Ep6 – Mark Sisson on the Primal Blueprint and Primal Kitchen

What is the Primal Blueprint, and why would an endurance athlete go “low-carb”? Let’s talk to the founder of the Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson about this health and wellness approach to peak fitness, eating, and aging.

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Let’s delve into the Primal Blueprint and explore why endurance athletes might opt for a low-carb approach. We’ll engage in a discussion with Mark Sisson, the founder of the Primal Blueprint, to understand the principles behind this health and wellness strategy for achieving peak fitness, optimizing dietary choices, and promoting graceful aging.

The podcast with Mark Sisson covers:

-Primal Blueprint diet and lifestyle for optimal health.
-Primal Blueprint diet and lifestyle principles.
-Aging, fitness, and longevity.
-Healthy eating and nutrition.
-Collagen sources, fish oil, and avocado oil.
-Healthy eating and intermittent fasting.
-Healthy habits and self-care.
-Health and wellness practices, including vitamin D, blue light exposure, and footwear.
-Alzheimer’s research and ketone supplements.

Speaker 1 0:07
So welcome to another episode of headfirst with Dr. Hill. Today’s guest is Mark Sisson, creator of the Primal Blueprint. So welcome, Mark. Thanks for being here.

Unknown Speaker 0:16
Thanks for having me. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1 0:17
So I know a lot about the Primal Blueprint, or at least I’ve done it myself for many years, but I’m guessing some of our listeners don’t, would you just give us a little bit of background about who you are, what your story is, and what this thing we call primal is sure.

Speaker 2 0:30
I’ve always been interested in health and fitness since I was you know, 11 read as many books as I could, which weren’t that many even in existence at the time on what it would take to be strong and lean and fit. And, and so in my teen years, discovered that running and the whole aerobic movement was where it was at. So I embraced that. Sure. I also embrace this concept of eating lots of complex carbohydrates to fuel the running. And over the next decade, I began I became a really good runner, quite, quite fast, raced very well in marathons, and ultimately in triathlons. However, as fast as I became and as fit, as I looked on the outside, I was starting to fall apart on the inside, I was getting sorts of injuries that I shouldn’t be getting inflammation, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, I had irritable bowel syndrome, most of my life, I had upper respiratory tract infection several times a year. So this, this pursuit that I launched initially to become healthy, took me down a path of, of ill health. And so when I retired at an early age, unable to continue to compete at the level I had been because of injuries, I really kind of dedicated the rest of my life to figuring out what I’d done wrong, or were the shortcuts they call them hacks today, were to get to this level of fitness and health, to where I was back to being vibrant and energetic and enjoying life and not miserable from having overtrained, and, and inflamed from having eaten the wrong kinds of foods. So over the years, I developed a way of living based on an evolutionary model that was starting to emerge, we sort of referred to it as paleo, but there are other there were other influences. So based on on a way of eating a way of orchestrating the rest of my life, making my workouts fun, less grueling, trying to get the most out of every workout, paying attention to my sleep, paying attention to how much sun I got stress levels, I crafted a life way that I that seemed to resemble what an indigenous person might use as a guideline throughout their their lives. And lo and behold, because I’d been doing some, some research into genetics, and how our genes, recreate rebuild, renew us on a minute by minute basis, based on the inputs they get, I started to create this framework that I would call the Primal Blueprint is based on a on a primal, primary evolutionary model, but it was sort of a blueprint in that it’s a template for making choices in your life that might serve you better if your goal is to be strong, lean, fit, happy, healthy, productive.

Speaker 1 3:29
And this is not just about a diet, it’s not really that restrictive, it’s

Speaker 2 3:33
not about a diet. And you can’t really achieve all of the goals and the benefits that you seek without paying attention to the diet. So it’s not just a diet, but but and diet is probably 40% of it. 50% of it, there are a lot of other factors, but you really do have to, you have to dial that diet in at some point. And

Speaker 1 3:54
that sort of just to probably grossly oversimplify is focused on keeping good fats up keeping most carbs down and eating a nice balance of proteins, vegetables, correct. So

Speaker 2 4:05
it again to use the Paleo paradigm that was emerging. Fifth, starting 15 years ago, this idea that our genes expect certain inputs from us and that food is, you know, food is a is a signaling device, among other things in the body, and, you know, obviously, for repair and for energy, but as a, as a, you know, it sends signals. So every bite of food has a hormonal effect on the body. And so to the extent that we can switch on genes that build muscle, that burn fat and turn off the genes that store fat turn off the genes that cause inflammation through the foods we eat. Then the choices of foods. They it’s kind of not coincidental, that they mimic what our ancestors would have eaten lean proteins, clean, healthy fats, minimal or no amounts of sugar for the most part, minimal processed foods and processed carbohydrates. And there you have it. And that’s the meat fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, a little bit of fruit. That kind of forms. The basis of this

Speaker 1 5:07
sounds great. I mean, I’m a big biased, pro primal guy from from my perspective, I teach a lot of people about, you know, brain health, and there are things that can do modifiable behaviors to affect aging to affect performance. And I often get asked about primal versus paleo and I’m, I’m sure I’m not doing it justice, but my sort of take on it is paleo is less focused on the carb limit, and primal is more permissive of dairy. Yeah, I

Speaker 2 5:31
mean, in terms of the, the eating, right, and I think even to reduce it to those sorts of distinctions is becoming more blurred now as well, because we, we are more carb agnostic. Okay. As time goes by, we were were paleo for instance, would have been kind of don’t eat legumes of any time, you know, the whole, legume lanten, nutrient anti nutrient story got told a lot. And as I dug deeper and deeper into that, I started to see that some of the reasons that that that was making the headlines in the Paleo world were maybe unique, and probably you’ll fought that instead, with the advent of this, this focus on the biome on the microbiome, in the gut, and gut health and the 100 trillion cells that live within us that are not us, and how we feed them. All of a sudden, the idea that the substrate provided by lagoons, properly prepared lagoons could be an important factor in maintaining good health. So we’ve allowed more legumes back into the Primal Blueprint,

Speaker 1 6:44
properly meaning fermented soaked. Yeah, not just simply write,

Speaker 2 6:48
I mean, there are certain Yeah, there are certain types of legumes that that can be problematic if you don’t prepare them correctly. And I think that’s one of the reasons that the Paleo world in general sort of shun them. Point, you know, carte blanche, right. But we’re looking at a number of different methods of preparing them sort of the Weston A price, bringing Western a price into the, into the mix here and suggesting that and by the way, the the original idea behind the Primal Blueprint was to be as inclusive as possible, not as exclusionary. Sure, hostile. So that’s why if you don’t have a problem with dairy, there are certain types of dairy that I would allow in the Primal Blueprint, right and say, go for it, you know, altered fermented dairy. Yeah, raw milk, you know, artisanal cheeses, certainly cream, you know, organic cream, butter, you know, gi things like that. So, yeah,

Speaker 1 7:46
I’m a pro dairy guy. Um, yeah. But that’s simply because I, you know, I’m Scotch Irish, and we survive on dairy as the primary protein for hundreds of years. Probably so right.

