January 15, 2020 at 08:00AM
Mark Sisson—you know him as the founding leader of the paleo movement, a guest on mbg’s own podcast, and the bestselling author of books including The Keto Reset Diet—is back with his latest, long-awaited book release: a ketogenic eating and lifestyle plan focused on longevity. Written with former pro triathlete Brad Kearns, Keto for Life: Reset Your Biological Clock in 21 Days and Optimize Your Diet for Longevity is designed to be a holistic, actionable approach to living a long and happy life span. Check out an excerpt from the book below!
Time flies. Here I am today at age 65, talking about longevity—a concept I hardly ever considered during the first four decades of my life. Ironically, in my youthful oblivion, I engaged in an assortment of lifestyle choices that directly opposed longevity and compromised my day-to-day health. My obsession with qualifying for the United States Olympic Trials in the marathon meant running over 100 miles a week throughout my 20s.
My crazy workouts, and the nutrient-deficient, high-carb, high-insulin-producing diet that fueled them, resulted in systemwide inflammation, oxidative damage (aka free radical damage), glycation (excess glucose binding with important structural proteins and causing dysfunction throughout the body), hormonal dysfunction, musculoskeletal breakdown, and immune suppression. I caught at least six upper respiratory tract infections each year. I battled chronic fatigue, osteoarthritis in both feet, severe tendinitis in both hips, chronic gastritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
While my youthful indiscretions accelerated my aging, I’m convinced that I have repaired much of this damage over the past two decades. Most prominently, I ditched grains and sugars in favor of nutrient-dense primal foods starting in 2002. This, along with abandoning my crazy training schedule some 15 years prior to my primal dietary transformation, took me from inflamed, immune-suppressed, and hormonally dysregulated to healthy and vibrant.
Today, with my Social Security paperwork filed, I am healthier, and in many ways fitter, than I was when I was a narrowly adapted creature suited for running or pedaling long and hard, and not much else. Come to think of it, the same “narrowly adapted” characterization might apply to when I became successful in business, but not very successful at regulating my attendant levels of stress and anxiety. This is one of the reasons that the scope of this book extends beyond superfoods, super workouts, wonder supplements, and biohacking strategies to embrace a comprehensive mind, body, and lifestyle approach to longevity. While overhauling your lifelong high-carbohydrate eating patterns can be a challenge, working on the intangible elements of longevity can be just as daunting, maybe more so.
Keto for Life will help unlock your peak performance potential and maintain it throughout your entire life—not only in the high-impact categories of shedding body fat, improving physical fitness, or minimizing disease risk factors in blood tests but also in the more refined aspects of healthy living, like nurturing interpersonal relationships or balancing stress and rest. Ultimately, my goal is to help you enjoy an extended health span: not just making it to 90- or 100-plus but feeling vibrant, energetic, happy, productive, and fulfilled until the end.
The four pillars of keto longevity.
As you might imagine, the ketogenic diet is a centerpiece of this approach, but this book branches out into four distinct categories that I call the four pillars of keto longevity. You’ll understand the scientific rationale and benefits of honoring each of these pillars and will also receive practical, step-by-step guidance to nail the objectives in each pillar. Finally, you’ll put everything together during the intensive 21-Day Biological Clock Reset, building momentum and clarity for a lifetime of healthy habits and happiness.
Here is where we are headed:
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Pillar 1: Metabolic Flexibility
Time to escape carbohydrate dependency and become a fat-burning beast! You’ll start by ditching toxic modern foods and progress comfortably through the multistage process detailed in The Keto Reset Diet to the highest level of metabolic flexibility through ketogenic eating. Then, you’ll discover and adopt some advanced strategies based on the latest anti-aging research that will help to promote longevity and make a huge improvement in your rate of aging. I’ll also help you create targeted goals for fat reduction and peak performance that you can sustain for a lifetime. Metabolic flexibility doesn’t have to mean rigid adherence to ketogenic macronutrient guidelines forever. Rather, I convey a concept of living in the keto zone, where you become adept at burning a variety of fuel sources based on your specific goals, eating preferences, genetic attributes, and ongoing experimentation and refining.
Pillar 2: Movement & Physical Fitness
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Image by Miquel Lloncc / Stocksy
Surprisingly, the priority here is not crazy sweating in the gym but rather to make a concerted effort to increase all forms of general everyday movement. Our genes are hardwired to move around all day long. This keeps us physically energized (thanks to turbocharged fat burning) and cognitively sharp. Fitness and health start with movement. Emerging science is showing that even a devoted workout regimen cannot save you from the destructive health consequences of too much stillness. Once you get into a good groove with daily movement patterns, you can boost your longevity quotient with a strategic blend of low-level cardio workouts and regular brief, intense strength and sprint efforts—in much less time and with less stress than you might think!
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Pillar 3: Mental Flexibility
Under this broad definition falls an assortment of powerful mindset and behavior practices that promote resiliency for life in the same manner that metabolic flexibility makes you resilient enough to skip meals and maintain energy and focus. Strategies to develop mental flexibility include reframing self-limiting beliefs, “pivoting” (going with the flow when facing life change), being mindful and appreciative of the present instead of ruminating about the past or the future, having a formal practice for meditation and/or gratitude, nurturing healthy reciprocative social connections (being vigilant about preventing digital connections from crowding out real ones), and pursuing your passions and highest purpose to make a positive contribution to society throughout your life. Put those all together, and I call it living awesome!
Pillar 4: Rest & Recovery
Optimizing your sleep practices will be the prominent focus here, but we must also consider a broad-based approach to chilling out amid the hectic pace and constant stimulation of modern life. Rest and recovery strategies for longevity include disciplining your use of technology, taking frequent breaks from peak cognitive function to refresh depleted brain neurons, and conducting specially designed workouts that promote relaxation and rejuvenation.