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Review of Primal Blueprint – a Must Read!

December 21, 2009

Whether you are a first timer at attempting good nutrition or an old dog in the gym – or even just a person half interested in health – reading the Primal Blueprint should be one book added to your Amazon Wish List.  The Primal Blueprint is a recently written book authored by Mark Sisson.  I spoke of Mark and his site, MarksDailyApple.com earlier which you can see here. After putting my mouth up to the firehose that is his website, I ordered this book and proceeded to eat it faster than a hamburger with everything on it minus the bun.  If you’re a Primal disciple, you’d understand.  If not, read on and you’ll learn.

Mark’s book challenges what he terms Conventional Wisdom -the rules or guidelines we’ve all been led to believe are fact.  Things like the Food Pyramid and what causes heart disease are legitimately dispelled.  Mark’s history/experience as a former marathoner and Ironman competitor give him the perspective and authority to cover traditional topics – and then toss them upside down.  The 10 Primal Blueprint Laws in his book are:

  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
  7. Play
  8. Get Adequate Sunlight
  9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes
  10. Use Your Brain

    If these laws sound simple, they are – and that’s by design.  Mark’s blueprint is about simplifying – so there are no calories to count, no magic workouts.  His methods teach a more intuitive way of life, a primal way, where 80% of your health is based on eating plants and animals.The PB (Primal Blueprint) gives great insight into the insulin response our body takes when we ingest carbohydrates and how this can work against us when we consume too many carbs.  (In the U.S., us eating too many carbs?  I’m shocked!)  Not only does Mark show how too many carbs can be dangerous, he also shows how fat is actually our friend – the right kinds of fat.  And when you replace your carbs with these fats, your body not only adjusts, it learns to use your own bodyfat as a source of energy so that you can actually lose weight and acquire a more lean physique.

Not one to throw something out without my own experiments, I began eating the Primal Way this past week.  Since last Monday I ate Omega 3 eggs (with the yolk), bacon, salads, burgers, steaks, nuts, nuts and more nuts, seeds, cream with blueberries and other items I would typically shy away from.  I kept my carbs to under 150 grams, most days under 100 grams.  The Carbohydrate Curve, shown here, demonstrates the recommended number of carbs you should ingest to go primal, whether you want to lose weight, maintain or increase.  I ate til  I felt full; I didn’t gorge, but I didn’t cut calories or micromanage them.  I worked out a moderate amount (not a typical week for me as I’m vacationing between P90X rounds).  Despite my lessened activity rate and the ingestion of what I would call “bad” food, I lost 2 lbs.  There is much more experimenting I plan to do and many more questions to answer, but intuitively my body felt good and my energy levels didn’t decrease as much as I might have expected.

Is the Primal Blueprint the next big thing?  It’s too early to tell, but for me, I will continue eating this way for a while to come.  I am intrigued by the challenges Mark tosses at Conventional Wisdom and how they tie in to the dangers of mass food production and our need to eat more organic, hormone-free foods.  With the increase of high fructose corn syrup dangers and other anomalies coming to the forefront, perhaps eating like our ancestors many thousands of years ago isn’t such a bad idea.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2009 12:06 pm

    I think you gotter covered :)

    • December 21, 2009 1:33 pm

      It’s hard to condense so much info from the book into a few paragraphs, but that is what upcoming posts can cover as well. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Stacey permalink
    December 21, 2009 1:34 pm

    Great Review! Now I would love to see what you think of the movie Food,Inc. After I saw that movie, I devoured books by Micheal Pollan. It’s like a huge puzzle coming together, it’s all making sense to living the good life! Another favorite book is Good Calories, Bad Calories, not an easy book to read but VERY very good to back up this lifestyle with.

    • December 21, 2009 1:47 pm

      Stacey – like you, I’m AMAZED at the circle of thoughts I’m coming across that mirror what you commented on. I actually did a review of Food Inc. on this blog: http://lifeisntover.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/what-really-goes-in-your-body/. I also talked about Monsanto’s evil ways just a few days ago as well. It’s all incredible info. I look forward to reading Michael Pollan very soon also. I hope others see these movies and read these books so that one day soon we can protect ourselves and our children.

