2019 In Review: My Favorite Events, Experiments and Trends

2019 was a big year here.

I’ll start with the obvious. I sold Primal Kitchen® to Kraft Heinz back at the start. And though some of you expressed doubt and skepticism (totally understandable), I’m happy to report that things are going great. The brand and its products are still as high quality as ever while appearing in more stores than ever before. In fact, they’re getting even better. It’s been great to offer more varieties and flavors of the products people enjoy, and with the increased power of Kraft Heinz we’re able to get the best manufacturing facilities (for instance, we’ve secured use of a facility that does not process wheat—a real rarity in the industry).

What else?

As always, I tried a bunch of stuff. Did some experimentation…

My Top 2019 Experiments

Kefir Megadoses

There was a paper from a few years ago talking about the connection between fermented foods and anxiety. Their basic conclusion was that fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt and kefir can actually reduce anxiety in the long term. That always stuck with me. I definitely don’t have anxiety, social or otherwise, but like I said I do care about the outcome. That can manifest as something like anxiety (without the neurosis). It’s “justified anxiety.”

So, I tried drinking a quart of kefir in a single day on those days when I have a lot going on, when I’m doing some planning or just feel a bit out of sorts, like I’m on the cusp of the future and have yet to fully commit. It worked. It smoothed things out. I’m still doing it semi-regularly as needed.

Verdict: Keepin’ it.

Rest-Pause Super Sets

Instead of taking an hour or 1.5 hours to train at the gym, I played with a new way of lifting that’s much quicker and more condensed. I pick a weight and lift it as many times as I can. Rest for 30 seconds. Do it again. Rest for 30 seconds. Do it again.

Sometimes I’ll do a final drop set. Drop the weight by 15% and do another set of max reps.

That’s under 5 minutes per exercise, I get a great workout, and because I don’t feel obligated (or able) to push really heavy weights, my risk of injury is lower.

Verdict: Keepin’ it.

Coffee experiments: I’ve always loved messing around with my coffee. It’s one of the most reliable and consistent things I put into my body. It makes a great vehicle for all sorts of tasty and nutrient-dense ingredients. So, what did I try?

Super Dark Stearic-Enhanced Ganache Coffee

Melt 1/2 bar of as dark a chocolate as you can handle in some cream, then add to coffee. Cocoa butter is rich in stearic acid, a saturated fat that causes mitochondria to fuse and become more efficient at fat-burning.

Verdict: Very filling. Provides steady energy. Might be worth trying if you want to cut calories. Delicious.

Hemp Coffee

Blend raw or toasted hemp hearts in hot or cold coffee along with Collagen Fuel, cinnamon, and sea salt. Provides an enormous dose of magnesium (which caffeine can deplete) and creaminess. Here’s the full recipe.

Verdict: Delicious, calming. I use it from time to time.

Now for the big picture….

My Take On 2019 Health Trends

Keto is solidifying. More people than ever have learned to access their own body fat for energy. Keto isn’t as “exciting” or “explosive” as it was, but even better is that it’s becoming normalized. No one bats an eye when you skip the bun at the burger joint or opt for more meat instead of fries. Normalization is where the real power lies. My upcoming book, Keto For Life, is all about harnessing keto as a normalizing force for the rest of your life.

The Carnivore Diet is also exploding in a very exciting way; research is scarce, but the cascade of powerful personal success stories is increasingly undeniable. Even if carnivore isn’t the answer, the fact that people aren’t dropping dead and actually seem to be thriving is a harsh rebuke to the standard line about diet and health. We can learn a lot from carnivory.

Meanwhile, the anti-meat conglomerate really showed their hand.

The EAT-Lancet commission unveiled its global target diet, consisting of 0.75 eggs per week, a rat paw-sized serving of red meat each day, and so, so many almonds.

The “meat is murder, not just for the animals and your health, but also for the planet” message was really hammered home harder than ever before. This might have been the most insidious side of the conglomerate—conflating a legitimate issue with the strawman vision of ruminants destroying the planet. Luckily, there are people and projects speaking back to the misinformation and offering a healthy and sustainable vision. I’m doing what I can to support them.

Game Changers—a slick, well-produced documentary buoyed by a ton of moneyed interests pushing the plant-based agenda—took the Netflix-watching world by storm. I’ve heard from hundreds of readers whose families, coworkers, friends are going (or are considering going) vegan after watching the film. Still not gonna watch it though.

