Primal Blueprint In-Depth Review

primal blueprint

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with Mark Sisson and his Primal Blueprint philosophy about diet, exercise and lifestyle. I don’t buy into everything, but he makes a very strong case.

“We offer a progressive, free-thinking, grass roots movement that has become a true community. Besides the numerous products, services and events you see on this site, MarksDailyApple.com has hundreds of thousands of active followers who enjoy free daily health articles, a weekly newsletter, and a thriving forum.”

Mark Sisson is not a doctor like other authors I’ve reviewed. Mark was a competitive running athlete.

I excelled at cross-country and distance track events in high school and at Williams College, where I was a pre-med candidate and received my degree in Biology.

“In fact, the running was going so well after college that I decided to forgo medical school for a few years (it’s at 31 years now) and concentrate on a running career. I trained seriously as a marathoner for another five years, racking up well over 100 miles each week in training. The effort culminated in a top 5 finish in the 1980 US National Marathon Championships and a qualifying spot for the 1980 US Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, by then the inhuman amount of training and weekly racing was taking its toll and I found myself constantly sick or injured. (Note to self: too much exercise is not a good thing). In fact, in my last year of competition, as a world class, extremely “fit” athlete, I experienced eight upper respiratory infections! Clearly I was ruining my immune system and my joints doing too much exercise. That’s when I started exploring nutrition and supplementation as a way to enhance my performance and to support my damaged body and bolster my immune system.” Read More…

Mark does have his na-sayers, as does everyone (mostly). Several reviewers believe his book is too long, too repetative and is not based on solid scientific research. One reviewer, Paul Skavland (Seattle, WA USA), stated: If anyone is curious what *I* think is “real” science-based information, I’d suggest you search the web for authors such as Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Leigh Peele, Martin Berkhan and others. I’m not affiliated with any author or website. Best of luck to everyone seeking to improve their health and fitness.

I have to agree that the book seems to parallel the Paleo lifestyle, and it bothers me that he isn’t a doctor. But, I really like the way Mark writes. Every fad diet that comes down the road seems to have their success stories and failures. Some stick around and become the gold-standard like Atkins, South Beach just to name two. With all the talk about how the FDA is allowing pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, ect. into our died and people flocking like rats leaving a sinking ship to organics and non-GMOs, I think Primal/Paleo diet philosophies will be around for quite a while.

So, now that we got the introduction of Mark’s philosophy and who he is, let’s talk about his book, Primal Blueprint. The subtitle is “reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy. Oh man, I sure could use some more energy since I have Chronic Fatigue. In fact, since starting a wheat free diet and now, being convinced that grains are pretty bad for us, I do have more energy, sleep better and wake up earlier than ever before.

When Mark first began his search for a publishing company to produce his book, he was told, “Ditching grains? Eating more fat? Making workouts slower or shorter? This stuff will never fly with today’s readers.” Man, were those publishers wrong. Mark has 450+ reviews on his book that came out January 2012.

Mark’s beliefs:
eating grains…”Worse mistake in the history of the human race.” He purports that grains increase insulin production, fat storage and heart disease.
animal fat… promotes efficient fat metabolism, weight control and stable energy levels.
eggs… no correlation with high cholesterol levels. Yolks are among the earth’s most nutritious food.

Central premise of Primal Blueprint:

1) Eat plants & animals
2) Avoid poisonous things – duh 🙂
3) Move frequently at a slow pace
4) Lift heavy things (he must think I’m superman!)
5) Sprint once in a while
6) Get adequate sleep
7) Play
8) Get adequate sunlight (Vit. D)
9) Avoid stupid mistakes) – look both ways before crossing the road?
10) Use your brain

Chapter 3 covers blood glucose levels, insulin and Type 2 diabetes and how your body reacts to high carbmeals, gaining fat cells and how your body becomes insulin-resistant and the unpleasant consequences such as:
1)  fat cells can’t release their stored energy into the bloodstream
2)  fat cells get bigger and fatter, hence you gain weight
3)  more glucose stays in your bloodstream longer. This can cause inflammation risk of heart attack as well as circulation problems.

Mark says, “my foolproof prevention plan–or, dare I say, cure–for those with Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, no matter how overwhelming their genetic predisposition is to these conditions, is to exercise according to the Primal Blueprint laws and to moderate dietary insulin production.”

So, get off the couch or push away from the computer, eat some road kill and veggies then chase your dog down the street or go take a tango lesson!

The next part goes into great detail on insulin production and cholesterol. Mark hates statin drugs. He believes statins reduce CoQ10, which reduces energy levels.

Next, macro nutrients: Protein, carbs & fats. Once again, Mark gets in-depth. After reading Primal Blueprint I came across Dr. Fuhrman’s, Eat to Live. He created a list of nutrient dense foods. My next review will be a review of his beliefs regarding food and healthy eating. He’s totally on the other end of the spectrum from Primal Blueprint! Should be interesting.

