The Best of 2017: Research Insights and Other Breakthroughs

2017 written on the sand of a beach, travel 2017 new year conceptEach year is fuller than the last. More and more scientific papers are published each year, and that trend is only quickening. The same trend goes for books, products, businesses. Humans are incredible producers. It’s what we do—create and consume.

So, whenever I do a “year in review” type of post, it’s harder than the previous year. There’s too much to cover. Hell, in 2017 alone there were over 17,000 papers published on saturated fat17,000.

But let’s give it a shot. What are some takeaways as we finish out 2017?

1. Vegetable oils are still really, really bad.

2. Keto works.

3. Everything has a circadian rhythm, and the circadian rhythm affects everything.

4. What the Health, this year’s token vegan screed, came out to rapturous applause. In one of my favorite pieces of the year, Robb Wolf took it apart piece by piece and, in doing so, definitively commented on anti-meat hysteria and bad science in general.

5. We learned that the sugar industry has been stifling anti-sugar research results for decades, surprising no one while enraging almost everyone (with an honest bone in their body).

6. We learned more and more about ancient human evolution and migration. It turns out that our history is even crazier and more impressive than we thought.

7. Human gene editing drew ever nearer to the mainstream.

8. Awareness of digital media’s effect on our health and happiness grew.

9. There was serious debate over whether we’re educating and parenting our kids the right way.

10. Even as health and food-related tech has largely come up short, there were some promising developments.

11. I had a few momentous occasions happen that really made the year for me:

I’ve been doing this thing for over 10 years now, and it still feels fresh, still feels new and exciting. Because despite all the studies, developments, news reports, and personal experimentation, we still don’t know much of anything. A whopping 99% of the gut biome is a complete mystery, for example. There’s a lot more for us to learn. I look forward to sharing  and discussing it with all of you.

What were your big takeaways for 2017?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and be well.


About the Author

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.

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28 thoughts on “The Best of 2017: Research Insights and Other Breakthroughs”

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  1. Wow thanks, I have a whole year to process all this information 🙂

    1. As said before – YES is the answer

      “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”

      Just got a reminder of that some minutes ago: there were five people on my workplace waiting for the elevators (me included). Four of them were on the phones. Guess who was the fifth one not on the phone

  2. Keto leads to weight gain! That’s hilarious! I’ve now spent almost three months trying my hardest to gain weight on keto, eating to the limits of my appetite, and I’ve put on maybe one pound.

    Compare this with bulking on carbs and gaining about 20 in the same span of time. (Not the good kind of weight gain.)

    Thank you, Mark, for this intellectual red meat. Does anybody want to pick this Sydney Morning Herald article apart with me? Course you do. Let’s pick it apart.

    “Mice that stay on a keto diet eventually become obese.”

    Their diet was 80% butter and lard with 20% “protein”, which is a vague term to say the least, and not defined in the study as far as I could tell. The mice were supplemented with “complete” vitamins and minerals which we know are not nearly as well absorbed as real food. Among other problems, we certainly expect profound microbiome disturbance from such a diet.

    And what kind of animals did the butter and fat come from? We doubt it was from humanely raised grass-fed cattle and organically fed swine.

    So when you feed rodents an ad-lib diet of CAFO fat, “protein” and multivitamins they end up overeating and becoming obese. What, exactly, is the relevance for humans eating real human food?

    “Libby Babet, personal trainer on The Biggest Loser and owner of Sydney’s Agoga and BUF Girls, has tried the keto diet.”

    What an interesting choice of expert opinion. Perhaps Luis Villasenor, Shawn Baker and Mark Sisson were all out of the office that day.

    “You literally can’t eat even veggie carbs other than leafy dark greens like spinach/lettuce if you want to stay in keto and even then you have to smother in olive oil or avocado so you don’t kick yourself out of keto! You also kick yourself out if you have too much protein.”

    How does adding fat to carbs prevent “kicking out” of keto? We have not heard that one before. As to whether protein “kicks out” of keto, that one is well debunked on the ketogains FAQ, the short answer being that gluconeogenesis is demand-driven, not supply-driven.

    We note in passing that the gold standard of nutritious fat for humans is not olive oil or avocado, but fat from healthy animals.

    “I do love and advocate healthy fats but don’t think a true keto diet is sustainable – or fun – for many people.”

    There are many long-term keto practitioners who would vehemently argue the opposite, but not a single keto advocate is represented here.