Unknown Speaker 7:54
That’s wonderful dairy and in spuds? Yeah.

Speaker 1 7:57
The Vedas were relatively recent, before the potato became big in in Ireland, Scotland, it was, it was dairy and like, 47 kinds of different like, fermented dairy as the main, you know, source of protein. So kind of interesting stuff. So paleo is still pretty anti dairy, though. Yes, as a movement, correct. But that’s just the the food component of it. There are other things in certainly the Primal Blueprint that are much more about act architecting your lifestyle archetype in your activity or behavior, you know, phrases come to mind, like move slowly, often and lift heavy thing? Yeah. Can you say more about the idea that we need to be actually activating the bodies? Yeah,

Speaker 2 8:38
I mean, we’re, you know, we’re bipedal, which, if you think about it, and you and you think of all of the work that Dean Kaman put into the Segway, to get two wheels to stand up and not fall over. And that’s what we have two wheels that we can stand up and not fall over. It’s amazing how we don’t just topple over all the time. Well, the way we’re designed is to be mobile, and to be to be agile, and to move around a lot. And by the same token, we’re not designed to be running marathons every day, unlike some recent authors might have you believe. You know, we’re born to run once in a while, but not necessarily on a daily basis. We’re born to be fit enough to run when we need to. And to the extent that we can orchestrate a life, way and a lifestyle that allows us to maintain that, that level of fitness that is robust and well rounded, so that we can lift heavy things once in a while, so that we can sprint once in a while. This is what our genes expect of us. And that was, so those are three of the 10 Primal Blueprint laws are move, move around a lot at a low level of activity. And that just means it doesn’t mean burn. It’s not really about burning calories. It’s just about moving. It’s just about the fact that your body needs to move through as many ranges of motion and planes of activity as possible. lift heavy things again, really no more than 20 is a week. But you know, or the ancestral model was to drag the carcass back to camp to build a camp to carry a baby all day long to to lift things that prompted a response at the genetic level to make that muscle stronger. Right? So to the extent that we want to lift heavy things to build muscle mass, you would say, Well, why do we want to build muscle mass? Well, the whole body, the systems of the body are orchestrated around supporting lean muscle mass. So your heart beats, according to the demands of the muscle, your lungs, expand or contract according to the demands of the muscle, do we need more oxygen? Can he take it take in greater volumes of oxygen? You know, the liver processes fuel and and removes toxins, largely according to the demands of muscle?

Unknown Speaker 10:50
And so on just the way to frame that I hadn’t thought about it well, so you know

Speaker 2 10:52
it. And then if you look at in the in the ultimate iteration of that, you say, Well, you know, what does that look like when I’m 80 or 90 years old, and I don’t have much muscle mass? Well, what it looks like is the fact that you haven’t done anything for decades, and your muscles have atrophied. That also means that the heart has had no reason to bump pump musculature. So the end, the body doesn’t want to hang on to any system that it doesn’t really need. Today, it’s a waste of resources. So body’s very efficient in getting rid of stuff that that it doesn’t need except for fat, right. But in terms of muscle mass, the fact that you can, that you can decide to move and then by you’re deciding to move and making that movement, the heart then says oh, I guess I gotta be a little bit faster and keep up with that demand, not the lungs start to breathe a bit more. So when you when you don’t have muscle mass, and you don’t have these demands on the body, now you’re, you know, 80 or 90 years old, and you get up in the middle of the night, and you trip and fall and break a hip? Well, your bone density is is terrible, because the bones had no reason to maintain their structure, because you hadn’t been doing any weight bearing activity. You break a hip, you you get pneumonia, you’re prone, you can’t cough up the sputum, you basically either die of, you know, of the pneumonia, or have of heart failure from from the heart not being able to keep up with the, you know, congestive heart failure. So, all of this goes back to the beautiful design of the human body, which sort of still requires that we do something to maintain its integrity on a regular basis. That’s wonderful.

Speaker 1 12:26
So this, this sort of is in line, I’m a gerontologist teach courses at UCLA on aging. And we tell people that no less than pens on what year it is, but now it’s 7000 steps a day used to be 5000. And it’s just steps to seeing and not burning calories, per se, it’s remaining active. And one of the biggest predictors of a quick decline in health is loss of mobility. Yeah, absolutely. The hip thing, you know, happens a lot. And the hip itself, as you as you alluded to, is not the reason people tend to die. It’s because of secondary infections in the hospital because of loss of mobility and changes in lifestyle. So this is all pretty congruent with aging. Yeah.

Speaker 2 13:03
So I mean, we could take that to as many different generations or iterations as possible. One, one would be, you get an infection in the hospital. And because you haven’t been in the sun for 1010 years, your vitamin D levels are low, and you haven’t been supplementing with vitamin D. So there are a lot of a lot of aspects of the Primal Blueprint that are based on this longevity model, which is how can I live without you know, we have t shirts that say live long drop dead?

Speaker 1 13:30
Right, you know, compression of morbidity? Yeah. Put your illness to the last few moments of your life and right. And

Speaker 2 13:35
the the bizarre and perverse iteration of that currently is, you know, you live long but you you’re but you’re ill for 20 years, and somebody’s got to pay for that.

