that, we can be proud. Besides, next year, plans are in the works for a version that really keeps your health in mind:

“Next year’s fair-goers can look forward to fried Sprite or — for those watching their weight — fried diet Coke.”

Here’s the clickativity for the above quote and the story.

[tags] Coke, fried Coke, trans fat, deep fried food, corn [/tags]

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Tuno? My Money’s on Mocky-Mahi Next

Why eat tuna when you could eat…Tuno? That’s what Peta is hoping you’ll want to do. They offer 10 reasons to eschew eating all our dear fish friends, from tuna to salmon (here’s the clickativity).

In actuality, they offer two reasons, five different ways (human health, fish feel pain). I get a little peeved by this kind of repetitive illogic. Just make your two reasons convincing!

That said, I don’t really have anything against Peta, or against vegetarians. My wife and son have both tried vegetarianism in different forms over the years. I’ve never really understood the people who have an actual problem with vegetarians’ motives. While I personally believe eating fish and meat is healthy and natural, and I think Tuno is just plain ridiculous, I’m stumped by the anger I see at times. Call vegetarianism sentimental or unnatural if you like, but think about it: “I’m gonna get really riled up about the fact that you’re trying to be…nice.” I just don’t see how vegheads are threatening, but then, I also know real men aren’t afraid of salad.

As far as Tuno is concerned, I do want to suggest that you avoid mock-meats or faux-fish in whatever latest incarnation you see. While mercury toxicity is a concern if you eat a lot of fish, particularly tropical-water fish, let’s think about the alternatives being prescribed. Eating a processed soy- or grain-based artificial food is hardly a reasonable alternative.

Here’s an incredibly easy rule of thumb: did the food start this way? An apple started as an apple. A filet of fish started as fish. Foods people typically think are “healthy”, such as fruit leather, protein bars, and now Tuno, really aren’t much better for you than what you’d find in your local middle school vending machine (now there’s another peeve!). Though there are a few exceptions, I will say that any food that is highly-processed and generally unrecognizable from where it started is not fuel fit for consumption. Really.

Two easy solutions to the mercury concerns:

1) Eat mostly cold-water fish, such as Alaskan salmon and Arctic cod.

2) Supplement with an Rx-quality, filtered fish oil.

[tags] fish, best fish oil supplement, omega-3’s, healthiest fish, mercury, Tuno, Peta, vegetarian, processed foods [/tags]

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