The problem with Mark’s Daily Apple

blueprint

This makes me sad. I used to be a big fan of the Paleo movement – before even the main players started selling candy and other products, starting the rapid decline.

Now I feel that even the greatest Paleo guru of them all, the awe-inspiring Mark Sisson, is cashing in with some disregard for where the money comes from, or the long-term effects to his brand. Check out the image above, that just ended up in my inbox.

Mark is selling chocolate bars with caramel coating – sweetened by purified Monk fruit extract, an artificial sweetener like Stevia.

Rest assured no Paleo people ever sweetened their food with purified super-sweet Stevia or Monk fruit extract. Nor did they ever eat chocolate bars with caramel coating to get their daily dose of “grass-fed collagen”. Paleo or Primal? Not so much.

But that’s not all. Order your sweetened chocolate bars today and you also get something else you need. We all know modern life can result in a lot of chronic stress, that’s not healthy for us. So what’s the solution? Return to a more “primal” lifestyle? That may be too hard, so why not just pop some “Primal Calm” pills that will relax you.

I kid you not.

This thing with products is a slippery slope, and the ad above is from someone who has slid quite far. Here’s the result to his brand, measured as Google searches for “Mark’s Daily Apple” from 2006 (to the left) up until now. Quite sad really.

marks

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PS

Every health and fitness site has to struggle with the question of how to fund themselves in a trustworthy way. It’s not easy. Originally on our Swedish blog, when we got started, we used to have ads and sell vitamin D supplements, etc. It never felt great, and we’ve stopped all that.

To avoid the slippery slope we’ve decided to never sell any products, not take industry money and not show ads. Instead we’re fully funded by the people via an optional membership, to keep our interests aligned. We’ll do everything we can to not start the slide. Because clearly even the best can fall far.

69 comments

Top comments

  1. Carla
    I really love Diet Doctor but I feel I must disagree strongly with this post. I think it is completely inappropriate to put down Mark's Daily Apple when he has helped countless people regain their health and vitality over the last several years, myself included. Everyone has a different carb tolerance level and are at a different place in their health journey and if he sees a need to provide people with healthier alternatives to processed food that is convenient and allows you to stay healthy I see nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, in all the years I have been following him I never felt that he was being pushy with his products at all, in fact it is just the opposite - he is adamant that a whole foods diet is optimal. The fact of the matter is that we live busy lives and the reality is that there are times when we want a convenient snack to carry with us that will keep us on track and help prevent us from hitting the vending machines. Also, all his content is 100% free to readers whether you buy his products or not, which is not the case with Diet Doctor, so to attack him on that front is simply ridiculous.
    Reply: #38
    Read more →
  2. Mel D
    Wow, I'm really surprised and disappointed to see this post. Why do you have to promote your website by putting someone else's down? MDA occupies a different niche in terms of content and audience from DietDoctor. Mark has always been completely transparent about the commercial aspects of his website/company, and he has never claimed that his products are purely paleo. That's why he uses the term "primal". It's meant to be a template that each person will tweak to get their best results. For some of his readers, the chocolate bars are an entirely appropriate product for them to consume, especially if they don't have insulin resistance issues and/or are athletes. I know they aren't the right choice for me. I made that decision based on the information I've read on his website. I'm also really surprised you would include that graph as "evidence" to back up your point since it shows correlation and not causation. This honestly reads like sour grapes to me and comes off as unprofessional. I really hope you take this post down. I feel like it discredits the wonderful work you are doing.
    Read more →
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All comments

  1. Sean M.
    I agree in all but one respect...and granted, it may be knit-picking. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is an herb that has been used South American Native tribes throughout history. Sure, the extract bay be new, but I would say that Stevia is far healthier than Aspartame. Saying as Aspartame is 45% Fenal Alanine (not sure if I spelled that right or not), 45% Aspartic Acid, and 10% Methyl Alcohol in it's molecular chain. And when Aspartame is stored in a facility at over 85 degree F (or in route on a hot cargo area of a truck for delivery), the molecular chain breaks down into its independent parts. Well, between the two sweeteners, I will take Stevia any day of the week...just saying.

    You can youtube search Dr. Ted Broer about the facts above concerning Aspartame.

    That all being said, you're right. It's very hard to fund an online venture in an ethical way for a long period...no matter what you're promoting. Really, it's not difficult more than A) a balancing act and B) being willing to do what's right on a get-to-know basis.

    At any rate, I wish you well.

