Everybody has heard the saying 'So easy a caveman could do it!' But have we ever really thought about it. In reality genetically we are not all that different from our hunter gatherer ancestors. Yet our diet and food and lifestyle has changed more in the last 50 to 100 years than probably and thousand year period prior to that going all the way back before the agricultural revolution. Daniel Quinn in his fictional Ishmael trilogy tries to teach us about some of the changes that took place when humans went from being hunter gatherer's to agrarian. Mark Sisson in this book after years of research, and experience as a world class athlete has come to the conclusion that maybe our caveman ancestors had some insight we have lost. Marks uses a prototype caveman Grok as our example.
This book The Primal Blueprint grew out of years of personal and communal experience. Mark Sisson was one of the nutritionists who helped develop some of the products sold by Beachbody to supplement their program P90X. But in the five years since it's release Mark's knowledge and understand has changed radically. The book also grew out of the community of people trying to live Primal through marks website and blog marksdailyapple com. The book is just under 300 pages with appendices. But there are thousands of pages and articles on the website to supplement and support you in trying to make this healthy lifestyle change. The book focuses around 10 Rules of primal living.
10 Immutable Laws of Primal Living:
1. Eat lots of plants and animals.
2. Avoid poisonous things.
3. Move frequently at a slow pace.
4. Lift Heavy things.
5. Sprint once in a while.
6. Get adequate sleep.
8. Get plenty of sunlight.
9. Avoid stupid mistakes.
10. Use your brain.
Basically the primal blueprint will teach you to eat differently, exercise differently and get better results. I know a few people who have gone Primal after doing P90X, and met a few more that are just primal and all have amazing stories to tell and amazing results. On [...] every few weeks there are posts of testimonies of people of all ages from all walks of life who have made the transition to great effect. In many ways based on the results people get it teaches you to live the 80/20 rule get 80% results from 20% of the effort. Eat more, eat great food, work out less and get better results. Now many people when they hear about this program think it is a new version of Atkins, it just is not so. As can been see from the Carbohydrate curve, Atkins aimed for the Ketosis zone, primal aims for a weight loss sweet spot then elevating to a maintenance level for Carb intake. Also Primal emphasis moving, moving often and moving in different ways. The Primal Blueprint also radically modifies the food pyramid, to one that is not controlled by government lobbyists. You eat lots of plants, good protein some fruit and minimal grains. Mark has also created an exercise pyramid that challenges conventional wisdom, one of the big points in this book is that most people over train thus diminishing the returns and even causing injury and harm. Check out the exercise pyramid for Mark's recommendations.
Mark also stresses throughout the book, that living Primal is a dynamic lifestyle, constantly open to change as new research comes up. There are numerous blogs and websites dedicated to the Primal or Paleo lifestyle with tools, tips, tricks to help you on your journey. But Mark also stresses that to begin with do not try and change everything overnight, he sets the goal of aiming for 80% if you live in 80% compliance with the Primal Blueprint your will be in better shape, healthier and have more energy and resistance to illness. In Robert A. Heinlien's science fiction Classic Stranger In A Strange Land, Michael Valentine Smith is a human who has been raised by Martians as the sole survivor of the first human expedition to the red planet. Part of his philosophy is that we need to grok, to understand, to comprehend, to internalize truth, and he has learned a better truth being raised from aliens. Thus in regards to health, nutrition and wise living to achieve balance between body, mind and spirit we need to not only look on Grok as an example but try and emulate him. Applying the Primal foot pyramid and workout pyramid in our day to day life. So basically it comes down to not necessarily so easy a caveman could do it, but so natural the caveman did it. Can you grok that? Give it a try for a few weeks, and not only will you feel better but also start seeing results almost immediately.
This book provides an excellent introduction a very healthy version of the Paleo diet in a very easy to read and engaging format.
The idea that modern diseases are caused by traditional foods is just nonsense!
Don't believe the myth about those eating traditional diets typically dying young, the truth is very different. I'd recommend reading information from Weston A Price for more information on this topic if you can. (See Nutrition and Physical Degeneration or the WAPF website.) This is the way we have all evolved to eat and to be healthy.
The author advises us not to be afraid of trying something that is old. No matter how much you read, there is no better substitute for trying the diet yourself for a few months to see how much better you feel.
The author explains that:
* Much of the conventional wisdom on diet that we have accepted as fact is wrong.
* Our primal ancestors were likely stronger and healthier than we are today.
* Excessive fibre (eg. from grains) is not good for you.
* Lectins and phytates in grains can cause real problems. Going grain free for 30 - 60 dayts to see if you notice any improvements is a good idea. Not everyone does well eating grains. Even if grains don't seem to cause you problems they should only be eaten in small amounts.
* Cholesterol, saturated fats and eggs are good for you.
* We need to eat lots of animals and plants.
* We need to eat when hungry and stop when we are satisfied.
* We need to avoid poisonous things (e.g. processed foods, processed grains, unnatural fats and sugar).
* If you exercise more you will be more hungry than before so exercise is not a weight loss aid. Low calorie diets and exercise programs work for a while, until the adrenals burn out, but are not a long term solution for 96% of us or more.
