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

What’s the Difference Between Primal and Paleo?

PaleoWe hear/read it all the time – the comparison of the Primal Blueprint and the so-called Paleo Diet, for which Loren Cordain is the most recognized voice. Sure, it’s a perfectly reasonable association to make, but we thought we’d take some time to address the other side of the coin today.

The Paleo Diet and Primal Blueprint, it’s true, are based on similar evolutionary science. The story goes something like this. Our modern Western diet bears little resemblance to the eating habits of early humans throughout 100,000+ years of evolutionary history. Instead, since the agricultural revolution some mere 10,000 years ago, we’ve adopted a nutritional regime that our physiology wasn’t and still isn’t adequately adapted to. When the basics of our diet return to the patterns of our pre-agricultural ancestors, we’re operating with, instead of against, our natural physiology. More simply: eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it.

More specifically, the Paleo Diet and Primal Blueprint both suggest, limit carb intake (especially grains), eat more protein and include lots of veggies as a base. But in the midst of this common ground are some significant interpretational differences and approaches. Association, comparison – sure. But conflation? Not so fast.

A fundamental difference? The role of saturated fats. Cordain and many within the paleo community continue to harbor a fear of saturated fats as the bogey that raises cholesterol and instigates heart disease instead of a critical source of nutrients for neurological functioning and other essential physiological processes. Partaking of only lean meats, eschewing butter and coconut oil (two Primal Blueprint favorites based on health benefits supported by extensive research), restricting egg consumption – this is not your Granddaddy Grok’s diet.

As many critics of the Paleo Diet have pointed out, early humans left virtually nothing of the animal carcasses they were so fortunate to bag. And the fact is they favored not the lean muscle meat but the richer organ meats, bone marrow and even fat deposits themselves. Grok, after all, was just trying to get enough calories and nutrients to stay alive from one day to the next. The denser in energy, the more valued the food. (And, can we add here, more tasty?)

And then there’s the discrepancies surrounding other fats. Sure, there’s a general agreement about the importance of omega 3:6 balance, but the particulars diverge. In the Primal Blueprint, unlike Cordain’s version of the Paleo Diet, omega 3 sources like canola oil are suspect. The fact is, the deodorization process that canola oil is nearly always subjected to removes the omega 3 content. But when you’ve written off saturated fat sources (like good old coconut oil), you’re pretty much stuck wading in the murky waters of processed polyunsaturated products. What’s wrong with this picture?

Also at issue is the role of diet sodas (allowed by Cordain) and other artificial sweeteners. The opinion of many in the paleo community is that as long as it’s not sugar, it’s acceptable. Working around the problem like this seems to be nothing more than a manipulation. Although the Primal Blueprint doesn’t demonize the occasional use of artificial sweeteners, it makes the stipulation that its use should be limited to foods or beverages that will inherently add something positive to the diet. In other words, if you aren’t getting anything positive from the meal or drink, you shouldn’t be taking the risk of the artificial sweetener. A better angle? Expand your cooking repertoire. Train your taste buds in the right direction, and don’t let the artificial stuff get in the way of that progress.

Finally and most importantly, the Primal Blueprint works as a broad, holistic approach to living and not simply a list for eating. While the majority of the underlying assumptions and suggestions of the Paleo Diet are generally sound, the diet encompasses only a fraction of what it takes to live a healthy life in the modern world.

The Primal Blueprint recommends wise supplementation appropriate to counter the stressors and toxins unique to our life today. (Grok didn’t have it all bad.) In its fitness and stress management approach, the Blueprint further highlights and capitalizes on our natural physiological functioning. The Blueprint emphasizes the overlap of good diet with essential fitness and relaxation principles to maximize muscle mass and organ reserve and to defend against the inflammation, sarcopenia and other preventable factors behind the aging process.

And isn’t it a comfort to know that power over your health is seated in more than diet? The big picture of a healthy, fit and happy lifestyle involves more than isolating a specific issue. The Primal Blueprint was designed for the purpose of offering a guide for all elements of healthy living. Let’s face it, some days life makes it particularly difficult to have the perfect diet. We like to think of the Primal Blueprint design as a comprehensive cover, so to speak. The knowledge and efforts you exert in each area (diet, fitness, supplementation, stress management, sleep, etc.) can make a difference when the realities of day to day life keep you from doing a 100% in a given area.

