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. I started reading various health blogs about a year ago when DH’s bloodsugar was slightly elevated. The doc’s weren’t sure why – he’s fit, trim, ate right and exercised. We already eat well – organic & grass fed, belonged to a CSA, etc.

    many tests later, he seems to be gluten/casein sensitive, but not celiac. This got me reading about Paleo, but I was also reading Hyperlipid and Whole health Source (these 2 make more sense) and ended up here.

    Drop the grains, drop the dairy (wow- wicked casein withdrawals!) and things are much better.

    The links are very helpful for someone who’s just joining the conversation and I think there will be plenty of those in the next few years. Doc’s are starting to get the word about gluten intolerance

    wflnc wrote on November 16th, 2008
  2. Love the article and especially the links.

    Brian PCF wrote on November 17th, 2008
  3. I went from not walking (wheelchair) to walking with change in diet from junk to gluten free, organic, fats, proteins, milk from goats, organic eats (little), no chemicals, no drugs, nothing artificial in drinks, eats, treats, no sugars and lots of supplements. I am not primal not paleo consuming the way God made it naturally. It works.

    Larry Sloma wrote on November 22nd, 2008
  4. I think you guys should read the Q&A section of Cordain’s website, because many statements that have been made here are just not true.

    For instance, regarding diet sodas:

    “In the typical western diet refined sugars comprise 16-18% of the total daily energy. Clearly, there are numerous health problems associated with this enormous intake of empty calories. However, for many people it is difficult to make sudden behavioral changes, particularly when it comes to comfort foods, such as highly sugared processed foods (ice cream, cake, cookies, candy etc). Although fruits would be a much better choice for taming the sweet tooth, diet sodas can help people to make this transition. We never have suggested that diet sodas were part of pre-agricultural diets…”

    I believe this means that to put an american (I’m from Europe, and our diet is not as uggly as the american diet, which is the worst diet on the planet) on a clean 100% paleo may be hard, just like it is hard to get a drug addict to quit cold turkey. So, sodas are a transition, nothing else.

    Regarding low fat meats, you have to understand that domesticated meats have nothing to do with wild meats

    And here are Cordain’s statements:
    What would you say to people who disagree with your assertion that saturated fats cause heart disease?

    First off, let’s get the record straight. I have never said that saturated fats are the sole dietary cause of “heart disease.” Coronary heart disease (CHD) consists of myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and angina pectoris and accounts for 54% of the deaths from a larger category of heart and blood vessel illnesses called cardiovascular disease (CVD) which accounts for 40.6% of all deaths in the U.S. CVD not only includes CHD, but also stroke, congestive heart failure, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, congenital cardiovascular defects, artery diseases and others. The physiological mechanism underlying CHD is atherosclerosis, a complex process involving interactions among environmental factors (both nutritional and non-nutritional) and the genome. Environmental factors such as exercise, smoking, and inflammation clearly influence the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Numerous nutritional factors can serve to either (1) promote or (2) inhibit atherosclerosis via modulation of one or more of the steps involved in the atherosclerotic process.

    Dietary saturated fats are nutritional elements that may promote atherosclerosis. As consumption of certain saturated fatty acids (12:0, 14:0, 16:0, but not 18:0) increases, the number of hepatic (liver) and peripheral low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors decreases which in turn causes serum concentrations of LDL cholesterol to rise (a process called down regulation). Down regulation occurs because internalization of 12:0, 14:0 and 16:0 within cells reduces the expression of genes which code for the LDL receptor protein. At low blood LDL cholesterol concentrations (20-50 mg/dl), LDL cholesterol molecules move freely in and out of the arterial intima (the portion of the artery where atherosclerosis arises). When blood levels of LDL cholesterol molecules rise, LDL molecules tend to become “stuck” in the intima where they undergo oxidation and glycation to become “modified LDL.” Modified LDL stimulates arterial endothelial cells to display adhesion molecules which latch onto circulating monocytes and T cells. The endothelial cells then secrete chemokines which bring the monocytes and T cells into the intima where they mature into macrophages. T cells release cytokines causing inflammation and cell division within the artery. The macrophages are different from all other cells in the body in that they display a scavenger receptor which is not down regulated by LDL cholesterol molecules. The macrophages “feast” upon modified LDL cholesterol in the intima and become filled with these fatty droplets and become foam cells. Cytokines cause smooth muscle cells to grow over the lipid core of multiple foam cells forming a tough fibrous cap which becomes the characteristic plaque which defines atherosclerosis. Finally, inflammatory cytokines secreted by foam cells weaken the fibrous cap by digesting the collagen matrix. If the weakened cap ruptures, a substance secreted by the foam cells called “tissue factor” interacts with clot promoting elements in the blood causing a thrombus (clot) to form. If the clot is large enough to halt blood flow, it causes a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

    Dietary saturated fats do not always elevate blood LDL concentrations. When consumed under hypocaloric (reduced energy) conditions they may improve most blood lipid parameters including total and LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and total triacylglycerol (TG). This phenomenon typically explains why Atkins-like diets (such as recently reported this spring in the New England Journal of Medicine) may be as or more effective than hypocaloric, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. However, under isocaloric (normal energy) conditions, studies of healthy normal subjects show increased consumption of saturated fats significantly raises blood LDL concentrations.