Speaker 1 13:48
Yeah, I think about this a lot in terms of flattening trajectories, we all decline a little bit, you know, there’s a in terms of body mass, there’s this thing called sarcopenia, where 30 years old and older, we tend to have a long, slow drop in muscle mass, bone mass water mass and an increase in adipose mass. Yep. But I imagine and I’m not sure, but I imagine that remaining active weight bearing exercises, these things will blunt that trajectory, or

Speaker 2 14:11
the blood, I mean, I on a daily basis, 1000s of people, you know, discover the fact that at 55 or 60, they start working out and they haven’t for decades, and they they realize that they can increase their muscle mass, they can still decrease the amount of fat mass. Yep. So the sarcopenia isn’t just, you’re just not just stemming the decline, you’re actually reversing reversing it and improving some of the most compelling studies I’ve ever seen on octogenarians who are bedridden, who you get them into a leg press machine or some kind of machine in the gym, and their strength improves three or 400%. over a six week period, the body still responds, you just have to make it do something, you just have to make that decision. So with that increase in strength, comes an increase in mobility and the next thing you know they’re out of bed there. They’re not in a chair there Walking around there enjoying life more. And it’s it’s a it’s an amazing transformation that can happen just by engaging in some form of exercise. That’s

Speaker 1 15:11
wonderful. So now you retired from competition? How old were you when that happened when you?

Speaker 2 15:15
I mean, the first time I retired, I was 28. And

Speaker 1 15:19
your body was pretty it was it was significantly older than it should have been at 28, essentially, Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Speaker 2 15:24
I had the inflammation and the injuries and it just more than anything. I wasn’t having fun. I mean, I’d already spent a decade more than a decade. So I started running last 13. And I think when I retire when I’m 29, or 30, I guess. But you know, every day of my life was about managing pain, right? And running 15 or 20 or 25 miles, I ran 100 miles a week for seven years. It was about in a race, it was about same thing, managing pain, it was never about having fun. It was just about some drive that I had, and as did millions of other people during the running boom in the 70s and 80s. To go prove something to myself or whatever. But by the time I’d been doing this for 10 years, and I’d been in 200 contests between a mile two mile 5k 10k, Marathon triathlon, you name it was over it. Yeah, there’s no money to be had in those days. It’s like, what am I doing with my life for one more metal? Yeah. So I basically hung up the shoes. Now, oddly enough, I had a, I had a Jones for that endorphin rush that lasted another decade. So I trained as if I was coaching for another decade. Yeah.

Speaker 1 16:37
And did you still have sort of increased injury and lack of recovery? Because you were training that way?

Speaker 2 16:43
Yeah. I mean, I trained at that point, that’s when I started the, I started to understand the nature of training. And because I wasn’t racing, and I didn’t feel compelled to match what other competitors were doing in their training. I coached professional triathlon team for a bunch of years. And to my, to my wonderment, and pleasure, I found that I could keep up with them in whatever workouts I chose to, to participate with them. I just didn’t participate every day, right? So I might do one bike ride a week and one run a week. But on those on that one bike ride in that one run, I could keep up with them. And you were probably 10 or 20 years older than these guys. Yeah, I was in my late 30s. by that. So it was that’s when I understood the nature of recovery and rest and, and how, you know, most endurance athletes who are on the line there are beating themselves up on a regular basis or not recovering and then of course, the diet. The the highly inflammatory diet just makes it worse. Right, right. So I changed my diet by then I’d gotten rid of a lot of the sugar I’d gotten rid of most of the alcohol, which was there were copious amounts of alcohol in the running days. Beer was a carbo loading strategy.

Speaker 1 17:53
So it’s enjoyable strategy was no this was

Speaker 2 17:57
in the days when when beer company sponsored races all over the really light was you know, yeah, they were they were all sorts of trucks with spigots at racers, you know, at the actually

Speaker 1 18:08
my brother, sorry, my sister and my father had both long distance runners, my sister’s lot of marathons, five feet tall and runs marathons. And I remember as a kid seeing top atop drugs and beer.

Speaker 2 18:22
So I gave up, I stopped, I stopped with the prodigious consumption of beer, cut back on the sugar started to recognize the benefits of healthy fats, and limited the unhealthy fats. And that really affected my, my health greatly. And then the final thing that the final really piece the puzzle that fell into place for me was when I gave up grains, grains giving up grains and was tricked and transformed my life. Yeah, so my inflammation went away, my IBS went away. My, you know, my heartburn that I had on a regular basis went away. It was, yeah,

Speaker 1 18:54
I just didn’t experience I gave him grains the first time after reading Primal Blueprint, whenever it first came out a decade ago or more at this point, and I was reading your book and Rob Fagan’s natural hormone enhancement or the same time, and I started cycling and doing so you know, cutting that way and found it to be just transformative, and then sort of realized in the absence of grains when I let some slip in, I saw Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling past 30 years, my life. Oh, yeah, this isn’t actually how I should be feeling its baseline.

Speaker 2 19:24
And there’s a danger to that. Because, I mean, the good news is you recognize the feeling, but the danger is too slight to backslide into you know, what, how much can I get away? Yeah, you know, we don’t Yeah, humans tend to do what they can do right up to the point right up to the edge. And whether it’s at work, you know, how little work can I do and still collect the paycheck or whether it’s, you know, in relationships or whether it’s in with and with food. It’s basically how much you know, how much bad food can I eat, not suffer more than I need to?

Speaker 1 19:56
Yeah, I have this perspective that it’s at least partially due to the bad Add foods, quote unquote, have such high reward value. And that from an evolutionary perspective, we only had access to things with this high reward value. Yeah, occasionally came across the honey comb or the overripe tree or fruit or whatever it was, these were not daily occurrences where you couldn’t sit and just binge on hundreds of grams of free carbs every day. So I think that’s one reason why they’re so compelling because evolutionarily wired

Speaker 2 20:24
air, yeah, we’re wired, we’re wired to, to consume as much sugar as we can find. And then in a in a hive.