So, now we’ll ask you about your experiences with the Primal Blueprint and how you came to it? Did you come to the PB from a Paleo perspective? What are your thoughts on the differences and the added dimensions of the Primal Blueprint?

P.S. What do you think of all the links throughout the article? Too many? Overkill? Distracting? Or do you appreciate the links to archived posts? Thanks for the feedback!

candrews Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

What is the Primal Blueprint?

Getting Back to Nature

10 Ways to “Get Primal”

What’s Wrong with the Zone Diet?

Weston A. Price Foundation – The Paleo Diet Book Review

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. Mark, all i can say is hurry up and get that book ready it’s taking forever.And i also believe saturated fat is king.


    Bill wrote on November 12th, 2008
  2. I learned about Paleo years ago, but didn’t really get motivated to make significant changes until I started reading this and a couple other blogs. I always assumed that the PB was Paleo. Thanks for pointing out the differences.

    And the links are fine in my opinion. I mostly ignore them unless I want deeper information.

    Another Mark wrote on November 12th, 2008
  3. Mark, I just recently discovered you PB site through a link from Jimmy Moore. I had no idea such a plan existed, but you’ve answered my question concerning the contrast/comparison between PB and Paleo with this post. As a newbie to your site I really appreciate this timely article. Look forward to more informative posts from you…you’re now on my Google Reader! Ron, aka The Former Donut Junkie.

    Ron wrote on November 12th, 2008
  4. Very cool post and something I think needed to be addressed. I think one of the main things to take out of this is the more flexible approach of the primal blueprint which makes life far more relaxed and allows for the lifestyle to be easily integrated into our everyday lives.
    Looking forward to the book!

    Chris - Zen to Fitness wrote on November 12th, 2008
  5. I just finished reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes. I thought it was very informative, and plan to read through it again. Still trying to figure out what is best for me, an aspiring ultramarathoner, in terms of the carb/fat/protein balance, so all the info I can get helps. After moving closer to a Primal diet I have realized that carbs have a somewhat negative impact on me, so I need to figure out how to balance that out with the needs I have for post-exercise recovery. I will say I was skeptical of the Paleo Diet’s stance on saturated fats, based both on what I have read on MDA and my doctor’s advice. He is also helping me to “eat more healthy fats, like butter and lard” (I couldn’t believe it when he told me this!) and cutting carbs.

    Regarding the links, keep them coming! I only learned about MDA a couple of months or so ago, so there is a lot I haven’t read. The link to stress is particularly great right now. Work is stressful for a variety of reasons, and I always turn to sweets as a comfort food…at least, when sweets are around. Hopefully the link will help me out in this case!

    Tony wrote on November 12th, 2008
  6. Hey Mark,

    To answer your questions, yes, I came to MDA and the Primal Blueprint from a Paleo Diet perspective (as far as nutrition is concerned). I had actually stumbled on the Paleo way of eating as a result of my research to find a more complete diet that would help people to change the way they eat for good. That is, I thought to myself: “Is there a diet out there that can lead people to live a healthier lifestyle indefinitely?”

    The added dimensions of the Primal Blueprint provide a completely different level of interpretation with regards to overall health, fitness and wellness. It had led me to take a look at the other components in my life. Am I working out at the gym too much? Am I walking enough? Do I get enough sun? etc. All in all, I found that I was more Primal than I knew but it still lead me towards introspection.

    As for the links… PLEASE keep them coming. Links are a great way for me to find articles that maybe I haven’t read yet or accidentally passed over. They are great!

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R wrote on November 12th, 2008
  7. So what are the differences between the PB diet and the Westin Price diet?

    primalman wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • The Weston-Price diet encourages dairy, preferably raw. And they recommend whole grains, which they have you soak, sprout, or ferment to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.

      Don Wiss wrote on March 5th, 2010
  8. Excellent post – I had not really sat down and analyzed the important differences you pointed out. I agree with your assessment and I find myself much more on the Primal side than the Paleo.