    A further confounding factor in this scenario is the presence of a specific type of LDL cholesterol molecule in the blood called “small dense LDL.” The rate of influx of LDL into the intima is not only related to the blood concentration of LDL cholesterol, but also to the size of the LDL molecule. Small dense LDL have a greater flux into the intima than normal LDL and they are more likely to get “stuck” in the intima because of increase binding to proteoglycans. The primary metabolic source of small dense LDL is very low density lipoprotein molecules (VLDL) whose blood concentration is greatly influenced by dietary carbohydrate, particularly high-glycemic-load carbohydrates. Hence foods with high glycemic loads such as those made with refined sugars and grains may also operate synergistically with high dietary saturated fats to promote atherosclerosis. Additionally, high-glycemic-load carbohydrates are positively correlated with plasma concentrations of C reactive protein, an important marker for systemic inflammation, a key element of the atherosclerotic process, as I previously noted.

    The gold standard procedure for demonstrating cause and effect between diet and disease is called a dietary intervention. Subjects are either fed or not fed a certain food or nutrient and then either presence or absence of a disease or disease symptom is monitored over time. With CHD, the results of dietary interventions in which saturated fats have been lowered, frequently have been unable to demonstrate a reduced mortality from CHD. The problem with the majority of these studies is that they were conducted prior to the knowledge that high-glycemic-load carbohydrates were an important promoting factor in CHD etiology. Further, most of these studies did not control for inhibitory dietary factors such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants etc. Hence, the interpretation of whether or not dietary saturated fats cause CHD in these interventions is confounded by a number of crucial variables. In animal studies, including primates, these confounding dietary factors can be completely controlled and atherosclerosis is routinely induced by solely feeding high amounts of saturated fats.

    To what extent do you think the level of small-dense LDL cholesterol explains the “badness” of LDL? This is relevant to The Paleo Diet because small-dense LDL is strongly correlated with triglycerides. On some conceptions of The Paleo Diet, a more Atkins-like approach is taken: liberal saturated fat, very low carb. The result is often somewhat elevated LDL, but very low triglycerides. The low triglycerides probably indicate low levels of small-dense particles in the LDL fraction. This is why the Eades are not concerned about increases in LDL on their plan (for example). What is your take on this?

    Excellent point. We need more information to determine if very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets reduce small-dense LDL in all people or only in certain genetically predisposed people ala the multiple studies done by Dreon et al. Further it will be necessary to determine whether or not the total increase in LDL (even with a concomitant decrease in small-dense LDL) still accelerates the atherosclerotic process. It seems most likely that small-dense LDL is derived from triacylglycerols carried in the VLDL fraction, hence the possibility looms that a major determinant of atherosclerosis is the ratio of total LDL/small-dense LDL. To my mind, the evidence points to the notion that atherosclerosis results from many environmental factors including those dietary elements that simultaneously raise LDL (high-saturated-fat diets) and triacylglycerols (high-glycemic-load diets). Both of these dietary characteristics could not have been part of any Paleolithic diet.

    “There is absolutely no doubt that hunter-gatherers favored the fattiest part of the animals they hunted and killed. As far back as 2.5 million years there is incredible fossil evidence from Africa showing this scenario to be true. Stone tool cut marks on the inner jawbone of antelope reveal that our ancient ancestors removed the tongue and almost certainly ate it. Other fossils show that Stone Age hunter-gatherers smashed open long bones and skulls of their prey and ate the contents. Not surprisingly, these organs are all relatively high in fat, but more importantly analyses from our laboratories showed the types of fats in tongue, brain, and marrow are healthful, unlike the high concentrations of saturated fats found in fatty domestic meats. Brain is extremely high in polyunsaturated fats including the health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, whereas the dominant fat in tongue and marrow are the cholesterol lowering monounsaturated fats.

    Since most of us would not savor the thought of eating brains, marrow, tongue, liver, or any other organ meat on a regular basis, a few 21st century modifications of the original Paleolithic diet are necessary to get the fatty acid balance “right.”

    THis is why he recommends, for instance, olive oil, which, evidently, wasn’t part of the diet of our H/G ancestors, but, In Spain, where I live, is highly used.

    Butter was not part of the diet of our Paleo ancestors, but many people who follow the “saturated fat is good and very healthy” approach also include it, so the arguments that he includes foods that are not Paleo doesn’t cut it.

    As for eggs, if you eat the typical ones, your Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio will go through the roof.
    If you choose eggs from wild chickens (who don’t feed on grains), the n6/n3 ratio will be around 2/1.
    Also, it should be reminded that eggs may be involved in auto-immunity, so not everyone can eat them.