Speaker 1 20:31
Now we’re finding of course, you know, the culprits not fat, the culprit in health consequences, usually sugar. I mean, I rant about this in my classes on my show, most of the brain health, most of the diseases of aging, Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, all the dementias, these things were all driven fairly aggressively by sugar glycation of tissue shows up in beta amyloid location shows up in Lewy Body disease. So there’s an obvious argument for dropping that out. But beyond simply restricting carbohydrates, what sort of primal implication is there for actually improving long term aging, decreasing brain inflammation? That has less about sugar and more to do with actually the the Add addition of fats or your body using fats? Do you have any sense about that? Sure. I mean,

Speaker 2 21:18
again, Food is fuel, and it’s inflammation. And so the first thing I do is, is cut out the sugar. I mean, that’s the more gets accomplished by doing that than any other single factor. Yeah. And I’ve said this for probably a decade and Ron Rosedale said it for two decades, and that is, the less sugar you burn in a lifetime, the less glucose you burn in a lifetime, probably the better off you are. So to the extent that you can eliminate sugar, eliminate that that first part of the glycation experience to reduce inflammation as a result of having reduced sugar to reduce insulin, which is also inflammatory. All those things fall into place as you come back on sugar. Now, in terms of the healthy fats, the latest trend is to experiment with ketogenic diets. You see, how do you think about that? I’m a big fan. I’m writing a book on ketogenic diets. And I’m, but I’m a fan of it as a tool in a lifestyle. I’m not a fan of it as a way of living, okay, necessarily, partly because I just enjoy other kinds of foods so much, I don’t want to be again, I don’t want to be exclusionary. And one of my personal mantras is I want every bite of food I ever put in my mouth to taste great. So I don’t want to choke something down just because it’s supposed to be good for me. Right? Right. And I don’t want to be over consuming the crunchy, salty, fatty, sweet stuff that’s going to you know, even though it tastes good, I will

Speaker 1 22:44
say you sent us some bars of your your crunchy, crunchy, salty, sweet and yummy. I mean, a couple of my research texts went through a box in about half an hour, it was great. But no I am past week, I’ve been eating a bar as breakfast with my cup of coffee after yoga, cool. And just forgetting that I need I need food, it’s has this really profoundly satisfying. Good

Speaker 2 23:08
part of it is they’re chewy, and they have to work out them to to eat them. So you’re, you know, I had a problem with bars that we just, you know, three bites and they’re gone. And you’re like, wait, I just had 240 calories and I don’t feel like I did. So we make you work for it a little there’s

Speaker 1 23:21
little nucleus next to hypothalamus that actually had that was feeding and stuff. There’s a specific nucleus that actually looks for crunch. Yep, that tries to get in by breaking the bone marrow or something. imaginarily. So if you satisfy that, that’s a big piece of it. So I you know, that’s wonderful,

Speaker 2 23:36
good, good. And then just to sort of segue that back to original discussion about mobility, you know, we have eight grams of collagen protein in there. And collagen collagen is, is an integral part of connective tissue. So not just bones and muscle and skin, hair and nails, which which in which collagen is prevalent, but tendons and ligaments. And so when you’re doing that wide range of motion and those movements, and you over time, you tend to lose that mobility because you’re not doing them. The the supplementation with collagen helps to support the regrowth of that healthy tissue. That’s great. So in my case, I literally had severe Achilles tendinosis. About four years ago, I was told I needed to have surgery on both Achilles to scrape them down, I scraped that scar tissue off and then put them in a cast for a couple of months. And it’s like, I don’t think I’m doing

Speaker 1 24:27
that and your collagen producing cells fibroblasts at your age, I don’t you’re probably about 62 Or three. I forget how old you are. Yeah. Be 64 in July. Yeah. Your your collagen cells are still they still exist, but they aren’t replicating anymore. They’re producing more collagen. Yeah. So this is almost a dietary strategy to continue college and access. Exactly.

Speaker 2 24:46
And up until very recently, bone broth was the sort of go to collagen source. Yeah. And I’m like bone broth, but not every day and I’m trying to get 20 to 40 grams a day while I was repairing my Achilles. And, and it worked. I literally, because what I recognized was that after sprinting, playing Ultimate Frisbee once a week with 20 Somethings and keeping up with a mile away, I would go get home and I’d be sore and I’d be, you know, stiff. And, and because I’m a meat centric eater. Yep. And I wasn’t getting a lot of collagen and the Muthiah Nene in meat protein is sort of an anti college genetic or college genic amino acid, all these things conspired to where my body was going, Hey, wait, we want to we want to fix this Achilles thing. But we haven’t given us any raw materials, so we can’t do it. So we’re going to don’t know what we know how to do, which is build scar tissue. So

Speaker 1 25:43
we can certainly get eight grams of collagen in your bars. What other dietary sources besides going full blown bone broth? I mean, do I forget just is there like collagen and like the skin of roast chicken? I mean, yeah, there’s, you know, there’s

Speaker 2 25:56
you know, it’s like, I have friends like I told somebody about professional baseball player about my bars. He goes, Yeah, well, I I eat the bones of chicken. That’s how I get my collagen. Wow. Well, you know that the soft connective tissue between the ends of the bone certainly and you know, if you cook a chicken enough, or if you if you do it, yeah, it’s edible. So it’s, it’s really the other parts of the, of the animal that are providing the collagen. Same with you know, a lot of there’s a marine collagen now comes from fish bones, which is a great use of the leftover carcasses of fish after the meat has been filleted

Speaker 1 26:32
probably a little bit less of an ethical challenge to direct as you said, staying with marine animals tend to be a lot more sustainable. Right? So so they say so they say, Yeah, well, we may find out in the future that

Speaker 2 26:42
yeah, I grew up in a fishing village in Maine. Oh, yeah. Where’d you grow up Boothbay harbor?

