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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May 25 2009

Dear Readers

By Mark Sisson

The response to “Dear Readers” questions has been fantastic. This week I’ve added a poll to make answering fellow readers’ inquiries even easier, so chime in with your opinion and make your voice heard.

Question 1

Hi Mark

Just wondering if you have run across this stuff: Shirataki Miracle Noodle. It’s been mentioned in a few different magazines/websites and the ingredients for the main type (the angel hair pasta) are listed as Water, glucomannan (soluble fiber), calcium additive.

Any ideas if the base (glucomannan) is a primal-type ingredient? A quick look at Wikipedia shows that it usually comes from the root of two plants I’ve never heard of … just wondering if it would fall into the same category as potatoes or more sweet potatoes?


Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


Question 2


I was wondering if you could please assist us, we have to prepare a presentation on the urban myth of “I can feel it in my bones” and whether it is a fact or fiction, explaining the physiology which supports or refutes it.

We would be extremely grateful if you could please direct us to any clinical studies/information that you think maybe useful.

Thank you very much

Yours sincerely



Question 3

I am a big fan of your blog and was hoping you could provide your insight on the following: I recently injured my neck in a car crash and have multiple protrusions in my neck. I cannot lift heavy, do push ups, pull ups, or sit ups, (non-primal) doctor’s orders. I can walk for about an hour at a time and run for short periods of time. I’m expected to be this way for a year. If I were Grok-ette I would lay down and wait for a saber tooth tiger to eat me. As I am not, I’m looking for suggestions on maintaining (or improving) health and fitness even with these challenges. Besides continuing to eat primal, what would Grok do?



Question 4

I have had a great deal of success following with Intermittent Fasting, but I have struggled with the stubborn fat around my midsection. After analyzing my diet, the obvious road block, is the carbs. As of Monday I am following the Primal Blueprint. I have gone from 264 pounds to my current weight of 182. In february of this year, I began creatine supplementation, 5mg a day, with water. No high carb post workout drinks, didnt need teh excess calories.

As I move towards the next level of leanness would you recommend creatine as a supplement?




Question 5

How about kids and the primal way of eating?

We eat mostly primal at home but my son’s daycare has a vegetarian menu (which is preferable to the “meat” that would otherwise be purchased for schools and daycares). I’m trying to think about life after daycare when my son takes lunch. What are good portable meals that will last, for a time, unrefrigerated?

As a family, we also drive long distances to visit family – sometimes with limited shopping options. What to do for snacks for the long return trip? We usually take a cooler of food and plan out our meals for most of the time we’re there (to the chagrin of the relatives with whom we visit). It is a stretch to get portable items to last for the return trip.


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31 thoughts on “Dear Readers”

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  1. Question 4. I started taking creatine about 5 weeks ago, just as an experiment. I use it as “insurance” for my muscles as I am at the point in my get lean quest for more cardio than strength training, I also usually do this cardio/HIIT first thing in the morning on an empty stomach so having something feels abit more safe.

    Creatine will not hurt your goals at all, but it will make you weigh more due to the excess water (make sure you drink about double what you would usually drink). If you are cutting calories and doing cardio to get lean, I would recomend it, especially if you are 8-10 weeks away from your goals.

    Question 5.

    Ahhh the Primal snack. Everyday I am looking everywhere for more options. My favourites at the moment are:

    apples, bananas, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts (all unsalted of course)celery with cashewnut butter, mini peices of chicken breast (cut up and cooked the night before). Choices are hard to make in this modern world, especially with kids. But there are some good stuff out there. Even if you cant find something that 100% primal, you can find something thats damn close if you look around.


  2. re:Question 3:

    I believe you answered it in your question “run for short periods of time”.

    One word Tabata. You can perform anything as a Tabata interval. Sprints, squats, squat jumps, calf raises, lunges, skipping, jumping jacks… well basically anything that you can categorize as “plyometric”.

    I would suggest going to your nearest public library and picking up some books on plyo, cross training, and SAQ (Speed, agility and quickness) training.

    Start slow! Test your body’s response to shock and impact.

    Hopefully this works!

    1. Re Question 3.

      I am not sure this is the ebst place to seek advice relating to an injury which has obviously side tracked your efforts. I certainly would not recommend plyometric training or anything that will ellicit your bodies startle response and shut down your mobility even more.

      Personally I would find a progressive program that addresses mobility first and foremost. Yin yoga, Tai Chi, Zdrovye. Eric Cobb’s Z Health is an excellent strating point for anyone looking to regain natural physical movement.

