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: is it primal?

Ultimate Guide to Allulose Sweetener

A few months back, I put Swerve under the proverbial microscope. This time I’m looking at a relative newcomer in the alternative sweetener field. Allulose is quickly growing in popularity, since it’s both naturally occurring and virtually identical to table sugar in taste and texture. Then there’s the claim of sidestepping many of the ill-health effects associated with many other sweeteners.

I know many of you are with me when I bring a sizable dose of skepticism to these kinds of bold proclamations. So, I did my own research, asking whether it’s truly the full-flavor, guilt-free choice many suggest it is. And, if it is (or if it comes close), I wondered, what are its best uses in the kitchen?

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Paleo Food List (with Printable PDF)

Because humans were hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, we evolved to use and favor the diverse plant and rich meat intake of our hunting and foraging history. Farming and its core crops (e.g. grains), by contrast, only came on the scene approximately 10,000 years ago and took at least 8000 of those years to spread across the world. Our evolutionary roots—and residual genetic expectations—favor the nutritional practices of our hunter-gatherer legacy. (For more on the history of the paleo diet, click here.)

The “paleo diet” today looks to the dietary model of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and translates those eating practices to the modern age for the purpose of optimum health.

The paleo diet favors nutrient-dense whole foods and eschews processed food products. Let’s look at the wide variety of flavorful (and healthy) choices within a paleo protocol as well as some basic principles for what to eat and what to avoid. For a PDF print-out of this list, click here.

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What Is Paleo?

While the paleo diet has grown in popularity the last several years, there’s still confusion about what paleo does and doesn’t promote. Does “being paleo” mean living as close to our hunter-gatherer forebears as possible? Is it simply casting off processed food? Or is it somewhere in between? 
These are questions worth asking, as paleo holds very similar principles to the Primal Blueprint, the model for healthy living I’ve dedicated this blog to for over a decade. Today let’s explore the modern development of the paleo movement, the key principles guiding it these days, and where it’s likely to go in the future. 

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A Look At Swerve Sweetener

As we move into a new era of health awareness, there’s more variety than ever available to us. Overall, this is a very good thing—the average Primal consumer now has far greater access to a wider range of organic, free range, pastured, GMO-free, wholesome foods and products.
But this presents something of a dilemma when it comes to gray areas like sweeteners. While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth myself, I’m not a anti-sweetener purist either. While I lean toward stevia or monkfruit, I get a lot of questions about sugar alcohols, in particular a product called Swerve Sweetener, particularly from the keto crowd. 

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Dear Mark: Peanut Edition

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a bunch of questions from last week’s post about peanuts. You guys had quite the reaction to it, and today I’m digging into some of your questions and comments. Does roasting create carcinogens in the fat? Should (and can) you sprout peanuts? Are peanuts used to soak up toxins from the soil? How do I know if my peanut butter comes from Valencia peanuts?

And many more.

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How Bad Are Peanuts, Really?

For years, the ancestral health community has shunned the humble peanut. I did so myself in fact. “Why can’t I have peanuts?”a person would ask. “Because they’re legumes,” would be the standard answer. And that was that. The status of legumes was sacrosanct in paleo world. Case closed. In recent years, however, our stance on legumes has softened.

The lectins and phytic acid we worry about, it turns out, are mostly deactivated by heat and proper preparation. A bit of phytic acid can even be a good thing, provided you have the gut bacteria necessary to convert it into beneficial micronutrients. All in all, legumes turn out to be a relatively nutrient-dense source of resistant starch and other prebiotic fibers. If you can swing the carbs and you feel fine eating them, legumes are on the table.

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Stevia vs. Truvia

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t exist such an absurd notion as a “sweet tooth.” Primal diehards, usually so commendable in their clean eating and healthy living, wouldn’t find their resolve crumbling in the face of a cafe counter overflowing with baked goods. A hearty meat and vegetable dinner or big ass salad lunch would fulfill all dietary and sensory requirements, rather than needing to be rounded off by something called dessert. Beyond the detriments of sugar and fructose and the toxins of artificial sweeteners stevia and an increasingly popular trademarked product called Truvia. How do they compare?

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Top 10 Paleo Apps

“Apps aren’t paleo, Sisson. Grok waited for days for aurochs to wander within spear-chucking range, not overnight for the release of the iPhone X.” True. But this is the world we live in. These are the tools we have.

If you’re going to lug around an addictive piece of tech in your pocket all day, it might as well contain some apps that make living healthy and living Primal easier, rather than harder. What follows are some of the best paleo/Primal apps I’ve found. Some I use, some I don’t. They’re not all explicitly “paleo,” but they’re all at least tangentially related to this thing we call the pursuit of optimal health and happiness.

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Testosterone Supplementation: My Primal Take

After I turned 60, a routine checkup showed that I had lower-than-normal free testosterone levels. I hadn’t noticed anything that would have alerted me. No symptoms. No indication. Everything worked well. But it nagged at me. I knew testosterone did much more for a man’s health than just “build muscle”—which I had no real interest in at this point—so I decided to explore TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy.

I did a careful survey of the literature, coming away pleasantly surprised. The evidence was almost uniformly in favor, with the well-constructed studies showing major benefits for TRT. This is TRT, mind you. Not “juicing,” not steroid abuse. Restoration of biologically-appropriate levels of testosterone. Thus began my experiment….

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What’s the Difference Between Primal and Paleo?

The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint way of eating (a.k.a. Primal) are both based on similar evolutionary science. The story goes something like this. Our modern Western diet bears little resemblance to the eating habits of early humans throughout several 100,000 years of evolutionary history. Instead, since the Agricultural Revolution some mere 10,000 years ago, we’ve adopted a nutritional regime to which our physiology is poorly adapted. When the basics of our diet return to the patterns of our pre-agricultural ancestors, we work with, instead of against, our physiology. More simply: eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it.

The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint both recommend limiting carb intake (especially grains) to only as many as you require for performance, eating more protein and fat, and including lots of veggies as a base. But in the midst of this common ground are some key differences.

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