    I started with this several years ago with Atkins – I cut back on sugar and less bread etc – I lost some weight and definitely knew there was something to this, but drifted away. I considered Atkins too extreme – scraping the toppings off of pizza? Crazy.

    As I approached 50 and saw my aging parents deteriorating, I stumbled upon Art Devany’s site and later yours and others.

    I have not looked back – 8 months into this, I feel great and look better. I have a ways to go, but this is a lifelong thing for me. I am convinced of the validity of your Primal and Art’s Evolutionary Fitness approach.

    I like the more playful and less hardcore approach with Primal and EF. Grok had fun as well as hard work and did not count the calories or grams of Canola oil – yuck. I have stayed away from the artificial sweeteners – never did like them and less so now. My guilty pleasures are dairy – cheese and coffee cream and salt. I do not go out of my way for salt, but I do partake with the occasional Bloody Cesaer, salt and pepper chicken wings, and dill pickles. A man has to have a few food sins! I used to be a breadaholic, but those days are over.

    Keep up the great work – you and Art and others such as Richard Nikoley at Free the Animal and Stephan at Whole Health Source, are really helping people lead healthier and more productive lives. I humbly thank you and your compatriots. The links are very useful and much appreciated.

    Real food – real health! And as Bill said – sat fat is king – long live the king! (and all of us).

    John Campbell wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • Totally agree with you. I am a 46 year old man and what drew me to PB is the more balanced, less-hardcore approach. I found immediate good results by changing my workouts and incorporating occasional sprints. I play with my kids and go for a good old-fashioned evening stroll every night.

      The diet works great for me. I started buying really good quality butter and meat, and changed my cooking style (I do most of the family cooking) to be a bit more French e.g. saute veggies in butter rather than olive oil, slow cooking meats. I just avoid the flour and grains, or do baking with almond flour.

      Best of all are Mark’s 10 Primal Laws. Really simple, really powerful.. words to live by.

      Thanks to Mark for offering program for the rest of us..

      Steve Watkins wrote on December 21st, 2010
  9. Mark,

    One thing I have always questioned about the PB is your use of butter, and less so, eggs.

    I know you aren’t saying to put butter on everything, but Grok hardly had access to butter, nor the means to make butter. I’d even argue that he had limited access to eggs, and probably just as limited way to cook eggs.

    I am not arguing the benefits of both, just why they are held so highly in the PB (unless its to educate readers on the benefits of them) if they weren’t readily available to Mr. Grok.

    As for the links they are fine – I might hover over to see where they go if I am interested in more info.

    Also, as for fat/saturated fat, do darker meats typically have more saturated fats? If they do, then I am on board with PB vs. Paleo – I can’t eat lean (white) meat all the time – my diet just seems to be missing something.

    Thanks for another great article.


    Ryan wrote on November 12th, 2008
  10. The combination of saturated fats and carbohydrates may be harmful, especially if carbohydrates are hydrogenating the fats to make them transaturated. I would, love, love to see a study of animal fats from ranched grass-fed cow compared to caged, corn-fed cow and the composition thereof.

    Medical science (which is just statistics applied to observations) is typically poor at separating variables. This is because most medical doctors are poor at math and don’t understand what they are doing when they apply various statistical methods.

    Robert M. wrote on November 12th, 2008
  11. I think it’s great to have articles linked to wherever possible! It doesn’t matter if they are archives, externals, or anything else: the more information that’s easily accessible, the better.

    Jedidja wrote on November 12th, 2008
  12. To be honest I have always regarded the term ‘Paleo Diet’ as a generic one that refers to a diet that mimics what our hunter gatherer forefathers ate, rather than something proprietary to Cordain and others. This may just be my own flawed perception.

    Since you mention the use of supplementation. I have a question. Whilst I recognise that we are exposed to more toxins in the modern world that Grok would have been, I have always considered that we also have more consistent access to quality fruit and vegetables – far more than Grok would have been lucky enough to encounter normally. Therefore I do not supplement because I consider the additional nutrients I am getting from my modern diet offset the additional toxins to which I am exposed.