    As so, the only dietary difference I can find is about saturated fat.

    See the following interview, which is very interesting:

    Of course, Mark does a great job pointing out that stress management, proper exercise and sleep are very important.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Mark’s perspective is a great one and he is a living proof that he’s right, but after reading Cordain’s papers on grains and auto-immunnity, I decided to follow his guidelines and my RA is in remission, and I intend to pursue my studies in Immunology to study dietary antigens in RA, so I have read everything the guy has published (not his laypersons articles, but his scientific ones) and I encourage everyone to read his great scientific papers, who, by the way, are available for free at his website (who else does that???), and then make up their mind.

    Merry Chritsmas to all of you and please do not think I’m atacking you, since I’m just defending someone who is being attacked on a very unfare way.


    JMC wrote on December 17th, 2008
    • I know this is an older post but with all the new books out this xmas season I think I shall about the autoimmune version Cordain is advocating. He says that grains, legumes and dairy all cause leaky gut by breaking down cell membranes. Now he is suggestion that folks with autoimmune conditons take out eggs and nightshades based on the fact they too brake down cell membranes. If that is the case why is he not advocating that we all take nightshades and eggs out?

      Also he labels nightshades as tomatoes, potatoes, egg plant and all those peppers. Why did he stop there since many more have the same key to open up cell membranes? Many types of other foods have the glycol akoids which have been proven to break down cell membranes in the stomach. No mention of apples, artichokes, blueberries and strawberries. Is he easing us into this?

      If dairy can also cause the cell membranes in stomach to break down how is dairy a good idea even if it has good fat? Antagonizing your immune system with leaky gut can not be a good thing long term. Can our stomachs really heal fast enought to deal with all these assaults? I don’t think so.

      Wolf and Cordain can’t agree on salt. Cordain can’t agree on sweet potatoes since one books says it is good and the other says it is one to avoid and both published in Dec. Wolf says sweet potato is good.

      Since most folks are overweight or obese many folks will run into insulin resistance to some degree when attempting PB or Paleo. No one really talks enough about this and how to manage it, can you reverse it and pitfalls. Any types of sugars and especially fructose from fruits can build up quickly if you go from high sweet intact to low sweet intake. The uric acid levels rise. I notice that some say well take the fruit out if you want to lower weight since sugar makes fat not fat. But there is another more difficult issue that if you are overweight significantly you need to take out all sweet stuff and see if your body can regulate insulin better. No one talks about how long that takes and how to manage this head on. Can you reverse it and are the long term effects still set in stone and there are some things that won’t bounce back?

      I feel like both plans have their strengths and weaknesses in what they offer for recipes. Shouldn’t the science be there by now to prove once and for all what we should eat? If they all agreed then I guess we wouldn’t need to buy more books etc.

      pnwtrillium wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Thank you! I wish I would have read all the comments before posting mine. :(

      Amadeus wrote on October 11th, 2013
  5. Bookmarked.

    Thanks, Joseph.

    jack Christopher wrote on June 13th, 2009
  6. Had never heard of Primal Blueprint until I came across this blog. As a 60 year old (diabetes 55 years) and recently discovered I am gluten intolerant, I have some observations of my own. If you’re young, aware of the damage that grains and other food intolerances can do, saturated fats are probably fine. However, if the damage is already done I don’t think eating saturated fats is wise. In my opinion, a long-standing gluten intolerance is what damages the arteries, roughs them up so to speak, so that any fat you eat collects in those roughened up areas, creating CVD. As soon as people realize the damage that grains are doing to their bodies, the sooner we’ll see a decrease in CVD. Just my opinion.

    Rose wrote on July 4th, 2009
  7. Two of my co-workers were permanent in lower, but unrelated titles. ,

    Wolf63 wrote on October 22nd, 2009
  8. Seems that I’ve eaten and lived pretty much the Primal Blueprint for quite a few years now, but never called it that or heard of it. I still haven’t read the book, but plan to as soon as it can get it. I didn’t come to it through Paleo, but through Diana Schwarzbein and the Schwarzbein Principle. She has several books on the subject and a website: She gets into endocrinology as well as nutrition, stress management, avoiding toxic chemicals (which include artificial sweeteners) and exercise. Well worth reading her books to expand your knowledge.

    Kettlebellwitch wrote on November 24th, 2009
  9. Hey Mark,

    I think you’ll find that a lot of Paleo advocates have taken Cordain’s base work and taken it further. The whole saturated fat, diet soda, eggs etc… Is a thing of the past for most followers.

    The way I see it, or what I can tell, is that followers of the newer Paleo guidelines ala a Robb Wolf type approach are pretty much in line with the Primal way of eating, don’t you think?

