We didn’t set out with the intention, but somehow it happened. Keto For Life was assigned a release date of New Year’s Eve—tomorrow, in fact. While there’s never a wrong day to go keto, my writing partner, Brad Kearns, and I felt like the stars aligned. Just when countless people are taking stock at the turn of new decade, wondering what might be possible in their lives, this message would be there. And while a lot of books will be there, too, with promises of weight loss and fitness and wellness, I have to say (biased as I may be) that Keto For Life offers something unique and sustainable among the typical cacophony of health tracts.
While I’ve shared its premise and outline on the blog, today I’m taking up some questions readers have shot my way over the last few weeks. What does it cover that other books haven’t? Does it offer a new take on longevity? How do other principles come into play beyond diet? I’m covering all that and more.
How does Keto For Life differ from The Keto Reset Diet?
Since the start of Mark’s Daily Apple, my core purpose has been to present a counter-argument against flawed and dated conventional wisdom. On the blog here and in my books beginning with The Primal Blueprint in 2009, I’ve focused on presenting the scientific rationale and practical steps for how to escape carbohydrate dependency and become fat- and (more recently) keto-adapted. I’ve made the case for rejecting the “struggle and suffer “ethos of chronic cardio in favor of a Primal approach emphasizing comfortable paced movement and aerobic workouts, lifting heavy things, and sprinting once in a while. And, finally, I’ve emphasized the non-negotiable importance of complementary lifestyle behaviors like getting enough sleep, sun, and play.
All of us in the ancestral health space have been heartened to see how far we’ve come in the past decade. Many ancestral health principles have been widely validated by science and accepted into mainstream culture in a relatively short amount of time. Back in 2009, it was hard to find someone who had any awareness of Primal/paleo/low-carb eating (including major New York publishers—that’s why I had to start Primal Blueprint Publishing!). Today, it’s a different ball game. The movement’s growth over the past decade has allowed discussion to refine and advance. Without the need to push just the basic premise, there’s been more momentum around deeper, more productive levels of personal customization. The keto and carnivore diets are examples of these ancestral offshoots.
The Keto Reset Diet was one of the first comprehensive books published on the subject, but it’s primarily a diet book—how to proceed in a comfortable step-by-step manner to embrace the ketogenic diet without the risk of backslide and burnout that comes with an ill-advised approach. It does cover the complementary exercise, sleep, and stress management practices that support your dietary goals, but the central focus is on introducing the ketogenic diet to the masses.
Keto For Life picks up where The Keto Reset Diet left off by having you leverage the metabolic flexibility you attain from keto efforts and applying it to the ultimate goals of living long and living awesome. In particular, it integrates the critical components of mindfulness, social wellness and emotional well-being for enhancing longevity and enjoying a fulfilling life. It moves beyond the core ancestral health message of “mechanics”—mechanics of eating the right foods, of doing the right workouts, of quantifying everything and checking every box…but with that potential big void of “Are we having fun yet?” Keto For Life leads with life. The focus is squarely on the good, long life we all hope to achieve.
What Does Keto For Life have to say about longevity?
We played around with using the term “longevity” in the title, but who cares about longevity by itself? Today, most people can make it to the average U.S. life expectancy of 79, but too many limp to that finish line, having endured decades of pain, suffering and limitation. The United States ranks 26th out of 35 economically advanced nations in life expectancy, a pathetic showing for the richest and most medically advanced nation in the history of humanity. In Keto For Life, we tackle the goal of healthspan, which conveys both living long and living awesome. Healthspan entails not just checking all the boxes of healthy foods, exercise output and sleep hours; it also means having fun and finding fulfillment along the way. With the Four Pillars of Keto Longevity, we incorporate healthy eating, movement and physical fitness with the concepts of Mental Flexibility and the often-overlooked pillar of Rest and Recovery.
How does compressed morbidity fit in here?