Speaker 1 26:45
Oh, I grew up in or I was born in Bangor, actually in Hampton outside of Bangor. How come you don’t talk like that anymore? Because when I was seven years old or six years old, I moved down to Boston and my mom would always say don’t drop your Rs You sound so tough. So I end up with sort of a neutral accent I used to have that main accent Yeah. Very good base. Nice. But yeah, heavily fishing so you probably get a lot of access to early good fat as a kid too. Yeah,

Speaker 2 27:07
but it was also the sustainability issue always became because it was a lobster fishing town. And so MIT the Maine State fisheries controlled the the catch every year is its size varied from one season to another was pretty well done. Yeah,

Speaker 1 27:20
I lobster two three times a week growing up my grandfather was a lobstermen out of Narragansett 25 cents a pound. Yeah, cuz me trivial. But after doing that, for most of my life, and the past few years, I can’t eat lobster anymore. Interesting triggers like an allergic reaction. Yeah, but for most of my life, I was fine. And it’s just accumulated enough right? I think I might have overdone too much. Right? I don’t know. So um, let me let me ask you more about your these these primal kitchen products that you’re producing right? I have a couple of my office now I noticed a lot of these things are sort of driven by avocado oil. Tell me about our Kado oil as a fat as a food substrate. What right so

Speaker 2 27:58
so we’re looking for in my company and my life we’re looking for the best possible fats, sources of fats and avocado. The fruit is an amazing fruit. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and the avocado oil derived from from the fruit not from the seed part, but actually it’s pressed

Speaker 1 28:15
from home. So you get some of the antioxidant. Oh, yeah. So

Speaker 2 28:19
we actually sell two types of avocado oil in my company, we have one that’s an extra virgin first press Hass avocados straight from California, it’s the most beautiful emerald green color has a little bit of that same bite on the back of the throat that introversion true on adulterated Extra Virgin Olive Oil has. And then we have a more refined version that has a higher smoke point. So it’s got a more neutral taste to it. You can cook with it up to 500 degrees five or 10. That’s not true of the extraversion That’s correct. The extraversion press press has, it has enough of the of the polyphenols and even some of the bits the micro bits of the fruit because of the way it’s been pressed yet that you want to remain in there. They give it that is that for like salad dressings, there’s links outdoors and low roasting you can roast at low temperatures. But the idea behind avocado oil is it’s a it’s a source of these are heart healthy fats. So these are mono and predominantly mono unsaturated fatty acids, okay? Which of the Omega nine so we hear a lot about the Omega three being anti inflammatory and the Omega six being pro inflammatory the anions have their own space on that and we don’t necessarily get enough of them. So the so the real search now is on for the mono mono unsaturated fat I

Speaker 1 29:30
spent a while a few years ago trying to find a good source of nine because I didn’t I didn’t seem to be anything out there. There’s something cashew with the cash is also fairly high carb for a nut right? Or pseudo nut so I wasn’t all that excited by that. But from my limited experience or research on omega nine, it seems to activate satiety and fat burning in a way that the other fats don’t. Yep. And I was kind of excited to do that. So I may have to start you know, drinking large well,

Speaker 2 29:58
so you know, in addition into the cooking oils. We we make a mayonnaise. That’s Oh yeah, our mayonnaise is 70% Avocado. Oh wow. So we’re most mayonnaise is off limits because it’s made with soybean oil or corn oil or some derivation thereof. It’s literally may contain one of these on the label because it’s whatever’s cheapest that day. Those oils cost 1/20 The amount that avocado oil costs, so we use only the best ingredients we have. It’s avocado oil, it’s organic eggs from cage free hens, organic vinegar from non GMO beets, sea salt, great little rosemary extract, and it’s a great tasting mayonnaise. Then we make our salad dressings based on avocado oil as well. So we have

Speaker 1 30:42
I took your honey mustard salad dressing and I poured it over a pound and a half of chicken thighs popped it in the oven for 40 minutes at 350. And it was the lightest most cold tender. I can’t say enough good things about that particular Yeah, no, it’s

Speaker 2 30:57
as many people use it as a marinade for a marinade as do a dressing. And then we just launched this non dairy ranch dressing, which is just killing it everywhere. Try that when you have that, well, we’re just we’re sold out, we’re and we’re in a lot of stores now. And we sell out wherever we go. But it’s again, it’s based on this idea that people want to have access to healthy foods. And my theory about eating is once you get rid of the sugars, once you get rid of the processed grains and the industrial seed oils, there’s not a lot of variety, you know, it’s me, it’s it’s like five kinds of meat you’re going to eat right next year, and this couple lines of fish and there’s, you know, Namie 18 Vegetables you’ll eat. Yeah, what the difference is, is how you prepare them well how you cook them, what you put on them, the sauces, the dressings and toppings, the herbs and spices. So we create a line of products that allow you to take these clean protein sources or these organic vegetable sources, and then beautify them and make them incredibly tasty, while imparting additional health values to them. So it’s a it’s a cool concept that people have talked about over the years, but no one’s really executed really well. So we look at every aisle of the supermarket we go okay, what is it that people want to eat but are afraid to because they’ve been told to stay away or use it sparingly or it’s not really good for you? And how can we improve upon that and make it something that makes the whole taste experience spectacular? A

Speaker 1 32:23
noble calling means a great business, but it’s a really wonderful calling. Now, before to the microphone. You mentioned briefly the primal kitchen, which I was delighted to find out is not far at all from my Culver City peak brain office. Is that a lab where you’re building products? Is it a place where you’re actually serving food? Yes, it’s

Speaker 2 32:40
a restaurant. It’s a fast casual dining experience breakfast, lunch and dinner fast casual, all based on Yeah, all based on the Primal Blueprint eating strategy, which is again, clean sources of protein, healthy fats, little to no sugar, no processed things of any kind will be cooking with avocado oil. That’s very it’s almost unheard of in a restaurant, because most restaurants are using some form of canola or soybean over and over and over. And it’s a it’s a

Speaker 1 33:06
well, I have lots of employees that try to eat in a healthy way. And I can send them all down to school because it’s right next to our grandma. Yeah, that’s great. That’s wonderful. So a couple other questions about healthy things in general. I think you do drink coffee, right? I remember for a while you had an egg yolk coffee where you’re experimenting with. I never tried that. But yeah, in general,

Speaker 2 33:28
it’s different. It was my response to the whole bulletproof movement. Yeah.

Speaker 1 33:33
Yeah. I mean, I thought the Bulletproof Coffee was a great idea. The problem with that I have with it is I like coffee too much. Yeah, I know. I’m a I’m a snob for the flavor, the nuance I have, you know, small batch organic stuff shipped down from places that I like, you know, small, good, healthy ethical farms. And I really like the nuanced flavor of coffee when I had too much fat to it or, you know, fat and MC teas. Suddenly I can’t taste the greed

Speaker 2 33:59
and I rather chew my calories, then then drink them, which is another thing but I also you know, when I wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee. That’s the that’s the only thing I have until probably one o’clock in the afternoon. So I’m I’m uh, I have a compressed eating window. Again, we we talked a little bit about the ketogenic diet, that not that that’s a ketogenic so intermittent fasting it’s sort of an intermittent fasting thing, but it still promotes a ketogenic effect and, and it sets you up for the ability to embark on a three or 410 Day ketogenic life without any major concessions.

