Dear Mark: Body Composition Through the Years

I got this email from a reader a couple months ago and was reminded of it when I stumbled across some old race photos recently.

Dear Mark,

I saw your photo on your blog post called Washboard Abs on a High-Fat Diet, No Ab Workouts and No Cardio and it got me wondering what you looked like as an endurance athlete when you were younger. Did you look like a typical long distance runner with hardly any muscle mass to speak of? You’ve noted that you used to eat a high-carb diet. How, if at all, do you think this played into your body composition at the time? Also, do you have any photos to share?!

Pat G.

Then my friend, blogger-cartoonist Enrique Gonzales (with whom I have had a few philosophical discussions as to “why be fit?”), asked this:

Dear Mark,

Did you at any time in your life ever up your calorie intake to get bigger? Since you were a marathon runner, I am guessing that you were not very large. Was it a clean bulk or did you simply adopt a primal-esque diet as the muscle slowly packed on? Also, what advice would you give to scrawny guys that wish to have nothing more than a light athletic build like Bruce Lee or Zac Efron?

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking more into the question of just what constitutes “ideal body composition.” It’s a broad philosophical discussion that often pits genetics against lifestyle, body-building against functional strength, and even health against fitness. I thought today I might open by using the above questions to analyze my own changes over the years and explain how I got to where I am today.

I was a distance runner from the age of 13 until about 28. During that time, I had a typical high-carb diet (1000+ grams of carbs most days) which I burned off every day. Even though I also consumed large amounts of protein and I lifted weights as part of my training, I just couldn’t keep much upper body mass. Chronic cardio does that; it’s catabolic and sugar-driven. The signals I gave my genes from running 70-100 miles a week created the body-composition I wound up with. I raced at 142 pounds (actually a little heavy for a 5’10” marathoner) and 7% body fat, but was still over twenty pounds lighter than I am today. For grins, here’s a picture of me finishing the Boston Marathon in 1974. Typical body-type of a marathoner, but very lacking in muscle mass.

A series of classic overuse injuries forced me to retire from running at the elite level in 1980 and I found myself doing triathlons for a few years. I raced Ironman Hawaii (4th place overall in 1982) at 152 pounds. Running less, but swimming and cycling more allowed me to put ten more pounds of muscle on my legs, chest and shoulders (different gene signals). I was still at 7-8% body fat then, and I still needed tons of carbs (mostly from grains) to fuel the beast. Here’s a Runner’s World cover I did in 1986 at that weight. A little more upper body, but still not much.

I retired from all competition after I won my age-group in the 1988 Desert Princess Duathlon World Championships. My wife Carrie and I were about to get married. She and I had met at a gym so I knew she was into fitness. We did a photo shoot for Triathlete Magazine in January 1989 – almost 20 years ago to the day. Sorry about the neon Speedo – it was the 80’s.

Shortly thereafter, I completely revamped both my eating style and my exercise style. I cut way back on cardio and increased the intensity of my strength-training (as did Carrie). I also cut way back on carbs and increased protein and fat. Eventually I eliminated grains altogether (as has Carrie). Here we are last year in Cabo – nearly twenty years later. She won’t mind my saying that she’s now 53, and I’m 55 (52 and 54 in the photo below). Based on the gene signals (I call it “gene reprogramming” in the book) we have been generating from our diet and exercise styles, we are both at the same or lower body fat than we were 20 years ago when we were both doing far more cardio and both eating the Conventional Wisdom high-complex-carb diet! Today I weigh 164 and still carry around 8% body fat, so I have maybe 16 pounds more muscle than I did when I was a marathoner.

I have tried on several occasions to increase my muscle mass through a focused program of more intense weight-training and more copius eating. But I’m what we call a “hardgainer”. The most I was ever able to weigh was 169. That extra five pounds of muscle was not only difficult to achieve (and still keep body fat low) it was almost impossible to retain. I had to eat way more (and more often) than I intuitively wanted to and couldn’t skip more than a few hard workouts or I’d start to lose the muscle. I also couldn’t play hard without burning it up. I realized that this was a totally non-Primal pursuit.