Compressed morbidity describes being healthy, strong and cognitively sharp for as long as possible. Then, by the time the natural inevitabilities of chronological aging come into play, the end is quick and peaceful. Brad’s father Dr. Walter Kearns was a stellar example of this concept. He passed in May of 2019 at the age of 97. Ninety-five of his years were characterized by exceptional mental and physical function. A champion golfer for his entire life, Walter shot below his age over 1,2000 times, including shooting an even par 71 at age 87 and a 76 at the age of 92. Walter was a general surgeon who continued to serve as a physician for decades after closing his private practice. He worked for the Indian Health Service into his late 70s, and volunteered at a weekly diabetes clinic until he was 95. In his final two years, Walter’s cognitive and physical performance started to decline. His golf outings went from 18 holes for money to casual 9-hole outings, and eventually to hitting chip shots in the backyard. He started to take longer naps, eat less food, have longer nights of sleep and shorter walks at the park. Soon, the day came for him to pass peacefully at home, with none of the drama, suffering, or family fatigue of someone paying the price for decades of adverse lifestyle practices with chronic disease patterns.
Going for compressed morbidity is about keeping muscle mass on your body (promoting a concept called organ reserve I’ve discussed at length in The Primal Blueprint and on the blog) as well as your brain! In a pattern that appears often in the book, the Four Pillars are complementary here. Eating an ancestral-style diet in general and making a devoted effort to become keto-adapted (even if you don’t stay in strict keto over the long-term) strongly supports cognitive function. You may have heard the disturbing new nickname for the assorted cognitive decline conditions that are growing at epidemic rates: Type 3 Diabetes. This term was coined by noted researcher Dr. Suzanne de la Monte of Brown University, conveying how cognitive decline is marked by dysfunctional glucose metabolism in the brain. As de la Monte explains, cognitive disease “has molecular and biochemical features that overlap with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”
We hear sound bites about doing Sudoku to ward off dementia, but I go far deeper in this book. Extensive research shows us how a vibrant social network, a strong sense of purpose, and a positive self-perception about aging drive healthy cognitive function and extended lifespan. One longitudinal study from Yale tracked a group of 50+ people in Ohio for two decades, revealing an amazing result: Those with a positive self-perception about aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions about aging! This tidbit earned distinction as the lowest hanging fruit in the entire book to quickly add years to your life. The longevity champs in Okinawa also get recognition here for their emphasis on yuimaru, a deep sense of social obligation to family, friends, and neighbors. One of the most revealing longevity stats you will ever find is that Okinawan’s who leave the island live 20 years less than those who spend their entire lives on the island.
What’s the #1 quick takeaway from the Mental Flexibility pillar?
“Pivot.” Is that quick enough for you? Thanks for asking. Next question.
I can’t think of a more powerful word to convey the secret to experiencing a life filled with happiness, contentment, purpose, and meaning. I credit the ability to pivot as the key to my entrepreneurial success, and also to my ability to sustain a respectable level of work-life balance. As I shared in my introductory post about the book, pivoting describes being able to go with the flow when facing life change. Pivoting is accepting failure and setbacks with grace and resilience instead of allowing bad stuff to bury you. Pivoting is also knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. It’s impossible to be perfect here, but at least you can be honest with yourself. I share my own experiences of failing but embracing of this strategy in the book.
Pivoting into discomfort by being more honest, more vulnerable, less reactive, and less predictable can be the foundation of emotional resilience as well as solid relationships. Gratitude helps a great deal here. If you can start from a place of appreciation for your current circumstances and connections, whatever they are (if you’re reading this it could be worse, right?), you’re ahead of the game.
Whether you’re new to the Primal scene or you have a stack of well-read books on your shelf, I think you’ll find that Keto For Life breaks new ground and offers the most holistic and actionable resource for creating greater vitality and a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. The official release date is tomorrow, December 31st, and I’m still offering up a preorder incentive of premium bonuses. Learn more and order through your favorite retailer HERE.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I’m thrilled to begin a new decade with you all this week. See you on the other side of it tomorrow.
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.