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

Is the Stone Beginning to Crack?

When all was said and done, yesterday’s post turned out to be a bit of a downer – at least for me. I literally felt the crushing weight of the preponderance of Conventional Wisdom bearing down on me as I wrote, and the light-hearted banter was all I could muster to keep from total despair. Even though I tried to illuminate the conclusion with a glimmer of hope, I almost felt like retreating to some dark dank place to set up shop and live out my days like some Primal Grok-Kurtz amalgam. The locals would whisper and tell tall tales, sure, but at least I’d be free to eat fat, munch protein, and abstain from excess carbs. Maybe Eades would send in a band of hapless recruits to retrieve me. Maybe they’d bear news that the war was ending and, though we may not be necessarily winning, we were at least making it respectable. Or maybe I just watched “Apocalypse Now” again. Have I gone temporarily mad? Perhaps, but that’s what fighting against an entrenched, illogical enemy will do to a person.

But all is not lost. No, I assure you – I haven’t given up. Neither have you guys, judging from the incredible comments to yesterday’s post. In fact, that influx of immediate and overwhelming support gave me a second wind. It made me realize that we’re all in this together, and that by standing firm and maintaining that implacable hold on the facts that we currently enjoy (and will always enjoy, at least as long as we remain genetically Grok) we will eventually win out. Human progress moves incrementally and often laboriously, but it does move. That CW stone is heavy, ever-looming, and resilient, but cracks are showing – and it can be moved, or realigned (Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, and the pyramids prove that). We do our part in chipping away here on this blog and in this forum, while countless others attack the stone from other angles and with different tools. Some use thoughtful, careful analysis of past research, others use humor, while still others use fiery indignation to combat the scourge of Conventional Wisdom. It all helps, and it’s all – I think and hope – leading to a tipping point.

Even big time publications are getting in on the game. While it isn’t ideal and the author still writes from the typical calories in, calories out vantage point, Time Magazine’s recent “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” does touch on the vicious cycle of Chronic Cardio/overeating that plagues so many people who are simply trying to follow their doctors’ advice. Gary Taubes, who discussed the inefficiency and counterproductive effects of typical fitness efforts in “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” only gets a small mention toward the end, and the article’s author concludes that it’s what you eat, rather than whether you exercise that determines body composition – but there’s no mention of what constitutes a healthy diet, nor is there discussion of the positive effects heavy resistance training and intense metabolic conditioning can have on insulin sensitivity. Hey, it’s a start, and the article is still atop the “Most Emailed” list.

Last month, forum member brought to our attention an LA Times story on Vitamin D. I’ve always stressed the importance of getting enough Vitamin D through the sun (or through supplements, if it’s the only option), and it’s great to see that the “experts” are now recommending an upper daily limit of 10,000 IU (up from 2,000) – which is the amount the average person manufactures by spending an hour or so in the sun. Funny how they arrived at that number, isn’t it? Almost too perfect.

The NY Times just published a story on the growing barefoot movement (hey, it’s not just about diet, folks – remember that!). In my opinion, they give false equivalency to the “opinions” of the barefoot runners and the shoe companies (gee, I wonder which one has a financial horse in the race), but that’s journalism for you. The important thing to note is that not only is the barefoot movement growing, but that publications like the NY Times and Wired are beginning to notice. Maybe next they’ll do a piece on the Primal movement… who knows?

I like to mock the constant rotation of strangely similar “ab-blasting, bicep-rocking 10-week crash course for buff beach bods” workout plans that make the rounds in male fitness magazines, but even they may be coming around. Men’s Health, for example, published a damn good article on saturated fat. Their headline? “For decades, Americans have been told that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease. But there’s just one problem: No one’s ever proved it.” Music to my ears! The article highlights the work of Ronald Krauss, M.D., whose research has called into question the lipid hypothesis of heart disease. Peter, over at Hyperlipid, certainly finds his research useful.

Men’s Health also did a feature on Erwan le Corre, creator of MovNat. It’s a bit like parkour, except in a natural environment. The article focuses on the importance of truly functional fitness – the type of fitness that allows you to scale cliffs, climb trees, heave rocks, and swim lakes. Grok would be proud (and he’d probably be a damn good parkour artist).