      All the best and keep walking, it’s a great start.


  3. Question 4: As far as stubborn fat goes, here’s the quick process. Each fat cell has “receptors” in which to receive the hormonal signals to either store or release fat. Stubborn fat cells are not getting the message as clearly due to either having too many of the wrong kind of receptors (mainly what is known as alpha2 receptors that block the message), resistance built up (like insulin resistance) or just lack of blood flow to the area (to carry the hormonal message). It’s like a person hard of hearing, you need to find ways to get the message across to your cells to release the fat.

    Combine full body high intensity movements, with lower carb intake (just enough to keep up energy and intensity of exercise), and an active lifestyle (to burn those FFAs, free fatty acids, once they are in the bloodstream)….you should see the stubborn fat go little by little. After all…they call it stubborn for a reason.
    People have also had success using Yohimbe bark (as an alpha receptor-antagonist).

  4. in response to #1: I had a “craving” for something noodle-ish, so I cooked spaghetti squash instead. to me that seemed like a more “primal” choice (added sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, spices, & baked salmon)

    Tereza: can your Dr recommend a good physical therapist for you? If prescibed, will insurance cover it? That way at least you have help/supervision while you learn new ways to work your body without using your neck. I’m no expert, I just notice how hard a time I have keeping my own neck from getting “involved” in just about anything I try…

    1. I’ve cooked spaghetti squash quite a few times and enjoyed it. This seemed like a possible alternative and wanted to get peoples’ opinion 🙂

      1. Having tried shirataki noodles back in my non-primal low carb days, I will just say I did not find them tasty or enjoyable texture-wise, so are not really worth it. Just a matter of personal taste, for me!

        1. They also require several rinses to get rid of the fishy smell/taste.

  5. #2, I feel it in my bones every day I don’t eat right or take care of myself.

    #3, Grok walked and ran. He used implements he made himself.

    #4, not unless you are in a sport that really requires it.

    #5, jerky, dried fruit, nuts. Was that really hard to think of? =)

  6. #1, I’ve sometimes used very thinly sliced yellow/sweet onion as a substitute for noodles. In a low-carb version of pad thai (onions, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, green onions, and fish sauce + tamarind juice), it was obviously not quite the same, but still very good.

  7. Q1 – Go with spagetti squash… it’s fantastic

    Q3 – have you tried swimming? Some strokes might bother you, but something as simple as kicking on your back would give a good workout, while letting the water cradle your neck.

    Q4 – If you want a creatine source that won’t lead to water weight gain, try purple k ( I use it during some of my training cycles to give me a little boost

    1. Tereza — the Trigger Point Therapy workbook is excellent. My husband used it to essentially cure his bad back. Our massage therapist also knows of it and thinks it’s excellent.

  8. Q3 – How about just walking. You could add resistance by trying pool walking, or adding ankle or hand weights to the equation. Another option may be cycling. If the traditional bike places too much strain on your back you could look at a recumbent.

  9. Question 4: I was very skeptical about creatine but after a load of research, I became willing to try it. I started it for about a month, and stopped, but I intend on starting again when I switch up my training to a more hypertrophy or strength oriented style. If you are trying to lose weight, it will give you a boost for anaerobic efforts such as sprints and weight training. Many people find that weight training/strength training can get harder when trying to lose weight because of the lack of calories/energy. If you want to keep up your production in the weight room, then its a good idea. It will also help if you plan to do interval training/HIIT to lose weight. It can serve to make the transition to lower calories a little easier. Make sure you drink a lot of water though. Also, the body’s ability to utilize and absorb dietary creatine is much lower than previously expected, so you should be fine with about 3 grams a day. If you’re loading, you should be good with about 10 grams a day [about 3 level teaspoons] for 3-5 days as opposed to the recommended 20 grams.

    Question 2: I don’t know of any studies, but I have heard that the “feel it in my bones” phenomenon of weather is attributed to the sensitivity of old people’s bones/joints to changes in atmospheric pressure. It might be people with arthritis, not just old people in general, i’m not entirely sure. sorry =/

  10. Question 2: If you are talking about weather, “I feel it in my bones” is supposedly due to arthritic joints. I swear my grandmother always knew when it was going to rain. If you are talking about “I feel it in my bones” as in “I have a hunch” I have nothing. Sorry.