    “It is a dietary pattern that would lead to deficiency in vitamins and minerals ‘unless the diet is carefully constructed, and would usually require micro-nutrients and minerals to be provided by supplements’, said Professor Helen Truby, from the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics & Food at Monash University.”

    This is absurd: a diet maximally rich in fat is somehow going to be nutrient-deficient compared to standard dietary patterns. Maybe if you eat like a lab rat with nothing but CAFO butter and lard and “protein”.

    In the real world, those of us consuming fatty muscle cuts (Shawn Baker) or organ meats (yours truly) are doing just fine for essential nutritents. And, critically, not only do we have the bloodwork to prove that we are not nutrient-deficient, but actual performance results to show that we are nutrient-sufficient. This is a critical distinction.

    What are Helen Truby and Libby Babet’s performance results backing up their allegedly superior diets? Are they or their clients setting records in rowing and powerlifting? This is a serious question. Nutritionists who are content with a lack of overt deficiency symptoms are not properly testing their theories.

    “Should people start ketogenic diets? Answer: not unless there is a medical indication to do so and under the guidance of an accredited practising dietitian who can ensure nutritional adequacy,” Truby says.

    What blinding arrogance! People shouldn’t even experiment with low-carb diets unless they are blessed by an ordained member of the priesthood, granted a special dispensation, and regularly attend confessional. Otherwise they should continue eating just, you know, whatever.

    “In terms of ketosis being the cure for memory loss, I doubt anyone would be able to stick to the sort of strict low-carb regimen necessary for long-term use and therefore its applicability to humans is currently limited by the unpalatability of the dietary pattern that is required.”

    At this point my critique reduces to profanity.

    1. I congratulate you on your success with keto, but I think it is a “your mileage may vary” type of thing. I have tried keto twice now, once in winter, once in summer, for a month at a time, eating clean fats and meat (not CAFO) and gained three pounds and felt terrible. I am a almost 60 year old menopausal woman with an autoimmune disorder.
      My fasting blood sugars went from normal to 130 too. My constitution does much better on a whole foods plant based diet with much less fat. Different strokes for different folks. I think these representatives from university nutrition departments are speaking to the lowest common denominator, and truly, the data points for ketogenic diets are few and far between and need to come from large case controlled cohort studies of long duration for different ethnicities, ages and metabolic challenges. These trials have yet to be done.

      1. This is really interesting! You make the important points that we can’t generalize from our individual experiences to others, nor can we make blanket statements that a particular diet is always good or always bad.

        However compelling a theory is, we have to test it to know the truth.

        At the same time, we can’t afford to wait 20 years (200, 2000?) for all the studies to be done. We are determined to achieve positive health outcomes while we are still alive!

        Your case is particularly intriguing because your fasting blood glucose actually went up on keto. This is not “supposed” to happen and the only explanation I can think of is that there was a runaway cortisol response. Your body was challenged to increase its fat and ketone metabolism and instead of doing that, used drastic and unsustainable measures to generate glucose at the expense of lean tissue — the opposite of what anyone would want going into keto.

        Is this something that might be mitigated? Might it be due to some underlying nutrient deficiency? Responsive to changes in exercise and environment? Or is it simply the inevitable consequence of keto for a menopausal woman?

        Nobody but you can answer that question.

        One thing we can never accept is “nutritional experts” telling us that we must only alter our diet while under their care. Nutrition is too important to delegate to anyone else — especially those who think they know the answers in advance.

      2. I am 57, and in the same boat, and I was a faithful WW until menopause, when I began gaining weight faster than I could lose it. I have switched over to Keto, which wasn’t hard since I have celiac’s. I am losing weight and feeling great.

        1. By WW, do you mean Weight Watchers? If so I would be curious to know your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that program in light of your current experience.

    2. “Otherwise they should continue eating just, you know, whatever.” LOVE it. Hahaha! Speaking the truth, as always. I second your first point. I have not gained a pound on keto and I’ve been on it for more than two months.

  3. Congrats on all your success in 2017 Mark and thanks for all the valuable information you generate / analyze / synthesize and the great products and services you provide. What 2017 concepts emphasized for me is to improve my circadian rhythm, cut back on social media, and add some more fat to my diet. Have a long way to go to optimize all those factors. Onward and upward!

  4. Many thanks to you, Mark, for the great work you do. Over the past three years you’ve changed my life. Have a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  5. Look forward to trying to get through the whole post. The biggest takeaway for me is that after completing the Primal certification, running a very successful weight loss group at my gym, the next step to push me was to take the plunge and buy me PaleoFX tickets for 2018 and surround myself with like minded individuals. I think going this coming year will give me the extra nudge I need and I so look forward to meeting Mark in person and thanking him for all the good he has brought to my life!

