Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Jul

Ancient Wisdom Confirmed by Modern Science

This is a guest post from Jonathan Bailor of The Smarter Science of Slim and

Executive Summary

Short Version: Primal has been proven right.

Longer Version: Endorsed by the world-wide scientific community including top doctors at the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and UCLA, and approved as curriculum for registered dieticians (RDs) by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the single largest meta-analysis of health and fitness ever conducted shows that conventional “eat less, exercise more” approaches are far less effective than going Primal, harm our health, and lead to fat gain 95.4 percent of the time.

I Had to Stop Doing The Same Thing Over and Over and Expecting Different Results

Much like Mark, my journey into the science of wellness started because I was fed-up with the counterproductive nature of conventional wisdom. Over a decade ago I worked as a personal trainer and spent my days helping people eat less and exercise more. It didn’t take long for me to see the now proven fact that this conventional wisdom fails long-term over 95% of the time. Sure, as long as my clients paid me to “force” them to starve themselves and exercise obsessively, they’d lose weight. Then life would happen and 19 out of 20 of them would gain it all back and then some. Worse off than before they trained with me, they were disappointed and I was frustrated. Everything I was taught as a trainer said that I was doing the right thing. But how could this conventional wisdom be right if it was failing 19 out of 20 times?

General Rule: If something fails more than 95% of the time, it’s not right.

Determined to help rather than hurt my clients, I decided to leave my job as a personal trainer and spend my time researching a sustainable approach to health and fitness.

Geeking My Way To Grok

Having exhausted conventional wisdom, I turned to the only resource I had left: Raw science. Not what magazines published. Not what the news reported. Just dense, dry, and difficult to acquire academic studies from all around the world. If an academic researcher didn’t write it in a peer-reviewed journal or in an email to me or explain it to me over the phone, I wasn’t interested in it. I wanted to know what the actual experts—aka scientists/researchers…people who spend their lives in labs vs. on television—had proven about long-term fat-loss and health.

Ten years of collaboration with top medical researchers around the world, over 1,100 studies, and more than 10,000 pages of scientific research later, I realized—to my surprise and delight—that the proven key to practical and permanent wellness is to eat more and exercise less—but smarter. I then picked up a copy of The Primal Blueprint and realized that a gentleman named Mark Sisson had also discovered this smarter science…and here we are today.

More and Mainstream Support for You

In my experience, those who go Primal know it’s right since the results speak for themselves. What I hope to do here and in future posts is to reinforce your resolve with massive collection of science previously unavailable to the public. As an added bonus, we’ve been fortunate enough to receive endorsements from world-wide scientific community including top doctors at the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and UCLA, and have been approved as curriculum for registered dieticians (RDs) by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, so let’s just say that you’ll be quite equipped to assist those who haven’t yet seen the science.

Let’s get started.

The Best of the Ancient World Confirmed by the Best of Modern Science

Mark and I may use different words, but our about eating and exercise findings are essentially the same. Here’s a quick overview. I’ll dig more into the science in future posts.

Reprogramming Our Genes

Mark speaks to the body’s wisdom and desire to keep us healthy automatically. We didn’t evolve to be heavy and sick. My research confirms this by digging into the endocrine and neurological signals of the metabolic regulatory system that control how much we eat, how many calories we burn, and how much body fat we store. It also shows that when we “eat poisonous things,” this system gets clogged up and begins to regulate us around a higher set-point weight. Thus, long-term fat loss has nothing to do with counting calories and everything to do with restoring our body’s natural ability to regulate our weight appropriately.

Consider a study done at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Researchers examined both heavy and thin people to see how their metabolism behaved when they were given no calories. As expected, everyone’s system slowed down and everyone burned body fat, but here’s the kicker: Thin people burned off nearly 50% more body fat than heavy people.

Think about that for a second. Despite having more body fat, the heavy people burned less body fat. In the words of the researchers, “Obese patients could not take advantage of their most abundant fat fuel sources but have to depend on the efficient use of…the breakdown products of body protein [muscle].”

Where Patients’ Metabolisms Got Energy

The heavy people needed to burn body fat, but did not burn body fat effectively. This is just one of many clinical examples of losing our natural ability to regulate weight appropriately. The researchers put the problem like this: “Profound metabolic disturbances exist in the obese state that constantly interfere with normal hormonal responses [the ability to burn body fat].”

We don’t have to manually regulate breaths in and breaths out, nor do we have to manually regulate calories in and calories out, as long as we adhere to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors and modern wisdom of the most rigorous metabolic research available: Eat more—but higher quality food and do less—but higher quality exercise.

[The simplistic notion] that weight can be controlled by ‘deciding’ to eat less and exercise more…is at odds with substantial scientific evidence illuminating a precise and powerful biologic system that maintains body weight within a relatively narrow range.

