Hey folks, I wanted you to be the first to know that my good friend Brad Kearns and I have a new book coming out March 9th, called Two Meals a Day – The simple, sustainable strategy to lose fat, reverse aging, & break free from diet frustration forever. I’ve done a lot of self-experimentation over the years, and if I were to choose the one practice that makes the most lasting impact for the widest range of people, this would be it. It’s available for pre-order (with bonuses!) today at twomealsadaybook.com.
Here’s a sneak peek at the content.
Two Meals a Day
by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns (excerpt shared with publisher permission)
Welcome to Two Meals a Day, a simple, sustainable, highly effective strategy to help you lose excess body fat; increase energy and focus; minimize your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline; and enjoy your maximum healthspan— a long, healthy, happy, high- energy life lived all the way to the end. Two Meals a Day offers a refreshing solution to the incredible frustration of carrying excess body fat. It transcends almost all the controversy and confusion over what constitutes the most healthful diet and finally does away with the pain, suffering, and sacrifice we’ve come to associate with dieting. I’m pretty fired up as we begin this journey together, because misguided health gurus, manipulative corporate marketing techniques, and so-called experts in government, in academia, and on the all-powerful internet are perpetuating the ridiculousness and the suffering of dieting with horrible advice and a fundamental misunderstanding and misrepresentation of human genetics and evolutionary biology. In case you haven’t heard, here’s the issue at hand: We eat too much of the wrong foods too often. It’s making us fat, tired, sick, and it’s slowly but surely killing us.
Recent science has made the surprising discovery that it’s not laziness or lack of willpower that has made modern humans unwell but rather the hormone dysregulation caused by a daily pattern of high- carbohydrate breakfasts, lunches, and dinners along with frequent snacking and ingestion of toxic industrial oils. This pattern of eating has violently disrupted our magnificent evolutionary ability to burn stored body fat around the clock as a steady and reliable source of energy. Instead, we have become dependent on regular doses of ingested calories to fuel our busy days. The common phenomenon of feeling “hangry” after skipping even a single meal— a ridiculous notion from an evolutionary perspective— blatantly exposes this hormone dysregulation.
Even many enlightened folks who know to stay away from processed sugars, sweetened beverages, refined grain- based foods (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, cereal), and industrial seed oils remain unhealthy and overweight because they eat and snack too much. Consider the ketogenic diet, which has risen to popularity in recent years. While many who followed a well-formulated ketogenic diet have shed fat and improved their health, the plan has also been widely misappropriated as an opportunity to stuff one’s face with “ keto-approved” high- fat meals and snacks in a mis-guided attempt to trigger ketone production in the liver.
We’ve forgotten keto’s roots as an evolution- honed survival mechanism. Ketone production occurs in the liver to supply a steady source of fuel for the brain in times of starvation or in the absence of dietary carbohydrates. In reality, you access the main benefits of keto through fasting, not feasting on high- fat foods. It’s time to reframe our flawed and dated belief systems and behavior patterns relating to food and meals. It’s as simple as this: if you want optimum health, body composition, and longevity, you have to do two things:
1. Ditch processed foods in favor of wholesome foods
2. Eat less frequently
Two Meals a Day will help you develop one of the most important health attributes imaginable: metabolic flexibility. This genetically preprogrammed superpower is the ability to burn a variety of fuel sources, especially stored fat, based on your body’s needs at any given time. Paradoxically, you were born with robust metabolic flexibility, but it began to atrophy as soon as you were fed all manner of crunchy and mushy carbs as an infant. The good news is that you can quickly reclaim your genetic fat-burning abilities. Metabolic flexibility allows you to feel great all day long, with stable mood, energy, cognitive functioning, and appetite, whether or not you eat regular meals. I believe that reigniting your metabolic flexibility is the holy grail of all health pursuits. With it, you can naturally derive energy from a range of sources: the fat on your plate of food or the fat on your butt, belly, or thighs; the carbohydrates in your meal, the glucose in your bloodstream, or the glycogen in your muscles; and even from ketones, the superfuel that your liver makes when you’re fasting or restricting dietary carbs. The best part is that your body doesn’t care where those calories came from, because your source of calories to burn will move seamlessly from one substrate (fuel source) to another depending on your immediate energy needs.
