A Conversation with Mark Sisson About Primal Business

After the Jimmy Moore interview, I took comments to heart and wondered what I could do distinctively.

How about an ugly face? Distinctive enough? (That would be mine, not my guest's.)

So I thought about it. One idea was short blurbs of a minute or two, kinda rage-ish, but I think I'm better off writing them on Twitter. I just could not get myself interested in audio only. Really, it's too close to writing in my view -- or, I'd just rather write. Video, on the other hand, is amazingly different from both.

But...videos are often too long. What I have, below, my first foray, is nearly 40 minutes and I had intended 15. FAIL. But, it's with Mark Sisson, and wanting it to be more conversational than a formal interview, that's what happened. I had a good time and I think Mark did too. You can see for yourself. Please do.

And, so, beyond what I hope is a lively conversation about paleo/primal qua business, what might be your input as to production, quality, format, etc? I really want to know. I have my own lessons learned and I was going to include those, but I want to see if you have the same criticisms I had, so I'm keeping my mouth shut.

And oh, I promised to let you know the software I'm using to do this, in case any of you fabulous bloggers out there wish to do likewise. Here it is. It's basically a plugin for Skype. For $20, you can do what used to take a studio and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. THe world is a changin'.

Finally, don't be afraid to tell me you hate it; really. I'm perhaps funny in that I like to read my writing, which drives me to make it good in my estimation, but I just don't like hearing myself in audio, or seeing myself in video. That's not a call to make me "feel" better. I don't need that. If you think there's something here, then let me know how to make it better. I may still hate it, but I think I can follow your collective bidding in thins one.

Just a final note: please don't take the foregoing to in any way detract from the content of the interview. Please, please have that as your foremost topic of conversation. Any clues about how I might improve it ought to be secondary.

Recent Meals and a Surpise

I'll start with the surprise! Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of doing a 35 minute video interview & conversation with Mark Sisson. It's all in split screen which has some drawbacks which I'll write about when I publish it. So check back later for that. I'm mashing video now.

In the meantime, here's some samples of my current meals. In this program I'm undergoing, nothing is fixed. Some days are lower in fat and higher in carbs and others, the reverse. Let's jump right in. As always, click on the images for hi-res.

The scramble is just roast beef, onions & tomato scrambled up with some eggs.

Roast Beef Scamble
Roast Beef Scramble

This was scallops, shrimp, calamari and cod all done up in a bottled cioppino sauce I found with exclusively real ingredients. Nothing unpronounceable.


A cinch to prepare. Left over roast beef with a sweet. Put the potato in the oven at 400 for an hour, and then prep your beef with a drizzle of stock in an aluminum foil wrap on a plate and put in the oven for the last 15 minutes. Talk about 1 minute prep time.

Roast Beef Sweet Potato
Roast Beef Sweet Potato

Grilled ahi tuna, and in the meantime, a chicken stock reduction with a little butter, a little slurried potato starch to thicken, and my favorite: tarragon.

Ahi Tuna Taragon
Ahi Tuna Tarragon

This one was done sous vide, 122F for 45 minutes, then seared.

Ahi Tuna Sous Vide
Ahi Tuna Sous Vide

Links From Readers: Exercise, Standing, Frankenfats, Frankensweets and Collectivized Obesity

My readers are really on the ball. Not a day goes by that I don't receive an email it two -- or more -- with links to some article relevant to the topics we discuss around here. I thought I'd give you a sample. These are all things I got from readers and not on my own.

~ From WilfredoWeighing the Evidence on Exercise. A lot of interesting stuff in there. The bottom line seems to be that while exercise isn't that helpful to lose weight (I say it is, if combined with a paleo / primal diet and sensible IF) it's very helpful in keeping it off once lost, even if returning to bad eating habits. Most notably, even consistent walking and standing rather than sitting has profound effects. I'm standing at my desk right now.