And what about books? We’ve of course got the Primal Blueprint, which I can heartily recommend (I hear the author’s a really great guy, in fact). There’s also Primal Body, Primal Mind, Evolution Rx, The Vegetarian Myth (Dr. Eades gave a great write-up on it), Fat (nice and succinct, isn’t it?), and of course the Pollan books. And those were just the ones published this year alone. I don’t know how sales are for every book mentioned, but I do know that publishers generally don’t throw money away on hopeless ventures. The movement is picking up steam.

Film, too, is coming out with some great stuff. Food Inc. made a big splash recently (enough to force Big Agra into throwing together a hasty response). You know you’re on to something when they try to discredit you. Or there’s Fathead: The Movie, which is being billed as a response to Superize Me, but is really a great deconstruction of the lipid hypothesis. If you can’t get someone to read Good Calories, Bad Calories, get them a copy of Fathead. Move quickly, though, because as forum member chocolatechip69 mentions, both films are unavailable on Netflix due to high demand. King Corn is another good one that got a lot of buzz.

A quick look at Google trends for a few keywords reveals a few interesting surges. Take “fasting,” for example: a pretty standard pattern, with Ramadan accounting for the annual uptick in interest. But when you plug in “intermittent fasting,” you see a massive surge in interest in this year alone. Or check out the steady increase for “paleo diet”. “Crossfit” is also pretty impressive, and the Primal community enjoys a lot of crossover with that crowd. I’d be interested to see what other developments emerge in the coming months.

Taken as isolated instances of clarity, these don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. The CW stone still stands tall, and a crack here and there won’t do a whole lot. But when you assemble everything and view it as a whole, the picture becomes rosier and rosier. And the more things accumulate, the more the mainstream will take notice. Once that begins, all it’ll take to really cement things is a major milestone: a landmark, highly-publicized research article, an appearance on Oprah, or the other 50% finally accepting the veracity of evolution ( this last one is, sadly, the least likely). Until that day, though, we can’t let up.

Like anything else that matters, real progress is going to be slow and gradual, and accepting that fact is a big part of succeeding. We can’t expect everything to change all at once. It reminds me of that experience so many people have when they start out on the Primal eating plan. Those first few days (or weeks) of abstaining from sugar, grains, and processed foods can be difficult, but once you start seeing actual results – getting random compliments like “Have you lost weight?”, experiencing impromptu pants-around-the-ankles moments because you’ve dropped a few sizes, buoyant morning energy that isn’t coffee-related – it all gets even easier. We’ve all had those moments, and those are often the reason we keep this lifestyle up – because it works, and it’s obvious that it works. Our battle against CW is exactly like that, only on a much wider scale (and longer timeline). I figure I’ve been at this for about five years, give or take a couple. The blog only launched three years ago, but even before I was discussing evolutionary fitness and health, albeit without such a large forum. Loren Cordain has been at it for a bit longer (“The Paleo Diet” was published in 2002, but he’s long been a student of this stuff, just like me), while Dr. Eades has been a Primal-friendly practicing physician since 1986. And, of course, there’s the huge number of Primal and paleo blogs out there, with folks like the Weston Price Foundation and Beyond Vegetarian rounding it all out. We’re all working from different vantage points – some closer than others – but the ultimate goal is similar, if not identical: to show that the Conventional Dietary Wisdom of the last hundred years has done far more harm than good.

I dunno about you, but I’m finally starting to see some real results. Ol’ CW still has about five hundred pounds of jiggling adipose tissue to lose, it still needs machine assistance just to get a single pull-up in, and I think it’s still doing push-ups on its knees, but I sense a new bounce in its step. Let’s build on that! It’s up to us – the people who live this life every day and see the difference it makes – to ensure that all this momentum doesn’t just dry up. We can’t just expect real change to occur because of a few random articles in mainstream publications, or the release of a few films that question the status quo. We have to make sure we’ll all in this together – and it all starts with our personal commitment to living in accordance with our evolutionary genetics. If we maintain our health, vigor, and strength by doing everything CW tells us not to, people (friends, family, loved ones, co-workers) will eventually take notice. They’ll listen to your rants against grains for once. They’ll start skipping the treadmill and opt for the weights. They’ll pass on the bread basket, but keep the butter. They’ll finally read the “crazy” articles that you always forward suggesting saturated fat may not actually kill you.

