Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 27, 2009

Meet Grok

By Mark Sisson
182 Comments

The Definitive Guide to Grok

He’s the oft-cited star of our Paleolithic backdrop, the poster-persona of the Primal Blueprint itself. We would be remiss (and a little rude, don’t you think?) to overlook formal introductions. “It’s about time!” some of you might be saying to yourselves. Let’s meet the man of the eon!

First off, he is simultaneously his own person/personality (incidentally male) and an inclusive, non-gendered representative of all our beloved primal ancestors (male or female who spanned the primeval globe). It’s Grok as both construed individual and collective archetype, you might say. In either capacity, Grok serves as our primal exemplar, a figurative model for evolutionarily tried and true lifestyle behaviors: diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc. And, as Mark’s Daily Apple itself has evolved over the last few years, we’ve grown quite attached to him, you might say. A likeable fellow, really, who, incidentally, also has a charming family – a strong, resourceful wife and two healthy children (a young boy and infant girl).

Grok, as we have come to know and love him, is a rather typical hunter-gatherer. He hearkens from, say, the San Joaquin Valley of (now) California. Born before the dawn of agriculture, he lives the life of a forager – hunting game and gathering all manner of roots, shoots, seeds and fruits for both himself and his family/small band. He’s perhaps 30 years old, on the upper end of life expectancy in his day, but he has the remarkable health to live far beyond that if he can avoid the traps of his time: accidents, predators, illness – far different threats than ours today.

You see, by modern standards, he would be the pinnacle of physiological vigor. Picture a tall, strapping man: lean, ripped, agile, even big-brained (by modern comparison). And as for what’s underneath? An enviable workup: low/no systemic inflammation, low insulin and blood glucose readings, healthy (i.e. ideally functional) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. “Hmm,” you say, closing your menu. “I’ll have what he’s having.”

And what would that be exactly? Hardly the fare of our modern diet. Wild seeds, grasses, and indigenous nut varieties. Seasonal vegetables and leaves. Roots (once he mastered the art of cooking). Berries and other fruits when they were available. Meats and fish whenever he could get them: small animals like rabbit and squirrel as well as occasional big game like bear, bison, deer, and mammoth. Grok and his clan knew a good thing when they had it. No wasteful, finicky butchering methods here. Everything remotely edible was eaten: organs, muscle, marrow.

Grok, to be sure, works hard for his dinner. Chasing game has made him a solid, nimble sprinter. Regular foraging (for food and firewood, etc.) as well as the occasional necessary migrations have developed impressive physical endurance. The obligatory lifting, hauling, and building of primal life have made him tough and burly. Regular exposure to the elements has made him robust and resilient.

But in spite of all of this, he leads a life of relative peace, consistent rhythm, adequate sleep, little stress. There are times of scarcity, to be sure, but his body is adapted to generally weather their strain. There are the physical threats of predators, but he has the savvy and fitness to usually avoid these. On his side are the biochemical capabilities to, by and large, handle the demands of his day: a fine-tuned, selected-for orchestration of hormonal release and up-regulation that works efficiently for day-to-day activities and surges into action for necessary crises.

Lucky for him, his diet and activity supported those physiological processes. As hard as he worked for his food, he gained an optimum compilation of omega-3 rich protein, unpolluted fats, and peak antioxidants (those wild varieties of fruits and veggies, as opposed to watered down cultivated versions we moderns usually eat). The intermittent shortages activated subtle but powerful up-regulating mechanisms that could typically keep him healthy until the next feast could be earned. His efforts in obtaining sustenance and maintaining basic shelter and security healthily challenged his cardiovascular system, built his muscles, strengthened his bones and bolstered his immune system. The primal life demanded a steady balance of sprinting, weight lifting and nearly constant low level labor.

And stress? Life in his era might be called short and brutish, but we think that’s not the full story. Laborious, yes. Taxing, yes. Precarious, yes. Strenuous and at times perilous, but not defined by the chronic stress to which we moderns often find ourselves chained. Grok and his kind – by necessity – lived primarily in the moment addressing this need, this meal, this danger. It was a life of simple sustenance, but he lived and worked within a family and tribe to share the load. And in between these efforts, he was also free to live, rest and enjoy his own moments of peace walking by a river or sitting by the fire. A short life? For most, yes. A brutish life? Some of the time. But Grok’s life, for all its uncertainty and simplicity, also offered the basic human enjoyments of happiness, family, quiet, even beauty. As arduous as Grok and his clan’s life was, there was a certain freedom in living for daily sustenance rather than for future acquisition. As imminent as death might have been in his world, it’s also true that those of his era rarely lived a day in ill-health.

And that is a glimpse of our good man Grok, official primal prototype – his life, his practices, his physiology, his disposition. How different our lives seem in comparison. But how possible the lessons for health. The artless health of his day fused with the know-how and the plenty of ours. (Grok couldn’t have imagined it so good.) Grok’s guide, our gain – what the PB is all about. Thanks, dude.

Have your thoughts on the primal personage? Grok thanks you for your support. “It’s good to be among friends….”

Further Reading:

Did Grok Really Eat that Much Meat?

Would Grok Chow the Cheese Plate?

Didn’t Grok Eat Raw Meat?

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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181 Comments on "Meet Grok"

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Holly
Holly
7 years 8 months ago

Oh Grok. I might have a crush on him.

Steve
Steve
7 years 8 months ago

I must say, I’m envious!

Holly
Holly
7 years 8 months ago

p.s. sweet Grok design. anyway we could get that on a MDA t-shirt? anyone else want one?

fatehunter
fatehunter
7 years 8 months ago

Mark,

Where did the idea of calling this primal being ‘Grok’ come from? Having read “Stranger in a strange land” I was surprised to find the use of Grok as it is in the Primal manking world.

Any ideas?

Owen
Owen
7 years 8 months ago

I’ll buy one!

Owen
Owen
7 years 8 months ago

Mark,
I must say that I LOVE the graphic on this page. It’s simple, striking and succinctly sums up the lifestyle: that of a vigorous, capable, leaping, bounding hunter. I can’t imagine an image that says so much on first glance.
I’d wear it on a suit lapel. 🙂
Thank a million for ALL of this.

Owen

JE Gonzalez
7 years 8 months ago

It is nice to meet Grok, but there is one problem. People who actually live like this nowadays:

http://www.amazon-indians.org/index.html

I don’t think you get anymore nutrient-dense than Amazon plants and animals. They don’t look like you Mark,nor any of the Paleo/Primal/EF followers. but they follow the Primal Blueprint.

Although, Arthur Devany makes some good points about diets in primitives.
http://www.arthurdevany.com/members/?p=1196

Kevin
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

That is an interesting point about the Amazonian people. Having done some study on North American Native Indians, I was always amazed at how healthy and fit they looked in old pictures from the 1800’s that I came across. They were hunters and gatherers (with a little horticulture mixed in). To me they resemble what Grok looks like.

Lewis
Lewis
7 years 8 months ago

Mark:

I really like the logo as is. I think the “shadow drawing” quality makes it look like a cave painting—superficially simple, but much more complex at a second (or third) glance. Kind of like the primal blueprint, in fact!

Clint
Clint
7 years 8 months ago

Mark,

I like the graphic! Another “Grok” image that really caught my attention was on John Berardi’s site. He wrote an article on the fitness of Neanderthal Man. The image he used on the first page he got out of some periodical. Here’s the link to the article with the image he used.

http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/nutrition/built1.htm

Robert M.
Robert M.
7 years 8 months ago

I like the silhouette. Maybe add a sunburst behind him?

Son of Grok
7 years 8 months ago

Hi Grok. I am your misguided, messed up, convoluted and “westernized” offspring. I am trying to recover though 😉

I like the logo. It is maybe a little too graceful and “Ballet” for me… but good. lol

The SoG

Lewis
Lewis
7 years 8 months ago

Oh mighty Son of Grok!

Know ye that ballet is very primal! The jumping! The lifting! The throwing! The music its set to . . . not so primal. But the speed the strength the grace . . . that’s very primal. Mikhail Baryshnikov with hair extensions and a spear? Think about it!

Most ‘umbly submitted,

L

Martin
7 years 8 months ago

I like the image.

Grok, pleasure to meet you!

onelasttime
onelasttime
7 years 8 months ago
Nice Grok likeness. As someone new to this Primal idea I can’t wait to read the book!! I wonder what time frame of existence Grok belongs to and how he relates to Indigenous cultures that still maintain some resemblance to their traditional diets. I have read studies of Aborigines that have been relocated to traditional lands and ways of life for even short periods that have been “cured” of obesity and regained health and that studies of the Inuit demonstrate high fat, low carb diets can lesson diabetes and related heath issues. What do you think of the notion of… Read more »
Donna
Donna
7 years 8 months ago

“A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words”
I see Grok’s graphic expresses itself, i really like it!

Jeff
Jeff
7 years 8 months ago

I love the graphic!

I’d also love to meet lady Grok. I bet she’s nice.

Son of Grok
7 years 8 months ago

Jeff,
Don’t forget that lady Grok was unaquainted with razors 😉

The SoG

mike
mike
7 years 8 months ago

i too like the image and would like to see it on a t shirt. perhaps it can be released with the book??? thanks for the site and all the hard work involved.

Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips
7 years 8 months ago

Good article Mark. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with stress. The more technologically advanced we become the more comfortable but stressful our lives seem to get.

Kevin Clark
Kevin Clark
7 years 8 months ago

The Amazon Indians pictured in the link provided by JE Gonzales don’t look like well muscled physical specimens. The Masai look much healthier. I wonder what accounts for this.

Grok
Grok
7 years 8 months ago

Grok like Mark. Mark almost correct. Grok tell it like is.

Grok no eat plants unless run out of meat. Grok mate gather bugs, reptiles like lizards, snakes, turtles, and small mammals. Only pick up plants if can’t find good stuff.

Would eat all meat all the time if could.

Also, life not so perfect as Mark say. Spend lots of time fighting with other humans. Much more than fighting with animals. You not in my band? You danger! I probably kill!

BOBSTOUFUS
BOBSTOUFUS
6 years 1 month ago

Grok is a bit presumptious to define HIMSELF” as being functionally illiterate.
How does he arrive at the idea that our Paleo-Ancestors were challenged in both thought and verbal communication.
UGGG! Maybe Grok Watch Movies Too Much?

TrailGrrl
TrailGrrl
7 years 8 months ago

Maybe some rocks or a stream in the graphic would make it look less like a ballet dancer? Or a tree maybe.

I like the spear, though.

No razors… well, this might have to be an updated cavewoman, SoG. Sort of like Nova in Planet of the Apes. Sure I’m primitive, but my hair looks GREAT, just messed up enough. If she looks like Lucy the mother of mankind, I’m gonna be scared.

TG

BOBSTOUFUS
BOBSTOUFUS
6 years 1 month ago

Whats the big debate about Grokeena?
Jeeze didn’t anybody watch the original 10,000,000 BC? I am absolutely positive she looked like Racquel Welch at 23.
Now where did I leave my blueprints for that Time Machine again??

Jonny
Jonny
7 years 8 months ago
Ellen
Ellen
7 years 7 months ago

I like the simplicity of The Leaping Grok (without any background images), launching through the air with greatest of ease.

Yavor Marichkov
7 years 7 months ago

The only sprinting I do is for the bus. Need to grokanize my day more lol

Yavor

curious
curious
7 years 7 months ago
I came by this post by way of Grok’s biography (by way of explaining the late comment). Question: What on Earth led you to believe that the human body has stopped evolving? We likely didn’t evolve the capacity for introspection until about 3,000-3,500 years ago (the time of the Odyssey, the oldest books of the Torah/OT, the Vedas, etc.). If such a gigantic evolutionary change took place so recently, what makes you think that our digestive system suddenly reached a “final blueprint” by the time we started cultivating grains (and squash, roots, beans, animals, etc.)? A lot of your arguments… Read more »
Yokoso
Yokoso
5 years 8 months ago

Great points.

Also, is Grok a different species from us? Could I mate with him and produce an offspring? If not, should I still be concerning myself with a diet of another species? Just curious….