Speaker 1 34:39
What kind of window is a six hour eight hour 10 hour what do you do? Well, so

Speaker 2 34:43
I from one to seven, okay, I don’t eat for six hours but I mean, I only eat anything

Speaker 1 34:50
at the buffet just Yeah. Which happens sometimes people start to do this if no, it’s it’s yeah, it’s interesting starve

Speaker 2 34:58
until they don’t eat People, when I first started talking about healthy fats, people, this is awesome Mark, I can eat healthy fat. They didn’t cut back their carbs, right? Big problem. And they go in there say, Mark, I did your healthy fat thing and I’m gaining weight. I’m not losing weight. I’m gaining weight now. Dude, when you take in 4500 calories a day and 300 We’re still carbs. Yeah. You know, you’re worse off than you were before I

Speaker 1 35:19
rant, given any opportunity that there’s zero evidence in the absence of sugar that fat does anything in the presence of sugar. Yeah, it’s nasty. It’s a perfect storm of of horrible health. Yeah. So alright, so coffee is a plus, cut the antioxidants get a little stimulation. What about things like meditation? How do you feel about that? Do you do that? You

Speaker 2 35:40
know, I think it’s a wonderful thing. And I don’t do it. I just just write I, I, I my excuses that I spend enough time alone. Paddling or hiking in the zone. Yep. That that’s my form of meditation. Rather than finding a quiet space and room, I mean, I’m out in the ocean alone. Sure, sure. Sure, digging it. So. So. And those moments that I can find to be out on a paddle board are few and far between, because I’m so busy now that when I do those, that that serves as the meditation so I’m but I’m a big fan of meditation for people to do. My sister was one of the original disciples of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and she taught for years and years. And so don’t get me wrong, it’s just sure, I just feel like I’m getting

Speaker 1 36:27
the benefits. So you know, from my perspective, the brain building, there’s a lot of lateral frontal lobe cortex that you lose with aging and normal aging, about 15 20% of that cortex can be lost over time, from the ages of 40 to 70. Yeah, if you are a meditator for even 20 minutes a day, you seem to sidestep that completely, but you’re probably also already sidestepping a lot of that loss because of the way you eat and because of how active you remain. And I have a hunch or an act of guy who has to deal with lots of different challenges intellectually, day to day moment to moment as a business owner or somebody who’s a thought leader, you don’t have a set path of challenges that you do the same thing every day. Right. You’re always changing gears.

Speaker 2 37:08
It’s almost the antithesis of a regular workday.

Speaker 1 37:13
Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s quite good for you. Right? So no meditation, but you’re probably getting meditative experiences, at least some intermittent fasting in there. Of course, we’re eating primal. Yeah. What other things do you do besides,

Speaker 2 37:25
we also, one of my I try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. I’m a big fan of sleep. And I think sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of health in general, certainly, of mental health, certainly, in addressing depression. And probably in addressing productivity. I travel a little bit more than I’d like to so when I do travel, I’m very aware of of the tweaks that I need to accomplish, because I think Crossing time zones is probably one of the most stressful things a human can do. Sure, yeah. And I meet people to do it. You know, that’s their life. They do it all day on their on their road warriors. So but I’ve, you know, when I travel, I’ve got a process where I can, like, I never get jetlag because I can dial it in. So specifically, I know exactly how much I need to sleep on the plane when I need to sleep on the plane, how late I need to stay up when I get to the place I’m going to be when to take melatonin how much melatonin to take, that it’s become such an intuitive part of who I am. As long as I have my tools in front of me as long as I have my melatonin. And as long as I have access to a place to sleep at you know, and I’m not being forced to spend the night in a in an airport waiting for an election. I get that pretty dialed in. But in my day to day life, I tried to go to bed. I tried to get eight hours of sleep a night, okay. And I don’t apologize for that because I think again, sleep is wonderful. And so I have a ritual at night when I’m home. I have a pool that I keep on heated and a Jacuzzi right next to it. So around 10 o’clock most nights my wife and I’ll go out and she didn’t like cold water. I do a plan so I’ll I’ll usually walk into the pool to start and it’s right now it’s around 52 degrees so it’s pretty damn cold. And just before I start shivering, I’ll get in the jacuzzi and then we’ll hang out for 20 minutes in the shooting go over the days you know whatever happened by the way all the lights in the in the house had turned been turned off all the lights in the yard have been turned off. There were no neighbors around and we did we have a fire pit. So got a fire going. So we got we got a nice fire light. And so we’ll spend 20 minutes doing that and then when she she heads up to get ready for bed. I’ll take one more plunge in the pool so I’ll finish cold. Okay. I was up those capillaries. Yeah. And it’s it’s brilliant. I mean, it’s, I sleep like a baby. It’s it’s a great part of my ritual. She doesn’t understand the cold part. And I got to explain to you when I was I was traveling for a while and I one of the reasons I quit doing triathlons was I just hated the cold water I hated. I grew up in Ohio. I grew up in Maine, where I was forced as any little little kid to go to YMCA day Have and learn how to swim in a saltwater pool that filled up, you know, twice a day from the ocean from the ocean. Yeah. And so I just had this this thing about cold water I never you know, is what’s your name and Gone With the Wind said as God is my witness, I’ll never again want to be cold. So when I walked, like when I was doing triathlons, I hated getting in an 81 degree public roads, which is too cold, right? Okay, so now my latest kind of thing is a dress cold. For what it is, it’s not good or bad. It’s just a sensation. So I literally, you know, I’ll go from my house, into the pool. And I walk into the pool, I won’t dive in, I won’t punch a walk in with that thought process. And it’s just a sensation, just a feeling it’s not good or bad. And it’s interesting how once and then once I’m in there, and I can hang out for a couple of minutes. And if I stay still, I can get to the point where I don’t there’s no sensation or hold if you stay still, if you stay still. So it’s part of it’s a process part of it’s meditative for me in that regard. And it’s but anyway, so that’s so so part of my ritual is to make sure that I go to bed. cool enough to get right to sleep. Yep, to have had no more exposure to a blue light for at least an hour before I go to sleep. And it’s just that warm. amber light from the fire and you’re

Speaker 1 41:19
avoiding blue light by just avoiding screens and yeah, just investments or are you actually using things like locks and blue blockers?