    Do you think we are exposed to so manty toxins that we need even more additional nutrients? Or alternatively do you think that in fact Grok would have got his hands on as much fruit and veg as someone like me on the modern primal diet would eat?

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • I realize that this is an old post, but I stumbled upon this comment and think it’s interesting.

      I also think that the Paleo diet is a concept of eating like our ancestors and that it’s not a concept owned by Cordain and al. I personally am way more on the side of generous amounts of saturated fats, but still call it the Paleo diet when referring to it.

      The movement is quite young and as it gains traction and attention, if people believe in a high saturated fat version of the Paleo diet, Dr. Cordain will have to change is stance or lose popularity to those teaching a concept that seems to make more sense evolutionary wise.

      Sebastien wrote on June 27th, 2010
      • I just take the best from whatever makes most sense and apply it to myself.

        I eat according to the PB… but add raw goat’s milk… and add WAPF odd things to my diet such as bone broths, lots of organ meats, including eyeballs. My only supplement is a red mineral clay and Fermented Cod Liver Oil / HV Butter Oil Blend as suggested by WAPF.

        I can tell ya, my hair and nails are growing like nuts. My teeth are hard and strong and I can only imagine my bones are, too. Hair, Nails and Teeth are kind of like a ‘window’ into your bone health.

        Donnersberg wrote on April 27th, 2011
  13. The whole allowing artificial sweeteners would have put me off of Paleo if I had managed to come across it before PB… The fact that it’s all essentially chlorinated sugar and impossible for our bodies (or the rest of the environment, for that matter) to break down makes it one of those things I avoid like the plague. If I’m going to bomb a diet or lifestyle for something ridiculously sweet, it’s going to be real.

    Christine wrote on November 12th, 2008
  14. As attractive as the Paleo Diet is, I find it subject to one big logical fallacy.

    Wikipedia defines the fallacy as “Denying the Antecedent.” They give a good example:

    “If Queen Elizabeth is an American citizen, then she is a human being. Queen Elizabeth is not an American citizen, therefore she is not a human being.”

    The Paleo Diet maintains “that if Grok ate it, its good for you. Therefore, if Grok didn’t eat it, then its bad for you.” This seems more like dogma than science.

    There are many foods which Grok didn’t eat simply because they weren’t available. Whey protein is an example. With the lactose and casein removed from milk I can’t find anything wrong with whey other than the fact that Grok didn’t use it.

    Yogurt looks good to me, the “cultures” took care of the lactose and (I think) the casein. Also good for the gut!

    I don’t know if red wine was available to Grok, but I keep reading good things about it.

    I like the open approach of PB.

    In any event I like the less dogmatic

    j d wilson wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • *very* good remark about “denying the antecedent”!

      Ben wrote on March 20th, 2011
  15. Since i’ve been eating primal, i’ve felt better than i ever have before, wish i would of eaten this way all my life, but unfortunately, i didn’t. It’s never too late to change from eating bad foods and start eating primal and feel your best.

    Donna wrote on November 12th, 2008
  16. I came to PB via Art De Vany a little over two years ago. At that time I thought I was eating the right way, egg whites, oatmeal, not much fruit, whole wheat bread and lean meats. But I always felt sluggish and could never really get lean enough to see my abs clearly (a long time goal.) Being 53 years old didn’t help either. My metabolism slowed down a lot after 40 and even more after 50. So I would work out even more and that would just make me hungrier and cause me to eat more of the “healthy” foods that I thought I should be eating.

    It was not until I started eating the PB way…more fruits, tons of vegetables and plenty of fats, plus intermittent fasting, and random feast and famine days, that I was able to get the lean body I have always wanted.

    Thanks to your links and recipes it’s easy to live this way.

    SuperMike wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • I am new here, yes believe it or not coming from a fruitarian point of view. Do the feast and famine days help alleviate thyroid issues from low carb? I have read over and over low carb diets lead to the thyroid slowing metabolism thinking the body is dying. Has Mark covered this?

      Mike wrote on January 31st, 2012
  17. SuperMike! – your one of my idols.

    I can say the same things as you. I know that it is not high science, but I tried it in a simple “A-B” design and I feel and look waaaay better.

    primalman wrote on November 12th, 2008
  18. I was unaware of the discrepancy between paleo and primal. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I also like the links. I’m relatively new to MDA and constantly find myself following those links.


