Have I Gone Full Keto?

“Has Mark given up Primal?” I get this question all the time, and I’m not surprised. Over the past few years, I’ve really focused on exploring the utility, applications, and ins and outs of the ketogenic diet. Why?

I’m still Primal and have been for over a decade. That won’t ever change. And you can go Primal—drop industrial seed oils, added sugar, and grains—and be perfectly fine. Better than 95%. You’ll lose body fat, gain energy and performance, and reduce your risk of degenerative disease. It will always be the foundation of my eating—and living. But I see (and have experienced) keto as a boost, an enhancement, a Reset. A return. Today I’m answering some questions around this idea with a new video.

Ketosis is the metabolic state in which our ancestors—all of them—spent a significant amount of time, whether from low carbohydrate availability, intense and protracted physical activity and exertion, or prolonged caloric deficits. We come from people who had to work for their food, who couldn’t count on a square well-balanced meal with “adequate” carbs, fats and protein, who sometimes simply didn’t have anything to eat for extended periods of time. As a result, they were often in ketosis. Intermittent ketosis is the metabolic milieu in which our physiologies were forged. That’s the metabolic milieu a modern person going keto is trying to emulate. It’s a smart move.

It’s why nearly everyone should spend time in ketosis. It’s why everyone should consider doing a full-on keto reset where you take six weeks to get completely fat-adapted, build up those fat-burning mitochondria, and enhance your metabolic flexibility. But, and this is a big “but,” very few people need to spend the rest of their lives there.

That’s where I am.

I’m in the Keto Zone.

Once in a while I’ll have 175 grams of carbs, usually after intense training.

Other days I might have close to zero carbs.

But most of the time I’ll hover somewhere around 50 grams of total carbs a day as defined in the Keto Reset approach.

But because I’ve built up the metabolic flexibility (and continue to refresh that flexibility with an intentional 6-week Keto Reset each year), I don’t have any issues utilizing all the various sources of energy. My energy doesn’t wane whether I eat 100 carbs or 10 carbs. Whether I’ve eaten nothing but meat or had a Big Ass Salad. I can tailor my fuel sources to my desires and requirements. That’s true flexibility. And freedom. It’s a version of Primal that works even better for me, and I’ve seen it benefit many others.

But let me share a video to take this further….

Thanks for stopping in, everybody. I hope I answered some questions here, but shoot me a line if there’s something outstanding or if you’re curious about something in your own Primal or Primal-keto journey. And have a great end to the week.

TAGS:  Keto, videos

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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17 thoughts on “Have I Gone Full Keto?”

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  1. Great article. As someone with an all-or-none addictive personality, I struggle with bringing carbs back into my diet, even once I’m fat adapted.. a bit of potatoes on the side with supper and before you know it I’m face-down surrounded by empty chip bags and chocolate wrappers, and off the wagon.. maybe a slight exaggeration but not that far off.

    However after years of experimenting for a sustainable solution, one thing I’ve been having luck with lately is giving myself a weekly “carb allowance” – say 50g/day, or 350g/week in a google spreadsheet. Each night my reminder goes off to input my carbs for the day (quick estimate – carb manager app helps), and my spreadsheet auto-deducts from the weekly total target number. This system allows me to go buckwild with cake at a party on a Wednesday night, but then I know I only have 125g for the rest of the week, so I have to behave until Sunday at midnight when it resets – kinda keeps you on track while still giving some freedom? It’s been working so far, so perhaps I’ve finally hacked my brain? It helps to do it with a friend and share the spreadsheet (two columns) for accountability. Perhaps it might work for the bingers out there, give it a try!

    1. Happy this works for you. I’m laughing at the thought of implementing this myself because I know if I gave myself allowance for sugary foods at all I’d just end up saying “f*ck a carb allowance I’m eating ALL THE BROWNIES”. But that’s just me. Sugar hits my brain and I’m done, there’s no reasoning.

      1. I’m so frickin glad to hear there’s someone else out there that sugar (especially wrapped in chocolate) effects that way! Thank you for disclosure! ?? There’s hope!

  2. Huh. I never saw this as an “either-or” sort of issue. I usually follow a ketogenic diet, with occasional excursions off keto when things happen such as 1) my peach tree is loaded with ripe peaches, 2) there are ripe black raspberries all over my yard, 3) it’s my kid’s birthday, and she wants me to bake her a German chocolate cake…
    However, I still regard my diet as a Primal diet. It is a diet of vegetables and meats, with occasional fruits. So I eat less of the starchy vegetables, and more leafy greens than others may. So what? My diet is still a Primal diet. And I would say that I definitely do the 80/20 thing, though more often less than 20% off…
    I have never been a purist on anything. And I believe wholeheartedly that each of us has to find what works best for our own body. We also need to have occasional indulgences.
    I say it is entirely possible to be “full keto” while also being “Primal”. Go Mark!

