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

Meet Grok

Picture4 11

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?

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. We had a Grok around recently:

    “Ishi (ca. 1860 – March 25, 1916) was the pseudonym of the last member of the Yahi, in turn the last surviving group of the Yana people of California. Ishi is believed to be the last Native American in Northern California to have lived most of his life completely outside the European American culture. He emerged from the wild near Oroville, California, leaving his ancestral homeland in the foothills near Lassen Peak.
    Ishi means “man” in Yana, which was the name Alfred Kroeber gave him when he discovered Ishi had never been given a name. When asked his actual name, he said: “I have none, because there were no people to name me,” meaning that no tribal ceremony had been performed”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishi

    vanderleun wrote on August 13th, 2009
  2. Any chance of a Grok/Grokette t-shirt for ladies? Grok with a ponytail or a dress? I would wear it!

    Kate Schmidt wrote on January 2nd, 2010
  3. the Maya, Inca, Aztec societies of Central & South America were NOT hunter-gatherers. PLus, they were HIGHLY urbanized!!

    Alan wrote on April 2nd, 2010
  4. the Cro-Magnons may have been cool, but not cool enough. They were pushed into extinction by the newcomers.

    Alan wrote on April 2nd, 2010
    • “the Cro-Magnons may have been cool, but not cool enough. They were pushed into extinction by the newcomers.” I think you’re getting them mixed up with Neanderthals. Cromagnons become modern Europeans(with some admixture with farmers from the middle east).

      As for body shape, the skulls and teeth of modern humans have gotten smaller and less robust over the last 50,000 years. Ditto with muscles attachments and bone density. The coming of agriculture sped up the process. Early farmers were shorter and weaker than late hunter gatherers. I would also agree with Alan about the precolumbian cultures. They were as or more urbanised as Europeans. Very complex societies. Plus many of the hunter gatherers in the amazon basin were farmers not so long ago. Evidence of widespread agriculture can be found there today in the “black earth” deposits. So many of the “stoneage” tribes today were farmers 1000 years ago.

      I would also agree with another poster above that said we havent stopped evolving since then. More gene changes have happened in the last 10,000 yrs than in the previous 40,000. Mostly to do with novel and local food. Most huntergatherers would be intolerant to gluten and lactose and alcohol. EG People from India would be more lactose intolerant than europeans as milk products are found in much smaller quantities. Alcohol is an obvious one. Look at the damage that has wreaked in many older cultures when introduced. The native Americans and Australians good examples. Many Asian people cant metabolise alcohol the way most Europeans can.

      So while broadly speaking a paleo diet looks like a good plan, its far more complex than that. Our biggest evolutionary advantage is our ability to eat what comes our way. Lose the obvious boogy men like sugar and pretty much anything to do with processed corn, eat more meat and fish and eggs and a wide selection of fruit and veg with some olive oil. Throw in a glass of red wine if you can tolerate it.

      Though I would agree that more HIIT exercise is better than running on a treadmill for dear life.

      Frank wrote on May 4th, 2010
  5. I found this site back in the first of the year i think its awesome.I started eating like a caveman working out quit drinking and have lost 15 pounds so far.I like the grok logo i would love a t shirt to show i’m a part of something thats a big part of the way I live.grok makes me want to leave the gun at home on the next hunt

    ERIC wrote on May 12th, 2010
  6. This was the part of The Primal Blueprint I had the most problem with. There are some studies cited for the fat/cholesterol/heart disease links, etc…. but none of the claims about our pre-agricultural lifestyle, the basis for the Grok character, ever had any sort of endnotes. On the basis of what studies/books/articles/etc was this character and life created?

    Kasi wrote on July 22nd, 2010
  7. Came here after a search to see if skipping a meal once a week was bad for me. I just did by accident last night and I’m not hungry yet this morning. Pfft. And I’ve been wasting time exercising all these years.

    Anyway… I never knew there were people in California that long ago. Eye-opening. For some reason Irish me thought they arrived relatively recently, ie within the last couple of thousand years.

    Interesting. Love the concept of the book, but I’m only a caveman when it comes to my attitudes to women.

    Anton Gully wrote on August 12th, 2010
  8. It was nice to meet Grok, he was wise, fit and healthy.

    Jeff wrote on November 20th, 2010
  9. Why is that as I my hairline recedes and birthdays creep up faster and faster I too feel myself becoming more and more like Grok.
    And my wife is also finding more clean cutlery and crockery on the table after I finish my meals.
    Oh dear, this is too close to the bone…

    Timothy wrote on December 8th, 2010
  10. love Grok, and what he stands for… just introduced him to my readers at http://www.njpaleogirl.com!