~ And on the subject of standing rather than sitting all day, looks like the mainstream is catching onto something I was all over a year and a half go. From Benjamin in The New York TimesCan’t Stand to Sit Too Long? There’s a Desk for That. I now have minimalist barstools so that I can alternate. Oh, and the prices of those models shown in the NYT article are outrageous in my view (as much as nearly $3,000). My application at the foregoing link cost $200 for two people and is built like a brick shithouse.

~ Here's a few from David BrownDiets High in Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fats Linked to Obesity.

Adipose tissue is more than a dormant energy storage depot. Fat cells, known as adipocytes, release chemical mediators, which promote inflammation. This may be the key link between obesity and increased risk of inflammatory diseases. [...]

Extrapolation of the present data to human populations showed a stark parallel to the increased dietary intake of omega-6 fats in most developed countries in the last 100 years. Due to the competitive relationship between omega-3 and omega-6 fats the inevitable increase of the omega-6 HUFA pool may irreversibly lead to both obesity and the inflammation resulting in increased mortality.

Also, see Dr. Stephan Guyenet's take on this issue: Have Seed Oils Caused a Multi-Generational Obesity Epidemic?

What this all means to me is that eating out too often is a bad idea. I have fallen prey to that myself, most often breakfast. And while I always ask for my eggs to be cooked in butter, who really knows? I think eating out subjects you to a lot more omega 6 than if you eat at home and don't use seed/ grain oils or products that contain them, such as bottled dressing and other bottled & canned products. Dr. Eades recently posted about this specific thing: Dining out and bad fats.

~ Moving from frankenfats to frankensweets, three readers (David, another David and Kevin) sent these pieced on added sugars.

Added sugars increase heart-disease risk

Higher Amounts of Added Sugars Increase Heart Disease Risk Factors

And here's a couple of videos from MSNBC, and while a bit all over the map and you may have to tolerate the guy who "trusts his heart to Lipitor," it's at least good to see some awareness and waking up to the reality that SUGAR MAKES YOU FUCKING FAT!!!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Now of course it would have been fun to actually have a reporter on scene who's not your run of the mill useful idiot in order to pose a brain teaser for Dr. Miriam Voss, something like, "OK, Dr., during this interview you've said that's it's well established that dietary fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, and now you're telling us that added sugar -- an enormous if not chief source of dietary carbohydrate for most Americans -- is also associated with increased risk. Since that implies a low-fat diet combined with a greatly reduced carbohydrate diet, can you tell us what people are supposed to eat?"

~ And finally from William comes this pretty wide ranging article in The Atlantic by Marc Ambinder about his decision to undergo bariatric surgery, and much more: Beating Obesity. I find it interesting that in four pages he covers so much ground -- most of which I find to be nauseating collectivism -- about obesity yet identifies the basic problem right on page one.

The rise in obesity is associated with a rogue’s gallery of individual, social, and technological factors. The “Big Two,” as scientists call the leading factors, are reduced exercise and increased food consumption: Americans are ingesting more and more calories than they’re burning. But underlying that simple energy-in, energy-out equation is a complex, and so far inexorable, interplay between powerful physiological and societal forces.

Start with our bodies. Molded by evolution in the Pleistocene era, when grains and meat were not easily acquired, they are hardwired to store as much energy in reserve—fat—as possible. Some scientists think that the brain tries to regulate our caloric intake and metabolism to keep our weight within a range that is heavily influenced by our genes. This “set-point theory” argues that an obese person’s body will actually “defend” an excessive weight. An alternative hypothesis, “settling-point theory,” argues that body weight settles into a range determined not just by genes, but by their interaction with learned behaviors and environmental cues. [...]

Obesity is also correlated with lack of sleep, with exposure to certain chemicals (like bisphenol A, used in making plastic bottles), even with the type of bacteria that is found in our intestines. And, of course, we adapt, not necessarily in the most healthful way: a high-fat, high-sugar diet can alter the composition of the bacterial flora to persuade our gut to signal the brain to eat even more.