Metabolic flexibility allows you to cruise through life not having to think about how many calories or grams of carbs you “earned” because you ran on the treadmill or how much protein you’ll need to consume after your weight- lifting session to avoid muscle breakdown. Most important, metabolic flexibility will free you from the tyranny of hunger, appetite, and cravings, because your body will always be primed to get energy from body fat, glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate in the liver and muscle tissue), and ready- made ketones. Ultimately, you’ll stop living at the edge of “how much food can I stuff down my face and not get fat” and get to the point where you might want to explore how little food you can eat and still remain completely satisfied and energized every single day for the rest of your life.
If metabolic flexibility describes the ability to skip meals and burn fat, metabolic efficiency describes the result: the life- changing, life-extending ability to thrive on fewer calories. I’m not suggesting you must starve yourself or live as an ascetic to be healthy. What I’m talking about is enjoying your life to the fullest and eating delicious and highly satisfying foods to your heart’s content. I enjoy lavish meals as much as anyone, and I never deprive myself when I’m hungry. That said, I also believe that one fabulous plate of fresh sashimi or a grass-fed rib eye cooked to perfection can be more pleasurable (and ultimately more healthful) than all-you-can-eat fish and steak! I’m also not inclined to tarnish the lingering taste sensations and satisfaction of a gourmet meal by stuffing some sugar down at the end, just because dessert is a cultural mainstay.
Unfortunately, when you are locked into a carbohydrate- dependent eating pattern, you are compelled to eat an excessive amount of calories every day because your fat-burning factory is shut down and your appetite and satiety hormones are out of whack.
The classic potato chip ad campaigns of decades past are excellent examples. “Betcha can’t eat just one” was the slogan for Lay’s potato chips, and “Once you pop you can’t stop” encouraged eating Pringles. These ads revealed the disturbing reality that nutrient-deficient foods trick your brain into eating more in a futile attempt to obtain nourishment.
The idea here is that when you can burn body fat and make ketones at any time, and your appetite and satiety hormones are optimized, you simply don’t need as much food— even in pursuit of peak performance and maximum pleasure. I like to envision my metabolism as a care-fully constructed closed- loop system that can operate perfectly well for days, if need be, without any visits to the fuel pump (i.e., without ingesting calories). A closed-loop metabolism ensures that you don’t lose energy, muscle mass, strength, or your happy disposition. This honors our evolutionary imperative to not waste energy. In an effort to achieve widespread adoption of this empowering new strategy, I hereby declare a revision to global dietary lexicon: the popular term intermittent fasting is changed to the more apropos term (and mindset!) intermittent eating!
The Magic of Hormone Optimization
It’s time to reject the deeply flawed and misinterpreted “calories in, calories out” mentality of portion control and exhaustive workouts that we’ve been socialized to believe is the singular path to staying lean and healthy. I want you to take comfort right now in the fact that you will never have to struggle and suffer again in the name of fat loss or dietary transformation, because you are finally adopting the correct approach— one aligned with your human genetic requirements for health. You can eat when you’re hungry, enjoy incredibly delicious and satiating meals ( just breeze through the titles in the recipe section of this book and you’ll see what I mean), and experience the bliss of hormone optimization — perhaps for the first time since you were a kid with boundless energy. No more counting calories or obsessing about macronutrient ratios ever again. You will embrace a new ethos of intermittent eating and get into a rhythm of intuitive eating decisions instead of thinking of food as the fuel necessary to survive a busy day without passing out.
