Why Can Some People Eat Anything They Want and Never Gain a Pound?

The following are both actual and paraphrased versions of questions I regularly get from readers:

If grains are so bad how can you explain the leanness and good health of Clarence Bass?

How is it that this guy can eat 30 bananas a day and not gain weight, or this guy can eat nothing but potatoes for 60 days and lose 20 pounds?

How do the Kitavans or Okinawans maintain good body composition despite a higher carb diet?

Mark, how were you able to maintain a low body fat percentage despite eating a half gallon of ice cream a day?

Why can my brother eat anything he wants and never gain a pound?

All of these examples seem contrary to what we say in the Primal Blueprint. How can they be explained? Are they anomalies? Tails of the bell curve? Is something else at work?

These questions all bring to mind one of the main principles underlying the Primal Blueprint, which is that ultimately there are no right or wrong answers in life, just choices we make based on what we think we know or what we believe to be in our best interest. I happen to think we here at Mark’s Daily Apple have hit upon a range of choices within the Primal Blueprint – based on what we know about evolution and epigenetics – that can bring out the best in our health, fitness and energy. We seek to optimize our individual genetic potential using these principals and to literally influence gene signaling. Of course, there are other ways and other choices to get lean, some of which might even get you close to healthy if you do everything right. Me, I want the option that gets me the fittest and healthiest with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline and calorie-counting possible.

The truth is, if you never undertook to live a Primal lifestyle, the chances are still pretty good that you might enjoy a “relatively comfortable” existence for a substantial part of your life – until the wheels inevitably started to fall off. Millions of people around the world “get by” just fine in their obliviousness on the SAD (Standard American Diet), only 10 or 30 pounds overweight, a little arthritic, maybe some GERD for which they gladly take a pill. Some people even appear to thrive for a while on less-than-ideal diet and exercise programs. Even I did “adequately” on the Conventional Wisdom plan for a long time, and I’m pretty sure I’d still be doing reasonably well today had I not adopted this PB strategy myself. Of course, I’d be a little more decrepit and arthritic, less energetic, a little weaker and sick more often, and I’d probably still have IBS. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think all that was normal for a 57-year-old man, so I might even label myself “content.”

Of course, genetics has a lot to do with it. I got away with dietary murder when I was an endurance athlete because I was “genetically gifted” to be able to run long and hard enough to burn off a half gallon of ice cream (and a loaf of bread and a bowl of pasta and a six-pack of beer…) every night – as long as I ran long and hard the next day, too. But sometimes a guy can look lean, and not be healthy. And that was me. There’s a lot going on under the hood. Your 30 bananas guy above does the same things I did, but with a higher sugar – high mileage program that he advocates for everyone. In his case, he looks skinny because doesn’t get enough protein and he cycles endless miles in a valiant-yet-doomed effort to burn off all that sugar. He also takes in paltry amounts of protein, and it shows in the lack of muscle typical of a high-carb endurance athlete. His inability to gain weight while eating lots of carbs is actually a bad thing, since he’s constantly losing muscle mass and enduring all manner of glycation inside. I can’t comment on the 20 potatoes guy except to say that if the 19th century Irish lived on potatoes for decades and couldn’t gain much muscle, it makes sense that he couldn’t either in 60 days. The Kitavans and the Okinawans thrive partly because they typically don’t overeat (see: Calorie Restriction) and partly because they expend a fair amount of energy not sitting at their desk all day long (Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace). I suspect that their reliance on real food and low intakes of processed and high omega-6 PUFA seed oils also contribute to their metabolic efficiency.

Clarence Bass can look so great at 73 on a grain-based diet because he has spent his life focused on staying in shape, mostly as a body-builder. He understood very early in his career that lean mass was the main driver of health, and he orchestrated a workout and diet plan contemplated to keep him fit. He’s never really been out of shape and, from what I gather, he’s pretty strict with his diet in terms of macronutrient breakdown, calorie count and meal timing. That takes a lot of discipline. If you do it right, you can get pretty decent results. The fact that he includes grains in his diet and apparently suffers no ill effects puts him among a select minority who may not be as susceptible to their antinutrient effects as most of us are. Again, maybe he’s genetically “gifted” that way.