    Here’s a brief summary:

    All of the lean meat, fish, seafood, eggs you can eat
    All of the non starchy vegetables you can eat
    Plenty of fruit
    Moderate healthy fats
    Moderate nuts and seeds
    No grains or cereals at all
    No legumes
    No dairy products (eggs are meat)
    No processed foods – make it yourself!
    No sugars. Agave, organic honey, molasses, pure spun golden sunshine….it doesn’t matter. They are all equally bad for you.
    No artificial sweeteners. These are not food! Creepy laboratory products with sketchy safety records, artificial sweeteners have been shown to produce an insulin response.

    “In order to get enough protein and calories you should eat animal food at almost every meal” (Cordain, Page 101)

    Many different kinds of meat will work well for you. Here are some guidelines:

    – Animals, including fish, raised in commercial farms are not healthy so try to get

    § Grass fed beef

    § USDA certified organic meat

    § Wild fish

    § Locally raised animals

    – If unable to do any of the above, then eat the leanest cuts you can and trim visible fat.

    – Eating the fat of healthy fish, birds and animals is good for you. Eating the fat of unhealthy creatures is not.

    – Eggs are good. Eggs from birds allowed to forage and run around are better.

    – Buffalo, elk, venison and other types of wild game are excellent choices if you can get them.


    Time to get creative. Non starchy vegetables should be a big part of each meal. Virtually all vegetables offer excellent nutritional value.

    – When possible choose organic, locally grown vegetables that are in season. Each of these factors will improve nutritional value.

    – Experiment with sautéing, roasting and grilling your veggies. Try different recipes and different ethnic foods. Learn to use herbs and spices. This stuff should taste good!

    – Peppers, squashes, eggplant, garlic, leeks, onions broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, carrots, green, cabbage, celery, kale, dandelion (yes! dandelion) spinach, tomatoes, radish, parsnips, mushrooms….

    – Avoid starchy vegetable – potatoes, etc. If you must eat starch (it happens) try yams and sweet potatoes.

    – Avoid legumes. Peanuts, beans, peas, lentils and soybeans should be avoided.


    A paleo diet allows and encourages lots of fruit consumption. There are a few issues with fruit consumption though. We need to consider how the fruit was grown as well as the type of fruit to evaluate nutritional value. We also need to consider pesticide exposure.

    – If you can grow your own fruit or pick wild fruit – go for it!

    – Scavenge the local farmers market for fresh local seasonal fruit. Organic is best.

    – Try to avoid fruit from far away. Flying in kiwis from New Zealand is not really helping our health.

    – Avoid GMO (genetically modified organism) fruit. Period.

    – A little fruit juice occasionally can be okay but, fruit juice is really candy.

    – Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to minimize pesticides.

    – Some fruits like bananas have a high glycemic load and should be avoided if you are trying to loose fat.

    Berries! Eat lots of berries!


    Filling and nutritious. Nuts and seeds are packed with protein, fatty acids, enzymes, antioxidants and lots of vitamins and minerals, especially potassium and magnesium. It is possible to screw up your fat profile with nuts though. Lots of nuts have an unacceptably high omega 6 / omega 3 ratio. Here are the best choices:


    Macadamia nuts


    Nuts in moderation are very healthy but overeating them can stall weight loss. Cashews especially are delicious but surprisingly high in carbohydrate and contain too much omega 6.

    Peanuts are not nuts. Do not eat peanuts or peanut butter. Peanuts contain lectins and other anti-nutrients which can cause some real health problems.

    Note: Lots of packaged, shelled nuts are covered in trans fats! Read the label! Best to buy raw, unsalted nuts and spice them at home. When in doubt, buy walnuts and/or macadamia nuts.


    Fat is good for you. Fat is essential to your well being and happiness. (This is not hyperbolic writing. Having the proper fat profile makes a huge difference to your mental outlook and moods). Fat is a great source of energy. Fat triggers our sense of being full. Fat is an essential part of many of your cellular and hormonal processes. We sicken and die fairly quickly without adequate intake of essential fats.

    However….there are many bad fats in our food supply.

    Fat from healthy animals is good for you! Chicken, duck, goose, lamb, beef and pork fat can all be eaten and is an excellent choice for cooking because of heat stability. Lard is internal fat from around the kidneys. Lard from naturally (not grain) fed pork and beef is a very good choice. Lard from grass fed animals is hard to find though, so butter can be used instead.

    Butter. Not really paleo, butter contains milk solids and water as well as fat. Butter from grass fed cows is very good for cooking and enhancing the flavor of steamed vegetables.

    Making butter better! (More paleo)

    Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Remove butter from heat and let stand for a few minutes, allowing the milk solids to settle to the bottom. Skim the clear yellow liquid from the top and strain into a container. You have just made Ghee! Ghee stores well frozen.

    Coconut oil is good for you and a good choice for cooking. Choose organic, cold processed coconut oil.

    Olive oil is very healthy. Go for the extra virgin, cold pressed and use liberally. Olive oil does not have great heat stability so use something else for high heat frying.