Talk about TMI! Mark goes so far as to have you figure out how much protein your body needs per day by multiplying your weight by percentage of body fat….

The Primal Blueprint lifesytle is not a low-carb diet as much as it is an elimination of bad carbs diet.

Quick Primer on nutritional values of plants and fruits:

Red Plants: (pomegranates, cherries, watermelon) help reduce the risk of prostate cancer as well as some tumors.

Green Fruit & Veggies: (avocados, limes, bell peppers, zucchini) have powerful anti-aging effects and are helpful for vision.

Yellow & Orange Fruits & Veggies: (bananas, papayas, carrots, butternut squash, pineapple) offer immune support, aid in digestion, joint health and reduce inflammation. (This is MY category!)

Cruciferous Veggies: (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, arugala, turnips, bok choy, horseradish & cauliflower) have demonstrated anti-cancer, anti-aging and anti-microbial properties. OH NO, not an IBS-c friendly category.

Mark’s next chapter discusses grains in your diet. I will not comment on this chapter, because I already covered this topic in my blog about Dangerous Grains by Dr. Braly.

Ahhhhhh, I did learn one thing in this chapter 🙂  Lightbulb time!
The bad molecules along with the elevated glucose/insulin levels in your bloodstream over a long-term period leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. Now I understand why my husband was losing weight and his glucose numbers were back in the pre-diabetes range when he wasn’t eating wheat. This makes total sense.

Comic relief!!!!!

Beans, Beans, the musical fruit.
The more you eat–the more you toot.

The more you toot, the better you feel.
So eat your beans at every meal.

I am really curious why legumes are a no-no in Primal Blueprint. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) doesn’t allow them either at the beginning, but they can be eaten in moderation once you are symptom free for three months. Are they in Paleo?

The Big Deal (from www.paleoplan.com)
Phytates actually bind to the magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron in your intestines and take them OUT of our bodies.  We do not want that to happen.  Cordain and others believe that this alone is greatly contributing to the worldwide epidemic of iron-deficiency anemia.  It could be part of the reason many people are deficient in magnesium as well, which can contribute to everything from muscle cramping to PMS.  And zinc?  Well, it’s just SUPER important to our immune systems and for our reproductive abilities, so we wouldn’t want to lose any of that.  And the fact that phytates are chelating calcium out of our bodies means that we have less access to that bone-building and nerve-transmitting mineral we’re all so fond of. Read more…

Well, my curiosity is satisfied in one big NO! And, peas and peanuts are considered legumes 😦

BUT…if you just have to have chili or beanie-weinies, de-gas your beans. Here’s how, ripped from Mayo Clinic.
Plase one pound of beans in 10+ cups of boiling water. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then cover and set aside overnight. Here’s the part I didn’t know–The next day 75-90% of the indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved into the soaking water 🙂

Mark’s reason for not eating beans is because they contain high levels of mild, natural plant toxins known as lectins. Researchers have found that lectins can inhibit healthy GI function by damaging the delicate microvilli that line your intestines.
The damaged microvilli allows larger, undigested protein molecules to get into the bloodstream. Since the unfamiliar protein molecules can resemble molecules that live on the outside of healthy cells,your immune system gets confused and doesn’t know who the real enemy is. The autoimmune system kicks in which experts believe is the root cause for rhumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and a host of others.

“High insulin levels promote fat storage and disease.
Moderated insulin levels
(typical of Primal Blueprint lifestyle)
stimulates fat burning and good health.
It’s that simple.

Everyone’s favorite topic is next — exercising. Mark gives his reasons against cardio and for walking. Apparently there are hundreds of interesting and challenging resistance workout ideas at www.marksdailyapple.com. I have my own personal favorite ideas: grab some friends and go play dodgeball, kickball, tag, kick the can, capture the flag….

The last chapter goes deeply into Primal weight loss. Mark has a step-by-step process for losing one to two pounds of body fat per week. It consists of minimizing carbs, maximizing protein and fat intake, intermittent fasting and exercise Primally.

Mark provides a couple days of food journal entries, pulls out his calculator to determine amounts of protein carbs and fats to consume, provides weight loss exercise plan and weight loss trouble-shooting.

The Primal Blueprint “seems” to cover just about everything. In my opinion, I believe Mark is highly knowledgeable and his Primal Blueprint has a lot of success and followers. I am becoming more and more convinced to remove as much grain from my diet as possible, but I have no intention of totally removing rice and oats from my diet.

My recommendation is to get the book for yourself to determine how much of what Mark espouses will be incorporated into your life.

Mark is very convincing. I believe the cultural swing toward organic foods and non-GMOs is here to stay. I hear people think the hubbub about dangerous grains and wheat bellies is a fad that will fade away. I’m not so sure. I agree there are people who cannot tolerate wheat/gluten and other grains;either because of allergies or mal-absorption issues.But I also believe that God gave us grains as well as legumes, meat, fruits and vegetables to eat for nourishment. We have to decide for ourselves which foods we choose to eat and which we reject. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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