We’ve talked a little about genetic ranges before, but let me remind you of this point. Each of us has the recipe for a lean, fit, strong, healthy human contained within our DNA. Biological processes don’t really differ from one person to another (except in rare occasions). We all make proteins the same way, we all digest and process nutrients the same way, etc. But it’s the individual variations in our specific familial DNA (those pesky single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) that often account for the differences in the degree to which we tend to build muscle, or burn or store fat. From there it comes down to the signals (those diet and exercise choices) we send our genes that maximize our ultimate potential or not. The truth is, some of us are just lucky enough to be able to “get away” with eating certain foods that aren’t exactly Primal, not gaining much weight and not experiencing noticeable inflammation. Others among us who may have genetic red flags really need to pay attention or we easily gain weight or develop health issues if we stray at all. There is for each of us a predetermined “range of genetic outcomes” that we do inherit from our parents. My job is to help you discover how to optimize your potential – if that’s what you choose to do.

Humans are among the most adaptive (short-term anyway) animals on the planet when it comes to diet. We can survive on just about anything, as witnessed by the plethora of obese Americans surviving on fast food and soft drinks. Over half the world stays “slim and trim” on a low-calorie, grain-based diet simply because there are paltry few food choices and they just can’t take in enough calories to gain much weight (store fat). But let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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213 thoughts on “Why Can Some People Eat Anything They Want and Never Gain a Pound?”

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  1. This is a good reminder; it’s not about how the rare exceptions react to food, or how the 0.01% of superathletes manage their health. It’s about how everyday people could be so much stronger, healthier and happier if they applied good science and rational evolutionary principles to their lifestyles.

    1. It’s more about sweating. If you’re sweating enough, it means you’re burning calories and your body is in the mode to efficiently process food and expel toxins instead of holding onto them longer.

      Note: The following is meant only as a suggestion after speaking with a doctor or other health professional.

      AVOID eating pears, peaches, and nuts, as all those foods with HELP you HOLD ONTO weight. If you eat those things, all the exercise in the world won’t shed pounds on the trouble spots

      That facial and neck fat that won’t go away no matter what? Yes, stop eating those things and along with eating correctly (eat red meat, but sparingly) and make sure to drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day(remember not to overdo your water because too much can be toxic), and ironically, you’ll lose the water retention in your body, especially in the face.

      So not matter what shape you are in, remember to push the water, and if your health allows it, engage in rigorous activities. If not, there are ways to baby-step towards greater health. Instead of parking near the entrance to a store, park in the back so the walk to and from builds you up; do that for a while and soon it’ll be more likely that longer walking trips become second nature.

      Driving around everywhere makes people fat and miserable, I should know, it almost got me.

      P.S. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF. Yes, that’s Internet yelling, but it is called for because far too many people thinking starving is a good idea when it’s the worst. Do not skip meals, you could develop serious problems.

      1. Intermittent Fasting (IF) isn’t a bad thing. It helps me to be much more alert and in-tune to hunger. Skip a meal when it’s inconvenient to eat, and when I’m hungry, I eat. Sometimes I finish off my food, my wife’s and our kids’ food, yet my BMI is 18.

        I stopped counting glasses of water. I found that a study was mis-interpreted (1 ml of water for each dry calorie consumed.) The science made me dizzy, so I just keep a cup full of water handy, and when it looks inviting, I drink. I fill it a couple times a day.

        I’m no longer hard on myself, and I’ve noticed that I consistently outperform kids 1/2 my age, I don’t carry a water bottle, I don’t use carb/protein gels, etc. I just eat real food, but I do minimize the carbs! 🙂

      2. Just don’t agree with avoiding nuts. Raw nuts are healthy especially walnuts. Obviously it is necessary to limit it to a couple tablespoons daily.

  2. Your point about looking lean but not necessarily being healthy is big for me. I came to that same conclusion and it allows me to stay focused on my own health.

  3. Good article. I also think people shouldn’t be so quick to feel jealous of those of us that don’t gain weight easily. Mark’s talked before about so-called hard gainers. Some of us have just as difficult a time gaining weight to reach our desired goals as many overweight people have in losing it. It’s just that one side is a bit more common in our society.

  4. You mention it quickly, but I think it’s your main point: Sustenance/survival is not thriving. This is a dietary philosophy focused on optimizing our body’s operating system. Accompanying the dietary philosophy is the exercise philosophy that makes it one coherent Primal lifestyle. People adopt this lifestyle for their own ends, but isn’t it ultimately about promoting health into longevity? Eating 30 bananas (or whatever) to fuel crazy cardio workouts is an end to itself. The diet and exercise mentality of Primal adherents is a means to something greater.

