Mark Sisson’s Daily Routine: From Breakfast to DinnerJune 19th, 2020
Welcome to What I Eat in a Day, a blog series that showcases the daily lives and meals of Thrive Market members like you. Today we’re talking with Mark Sisson, 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”. After three decades of researching and educating folks on why food is the key to maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal, paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.
Why is healthy living important to you?
Health has always been a part of my life—when I was an elite athlete, as most athletes do, I manipulated my diet and training regimen with the goal of adding power and shaving off time. I remember at one point, my training stalled, my recovery was slow, and the results I was getting didn’t match the effort I was putting in. I found myself frustrated at the information I was finding to improve my health, so I dug deeper into genetics and human evolution until I arrived at what I now call the Primal Blueprint—principles for living and eating in a way that is compatible with our hard-wiring as humans.
What’s your biggest challenge with healthy eating and/or healthy living?
I’m doing a lot less of the stuff that people think of as a traditional workout, like heavy weights or long runs. Instead, I’m getting out in the sunshine, taking long bike rides with my wife, paddleboarding, and tossing the frisbee around. If I’m being honest, I don’t have many eating challenges. But that’s because I’ve done the work. I’ve developed metabolic flexibility, which takes some effort up front, and pays off in the long run. I can go long periods of time without feeling hungry, and I don’t have the cravings I used to experience when I was on the hamster wheel of training hard every day and fueling with carbs. I get plenty of exercise without doing much planning or calculating around it, because it’s playful movement, and enjoyable above all else.
How has your work life and life outside of work changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I used to travel a lot for conferences, speaking engagements, and meetings. Like the rest of the world, I’m spending more time at home now than I ever have. I have to admit, the slower pace of life has been a welcome change. Professionally, I can still do everything I need to do by phone or on Zoom, but I could get used to hopping on the paddleboard between meetings.
Which moments of your day bring you the most joy?
I love slow mornings. I like to make sure I have two or so hours for reading, dynamic stretching, walking, drinking my coffee. Easing into my day sets the tone for everything else to come.
What keeps you going when you feel overwhelmed?
Not as much lately, but when I’m on the road and packing my day with meetings, it can feel like a lot to get through in a short amount of time. Several years ago, I made the goal to help 10 million people live a healthier and happier life, and when I got there, I upped the ante to helping 100 million people get healthy. People send me their Success Stories, which I publish on Mark’s Daily Apple, and those are incredibly motivating—motivating to me, to keep sharing what I know, and motivating to other people who want to reach their goals.
Let’s talk about what you eat in a day!
First thing in the morning, I make a French press of bold coffee, and I’ll add a splash of heavy whipping cream and a teaspoon of sugar. The sugar surprises a lot of people, but I like it, and it’s working with my metabolism—for now, anyway. If that changes, I’ll skip it.
Most days, I stay fasted until about 1:00pm. But if I find that I’m hungry before then, I’ll eat. On the occasion that I eat in the morning, I’ll almost always have eggs, either soft-cooked or in a simple scramble with chopped kale or spinach.
Often for lunch, I have my signature “Big Ass Salad.” Anything is fair game, as long as it’s a big bowl of mostly vegetables. I start with a bed of greens and add whatever vegetables I have around. I make sure to incorporate a little protein, healthy fats from avocado or macadamia nuts, and I top it off with a generous amount (some would say ridiculous amount, but I love it) of whatever Primal Kitchen dressing I’m into that day. As you might imagine, I’m always stocked. I’ve been reaching for Balsamic Vinaigrette lately. It works with every mix of salad ingredients I can come up with.
If I were to pick a favorite dinner, it would probably come from the grill. Seared ribeye with a side of zucchini, asparagus, leeks—again, whatever I have—brushed with a Primal Kitchen marinade and lightly grilled. I have instructions on how to choose and prepare the perfect steak here. I’ve perfected my method over the years.
As you become fat-adapted, you’re not as inclined to snack. I’m not a big snacker, but if I want something, it has to be easy above all else. Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Bars are my go-to, especially when I’m traveling. Leftover guacamole or a Primal Kitchen dressing with vegetables for dipping always work well. I reach for olives when I want something salty. A couple scoops of Primal Fuel in a blender with water and ice cubes is a quick, filling, and frothy way to top off the tank. And I always have a jar of Artisana coconut butter on hand. I eat that stuff with a spoon.
I love red wine with a good steak, but I noticed that my sleep was off when I had a glass or two. A few years ago, I learned about organic, dry-farmed wine that uses low-input fermentation methods to produce lower-alcohol wines with fewer impurities. I sleep fine when I have that, though it’s still infrequent.
How do you structure what you eat in a day?
I finish eating for the day by 8 p.m. at the latest, and I stay fasted until about 1 p.m. the next day. I’m not the type to write down everything I eat or enter all of my meals into an app. So, I developed the Primal Blueprint Master Formula. That way, I don’t have to think about my nutrient intake. If I take Master Formula every day, I know all the important stuff is covered and I can eat foods that I enjoy.
Why did Primal Kitchen decide to launch frozen meals?
When people first go primal or keto, they often have to completely relearn how to cook, especially when they are used to packaged foods or a lot of grain-based quick meals like pasta or sandwiches. It’s a short learning curve, but it’s one you have to get through nonetheless. I wanted to create a convenient way for people in the Primal community to get delicious food fast, without having to put a lot of thought or effort into it. And, I’ll let you in on a secret: cooking isn’t my favorite thing. I liked the idea of heat-and-eat for myself, and even better if I don’t have to scour an ingredients label for industrial seed oils, grains, or sugars.
What are you doing differently than other frozen meal brands?
We sought out to make frozen bowls and skillets without gluten or grains, without industrial seed oils, using quality ingredients like cage-free eggs, and we wanted them to be Paleo-friendly and Whole30® approved. I was fairly certain we could create recipes within our principles—the right fats, no grains, no sugar—but I wasn’t sure how they would taste out of the freezer. I may be biased, but my team is the best in the business and they pulled it off beautifully. These are some of my favorite flavor combinations, and they’re ready in minutes with minimal cleanup.
How did you choose the flavors and assortment of the frozen meals?
I’ll admit, there was some self-interest involved with the frozen-product development process. My aim was to make quick versions of the foods I like to eat either at home or in restaurants. We’ve had an incredible response so far.
What are you most excited about with this launch?
I really wanted to get this category right. So, what excites me most about our frozen bowls and skillets is the response we’ve been getting. Everyone who has tested and sampled the final product has been blown away. I think people have strong associations with frozen foods they ate in the past, and the consensus is that these aren’t like anything they’ve ever had. Everyone we’ve been able to share the product with so far has been remarkably impressed.
What is one thing you want our members to know about this new line?
The number one non-negotiable for me was taste. If Primal Kitchen was to enter the frozen category, foods had to taste good, and if not, we spend our energy developing something else. Period. And like I said, we pulled it off. These aren’t foods I reach for when I’m rushed and I don’t have time for something else. These are foods I look forward to eating.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if you had to choose one frozen meal to start with, which would you choose?
I love them all, and it largely depends on the day. Lately, I’ve been digging the Chicken Panang Curry bowl. The sauce is so creamy and flavorful. I can’t get enough.