  3. December 22, 2009 9:26 am

    Hey Jeff….I’m sold. Gonna get this book, definitely! It’s pretty close to what I already do….and yep…I minus the buns all the time ;o)

  4. December 22, 2009 1:21 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    Great post! I’ve been mulling over PB for a while, too, and have tried it out. I like it and agree with much of it, though it’s difficult to reconcile some of Mark Sisson’s PB concepts with what he earlier espoused in P90X. (E.g., he designed the P90X Recovery Formula with lots of carbs to load protein into muscles after a workout, but with PB, he’s made clear that carb-loading isn’t a good idea — even after a workout.)

    I’ve been working on a post of my own about PB, and will link to your post as well — it’s a great summary of Sisson’s points.

    FB

    • December 22, 2009 2:26 pm

      Thanks FB!

      I’d have to look more closely at his chapter on carbo loading after a workout because I had a similar perspective as you. If you find that part, let me know. I assume he warns of consuming too many carbs in general for the purposes of becoming insulin resistant, but if you’re ingesting the amounts within the Recovery Formula after a workout, then you would be within an acceptable window. I guess my question would be how many carbs are too much at one sitting other than a Jamba Juice with over 400 calories of pure carbs/fruit juice?

      You beat me to the punch about looking at his book. I wanted to email you about it yet this week since you mentioned Mark in a post or two in the past. I’m excited about the PB and how it can help folks like us who are of better bodyfat % than we were 90 days ago, wheteher we are maintaining, going Insane, etc.

  5. Kevin permalink
    January 4, 2010 1:29 pm

    PB is an awesome read, I loved reading your review. I have been paleo dieting, which is very similar to the Primal Blueprint for several months and have really seen and felt a tremendous difference in my body composition and general health and wellbeing. I have been hovering at the 50g of carbohydrates per day from pretty much exclusively green veggies. Body fat % has shot way down and performance is on an upswing!

    On carb loading post workout, I think the general theory behind this is it isn’t necessary until one is optimally lean. Once lean, to address performance issue I believe loading carbohydrates in the form of yams, sweet potatoes, summer squash w/protein post workout is ok. Carb loading PWO will cause an insulin spike, so if you are working to level out your insulin sensitivity it’s something to watch carefully.

    Good luck in your Primal pursuits!

  6. Kevin permalink
    January 4, 2010 1:44 pm

    About 5%, I was already pretty low, around 15 or so. Utilizing some other strategies to get into single digits. For more info here are some people I recommend.

    http://www.robbwolf.com – Podcasts, good FAQ section
    http://www.paleonu.com – Good scientific data
    http://www.fitnesspotlight.com – Info on intermittent fasting

    • January 4, 2010 1:49 pm

      This cracks me up! I listen to Robb’s podcast every day since I learned of it. He’s on cue to listen to on the way home. That man knows the human body and Paleo, huh? I also subscribe to the other areas you highlighted – just added fitnessspotlight last night in fact. Incredible how small the world really is.
      Great job on the BF reduction also – anxious to get my full month of Paleo/Primal in to compare results. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s no friend of mine. Alas, the pictures are always fun to look at and compare, so I just have to shut up, workout and enjoy life.

  7. Kevin permalink
    January 4, 2010 1:51 pm

    Perfect! In my opinion, the path that Robb steers you down is THE optimal one to be healthy, strong, and look good. Those podcasts are a great resource, I cannot believe they are free!

  8. March 13, 2010 6:42 am

    I’ve ordered the book and am eager to give it a try. I’m actually trying to prepare in advance so that the whole thing is not too much of a “shocker”. The only thing I am not clear on is Stisson’s take on dairy. Can anyone clarify this?

    • March 13, 2010 10:10 am

      Dairy is not commonly accepted in Paleo circles but can be taken in on occasion. Some people are not tolerant of dairy products. Heavy cream is an acceptable form of dairy and many who are Primal use dairy. You should watch the intake of dairy as it can cause inflammatory issues. Ever since I decreased my own intake my own chronic sinus infections have been kept at bay. (Knock on wood). But I do enjoy heavy cream in my coffee!

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