* 80% of weight loss is about diet and the rest is down to genetic factors.
* Ultra low carb diets are to be avoided. For one thing, they cut down the nutrition from fruits and vegetables.
* A high fat, moderate protein and a fairly-low-carb diet is best. Most people will do best with losing weight by eating 50 - 100 carbs a day. Some may need to stay at this level longterm while for others 100 - 150 carbs a day will work well as a maintenance level.
* Protein should be eaten until satiety and no more, and carbs should be eaten at the above amounts which leaves fat intake as the main variable. High fat foods should be eaten when you still feel hungry.
* There is no need to count daily calories.
* Foods such as wild rice, coffee, dark chocolate and starchy tubers should be eaten in moderation. Juices should only be consumed if fresh, and vegetables juices are best.
* Organic and grass-fed meats are best.
* Use butter, palm oil and coconut oil for cooking and EV olive oil for salad dressings.
* Some people may benefit from intermittent fasting but it is not for everyone.
* Live with the earth's circadian rhythms if you can and go barefoot sometimes if you can.
* Optimal genetic expression is the goal of his program.
The author provides a good introduction to the topics of epigenetics and nutrigenomics and provides a very high quality eating plan too, along with some tips on how to reasonably exercise and to make sure we get enough rest and sleep too.
The authors advice and views tally very well with my own. I have a severe neurological disease with some similarities to MS and I have found that a very low carb diet of 20 grams or so of carbs a day, makes me feel unwell after a few months. It seems like maybe my liver and kidneys cannot handle the extra strain. I have felt so much better staying around the 50 - 75 gram mark. It is also a far more pleasant diet to eat by far. This lower-carb diet also greatly helps my hypoglycaemia symptoms, makes me feel more satisfied after meals (and not starving hungry right after each meal due to blood sugar surges) and has treated my PCOS as well. I also do far better avoiding grains, legumes and dairy products too. I am using this style of diet, along with other supplemental nutrients and detoxification methods, to slowly improve my severe neurological disease - which had been slowly worsening for more than a decade.
Ideas for improvements for future editions of the book (requested by the author in the book):
* The benefits of going barefoot are mentioned but there is no accompanying discussion of the benefits or earthing and grounding.
* The part at the start of the book which talks about people with happy and positive dispositions suffering less illness should be deleted!
* Protein shakes should not be listed as health foods.
* The section on supplements could be far more complete.
* The bits at the end of the book which contradict the previously given information about not counting calories, ignoring the calories in and calories out myth, and that recommend quite extreme fasts and a low calorie eating plan should be removed or edited.
There is no need to buy the author's brand of recommended supplements but I would urge readers to buy good quality brands of supplements (Jarrow, Carlson's, Thorne Research etc.) and avoid crappy supermarket brands like 'Centrum' which have been shown to do more harm than good!
As Dr Sherry Rogers writes, it is better to have good quality supplements and take them only every second day than take harmful ones with the cheap and wrong forms of some nutrients in, every day!
Other good books on this topic include Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food and Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats and best of all, Primal Body Primal Mind. This last book is the best there is on this topic, in my opinion, bar none. It has far more of a focus on treating disease than this book has and far better information about supplements.
Mark's website and books are far superior to most Paleo books and websites, including 'The Paleo Diet' book. You can get a ton of information on this topic free from this author on his excellent website. The article on the site about whether or not to avoid dairy products, was the best I have ever read on this topic and I highly recommend it.
(Finally someone who understands that negative studies on milk drinkers have used ONLY pasteurised and homogenised milk, not raw milk! And that even though raw milk may solve the problem of milk intolerance for some, some of us are still better off avoiding dairy products completely.)
To me an author that will give away so much high quality information for free, instead of just having a basic website that gives away little and urges you endlessly to buy the book, is the sign of someone who is genuinely motivated to help people and is not just about serving their own vested interests.
A lot of work has gone into making this book very simple to read and to follow. It is very well put together and well illustrated and designed as well. Thank you to the author for all the work here. I hope this book is very successful.
(I'm using a dairy and grain free version of this diet to slowly heal a severe neurological disease that I have had for over a decade, along with additional nutritional and detoxification supports, etc. I just wish so much I had found this real nutrition advice earlier, along with information on real healing vs just symptom suppression.)
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. (HFME)
on July 22, 2011
This book is perfect for those introducing themselves to the paleo lifestyle, as well as for primal veterans. It's packed with research, beautifully organized, clearly written and a joy to read. Sisson has done his homework and created an informative, user friendly guide to all you need to know in order to eat, move, work and play as nature intended. It's truly more than a diet; it's a lifestyle. (And the most healthful one you could adopt). If all that isn't enough, his website is a monumnet to internet research. [...] is one of the very best health and nutrition sites out there.