– Dr. J.M. Friedman, Rockefeller University

Millions of naturally thin people and millions of years of evolution demonstrate that our body can keep us thin automatically. The key question is how can we “reprogram our genes” to make our bodies work more like the bodies of naturally thin people? There’s a lot of science showing us exactly how to do this. We just haven’t had access to it…until now.

Eat More High-Quality Food

Mark has soundly debunked the myth that “a calorie is a calorie,” and shows that food quality matters immensely. There’s no shortage of studies supporting this. The academic research community has long proven that the quality of a calorie depends on four factors:

  1. Satiety
  2. Aggression
  3. Nutrition
  4. Efficiency

Satiety is how quickly calories fill us up. Aggression is how likely calories are to be stored as body fat. Nutrition is how many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc., calories provide. Efficiency is how easily calories are converted into body fat. SANE—or high quality, fat burning, and health promoting foods—are rich in water, fiber, and protein and are the basis of a Primal lifestyle: non-starchy vegetables, seafood, meat, eggs, berries, citrus, nuts, seeds, etc.

More good news: Study after study confirm that we can achieve what Mark calls “effortless weight loss” by eating more of these SANE Primal foods. For example, in all of the studies that follow, everyone ate the exact same quantity of calories, but one group’s calories were of much higher quality (aka more Primal, more SANE):

  • University of Florida researcher J.W. Krieger analyzed 87 studies and found that those people who ate SANE calories lost an average of 12 more pounds of body fat compared to those who ate an equal quantity of lower quality calories.
  • C.M. Young at Cornell University split people into three groups, each eating 1,800 calories per day, but at different levels of quality. The highest-quality group lost 86.5% more body fat than the lowest-quality group.
  • In the Annals of Internal Medicine, F.L. Benoît compared a reduced-calorie low-quality diet to a reduced-calorie high-quality diet. After ten days the high-quality diet burned twice as much body fat.
  • Additional studies by researchers U. Rabast (1978,1981), P. Greene (2003), N.H. Baba (1999), A. Golay (1996), M.E. Lean (1997), C.M. Young (1971), and D.K. Layman (2003) all show that people who ate higher-quality calories lost an average of 22% more weight than those who ate the exact same quantity of lower-quality calories.

Heal Your Hormones

We all know about the importance of hormones when it comes to long-term wellness. We’re not alone. The most brilliant minds in the research community have proven that the sooner we heal our hormones, the sooner our body will do what it’s designed to do: keep us healthy and fit. Dr. P.J. Havel from the University of California presents the scientific explanation of how hormones handle our love handles:

Short-term signals are primarily from the GI tract (e.g., CCK and GI stretch receptors) and are involved in promoting sensations of satiety that lead to meal termination. These short-term signals by themselves are not sufficient to regulate energy balance and body adiposity. The long-term signals insulin and leptin are produced and circulate in proportion to recent energy intake and body adiposity. Together, the short- and long-term signals interact to regulate energy balance in that insulin and leptin appear to determine the sensitivity of the brain to the satiety-producing effects of the short-term signals from the GI tract.

In other words, our digestive system, muscle tissue, and fat tissue are constantly communicating with our nervous system and brain via hormones. As long as we do not interfere with this communication, millions of years of evolution ensure that our weight and health will take care of itself.

“Insidious fat gain,” as Mark calls it, occurs when we lose our natural ability to stay slim, that is, when our hormonal system breaks down. J. Le Magnen in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews puts it like this: “Humans that become obese gain weight because they are no longer able to lose weight.” Le Magnen’s statement is brilliant. Gaining body fat because we lost the ability to burn body fat thanks to straying from our primal blueprint and creating hormonal havoc is totally different than gaining body fat because we eat too much or exercise too little. And if we are gaining body fat because we’ve veered away from that blueprint, the solution is not to eat less or exercise more. It’s to move back in line with our ancestry by eating more and exercising less—but smarter.

Lift Heavy Things

These three primal words summarize thousands of pages of exercise physiology research. The science is clear: When it comes to ­long-term fat loss and health, we do not need to exercise more. We need to exercise smarter. We need to increase the quality/intensity of our exercise, not the quantity of our exercise. In fact, the higher the quality of our exercise, the less of it we can do. But more on that and resistance training in a later post. For now let’s focus on high-quality brief cardiovascular exercise…aka “sprinting once in a while.”

University of Virginia researcher B.A. Irving took two groups of women and had them do conventional low-quality cardiovascular exercise or high-quality brief cardiovascular exercise. The two groups burned the same number of calories exercising, but the high-quality brief cardiovascular exercise group spent significantly less time exercising while losing significantly more belly fat.