    1. Yes, exactly! eating 30 bananas everyday to sustain such high intensity workouts is not sustainable for life. I suppose it’s different if someone is passionate about that kind of life. Maybe for the crazy cardio workout buffs, but for the average person it just doesn’t make sense. PB IS a lifestyle, a very satisifying easy to sustain lifestyle. I proved that to myself last week and am continuing to do so! Albeit a few bumps, but I’m passionate about it enough to keep going for life and that means so much to me!

      1. 80 / 10 / 10 is a healthy diet. The girl who founded that site has been doing it for 3+ years, she seems fine.

        her forum does have lots of loons though. I tried it for a few days while reading up on it. the youtube channel rawsynergytv is a better source of info.

        its much easier than paleo. food prep is optional, and usually involves nothing more than a pairing knife. clean up is easy. for most meals there is no clean up. You never wonder what you to eat. you already know. what to put in your evening salad might have some thought, but thats pretty easy too. and, of course, fruit is yummy. if you dont really like eating fruit, dont even think about doing this.

        there are two side effects.

        one is being really skinny. if you have a waif fetish, this is the way to go.

        the other side effect is a reduced libido, which makes me wonder what it does hormonally. seems to be more with the ones who go overboard and are really eating 90-5-5, or as they say, without any “overt” fats.

        The guy who came up with it, Dr. Graham, has been doing it since 1978 and seems really healthy. ironically, hes not super skinny, but has a more proportionate build. its just everone else on it that loses weight.

        1. i have a friend doing this, and one who tried it, but could not afford it. i also tried it for a few days, but it doesnt fit my goals.

        2. LOL. Being skinny is a side effect? Where did you get that info? I’ve been doing it for 6 years and I’m very muscular and toned and weigh 130 lb being 5’3″ female.

          I’m also friends with several long term 811-ers (5-8 years), and I’ve NEVER seen them skinny even once. What a joke.

          I’ve also never come across an 811-er with low libido.

        3. It’s healthy, if you enjoy fructose poisoning, your body eating itself for protein and nutrients, and all manners of deficiency symptoms: the boards are full of complaints about tiredness, poor health, skin problems, teeth problems, all after switching over to the loony diet.

          The standard response: it’s “detox”, or eat MORE sugar. Fun for a laugh at the pure blind faith and naivity.

      2. Dana,

        PLEASE don’t mention 3bad – we’ll get Mr Foetid Fruit and his pals back on the forum again! ;o)

        1. you make a blog post specifically about one of the two people who runs 30bad.com website… and then you expect the commentators to never mention 30bad?

  5. This post really got me thinking about the premise behind the Blood Type diet, which is all about eating foods that are optimal for your blood type, and avoiding foods that cause inflamation for that same blood type. So in a way it might explain why some people do well on some foods and other’s do not. There are still anomalies though. I happen to be a blood type O, which according to Dr. D’Adamo, is the oldest blood type, and follows a vary similar plan as the Primal Blueprint, but some grains are neutral and are okay if one must have them, such as Ezekial bread, sprouted grain breads, spelt, oats, amaranth and a few more as long as they are all gluten free. It was recommended to me by my naturopathic doctor to try and improve my health. I agreed with the premise behind it and I wondered why I didn’t jump on it fully and follow it. Maybe I approached it wrong…I don’t know. While it rang true in my head, and I wanted to follow it, I didn’t. Why then did PB suddenly turn the lightbulb on and by some miracle motivate me enough to keep trying and doing? Nothing else that had similar “ring true” effects has done that.

    1. I tried the type O food grouping too. Found, interestingly enough, that despite the starchiness of the allowed grains, I lost weight doing away with wheat and substituting quinoa and amaranth. I wouldn’t have gotten back down to a normal weight, but *something* got kicked over.

      I think D’Adamo’s arguments get misrepresented a lot and he gets ignored a lot even though parts of what he teaches are likely correct and scientific and would lend to a greater overall understanding of human metabolism and how we interact on a molecular level with the foods we eat. Then again, it really is overthinking the whole issue, too. If you have to weigh and measure, you don’t know how to eat properly for your body. I have to weigh and measure to get meaningful weight loss, so I do not speak idly.

      1. You’re not the only one. I have to weigh and measure too, to lose weight. I’m only lean and unhealthy under all the fat. 🙂

        1. It might also be the scales at fault. I’ve got the same scales and can weigh up to 12 lbs difference in a week. I’m feeling fit, my close feel looser on me but the scales show me 12lbs heavier. Hmmm – don’t think it’s me! I threw them away.