    Kloep wrote on November 12th, 2008
  19. Yeah, SuperMike is one ripped dude, primalman. Have you seen the pics of him in the testimonials section?

    I’m glad everybody appreciates all the links. The Worker Bees and I will continue to seed all posts with a ton of links.

    There are a lot of good questions and comments here. I’ll try to get to them soon. Thanks, everyone.

    Mark Sisson wrote on November 12th, 2008
  20. Thank you for the clarification Mark. Before reading this, I would have sometimes describe my diet as paleo. But now I know taht it is not… it is truly primal. Especially due to the saturated fats, coconut, and most importantly EGGS!

    The links are good. I try to scour the archives as much as possible but i miss things and they certainly help me catch up.

    Son of Grok wrote on November 12th, 2008
  21. Fantastic article Mark! I came to the PB lifestyle via the Paleo community and can only now really appreciate the differences. Keep the links coming! I’m sure it adds to production time but they create a ton of value for your readers!

    Mark wrote on November 12th, 2008
  22. I like all the links throughout the article! Great stuff as usual.

    Nick wrote on November 12th, 2008
  23. Hi, a long time lurker here but this article intrigued me. I do not remember how I stumbled on your fantastic website/blog but I am glad I did.

    From my understanding of the Paleo diet I notice a few other differences as well.

    Firstly the Paleo Diet (Dr Cordian) severely limits all dairy products (milk butter yogurt, etc…) as well as legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts etc…) and even yeast containing foods (baked and fermented foods).

    Now I do not necessarily agree with this (I like raw cheeses and enjoy olives and sauerkraut from time to time) but it is a big distinction between Primal and Paleo.

    On the other hand i do understand his dislike of fatty meats, unless the meat is from pasture, grass fed organic meats. The kind of fat we are getting from factory farmed animals is defiantly not the same as we are getting from grass fed, pasture grazing meat (CLA, n-3 fats, toxins and chemicals).

    As well, I notice that a lot of Paleo followers do use coconut oils and milk quite a bit in there foods and recipes. I don’t think they are fat or saturated fat phobic. AS well I also notice that many of the people who eat “strict” Paleo abstain from sweeteners and instead replace them with applesauce/honey/agave and the like.

    Anyway, great article nonetheless and keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to some more delicious recipes soon (one of the main reasons I visits your blog so often!!)

    In Good Health!

    Tal wrote on November 12th, 2008
    • I just started what I thought was Paleo, and my very first recipe had shredded coconut and coconut oil in it. I also cut out diet soda and the like of artificial sweetener. Just like you said, I thought that’s what Paleo was… so I guess I’m somewhere in between PB and Paleo since I’m not too keen on eggs without cheese so I’m not giving that up… I guess I’m just making it up as I go with the PB/Paleo as my guide!

      Elizabeth @ The Young Retiree wrote on August 24th, 2012
  24. I LOVE all the links! It helps me catch up with all the older articles I’ve never read… :)

    Carla wrote on November 12th, 2008
  25. Never knew there was a difference. I went straight from a body-builder’s diet (tons of protein, carbs surrounding the workout) to the stuff I’ve learned from you.

    Never too many links–I love links!

    dragonmamma wrote on November 12th, 2008
  26. Well I guess I am a bit of a paleo groupie. However, I find your postings very interesting. I do have a huge battle in my head about the saturated fats dilemma. But the fact remains, that even though our ancestors went for these fats, they would have been extremely low in wild game. As a result they would never have obtained as much saturated fat as we do and the saturated fat content would still be low. Based off this I just don’t go there and trim the fat off of meat. I would be interested also in a study on grass fed animal fats vs just plain fats.

    As for liver, kidney, tongue, brain and marrow these are all relatively low in saturated fats (at most a third). So eating these alone would supply enough saturated fats for your diet. So I choose to eat these types of food rather than consuming animal subcutaneous fat and/or butter or lard.