McMaster University researcher M. Gibala separated people into high quality brief cardiovascular exercise and traditional cardiovascular exercise groups. Over the course of the two-week study, the brief cardiovascular group exercised for two-and-a-half hours while the traditional cardiovascular exercise group exercised for ten-and-a-half hours. At the end of the study both groups got the same results even though the high-quality brief cardiovascular exercise group spent 320% less time exercising than the traditional cardiovascular exercise group. The researcher put it like this: “We thought there would be benefits, but we did not expect them to be this obvious. It shows how effective short intense exercise can be.”

Many more studies show the same encouraging results and further prove that hours of conventional exercise per week are not needed. Consider this small sample:

  • “Vigorous activities are associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, whereas moderate or light activities have no clear association with the risk of coronary heart disease,” says H.D. Sesso at Harvard University.
  • “The intensity of effort was more important than the quantity of energy output in deterring hypertension and preventing premature mortality,” found R.S. Paffenbarger Jr. of Stanford University.
  • “There is an inverse association between relative intensity of physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease,” states I.M. Lee, also at Harvard University.
  • “Vigorous-intensity activities may have greater benefit for reducing cardiovascular disease and premature mortality than moderate-intensity physical activities,” noted the American Heart Association.
  • “Exercise training reduces the impact of the metabolic syndrome and that the magnitude of the effect depends on exercise intensity,” discovered P.M. Haram of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Even day-to-day cardiovascular benefits like not being out of breath after walking up a few flights of stairs are achieved faster with high-quality exercise. Edward Coyle’s research at the University of Texas found: “Interval training in untrained people can markedly increase aerobic endurance…. This serves as a dramatic reminder of the potency of exercise intensity…. Interval training is very time efficient with much ‘bang for the buck.’” Old Dominion University researcher D.P. Swain adds: “Vigorous intensity exercise has been shown to increase aerobic fitness more effectively than moderate intensity exercise, suggesting that the former may confer greater cardioprotective benefits.”

Living Better Through Primal Thinking and Smarter Science

There’s a famous quote along the lines of dissatisfaction is the mother of innovation. Mark’s dissatisfaction led to The Primal Blueprint. My dissatisfaction led to The Smarter Science of Slim. Take our collective dissatisfaction with convention and add in Primal wisdom, modern science, the support of the world-wide scientific community, and a growing percentage of the mainstream dietetic community, and we should all be proud to be part of a movement that will leave a legacy as vital as the ancestral legacy we’re living.

Genes provide the blueprint, modern science confirms it, and now we get to live a life that will keep us healthy and slim practically and permanently. As we “honor our genes,” we can smile even bigger and let our eyes shine even brighter knowing that we have the single largest meta-analysis of wellness ever conducted supporting us, and that the mainstream will be along shortly.

Jonathan Bailor
The Smarter Science of Slim
Trailer: Jonathan Bailor’s Smarter Science of Slim (VIDEO)

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. My wifes grandma died a few years back and as we were going through her old recipes, I found a 3×5 card with a paleo/low carb diet written on it. It was for weight loss. The date was something like 1948. I cracked up. Nothing new under the sun. Oh, she lived to be 100 yrs.old. Older then Jack Lalane. Go figure.

    Dave wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • My mom and grandma have always cut carbs when they wanted to lose weight. They’d just not eat potatoes or pasta or bread with dinner. Transitioning into Paleo for me seemed a logical extention of what they knew all the time.

      Jen wrote on July 19th, 2012
  2. Hi. I enjoyed Mr. Bailor’s post and am quite glad for the street cred of the endorsements from major scientific institutions. However, it is unclear whether the studies meta-analyzed were looking at whole food natural, lower carb, grain free diets or CW plus more protein, veggies, and fruit? I’m guessing due to the relative dearth of the former, that the studies meta-analyzed were generally of the latter type diet. Would this confound results for using it to promote the SoS or PB approach? Just curious, even if that was the case, it still sounds like a great study and it is still an extremely important finding to note that the more SANE foods included, the better the participants did. Also, from what I could glean on Mr. Bailor’s Web sites and the Amazon link to the book, he is adamantly against the fear of fat and Ancel Keys hysteria but then recommends “as little oil” as possible and what appears to be predominantly lean meat in the program. Wondering why.

    Ms. Zing wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • Ingesting refined sugar requires the utilization of micronutrients. It stands to reason ingesting refined fat or protein would too.

      Animanarchy wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • That does make sense as oils are more refined than fat in whole foods. I would assume this is worse the more processed the oil and type of oil and perhaps the author refers more to the highly processed and damaged PUFAs and resultant trans fats (at high heat) of seed, soy, and vegetable oils. I generally think of cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil and grass fed butter as healthy.

        Ms. Zing wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • Jonathan Bailor wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • Hi Jonathan, I’m a bit confused. In that FAQ you linked, you say to use as little butter as possible, and also to have 4-6 meals a day. You also mention using low-fat Greek yogurt; you say full-fat milk is inSANE while skim milk is okay; you’re arguing for lean meats (chicken breasts?)… none of this stuff strikes me as being very primal.

