There are thousands of health & fitness books out there. Most of them are forgettable, some are counterproductive, a few are actually good. The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson is the latter.
Living “primal”, as Mark Sisson has coined it, is not a diet but a way to approach life. It sounds cliche, but makes sense. Your overall health is about more than just the food you put in your body. It also how about you train, sleep, and manage a work/life balance.
The Primal Blueprint is about getting back to your roots. Sisson argues that with a few minor exceptions, we are identical to our ancestors in how we metabolize food, respond to exercise, cycle through sleep phases each night, absorb sunlight, and deal with various environmental influences. I agree.
The problem – our genetic recipe is not made to function in today’s modern world, and we’re all suffering for it. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with carbs & sugars, we work jobs where we remain sedentary for long stretches of time, and most of us sleep in rooms filled with artificial light. All things that would be alien to our hunter gathering ancestors.
The Primal Blueprint gives you a way to live in the modern world while staying true to your roots.
The book is broken up into the 8 key concepts of the primal blueprint and 5 steps you can take to start living primally. The last 20% of the book is a 21 day program to follow that’s also available in PDF form. I found this part of the book to be unnecessary, but it’s worth giving a quick glance over anyways.
Here are the 8 key concepts of the primal blueprint:
1. You can reprogram your genes: Sounds like an outlandish statement, but make sense when you apply it to your “homo sapien” genes and not your familial genes.
2. The clue to optimal gene expression are found in evolution: “Civilization ushered in a decline in human health, due to eating, exercise and lifestyle patterns that compromised optimal gene expression for the first time. We’ve mismanaged out genes even more severely over the past century to become the fattest, sickest, least fit population in the history of mankind.”
3. Your body prefers burning fat over carbohydrates: Agriculture has only existed for the last 5,000 years. The first human was recorded about 50,000 years. This means that for 45,000 we lived as hunter gatherers and had diet high in fats/ low in carbs.
4. 80% of your body composition success is determined by how you eat: “The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve reveals that eating 150 grams per day or less results in effortless weigh loss or maintenance; eating over 150 grams ( per SAD recommendations) results in lifelong insidious weight gain and accelerated disease risk.”
5. Grains are totally unnecessary (and so are legumes, for that matter): “Grains elect a high insulin response, offer minimal nutritional value relative to Primal foods, and contain anti-nutrients that promote inflammation and compromise digestion and immune function. They are a cheap source of calories and entirely unnecessary for health.”
6. Saturated fat and cholesterol are not your enemy: Go ahead and have extra bacon with those eggs cooked in kerry gold butter.
7. Exercise is ineffective for weight management: “Frequent medium-to-difficult intensity exercise promotes the consumption of additional calories and less general activity in the ensuing hours. The ‘compensation’ principle asserts that exercise is a wash when it comes to weight management.”
8. Maximum fitness can be achieved in minimal time with high-intensity workouts: Your hunter gather ancestors weren’t doing bicep curls and cross fit training.
If you have been reading my blog you know that I’ve been doing a ketogenic diet. This is similar to a primal diet, but it’s more restrictive when it comes to carbs. On a primal diet your aloud to eat up to 100 grams of carbs, whereas a ketogenic diet you’re allowed only 20 -30 grams of carbs. Besides that, the diets are almost identical – high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. I’ve been transitioning to more of a primal diet in the last week since I’ve been losing too much weight on the keto diet.
If your interested in learning more about high fat/low carb dieting or just interested about being healthier I suggest reading The Primal Blueprint.