    Flaxseed oil is very good but…it should not be heated at all and oxidizes rapidly. Store flaxseed oil in the refrigerator and use quickly.

    Fats to Avoid:

    Trans Fats – fats damaged by heat. Trans fats can be extremely destructive to our health. Trans fats can be made at home!! Start with a healthy, unrefined oil, naturally high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids – apply excessive heat and presto! Health wrecking trans fats. Easy!

    Hydrogenated and/or partially hydrogenated oils. Terrible! Reread the last paragraph.

    Canola – should be avoided. Canola has a very good omega 6/ Omega 3 ratio. However, to be used commercially it has been genetically modified, highly refined, partially hydrogenated and deodorized. Yikes!

    Margarine – see trans fats.

    Peanut, cottonseed, soybean and wheat germ oils…Not good!

    Is there anything in here that conflicts with Primal?

    Kevin wrote on January 8th, 2010
  10. Mark your articles and site are always a wealth of information. Thanks for this. I do appreciate the links in the article but I am an analytical type (being an engineer by trade).

    I am a little interested in the promotion of supplementation. I also happen to be a moderate proponent. It’s important to remind people at some pt the difference between that and drugs or straight out performance enhancers.

    It kind of doesn’t fit the PB ideal in some way but so what as you point out we have a lot of environmental factors Grok didn’t. Also if technology has figured something out that helps us be younger and stronger longer why not? (Grok only had to survive long enough to procreate, maybe 30 years right).

    CT Olson wrote on January 29th, 2010
  11. This is one best blogs on this topic. It is so important that this information gets out there is a big way. I watch people on the(sad)diet and have worked with the frutarian diet.Basic common sense goes out the window, when people approach healthy eating.

    We lost our way, this blog brings us back to the basics of health.

    Thanks for the great job!

    Blanche Scharf

    Blanche Scharf wrote on February 21st, 2010
  12. I think when you are comparing the Paleo and your Primal diet you have made a bit of a straw man out of the arguments of the Paleo diet.

    After reading both the paleo diet, and the much more explanatory and comprehensive paleo diet for athletes, the authors do agree that in modern society, where are meats come from mass produced, poorly treated and poorly fed animals, you want to eat as lean of meat as possible.

    Cordain says that in “caveman” times they would have eaten the whole animal, and that it was good they ate the whole animal, lean meat and fatty meat, and fat deposits, and marrow and the whole thing. In the Paleo Diet for Athletes, the authors break down though the fat compositions of various wild game through the year, and compare it to modern feedlot raised cows and pigs and the results are staggering. Even at the times of year that the wild animals were at their fattest, none of them reached the level of fats that are in our modern animals.

    This is why they specifically say that unless you seek out and find pasture fed beef, or these more free range meats, or game meats, you should seek the leanest cuts of meat. If you can get these more naturally raised meats, then they advocate to by all means eat any cut you want and all the fat on the animal that you want.

    Of the fat compositions between the wild game and the feedlot cattle, saturated fat skyrocketed in the latter compared to the former.

    Their argument is not against saturated fat. their argument is against modern feedlot animals being unhealthy compared to free-ranging, or wild game meats.

    It is easy to miss this if you only read the first book. The second book, for athletes, goes into much more detail, I assume because athletes love to dissect numbers, whereas the first book was marketed to a wider audience and so dissecting these numbers and including charts and graphs may have been too confusing for some.

    I realize you need to market your book as being markedly different from a book that is advocating something that is the same thing as you are advocating, but at least create your arguments based on fair representations of facts and not out of straw man fallacies.

    blake wrote on March 1st, 2010
    • Yes!

      Amadeus wrote on October 11th, 2013
  13. Mark I just did a post about low carb vs Primal….would love your input!

    Alcinda Moore wrote on March 2nd, 2010
  14. Mark I just did a post about low carb vs Primal….would love your input!

    Alcinda Moore wrote on March 2nd, 2010
  15. “the so-called Paleo Diet, for which Loren Cordain is the most recognized voice.”

    Yes, this is true, he is the most recognized voice today, but the paleo diet was around before Cordain, and most of the differences you point out between Cordain’s diet and primal are also differences between Cordain’s diet and what others consider to be paleo. Many of us follow the Neanderthin take on the diet. In Neanderthin there is no limit to saturated fat (at least if from grass-fed animals), there is no limit on eggs, there are no artificial sweeteners, and no seed oils are allowed. This brings it down to the only difference between a true paleo diet and your primal diet is the issue of dairy.

    I have defined the paleo diet along with listing all the variations on it on this fairly recent page:

    Don Wiss wrote on March 5th, 2010
  16. Mark,

    I love your blog. I’ve been following it for a few months now and find the information useful, love that it is actually backed up with peer review research (the more links the better!), and am always passing articles on to others.

    I came to the Primal Blueprint while searching through the many blogs on Paleo, with a CrossFit and The Zone diet background. I’m adding more Primal ideas to my way of life every day. It works for me!