        Dan wrote on July 19th, 2012
        • Bailor’s recommendations may not be Primal, but are they Primal enough…? There is disagreement about the fat content of paleolithic diets. And there is also some evidence that some people respond better to fat restriction than carb restriction (Google “genotype-appropriate diet”). If Bailor’s data backs up 60% percent of strict Primal tenets, that’s more in common than not. No need to go splitting hairs — especially not on a diet that emphasizes self-experimentation and customization over strict adherence.

          em wrote on July 19th, 2012
        • Sorry, the title of this post is: “Ancient Wisdom Confirmed by Modern Science”. Seems to me the only primal thing about SANE is that he’s recommending carbohydrate-reduction, but other than that there’s almost no convergence. He even states that vegetarians can be SANE, and if that’s primal I no longer know what is primal.

          Dan wrote on July 20th, 2012
        • Let me try again. Bailor’s point is that Calories In / Calories Out isn’t the whole picture, and creating a calorie deficit doesn’t work. I think that message is important enough (and Primal enough) on its own. So he recommends a different diet. Loren Cordain recommends a different diet, and so does WAPF. It doesn’t bother me. We have Primal folks who can’t do dairy even as a sensible indulgence and Paleo guys (Robb Wolf!) who do. You gotta find what works for YOU… But people never will if they’re stuck on a completely erroneous model of nutrition and weight maintenance. So I say, Meh! Close enough!

          em wrote on July 20th, 2012
      • “Note: Eating reduced fat/low-fat anything is only desirable if the fat is not replaced with sugar. Low-fat food that is chock-full of sugar is terrible for health and fat loss.”

        lol.. don’t eat low fat dairy then.

        mars wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • Both Cordain and Wolf, stress “lean meat” and even Mark’s book avoids the whole “fat burner” issue. I suspect it is a bow to CW to avoid being compared to Atkins.
      I thought this article was perfect for sharing on Facebook, and I did.

      Greg wrote on July 22nd, 2012
  3. I checked out the first page of the book, and this is in the forward:

    “For example, we’ve published papers from the Nurse’s Health Study indicating that at least 90% of cases of type 2 diabetes and at least 80% of heart attacks can be prevented by lifestyle changes, including being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a diet high in fruits, vegetables and *whole grains*, and *low in saturated* and trans fats and refined carbohydrates.” (emphasis mine)

    That doesn’t exactly sound like the medical community has embraced the Primal Blueprint to me. It doesn’t sound very different from the CW at all, actually.

    I don’t think adding in “refined carbohydrates” at the end of that sentence is enough to warrant the headline of this post. It actually just sounds like more of the same old tune to me. Low fat, lots of whole grain, exercise. You’ll be fiiiiiiiiine.

    merryish wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I found the portion of the forward you quoted as I was starting to read the book. I note that it refers to older papers published by the author of the forward, not previous or current papers by Jonathon Bailor. I will continue to read the book before deciding that this is just CW in disguise.

      BJML wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • Read on only a few pages and you’ll find recommendations to consume no/low fat cottage cheese, no/low fat greek yoghurt and lean meat. Eek, what’s Mark doing allowing this guy space on The Apple?

      JonnyPrimal wrote on July 20th, 2012
  4. As a researcher and confirmed data geek AND 100% Primal, I sincerely appreciate this article. Well written!

    mars wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • If you’re 100% Primal then you won’t appreciate this article once you read the book!

      JonnyPrimal wrote on July 20th, 2012
      • Yeah.. I’m not understanding the recommendations for low fat dairy and 40/20/20 either… hmmmm

        mars wrote on July 20th, 2012
  5. This guy is OBNOXIOUS! Is he even qualified to conduct such a rigorous scientific analysis (if it can even be called that)? The fact that he doesn’t even site his sources is a terrible sign (please at least correct this if you can before the academic integrity lords get too angry). Why would we need his book when we have Mark’s?

    Tarantula wrote on July 19th, 2012
  6. Great Read. I’ve always tried to help my clients and students see that short bouts of high-intensity exercise is so much more effective for health and ‘fitness’ than the long and grueling stuff (who wants to be exercising all day anyway?!)

    Isaac Warbrick wrote on July 19th, 2012
  7. Where can I find a ADA Accredited University that approves of, or teaches the grain-free way? When I was first interested in becoming a RD, I was discouraged by multiple (closet primal) Dieticians that said it wasn’t possible as a RD to suggest that grains are unhealthy…. Did I miss something?

    greg midzak wrote on July 19th, 2012
  8. I did buy the book, assuming all the references would be provided therein. I’m making a couple of assumptions here-the first of which is that Mark is a pretty savvy guy. One can’t just jump on MDA and make a big post like this-I have to assume that Mark put him on. Given that, I have found Mark to be a reasonable person who would not put a grain preaching guru in this blog. So, I will read Mr. Bailor’s book in the hopes it will provide exactly what’s promised-some scientific research to back up primal claims.
    Secondly, I have to say as an RN currently working in a hospital with all the physicians and registered dieticians that I have to deal with on a daily basis, being able to name drop Johns Hopkins and the like is incredibly useful. I work at a teaching hospital, so I have daily contact with a lot of residents and fellows, and I do try to point them towards paleo/primal as something interesting to check out that may benefit not only them, but their patients. I have a set of lipid labs drawn pre-primal and 1 month post primal diet that always impress them. I do believe in personal experience; I took Mark’s 21 day challenge and have never looked back, but when you are talking to people who work 36 hour shifts at times, you have to offer a pretty big potential payoff to get them to pay attention. Hard evidence, like my labs, and quotable studies are the best way to get that attention. If I can convince even a few fledgling doctors of the flaws in conventional thought, there could potentially be a huge payoff for their patients down the line.

    BJML wrote on July 19th, 2012
  9. Jonathan Bailor you are HOT! lol. Are you single? If you are ever in south western Ohio look me up 😉 (jenniferk29 at gmail)

    Jennifer wrote on July 19th, 2012
  10. Brunch in Bon R’s outfit.

    Ma Flintstone wrote on July 19th, 2012
  11. Not sure how primal and skim milk can be used in the same sentence, but hey, the “One True Religion” thing never worked out well either. The next generation will make thier mark, come what may. I am going to order the e-book!

    Kim wrote on July 19th, 2012
  12. Can we take MDA’s posting of this article as an endorsement? I found it strange that there was no introduction to Jonathan Bailor other than a short summary of what was to follow…. I can never tell if Mark checks every blog post himself or if someone that works at MDA posts now and then. I too found Bailor’s salespitch (if you want sources, buy the book!), oddly round about way of stating certain aspects of his research, and lack of citations in his post disconcerting. If he has been following Mark, he should know that MDA blog posts are always cited when factual science data is in question. It all feels too much like an advertisement for a not-really-that-primal diet and the guy who “started it all”.

    David wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I think perhaps Mark sells post space? After all, the Daily Apple is a tremendous sales tool. I’ve just bought Jonathan’s book on Kindle. Not convinced it fits in with Primal just yet as early in his book he suggests carbs/protein/fat breakdown as being 40/40/20. Hmmmmmm…..

      JonnyPrimall wrote on July 20th, 2012
  13. This post makes me so incredibly happy! The food research addict bounced with joy as I read this post! What a great way to start the weekend :) Thank you Jonathan and Mark!

    Roxanne wrote on July 20th, 2012
  14. I have started reading this guy’s book, but I’m a tad concerned at the whole saturated fat is bad vibe that he has going on. I’ve just stopped reading at the bit that suggests consumption of no/low fat greek yoghurt, no/low fat cottage cheese and lean meat. Eek. I will continue to read in the hope that he actually does have some science to back this up.

    JonnyPrimall wrote on July 20th, 2012
  15. Saying “don’t eat processed foods” is not Primal. This guy’s post needs removing in my opinion. He recommends a carb/protein/fat ratio of 40/40/20 which isn’t Primal. Paleo maybe, but not Primal.

    JonnyPrimal wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • In repy to myself, to clarify what I meant….someone simply saying that you shouldn’t eat processed foods does not automatically label them as Primal. There are other things such as not avoiding natural fats, which this guy does. I’m disappointed but will continue to read his book in case Mark has been wrong all this time! Put simply, Mark and Jonathan can’t BOTH be right!

      JonnyPrimal wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • Agreed. Lots of Vegans don’t eat processed foods either. Not that that makes it bad, I’m just saying that’s a wide open field.


      Tim wrote on July 20th, 2012
  16. This guy is a little to afraid of eating fat.

    mark wrote on July 20th, 2012
  17. Jonathan-

    I am a bit of a fence-straddler on your post, as well.

    First, I do sincerely want to commend you on seeing a major problematic trend with the standard training you were providing your clients and STOPPING the cycle, then dedicating your effort to FIGURE OUT what in the heck was going on! Most people in your former position consider themselves experts and any failures as the fault of the client, not the method the client was taught. So, first off, high-five on that one.

