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, 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
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 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!

Non GMO project



Gluten Free Apps! who knew?

gluten-freeUpdated: June 11, 2013

Once again, Gluten Free Jenna comes though. There are apps to help you. I have to check them out. Gotta get a job first since they cost–but not much! 🙂

Update Alert – these Apps Jenna described were active 2 years ago. I have done some digging and this is what I’ve come up with 🙂

I will investigated the following links and give you my honest opinion and I bet I’ll find other apps and downloads that you’ll think are wonderful!

Gluten Free Central podcasts:  FREE – iTunes

The following apps will help you in the grocery store
I have listed iTunes & Android Apps:

MY #1 absolutely favorite GF/Allergy app!
Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner
by ShopWell – iTunes FREE!

I tried Fooducate: allergies, but it doesn’t find high fructose corn syrup.
This app does!
It scans fast and it was my new right arm at the store.
This scanner helps you manage your weight, high blood pressure and gluten intolerance. Scan foods and find out if the product is a good match for your diet and it also suggests foods that are better for your health. In this app you can customize goals, food preferences, allergies, etc.

When browsing foods, the app gives you help in determining if a specific product is right for you by assigning it a numerical rating. And you can add any particular product to your own personal list. Besides informing you if a food is a match for you, it suggests alternatives and reasons why a product is good or bad for you and gives nutrition information and product ingredients.

PROs: Has a scanner, numerical rating determined by your preferences, good nutritional information and suggests possible healthier products. It recognized Kroger products! And what I like, is right there when you are holding a scanned product and it isn’t in their database, you can send them the product information. It only takes about a minute to take the pictures of what they want and email them the product info.
This app even has achievements for encouraging healthy food choices.

CONs: cannot customize beyond the preset preferences. It does not include corn in its list of allergens.

No Android version 😦

Gluten Free Living Secrets (Android – Free) this is a new app, but sounds great. Hope it delivers. No iTunes version, so I cannot review it for you 😦
Gluten Free Living Secrets is a complete resource that will tell you everything you need to know about the dangers of eating gluten and how to go about transitioning yourself and your family to a life free of this dangerous substance.
Here’s just a taste of what you will discover inside Gluten Free Living Secrets:
-What foods you should focus on when first switching to a gluten-free diet
-The 9 grains that are safe and gluten-free
-The truth about whether you can eat pasta on a gluten-free diet
-What you should know to determine if you have Celiac Disease
-Why you may want to consider eliminating gluten from your child’s diet
-The top 10 reasons to go gluten-free
-How to transform your pantry to be gluten-free
-A list of essential gluten-free shopping tips
-How to keep your kids happy around their gluten-eating friends
-Tips on staying gluten-free when eating out
Remember, once you install the app, you don’t need to be online to access this great info!


This is a great Gluten-Free app product INFORMATION and it’s FREE!
Yes, it’s a new app. The developers are not finished with it and would love suggestions. When you contact the developers, they respond pretty quickly.

This app covers a lot of ground. On its main homepage you can find news articles and recipes and even upcoming wellness expos.
Then you’ll find that it locates restaurants near you and also lists national chains and whether they have GF menus or food items and warns if the restaurant could have possible cross-contamination! small list right now. They also have recipes and products in Beta right now.
      Want manufacturers coupons, there are links to them!

This app also has a scanner. There are product lists where you can choose a category then brand and mark whether you like it with a thumbs up/down feature. My only want is if I could add products to their list that I know are good gluten free products like Kinnikinnick Pizza crusts. I guess I could ask them to add it.

     There is also a DINING CARD which explains Celiac disease, what you cannot eat, caution items and what you can eat.

     These developers are trying hard with this app. Once they really get going and have a lot of info, I’m sure you’ll have to pay for this app.

Is That Gluten Free?

This iTunes App ($7.99) also has a Facebook page (
No Android version 😦

This app is expensive and totally not worth the money because it doesn’t have a scanner. When I was in the grocery store today, I was not in the mood to enter products to find information  😦    I switched over to Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner 🙂
This app seems VERY comprehensive, listing over 20,000 manufacturer verified GF products, you can add your own products, make notes, manufacturer website and phone links and much more.
What it doesn’t have and reviewers want is a scan feature. Also, this app is JUST FOR GF information, nothing else like GMOs and it doesn’t have a profile option.
As of the latest version update, over 14,000 products were updated or added since December 2012.
Almost 6,000 updates since last release!
I will make the ultimate sacrifice and buy this app and let you know how I feel about it 🙂

UPDATED: 5/13/13 – Is That Gluten Free? v4.0 is now available on the Apple App store! New and updated brands and products! Over 24,000 products listed – over 15,500 products updated or added since last December. More than 3000 validated or new products in this release!
New UPDATE: 6/11/13 – I totally agree that a scanner would make this app worth the $7.99.
It has an Alphabetical Index with tabs to make finding products more efficient.
You can add your own products, categories, brands.
You can rate products and add notes.
Manufacturer comments warn of cross-contamination potential.
Ingredient checklist is color-coded and filtered by safe, unsafe and possibly unsafe. The color coding tells you of comparable products/brands.
This app has a LOT of products. I trust their research and appreciate the validation date.
Is it worth the $7.99 price tag? maybe for some people, but for me, not until it has a product scanner.