When we subject our Pleistocene bodies to our modern era, in which corn is cheap and animals are killed by others and safely prepared, the effect on waistlines might seem predictable.

Of course, getting it right -- implicit in all of the foregoing links submitted by astute readers -- won't make any big corporations big bucks, nor increase the figurative penis or boob size of your average commissar holding a public office. The only one to benefit is you, your friends & loved ones, and perhaps those specific individuals or groups you have stepped up for, like readers of a blog. And why should you really give a shit about anyone else anyway?

Update: Via Dr. Eades' Tweets, this just out, in Scientific American: Carbs against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart

The KFC “Double Down” is Going Down!

So I was intrigued a couple of weeks ago when I read Fat-Head's...uh...Tom Naughton's account of getting his final affairs in order in advance of trying out Kentucky Fried Chicken's New Double Down Sandwich. "I Doubled Down and Lived to Tell."

After learning a few weeks ago that KFC would begin offering the Double Down nationwide on April 12, I made plans to try one. But first, given the hysterical health warnings prompted by KFC’s announcement, I put my affairs in order: I made sure my life insurance was paid up and placed a copy of the policy on my desk. I had an attorney update my will. I called my mom to tell her she was a great mother. I also tucked away a note for my wife, telling her I’d understand if she remarried after a reasonable grieving period — say, 25 years.

Now of course, Tom is more of a low-carber than a paleo guy; though, if you saw Fat Head the Movie, which you must, you understand that his low-carbishness is well informed by his sense of evolutionary human biology; i.e., the natural diet humans evolved on. See, unlike the vast majority of the medical, agricultural, "health," and dietitian communities, Tom doesn't think "Mother nature is stupid," naturally selecting humans with a propensity to eat real foodstuffs that cause their bodies to "want to kill them."

And moreover, Tom is very sympathetic to a paleo guided lifestyle as I practice, even though -- as virtually all other people on Earth -- I don't limit myself exclusively to paleo foods. Tom's particular approach is to focus his energies on the obviously stupid and evil, not wasting his time in attempts to replace conventional dietary dogmatism and fanaticism with another one that starts with 'P'. Here, Tom just took up my "Potato Controversy" for himself. And he even learned something. Sweet potatoes don't make his glucometer explode.

...So anyway, at least in the photos, that sandwich looked rather enticing to me so I went and had myself one, with iced tea, no chips or other side dish. And, I had the grilled version but went ahead and let them put on their doubtless HFCS, 50-franken-ingredient filled "sauce." After all, it wasn't more than a light spread of the stuff. And, the sandwich was OK. The breaded & deep fried one probably would have made me feel bloated, tired, congested and generally like crap for hours. The grilled one made me feel fed, energized, satisfied.

But I went ahead and outdid them yesterday, in a big way. I stumbled upon the idea a few days ago. As I've blogged about previously, I am undergoing a self experiment with professional, paleo sympathetic guidance. While I can't reveal specific macronutrient ratios, which vary in any case depending upon a number of factors, suffice to say that I have to actually track my intake and as you might guess, I often find myself butting up against the limitations on fat. And so, I cook up packages of skinless chicken breast tenders. I was looking for a way to make them a little tastier. Of course, mustard is always an option but it suddenly struck me: French style cornichon pickles. I just eat them right together. Truly delicious; a great way to rescue a relatively dry piece of lean meat. You know, back when I lived in France I always loved a good sandwich jambon beurre. It's a truly simple delight: a crunchy baguette liberally spread with sweet butter and thin slices of jambon, a French style of cured ham. I completely forget where I learned of the variation but one of them is to add in those cornichon pickles and so having a butcher, baker and a market within walking distance of my Mediterranean flat, it was a popular thing for me to eat. Looks like it is for at least 28 other people, members of this Facebook group: Pour la sauvegarde du cornichon dans le sandwich jambon-beurre. Basically: Save the pickle in the sandwich!

Well I can tell you that they are also awesome on my version of the Double Down Sandwich (click for hi-res).

A Better Double Down Sandwich
A Better Double Down Sandwich

This was one large chicken breast, butterflied & grilled, pepper jack cheese, thick sliced butcher counter bacon, and the cornichons. No need for a sauce as the cheese is plenty.

There in the background is a half of one of those evil white potatoes sliced chip style and fried in tallow and coconut oil.

Désolé, mon Colonel.

Weekend Inspiration: Michelle Matangi and The Primal Blueprint on New Zealand TV

How about Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint showing up on a New Zealand morning news show featuring one of Mark's big success stories? I checked Mark's results pages to see if Michelle Matangi was already there and she's on page one about halfway down with lots of photos. She's has also shown up here a time or two in comments. Here's the before & after they showed on the program.

Michelle Matangi Before After
Michelle Matangi, Before After

And now go take a look at the program. It's a real hoot with an obviously overweight female host trying to hide her horror over Michelle's advocacy of arterycloggingsaturatedfat and then the idea that she doesn't need carbs and in particular, from hearthealthywholegrains.

In the end, to my eye, Michelle ends up looking like a competent success story who could help others, whereas the dumbshit conventional "wisdom" regurgitator comes off looking like the ignorant puppet she is.

In fact, Michelle can help others and has set out to do so via her own blog: Primal Journey. Go give her a visit and tell her how great she did in that interview.

One Potato, Two Potatoes

You know, I almost never have any clue what particular posts are going to explode in comments. It seems to be the general case, however, that those entries in which I invest the most time get less attention in comments than other posts I just toss up. Perhaps it's length, or perhaps the ones I spend more time on have less loose ends that need to be explored in comments. At any rate, it can be interesting.

...Like last week's "Paleo Fear of Potatoes" post, now at 152 comments and still going... Wow, what sacrilege I'm apparently guilty of. For some, it's resistance to the idea that paleo lifestylers ought do anything but low or very low carb (evil insulinz, y'know) and any carbs you do get should come from non-starchy vegetables & fruit. For others, it's more of a orthodox, even fundamentalist religious insistence that the concept of "paleo" not be sullied with any neolithic foods that may nonetheless be more-or-less "primal" or real food in nature. So, while various sweet potatoes are clearly "paleo," the poor ol' white potato didn't come on the scene until a few thousand years ago, missing its 10,000 year cutoff, and while reasonably comparable to sweet potatoes in terms of nutritional density, it's neolithic, not paleo.

Actually, I don't really have a problem with the distinction. I already consume a decent number of primal, real foods that are neolithic, not paleo: dairy (butter, cream, cheese, yogurt), minimally processed meats (bacon, sausages, ground beef), dark chocolate (rarely), supplements (a few), sparkling water, wine & other spirits and likely a few other odds & ends. So where does one draw the line? How many neolithic agents are you allowed before you're looking at damnation, or, in my case, excommunication?

Apparently, Don Wiss, proprietor over at the fabulous Paleo resource center, paleodiet.com, thought enough was enough, I guess. See, I was one of the few blogs listed, along with Mark Sisson, Don Matesz, Stephan Guyenet. But not anymore. I have sinned the unpardonable sin.

Well said James. Because of this thread I removed my link to FreeTheAnimal. [...]

The way you and I define paleo is what could be called orthodox. I don’t want to see the term diluted.

OK, I don't begrudge anyone the links they choose to have or not have on their sites. I'm happy to have been included in the first place and it was appropriate. At around 200,000 real people (not bots, as so many like to report) page views and 35-40% of visits being first timers, I'm...well...doing my job. At the end of the day, it's about the real results. So, upon due consideration I responded to Don's comment thusly.

“Because of this thread I removed my link to FreeTheAnimal.”

Oh, my. Guess I’ve been excommunicated, then. That’s fine, Don. Actually, it was because of this that I discovered my oversight of not having your reference pages in my blogroll, an oversight I intend to correct, since the real results of my readers is infinitely more important than orthodoxy. I wouldn’t want newbees to miss out on good information on account of disagreements that at best, constitute only 10% of entire dietary makeup.

Don’t know how much of a cop you want to be in all this, but I think I’m in pretty good company with others listed on your pages.

Dr Stephan:

“I eat a lot of potatoes. I agree with commenter Aaron in the last post, they seem like a 'clean' fuel. Rapidly absorbed, low anti-nutrients, some fiber but not excessive, plenty of vitamin C. Plus the protein quality is quite high, so you don’t have to complement it with other protein sources to make good use of it. It also contains a surprising amount of protein (roughly 10% of calories). I also like that they’re cheap and totally unprocessed.”

Don Matesz:

“I think any potato fits the picture, but I prefer sweet potatoes.”


“On the other hand, I know from experience that people can lose fat while eating 100-200 g carbs daily and including bananas and sweet or white potatoes. I consider them primal foods since they appear in H-G diets.”

And by the way, I am not “encouraging” anything, but I do discourage potatoes for those trying to lose significant weight still, diabetics, or those who feel bad eating them.


Jeez, and I didn't even get mean with him... Glad I didn't or I might be a bit...crispy by now.

I don't know... I rather hate seeing this all turn from the increasing international popularity we're currently enjoying into a Shiite / Hezbollah hysteria over doctranary authority & dogmatism.

So what do you think? At what point ought not someone refer to themselves as "paleo?"

To recap, according to some:

Unpardonable Sin:

Grilled Bavette Baked Potato
Grilled Bavette & White Baked Potato

Super Duper Paleo Ring, with Decoder:

Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato

I must finish by noting that last night was my first ever baked sweet potato. In the oven, 400 for an hour. I was pretty amazed. I've used them in cooking, before, mostly in stews & such. I've also done mashed orange sweet potato, or yams or whatever you call them. Both my wife and I couldn't get enough of this, and it really didn't even require the cinnamon (or anything else). It was like a sweet pie filling. So, thanks to some commenters on that last potato entry; the sweets will definitely be figuring more prominently in the future.

Grassfed Cheeseburger Salad and a Fish Taco

First up, dinner the other night. Now some like to take the fixin's and make up a lettuce wrap burger. I find Green leaf lettuce or iceberg to be the best for that, but I nearly never buy iceberg unless it's for a little crunch in a salad with nutritious greens in it -- but then why not just use radicchio? In this case, the store was out of green leaf, so romaine had to suffice. OK, I'll stop stalling. This was for four of us Sunday evening. Of course, that burger is all mine. (Click images for the high-res versions).

Raw Materials
Raw Materials

Others chose various means of salad or wrap and here's what I chose to do.

Cheeseburger Salad
Cheeseburger Salad

Requires a knife & fork. Or, maybe not.

This was lunch just now, one of my versions of a fish taco. As you can see, romaine was made for this. Make up tuna salad in your favorite way, garnish however you like, and it's super simple, quick & tasty.

Fish Taco
Fish Taco

I have a number of ways I like to do tuna salad but the common elements in all of them are: water packed white albacore, bacon (1/2 - 1 slice per 6oz can, and some of the fat, too), garlic powder, onion, salt & pepper.

Variations include a little yellow or dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp per can; a pinch of Indian Yellow curry powder per can; a sprinkle of paprika; chopped cornichon or dill pickles; and/or chopped celery. In this case I did the curry powder & paprika. Note that you should not be able to clearly taste the curry. It's used for a subtile taste.

A first for this batch of tuna was that I finally succeeded in making my own mayo. It was whisking by hand that did the trick.

Anyone else have some great & secret tuna salad recipes?