Do yourself a favour. Buy the book, check out the website and try this approach. You will thank yourself, over and over again, for the rest of your very long, happy life.
on May 31, 2011
I purchased this book because of my desire to improve my health in my retirement years. I don't want to vegetate in a rocking chair! (Although I do like reading and working on puzzles, crossword and sudoku mostly) To learn that the author was an elite athlete who experienced health and fitness difficulties, and then to find out his solution, were quite surprising. So many of the foods (and eating habits) that we take for granted are really not good for us, indeed, some are toxic in any quantity. The book has lots of medical terminology, but it is well explained in layman's terms, so you may feel out of your depth from time to time, but will come out of it with a better understanding of the workings of the body as well as our genetic history. I expect to be using this book for the rest of my life, as a reference for the new lifestyle which I am implementing. There is too much information to remember without prompting, at least in teh early stages, but with time I may not have to refer to the text so frequently.
on October 8, 2010
I love this book. I own this, as well as the Primal Blueprint Cookbook and I have to say it has changed my life. No more trying to kill yourself with "chronic cardio", and overloading on carbs: do what makes sense for the body and it will reward you with fantastic health. And, not just weight loss, but improved gastic issues, improved skin, boundless energy...it all comes together when you start following the principles as laid out in the Primal Blueprint. Go buy this book today and change your life :-)
on January 24, 2011
The book is average, but the content exceptional. Been on diet for 6 mths. I'm 52 and i feel reborn, back to my weight and strength of my 30's.
on March 6, 2011
Everyone innately knows that a natural diet and way of life will give health' But we need to revisit the question, ' what is natural?' Everyone looks to the past for answers' but some, like Sisson, look to the distant past, before farming became a way of life.
What does this mean? Eat what you can imagine catching or finding. Vegtables, meat, fish, fruit. (And look hot while you are doing it)
Many of our health problems relate to sugar and grains. These things are very hard on our body, and once these are gone from our diet, many minor torments will disappear. Natural oils and fats are recommended and many man made oils, like corn oil, are to be avoided.
If you have, or foresee, health problems, such as cancer, you may be wary of a diet that advocates regular consumption of meat. Most naturopaths will advise you not to eat meat. Because of this, you may be wary of Sisson's advice.
Personally, I have tried vegetarianism, and macroboiotics. Each time, when I returned to eating meat, I was noticeably stronger. I suspect that people who advocate vegetarianism do so for ethical reasons. I have not seen any human studies that relate eating meat to cancer. Of course, you must only eat naturally raised, drug free, and hormone free meat.
Sisson's got some ideas about exercise that might seem crazy to you now' but in time you might just find yourself jumping for joy, or engaging in fisticuffs'
Not only are the ideas in this book well researched, this book is well written,inspiring, and fun to read.
Sorry earth creatures.
on October 5, 2014
This is an interesting version of the Paleo lifestyle that doesn't just dwell on the low-carb diet, but also situates the role of (high intensity) exercise, supplements, sunlight, sleep and play. To really appreciate the book, one may have to overlook the author's ridiculous Flintstonesque male-jock interpretation of the mindset of our precivilized hunter-gatherer ancestor (the iconic Grok)--engaged in a brutal survival-of-the-fittest struggle. But if you don't take that too seriously, the book still makes a convincing case for a regenerative lifestyle radically different those that dominate North America today. It packs together a lot of information in a readable, well-organized and entertaining fashion. While I only recently came across Sisson's work, I had already been experimenting for a few months with versions of paleo diet and exercise, and I can testify to many positive changes so far. Primals like Sisson are on to something--relevant to people who are into people who are into either personal or social change, or both.
on January 13, 2011
This book is changing my life one week at a time.
I have struggled with that extra 25 pounds for many years as a 45 year old male. I have become lethargic in the last few years
and felt that this was just the "way it is".
I picked this up in the hopes of improving my self. The language and tone of Mark's writing is refreshing and simple. He explains why I feel the way I have and what I can do to change it. He includes the science behind eating primal without it sounding like a text book.
The proof is in the pudding.
My fourth week will end tomorrow and I am thinner by about 7 pounds, I have energy and my aches have all but left me alone. All I have done differently is eat no grains and reduced my sugar intake drastically (but not completely, I still eat foods with maple syrup or honey but in moderation. I have completely stopped eating refined sugars). That's it...no kidding!
on September 3, 2010
I love the idea of it all! I even think this book should be given to every student as the best hygiene study book.
Humanity would have a solid base to establish a healthy lifestyle.
Then, I skipped one star on my rating because I'm not sure if it's the new californian fad, as veganism was a few years ago.
Is it feasable? yes, but the whole system needs to change altogether: finding organic meat (soooo expensive and hard to find) and other products is not easy up North: most often we have the choice between fresh from the farmer but not organic (only seasonal), or not so fresh and imported organic produce. I would love to throw a ball everyday on a sunny beach, but being in Montreal, winters are long and there is so much skin we can expose to the elements, forget walking barefoot as recommended here. I believe this whole paleo thing is very trendy in the South, but not very applicable here.
That said, it's worth going through such fuss to find good organic food, to avoid chemicals; I did find a farm for poultry that is grain-fed but not free-range (oh well...), and I choose fresh farm produce until there's no more available for the season, grab very limited imported organic produce as much as possible, and diligently read labels (less and less food I buy have labels, anyway!)to avoid chemicals.
Mark Sisson would be proud of me I'm sure. I just love the Blueprint cookbook too!!!