    As for Canola Oil. He mentions on his website that you need to buy canola oil that has no trans fats associated with it. He gives an explanation for how this is achieved. He by far promotes fish oils and fish, as these are the best sources of Omega 3.

    The diet coke thing is a little misleading. He only mentions that to get people off of sweets. He said it is a good substitute until you are ready to fully commit to paleo. He never said that this should be a part of the paleo diet.

    Overall, I try and keep my carb intake low (<100g), my omega 3/Omega 6 ratio at 1:1, and maintain my acid/base balance. I find this much easier to do using flaxseed oils and fish oils.

    Dr Dan wrote on November 12th, 2008
  27. Sorry I just checked his website and this was a summary of his reply to Sally Fallon who also stated that hunter gatherers always preferred organ meats.

    “There is no doubt that hunter-gatherers ate the entire edible carcass of animals that were hunted and killed, and the fatty portions of the carcass were relished more than the lean muscle tissue. We have pointed this information out in many of our scientific papers.”

    “Studies of caribou over a 12-month period show that the total carcass (organs and all) fat by weight for 7 months of the year average less than 5 %; for 9 months of the year it average less than 10 %. For 3 months of the year total carcass fat falls between 11-17 %.”

    “From our recent paper analyzing the fat content in the tissues of wild animals (see webpage for article), we have been able to show that the dominant fats (> 50 % energy) in organs are polyunsaturated (PUFA) + monounsaturated (MUFA) fatty acids, whereas the dominant (>50% energy) fat in adipose tissue is saturated fat. Further, by employing allometric regressions that scale organ mass to tissue mass and then by analyzing the fat content and fatty acid composition of each organ, it is possible to calculate the total edible carcass fatty acid composition as it varies throughout the year. Our results (in press) show that for 9 months or more of the year, it would have been impossible to obtain >10 % of the total carcass energy as saturated fats.”

    Im sorry for the long post but thought it would help!

    Dr Dan wrote on November 12th, 2008
  28. I gave up wheat, dairy and sugar because I just get sick as a dog with a variety of symptoms when I eat those things. I can get away with about 80 grams of carbs per day, out of my 4K calorie diet. A doctor at a famous university hospital said to eat more carbs even if they gave me the runs and caused sinus congestion and weight loss, but that didn’t make sense to me. Another doc told me to just keep on doing what I was doing. He said it was called the Paleo Diet and I was probably better off without the grains, sugar and dairy anyhow. So I started reading about that online and I’ve read the “Paleo Diet For Athletes” book, too. I ignored what Paleo says about restraint on eggs and red meat, because I need maximum calories to keep my weight up. I react badly to the sugars or whatever the juices are that they pump into most chicken, so I eat a lot of beef (often from my friend’s ranch, grass fed), goat (also butchered locally), and birds that I hunt myself. I would never consume artificial sweeteners. I also eat a lot of almonds and pistachios, which Paleo says to lay low on. The rest of my diet is just a lot of green veggies, citrus, melon, berries and some tortilla chips and potatoes, a little oatmeal and oat flour and quinoa. I use olive oil mostly but canola oil for frying my taters, because olive oil doesn’t work for that. Beer, water and coffee with heavy cream is all I drink, pretty much. I recently found this web page and after today’s post I now know that the diet my body has enforced upon me is pretty primal. I’m really interested in the impact the diet has on my health and athletic performance and I want to keep trying to improve both. There’s a lot of great info out there. The paleo diet web page has a great chart on the amounts and types of sugars in various fruits, which really helped me figure out my tolerance level for fructose and helped me introduce new foods without all the painful trial and error. And, no, the links are not a problem. It’s a great web page.

    Danielle Thalman wrote on November 12th, 2008
  29. I said it several times before on the CrossFit forums…and I repeat:

    Mark is the new Art Devaney!


    Primal is the new Paleo! (i kick myself in the butt for calling my kits Paleo, and not Primal. (ohh well too late!)

    Art D and Paleo are etched in most of our minds as a result of being the first true messengers of the information. I remember in business class, they referred to it as the first mover advantage. I think Primal is quickly starting to take over though and becoming more widely accepted.

    Kudos to Mark for his fine work!

    Steve Liberati wrote on November 12th, 2008
  30. I love this post! Thanks so much.