    Second, most Americans (not all, but the majority of non-Primal peeps out there) are blissfully unaware of the Primal movement. There are thin peeps, and overweight ones, active and sedentary, “healthy” and sick. I was one of these unaware folks just a couple months ago. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and my (really great) rheumatologist never mentioned diet. I was fine a year and three months ago, had a minor fender-bender, fractured rib, pit on Celebrex and WHOA, BUDDY! Allergic reaction. Did anybody know Celebrex has Sulfa? Not me, also didn’t know I was allergic… After swelling to almost twice my body size with fluid and being hospitalized (we honestly thought I may be having congestive heart failure as a 31 year old, relatively “healthy” professional working mom and wife until allergy detected!), the symptoms of the AS started. Leaky gut, anyone?! Anyway, downhill spiral, allergic to most effective meds so had to jump.straight to weekly chemo injections and Humira (a biologic). Not to mention steroids, a sleep aid, pain medication – I mean ENOUGH ALREADY! I kept getting worse and worse, lost my job in February while on Short-Term Disability, fighting to keep the house, could BARELY walk (with the assistance of my hot pink cane), sometimes couldn’t even stand up off the toilet because of the agony in my knees and my husband would have to come lift me up. I seriously until he got home. Since I was sleeping about 14 hours a day due to the extreme exhaustion, I was able to hold it, but I WAS MISSING OUT ON LIFE. Ayway, blah blah, blah – it got worse and worse and WORSE. Until 5 weeks ago when I stumbled upon first- (thank you, Bob – you are a lifesaver), where I was pointed then in the direction of MDA. It seems (all POTENTIAL since no definitive causation study has been conducts yet – I mean why would a drug company conduct a study where the outcome is “diet change achieves complete remission in Ankylosing Spondylitis? Humira casts $1,250 per injection and is taken twice a month! Diet, you say? Neva!) eliminating all starch from the diet of a person with AS causes remission to happen! Like I said, no.CONCLUSIVE

    MegDallas wrote on July 20th, 2012
  18. Proof… YET. Me? I’m all the proof I need. I immediately cut out ALL STARCH (I’m talking – I test food, beverages, supplements, anything I intend to ingest -with iodine to make sure there’s no starch) from my diet. Had my first pain-free moments in over a YEAR in only 8 days. Ditched my hot pink cane a couple weeks ago. FINALLY filled up the kid’s little pool this summer about a week ago with NO ASSISTANCE (bless my poor kiddos and Hubby for all they’ve been through the past year de facto)

    MegDallas wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • Fructose malabsorption?

      em wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • Throw some ice in that pool and go read Jack Kruse. Dr Kruse is doing brain surgery based on a primal life style and cold therapy. Mark is great for overweight and over the hill athletes but Dr Kruse takes it to a whole new level to cure physical, hormonal, and metabolic broken people, such as you (and me). Dr K comments on EVERY blog comment. Caution, he will make your head hurt more than your joints.

      Greg wrote on July 22nd, 2012
  19. I love the post and the research summaries are great but I’m a little confused by the section titled” Lift Heavy Things.” It mentions nothing about lifting and instead describes the benefits of intense vs moderate cardio. I was hoping for a summary of the science supporting lifting as a means of gaining muscle losing weight etc. A future guest post perhaps?

    Danielle Meitiv wrote on July 20th, 2012
  20. So… Bringing it home, here (I know – after way TMI bordering on overkill -Sorry), my point for SECOND is that the majority of us poor suckers out here (even someone educated and conscientious of their health), go along with what we’ve been taught, and make minor changes to our lifestyle when big headlines make the news (i.e. I started the whole family on fish oil.supplements a couple years ago). We equate valid health info with “recent study”, ‘Human Genome”, “double-blind trial with astounding results”, etc… Sadly, I was that person not long ago. And would still be had I not been faced with debilitating pain, paralysis starting in both my arms, losing the ability to drive since my C4&C5 in my neck are fusing and can’t look over shoulder and barely bend enough to get in car, etc., all of it PSYCHOLOGICALLY BREAKING ME until I started looking beyond the typical sites for AS I had been frequenting for a YEAR. That is what brought me here, via and a British study done back in the 80’s showing that a common gut flora bacteria, Klebsiella, to my immune system (AS is auto-immune) looks identical to my AS gene (HLA-B27) on the surface. So, to simplify, don’t eat starch, starve Klebsiella in gut, immune system stops producing antibodies, antibodies stop destroying my joints and spine. I was game and MDA is how I’ve put my self-experimentation to work. The sad thing is though, I needed to suffer a rapidly progressive and destructive “incurable” genetic disease in order to look for a scientific study from to point me in the right direction… On principle, I detest muckety-muck-uppety-hoop-dee-doos that throw credentials around, but in reality, that’s who will win over the masses to THE TRUTH about healthy diets and exercise, so it’s great to have Johns Hopkins and Harvard on board. This.will open up Primal to the masses with those catchy news titles. Great job there, as well!