  3. Love this- thank you Mark.

    As a very thin active young female I mostly eat 100grams of carbs a day- sometimes a bit more if I find some beautiful fresh in season fruit at the market. All primal carbs, no grains (even white rice) I can’t do high fat, I’ve experimented many times and always feel terrible. I sometimes do days of mostly protein, often happens when I’m traveling and is just all I feel like.

    I have severe Crohn’s disease and really just know I need some good carbs for my stomach to feel well. Many people find the opposite and that’s awesome, but I am not one of them.

    Leanish proteins- fish, shellfish, kangaroo (I’m Australian) plus plenty of veg and plenty of pumpkin, carrots, beets, sweet potato, potato and fruit make me feel incredible. I also don’t eat much or practically any oil as it messes with my stomach.

    Love the balance and sane approach as always, Cheers!

    1. Hi Alison,
      All the nonsense about “high fat” needs perspective. IF you regard the SAD diet as NORMAL, that means you expect everyone to get most of their calories from carbs. When you cut the carbs way down from a SAD diet, most of the calories left come from the fat. That is why keto is called a “high fat” diet. But there is no need to be eating cubes of butter, or spoonfuls of oil, or “fat bombs”, or any such nonsense! Just eating regular meat, eggs, fish, poultry, or dairy, will give you plenty of fat in your diet. I regard a Primal keto diet as optimum, with fresh meat, eggs, fish, poultry, or dairy, and lots of fresh aboveground vegetables.

  4. Is there any benefit to going keto above primal if you eat really natural whole foods?

    Lots of whole olives, avocado, fatty cuts of meat, organs, seafood- but plus a whole host of natural plant life as well as opposed to added oils fat and cream (and other high fat dairy etc)

    Just pure natural foods in unlimited amounts- including seasonal fruit and starchy veg to appetite.

    Just wondering…

    1. This is precisely what Mar is referring to in the video. He was eating as you describe and wanted to see if there was something better. Any of the articles he’s written, and videos he’s posted since incorporating keto into his lifestyle mention the myriad benefits he experienced. Have a look around and you’ll find plenty of examples.

  5. Thank you, Mark. I really appreciate how you have always approached diet, exercise and health in an open-minded, non-dogmatic, and sensible way, using direct experience and research as your guides. It’s refreshing given how many “experts” do the opposite.

  6. Mark, I am a 62 year old female former Marathoner and Iron Man competitor. Now i am focused on strength training and micro cardio bursts (sprinting, etc,.) Through the mentorship of an incredible resource person in my community, I discovered Primal and Keto living. She is an avid proponent of your teachings too and we stock Primal Kitchen products in her Nutrition and Fitness Store (where I now work!). I feel totally aligned with what you said in the video and I am reaching out to say thank you!

  7. This was great and explained alot. I’m just beginning my third month of Keto. I haven’t lost any weight but have lost inches and my keto numbers range from .5-1.4 regularly. Should i be concerned about no weight loss? I feel great and things fit great! Just would really love to shed a few pounds!

    1. So here’s the question. Do you want to lose weight or do you want to lose fat? The overall number on the scale matters far less then body fat percentage and waist to hip ratio. You’ve lost inches but no weight. Sounds like you’re doing a good job with fat loss to me.

  8. Mark’s clearly not fully keto judging by all the sugar he is adding to the latest Primal Kitchen items. Honey? Balsamic vinegar? I am sure Kraft Heinz is pushing to put out lots of sweet things for the junkies but c’mon Mark.

    1. Bob, I’d suggest you look at our labels.

      For Balsamic Vinaigrette: Organic Balsamic Vinegar, Avocado Oil, Water, Sea Salt, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Onion Powder, Konjac, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Basil, Organic Oregano
      For a 2 Tbsp serving: 3 grams total carbohydrates, zero grams of added sugar

      For Honey Mustard Dressing: Avocado Oil, Water, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Stone Ground Mustard (Water, Organic Mustard Seeds, Organic Vinegar, Sea Salt, Organic Spices), Organic Honey, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sea Salt
      For a 2 Tbsp serving: 3 grams total carbohydrates, zero grams of added sugar

  9. Mark, I found u years ago. Have been doing keto . I buy all your salad dressings. We are. It loosing on keto. I don’t know why. How do I set the correct macros on fitness pal. I never know what my macros should be. I feel better but not loosing. Please help…