Welcome to Mark’s Daily Apple!
It’s good to have you here. If you’re looking to experience greater health and vitality, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m Mark Sisson, former elite athlete, health coach, and owner of Primal Kitchen® as well as the best-selling writer of The Primal Blueprint and New York Times Bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet, along with a host of other popular books focused on enjoying optimal well-being.
When it comes to health, sometimes we get so lost in the stress of everyday living or the conflicting media headlines that we can’t see the forest through the trees. We overlook the simplicity and ease with which we could all be achieving exceptional health and well-being.
The Primal Blueprint is a set of simple instructions (the Blueprint part) that allows you to influence how your genes express themselves in order to build the strongest, leanest, healthiest body possible, taking clues from evolutionary biology (that’s the Primal part). Primal living each day is about thriving in the modern world with a set of basic principles founded in that rich evolutionary inheritance. Meeting the fundamental physical and dietary inputs we evolved to expect opens the door to a level of optimal health no matter what your current age, fitness level, or body size.
Check out the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws below, as well as other specially curated Mark’s Daily Apple (MDA) resources, including infographics, recipes and blog posts that millions of readers have enjoyed as they discovered the Primal Blueprint for a healthier, more energized life. I hope you’ll take your time in exploring these “Start Here” resources—and in browsing the MDA site for personal interests and issues your bring to your own health journey. Share a line on the comment boards, join the MDA Facebook group, and sign up for the newsletter to receive the latest research, commentary, tips, news, recipes, deals and more.
My team and I spend thousands of hours every year researching health questions in order to serve you research-based information and actionable tips on Mark’s Daily Apple each day. While the Primal Blueprint approach to health, well-being, and weight management might not always align with conventional practice, the principles you find here are founded in peer-reviewed medical research from the fields of nutritional science, exercise science, epigenetic study, and behavior change. This blog isn’t intended as medical advice, but we hope it will be an informative and inspiring source as you pursue a healthy, fulfilling life.
Welcome—and Live Awesome!
The Primal Blueprint is more than a way of eating well: It’s a way of living awesome. From food to fitness, stress to sleep, social connection to personal fulfillment, the Primal Blueprint illustrates how we live in accordance with our primal heritage. But rest assured, this is no caveman/cavewoman existence. It’s simply a way of honoring what our bodies and brains naturally need to optimally thrive. It’s a holistic lifestyle template that takes full advantage of modern convenience and opportunities—all for the aim of good Primal well-being.
10) Use Your Brain
The guidelines for eating Primally are neatly summed up in this graphic from my book, The Primal Blueprint.
As you can see, the foundation of a Primal eating pattern is vegetables and meat. I encourage people to eat a wide variety of both. Get as many colors into your meals as possible. Eat meat, poultry, and all manner of seafood, and don’t forget organ meats and bone broth. Eggs, too, are a staple. Focus on food quality as much as possible according to your budget and availability. Select sustainable seafood options, products from pasture-raised animals, and organic and pesticide-free produce.
Besides vegetables, meat, and eggs, you are free to eat full-fat dairy products if they work for you, as well as fruit and dark chocolate. I have labeled these “moderation foods” because you don’t want these to make up the bulk of your diet. Dairy products and chocolate are delicious and offer certain health benefits, but they don’t have as much to offer by way of nutrition as do meat and vegetables. Fruit can be a good source of micronutrients and fiber, but the carbs can quickly add up. The same goes for higher-carb veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash. Moderate your intake of these foods, and opt for seasonal and locally grown when possible. (Note that nuts, seeds, and their derivative butters are listed under “Healthy Fats,” but these too should be considered moderation foods. As much as I love macadamias and almond butter, they are calorically dense, and it is easy to go overboard.)