  2. Tracey
    I tend to agree with the article. I subscribe to Diet Doctor because the site doesn't endorse products. I think the ultimate goal is to eat real food and be satiated enough not to need snacks. There is also a cookbook author who I believe lately has also been selling out. I enjoy his/her recipes and cookbooks, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see the endorsements on his/her websites and facebook posts. I realize we all need to put food on the table, pardon the pun, but we are also promoting a lifestyle. We are accountable. We all have to practice what we preach. We can't suggest to people to eat real food and don't snack, if we are endorsing processed foods and snacks.
  3. Ida
    I'm with you Diet Doctor....what on earth is "primal" about products?! He sells insanely expensive vitamins, supplements, protein powders, candy, mayonnaise, salad dressing etc. I used to read his blog all the time but as soon as he started pushing his ridiculously expensive "Primal Coach" training, I stopped reading. For me, the entire point of this way of eating/living to strip all that bs away and live as cleanly and simply as possible. . I had the audacity to question a "success story" as the poor girl who wrote in was barely eating anything, was quite thin but "struggling to lose 7 more pounds" and I was lambasted by his readers. His website has become has frighteningly cult-like as vegan websites
  4. Steve Buckland
    Dear Doctor, think maybe the title you use is dubious!
    You have, like most trolls, taken a poor context.
    Try perusing some of your own research, flawed and
    based in mis-representation of facts based on your
    financiers.
  5. John
    Kraft Heinz just "acquired" Sisson's Primal Kitchen. He has sold his soul, and I don't care how nice he is. Shameful.
    Reply: #59
  6. SpottedChui
    Mark has just sold-out to Kraft!!!!

    It so fricking sad.

  7. Dan
    "Regardless of what products he sells (and he sells quite a few), we can always choose not to buy them and Sisson still has lots of great information."

    The problem with comments like this is the fact that Sisson's information becomes watered down when in the background you know he is pushing crap for money. Hey, I haven't lost any respect for this guy. He's just shown he's a businessman first. Seriously, how many times do you have to visit his website to understand that his "secret" is to eat real food and move a lot. Come on! It comes down to if you get off your arse and actually do something.

  8. Soosie
    I like Mark Sissons and used to follow him and his lifestyle and years ago, bought his book, but I cringe when ANYONE in this arena sells products like “nutri” bars, for example. Yes, sell your book, sell us your way of living and show us how to do it, but don’t sell us supplements, or “food”. There are many who pop up on the diet doctor website in interviews, then you look them up and lo and behold, they’ve got something to sell. Maria Emmerich, for example, promotes pizzas and whey protein and keto cookies and artificial sweeteners, she links to mark sissons’ primal products and so it goes round. We can choose not to buy such crap, but it’s not great, is it? They’re advocating snacking, like we can’t go a couple of hours without something to eat. Or for when we’re travelling, like it’s too hard for us to prep something beforehand. We get sucked in because we trust them, so we’re going to trust what they’re selling! I hate it. If I see they’re selling supplements (especially their own) on their website, that’s it for me! I don’t think it’s trolling of diet doctor to be just as disappointed as I am in people who are leaders in their field to be selling snake oil products. I just lose a little faith, that’s all. And I haven’t singled Maria Emmerich out, she’s just the latest one I’ve been following.
  9. Soosie
    No!!!! Oh my giddy aunt, that’s awful.
  10. Jean-Luc
    Love this website but I hate it so much when it start to look like a religion. This post makes me think you are part of some sort of a cult. MARK HAS SINNED ! Dark chocolate with almond and healthy sugar alternative IS NOT BAD FOR YOU. According to your logic, 90% of the population would already been dead. the most difficult think for human is always to find balance in his life. OR you just shove anything and everything down your throat OR you start to obsessed about food and everything that potentially can be slightly bad for your perfect health. And discouraging any form of profit organisation from this movement is exactly what will prevent this movement to thrive. that's beyond sad.
  11. Jenny
    You guys seem really sophisticated. I am just a fatty who is fighting off insulin resistance. I recently was reborn after learning about xylitol, which I put in whip cream and guzzle, and marks book explained the miracle of the heart rate and the black hole. He helped me. I don't tan my own hides. Just trying to drop a few dimples.
  12. Worbian
    I have to agree and am equally saddened. I found Primal in 2010 and it was like a discovery of something sensible. The Forum was great and the books were pretty good too. It felt as if it was a way to get back to basics, to clean up the act of living. Then it became a "product". A simple "product". Kept some principles and moved on and put weight back on :(
  13. Cheryl
    I love Mark and his work and don’t mind if he makes a living selling products. My choice whether to buy or not. For some people his products may be really helpful. I do t personally have time to make my own mayonnaise and I’m glad his sits on the grocery shelf.
  14. Anya
    I love Marks and his work but this makes me think he dont cares about others that have a sugar problem. Making money out of other weakness is not really great. It is sad that Primal moved away from the basics.
  15. ElleK
    Mark Sisson is a great businessman. He established his blog during a time when using a blog to build an audience in order to sell them products was the thing to do and he did it very well. I first found his blog in 2011 and purchased his book The Primal Blueprint in 2012. Shortly thereafter, I happened to try his protein shakes and supplements and had a reaction to them. I contacted his company and they happily set up the return but I was very disappointed they were on shared equipment with wheat--hence my reaction. That was the moment I started to question the motivation behind his blog and discovered the savvy business practice of building the audience then selling the product.