The Primal Blueprint is about finding your own personal optimum body composition by eating and moving like Grok. It’s about functional strength and power-to-weight ratios – not excessive body fat, but also not excessive and “expensive to maintain” muscles. It’s about arriving at a comfortable lean mass that reflects the signals you have given your genes. In my case, at 55 years old, I just want to have fun, be able to move well and stay healthy. I said when I turned 40 that “I no longer want to be fit. I just want to look fit.” But the reality is that I work out now mostly to be able to play. I stay flexible enough to play golf (OK, not well). I sprint once a week and do leg work to be able to snowboard five days in a row or to dash for the long bomb in my weekend Ultimate Frisbee games. I do upper body work to be able to go out for two hours on a stand-up paddle surfboard. I hike because it’s play (not work), but if I decide to start running a trail, I can. So, I guess I am fit.

There’s another important consideration. I don’t want to get injured. Trying to pack on extra muscles that supersede your ideal body composition can invite injury. Muscles don’t get bigger unless you add more stress. It takes a lot more work for someone like me, who’s already been lifting “heavy” for 30 years to start upping it a notch. I hit a personal record on the bench press two years ago and am still paying for it with a rotator cuff issue. From here on in, I don’t want to have to sit on the sideline.

Finally, from a health and longevity perspective, the less I can eat and still maintain functional composition (Primal Fitness) the better. Because my high-fat, moderate protein, low carb diet has the effect of decreasing hunger and appetite, I naturally eat less than I would have in the old carb days. But since I also don’t work out as much, I maintain the muscle mass I do have on what many might consider a Spartan diet. Of course, the only “proven” strategy for increased lifespan is calorie-restriction, so that’s an added benefit of going for the Bruce Lee look versus the Hulk Hogan look. It just feels better.

Here are a few more pics to illustrate my changes in body composition through the years as they relate to the various signals I have sent my genes. A few are from this year’s trip to Cabo – almost 20 years to the day from the date the Triathlete Magazine photo above was taken. (You may need to scroll down the page a bit to view the enlarged version.)

Early Racing Photo Runner's World Cover Cycling Photo Cabo Photo Cabo Photo Cabo Photo

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Healthy Body Weight?

A Primal Blueprint Sample Menu

Dear Mark: Weightlifting Weary

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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64 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Body Composition Through the Years”

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  1. Very cool. I still do all those endurance sports cause I find them fun! Hoping I look that good when I’m 50!

  2. Thanks for the link Mark. I imagined your body composition right, but I was cracking up at the speedo image. I’m still laughing as I type, but oh well, you should see my hair style. It’s essentially a giant blonde jerri-curl afro. I keep it on because it adds about a good 4 inches to my height. If I may say so, your wife looks gorgeous! Is there any plastic surgery anywhere? If not, the Primal Blueprint is officially the better than Doctor 90210. The only signs of your age is the gray hairs and some subtle crow’s feet, but seriously, I hope to look this good when I reach your age. As for you Mark, with some dehydration and a carb-load, you’d be perfect for the cover of Men’s Fitness.

  3. Forget Bruce Lee and Hulk Hogan. When I’m 55, I want to have the Mark Sisson look!

  4. what a great visual to really see how the Primal Blueprint can change one’s body (esp compared to CW). thanks for sharing the pics… even if the neon yellow speedo might give readers nightmares 😉

  5. If I cover your heads with my hand while looking at the pictures of the older versions of you, I would swear you both are in your 20’s. Looking good.

  6. I meant the newer version, as in when you are older… recently.

  7. Great job, Mark.

    It is good to read about body fat %, and not worry so much about weight.

    I bought a body fat analyzer a couple months ago and really like it. It is amazing how much more you push yourself when the results are right there in your face. They are pretty inexpensive too. I bought mine online at

  8. Lol @ roberts comment.

    I think the speedo is hawt!! hee hee
    and please tell your wife that i hope to someday have a bod like that.. its bangin!!

  9. You both look great!

    Has Carrie found living the PB lifestyle has been helpful to her with women’s aging issues (pre/post menopause symptoms)? Would she comment on that topic sometime for us?

  10. Fascinating post (and I’m not just saying that because of the Speedo!). Although the perverse part of me says “if you got a marathoners body eating high carb and running so much and I actually want a marathoners body…” You see where this is going, don’t you?