      2. All this “Oh I simply MUST eat vegan because I’m a type A” stuff REALLY annoys me!

        I’ve given up on the scales and the tape (I don’t even know where the latter is at the moment!) My mother’s scales are WW digi ones and one morning I can be around 112lb and the following 126lb. Something’s gone wrong with my bod at the moment as I’ve posted before, but I’m STILL eating Primal (as much as is practical) because I know you suddenly can’t expand like that for no reason (I have clothes – i.e. most of ’em that I could get into before Xmas, that I can’t now – and I had a VERY frugal Christmas, too! Besides, I don’t FEEL right! These clothes I’m wearing now were hanging off me just before Xmas – they’re tight now!)

        Okay, that’s enough of that. I shall just have to try and get myself well myself, because the chances of me seeing a doc are between zero and none!

        1. Sarah, get your thyroid checked! I’m hypo and sudden weight gain with no change of diet was my indicator.

        2. It might also be the scales at fault. I’ve got the same scales and can weigh up to 12 lbs difference in a week. I’m feeling fit, my clothes feel looser on me but the scales show me 12lbs heavier. Hmmm – don’t think it’s me! I threw them away.

    2. I also can’t help but wonder if the DNA references are in reality blood type related. I am also type O, and have been following the O Blood Type way of eating for about 8 years now. I noticed a huge difference in how I felt when I stopped eating “avoid” foods. In the last few months I have cut grain from my diet entirely, even if not on the “avoid” list, and I have again noticed an improvement in how I feel. My wife, who is also type O and as been following the Blood Type way of eating for the past 8 years, has lost weight without trying by cutting grain out of her diet. I just makes sense to us that Grok, who must have been type O, would not have had grain based food available.

      So I feel that PB (and even Paleo) are really incremental changes to combine with Blood Type theory. That is what works for us, at least.

      I’m not sure how other blood types fare when cutting grain from their lives. I can understand, based on my knowledge of the Blood Type diet, how PB might not work for non-O types.

      1. This could make some sense as I am O negative and so is my brother and we both have similar builds like my mum and gain weight from carbs easily, but when I give the carbs up (as I have now for good!) I feel great and lose weight easily. On the other hand my other brother and my sister have always been lean and slim like my father and seem to never have had any overeating issues, unlike my bro, mum and I.
        But I heard that the blood type diet has been scientifically disproved. Also O blood types are relatively uncommon, even rare, compared to A and B, yet being overweight seems to have become very common, so I’m guessing weight issues are probably genetic. It makes sense that it would be genetic – people breed animals/livestock based on genetic traits, not blood type.

    3. Not this blood type crap again… this is based on some poorly constructed hypothesis some egomaniac researcher has. I’m type A supposedly a vegetarian-type that can’t stand meat, which is the complete opposite of how my body and my inflammatory disorder works.

      If some people’s blood type would mean that they are less likely to die from a massive inflammatory response to bee venom, does that mean it’s okay for them to consume dietary bee venom?
      I mean, in one of the blood types he actually tells people they’re perfectly adapted to eat grains/gluten…seriously?

  6. Thanks Mark this post helps put the why are they lean on a high carb diet into focus.

    I think it is important to work with what you have and look further than the surface when it comes to health.

    My mother is one of those people who can stay thin on any diet but, her health has suffered over the years from a SAD.

    However, because she is thin and still very active I think it is harder for her to see the benefits of the primal way. I find this to be most common among people who are lean or athletic.

  7. I’d say you almost need to dual track a lot of the “primal” discussions.

    For people who need to lose weight (I don’t think 30 pounds overweight is at all healthy, but 10 pounds is pretty harmless)) and then for people who are looking for something more.

    The real value of “primal” is we as Americans have a really really bad food culture and a pretty bad workout culture. Food is a nightmare for a lot of people because we just don’t know any better. Any small improvements there are great. Personally I just think adopting European sized proportions would cure 75% of weight issues.

    Our exercise culture is too bound up with competitions and gyms. We just forgot the joy of moving around.

    I don’t agree with 90% of MDA suggestions because it doesn’t apply to me. I have no problems with grains, good weight (6ft 170), and walk 4 miles day. That all being said, gaining a better understanding of what we eat and how it makes us healthy is really powerful.

    1. I agree 100% that everyone could do much better with a little less on the plate. A small steak with salad followed by a cafe gourmand (an espresso with little sample desserts on the side) is really tasty and very filling. If you eat slow (take that hour for lunch) with good friends or colleagues, you really enjoy your meal and you walk out of the restaurant satiated and happy.

