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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Tag: body fat

Diet Soda Might Increase Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

A study in the Jan. 22 edition of Circulation suggests that drinking diet soda may increase your chance of developing metabolic syndrome.

To evaluate the link between nutrition and metabolic syndrome, researchers from the University of Minnesota analyzed the daily diets of more than 9,514 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64 enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.

After following the health of these individuals for nine years, there were 3,782 reports of metabolic syndrome, a condition diagnosed by physicians based on the presence of several risk factors thought to increase an individual’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke such as abdominal adiposity, elevated blood pressure, high blood triglyceride levels, unhealthy cholesterol levels and elevated blood sugar.

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Weight Gained During Exercise Hiatus Tough to Lose, Study Finds

Yesterday, Mark, in the comment section of Dear Mark: Chronic Cardio, said “It all comes down to this: fat loss depends 80% on what and how you eat.” As part of the Primal Blueprint the most important aspect of weight management is your diet – what you consume. But we are still left with the other 20%, and it shouldn’t go overlooked. Here is a prime example of what happens if you neglect physical activity.

A study in this month’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests that fitness enthusiasts that abruptly halt their exercise plans not only gain more weight, but also have a harder time taking it off once exercise resumes.

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Research Suggests Exercise Motivation Associated with Body Weight

New research conducted by researchers at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada suggests that thinner people are more motivated to exercise than their heavier peers.

In a study initially devised to determine how much rats are willing to pay for an opportunity to exercise, the researchers found that slimmer rats were more motivated to work out than their larger peers. In addition, the more weight the rat lost, the more motivated it was to hop on the wheel, so much so that some of the rats in the study quite literally exercised and starved themselves to death (a phenomenon that also occurs in our society in the form of activity- or exercise-anorexia).

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The Poor Body

Take a look at photos of your average poor American from the 1930s and now. What’s different?

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300 Pound Triathletes? Obesity Gets an Overhaul.

The latest battle in the fat wars: obese triathletes. A burgeoning movement these days, casually known as “fat but fit”, promotes the acceptance of obesity in sport. Just as we’ve known for years that overweight individuals can have low LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, the thinking goes that obese folks can be fit and healthy despite being, well, enormous. I’m going to restrain myself on the triathlon commentary (for now) but I do want to discuss the general issue here.

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The Fattest States

Our pals at CalorieLab have published their annual ranking of the heftiest states. All right, all you Colorado people, what’s the secret? Mississippi is once again the “winner” for most obese, and California remains unchanged.

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How Long Do I Have to Exercise Before I See Changes?

Short answer: probably a lot longer than you want. Long answer: I tend to cover a lot of nutrition, food marketing and diet issues, but fitness is also a crucial factor in overall health, so I’m eager to discuss exercise issues in greater detail. Truth is I spend a fair amount of time coaching, speaking and writing in the fitness world, particularly triathlon but weight loss to some extent. Exercise is a vital component of not just weight loss and weight management, but stress relief, energy, sleep, aging, disease prevention, bone health, and on and on it goes…but it’s easy (and maybe more fun) to exclusively focus on the nutrition and diet issues and forget that we have to move our lazy buns once in a while. Leaving exercise out of the wellness equation is far more destructive to your health than any number of diet “sins” you might commit. Notwithstanding the fact that I believe our standard American diet is largely responsible for most of our health problems and most common causes of death, the importance of exercise cannot be overstated. We don’t exercise for many reasons. Eating is not a habit, but a necessity. After all, no one really forgets to eat for very long. And it’s usually rather enjoyable to change food selections and to modify our diets for the better, for we get immediate psychological rewards: control, accomplishment, tangibility. Exercise is also a necessity, but as it’s no longer integral to our daily lives – few people plow an acre of sod nowadays – it feels like a chore. No one likes a chore, and establishing a chore as an ingrained habit is tough. Life’s rewards require elbow grease, and that will never change. If exercise were easy or yielded quick results, I suppose everyone would be doing it. Exercise is certainly worth the effort, and not in spite of the challenge, but because it is a challenge. The long-term health rewards of exercise – outside of the brief blast of endorphins following your workout – are not always initially apparent and certainly not immediate. If we don’t view exercise as an unpleasant chore, we view it as a means to an end: getting a leaner or sexier body. Those fitness infomercials feature guys with six-packs and Christie Brinkley for a reason – we all want to look like that. But the reality is that even the fittest folks are not necessarily going to end up looking “like that”. You can only maximize what you’ve got. I believe that we have to stop thinking of exercise as a vanity tool and remember that it’s simply a basic necessity of life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about using exercise to lose weight if you hope to shed some extra pounds. But we fall off the proverbial treadmill over and over again because we’re getting on it for the wrong reasons in the first place – exercise is about far more than weight loss. So, how … Continue reading “How Long Do I Have to Exercise Before I See Changes?”

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Skinny-Fat

Ladies, I’m concerned about the skinny-fat among us. You know what I’m talking about. Skinny-fat women might look nice in a v-neck, but they’d sooner crawl into a hole than expose an upper arm or leg. This is what happens when you become “skinny fat” instead of genuinely lean and fit (where the muscle and fat are fairly evenly distributed and you have a lot less cellulite). While you can’t fight your body’s natural shape, you can certainly maximize what you’ve got. What I’m talking about is the difference between curvy and super-fit Gabby Reece or Evangeline Lilly and certain starving-yet-sagging starlets (I won’t name names, mainly because there are too many these days and who can be bothered to keep track). Skinny-fatness strikes women a lot more than men. I think this is mainly because men aren’t afraid of lifting weights to lose weight (and, to be fair, men naturally do have so much more muscle and far less fat). We women, on the other hand, evidently prefer inventing bizarre and complicated diet regimens revolving around arcane preparation rituals, subsistence on one food group or arbitrary calorie limits (whoever said women were bad at math has never met a woman 2 weeks before her high school reunion or 2 days before a date). Simply dieting will eliminate weight, but it won’t tone anything. And because of our unique feminine physiology, the fat cells in our lower body are world-class clingers. But before you get too depressed about the latest Kate Moss advertisement, consider this: I’m bringing this up because skinny-fatness is about a lot more than physical appearance. In fact, your dress size has nothing on the bigger issue – health. The good news: simply being skinny is not akin to being healthy. In fact, the skinnier you get, the more you’re at risk for things like osteoporosis! (There I go beating that llama again.) The less muscle you have, the less work your bones have to do, and they begin to shed that incredibly valuable osseous material: your bones, which are, in fact, living tissues directly related to your blood, immune system, strength, longevity – even your mood. You know how coral reefs are actually living organisms that provide all sorts of vital and irreplaceable functions to the fish and plants and water surrounding them? Your bones are your body’s coral reef. You have to feed them, and weight-bearing activity = food for bones. In this country of aerobic fanatics and serial dieters, is it any wonder American women have such high rates of osteoporosis and a perpetual state of skinny-fatness? I watched my own mother live on Tab and jazzercise during the early 80s, and now, faced with bone trouble, she’ll be the first to tell you: lift something! Who wants to look like Nicole Ritchie, now seriously? I’d rather look like Evangeline! There’s only ONE solution to the problems we women face: osteoporosis, beach season, and the belly that won’t budge. The solution is weight-bearing activity. … Continue reading “Skinny-Fat”

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