Speaker 2 41:25
No, I don’t use F locks. Because I try not to be on the computer that late. And I don’t I have the blue blocker glasses. I have some but because I don’t work on the computer. I don’t I don’t feel like I need them. And so I haven’t, I haven’t really taken advantage of that. And then, you know, some of the shows now are shot in sepia tones anyway. So like Westworld. Yeah, it’s basically no blue light coming out of Westworld at all. So anyway, so I digress here, but I try I try to get the sleep. And then the sun exposure. I’m a big fan of sun exposure. Now, because I’m, I’m, for some reason I had my DNA tested a couple years ago, and I’m not a good converter. Yeah. So I do supplement with vitamin D. Okay, and, but you know, I, my company makes a vitamin D

Speaker 1 42:10
supplement based on blood levels, you supplement based on just

Speaker 2 42:14
just, I’ll get my I’ll get a test done every once in a while. And a tangential result of the vitamin D level show up. I don’t specifically get my D levels tested, but

Speaker 1 42:24
I’m doing you know, 5000 views a day what is Yeah, so it’s,

Speaker 2 42:27
it’s a bit it’s a bit fractal. So it would be 10,000 Some days 5000 twice a day, other days, skip a day 15,000 Some days, it’s, it’s really like I take a handful of I make capsules that have 2000 iu per capsule. So I’ll just take a handful or not.

Speaker 1 42:48
And what affects your dosing day to day? Like why is it 10,000 Some days and none someday because I’m

Speaker 2 42:54
there’s no method to the madness other than I’m a believer in the fractal pneus of all this stuff,

Speaker 1 42:59
and keeping the signal varied. So the body right doesn’t accommodate. Right. And

Speaker 2 43:03
it’s Rob Wolfe and I joked a couple of years ago, it’s actually starting come true about creating a vitamin product with a with a black packet. And it was called fractal formula and you didn’t know what you were taking every day. It’s just and everyone was different. Just

Speaker 1 43:19
to keep things getting keep thanks. Oh, that’s great. That’s wonderful. All right, another hot topic these days and health and I really don’t know how I feel about it. I’d love to know what you feel the zero rise or barefoot approach to footwear. Oh, look at that. So Mark’s holding his foot if you’re just listening to audio, he’s got some Vibram Five Fingers looks like on his on his feet. So you’re pro the zero rights all

Speaker 2 43:42
I’ve all I’ve worn for 10 years is actually all I’ve worn is Vibram Five Fingers. I mean, I’ll do a vivo barefoot once in a while and do some other some of the other shoes but it’s the toe spread as well as the low rise or no rise that

Speaker 1 43:57
so that toe box being wide enough to allow the front of your foot to actually yeah, so any

Speaker 2 44:01
any even of the wide shoes. I haven’t found one wide enough that that accommodates my feet, partly because I’ve I’ve grown them that way in the last 10 years shy wearing by wearing the Vibrams. So I’m a huge fan of the minimalist barefoot movement. I’m frustrated because there aren’t more of those sorts of shoes that that look good in a workplace.

Speaker 1 44:27
I saw some hike some barefoot hiking boots online yesterday and I was like, Oh, that’s interesting. I’m making boots cover the ankle. And there’s yeah very little soul to them. Yeah,

Speaker 2 44:36
I I hiked Grand Canyon in these Vibrams with a backpack on and through snow and ice and Okay, no, no, no socks, just bare feet and the environment was I started out I didn’t think I was gonna be able to do it. And so I started out with hiking boots. I threw the boots away after two miles. I just said this is not working. My feet were cramped. Yeah. And I literally I didn’t throw them away. I put them in a place where somebody could put them, put them on if they wanted to and recycle them. That’s great clear about that.

Speaker 1 45:06
Alright, let’s see. Alright, so let’s go back to this idea of sugar. People ask me this question, and I usually tell them no, but then the question is, does the brain even need a carbohydrate source coming in by mail? So that’s

Speaker 2 45:19
a quick, that’s a bit of a trick question. Because the brain does need a little bit of glucose, right? It doesn’t need carbohydrate from by mouth so so it can make the glucose because the body can make enough glucose, particularly if you’ve if you’ve built the metabolic machinery to be able to burn fats appropriately and use ketones then the body will make as much glucose as it requires to fuel the brain and the rest of the rest of the energy comes from a more efficient burning of fat provided you’re not just going all out for hours at a time. So you know, so the carbohydrate. The idea behind carbohydrates is there’s no minimum daily requirement for carbohydrates sugar is for there is for fats and there is for protein. And the body will make 50 to 100 grams of carbs a day from gluconeogenesis or from stripping off the, the glycerol from from triglyceride, which is which would be sufficient in the brain, which in a in a, what we call a sugar burner for somebody who has not become fat adapted, probably requires 100 to 120 grams a day of glucose to the brain uses 20% of all calories required by the human body 20 to 25 in some cases. So it’s a it’s a, it’s a hot burning machine that requires some fuel. But if you can, if you can become good at burning fat and become fat adapted and then create ketones as a byproduct of that fat metabolism, and then use those ketones. The brain actually prefers ketones, which is why a lot of you know a lot of the science now in epilepsy and ensure some of these traumatic brain injuries and other and now now they’re starting to use it with stroke victims. A key to a highly ketogenic diet. Now they’re using ketone salts and supplements to address that as well. So

Speaker 1 47:16
there was some some Alzheimer’s work being done now taking symptomatic Alzheimer’s patients. And the research Alzheimer’s has been really focused on like specific interventions or specific mechanisms and Alzheimer’s and research has been finding things are not progressing to a cure.

Speaker 2 47:29
Most of them have been centered around what a large drug company can create and make money.

Speaker 1 47:34
Absolutely. And historically, for the past 5060 years research on people with Alzheimer’s has excluded those who also are diabetic, which gets rid of most of the DS disease mechanism that drives Alzheimer’s, right? So you aren’t even studying acute Alzheimer’s mostly in the literature to study out last summer where they took a bunch of symptomatic people took them off all meds in these people with severe memory problems, and gave them supplemental ketones and had symptoms reverse. I mean, one of the aspects of Alzheimer’s of course, is insulin resistance in neurons before they die. And so the idea is you can chemically spare those neurons by eating more sugar. And people who have Alzheimer’s often crave early Alzheimer’s or craving carbohydrates, I would guess because the neurons are insulin resistant and are being fed.