    I came to the PB because of a) my “I want to live like a cavegirl” approach to life (which I now realize was incomplete) and b) because MDA helped me realize what my previous approach was missing.

    I’m not perfect about the PB, obviously, but the mentality behind living as our ancestors (or, rather, their ancestors’ ancestors’ ancestors) did is almost spiritual to me and allows me to approach my life with a greater calm than fumbling around aimlessly for a healthy lifestyle, which changes by society’s definitions daily.

    Following the PB? It’s when I feel most human.

    Amanda wrote on November 12th, 2008
  31. I consider myself a pretty hard core paleo eater (and have been for years) and I do not agree with most of the differences that you have highlighted.

    If you eat based upon the paleo philosophy (what man ate in paleo times), then sweeteners and sodas are not allowed and you eat any fat that gets in the way.

    I think that pure paleo and the PB eating are identical, as they both come from the same starting philosophy.

    I use the following to define my paleo diet:


    • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc)
    • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc)
    • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
    • Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant)
    • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc)
    • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)
    • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc)

    I think that paleo and PB are basically the same and I could quite happily say I follow a PB diet.

    However, I do agree that the PB is much more encompassing and I was always looking for a paleo lifestyle. The PB suits me just fine. Thanks for the great info!

    P.S. If Cordain says you can have artificial sweeteners and soda and be paleo, then he is an idiot…

    Shaun wrote on November 12th, 2008
  32. To Tony,

    Hi Tony, I am also a paleo/primal Ultra Marathoner ( Mountian Biking) To fuel my training, I simply replaced all grain-based carbs with dried fruits: apricots, figs, dates. For races, I inject with a needle, honey into the same fruits and put them into a a small ziplock baggy and stuff it in my trikot. For training, I eat Halva which is sesame and honey.

    Works great!

    good luck,


    Dr.Pierre Debs wrote on November 13th, 2008
  33. I don’t remember how I found your site – it was linked on someone’s blog and I just started checking it regularly because the articles are interesting. I started with a Zone diet, I tweaked it into a version of the athlete’s Zone (less carbs, more fat), started eating only Paleo foods in those proportions, and then tweaked it a little further by eliminating nightshades, eating more sat fat and lots of eggs. Now, I eat a Zone-ish Paleo/Primal diet with about 8x Zone fat blocks. I usually keep track of how many Zone blocks mainly so I can tell what works best as far as macronutrient ratios with how I feel and perform. I have changed from thinking macronutrient ratio is most important to knowing that it’s food quality that is actually most important. So, that’s usually my main focus. I totally agree with the sat fat view of the Primal Blueprint, which I’ve read about on multiple blogs (IF Life, Modern Forager, Underground Wellness). I didn’t know that artificial sweetners were ok in Paleo, but I definitely think they suck.

    Mary wrote on November 13th, 2008
  34. Great Blog Mark. I just quit sugar two days ago, and when I was offered me sugar free cookies I said no thank you! To me that is worse than eating ice cream with sugar in it. I love my coffee with half and half, in fact I crave it in the mornings. I plan on being sugar free until December 12th…

    Earth Beauty wrote on November 13th, 2008
  35. primalman – Good thought. I may do a difference between Weston Price and PB post in the future.

    Methuselah – Great question. It’s one I get often. I’ll be doing a Dear Mark post sometime in the near future to address your questions about the Primal Blueprint and supplementation. (Hint: I think it’s a crucial part of a healthy life in the modern world.)

    Chris – I’m glad this point comes across clearly. Flexibility is essential for long term success. The PB takes this into account.

    To Steve, SuperMike, Donna and everyone else, thank you for the support and the inspiring testimonials. As you all know, this site is a labor of love – as is the book I’m working on! (It’ll be done soon Bill. I promise!) Thank you all for being readers and your great comments.

    Mark Sisson wrote on November 13th, 2008
    • I think Westin A price is a HUGELY valuable resource for people who might find themselves in a “food desert”. There could be times where access to the very best food is limited and knowing how to make cheap bad food, much better could be a life saving knowledge.

      primalheather wrote on June 19th, 2014
  36. Mark,

    Great website. I used to be bummed on the weekend when there wasn’t a new MDA, but then I started looking forward to the new links on Weekend Love Link that took me to some other great sites. I like the links to previous stuff because sometimes it’s hard to find what you want in the archive.