    The irony: he has now sold his processed food products to Kraft-Heinz. It's not disappointment or sadness I feel because I had already stopped reading his blog back in 2012 when it was clear where it was heading. I have no issue with someone making money off of their blog or website. I'm a business owner so I get it. I just lost interest in reading one person's perspective (Mark's) and I stopped trusting him because he continually changed what Primal was....first it was about simplicity, whole foods/paleo, moving etc. then it was about specific foods, yes potato, no potato, yes rice, no rice. I mean come on. No he is all about Keto. I am sure there will be keto versions of his products soon. He includes them with his keto membership workshop-type thing.

    This is what bothers me: when a way of eating starts to become some kind of dietary dogma that I am supposed to follow whole-heartedly. Yet how can I trust something that is constantly changing--but not evolving? Primal to processed foods? That IS disappointing. I eat low carb, real food and mostly in season and local. It's what works for me. Do I make homemade cookies with monk fruit sweetener, some times during holiday season yes, most of the time I think all that stuff is just highly processed food which we all know isn't great for us, regardless of it's original source. Stevia leaf is natural, the powdery white stuff, not so much.

  16. Justin
    I was interested in this as Mark's block was a key part of my journey into fitness and it was transformative to say the least. I get that people need to make a living somehow so I do have some patience for this.

    (I am not sure how a graph of Google searches is relevant to a discussion regarding the value of his message. Mark himself suggests that a change to the Google search algorithm is the primary factor here)

  17. Susan
    I still read the MDA blog occasionally, but not often any more. There's just too much emphasis on product. He puts out several recipes a week for primal/keto eaters, but they always contain one or more of the Primal Kitchen products. I've been cooking long enough to know you can always substitute something else, but readers who are just learning their way around the kitchen might not know that. This is a dishonest form of promoting one's products.

    Additionally, as has already been stated, he pushes far too many dessert-type foods, which is contrary to the very heart and soul of paleo (primal) eating. Junk food is still junk food, no matter what the ingredients are. Further, today's article was all about ways of measuring and tracking body composition--as if far too many people aren't already obsessed about their body composition.

    Mark has made a bundle with his website, which I don't begrudge him. He has a right to make a living. But these days very few of the posts he now puts out are actually written by him. Most are done by staff members or guest writers. (And who knows? Maybe they always were.) In any case, judging from the dearth of comments his website now generates, versus several years ago, readers are quickly losing interest in the direction this blog has taken.

  18. CSmith
    I read an interview from him that was several years old. He was a supplement sales man and that's what inspired his "primal"movement. Not health but a way to sell pills to people. He was a sell out from day one.
  19. Kendall
    I think you're taking the wrong approach from the get-go. Mark's always been very open about the fact that's he's trying to reach as many people as possible, and compromising and letting them keep some bad habits people will stick it out who would otherwise give up. He's been vocal about the fact that he would rather endorse "80% paleo, 20% cheat foods" or whatever, and get far more people to improve their health in the first place, even if they aren't improving as much as they could be. Face it, not everyone is willing to rearrange their whole life or diet, and if you tell them "no more grains or sugar, forever" you'll lose those people immediately. Mark's approach is that it's better they should eat well most of the time, even if they're still eating snacky crap sometimes. And face it, many people are lazy. I know I am. I know I'm too lazy to make my own mayo, but I am willing to purchase a paleo-friendly mayo and use that.

    There are a lot of people that could benefit from paleo that will simply never make a 100% commitment. Mark Sisson is dedicated to reaching those people where they are, and I have mad respect for that.

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