  6. I’ll admit to skimming the review of What The Health, but I had already suffered through more than 1/2 of it a few months ago.

    I think I’ll budget a donation to making a movie showing a more balanced view of meat.

    I’m old enough to remember when documentaries tried to show some of the “other” side, and to be somewhat objective. Now, the shows are all one-sided propaganda.

  7. This takeaway was important for me:

    Now I have a single dinner at night (between 6 and 8pm)

    One of the unexpected goodies of this is that at work I am evenly productive the whole day, no after lunch slowdown (even with a PB correct lunch)

    On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I add a mini lunch of one apple and one banana and 1/2 cup of wine ((with added water).
    I have daily bulletproof coffees as breakfast
    My body fat percent (measured by the same electronic scale) is always under 17% (I have readings of 15%)
    And my weight hovers between 176 and 178 (I have record readings of 173!)
    I never dreamed of having weight of 175 lbs
    The Primal Blueprint Way has been reeeeeeeally good to me
    End of my mini-rant 🙂

  8. You certainly have covered a lot of subjects in the last year. I have read every one and look forward to the new year. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. We need more folks like you to spread the word about health. I am still hoping your will come to Canada for a seminar in the future. All the best to you and your Family.

  9. You aren’t the only one with great success in 2017, Mark! Thanks to you, your blog, Dr. Maffetone, and everyone on the Facebook groups, I am finally back into my groove as far as physical fitness goes. From 2012 to 2014, I scored >90% on my Air Force Physical Fitness Test (AFPFT) while following a conventional approach to training and eating which ultimately led to a hip injury in January 2015. It was then that I discovered Dr. Maffetone and eventually MDA. I didn’t put the stuff I was learning into practice until mid-2016. By then I had scored 2 very difficult ~85% AFPFTs where I was actually worried about failing. Now, after 1.5 years and 2 more subpar tests, my test today came out to 91.1%.

    Pushups (1 minute timed): 38 (second highest in my career)
    Situps (1 minute timed): 58 (hit the max with 5 seconds to spare)
    Run: 11:22 (1:02 slower than my best, but I’m getting there)
    Waist: 27.5in (normal for me)

    Thank you again! I really appreciate everything you all do!

  10. Love, love, love this article. So much wonderful information here. Thank you.

  11. What exactly is the difference between zhe book ‘The 21-day body transformation’ and the Keto rest book (also 21 day stuff)??? I have the first one and you ha´ve to convince me why I should buy the latter one, please.

    1. Hi Sonja, I have both books. The Keto Reset uses the 21-day transformation principles to help people prepare for experimenting with Keto. It’s like an induction phase to ensure that the body is better at burning fat before attempting periods of ketosis. If you’re already primal then you’re right that this part of the book won’t be new to you. Most of the book, though, discusses the benefits, how-to, pitfalls, etc. of going keto, with Mark and Brad’s latest take on it all. I find it a good read, very up-to-date and, though I didn’t think I needed yet more recipes, I am actually enjoying the extensive recipe section.

  12. Hi Mark , This is a wonderful information,I really like read your Article . Thank you so much. Many thanks to you,

  13. Hi All, is anybody aware of a 21 day ‘starter’ program for lacto-ovo vegetarians? I know it’s not your typical primal/paleo approach, and no I’m not meat shaming, we just don’t eat meat! I know there’s a lot of info about, and we try to stick to it, but a lazy way out would be nice 🙂

    1. Meat isn’t necessary for everyone. I’ve known a couple of people who were quite healthy and active on a diet that was mostly rice, legumes, and vegetables. If that sort of eating plan works well for you, then great. Otherwise, I’m not sure what sort of 21-day starter program you’d be looking for. Paleo does include significant amounts of animal protein, both for satiety and sufficient calorie intake as well as certain nutrients. Maybe you could be more specific.

  14. Thank you for the link to the Robb Wolf article. It was not only informative and factual, but also hilarious.

  15. Edible oils study seems to be designed by idiots: they lumped partially hydrogenated oil with palm oil and called them both saturated fatty acids.

  16. Just wanted to take a minute to thank you personally for developing Primal bars. These are so perfect for me with collagen and pre-biotic fiber, I needed something so bad that I could eat at work on my non-lunch breaks and on vacation when I dearly miss my beloved smoothie. These are a life saver, Mark, thank you!