      1. You SO don’t get the point, Victoria! Bet you’re still hung up on CW, aren’t you, counting every single calorie you put in you mouth…

        If you’re Primal, why do you even WANT those “little desserts”? If they’re cheesecakes, for example, not only do they contain grains (in the biscuit base) but sugar, too! Oh but you’re thinking “they can’t be more than 100kcals each!” Yeah, so what…?! 100kcals is about an egg’s worth – and I know what I’d rather eat – most desserts are nutritionally devoid – an egg is the most nutritious foodstuff on Earth.

        Yep, you need to read the book (not a member of SparkPeople, perchance? That site makes me laugh it really does!) You need as large a steak and salad as you can manage – coffee’s okay, but NO DESSERT!!!

        1. Hi Sarah, Don’t know about the CW. Whose wisdom?

          I eat like the people around me and they all look pretty good and are very healthy (I live in France). The key, I think is that we enjoy our food and when we eat the “bad” stuff we eat a little bit (just enough to make us happy) and that’s enough.

          I read Mark’s book and really liked it. But doesn’t he say that striving for Primal perfection is not the point? My takeaway was shoot for small steps. Continuous improvement and eat a little better every day. I think he said 80% was a good target.

          I think of Mark’s work as guided discovery and not a religion. I’m not shooting for a state of grace. Just want to be as healthy and as happy as I can be. And I refuse to do penance for the occasional piece of chocolate or a strawberry tart.

    2. Hey Charlie, I was curious to if you’ve ever attempted to go grain free for 30days or so. This is because I didn’t have a “grain problem” either until I clean out my GI tract eating mostly soaked beans, meats and veggies for 60 days and then tried to eat pizza as a “cheat” and spent the wee hours of the night in the bathroom! My friend, also named Charles funny enough, just had the same experience last night after Chinese food. Sometimes removing it and then trying to add it back highlights that the sensitivity was there just unnoticed (??).

      1. Malika, I have had the exact same experience as you and your boyfriend! I never thought I had gluten sensitivity until I cut it completely out of my diet (along with all other grains) and then tried to cheat….it wasn’t pretty!! Quite miserable, actually. What drives me nuts is that people don’t believe me when I tell them…they look at me like I am making it up :-/

        1. Or, it could be that you selected against helpful bacteria… and now you don’t have them (hence, gas).

    3. Adopt smaller portions? Are you serious? Do you know anything about the primal lifestyle?

      I want the largest portions I can get. My DNA encodes a lazy overeating highly active hunter gatherer.

      You have totally missed the point if you think everyone should just “eat less”. Getting fat is not your body ‘doing the right thing’ and building a survival buffer. It is your body [email protected]#king up from food it is not evolved to eat, and the feedback mechanisms that regulate hunger and appetite going awry.

    4. I disagree with this; I believe that the ‘grainy’ issue applies to EVERYONE – it’s in our genes; we only domesticated grains 10,000 years ago, so how can we POSSIBLY be able to digest them?

      Charlie, you’re missing the whole evolutionary aspect here (which is, essentially, the whole point of Primalism) – eating grains is bad for EVERYBODY’S body – be they 6′ and 170lb or, like my mate, 5′ 6″ and 308lb.

      Have you not read the articles on grains…? There are NO EXCEPTIONS; grains are bad for us, period. You didn’t evolve differently from the rest of the folk on the planet, y’know…

      Oh you may THINK you don’t have problems, because you can’t see ’em (out of sight, out of mind and all that) but trust me, you have problems. You’re homo sapiens sapiens, you can’t not do – it’s an evolutionary impossibility.

      1. We all evolved a little different from each other. Each of us with some tiny difference that makes us react a little different sometimes. That is the base for evolution based on natural selection.

        1. It would make sense that some of us are more adapted to eat grains than other.
          Except that in 5 out of 6 people, intestinal macrophages will turn themselves into hunter-killer cells to destroy gluten proteins from grains whenever they see it. Considering that gluten is designed to trick your body to attack itself if it ever gets a chance to enter your bloodstream, this actually makes sense. That’s not even looking at the other anti-nutrients like lectins & phytates…

          Humans evolve for survival, but so do the plants we are killing.
          Grains and soybeans have a huge evolutionary advantage over us, since we only recently started eating them – there’s no way we can adapt that fast against organisms that are competing against our survival

      2. I disagree with this. What about the people of Holland and milk? Clearly genetics dictated that if you could not consume milk on a daily basis you died out. Evolution worked surprisingly fast.

        Paleo’s like to claim people can’t evolve in 10,000 years, or 500 generations, but what is the number we need? 1000 generations? 10,000?

        I feel like this area has not be sufficiently addressed. Maybe we can’t evolve enough to consume grain, but this begs the questions How far did we evolve in 500 generations consuming grain?

