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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July 31 2017

Dear Mark: Keto Reset Eating Plan, Better Weight Scales, PB Fitness Carb Requirements, and the Best Fish Sauce

By Mark Sisson
26 Comments

Inline_Dear_Mark_07.31.17For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering/addressing four questions/comments. First, will my new Keto Reset book provide detailed meal plans or vague recommendations? Second, is there a better weight scale than the scale? Mathieu thinks there is, and I agree. Third, if you’re doing the Primal Blueprint Fitness program, do the recommendations I made in the Crossfit and carbs posts apply? And fourth, what’s the best fish sauce?

Let’s go.

First, Vee asks:

I’ve read the article above [Definitive Guide to Keto], and quite a bit of the comments below, but what I would like to know is just how detailed is this book going to be? I’m one of those people who need a plan laid out with measurements, not with eat this per so much per lean body mass, etc. I need amounts like tsp, tbsp, cups, oz, etc. Also, I pre-ordered Dr. Mercola’s book, Fat for Fuel, and was completely disappointed when I got it. i thought there would be a definitive plan to follow, but I shut the book, never to look at it again when I read about all the testing he suggested on a daily basis,as well as many blood tests that he suggested in addition to that, as well as ‘keeping your doctor apprised’ of what you’re doing. Huh? I avoid doctors as much as possible except in emergency situations, pretty much I need to be unconscious to go. (many bad experiences with MDs), so I was very disappointed with his book – drs. pretty much just throw RX drugs at you if you have a “medical” condition, so the best thing I can of is try to take care of myself thru diet, exercise, and relaxation.. I just don’t feel that eating should be so darned complicated. Making a short question long, does your book have a detailed eating plan so I can easily come up with menus I’d like to follow?? Thank you!

Oh, yeah. I include not just one, but two 21-day meal plans. Each is incredibly detailed.

The first is for the 21-day metabolism reset—which helps you build the necessary metabolic machinery to make keto work better and go more easily. The second 21-day plan is for actually going keto—for getting into and staying in nutritional ketosis. Both remove the guesswork. If you eat the food and follow the recipes and portion recommendations, you’ll establish a good rhythm that will help you reach your goals.

While you very well could stick to the 21-day meal plans laid out in the book for the rest of your life, I’d urge you to branch out a bit. You might want to pick up a new sport or attempt a new physical challenge where you experiment with different macronutrient intake patterns. You might get tired of the same meals. Basically, you should be able to adjust on the fly depending on what you need out of your body. My upcoming book provides that information, if you’re willing to give it a shot.

Stay tuned for it. It sounds like it’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Mathieu made a great comment that I had to build upon and support with evidence because I think it’s so important:

That’s also why the best weight scale is a mirror ?

Or a belt. Or a tape measure. Or that one article of clothing you’ve been trying to fit into.

People may think Mathieu and I are being flippant, but we’re not. Subjective impressions are often more reliable and representative of a person’s health than objective measurements. Take apparent age based on facial appearance—it’s a better predictor of health and longevity than objective biomarkers.

Brandi asked:

Mark, this was a GREAT post. I’m wondering how or if this advice applies to those of us that are doing the Primal Blueprint’s regular type of strength + sprint training combo – i.e., a PEM 2x per week plus a sprint session 1x every 7-10 days, plus low-intensity activity every other day. Does the “highER carb / lowER fat” on PEM / Sprint days apply for those of us NOT engaged in HIIT? Guess I’m wondering if all training session days deserve this consideration, or if it’s just applicable for CF’ers and folks engaging in HIIT. Signed, Legitimately Scared of Carbs…

There’s a big difference between true sprints (where you’re achieving full or close to full recovery in between sprints), HIIT (where you keep rest periods short to promote endurance adaptations), and strength training.

You can sprint quite effectively on low-carb, especially if you stick to shorter sprints (10 seconds and under). At that length, you’re primarily hitting the ATP-PC pathway. That’s when you convert the creatine phosphate stored in the muscle directly into ATP. It doesn’t last long—we can’t store much creatine phsophate at once—but it produces incredible power and refills rather quickly with adequate rest. Longer sprints will start really tapping into the glycolytic (sugar-burning) pathway.

Lower-rep, higher-intensity strength training with longer rest periods is also very effective on low carb, as it, too, primarily targets the ATP-PC pathway and allows sufficient rest to replenish it. Higher-rep training will veer into glycogen-burning. Intensity matters, too. High reps with moderate weight will burn glycogen pretty quick. High reps with bodyweight give you more leeway.

Low-carb is fine for the program you describe.

Gypsyrozbud asked:

Can someone please recommend a variety of fish sauce that I can get in Canada that does not have any sugar in it????

Red Boat is the best stuff you can buy. These reviewers agree. Imagine this:

You, half-starved, in a daze after slamming your head during the storm that destroyed your ship, stumble down a mysterious beach chasing a scent. It rises above the usual briny rankness, reminding you of that time at the 4 AM tuna auction in Tsukiji market, where you realized “fishy” wasn’t always a bad thing. You come upon a fisherman. He’s squatting in front of a bowl of rice and dried pork, and the sun is overhead. It must be lunchtime. You bring your fingers to your mouth, miming, trying to convey hunger. He looks you over, squints, takes a drag on his cigarette, then fishes out an old mason jar full of murky liquid—homemade fish sauce—from a plastic shopping bag and splashes it over his rice. He hands the bowl over. You dig in, and it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted.

The way that fantasy fisherman made his fish sauce is the same way Red Boat does: fish, salt, and time.

That’s it for me, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to give you input down below. Have a great rest of the week.

TAGS:  Keto

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26 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Keto Reset Eating Plan, Better Weight Scales, PB Fitness Carb Requirements, and the Best Fish Sauce”

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  1. Mark,

    Could you shed some light on the vitamin industry? I take a handful of supplements a day ( green tea extract, curcumen, CO-Q-10, Vitamin – D and fish oil) but every time I go for a refill I read the ingredients and my “spidey sense” starts to tingle. I recall an article posted on M.D.A that curcumen required an activator for the body to reap its benefits and that consuming Tumeric alone was insufficient.

    What pitfalls, clever marketing strategies, additives and foul ingredients should vitamin customers avoid ?

    I recently read an article on the protein powder market that was very informative.

    Thank You in advance

    1. I, too, would like to see Mark write something on the vitamin industry. I used to take handfuls of vitamins daily, but the only thing that was happening was my wallet was getting thinner and I was probably peeing expensive urine. I was subsequently told by a health care practitioner that taking too much of that stuff (particularly isolates) can result in a chemical imbalance within the body, and can cause more problems than it solves. I still take a few vitamins that I’m sure I need (D3 and magnesium, mainly), but I mostly rely on fresh whole food for my nutrients.

      Regarding turmeric, I have taken it stirred into nothing more than a little water when I was having knee problems. It took a couple of weeks but it did alleviate the pain. Of course, the pain may have resolved on its own, but I’m still kind of skeptical about the idea of needing an activator for turmeric to work..

  2. For the Fish Saucer, you can get Red Boat in Vancouver at the Whole Foods on Cambie. It happens to be next to the fish rather than in the Asian sauces for some reason. Otherwise you’ll have to ask your grocer to carry it.

  3. Regarding Vee’s comment, Dr. Mercola’s new book does have a lot of testing that he recommends… some helpful and some probably overboard. As complication goes up, compliance goes down. To be certain, Fat For Fuel offers value… but as Mark says “Stop Obsessing Over The Numbers” (unless it works for you)! I look forward to learning from your book when it’s out.

  4. Hi Mark, will your book be specifically relevant to women as well? I’m sure you’ll say yes, otherwise why would women buy it…dumb question right! But the reason I ask is that I have been listening to Leanne Vogel’s podcast, Healthful Pursuit, for some time and now recently Shawn Mynar’s, Keto for Women, and both recommend that keto, as well as fasting, be implemented and maintained differently for women, so I was just wondering what your opinion of that is and if it’s addressed in the book via a chapter and/or meal planning. Thanks and can’t wait for the book…after listening to all the podcasts and reading a ton of books I’m almost ready to take the plunge into keto, I just want to do it the best, healthiest way for me.

  5. Great stuff here today! I’m looking forward to the book…I’ve been what I call “borderline” keto for awhile now and feel amazing. Meal plans are great for some people so I’m glad they’ll be a part of it. Yes to the mirror over the scale! And just knowing you still fit into your favorite shorts. And I have been using fish sauce in my cooking more and more lately….have to get my hands on some Red Boat!

  6. I had to buy my Red Boat fish sauce off Amazon.ca. Pain in the ass. I couldn’t find it anywhere in stores. The pain is real in Canada.

    1. Also, Mark, your link was to Thrive Market, which DOES NOT ship to Canada. A little salt in the wound. And no Whole Foods where I am. I think it’s just in Vancouver and Toronto right now, could be in other large cities, but I’m in a medium-small sized city. We don’t even have an Ikea…

      1. There’s is the DIY route. A quick google search turned up a few interesting pages if you think you’d be up to making your own.

  7. Really looking forward to the Keto book. Will modifying out eggs and dairy be fairly simple with the meal plans in the book?

  8. I want to try keto, but I can barely sleep at very low carbs. I sleep well at my usual 70-80g, but no amount of magnesium, gelatin, herbs, etc will grant me more than 4-5 light hours if I go much lower. I train 3 times a week, but I don’t use enough volume to warrant extra carbs. Is there some trick to sleeping during the trabsition?

    1. Also worth noting that I don’t try to keep my carbs that low, I thought I was pretty high until I actually counted.

    2. Me too! When I followed a keto diet, the MOST I could sleep was 3-4 hours. I was wide awake all night.

  9. Here in Santa Rosa, California, they carry Red Boat fish sauce at Safeway.

  10. What about someone who does Crossfit 3 days per week and always with at least one day off in between. Does this give the body ample time to rebuild glycogen stores without needing extra carbs to do so?

  11. I’ve been primal for 7 or so years. Most of it pretty low carb, a lot of IF-ing and in and out of ketosis regularly.
    The general advice to keep carbs ( or any macros ) within GRAMS seems a bit odd to me. Surely 20gr of carbs will affect a short, thin woman differently than a 6’2 235 lbs muscular man. Shouldn’t the advice be given in percentage instead?

    I know Mark’s Carb Curve is probably a good general tool if you average out the entire population but to have it in % instead of grams seems much more logical to me.

    5% in carbs in my meal will be a lot more than 5% in my mum’s meal but both our bodies are still getting just 5% of their energy from carbs which should keep us in ketosis.

    BTW I personally don’t count carbs as long as I just eat non-starchy vegetables cooked in fat – lots of it ( both fat and vegetables ). Never kicked me out of ketosis, no matter how much veggie stir-fry I scoff. I just think % would be much more useful for those who need numbers to follow.

    Same goes for meal plans when it comes to portion sizes, oz, ml, etc etc. There must be a difference between my meal ( I’m 6.2 235 fit man ) and my mother’s? ( she’s about one third of me in all directions )

    Lastly, I’ve read all Mark’s books and been a follower since I went primal a long time ago. I’ve read loads of other books and all of them have this very annoying “Meal Plan” part of it that I never read.
    It’s very disappointing to read very cool, geeky science stuff, how ketosis/primal/HIT/sprints work and reach about half way through the book and the rest is telling me what I should eat on a Monday and how to peel sweet potatoes. At that point I’m done with the books.
    I’d much rather have a book about all the cool stuff then supplemental ( free? ) Meal Plan book for those who don’t know that before making burgers you need to make sure the grill is clean ( In Robb Wolf’s last book, which I loved until I realised half of it was Meal Plans, one of the meal plans reminds the readers to clean the grill – come on – from Evolutionary genetic mind boggling stuff to tell me: “clean the grill” )

    1. When you are keto adapted, glucose is spared and your muscles and most other tissues burn fatty acids for energy. But these fatty acids do not get across the blood/brain barrier. So your liver makes ketones to feed the brain. While some other tissues apparently also like ketones, such as the heart and the gut, these tissues consume similar amounts of energy for a muscular man and an old lady. That’s why I think it is appropriate to count the grams of carbs rather than the % calories.

      There are differences in our carb tolerance in ketosis; the one I am aware of is the level of insulin resistance. Very insulin resistant people get kicked out of ketosis very quickly and have a hard time reentering, while most athletes find it very easy to go in and out. There may be other factors that I am not aware of.

  12. I agree that belt is the best measurement when loosing weight 🙂 Shame on me, but I’ve never tried fish sauce 🙁

  13. Regarding keto – I’ve been looking for a general ‘rule of thumb’ to apply to meals – for instance to keep a proper keto ratio I should have 3 oz of protein, 2 tbls fat and a cup of veggies. I like having specific recipes (and am definitely planning on buying Mark’s book) but sometimes you’re in a hurry or don’t want to make an entire recipe and you just want to dip some protein in some fat, roll it in a lettuce leaf and call it lunch.

  14. As stated, getting hold of Red Boat in Canada is a PITA. I have to get my colleague to bring it back for me from Florida. I also asked my local Whole Foods to start stocking it and they declined my request, which is unfortunate.

  15. For people that are pre diabetic or have metabolic syndrome, their bodies are inefficient at dealing with all calories especially the carbs so would a keto reset for that type of person start with almost total abstinence from all food calories for a few days to kickstart keto and then eventually reintroduce food in macros that are indeed hflc and maybe little to no to little protein (they wouldn’t be exercising during the reset)?
    Or perhaps instead of going to that extreme, is it going to start with immediate intermittent fasting using HFLC macros?
    A friend’s mother was very recently diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer and they immediately scheduled her for surgery. She’s nearly 100lbs overweight and has metabolic syndrome. I’m lightly encouraging a bone broth fast with egg yolks blended in after you kill the heat. It’s basically fat collagen and minerals and after a period of a week or so begun adding in low GL veggies into the broth and once something like an ideal body composition is achieved near the 21 day mark (21-90 days it was for me when I dropped 50lbs in keto) do we then transition back to normal or cyclical/targeted keto and normal eating and a return to activity again?

    I ask because my own weight loss journey looked similar to what I described above.
    I never personally had metabolic syndrome but I may have been prediabetic when I started my own keto reset back in late February but once I got into keto and stayed there I was dropping 1 to 2 lbs a day. I went from a men’s 44 off the rack to a 38 off the rack in about 90-120 days. No exercise. Bulletproof coffee in the morning then I just didn’t eat anything all day until late evening I’d eat a few bowls of tomato soup with extra grass fed butter.
    Now I’m normal keto all the time and targeted keto when I’m exercising.
    I can do a 15 mile mountain bike ride while fully keto with no problem. The worst I need is part of a potato or apple after the ride to keep me from feeling like I’m going to die. Same thing with weights.

    Success story coming soon…

    1. Edit: my reason for encouraging a broth fast to my friend’s mother is because the operation to remove a kidney is rather complex and I felt that if she were ANY amount lighter with less body fat it would help the surgery effectiveness and likely help with recovering.

  16. Mark, I followed a keto diet for 4 months (November 2016-March 2017) and ultimately stopped when I developed Physiological Insulin Resistance (pre keto FBG 65, in ketosis FBG spiked 125-135), was kicked out of ketosis, had chronic headaches (that I never had prior to keto), multiple times a day palpitations that caused me to faint twice, and felt awful. This all happened in a month from February-March. In addition, I only lost a total of 9 lbs in 4 months (which gained all 9 lbs back within a month of increasing carbs to 150 g). I’m an athlete, have all normal blood glucose, cholesterol, etc while not following keto. I’d like to try ketogenics, but wondering if you can provide any tips, etc to prevent my body from going haywire again?! I’ve pre-ordered your new book and hope to learn more about body physiology and if I can try a ketogenic diet again.