Germany is mulling a meat tax.

Maybe it’s all a coincidence, and these are all isolated pushes from independent actors who simply want to make the world a better place. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s a coordinated effort to change how people eat across the world—less meat and more plant-based products. My money’s on the last one. Either way, there’s a big fight coming, folks. There’s a lot of money and power behind the plant-based push. That’s going to be the big story in the next decade.

Despite all that, the most important part of 2019 was very personal.

The Best Part Of 2019…

I became a grandpa.

And my genes felt it. They said “My gosh, Sisson, you’ve done it. You’ve made it. You’ve really made it.” Because after all, from a natural selection perspective, having kids yourself isn’t enough. Passing on your genes to the next generation isn’t sufficient. No, your genes want to see themselves carried over to the next-next generation, too. And yeah, this hasn’t been quantified in the lab or anything, but it’s real. That’s the promised land for your heritage. You mean to tell me your genes don’t sense the shift? Mine definitely did.

Becoming a grandpa also made me wonder about the “source” of all this. Because that kid is a real miracle.

What does your 2019 roundup look like? I’d like to hear about the food, health, and fitness stories and experiments that resonated with you the most, but I’d love to hear about the personal journey you took. What were your defeats? Your victories? What did you love? What did you learn about the world or about yourself? What made you stop and reconsider what this thing we call life and existence is all about?

Tell me everything. And enjoy these last few days of 2019.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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12 thoughts on “2019 In Review: My Favorite Events, Experiments and Trends”

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  1. Congrats on a successful 2019, Mark, and best wishes to you and yours for a great 2020!

  2. Mark, another great post, thanks for sharing! As someone who has followed you for many years, the line about “the source of all this” caught my eye.

    That is a question honest minds can’t ignore or gloss over by throwing enough years and chance into a blender. That answer, while convenient, just doesn’t satisfy the soul. I see fingerprints and design…

    Have a great 2020!

  3. I’ve been following your blog Mark since 2014.
    I then changed my eating habits, work out habits and felt generally pretty good (I’m 55 now). I’ve learnt a lot, and I really enjoy your take on issues that come your way.

    However, 2019 for me became my year of hurt. I’ve watched my father being diagnosed with dementia very early in the year, and I’ve had to make the heart heavy decision to move him into care. The emptying and eventual sale of his home was incredibly stressful and the guilt I felt over it all was immense.

    Within a few months, I found myself assisting my mother out of her home, again leading to the sale of her house. Sadly, my mother did not make it into care, and left me heart broken, again wishing I could have done more.
    My brothers were of little help, my husband supported me as best he could.

    As for my health, it has taken a major tumble, and menopause has left me feeling very much ‘blah’.

    So I figure that 2020 has to be a better year. My Dad is now living closer to me in aged care, so I can visit him regularly. My understanding of dementia has led me to be more aware and compassionate towards our older generations.
    I’m also determined that 2020 will be a year of getting myself back into my health routines. I realise that I can only be good to my husband and friends around me, if I am first good to myself, both mentally and physically.

    To that end, I have enrolled to a beginners class of pole dancing in January, something I hope will put a spring back into my step.

    Happy New Year to you Mark and other MDA readers.

    1. You’re amazing and inspirational!! I’m sending love and support and cheers your way! 2020 is your year! <3

  4. Mark, congrats on a “game changer” year (no pun intended) with product sale, your move and becoming a grandparent.

    Been a good year 4 on a journey you took me on at age 55. For me the difference makers over the past year, in no particular order:

    1. Getting more sleep, drinking more water.
    2. Reduced electronics, especially cell phone on weekends.
    3. Stretching, started hot yoga.
    4. Shorter gym time, 45 minutes max.
    5. Getting outside and out of city on weekends.
    6. Trying (not always successful) in living in the moment, and not sweating on the stuff that really doesn’t matter.

    Big goal was hiking Half Dome this summer with my nephew and we crushed it.

    Thanks again for all you do and inspiring the Tribe. Here’s to an even better 2020!

  5. Great post! Congrats on the grandchild! Been reading MDA for ten years. Learned so much!
    2019 was a life-changing year for us. Hubby and I relocated to a place we’ve loved for many years. We have gorgeous mountains, local organic farms nearby, fresh air, and like minded people here. I’ve some lingering arthritis issues and started seeing a holistic physical therapist who’s also a Tai Chi Instructor, and, he eats a Keto diet! Started Tai Chi and loving it. Also started Keto a couple of months ago, and finally losing the weight my body has held on to for a long time. Life is good! Not bad for 63, eh?