From that point, it’s a domino effect, and it’s only a matter of time. Truth, logic, and reason always win out in the end – it’s just that it may take awhile. In the meantime, live correctly. Be the Blueprint, so that the others can follow stead.

Have you seen cracks in the CW stone? Is the mainstream beginning to cover Primal-related health topics? Drop me a comment with your thoughts and links. Thanks, everyone!

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. Les wrote on September 12th, 2009
  2. Nothing like being the poster boy for “fiery indignation.”

    I’ll wear it with pride!

    Thanks, Mark.

    Richard Nikoley wrote on September 12th, 2009
  3. “It made me realize that we’re all in this together, and that by standing firm and maintaining that implacable hold on the facts that we currently enjoy (and will always enjoy, at least as long as we remain genetically Grok) we will eventually win out.”

    In a way that’s what worries me. There are populations who have bred out lactose intolerance and alcohol intolerance over time. It looks horribly to cynical old me that current policies are designed to breed out carbohydrate intolerance from the Western population.

    Procrustrean bread anyone?

    Trinkwasser wrote on September 14th, 2009
  4. While there may be cracks in the CW wall, there are plenty of people and groups hard at work trying to patch those cracks to keep it from tumbling down on them.

    Just saw a post on FaceBook about a Meatless Monday website developed by a group working in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:

    They have this on their home page:

    “You can’t nourish children on a steady diet of processed foods full of fatty, empty carbs and sugary soda or juice.”

    Fatty, empty carbs? It boggles the mind!

    We’ll just have to keep fighting the good fight.

    DaveFish wrote on September 14th, 2009
  5. By a strange coincidence when I logged in to WordPress just now I was pointed to a “you may like to read” post

    The Men’s Health Article is pretty good, and Tom Campbell’s response to the ADA is excellent.

    The scary bit is that it is now three years later and CW hasn’t changed, despite that the opposition has spread in all directions and is even to be found now in mainstream academic journals and mainstream media.

    That Meat-Free Monday thing was also referenced here in the UK, you think the New World Order are still alive and well and worshipping giant owls in the woods?

    I got some complaints about this one

    but I stand by what I wrote, she didn’t look at all healthy. I suppose a meatless monday wouldn’t be a bad plan so long as you had a carbless tuesday to sunday . . .

    Trinkwasser wrote on September 15th, 2009
  6. I knew when I realized that the pb was nap friendly that I had found the plan for me! Sweat hard, rest well, has always felt so natural to me :)

    Be the blueprint. I like it.

    rachel wrote on September 16th, 2009
  7. Great writeup! “it still needs machine assistance just to get a single pull-up in, and I think it’s still doing push-ups on its knees, but I sense a new bounce in its step.” Got a good laugh there…

    yonkeykong wrote on September 16th, 2009
  8. Gday cobbers.

    Just letting you know your message is seeping through to us in Australia, not that we were ever anything but primal anyway :)

    Mark when you get rich and famous you should head over and have a chat to the people who have gone primal for the last 40,000 years, the australian aborigines, maybe they know a few things about it.

    Personally I’ve been on a “shake” diet for the last 6 months, dropped 24 kilos and many belt sizes, plan to do the same for another 20 kilos and then go into maintenance using your book as a guide (which I’ve oredered and am eagerly waiting for). I’ve dropped all carbs (except the shakes) for now and found it a great way to transition out of the carb way of living.

    Its good to know you Yanks are contributing something to civilisation now to make up for all those years of bad habits you’ve propogated 😉


    Marcus wrote on September 16th, 2009
  9. as a person who believes that everything is in some way connected, i believe that you (Mark) should link up with Erwan Le Corre. you’re both teaching essentially the same thing (living naturally, keeping your fitness on a functional and holistic level, eating the same way).