    I suppose the reason I’m still sittin here on the fence is the whole low-fat yogurt, skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, etc. I have no problem with dairy at all… At least not until it gets low fat. Two months ago, I drank Skim Milk BECAUSE I LOVE IT, but no more. Are you aware it’s filled with starch to thicken it? Useless starch with no food value. Same goes for Lo-fat dairy ANYTHING (so far as I’ve been able to determine with my trusty iodine bottle). Were you aware that even cheese, identical types processed by the same company, same weight to the package (i.e. Kraft cheddar cheese), the only difference being block and shredded, will.contain starch in the shredded but not the block? It’s used to keep the shreds from caking. Almost all dairy items contain that starch aspect if low fat or processed for any level of convenience. Same goes for a lot of frozen fruits and meats (and obviously anything in a box). Starch is used in this country to make foods prettier, package better, fluff nicer, etc. It’s in foods as a preservative (I mean- do chicken legs REALLY need to have starch added to preserve while frozen for two years?) and is called many other names than “starch”. Baking powder has starch, sodium bicarbonate can have starch, and don’t even get me started on vitamins, supplements, and generic medications! There are a ton of chemicall-y sounding names for starch to disguise it, and dairy is the only problematic “fresh food” that seems to be getting more and more added while few are the wiser. It would seem to me if you truly want to promote “quality SANE foods”, a deeper dive into the additives/peservatives/starch in low-fat and fat free dairy products would be in order so that all those majority of folks out there just like I was not too long ago aren’t following your plan and studies while still having the old CW starch snuck in on them while they’re unaware. You don’t strike me as having THAT as your intention, since it would hold any individual back from truly “becoming Primal” by keeping them from fully detoxing their system and reprogramming their hormones.

    Anyway, I like taking the scenic route to get to my point

    MegDallas wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • MegDallas, please teach us the technique for testing for starch with iodine!

      Elenor wrote on July 20th, 2012
      • OMG! Now you’re making ME feel like some kind of expert! Woo-hoo; this is one of the few things I actually do have mastered:-)

        Okay-first, go to a pharmacy. Any pharmacy will do, but the pharmacy in a WalMart is cheaper than a Walgreens… However the sickly people in WalMart are usually more plentiful. Pick your poison on that one! Go to the first aid section and get a bottle of iodine. Any first aid iodine will work. Purchase and race home to begin conducting your experiment!

        The test is super-simple. Cut off a portion to test of whatever you want to test. Example: Since apples are pure starch until totally ripe when the starch then converts to sugar, and are often picked early to ship, I test every apple. I cut it in half, then slice a thin slice near the center the full width of the apple. I drop about 3-4 drops, one in the middle, a couple towards the outer edges, then I just add more because it’s still new and fun:-) Try a smiley face or something! Be careful not to touch the dropper on the test object or it can infect the whole bottle if it is starchy. I’ll probably get a spray bottle to put it in soon, but as of now I have a 2 ounce bottle convenient for my purse that I refill with a larger size.

        The iodine is a rust color originally. And it will stay this way of there’s no starch in the object. BUT if your object starts to cause the iodine to turn black, BEWARE! Poison! AKA starch. The more starch, the quicker the change. I usually give it up to a couple minutes if I’m iffy about the color changing a little…

        Just a couple quick helpful tips-I’ve noticed that a large area around a knick or bruise on an apple stays starchy, so cut those off. I suppose whenever it’s injured, it stops “growing” in that area causing the starch to never convert? Don’t know, I just like having a hypothesis:-)

        Also, if you’re really trying to cut starch, go test all your meds and supplements, including OTC. I’m talking even the generic ibuprofen. Can I just say “travesty”? WHO would have ever thought there would be starch hiding in there? How long does their shelf life really NEED to be? I mean – REALLY?!

        If you want the step-by-step with pictures to compare positive vs. negative starch test, just check out Bob Connors’ blog at Bob is my hero that basically spelled out the science of what NO STARCH really means for us with AS, then he told all us readers to quit whining, get off our butts, and go buy iodine because in a few weeks we’d actually be pain-free and possibly less deformed, but this was our opportunity to turn our sickness into our ticket to the healthiest US ever! He deals with a lot of AS-specific info, then kind of directs us to MDA to develop our game plan. At this point, Mark then became my hero, too! I’m seriously accomplishing remission for the first time since diagnosis of my “degenerative and painful genetic auto-immune disease for which there is no cure”. THAT from the national non-profit association for Ankylosing Spondylitis in the US. I’m just thinking mine probably isn’t the ONLY auto-immune disease that could benefit from starch elimination… And for everyone else – SAVE YOURSELVES from all this hidden, evil starch!

