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What is the difference between the paleo and primal diets?
The Paleo diet in its original form, and in the form most people would recognise, just means eating more like our paleolithic ancestors and ditching neolithic foods such as bread and pasta and butterscotch pecan lattices. The Primal Blueprint is a little more open-minded about things like cheese and the like, but I'd say the main difference is that the PB has a lot more to it than just the food - though that is the main part of it.
the biggest difference: dairy & sugar. Check out Whole 30 & compare it to Primal dogma. You'll see the differences pretty quickly. W30 is, to me, Paleo escalated to a religious standard of excellence that we should all aim for.
I think there are many flavors of lifestyle/diets that are based in paleo but have subtle changes built in, but I think the main thing they all share is low glycemic foods, clean food, etc. Some paleo is low fat, some isn't....some is no dairy, some say a little is ok. Primal is not just diet centric though, and to understand what makes Primal and paleo different is the full spectrum of the lifestyle including Mark's take on fitness and an overall philosophy of the Primal Blueprint.
Also Mark is a part of Primal and I think most of the people on here would agree that we not only like the food/diet portion of Primal but we also like the stuff Mark Sisson puts out to support the Primal way of life. To me it is a paleoesque approach to the modern world and one that is more sustainable than pure strict paleo because it has some built in things that make it a little more fun than plain old paleo....in my opinion of course.
A lot of people agreed with Cordain's general approach (trying to eat foods that we are well adapted to from an evolutionary standpoint), but disagreed with many of the specifics. Cordain was anti-saturated fat, anti-cholesterol, anti-starchy tubers, anti-dairy, pro-canola oil, and pro-diet soda.
A number of other writers have adopted slightly different terms to distinguish themselves from Cordain.
Sisson: The Primal Blueprint.
Jaminet: Perfect Health Diet
Harris: Paleo 2.0 and now Archevore