    NJ Paleo Girl wrote on February 22nd, 2011
  11. I have always had a similar outlook on nutrition but never based it on evolution. I just feel that we need eat things as close as possible to how God made them. If you gotta grind it, stew it, ferment it, and preserve it, maybe it ain’t so good.
    Also, I have searched a few posts on Grok and legumes? Good to go? Or no, no, no?

    elizabeth clements wrote on March 18th, 2011
  12. Hi Grok!! The Grok logo looks like he is leaping between two sections of land or between large rocks with effortless agility…or running in to spear Conventional Wisdom and its idiotic, false, misleading, corrupt, harmful, and “traditional”….ness…lol I didn’t know how else to finish that statement up :p. But Grok I strive to have a killer body like you with all the fixins(the physical attribute, perfect health, better functioning brain etc). Hugh Jackman in Wolverine…maybe not quiiite as much muscle, but let’s see how far the genes take me along with the PB lifestyle!! Primal Blueprint, not Peanut Butter haha, but u guys know what I mean.

    Jeremiah wrote on April 6th, 2011
  13. I have been reading with avidity and delight about the Paleo/primal etc diets… As a long time lover of Anthropology and Food, it’s fun to see my two loves married in such a fun way…

    But I have one question about Grok.. His diet doesn’t seem to fit much into what a Grok from where I originally hailed from would have been eating… Is it at all possible that different Groks from different geographical areas evolved on slightly different diets?

    My ancestors most likely ate a lot of starch heavy tubers that grow without being cultivated (Cassava being one example) and ate plenty of fish and other fruits (avocados, mangoes, etc) who didn’t need agriculture to thrive… and managed to survive in the Serengeti etc… Could they be considered Groks? Or is Grok a certain prototypical Paleo Homo Sapien hailing from a specific region of the globe?

    An Inquiring Mind wants to know.

    InquiringMind wrote on May 12th, 2011
  14. The paragraph about stress is particularly pollyannaish. I doubt the “simple pleasure” of foraging for food offsets the reality of infant mortality, infection, pain, starvation, etc.

    It reeks of the naturalistic fallacy and misplaced sentimentality.

    Brendan wrote on August 8th, 2011
    • Agreed! Starvation, infection, or being eaten by an animal doesn’t sound like the best ways to go. It must have been pretty sad & stressful to see your friends and family die that way too.

      The diet seems good on its own, no need to convince us all by using a cheesy backstory about a caveman.

      mert wrote on June 4th, 2012
  15. Great post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

    louis vuitton wrote on September 9th, 2011
  16. if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

    adidas jeremy scott wrote on October 21st, 2011
  17. love the article, though i think it’s a bit misleading, if still a step in the right direction, as compared with most people’s perceptions of how our ancestors lived.

    the idea that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived short, brutish lives, constantly on the “knife’s edge” of survival has been pretty thoroughly debunked.

    the latest research suggests, rather, that hunter-gatherers were the “Original Affluent Society”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_affluent_society

    also, most research suggests that the short life expectancy attributed to our paleolithic ancestor’s lives is mostly due to infant mortality:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Life_expectancy_variation_over_time

    finally, considering our ancestor’s daily lives consisted mostly of ethnic TRIBAL, rather than FAMILY, groups, most researchers suspect they had very little to fear from predators; even a pack of wild dogs flees in the face of a well-organized group of a human tribe’s hunters.

    Reverend Joe wrote on November 29th, 2011
  18. “…and an inclusive, non-gendered representative of all our beloved primal ancestors (male or female who spanned the primeval globe)…”

    What I didn’t know about Grok is that he was an indoctrinated frightened-to-death victim of Cultural Marxism. Excuse me Mark, I definitely respect you and your site, but that line is utterly pathetic. If you find it necessary, develop some Grokette, but please, avoid this sort of repulsive crap. Really.

    Admirer wrote on May 25th, 2012
  19. What makes modern humans so amazing is the ability to adapt. Our entire modern society is built around avoiding the common causes of death of our “Grok” ancestor, and it all works for the most part. We’re just at a point now where we need to find balance between technology and tradition. Unfortunately the current US culture is lacking any sensible traditional diet like anything in the Mediterranean, Asia, etc. so it’s great that this is something people are using to fill that gap. It would be great to see more farmer’s markets, butcher shops, etc. opening up around the country and see a reduction in the laboratory-made, food-like substances being stocked in grocery stores.

    If we’re going to get sentimental about this Grok guy, I’d love to see something about how “Grok” lives in harmony with the environment. Also, despite hunting and eating animals, he has a great respect for them. Don’t forget about all those ritualistic sacrificial ceremonies he probably had!

    This is part of what’s missing in modern human thought, the idea that we’re all dependent on each other for survival and we depend on the earth to support us– without that we have nothing.

    mert wrote on June 4th, 2012
  20. Why is Grok a sprinter if we evolved as persistence hunters?

    Adolfo Neto wrote on September 9th, 2012
  21. I want the “Live Long Drop Dead” t-shirt. As an Old Bat and proud owner of more Woot Ts than I should probably have have, I want that particular one. *chuckles* At this stage of my life, I’m working at getting healthier than I currently am. I first got acquainted with Grok via a library book and I’ve been hankering after that T ever since.

    Rose Ash wrote on November 24th, 2012

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple