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: Carbs

Periodizing Nutrition: The High Fat Approach

I’m excited to introduce a guest post from an elite athlete in the midst of an incredible ultrarunning career. Believe me, not many athletes can write—or do much of anything except perform and veg out on the couch recovering before the next workout. Zach Bitter, record setting ultramarathon runner, is different, as readers of his popular blog already know. Zach holds the American record for the 100-mile run of 11 hours, 47 minutes. That’s running all day—400 laps around a regulation track—at seven-minute per mile pace. Go try to run a single mile in seven minutes to gain a full appreciation for his supreme effort.

Zach has achieved some notoriety in the ultra scene as a dedicated fat-fueled athlete. (You can read his story here.) He dabbles in keto during his base building training cycles, believing that it speeds recovery and reduces the stress impact of his workouts. His fueling strategy for competition is more nuanced, and he has a lot of important things to say on the matter. His post offers insightful commentary about periodization of nutrition. Here is a quick sound bite from Zach about his big picture goals with becoming highly fat- and keto-adapted: “I strongly believe that the less you have to fuel during a race, the better.” Enjoy this message from Zach, and we hope to check in with him again in the future.

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6 Older Studies That Got No Love but Should Have

“Back in my day, science came harder. We may not have had your fancy longitudinal data analyzing software, your iterated pool of available data upon which to build, or your worldwide network of instantaneous communication and information transmission, but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work just the same. And man did we do some science and discover some things. Boy, you don’t even know the half of it.”

When I turn my sights back to older research, I realize that a lot of this stuff we “discover” in health and nutrition has already been found, or at least hinted at. Today, I’m going to explore some of my favorite research from years past that, if posted to Science Daily or linked on Twitter today, would get a huge response.

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Primal Starter: 10 Nutritional Actions To Enhance Insulin Sensitivity

What if a person secretes too much insulin in response to a glucose load? What if, for whatever reason (and there are dozens of possible culprits), a person’s cells are resistant to the effects of insulin? What if, to remove the same amount of glucose from the blood, a person secretes twice or thrice the amount of insulin? What happens when insulin stays elevated? Lipolysis is inhibited to an even greater degree. Body fat becomes even harder to burn. Susceptible brain, artery, and pancreatic cells are exposed to higher levels of blood sugar for longer. Muscle protein synthesis falls off a cliff. Glycogen is replenished at a diminished rate. And if cells are already full of glycogen and there’s nowhere else to put the glucose, it converts to fat for storage.

Obviously, we don’t want to be insulin resistant. We want to be insulin sensitive. Here are 10 nutrition-based actions.

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Keto and Type 2 Diabetes

If you think of Type 2 diabetes as carbohydrate intolerance, the natural dietary response should be to restrict the offending dietary component. And when this occurs—when diabetic patients restrict carbs—their symptoms improve, often to a greater degree than diabetic patients on other diets. Keto restricts more carbs than even other low-carb diets, so on the face of things, keto seems great for diabetes. 

Let’s take a closer look.

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Primal Challenge Point: Stop Feeding the Sugar Cycle

It’s impossible to talk about using food as a drug without looking at the genuine neurological and hormonal impacts it has on the body. The fact is, certain foods affect us more like drugs than others.

With actual drug use, we’re not operating with innate satiation signaling. But with food, our bodies have a built-in system for telling us when to eat, how much to eat and when to stop.

In our paleolithic ancestors’ time, it worked great. Today, we’ve become our own saboteurs. We’ve known for years that sugary and processed foods (those that strategically combine sugar, salt and certain fats into a triple crown disaster) are intentionally designed to override our inherent satiation signals and hyper-trip our reward systems.

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Does Carb Cycling Work? It Depends.

Keto may not be for everyone, and low-carb is not the only way to eat well, but most would agree that people in the modern world tend to eat way too many carbohydrates—far more than their lifestyles and activity levels warrant. Along with some other big factors, excessive intake of refined carbohydrates is a major player in the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other disorders. This is no longer controversial. Reducing carbs is a good move for most folks.

The majority of my readers are on some kind of low carb diet. Maybe they’re not fully keto. But they all tend to acknowledge the utility of limiting one’s carbs to only those they need. One of the more common questions I receive from this group concerns carb cycling—periodically adding more carbs to an otherwise low-carb diet.

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