  11. 1. Anything touted as a “miracle” is most decidedly not… it could be used once an again for an interesting diversion, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in it.

    3. I wouldn’t do a whole lot of bouncing around and plyometrics, that might agitate your neck. Walking and running will probably be good to start, just make sure you are not heel-striking when you run, as that will make matters worse. Air squats would be a good low impact vertical exercise, as would some lightly loaded lunges. Normally isolation exercises aren’t the best, but do what you can, grab some dumbells and see what doesn’t hurt! If you can handle it, try a slosh tube.

    4. I’m not a big fan of creatine, if you’re not getting enough protein, straight whey protein is the way I go. It can take a long time for the middle fat to go away, just keep plugging away and the results will come.

    5. It may not be “kid friendly”, but salads and lettuce wraps are really good for lunches, as long as they are kept somewhat cool, they shouldn’t wilt too much. Put your homemade dressing in a seperate container so as to keep the taste fresh. Almond butter makes a decent dip for veggies (carrots/celery/etc), and jerky or smoked salmon will keep for a short while. a small insulated cooler with an ice pack works wonders.

  12. #1 – I’m surprised to see shirataki described as a miracle noodle. It’s a traditional Japanese food that I’ve eaten quite often. although it has almost zero “bad” carbs, they are almost unpalatable imo. If you’re wondering what they taste like, they have almost no flavor, and a texture exactly like chewing on rubber bands. So not a very good pasta substitute.

  13. Shirataki noodles are made of glucomannan fiber which has benefits that are similar to psyllium (which Mark recommends). I have used all three and ultimately have found that adding a few grams of glucomannan powder to a protein shake is both more palatable and more convenient.

  14. #5. No one has yet mentioned cheese. I know milk-based foods are not strictly primal, but if they are tolerated they can be quite a beneficial source of nutrients–in particular protein, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins. The long-fermented cheeses (e.g., Gouda, cheddar) last quite a while away from the fridge and are very tasty IMHO. My 3.5 yo daughter loves the raw-milk cheeses I provide to her and I put them in her lunch box to take to day care.

    A hard-boiled egg should last a while in a lunch-box, especially if it is a thermal lunch box left in the fridge overnight. I think young children really need the dairy and eggs to help their rapidly developing nervous systems.

  15. Question 3:

    I recently had thyroid surgery and had to go EASY on recovery workouts. I would avoid upper body workouts as you WILL strain your neck. OUCH! So surprising how much we use it!

    Good news, though. FULL recovery is possible if you have a constant conversation with your body. Literally, check in with your neck as you play around. Stop at the slightest pain and go a different route. Experiment with modified yoga poses (no neck stands, teehee), water aerobics, reclined stationary bike, hiking, etc.

    Because you may be bummed about how your fitness level may have regressed, consider measuring your progress and celebrating each goal. I started with walking around the half of the block and 10 weeks after surgery, I ran a 1/2 marathon.

    Go slow and steady and love how your body CAN move! Enjoy! 🙂

  16. I used to tease my girlfriend about the Shirataki noodles. I’d call them “fish strings” They smell pretty bad…seems highly processed to me.
    I don’t really try and “replace” foods.
    A good red meat sauce can be served over salad. The squash is a nice option though if you need it.

  17. #1 I too have eaten Shirataki as a trad Japanese food rather than an attempt to be low carb. I wouldn’t recommend treating them like spaghetti since they don’t taste very good unless they’ve absorbed some kind of flavourful sauce. If you have a spicy broth though they are really nice simmered in there and they absorb the flavour quite well. In Japan they are often served with a sauce that happens to be quite sweet (as in gyudon for example or beef rice bowl) so that wouldn’t be too great but if you have an alternative sauce try cooking them IN the sauce rather than boiling them and then pouring it over.

    I frequently use braised green cabbage as a “pasta” alternative in that I eat it with tomato based sauces and meats and also add it to stirfry type things that would normally take pasta (like pad thai). Once you adjust to this, it seems quite normal and very satisfying and braised in the right liquids it doesn’t taste “cabbagey” at all.

  18. Q1

    some of my noodle/pasta substitutes: runner beans, bean sprouts, broccoli, asparagus (you will need to tinker with the sauce, mainly herbs/spices to make it match these replacements)


    nuts, if you’re being active a mix of nuts and dried fruit, also I’d agree on cheese, not truly primal but nutritious and lasts well, also oatcakes (The Horror!) with smoked salmon are highly portable