    Keep up the good work,


    Leon wrote on May 5th, 2010
  17. First, I was learning about Paleo challenge. I have been lectured the Paleo challenge with deaf lady. Also, I learned how to track the Paleo logs. Also, I would pick good recipes.

    Stephanie Speros wrote on July 30th, 2010
  18. I still don’t get it. Cheese is ‘processed’ food. As is butter.
    Paleo is not raw, I get that too. The recipes seem to use dairy or not at the whim of the cook. Beef makes my knees ache; indicative of inflammation and not a good thing nor a good lifestyle choice.
    So is this just another ‘make bucks on a theory’, a philosophy, if you will (think Marxism, Socialism and standard religion), rather than an actual reasoned and realistic lifestyle choice?

    Pam wrote on August 1st, 2010
    • Are you eating grass-fed beef or conventionally raised beef. It makes a big difference.

      Cathie McGinnis wrote on October 6th, 2010
  19. I came to PB after researching about P90X, I was instantly hooked… my wife calls it my “cult.” Lately though I’ve been reading more up on a Paleo perspective, currently I’m reading “Primal Body – Primal Mind” and have been getting into Robb Wolf and Whole9Life podcast/blog.

    I find with Paleo people tend to come at it from a celiac disease/gluten intolerace, lactose intolerance angle. Almost as though you have to have something wrong with you to first see the benefit. PB’s approach has been a bit more sensible in that anybody can conform to it.

    Overall I love them both, especially the areas where there is overlap. I don’t worry too much about the warring factions within the two camps because either way you’re going to be healthier and live longer and I never ever take that for granted.

    Mr. Anderson wrote on August 3rd, 2010
  20. Me Grok
    Me eat what I find and kill
    Me healthier than you
    Be like Grok

    Grok you very meat. I mean: Grok you very much.

    Grok wrote on September 1st, 2010
  21. I am coming from a Paleo prospective and the thought of using things like cheese, butter, etc. scares me.

    I’d like a good explanation of why they’re allowed and then I’ll be able to sink my teeth into the concept. (pun!)

    Brandon wrote on September 21st, 2010
  22. This was an interesting read but a little surprising to me. I’ve been reading about the paleo diet for at least a year now, trying to find recipes and food sources in the area to make the switch. None of the websites I’ve looked at have mentioned restricting egg consumption, nothing about fat that I remember, and lean meat was only mentioned in that wild game is more likely to be lean, though organ meat was also mentioned. Aside from the occasional butter and/or dairy use in the primal, I haven’t seen a difference. Perhaps I’ve managed to avoid the paleo websites that are more restrictive. Anyway, I’m looking forward to trying all the good recipes you’ve put up!

    Xendara wrote on September 27th, 2010
  23. I’ve been Paleo for about 9 to 10 months. It has worked great for me so far. Then I found your blog which is awesome. I have your book now and really enjoyed reading it. I really like your approach. I own a small personal training studio and plan on having another 1 of my crazy challenges and plan on using your system and having your book as part of the challenge.

    Great Job!!!!

    Sgt. Madness wrote on October 19th, 2010
  24. I had great success on the Atkins diet years ago, but gave it up during a fourth of July picnic, and sadly did not immediately return. I had tons of energy back then. Going back on it some time later I found the energy I sought to recapture didn’t show up. I dropped off again, confused as to what went wrong. I decided I didn’t do it the same way as back then. I incorporated too many carbs from grains and it must be interfering with my progress. I saw the primal blueprint and the truth hit me. I didn’t go far enough. Thanks for being there!

    Dune wrote on December 29th, 2010
  25. As I recently found your site, I asked myself the same thing. I didn’t read Cordain’s book. I read Wolf’s in which he seems to address sleep and other ways to enrich your life. Anyway, so far, maybe not the exact same but both are beneficial. I decided to take the best for what you both offer. Obviously some basics: No grains, processed food (or way less), refined sugar but the oils and the milk…not so hardcore on. However, thanks for putting your information out here for us to be enlightened.

    Keith M wrote on January 21st, 2011
  26. I like the links. They help explain concepts I want to know more about.

    fairlind wrote on March 24th, 2011
  27. Hi Mark / MDA Team,
    I like the embedded links. Since this article was published NOV 12th (2010???), do links get added to ‘trigger’ words if a subsequent article is published about the ‘trigger’ word?

    Also, a possible article idea: With saturated fat clearly not a root of nutrition evil – is deep frying in animal lard OK, perhaps even having nutrtional benefit or at least not a detriment.

    Keep you the great work.
    Grok on!

    Paul Witsaman wrote on April 2nd, 2011
  28. Hi! i am new to all of this. i belong to a weightloss group called it is basically like a facebook for ‘dieters’. it is a motivational tool to lose weight and to keeo track of progress. you can enter your diet and i was on atkins. i recently watched a documentary called fat head and really got into tom naughtons blog. i think he was on paleo? not sure, but one of the girls i had been sharing ideas with on fat secret was on the primal blue print, so i googled what the differences were and found your site!! i was just a little confused bc tom naughton (if im right about him being on primal) talks about how wonderful fat is and i agree! so maybe he is unaware of the differences and there is a misconception about the differences? idk? but i guess primal might be what im looking for.