    Ant wrote on September 19th, 2009
  10. Thank you .
    Really , i appreciate that .

    Mina wrote on October 1st, 2009
  11. While reading “Is the Stone Beginning to Crack?” I followed several of the links and made a few purchases. I bought “The Vegetarian Myth” to read myself but more importantly, for my teenaged daughter to read. She has two close friends who are vegetarians and feels the pressure to “not be cruel to animals”. With a little prodding I think she’ll read it and be able to eat primally and guilt free. When she realizes that entire eco systems have died due to agriculture she’ll know that she is doing the right thing. She’s already drastically cut her carb intake and lost almost twenty pounds. My hope is that I can convince her to combine that with the work out portion of PB.

    I also bought “Fathead” for my 77 year old father who refuses to read anything more than a menu. Hopefully the film will spark some interest and at least open his mind to the possibility that blind faith in CW could actually be harming his health. He and I recently had breakfast at a local diner and I watched him put five (!) sugar packets in his coffee. He also had his wheat toast (CW says it’s good for him) and homefries. Later that evening he had a dish of “healthy” fat free ice cream. He listens to me preach of the benefits of PB living but feels he’s too old to change. I feel that changing these bad habits could very well help him avoid ending up in an assisted living setting and maybe even add healthy years to his life. He has seen me go from 215 pounds to 175 pounds in six months (while improving my numbers) time but apparently needs more proof.

    Old habits die hard, but I won’t give up. I agree with what I read somewhere in this thread. We do this because we love our families.

    Dan wrote on December 12th, 2009
    • It’s called the “Butt-wipe Syndrome”. No parent will listen to your advice about nutrition. It’s confirmable.

      Will Davidson wrote on March 18th, 2010
  12. This movement has been gaining momentum. It’s become more and more know and followed. The results just speak for themselves.

    Jeff wrote on November 13th, 2010
  13. If we can get some celebrities onto it that will really help. People will copy celebrity diets even if it’s wrong. But once they get results the rest will take care of itself. Once it really gets media attention in the spotlight and stays there more people will take notice and more studies will be done etc.

    I feel like we’re at the stage where the low carb diet (atkins) was 10 years ago. People thought you were a nutcase if you said anything about too much carbs being bad and to eat more protein.

    The low carb diet was on the right track I think but the primal/paleo fills in the gaps.

    The point is, too much carbs is bad and eventually CW caught up (sort of) even if it took 10 years. now if someone says they are limiting their carbs it’s just accepted that this is a good thing.

    the time will come when the primal/paleo diet is in the spotlight to be scrutinized and debated. given that it works and is based on sound science it’s inevitable that it will take off in much the same way that the low carb diets did.

    no one can argue that this is not the healthiest diet. instinctively people always think back to the caveman days anyway. I doubt there would be many people who would not find logic in this diet if they actually took some time to understand it and why it’s the right diet. Put things into perspective with evolution etc.. once they have a better picture of what it’s all about they will believe it. will they follow it? that’s another story!

    Michael wrote on November 20th, 2010
  14. My favorite song, “Against the wind”. It is the way I live my life. Always keeps things interesting.
    I think you should do a appearance on THE PEOPLES PHARMACY.
    Please let me know if it happens. I only get to listen about 1/2 the time.

    Charlie wrote on July 31st, 2011
  15. I’m envious of all the activity going on across the pond. The UK is firmly rooted (‘scuse pun!) in the grain culture despite forty years of it being demonstrated that a high carb diet induces obesity and diabetes 2. Gary Taubes new book ‘Why we get fat’ should be required reading for all med students and nurse students too. I’ve been Paleo/Primal now for 3 years and my weight has never been more stable. Thanks to Mark for this site, it’s a breath of fresh air and somewhere to come when the weight of UKCW bears down too heavily!

    Paul wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  16. Where was I in 2009 that I never saw any of this in mainstream? I wish I had! Would’ve saved me from my years of anorexia!

    Alyssa wrote on January 27th, 2013

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