    Also, I thought you wrote before that your wife & son were vegetarians. What does your wife eat if she doesn’t eat grains either? (She looks fab btw!!!)

  11. Straight up Mark.. you look WAY better now thn you did when you were younger. Look at those skinny little legs in the 74 marathon! Arnold would most certainly call you girly man.

    But seriously, you have had amazing success in everything you have done and are an inspiration.

    the SoG

  12. Oooooh the speedo. LOL. The look on your face makes that pic priceless!

    I second Sheri & Charlotte! Im thinking a Carrie guest-post is in order.

    Thanks Mark, for a great visual on how PB can change a body. Im only about 3 weeks in and I feel great!

  13. Ok, now for a more serious comment on body composition:

    I notice a lot of people complain about plateauing on a diet. Similarly people plateau when they try and gain muscle mass. This appears to be related to the fact that people can fill fat or muscle tissue with lipids and protein respectively relatively easily, but the body doesn’t want to actually change the number of cells. A good piece of research on this subject is the Nature letter,

    Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans

    Researchers used the amount of radioactive carbon-14 found in fat cells (leftover from open-air nuclear bomb tests) to determine their average age. They found that fat cells typically live for about ten years.

    They also found that when dieting the number of fat cells (adipose tissue) was held more or less constant. Rather, the fat cells discharged lipids and became less swollen. An excerpt, “Even after significant weight loss in adulthood and reduced adipocyte [ed: fat cell] volume, the adipocyte number remains the same. Although we show that the adipocyte number is static in adults, we also demonstrate that there is remarkable turnover within this population, indicating that adipocyte number is tightly controlled and not influenced by the energy balance.”

    According to their research, total number of fat cells is more or less fixed in adolescence. As fat cells become less full, there appears to be some form of hormonal feedback mechanism that prevents them from becoming too starved. The most likely hormone that controls fat cell fullness is leptin (the fat equivalent to muscle’s myostatin) although it could be another hormone that we haven’t found yet via centrifuge.

    So while one can diet to decrease fat cell fullness eventually everyone is going to hit a wall. I plateau at around 10 % body fat, Mark looks to be more around 6 %, probably because he was leaner as a teenager. If fat cells take ten years to die off, then you may need to maintain low levels of fat cell fullness for 10-20 years to effect whatever your hormones are setting your fat cell numbers at.

    The obvious follow-up question is, how do we trick the body into maintaining a permanently lower level of fat cells and higher level of muscle cells? I’m sort of lost on that one.

  14. Great pics Mark!

    Your motivation to stay fit and healthy is obvious but I can´t help to wonder about something.
    Don´t you ever get the urge to participate in events that are fun; open water swims, trail runs, 5 k´s, sprint triathlons etc? Endurance events but still pretty short compared to what´s really out there.

    For someone that has trained and raced at that level you would recognize the mental boost of a really hard race effort and finishing an event as fast as one can. Yes, it hurts but it´s also a very satisfying feeling.
    And I don´t think a race here and there would be counterproductive for primal health?

    I´m just curious to see what you think; if you´re just done with racing, if you feel it´s unhealthy or if you find the risk for injury too big.

    I know that if I have that kind of physique when I´m 55 I´d want to race with it!

    On the other end of the spectrum there´s another pretty fit 55-year old dude; Dave Scott! Incidentally, he´s also big on weights but is still pushing the endurance throttle pretty well.

  15. hey mark,

    awesome post!!! YOu explained how you are a hardgainer, and by the looks of it you are an ectomorph body type. I am sure you have got this question or comment alot already, but don’t you think its easier for an ectomorph to stay leaner than other body types on even a high carb diet. I have a mesomorph bodytype and i can’t stay as lean ass you unless i cut carbs below 30 or so a day and IF hardcore. Do you have any insight on body types?

    thanks and you guys look great!!!

  16. on the speedo pic you look a lot like dirty harry… 🙂

    congrats on living and aging so well.

  17. um, wow.

    Im 10 years behind you and can only hope to look as good as you and your amazing wife…

  18. You and your wife are the poster couple for primal fitness. You two don’t look good for your age. You look GOOD. Thanks for sharing your old photos.

  19. I second Sheri & Charlotte and Tara! “Im thinking a Carrie guest-post is in order.”

  20. You guys look terrific! It would be awesome if your wife wrote a post or if you’d post a bit about her workouts, food she loves, and other primal lifestyle experiences. She’s as much of an inspiration as you are Mark!

  21. Mark and Carrie, you 2 look fantastic, but, also look good together, you’re both picture perfect of health!!!

    You’re an example to us all to eat healthy, exercise, but you’re also an example to your kids which i’m a big believer to teach kids “early” in life the importance of eating Primal and sports. I learned as a child that exercise was fun.

    I also agree with some of you, Carrie, i’d love to hear what you’ve got to say, how about writing a post here on MDA!!!
    Carrie, you do NOT look 53 years young, what an inspiration you are!!

  22. I’m glad everyone had a good chuckle at the Speedo shot. I almost didn’t publish it, but thought what the heck.

    Thanks for all the compliments, everyone. I appreciate it. Though, this post wasn’t in anyway meant to be self-serving. It is meant to illustrate the body composition changes associated with specific lifestyle behaviors and highlight the profound power that living according the Primal Blueprint provides.

    In fact, though I am in better shape than most people at 55 I am not likely the most dramatic testimonial for this lifestyle in so far as there are people that have, for example, gone from scrawny to brawny or flabby to ripped after making the transition to the PB. I have been fit for my entire life so the changes, although significant from other perspectives, aren’t quite as visually striking.

    charlotte – I hear you but this logic is flawed for a number of reasons. One can have this sort of physique without the demanding and time consuming efforts associated with endurance training. Additionally, eating large amounts of carbs (required if you run as much as I did) has long term negative health effects: insulin resistance and inflammation, for example.

    Thanks for the interest in having Carrie write a post. I’ll see if I can arrange that.

  23. charlotte –

    My wife eats fish, eggs and, on occasion, cheese. Between this and protein powder she has no trouble getting enough protein.

  24. Wow! The banana hammock and the sweat band are priceless! Your hair looks fabulous throughout though, and since I had the aweful overpermed 80’s look I really can’t talk smack about your fashion. You look the most muscular in the bike photo of all the old ones.

    I really appreciate this because I was leaning toward IronMan training again, and then I realized that although triathletes have much more attractive bodies than just runners or cyclists or swimmers, that I would have to train like a nut to get the lean muscle look. PB living has helped me see my midsection again, and it’s getting a nice firm sloping look and I am not working out much at all (sometimes 1 day a week). But I cut grains and dairy and all processed food pretty much (beer and nachos appear sometimes, as does good Italian but I always try to balance it with mostly primal eating). This tells me that I don’t want to get back into triathons because I really enjoy NOT having to train. I engage in physical activity because I want to, not because I fear I won’t be trained enough, and I play when I do it (fins and goggles in the leisure pool makes me a Navy SEAL in my mind). No more lap swimming, now I do it like I was a kid, how long can I hold my breath and how far without coming up for air? Ditto on my bikes… they sat all summer unridden and unloved when I should have been playing on them. And I run unencumbered by monitors or other devices which means I can play in the dirt and stop to look at the creek and rocks. But as you pointed out, I realized I like hiking more, and also other “activities” like trying to surf or tube all day.. you do it all day for a reason… because you LIKE it. Today I shoveled snow and it was kinda fun even.

    Thanks for giving me a good reason not to get back on the endurance treadmill. Because it was starting to turn into just that… a dreaded task. And my body composition was just plain soft. I hope to never have a Gatorade or gu-like product ever again.

    I even read different magazines now… National Geographic Explorer, Backpacker, Outside… anything that doesn’t talk about training and goals at the expensive of having an adventure, even if it’s right in your own backyard.

    IF was the last component that helped me. My sugar levels no longer go crazy in the morning, unless I’ve eaten poorly the day before, and I can go until afternoon and feel really focused.

    Tarzan is the ultimate male, IMO, and you look more like him now, and your abs look like a bug’s exoskeleton. The skinny marathon look is just too stringy. And the wife looks great like Betty Rubble. All she needs is a bone in her hair. I would have never guessed her age.

    Thanks for posting the transformation pics.


  25. Hi Mark,

    Really fantastic pictures;very inspirational.

    As a female and vegetrian,I would love to know Carrie’s diet and exercise plan.

  26. You looked good too when you were a triathlete. So I think you are not that good exmple for the fact that endurance sports and high carb diet is bad for our health or leastwise for our look. But I do understand that you feel fitter in these primal days.

  27. Fantastic post. I HATE exercise, but love to move when it is associated with something fun. It just makes you feel good to be playing soccer, hiking, or doing other fun things with your kids. The problem is…right now I’m too out of shape to do it! So, now I can focus on some primal changes…like the sprints (which take up so much less time) and weights (which I don’t mind) and the dietary changes and look forward to the body of a 53 year old!

  28. Dear Mark,

    In your blog I often see you mention that our genes change and signal something when we exercise. I trust that these events probably often happen, though I don’t know when and how they happen. I have no knowledge of processes on that molecular level, and I don’t see how I could use the fact that my genes possibly change along the way. You don’t give me any clue either. As far as I could see, our awareness of gene signals and changes produced no useful idea or tool for our practice of exercise and training. We exercise the body, so the body adapts by improving strength and endurance. That is really important and useful knowledge, and we can see and measure the changes in our body.
    Such adaptation of the body has always been the response to exercise and training. It was a complete picture long before we learned from the scientists that there are also genes involved. If I am not a researcher in biochemistry, I cannot see or measure how our genes signal or change. My question then is this: why even bring up the genes into our picture of exercise, when we cannot get any practical gain from that information at the present state of science? I feel that talking often about gene adaptation in such casual manner is kind of useless guesswork and a distraction. But I hope you have your reason.

    Best Regards

  29. Hi, just wondering why Carrie doesn’t eat grass fed and finished beef???thanks

  30. Mark,

    Great post! You look fantastic for a 35-year old (wink). Your wife does too. Much respect for leading by example!

  31. Hi Mark,
    I read all the referenced posts about genes you gave me, and it was a waste of time.
    I’m all for the healthy lifestyle you promote, and I happily practice it. As for our genes, I’ve got it that the genes do not necessarily define our destiny, we have a good chance to influence our fate by our lifestyle. OK, that is clear, and that is about all that makes sense to me.
    The rest is useless guesswork because we cannot get any practical gain from gene information at the present state of science. This science probably holds good potential to uncover mechanics of gene identification, control and influence on our health in the future. There is some room for fantasy there, but that should not be all fantasy all the time.
    Bonny also commented on January 12, 2009 at that “the mechanisms controlling gene expression are unknown. Truth be told, scientists look at changes in gene expressions and can make little sense of them beyond a few unexplained patterns and correlations.” She obviously knows it as she works in that field.


  32. Hi Mark

    Firstly, you and Carrie look amazing! I bet you feel that way too. I’ve been reading almonst daily your blog for a few months now and love it! Everything just makes so much more sense now. I have mostly been following it for that time as well. I feel alot better, but I want to loose 10lbs and 6%bf. I am 5’4″ 130. My thought is to really strictly adhere to a ketogenic diet for 8 weeks ish(re-evaluate at that point) Am I correct saying that would be to keep it under 50g carbs/day? I am also doing TT, and enjoy it and HIIT and the odd tabata sprint session…. (at least thats the plan. I’ve done it for about a week.) I would love your input and knowledge to help me out on my goal. I would like it to happen pretty quickly:)
    Also, what does Carrie’s workouts and diet look like?
    Thank you ever so much! I am so glad I found your site, I plan on buying a copy of your book for everyone I’ve told about your blog.

    All the best!