    1. Suzan… greetings and the best to you and hubby in 2020!
      I enjoyed reading your post because you described a location where I would enjoy residing. Would you mind sharing where you relocated to… if so, thank you in advance.


  6. I’m curious… could consuming fermented foods really have ‘same day’ benefits? It seems to me that the benefits would be long-term, not instant. I wonder the same thing about people taking lots of vitamin c at the first signs of a cold. Don’t these things take time for our bodies to absorb and benefit from?

  7. I am very worried about the anti-meat push. My take on this is that the companies behind it are interested in selling manufactured “food products”. If people are not eating meat and vegetables, what are they going to eat? Protein bars, protein shakes, fake meat, veggie burgers, etc., etc. In other words, highly processed foods. Which put profit into the pockets of these companies’ owners. If you think the modern cohort is a bit on the unhealthy side, just wait another decade!!

  8. Mark,
    The biggest two things for me this year health-wise were:
    1. consistent intermittent fasting. 16-8. I do it maybe 5 d ays per week. It made a HUGE difference in energy level and mental clarity. A shocking difference really.
    2. Really getting rid of PUFAs from my diet. I’ve been more or less primal since 2013 and lost a bunch of weight in the first year and then it has all come back slowly over the years. I video Mark posted basically showing what PUFAs do in your mitochondria put me one the edge. I dumped ’em. I had already gotten rid of the vegetable oil long ago from the house. But still ate a lot af Panera Bread salads with greek dressing and still hit the restaurant french fries and occasional corn chips on weekends. I think these built up over time and changed the PUFA content of my stored body fat. Mark’s video link to the “croissant diet” also made me think about fats. So, I’ve tried to stress saturated fat over even olive oil or avocado oil.
    Dumping PUFAs accelerated my mental clarity and energy levels.
    Between 1 and 2 above, I feel like my 20-ish self despite my calendar age of 51. I have more energy than I have in years.

  9. The biggest things for me health-wise this year were:
    1. 16-8 intermittent fasting. I started this maybe 5 months ago. Do it maybe 5 days per week without stressing about it. It made a shocking difference to my energy levels and mental clarity.
    2. Truly ditched PUFAs. I’ve been more or less Primal since 2013, and got rid of the vegetable oils in my house, but never worried too much about restaurant salad dressings (I eat lots of Panera salads), or occasional corn chips or restaurant fries (OK I’m not perfect and potatoes are primal, right?).

    That changed with Mark’s posting of a video about how much PUFAs screw up your mitochondria and cause all sorts of health problems. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHnPinYI2Yc

    My ears also perked up with Mark’s posting of the croissant diet (https://fireinabottle.net/introducing-the-croissant-diet), which posits that saturated fats are magic and even monounsaturated fats can be an issue. So, I’ve been upping sat fat. After a month or so of this, my mental clarity and energy levels are even better.

    Because of these two simple changes, I’m 50 but for the first time in a LONG time, feel really good and more like I did in my twenties. Amazing.

    Thank you Mark for everything you do and have been doing for so long. It has made a huge difference in my life and so many others.

    And best wishes on your search for “source.” All the health in the world is meaningless without faith and a belief in something more.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  10. I’m a bit on the fence with some of the information /opinions you included about the carnivore diet versus the push for more plant-based eating. First, let’s recognize that “big-meat and dairy” has had plenty of influence over American farming and diets. Is there now a corporate power/push behind plant-based eating? Maybe, though you don’t provide any clear evidence that this is what is happening. I agree that there are plant foods that are environmentally and economically troubling (such as almonds)–but to my mind what all the debate over eating meat vs. a vegan diet proves is that those of us living in the West have an awful lot of privilege to be making such extreme choices in the first place. I would argue that we should use our time/opportunity/and privilege to investigate a diet that is moderate in balancing plant and animal resources in a reasonable, sustainable way. Why not sometimes eat animal proteins and dairy (hopefully that are more responsibly-produced) as well as plant proteins, preferably local and with less environmental impact as well? Seafood should also reflect sustainable choices (like rope-raised mussels) and sardines. If we were all a bit more thoughtful we could be eating well for our health as well as the health of the planet.