    Leanna wrote on May 27th, 2011
  29. I have never heard of any of this. I, too, have always thought that paleolithic diet/lifestyle is the same as Primal. I still do. The acceptance of artificial sweeteners and the exclusion of saturated fat is not the paleo that I know.

    Joel Wilcox wrote on July 9th, 2011
  30. I’ve never tried the Paleo Diet, but from everything I’ve read in your post, I sure never will because I love coconut oil and hate diet soda, or any soda at all.
    Since I’ve been reading your blog I have been trying more of the blue print approach, I do love to eat lots’ of fruits though. Grains and pastas of I’ve cut down to 1 day a week, and when I do eat grains it’s brown rice only. The rest of the 6 days a week, I’ve been eating primal.
    In my Fitness Guide it is said that glucose is the main source of fuel for the body, but after reading your post several weeks ago on Carbs and how they only have a limited amount that can be stored by the body, vs fat that has a much larger storage supply – that totally makes complete sense to me.
    I think more fitness trainers should incorporate Primal approach for their clients.
    The more I eat primal the more convinced I become that glucose is not the main source of energy.
    Thank you for another great post, I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Tatianna wrote on July 12th, 2011
  31. Primal, Paleo, either one, they’re both copy cats of the Atkins diet. I’m always amazed that people are so eager to shell out money for yet another diet book that claims to be the “one”. They’ll defend it by saying, but this diet/eating style is different, its very good for your health/body. Right..
    As the saying goes, there’s a sucker born every minute. From the comments I’ve read on here, those suckers have been lining up tenfold to buy your book. Kudos to you for getting rich off their backs.

    Jayson wrote on July 27th, 2011
  32. I must say, this article is both helpful and unfortunate. While you’ve pointed out that diet is inferior to lifestyle (helpful), you’ve painted the Paleo movement with quite a broad brush (unfortunate). Having been introduced to Paleo by Robb Wolf (who authored the Paleo Solution), I’ve approached Paleo as a way of living that has shares a ton of territory with the PB. I’d go so far as to say the PB and the Paleo lifestyle are basically the same. Paleo encompasses our entire genetic heritage, as it seems the PB does as well, so statements about PB being “superior” seem quite silly.

    For instance, I do not understand where this fear-of-saturated-fat notion comes from. Paleoites eat tons of healthy saturated fats, including coconut oil. We also don’t consume diet sodas or artificial sweeteners (at least I don’t, and neither do the Paleoites I know). We focus on eating real food, healthy exercise, getting adequate sleep and rest, work, play, developing meaningful relationships. Generalizing Paleo as something different or inferior to PB shows a certain amount of ignorance of the movement.

    Caleb wrote on August 1st, 2011
  33. I just looked up the difference between primal and paleo…. with the description about artificial sweeteners in paleo-land, I said no thanks! So I just purchased ‘The Primal Blueprint’ Nook-book for my Android device. The only problem with the Nook-book is that people cannot see what you are reading and ask questions. People need to know their S.A.D. is making them sick and will ultimately kill them.

    Joni wrote on August 2nd, 2011
  34. As for artificial sweetners…how do you feel about stevia?

    Be Ninja wrote on August 15th, 2011
  35. I recently saw a friend I hadn’t seen in months. She looked terrific, and mentioned your name & your book. I began looking at Primal & Paleo; they seemed like they could be the same thing, but nobody could answer. I didn’t want to have to read ALL the books; I just wanted the best one. I finally found your answer here – Thank You! I will pick up your book and get started. Though this is not an exhaustive explanation, there is enough here to convince me.

    Mary wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  36. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely useful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & assist other users like its helped me. Great job.

    δονητές wrote on September 12th, 2011
  37. Good Day!
    I am interested in learning more about your site and the primal/paleo diets….People have always said I am one of the more healthy people they know….I disagree. Since marrying my husband i feel like I cheat all the time and eat naughty sweets and carbs (chips crackers etc..) My husband makes it tough to keep healthy in my food choices. I have thinking of how should i adjust my diet to be most healthful to my body so that I do not gain weight and feel puffy or pudgy. I know i can do it if I put my mind to it. I think some of this is related to my emotional sate of mind etc….which I know needs some mending and heathful work. I used to never need sweets and juckfood but now look out i have to try hard not to eat it if it’s in the house. We have a 7 year old daughter….and naturally we buy snacks for her to put in her lunch box. I have convinced my husband to at least by things such as the 100 calorie snack packs. I know all of the processed ingreedients are bad and harmful to her body. I am able to get her to drink lots of water adn eat fruits and veggies, but like most kids she loves her junck food and sweets. How do I go about letting her be a kid and indulge but without all the harmful processed junk….I would like to ingrain ibn her mind the importance of healthful snacking and the importance of how and why to keep healthy and the makeups of the foods she is eating. I think if I get her to understand the foods it may help more in the choices she makes. Please share any advice you might have I love to learn and pass it on to my daughter. Thank you for taking the time to read this post!!!! God Bless you all.