  33. Alex, sorry you feel the references were a “waste of time” and understanding gene expression is “useless”. The book will explain all this in detail. I guess I missed Bonnie’s comments earlier as well. She suggests that there is no “good” or “bad” gene expression; and she is correct. Genes don’t know or care when they switch on or off. They simply respond to the signals they are given by other genes or by chemical signals in their immediate environment. Type 2 diabetes happens when some specific genes are desperately responding to a chronic excess of toxic sugar in your bloodstream. They don’t know or care that you get sick in the long term because they are only responding in the short term (to keep you alive or to try to maintain homeostasis). Autoimmune dieases are the result of genes associated with your immune function over-reacting to perceived threats (which may or may not be real). Mesenchymal stem cells “decide” to become fat cells or muscle cells or bone cells depending on signals you (through your diet and/or other behavior) send the genes that are involved in their maturation or transformation. When I talk about “good” or “bad” gene expression, I have “anthropomorphosized” the discussion with an understanding that my readers get what I mean by good and bad – that some gene direction is favorable to health, longevity, fitness, etc and that some is not.

    Genes are being switched on (or not) every second of every day of your life. You reference working out. Your workout choices most assuredly direct which genes invloved in muscle growth, energy production, bone density, etc get switched on (or not). That’s why marathoners look different from body-builders. It’s not magic. It all comes down to the signals generated by YOUR choice of activity (as well as your choice of what you eat in fueling that activity). Genes respond to everything we do. Not all, of course, but many more than most people could ever imagine. That’s the personal power that we wield and what we at MDA find so fascinating.

  34. Mark,

    If this post alone doesn’t help people to try the Blueprint or buy your book, I don’t know what will! Fantastic stuff (well….minus the speedo). People love to see real changes and you certainly are a shinning example. This post should be the cover of your book….but only if you can PhotoShop some Hawaiian shorts on that old picture. 😉

    Mike OD

  35. Dear Mark,

    I suggest whenever you want to mention genes in your post, and speculate about genes’ promise and magic to influence our health, it is fitting to ask “How is it going to help the readers in their pursuit of better health and fitness?” Then you will find that in the majority of cases such science fiction about genes is not going to help anybody at the present state of science. You will find that it wouldn’t produce a practical idea or method for improving either health or fitness. I believe that such ‘dreaming’ changes the focus from practical to abstract, and often it is a distraction.
    You manage to improve your health and fitness without knowing exactly what happens to your genes. Today it is the only practical way to go. Talking about genes’ magic and power can fool some people into waiting for information from their genes that would help them in some way. But we get good results by acting today, not by waiting for this science to develop tomorrow.

    All the best

  36. Alex, it would appear from your tone that you haven’t read much on this site. I guess that’s the problem with a blog that has over 1300 posts and then someone discovers it and only reads a few recent articles. In fact, every post I do is contemplated to address the question: “how is it going to help the readers in their pursuit of better health and fitness?”

    Information about genes is no longer “science fiction” as you put it. Thousands of papers describe how specific genes react to specific signals from the environment. It’s the most exciting area of biology today. This information can indeed help provide very specific methods “for improving health or fitness.” When I work out or when I dine, I have a very clear picture of what’s happening with gene expression and there is nothing “magic” about it. As I say here all the time, it’s always about acting today and NOT waiting for some information about a SNP or variant (or the development of a new drug based on that SNP) that might give the reader an excuse not to take action. I honestly don’t know where you get that I’m “fooling people into waiting” for anything.

    I’m also not sure what science background, if any, you have, but I would recommend reading these books: The Agile Gene, The Dependent Gene, and The Biology of Belief – as a good starting point. Read them and you will perhaps start to get excited about what we DO know and the power we have to elicit particular gene responses…or else you could go about your life simply assuming that you have no say in the matter, as many billions have done and still do.

  37. Hello Mark,

    You said “When I work out or when I dine, I have a very clear picture of what’s happening with gene expression and there is nothing “magic” about it”. Would you please give us one example of practical method or idea implemented in a lifestyle that derived from specific information about the genes. Something that helped improve health or fitness, and no old method would work. Having “clear picture of what’s happening with gene expression” sounds to me as creating mental images rather than using genetic data. Maybe my skepticism comes from reading this fancy concept of gene expression romanticized and repeated too many times. I want an example of data where this concept was successfully applied, and no old method would work.
    I trust more the early sobering words of Bonny: “the mechanisms controlling gene expression are unknown. Truth be told, scientists look at changes in gene expressions and can make little sense of them beyond a few unexplained patterns and correlations.”