If you possess a decent level of health, body composition, and metabolic flexibility right now— evidenced by healthful body-fat levels (males under 18 percent; females under 25 percent) or being able to skip a meal and still function smoothly for a few more hours before eating again— you can experience dramatic results in as little as three weeks.
Many intermittent-eating practitioners can lose ten pounds or more in twenty-one days. This total is not just body fat but also a reduction in water retention and inflammation throughout the body— a reduction caused by eliminating toxic foods. If you are starting this journey with a history of yo-yo dieting or disordered eating, or if you carry excess body fat or have learned from blood tests that you are at risk for certain diseases, you may require a more gradual approach to becoming metabolically flexible and radically altering your body composition. However, even if you are metabolically damaged, you can still make steady progress each day without having to suffer or deprive yourself. Taking comfortable baby steps will quickly boost your confidence as well as your trust and enthusiasm for the process. Then, even if you experience the occasional slip-up, such as a weekend or a vacation during which you engage in undisciplined eating, you can right the ship quickly instead of getting discouraged and sinking into self- destructive behavior patterns.
Congratulations on your interest in and enthusiasm for transforming your health.
Formulating a Plan of Action
The essence of this chapter is to identify specific self-limiting thoughts and beliefs as well as flawed behavior patterns against which you will take corrective action. You can begin work on this immediately if you choose, and you will be given specific assignments in this area during the 12-Day Turbocharge. You likely have an assortment of issues that will come to mind quickly. For reference and inspiration, following are some of the most common areas of struggle for people seeking health and dietary transformation.
Total eradication of the Big Three
Acknowledge that marketing forces and cultural traditions are conspiring against you when it comes to cleaning up your act. While part of the allure of sweets, treats, and comfort foods comes from their intense flavor, you are also getting hit with a barrage of advertising as well as cultural influences that connect indulgent foods to celebration and fond memories.
The best way to combat these forces is to commit to total elimination so that you don’t have to waste any decision-making energy or willpower on resisting the temptation of your old favorites. When a bag of peanuts is dangled in front of someone with a severe peanut allergy on an airplane flight, the allergic person politely refuses the peanuts. There is no pondering, temptation, or FOMO, because the certainty of suffering vastly outweighs the pleasure of having a snack. Adopting a mindset of “these foods are off limits for me” out of the gate is the easiest way to succeed.
We are bombarded with advertising and social media commentary designed to elicit fear, insecurity, and desperation in order to command our attention and stimulate product sales. It’s critical to escape the airbrushed world of models, fitness icons, and hucksters and redirect your attention to feelings of compassion and gratitude for wherever you are today. While there have been some controversies and misinterpretations associated with the body positivity movement, let’s agree that you can exist in a state of gratitude and still pursue goals and dreams of looking and feeling better by improving your overall health.
The two branches of the autonomic nervous system are the sympathetic, nicknamed fight or flight, and the parasympathetic, nicknamed rest and digest. It’s essential that you create a calm, quiet, relaxing, celebratory environment every time you eat a bite of food. Next, resolve to eat at a comfortable pace, chewing each bite a minimum of twenty times to allow your salivary enzymes to play their important role in digestion.
When you eat in a highly stimulating environment, such as while driving, working at your desk, or even watching television, you compromise healthy digestive functioning and risk regressing into bad habits such as overeating and idle snacking. When you improve metabolic flexibility and get into a Two Meals a Day groove,you will naturally gain an increased appreciation for eating as one of the great pleasures of life. Feeling a bit hungry at mealtime will help you execute this goal of optimizing your environment and eating pace.
In addition to eating in a relaxed, celebratory environment and avoiding the insulinogenic effects of snacking, make an effort to give your full attention and awareness to every bite of food that you eat. It’ s nice to relax in front of the television with a meal or treat, but please make a concerted effort, at least over the short term, to transform eating into a meditative exercise. Enjoy meals as a social connection, but eliminate all other potential distractions so you can concentrate on your intense enjoyment of the food.
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.