Choosing healthy fats is an important component of eating Primally. The notion that dietary fat is inherently unhealthy in patently false, but is important to select the right fats. Avoid refined vegetable and seed oils, as they are known to be extremely harmful due to their likelihood of oxidizing and leading to cellular damage and chronic inflammatory responses. They also have a very unfavorable omega 6:omega 3 ratio. This means eliminating canola, corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, and grapeseed oils, to name the most common. Establish a zero tolerance policy for hydrogenated oils and chemically altered trans fats, including things like margarine and vegetable shortening. Since these no-go oils and fats are found in the vast majority of packaged food products, as well as condiments such as salad dressing and mayo, you’ll want to start reading labels, and be careful not to purchase anything that contains these problematic ingredients.*
The best sources of fats are avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, animal fats (tallow, lard, duck/goose fat, butter, ghee), oils from nuts (e.g., walnuts, macadamia), and sesame oil. Use these fats and oils for cooking and in condiments such as sauces and dressings. Also enjoy the fat that naturally occurs in fattier cuts of meat, avocados, coconut products, nuts and nut butters, and seeds and seed butters, as well as the aforementioned full-fat dairy.
For more information on these topics, check out the articles at the bottom of this “Start Here” guide and in the sidebar. There you’ll find links to articles that explain everything you need to know about the Primal diet and lifestyle. You can also check out my book, The Primal Blueprint, for more on the science and rationale behind the Primal philosophy.
*My company, Primal Kitchen®, makes salad dressings, mayos, sauces, and other products with avocado oil for this very reason. Just a few years ago I couldn’t find any condiments at my local grocer that were free of the refined vegetable and seed oils that I refused to put in my body. Now I see a wave of companies responding to consumer demand for higher- quality products, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Continue to ask for better options from food manufacturers—let’s keep this trend rolling!
A ketogenic diet is any diet in which the liver makes ketones, hence the name. Without getting too deep into the science of human metabolism, the liver makes ketones via a processes called ketogenesis, when insulin and the insulin:glucagon ratio is low for an extended period, and glycogen (the storage form of glucose) stores in the liver become depleted. This can occur when you purposefully restrict carbohydrate intake, when you fast, or during periods of starvation.
Ketogenesis is an evolved response that would have kept our ancestors alive and thriving during periods of low carbohydrate availability such as during the middle of winter in higher latitudes, or during periods of food shortage. Ketones can be metabolized by most cells in place of glucose. Of critical importance, the brain, which generally relies heavily on glucose for energy, can run very efficiently off ketones.
Most people who eat a ketogenic diet employ carbohydrate restriction to get into ketosis, sometimes combined in a compressed feeding window and/or fasting. Generally a person needs to consume less than 50 grams of carbs per day—and sometimes even less—to achieve a state of what we call nutritional ketosis (to distinguish it from starvation ketosis or rare cases of acute ketosis arising from medical issues). Beyond that, there are a great many versions of a ketogenic diet, some healthier than others. The type of ketogenic diet I encourage my followers to try if they want to go keto, and which I describe in my book The Keto Reset Diet, is simply a Primal diet in which carbohydrate intake is restricted.
In practice, Primal is a lower-carb way of eating compared to a standard modern diet because you won’t be consuming bread, pasta, tortillas, cereal, bakery items, most packaged snack foods (chips, pretzels, crackers), and the like, all of which provide loads of carbs in the average person’s daily diet. Simply by eating according to the Primal Blueprint food pyramid, most people find that they naturally end up in the range of 75–150 grams of carbs per day, give or take. This is also the zone in which many people are able to easily and comfortably manage appetite and body composition. However, the Primal Blueprint does not specifically limit carb intake.
There are many reasons why someone might want to try a keto diet. Everyday people are using keto to lose body fat, regulate appetite and hunger, and possibly improve longevity. Athletes are looking to keto as a way to improve body composition and augment performance. A tremendous amount of research is currently underway, examining how a ketogenic diet might be used in the treatment of metabolic syndrome and obesity, diabetes, neurological diseases, Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer, mental health disorders, autoimmune conditions, and more.
If you are interested in trying keto, I recommend starting with the Keto Hub on Mark’s Daily Apple, and that you pick up a copy of The Keto Reset Diet. These resources will help you cut through all the noise and get right to the heart of what you need to know to go keto.
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