  38. I wish I could find a woman who got better looking as she got older people tended to overrestimate my age when I was younger and now tend to underrestimate it so I must be doing something right. But you two look to be doing *everything* right

  39. Trinkwasser, thanks. I don’t know about “everything” but we certainly do our best to apply the information we’ve gathered, and in a way that is fun and playful.

  40. I have trained for two Ironmans, but I’m now starting not to enjoy the extended training time, plus I don’t really like swimming! I am now going to focus on some shorter races and start doing some more high intensity sprints and tabatas, etc. I have fat just beneath my navel that refuses to budge, so I’m hopeful this new approach will allow me to bust through a plateau I have had for the past three-four years. Hopefully, my genes will get the message! Thanks again for all of your advice via this blog!

  41. Standard body weight scales provide a measure of total weight, but don’t determine the lean-to-fat ratio of that weight. Standing on most scales can tell you only if you weigh more than the average person, but not if that weight is fat or muscle. Based only on scale weight, a 250 pound athlete with 8% body fat may be considered “overweight” by a typical weight chart. Such charts are not a good indications of ideal body weight for general health or for athletic performance.

    1. True, but a lot of scales these days measure for total body weight, then show you how much of that is made up of water weight and fat weight.

      A lot of times when I weigh myself, I freak out at the result, then realize a good deal of the gain is simply retained water weight.

      I bought a good BMI scale here for under $40:

  42. Bear in mind that bone mass plays an important role in determining ones actual BMI. A good approach is to determine if they are small, medium or large boned if equipment is not available.

  43. Wonderful site, and such a sincere following. Kudos to you.


    I am just now discovering your diet and want to know: How will this diet protect me from a history of serious prostate cancer in my family? Thanks, P

    1. I know one site who will help you and give this type of services.
      I suggest you should try or visit this site.
      I am saying this because I have also used this site.
      A report in the media states that a specific diet will protect individuals from cancer. However, no data are reported to support this statement. Is this statement a hypothesis or a conclusion?
      body composition scans

  44. I just started training for my first triathlon. I dropped a lot of weight right away due to the increased exercise and more conscientious eating. I’ve hit a barrier now though, will this diet help me drop these last 15 pounds?

  45. These are some really great pictures. It is so important to be active and to stay healthy. These pictures show that at any age you can stay healthy and look great.

  46. Hi Mark,

    I’ve been trying to lean out and get rid of my stomach and muffin tops for as long as I can remember. I am 22 now and have always been very active and fit; I hit the weights often, do Crossfit when I can, and have completely changed my diet to eating <50g of carbs (no grains) and at least 136g of protein (my current weight). My problem is I'm still not seeing myself lean out yet and I just want to know when I can expect to start seeing changes now that I've completely adopted the Primal lifestyle?

    By the way, I adore your blog!

  47. I would love it if you had your wife on the podcast to talk to the women about aging gracefully and managing hormones.

  48. Mark,
    We both have pretty similar stories in terms of endurance / high carb during youth to paleo & low carb high fat after mid 20s. I was a runner, cyclist and triathlete with lean 5-9% BF and loved endurance and lactic threshold intervals.
    During my early 20s I had an onset of this transition I think triggered by food borne / bacterial born illness or something I ate while in Taiwan, chronic stress at a job, and a triathlon coach who drove me into the ground (overtraining). After this initial trigger I noticed my performance going downhill via data analysis (total training stress in TrainingPeaks), and never felt like I could get enough oxygen in the pool, or during workouts. My LT power decreased steadily and I lost the ability to ‘kick it up’ after steady state cardio – ie the push to sprint up a hill or power during my interval training.

    Now my body thrives on a ketogenic diet and strength training.

    My question is – did you have a similar ‘onset’ of this or have a theory on anything external which might have triggered this metabolic shift. IE – if you lived in a germ free bubble and ate the same diet, would this still have happened?
    Why do some people retain this endurance metabolism beyond their mid 20s and continue to race well into their 50s or beyond? Are we malfunctioning?

    Dan B

  49. I also used to be a marathon runner and we were all told to carbo load for endurance sports! Everything has changed now. I am 48 and I really well on a LCHF diet. I enjoyed reading your story! Thanks!