    Kristen Feldman wrote on September 19th, 2011
  38. I like the links! If there is every a question about something, the link is there to provide more info. Thank you!

    Came to PB while on the hCG protocol and a forum ( While there, became aware of Taube’s book, “Why We Get Fat,” and then PB. I have both and it makes sense to me. I am maintaining weight loss since end of July through PB concepts, including no grains!

    Joni wrote on September 19th, 2011
  39. I think the paragraph on diet soda is very disingenuous. Cordon DOES NOT endorse the unlimited drinking of diet soda. Instead, he takes a very pragmatic approach to it. Most people have a hard time changing their habits overnight, and to get people to try the diet, you have to ease them into it. Diet soda in moderation should not affect weight loss, particularly in the beginning phases. Eventually it should be given up, but by acknowledging the fact that diet soda can be used as a way as easing the transition into a paleo lifestyle is hardly an “endorsement”.

    Dan wrote on September 29th, 2011
  40. I now this is an old post but would like to leave my humble views nonetheless. I have never been overweight but started to put on some very little weight around my waistline in my mid 40s, which my daughter very quickly pointed out to me. What made me rethink my diet as a former swimmer (low-fat, high carbs and unfortunately an awful sweet tooth) was that I stated getting pains and aches all over my joints and bones. I was diagnosed with arthritis but was given no advice whatsoever on how to slow it down.
    More or less at the same time, my son’s long-term misdiagnosed eczema on his face was getting worse, despite 10 years of using various hydrocortisone creams. I came across the Paleo diet and Dr Cordain and was terribly impressed with the solid science behind it. Never a true fan of grains, I realised that this was something I could easily follow, and in addition to that, the diet was backed by a man with all the necessary knowledge and qualifications in the area. I agree that his take on soda was a bit weird but saw it in the overall context as mentioned by Dr Dan above. It’s now been 2 years and I have never looked back. I still struglle with my sweet tooth, an addiction far worse that I had ever imagined but I have made some serious progress too: my acne, which I battled with all these years, has completely gone; my figure is better than it has ever been every since I had my 2 kids, now aged 9 and 12 (I am 48 years old).
    My pains and aches have greatly reduced and I can now do some paleo/primal exercises that will not ruin my back after 5 minutes, as it used to happen (I broke my back 13 years ago as a result of a cycling accident). I am more than capable to keep my weight stable without having to make any greater sacrifices, which is what live should be all about. Dr Cordain’s revised edition of the Paleo diet is quite enlightening too, and he very humble to admit that his take on Canola oil and coconut oil has now changed: only someone who is confident within himself can do that without sounding either dogmatic or contrived. As with most things in life, new discoveries are made every day and one needs to be flexible enough to review/revise one’s take on something as complex as evolutionary nutrition.
    Having stumbled across PB over the past 6 months, I bought all the books and decided to check the whole PB approach out. Whilst I agree that it its approach is more flexible, allowing for types of food that most westerners seem to enjoy, I am still not entirely convinced of its take on the amount of butter and fatty foods it advocates, However, I found a very happy by using PB’s principles and recipes on my Paleo “open days meals”, which seems to work just fine. As for the differences between Paleo and PB cited above, I would add another very important, although one likely to raise even more heated discussions: unlike Mark, Dr Cordain is missing on the highly skilled PR techniques of Sisson’s approach, understandable when you consider that Dr Cordain’s is not trying to sell supplements and does not earn a living from this – he is first and foremost an academic who seems to be far more interested in examining the science behind it than running terribly expensive workshops whist publicising his wares – nothing wrong with this per se, but it is something that needs to be taken into account too. I like to holistic approach of PB and have tried to incorporate its teachings to my daily life – it’s basically common sense but spelled out very concisely and clearly, allowing most people to relate to it.
    In short, my solid basis will always be Paleo and Dr Cordain’s papers with PB being the icing on the cake, tasty but to be taken with a dose of caution when it comes to the high consumption of saturated animal fats. My children and I have been living like this for the past 6 months with wonderful results: my 12 year-old boy is a lean, fast, quick-thinking footballer, and my 9 year-old girl is an equally lean, flexible, and energetic gymnast. They are both very intelligent and outstanding students too (so the brain is definitely getting all the nutrition it needs). There were never into junk food in the first place, so the complaints about changing their eating habits 2 years ago did not last very long. I cannot remember the last time they were in hospital or even had a cold, so for all this, a big thank you to Dr Loren Cordain and, to some extent, Mark Sisson.

    Olivia wrote on October 2nd, 2011

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