Erik
Erik
5 years 8 months ago
Yes, grok is still the same species. If you run into him, go for it. 😉 Curious asks some worthwhile questions, to be sure, but the fact is that there are answers to those questions available in the anthropological record. And they point to humans still being poorly adapted to a carb-heavy diet based on grains (particularly gluten grains). Evolution never stops, but 10,000 years on that timescale is a VERY short time (and that’s just since the first established agriculture anywhere; many populations have been eating grains for less than 100 years, and their health invariably plummets when grains… Read more »
curious
curious
7 years 7 months ago

Oops, meant to post this on the “Would Grok eat a cheese plate” entry. Please ignore the first sentence.

mike
mike
7 years 7 months ago

i know it’s not the specific area, but i was wondering if the book is still projected for april? thanks.

Neal
Neal
7 years 7 months ago
To grok (pronounced /?gr?k/) is to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein’s view of quantum theory, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. From the novel: “ Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as… Read more »
Ryan Denner
7 years 7 months ago

the fact that it is the only image ever to show up in the home screen of google reader means its a keeper for me!

*grunt*

Mark Sisson
7 years 7 months ago

Curious, we’ll be detailing much of this in the forthcoming book. Meanwhile, interesting to note that in early grain-based societies, life expectancy dropped to 18. Plus, stature decreased, as did bone density. Much more to come…

trackback
7 years 7 months ago

[…] health: the essence of Grok, wash your hands, Andrew’s potpourri, legislating away the sodium, the joy of appendicitis, […]

EW
EW
7 years 7 months ago

We need a Grokette !!

George
George
7 years 7 months ago
OK, although I think that the Paleo Diet is a generally good idea, there are a LOT of assumptions in this “Grok” creation. 1) “You see, by modern standards, he would be the pinnacle of physiological vigor. Picture a tall, strapping man: lean, ripped, agile, even big-brained (by modern comparison).” If you look at modern counterparts to this supposed Grok, (somebody posted a good link: http://www.amazon-indians.org/index.html), they are not all a) tall, in fact the average non-Grok is probably taller, maybe due to all the growth hormones in our beef and other meats, nor are they all b) ripped, although… Read more »
George
George
7 years 7 months ago
Mark, Perhaps “modern Groks” aren’t NECESSARILY exemplary of 10,000 year old ancestors, some might be. At the very least, they are more exemplary of them than city-dwellers, country-farmers, etc. While are are very few hunter-gatherer societies left on Earth (by the way if anyone has any informative or interesting links on this topic, please post them), of those that are left we can’t say “Oh, they aren’t as physically robust as I thought they would be (Conan the Barbarian, perhaps), so they must not be exemplary of “real” Groks. I understand that there are probably important clues from the fossil… Read more »
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[…] this recipe does include a little dairy – which Grok would typically forgo – it really helps take this dish to the next level (and is a reprieve from […]

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7 years 7 months ago

[…] one on the list has to be Son of Grok. (He is family after all!) He is taking the Primal lifestyle to an entirely new level, and he is broadcasting his […]

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[…] it should follow that the same is true for domesticated animals. After all, we are little more than domesticated hunter-gatherers. A few months back, we discussed the Primal diet for dogs. Using the same principles that guide the […]

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[…] temptation and metabolic imbalances. There is certainly some validity to this idea. I can imagine Grok roaming the grasslands for nuts, bugs, roots, shoots, and small game. And at times these foods may […]

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[…] Grok ingest salt? actress Cordain’s Paleo fasting eschews every forms of salt, but I conceive our […]

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[…] in your reaction. (I’m not Italian, so don’t worry about insulting penne!) I find your Grok narrative/metaphor to be a very appealing and seemingly intuitive model for making food choices. But I […]

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[…] to The Definitive Guide to Grok: First off, he is simultaneously his own person/personality (incidentally male) and an inclusive, […]

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[…] personal health, aesthetic concerns, weight loss, disease prevention, and athletic performance. Grok’ s motives were decidedly different. If Grok wasn’t in shape he just might not be able to obtain […]

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[…] expect. While there are many things we can do (or eat) today that very closely approximate what Grok did to trigger positive gene expression, there are also a number of obstacles that can thwart our […]

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[…] satisfying a natural urge (thirst) with the most natural solution: free, delicious water. Grok in the flesh! He was on to something. I too drank from the fountain that […]

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[…] Post your choice of girls and rounds completed to comments. Grok On! […]

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