ScanAvert (Android – $1.99, 1 month subscription) iTunes version has bad reviews. Android app has better reviews.

Register a dietary profile, scan groceries, get incompatibility information, etc. Looks like a pretty good app for Android phones!

True Food Network (Android – Free / no iTunes version :().  Apparently this app should have a higher star review than 3 stars because of user-ignorance using the app. I guess you need to use your phone’s home button to access the app’s menu.
CFS True Food Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GMOs
The Guide gives you valuable information on common GM ingredients, brands to look for—and look out for—and simple tips to help you find   and avoid GM ingredients!

Foodditive ($3.99 iTunes) -Perfect for those with many food sensitivities. (Caution: allows unfiltered internet access)

Food additives are not always easy to recognize, but gluten freebies need to be aware of certain additives especially if you’re on the diet as a treatment for ADD, Autism, or other food sensitivities.  This app lets you find out exactly what certain additives are used for and how they can harm your body.  Much like the ScanAvert app, you can add detailed information about your diet and personalize your use for the best results.

Foodditive was developed as a personalized reference for individuals with food sensitivities or restricted diets, such as: celiac disease or gluten intolerance; kosher or halal eating; and vegan or vegetarian preferences.

What the developers have not integrated into this app is finding GMOs or organic products. This is the biggest foodditive there is!
I do not understand this app at all. You can browse by Classification, E-Number (whatever that is) and Name.
There are color codings, but don’t understand what they mean either. (Must be my brain fog 🙂 )

This app is handy if you need to watch food additives for Gluten Free eating. I think I wasted my $3.99 on this app 😦

No Android version 😦

Fooducate – Healthy Food Diet (Android – $3.99) 4.5 stars from 3,314 users.
FooducateDiet tracker & healthy food nutrition ( iTunes versions Free & 3.99-add free)  4.5 stars from over 8,000 reviews

Fooducate (above) is NOT for Gluten Freebies
Scan product barcodes, see product highlights, select better alternatives. Created by dietitians. You get to see excessive sugar, tricky trans fats, additives and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Apparently this app can find GMOs but I found no reviews talking about finding gluten free products and seems to be really good if you are looking for an excellent app to help clean up your diet and stay away from GMOs, additives, etc.

Fooducate – Allergy & Gluten Free Diet Tracker
(iTunes app $4.99)
The reviews from 2012 were kind of iffy. Fooducate seems to have updated the app as of March 28, 2013. The newest reviewers (6) seem to like the new revisions.

UPDATE: June 11, 2013 – This app lists only the most serious allergens like gluten, milk (not dairy) peanuts, shellfish, egg, soy….
There is a different app for diabetes.
This app has a scanner! Once again, like in other apps, if you scan a product that is not in its database, you can email them the product info!
You can “Like” foods (just like Facebook) and it allows for alternatives and has a food tracker!
This app allows you to calculate your BMI, you can choose to turn “lose Weight” on or off.
It calculates your recommended daily calories and carbs.
You can set goals to warn about GMOs, processed foods, eat vegetarian and vegan.
You can even set how often you want the app to motivate you.
It will even remind you to USE the app! Under “personalize” then Account, go down and choose grocery stores you frequent. It will REMIND you to use the app when you walk into your store!

This app seems very comprehensive if you REALLY want to lose weight, watch your carbs, etc.

Healthy Food, Allergens, GMOs & Nutrition Scanner – by Nxtnutrio (iTunes – $2.99)

This is a new app (only 10 reviews, but 9 give it 5 stars). This scanner helps you spot the numerous chemicals, additives, preservatives, etc. hidden in many brand name foods. You can set up a profile, marking allergies and health conditions, so you are allerted if you have scanned a GMO product or if it is bad for your condition.

The negative reviews make me nervous about paying for this app. Soy doesn’t seem to be an allergen that is included to avoid. This app seems to be more for eating healthier and avoiding some allergens and GMOs as well as gluten. I will not pay for this app to find out for myself. I believe there are other apps that can accomplish the same objectives as this app.

UPDATE: June 11, 2013 – I bought the App.
This app also has a scanner and like other apps, if the product you scan is not in the database, you can email the product information!”
In the profile: you can choose preservatives, MSG, gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy, corn, GMOs, artificial sweeteners & coloring and more!
Also in the profile, you can add health conditions like asthma, behavioral problems, celiac, headaches, obesity, high BP, type 2 diabetes and more.

This app seems great, but it didn’t find Rice Chex apple & cinnamon cereal; but it did find Kroger PNB. And if the product is bad for you, it suggests alternatives.
This app also has a food recall section. It also has 9 product categories, but it doesn’t seem very useful. I’m still a fan of Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner Shopwell’s app at the top of the page.

No Android version 😦

All-in-all, I’m still feeling my way around the apps. Yes, Healthy Diet is my favorite, but others have their good points. I may have to go to the grocery store more and use the apps a lot more to determine which apps are best for me. I’m not sure ONE app will be enough for anyone. That would be wonderful if one app did. Maybe IS THAT GLUTEN FREE will be that one go-to app in the future. It just isn’t right now.

In future posts I will list apps for finding restaurants who serve allergy free foods.


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