        Anyway, Elenor, you truly made my day! I mean – you all are the PROS and I still had a tiny tidbit of something helpful I could share! Have a great weekend and have fun starch testing everything:-)

        MegDallas wrote on July 20th, 2012
  21. So, apologies tor my long-windedness. Take my feedback with a grain of salt (sea salt:-), I am new at this and certainly have no room to be preaching to anyone, it just seems you are sincere in wanting to make a difference in a way that will connect with more people that those like I was, desperate and falling apart, and trying to fix big problems. It seems you’re attempting to validate this lifestyle and establish credibility to those that need the expert opinion, as a preemptive strike, BEFORE they’re desperate and falling apart – so please consider examining the dairy aspect so those following your advice and those of the experts don’t fail at improving their life over one small, silly, evil, elusive and hidden aspect and throw the whole damn towel in:-) Good Luck! -Megan Dallas

    MegDallas wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • Megan, it sounds like you’re on the right track. The thing I love about MDA is that he’s all about personalization of your diet/exercise/lifestyle plan and that its not a set of hard and fast rules you have to follow. Understanding the science behind your health (and not what’s in the papers on or Dr. Oz) is where you start. Where you go is up to you! Good job.

      To quote Gloria Steinem (I think it was her) – “The truth will set you free. But It’ll piss you off first.”

      Anon O'mouse wrote on July 20th, 2012
  22. great post. my former “room-mate” (single mom, no income, whom I “adopted” w/ her child) was a French woman ~50/60 lbs overweight. Her diet consisted mainly of sugar (Big Gulp every day), carbs (cookies, candies, pastries, rice, potatoes) and fat (ice cream, pizza, cheese). During 2.5 years I provided a home for her and her kid, I watched her weight continue to increase. In her mind, she believes she “may need to lose a few pounds”, of course, she needs to lose about 55#. Another friend of mine, a male, has pronounced beer belly. He claims it is very healthy and part of his Germanic heritage. He considers himself fit and healthy because he goes skiing a few times per year. These fat people refuse to accept the fact that they are fat and unhealthy! the mind is the most powerful organ in our bodies! seek the truth and believe the truth! Amen!

    Bill Berry wrote on July 20th, 2012
  23. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to diving into the details of the research you mention. I, for one, really do appreciate backing up this lifestyle with harder science. I have been sadly surprised by the negative criticism that I have received from some friends and family, and even my own physician (who I just “fired”). My own results speak volumes to the success of eating this way. But, I do like having a bit of harder science to back it up, which is sometimes necessary for naysayers to at least take it a bit more seriously.

    Thomas wrote on July 20th, 2012
  24. My apologies for not being able to spend more time covering the science around natural fats that I discovered during my research. My conversation with The China Study’s T. Colin Campell may help here:

    These blog posts may also help:

    As well as these FAQs:

    I hope this helps…and I’ll be back in a few weeks to dig more into research around “lifting heavy things.”

    Thank you for all of the kind words and helpful feedback :)

    – Jonathan Bailor

    Jonathan Bailor wrote on July 20th, 2012
  25. Awesome article.. one i can send to people when they ask me what i’ve been doing to get these results and why i believe in the science (other than the results speak for themselves!)

    B wrote on July 20th, 2012
  26. It would be awesome if dietetics programs actually taught this or encouraged us to explore and look at the research for other diets besides the USDA dietary guidelines. Thankfully, my nutritional biochem professor taught us how metabolism actually works on the biochemical level. After my internship to become an RD, I do not plan on regurgitating info about eating whole grains with every meal to patients.

    Lauren wrote on July 21st, 2012
  27. This method sounds so logical, and so simple, but I tend to have so much trouble sticking to any diet and fitness routine. It’s probably because of societal conditioning…

    Christine Mattice wrote on July 21st, 2012
  28. “eat more exercise less”
    This sounds like a marketing punch line to me. If you are overweight I agree that you will have to fix your metabolism first but once you do then you need to tap into body fat stores and that can be done by eating less and exercising more! This will happen naturally if your metabolism is fixed and you are eating real foods (e.g. paleo).You will feel satiated with less calories and you will get an urge to move!
    Calories in calories out might be misleading as it’s promoted in mainstream advice because it actually doesn’t tell you how , but it is not a wrong statement.

    Efthymios wrote on July 21st, 2012
    • Sorry, you are missing some major pieces of the puzzle. When your metabolism is functioning correctly, your body takes all the excess calories from that day and burns them as body heat. Is heat production a source of calories Out? Proper metabolism is about more than hunger or energy levels and “calories in, calories out ” is more involved than even you realise.

      Greg wrote on July 22nd, 2012
  29. Great post as usual. This confirms how we the people living primal now feel about our life style. Eating this way and living this way just feels natural.

    borntobelean wrote on July 22nd, 2012
  30. Anyone else notice the massive misrepresentation of that fuel derivation graph? Post-trauma patients’ bodies glucose/fat fuel preference does not relate remotely to individuals attempting to lose fat. . . . I like Mark, but if he’s going to endorse crap science like this, I’m not sure I’ll be reading this blog for anything other than recipes.

    Ian wrote on July 24th, 2012

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