        1. The human race can and does evolve over timescales of less than 10000 years. Just google lactose tolerance or evolution of blue eyes.

          That said, a large number of people of Italo-Celtic ancestry have gluten problems, including celiac disease. Why this problem is getting worse is a good question. Celiac sprue leads to (meaningful) infertility in human females so it is VERY relevant from an evolutionary standpoint!

        2. I’d say it depends on the type of change. All humans are lactose tolerant at birth; but the genes for that can get turned off when you get older. Not turning them off is a pretty small change. Gluten tolerance is probably more complex than that, so it doesn’t happen as easily. Like fixing a typo compared to rewriting a paragraph.

  8. I enjoyed this article. It’s about the bigger picture. The whole lifestyle and most importantly it’s about what’s under the bonnet not just how great the paintwork looks.

  9. I ate wheat last night (pizza with quite a bit of crust) and have been paying the intestinal price, for me it’s not a weight problem now that I am burning calories like a madman, it’s a “feeling like crap” problem. Never had a problem with it when I was younger but in middle age eating like that just isn’t an option anymore, regardless of how much I weigh.

    If other people get good results from eating grains then God bless them but it doesn’t work for me.

  10. Not everyone who survives in a developing country stays thin. There are quite a few fat and poor people in Africa. Gary Taubes included a couple photos of them in Good Calories, Bad Calories.

    The amount of hatred lobbed at the obese in this country for, well, any reason at all really, is appalling. Near the top of the list of attitudes-about-the-fat that really suck is the notion that American obese are spoiled and overfed and not suffering from malnutrition. That’s a vicious lie. Unless people really believe suckin’ down a dozen cans of soda a day and overdoing the wheat and corn constitute good nutrition.

    Africans overdo it on the wheat and corn too. That would be why so many of them are dying. The poor in America have substandard medical care (sorry, Medicaid is *not* gold-plated care), when they qualify for it at all, to prop them up for a few decades longer.

    There’s a special place in hell for people taking on low-carb healthy diets who donate all their carbs to a food pantry when they’re making over their food supplies. Throw that crap away, it helps no one. Food pantries are always short on meat and healthy fats–donate those instead!

    1. ^5 Dana! Maybe that’s what we’ll do with our can food drives here… some good canned wild salmon, sardines and tuna word be wonderful… Has anyone found grassfed corned beef?

      1. Our local food pantry lets you inclose a “shopping list” with your monetary donation. On the list I can mark off that I want our donation spent on meat, poultry, eggs and canned tuna!

    2. “There’s a special place in hell for people taking on low-carb healthy diets who donate all their carbs to a food pantry when they’re making over their food supplies. Throw that crap away, it helps no one. Food pantries are always short on meat and healthy fats–donate those instead!”

      Being an avid PB-er AND volunteer in local soup kitchens, I think this is a an extreme view. Sure, that carby food might not be optimal for the poor (or anyone), but somehow I doubt the hungry really care as long as they have SOMETHING to eat. If you are struggling just to survive, you’re not worried about losing weight or balancing those lipids or what have you. And let’s be real, hardly anybody is going to buy $45/lb grass-fed beef just to give it away. Poverty and homelessness are sad, and I am not saying the poor and homeless don’t deserve the same things ‘normal’ people have, but if any of the shelters I have been to/worked at threw away their cheap or nutrition-devoid foods, well…they wouldn’t have much to feed anyone. IMO, it is akin to saying “Don’t donate your hand-me-down clothing to Goodwill. Go out, buy designer, and give that instead!” Hardly realistic, and a bit of a flippant “Let them eat cake!” attitude.

      (I hope you don’t take this as “ragging” on you Dana, as I always enjoy your thoughtful comments. I just had to comment on this because it is an issue that is dear to me. A Primal soup kitchen would be an awesome idea, but I do not see how it would work in a practical, real-life sense. As you said, soup kitchens aren’t run on prime meat and healthy fats. If you have those and want to give them, great, but please, still donate whatever you can/have. Throwing away food the homeless and hungry would gladly eat because we have the luxury of being a bit of “food snobs”….is, well…snobbish.)

    3. Yes, and if you’d read the book properly, you’d have seen he states they’re NOT FAT (as we know it) they’re MALNOURISHED!! There’s a HUGE difference!

  11. I will never forget my favorite science teacher’s pet phrase “a skinny rat is a healthy rat” (and i’ve had a few years to do the forgetting…)

    a broad generalization of course – but as Mark mentions “The Kitavans and the Okinawans thrive partly because they typically don’t overeat”.