Speaker 2 48:17
Yeah, so they’re, they’re insulin resistant, but they’re still screaming for fuel. And because they haven’t built again, there’s no access to ketones. And over time, there’s also this mechanism is this mitochondrial biogenesis, where the the mitochondria become even better at burning ketones, so they become more efficient. So and were we one of the sort of the most obvious manifestations of someone who hasn’t gotten to that space yet would be a carb, a carb centric eater or a sugar burner as I lovingly refer to people who goes and attends a one week ashram where they’re there, they’re not eating, but, you know, juice and water 500 calories a day for four days, or four or five days in a row. And they go into ketosis, but they’re still low GI and tired. And you can smell it on their breath because they’re expelling this this amazing fuel because there’s no mechanism to really burn it to use

Speaker 1 49:16
it. Yeah, so that actually leads me to another questions when it confuses me about this big push in supplemental ketones. I see lots of products blitz relating to lots of claims. I mean, the human body stores something in the neighborhood of 500 grams of carbohydrates as glycogen in the muscle we can only refeed about 50 grams of carbs per hour or system of limited restore. That means unless you are fat adapted lowish carb, you probably have a fair amount of glycogen stored carbs are counting around. What does the dietary ketone supplemental ketone do in the presence of existing glycogen? I mean, is it is it useful?

Speaker 2 49:50
You tell me because I’m not buying it? Yeah, I’m not buying it. Thank you. Yeah. So that’s, that’s uh, this is the, you know, this is the attempt to take existing science fringe science, and popularize it with a supplement that everybody can take an excess fat burning right away, and it just doesn’t work that way. So unless you’ve built a metabolic machinery to use ketones, you’re just the same thing. You’re gonna sweat them out, you know, pick them out. Yes,

Speaker 1 50:15
that’s my thought. And I see these companies who say we have ketones, and I say, Well, how are you? You know, justifying that you’re saying this is causing fat burning when people aren’t low carb? And they say, Oh, well, we can measure ketones in the urine. Well, yeah, you’re you’ve just eaten that ketone. Yeah, you’re you’re supplementing your toilet, so to speak that right? And

Speaker 2 50:31
and it’s, there’s a cascade effect that I’m only postulating right now, because when most of the ketone supplements, 14 grams of beta, beta hydroxy butyrate, which is about seven calories per gram, isn’t that much energy that you’re providing? So where’s the energy coming from? You know, and if you so so if you’re not good at burning ketones, and you and you’re not using the ketones to jumpstart some more ketone production, which is one of the theories that that people have about keto adapted people taking these ketone supplements. And if you’re a sugar burner, and you’re taking these ketone supplements, and you’re paying them out, then then you’re getting nothing. So where’s the where’s the benefit?

Speaker 1 51:12
No, I have the same perspective. I wasn’t sure if there was something I was missing if there was some real science there. But as far as I can tell, it’s, you know, marketing mostly, you know, one related idea, every so often I go fairly low carb, I have this. Maybe informed by your book, I don’t remember. I’m perfect about 80% of the time, and the other 20% the time I throw caution to the wind, and he’s perfect. Well, dietarily Oh, I eat. I’m far from perfect in any other way. But about 80% of the time, I keep my per meal carbohydrates, well below 20 grams, I hit my daily carbonates below about 65 grams by came from Rob’s book. And it works really well for me. But if I’ve been out of, shall we say good behavior for a while and I’m putting on some pad and I’m getting a little thermogenic. For some reason, I seem to be able to kick off a much quicker sort of back into good diet back into fat burning with chicken livers. It seems to be this magical turn on everything for my system. And I have no idea why doesn’t contain ketones. It’s just gives a lot of good nutrients. But I have no idea why chicken livers seem to this magic fuel when I need to really just start kicking off that, you know, better fat metabolism.

Speaker 2 52:25
I mean, chicken livers are certainly fatty. So you know, you’ve said one source of fats that may resonate with your body more than others. Yeah,

Speaker 1 52:32
it seems to otherwise I don’t have an answer. Well, I appreciate the stab at it. So um, Mark, any other thoughts or a general advice you have any other bio hacks you’re playing around with any future perspectives want to share with us on where primals going or where your own adventure stick? Well,

Speaker 2 52:50
I think my my theme for 2017 is mobility. Okay. Yeah. I think that between my interest in college and supplementation and my interest in maintaining my own mobility, so that I can play and have fun. And for me, that means paddling, it means snowboarding, it means playing Ultimate Frisbee. So, so my, my focus is going to be how do I maintain mobility through the next three or three decades? Yeah,

Speaker 1 53:20
30 years. Exactly. And we’re of course accelerating aging medicine too. So you want if

Speaker 2 53:24
Kurt’s Wiles you know, thing comes to pass for I guess, while I gotta be ready for that. Yeah.

Speaker 1 53:29
I mean, he keeps pushing back the date as he gets older. I think he’s just trying to make that happen in his lifetime. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. If viewers and listeners are, you know, want to chase you down and learn more about you limit the products. Where can they do that? The

Speaker 2 53:41
blog is Mark’s daily apple.com. The book is The Primal Blueprint available on Amazon. The product, the product line, primal kitchen is at primal kitchen.com And you can find it on Amazon. We’re the number one best selling mayonnaise on Amazon every day over the last for the last 12 months.

Speaker 1 53:57
I have some mandates. I haven’t tried it, but I’m gonna go home and check it out. So yeah, great. Well, thanks so much for your for your time today, Mark. And I’m sure listeners have lots of questions and we’ll we’ll point them at all your your places to find you on the show notes. Sounds great. Great. Thanks.


Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson, an American fitness author and blogger, previously engaged in distance running, triathlons, and Ironman competitions. Notably, he secured a 4th-place finish in the Ironman World Championship in February 1982. Sisson has authored multiple books, including his fifth one, “The Primal Blueprint,” which integrates elements of the Paleolithic diet. Additionally, he shares insights on fitness and health through his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple.