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: reviews

Sugar’s Day Is Done? A Review of Gary Taubes’ Latest Treatise, The Case Against Sugar

In 2002, Gary Taubes penned a New York Times piece that questioned the legitimacy of the presiding low-fat dogma. His article made a persuasive case for the safety—and metabolic urgency—of eating more animal fat and fewer carbs. It shifted the national conversation on healthy eating and paved the way for the rise of the ancestral health community. If the experts were that wrong about a healthy diet, what else were they getting wrong?

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Are Infrared Saunas Beneficial?

Last month, I installed an infrared sauna in my house. A company offered it to me to try out, and I was willing to give it a go, knowing a little about them already. It also inspired me to dig into the research—to test it personally but also to see what studies had demonstrated in terms of benefits. I’ll say I’ve been pleased with what I’ve found from both angles.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following a new bedtime ritual: a half hour in the sauna, a cold plunge in the pool, bed. The reasoning is that after warming up my tissues in the sauna, I drop them back down to prepare for sleep. So far, it’s working. I wasn’t exactly starting from a deficit—my sleep has been consistently good ever since I changed how I consume alcohol—but I’m really happy with the new setup.

Why infrared?

A traditional sauna heats the air around you. An infrared sauna uses infrared light to penetrate your skin and warm you directly without affecting the ambient temperature. This makes them great for home use.

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9 Primal/Paleo Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Podcasts have become a lifesaver for me. Whenever I’m stuck in traffic (which is whenever I drive in LA), or have a long trip ahead of me (and I don’t feel like or can’t read), I use podcasts to make otherwise wasted time incredibly productive, engaging, and enjoyable. Here are what I consider to be the best Primal/paleo/ancestral health-related podcasts in the world. I’ll also throw in some of my favorite podcasts that have nothing at all to do with health and fitness and Primal living.

Let’s get right to it:

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The Greatest Piece of Exercise Equipment Ever Invented

Not the barbell. Not the bicycle. Not the rower, the Airdyne, not the pullup bar. I’m talking about the Smith Machine, of course, specifically the squats and curls you can do within its elite confines.

Just kidding. It’s the Versaclimber, folks: the most brutally effective piece of fitness equipment you’ll ever use (but probably haven’t).

Most people don’t know about it because no one talks about it, few use it, and gyms don’t stock more than one if you’re lucky. Is this because it’s a useless piece of machinery? No. The Versaclimber is almost too good, too effective, too intense an experience for most people. The few that have used it almost invariably quit because it’s so hard. And gyms don’t have many because they can’t convince people to use it, to actually go all out like they’ve never gone all out before.

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How Does Ancient Wisdom Intersect with a Primal Perspective?

I spend a lot of time talking about evolutionary blueprints, primordial logic and genetic instinct because I happen to think there’s value in it. We live today with the belief (or maybe bluster) that we’re “evolved” beyond our evolution. Too often there’s a resistance to scrutinize our innate responses to the world, to question our choices or to imagine that what we want to pursue is anything other than deep and enlightened rationality at its finest. Sometimes people are offended by the concept of seeing themselves as products of their evolution. For some people, it’s the equivalent of calling them advanced animals, to which I basically agree (much to their continuing exasperation). And, yet, there’s the crux of our human story – these additional, incredible capabilities that we can access and use to guide our lives. These capacities over the millennia have impressively flowered into everything from science to art to, most notably for today’s post, life philosophy.

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End of the Year Review: What We Learned in 2014

At the dawn of a new year, I like to go back and revisit everything from the past year on the blog. It helps me reflect on the past and plan for the future. 365 posts a year is a lot to remember, and sometimes you need to go back and jog your memory. Then it all comes flooding back. Normally, I do this at home, in my office, in quiet solitude, as a sort of personal ritual.  This year, I’ve decided to publish my remembrances.

2014 has been a big year. Let’s take a look at what we learned and explored together. Where to begin? Well, first…

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Dear Mark: Salmon Pouches, Ray Peat, and Our Inherent Desire for Crispy Food

Ah, it’s good to be back with a regular old Dear Mark. Today we’re discussing the nutritional value of canned salmon, and whether the canning process negates some or much of the impressive nutrient profile of fresh salmon. After that, I discuss the dietary views of Ray Peat, an increasingly popular topic in the MDA forums and a seemingly wildly divergent way of eating. Is there any reconciliation to be made between Peat and Primal? I think so, actually. Finally, I explore why we might be inherently drawn to crispy, crunchy food despite the lack of potato chips, Fritos, and Pringles during the most formative years of our evolution.

Let’s go:

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25 Safer Alternatives to Common Cosmetics

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to five cosmetics ingredients you should avoid. These are chemicals you’ll often find in things like shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunblocks, and makeups – you know, the stuff you’re covering yourself in everyday. Cosmetics manufacturers use these ingredients to improve their product’s ability to clean, moisturize, beautify, or improve an odor, but they often do lots of other bad stuff in the process. So the question is, do these products need these chemicals to work like we want them to, or are there alternative products that manage to use more natural and/or less harmful ingredients while still getting the job done? Indeed, there are, and today I’m going to share my findings with you.

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Dear Mark: ApoE4, Red Eye Recovery, TEDx Paleo Debunking, and Cough Drops

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another edition of Dear Mark. This week, I’m covering four reader questions. First up is a really tricky one: ApoE4, the ancestral allele that’s classically associated with a host of maladies, like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. What’s the deal with it? We don’t have any concrete answers (yet), but I give my take on it. Next, I tell a reader who’s flying to Chile for vacation how I recover from travel-related sleep disturbances and realign my circadian rhythm. After that, I cover another paleo debunking that’s actually not much of a debunking, this time a TEDx video from Christina Warriner. And finally, I explore the eternal question of Halls cough drops, including whether or not any natural alternatives exist.

Let’s go.

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Is It All Just a “Paleofantasy”?

So this is my review of the new book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. It’s been making the rounds for a few weeks now, and although some other people have already weighed in, I’ll add my two cents. At the outset, I’d like to make very clear that I actually agree with a decent portion of Marlene Zuk’s individual arguments. Though it may surprise you to know that Mark Sisson agrees with the most prominent paleo debunker du jour on several topics, I’m not saying I support the overall product or her final conclusions. In fact, Paleofantasy is an odd, meandering book whose ultimate purpose I’m not really sure I truly understand.

There are two main problems with the book, as I see it. First, she’s working against a straw man. Many of the arguments she debunks, like “eyeglasses aren’t paleo” or “the paleo diet was carnivorous,” seems to have been dug up from some random Internet commenter or drawn from fringe camps. In other words, they aren’t arguments people like Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Paul Jaminet, or me (or our readers) are making. Second, many of her counterarguments or “nuanced approaches” are the very same ones we’ve been exploring at length for years! After reading the book, John Durant tweeted “Paleofantasy shouldn’t have been a book in 2013, it should have been a blog post in 2010,” and that’s as good a description as I can think of.

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