    The first books to get me thinking about eating good food was the French paradox stuff and Real Food by Nina Planck, as well as a link to the Weston Price foundation from Ross Enamait’s boxing page (since he obviously is built like a brick sh… uh well never mind). Real Food was very influential since her arguments for whole milk and saturated fats like lard were very compelling (also I love heavy cream right out of the carton, so I’m sure this helped).

    I got pickier and started shopping the farmers’s market all summer long. Now I am in withdrawal as they only have it once a month in winter. I haven’t bought any meats other than local farmers’ for about 6 months. Being a reformed runner and triathlete, I didn’t want to give up grains, especially rice. However I started keeping track of which foods made me feel bloated up, and then cut them out. Sure enough, my stomach feels flat in the morning when I get up. And intermittent fasting makes my life a lot easier. Today I had walnuts and a little bit of pomegranate and wasn’t hungry until 2:30 or 3:00 pm. Now I have to be more careful when I work out (which is all functional evolutionary style now), but other than that it works great. Once I stopped focusing on trying to lose weight and be “healthy” with whole grains, it all started to come together.

    One day I woke up and was like “F@#$ brown rice.” My next thought was that I absolutely hated egg whites and would eat just the yolks and throw out the whites if that’s what I wanted to do. I think the taking charge and making yourself responsible is the key element. Without trying, I am starting to see my midsection again, and this isn’t an easy task for women. I was marathoning and getting FATTER.

    I read the Paleo Diet and the Paleo Diet for Athletes and the focus on lean meats was just not for me. It seemed like South Beach, but with more real foods. My doctor, even she said the way to lose weight is to cut carbs, but of course would never say go eat some saturated fats.

    I think focusing on how I felt after eating made everything gel… I stopped eating foods that made me feel like crap. I still love tortilla chips, but I figure you can’t win every battle.

    The current book I am reading is FAT by Jennifer McLagan and wow it all sounds good and tasty, even goose fat which I’ve never even had.

    Keep up the great site. It’s my favorite one and I always go here first (so if you could post a little earlier in the day…) and learn something.


    TrailGrrl wrote on November 13th, 2008
    • I just thoroughly enjoyed your comment! Hate to have it just buried in a comment… blog it?

      LMAO: “F@#$ brown rice.” and totally love this… “I think the taking charge and making yourself responsible is the key element.”

      Joy Beer wrote on January 14th, 2013
  37. TrailGrrl –

    Thanks for taking the time to post your comment. It’s a great story; one that I think will resonate with a large number of MDA readers.

    We post as early as possible every morning. This usually means before 9am PST. Unfortunately, this means east coasters have to wait until noon(!) to get their daily dose of MDA.

    Thanks for the comment again. I’d love to hear you chime in from time to time if you’re up for it. We always appreciate thoughtful responses.


    Mark Sisson wrote on November 13th, 2008
  38. I like all the links- I can remember concepts but always have to waste time tracking the articles down when I want to get a refresher or the specifics.

    One of my good friends awakened the whole lifestyle to me via DeVany’s site (and I still thank that friend everyday). Now its become an obsession and I check about 30 health blogs a day (with yours, Eades, modern forager, The IF Life, and T-Nation at the top). The more I read, the more I started to see flaw from DeVany and Cordain- especially after I was introduced to the whole concept of seasonal lifestlye variations in Lights Out:Sleep Sugar and Survival. (I’m sure you’ve probably promoted that, but if not its a must read for anyone primal.) I remember seeing Cordain and DeVany write about eating lean meats or trimming the fat, and I was like uhhh wouldnt the animals we’re eating also be fatter or leaner seasonally.

    What has really solidified my separation on some of Devany and Cordain’s ideas on fat has been the guys at Hyperlipid and Whole Health Source. Anyone “science minded” should go back and read everything theyve ever blogged on. After they present the argument there doesnt seem to be much to debate about.

    Timber wrote on November 14th, 2008

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