    I believe the body goes into a distinctly different selective processing mode when caloric intake is higher-than-adequate for long periods of time – even if that is not manifesting in obesity. It clearly signals a “period of abundance” in our still-primitive’s genes and probably causes the body to get more selective about what it absorbs and does it based on different criteria than just survival –

    eat what you need and no more (provided it’s “the right stuff”…)

    1. I think the Okis and especially Kitavans are that way because their mothers who carried them and fed them never ate unnatural foods nor did they completely screw up their bodies like we do.

      Think about it: by the time the average westerners/North Americans are adults we’ve already by caveman standards seriously messed up our bodies.
      It is already known that formerly obese and T2 diabetics in remission can’t handle carbs as well as others and must remain low-carb. Well, the same could be said to everyone else, relative to hunter-gatherers…

      Also, based on my knowledge of biochemistry and nutrition, I seriously doubt the Kitavans would win any medals if they competed in Olympic games with other less carb-centric hunter-gatherers.

  12. I say what’s weight got to do with it? I’ve long since ceased to regard weight as a measure of health. here is some anecdotal evidence- my husband is one of those who doesn’t gain weight, in fact officially speaking he is serious underweight at 115lbs at 5ft 9in tall, and remains exactly the same no matter what he eats (never gains over the holidays despite copious mince pies etc). That doesn’t mean he is healthy. His mum is the same, naturally very thin, but now age 70 she has high BP, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

    1. My boyfriend is similar. He eats copius amounts of grains and pasta, and remains at 165lbs with a lean build,but he prefers to be around 145-155lbs and he’s 5ft 11in tall. (I’ve always hated that I weigh more than him; looking forward to changing that with PB). He’s always said when he was in the Navy it was very difficult for him to eat enough for his ferocious metabolism. It’s slowed a bit, as well as his activity level so he put on 10-15 lbs since I’ve known him. In HS he was a long distance runner and did a lot of cross country running. Indeed he has the typical skinny lean build of a runner. It’d be nice if he shared the same enthusiasm for eating PB as I do. It’d be hard for him to adopt it because he will not touch veggies (or anything green for that matter) or fruit and he’s very stubborn about it too.

      1. I should add that if I were to eat like he eats in the portions he eats, I would not doubt that I’d be 300lbs right now.

  13. You should add the “if carbs are so bad and make you fat, why aren’t all the people who live in Asia eating rice fat”.

    1. There is however an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in asian women, which I believe is being attributed to teh rice and noodles.

      As a side note, my wife is chinese and we hardly ever eat rice. I went to China for two weeks in October and none of teh Chinese I eat with ever had rice. They asked me, and American, if I wanted some rice. …. Most Chinese I know eat rice only with certain high salt or very spicy meals as a way to cut the salt and spice.

      As aside note I did see a lot of overweight Chinese in both Beijing and Harbin. Most of them could be seen drinking Coke/Sprite and eating at McDonalds of KFC which can be seen on just about evey street corner.

    2. Asians have a very long history of being much more physically active. Agriculture,for example, is heavily dependent on human and animal power. Not so in the west.

      Even the late Dr. Atkins said if you are an endurance athlete you need the carbs for energy and will use them to your advantage. Maybe it could be said that Asians are the endurance athletes of their cultures. Urban Asians who adopt a western style diet also get fat and unhealthy.

  14. Excellent post Mark! I hear questions like this asked ALL the time. I “know” the answer, but sometimes it’s hard to explain or convince someone who’s asking. Now I’ve got this post bookmarked so I can show them & they can see for themselves. Thanks!

    1. Same here Kevin!

      I actually really want to go back to school so I can get a nutrition degree and then I’ll have the letters (B. Nutrtion) to back me up.

        1. Some of it yes, some of it no. I was just talking to my friend who is close to achieving her masters in nutrition. She is now of the opinion that no one should eat soy.

          My nay-sayers only see me as an amateur, so my opinion is worthless. If I can still be a Grokette and have a nutrition degree? That’s what I’ll change minds.

      1. There’s a problem with that, Caitlin – the “nutrition” you’ll be taught will be CW BS (unless Mark wants to start his own Primal College of Health and Nutrition… Now THERE’S a thought…) Mark…? There’ll have to be a branch over here, too, though…

        1. To Aaron and Sarah:

          Some of it yes, some of it no. I was just talking to my friend who is close to achieving her masters in nutrition. She is now of the opinion that no one should eat soy.

          The thing is, all these students have the same access to all the articles Mark is talking about, and so will I. Why can’t I also try to change minds on the inside as well?

          My nay-sayers only see me as an amateur, so my opinion is worthless. If I can still be a Grokette and have a nutrition degree? That’s what I’ll change minds, hopefully!

  15. Thanks so much for this one Mark! Now I have something to say to all my nay-sayers. I will practice responding:
    “Leanness doesn’t mean healthy” and
    “I want to thrive, not just survive and get by”

    Alright! Every time you post an article, I get better at debating and hopefully more able to convert my nay-sayers into future Grok’s!

    (I realize that future Grok’s may be a bit of an oxymoron.)

  16. I’m one of these people!

    I eat like a football player, but i’m 5’6″ and 140lbs. I don’t gain a whole lot of weight, all of the males in my family are this way. But, the problematic foods bring other consequences: acne, depression, headaches, swelling, etc…

  17. My mother’s side of the family ate traditional Japanese/ Okinawa diet, especially my grandparents. My grandfather is now 98 and aside from cataracts, is still mentally/ physically in good health. His motto for health and diet is “always eat until you are almost full but not quite full”, and “don’t eat too much sweets but if you do just do it in moderation”. That’s a very Okinawan way of approaching meals. Of course he also drank green tea throughout the day as well.

    My grandfather ate lots of Japanese yams, rice, huge amounts of vegetable and fruits which he grew himself, and didn’t deny himself when it came to Japanese desserts like mochi with sweet adzuki bean filling. But then he also ate things like fatty cuts of pork, lard, eggs, and copious amounts of fish. He was also physically active, either playing on local baseball teams or daily walks/ calisthenics. He stopped playing baseball weekly when he was 60 and now only does calisthenics.

  18. Thanks for this post, Mark. I think the most important support to go Primal lies in what you proclaim as your job- to help us maximize our potential. EXACTLY!!! I don’t think people realize the potential they have to get healthy and feel good— or even great! I have a lot of friends who have lost massive amounts of weight on conventional diets filled with processed “health” bars and shakes (the ingredients would make you vomit). Yet these same people continue to complaint about being tired, their indigestion/constipation, arthritis, general pain, and a whole array of ailments. The potential that we have as humans does not lie on the scale, but rather how we feel. I know it’s easier said than done. I always thought I’d be tired, in pain, plagued by osteoporosis and female issues teetering on the “need” to have a hysterectomy. I was ready to accept that at age 32-wow, how sad. Thank God I found this site and a number of other intelligent leaders and supporters. I just wish fewer people would look at me like I’m crazy and more would just try it, regardless of their weight. On those days that I think “other people can eat anything they want, why can’t I?” I remind myself of how I used to feel, and then consider that they too are probably just hiding their pain as well as I did.

  19. More emphasis needs to be placed on calories within the ‘primal bluepring.’ This site seems to love promoting bacon as if it’s some healthy great food, when in fact it’s one of the easiest things to overeat on. Same goes for alot of high fat foods. They are high calorie and easy to overeat on. Consistent overeating will not allow a person to lose weight/body fat. That’s the bottom line.

    1. It’s hard to overeat meat. Nuts and fruit, yes, and there have been warnings on the site about that.

      1. I know people who have eaten 3500 calories from fruit every day for the past 5 years… and they seem fine…

        i’ve never met anyone who ate 3,500 calories from meat/ animal flesh every single day for even two years and survived to tell the tale…

        and if I ever do meet them… they will smell SO BADLY… I will have to cover my nose and sprint away from them ASAP!

      2. You’re trying to appeal your diet to the common man – who can’t afford grass fed meat, organic, etc…

        so… you tell them to buy trash meat at the store… for 50-99c a pound instead…
        each pound of this trash meat has absorbed all the fluoride in 50,000 gallons of drinking water. This trash meat has absorbed thousands of different pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals, like round up –
        so basically you’re asking people to make monsanto rich by doing your diet, correct? 99.9% of the animals grow in this country are fed at least 18 pounds of genetically modified corn + soy for each pound of flesh harvested…

        problems with your diet=
        -promotes monsanto
        -completely unsustainable for 15% of world population to do this diet
        -promotes genetically modified corn + soy production, which limits
        organic food production, gives monsanto more control over the food industry, limits biological crop diversity,
        makes us more susceptible to diseases inmore ways than I can count…

        The diet you support is the reason we need to chop down more of the rainforests… to raise more cattle… do you understand this?

        1. Jack you make absolutely no sense whatsoever, in a spambot sort of way.

          Still, it is kind of funny to hear you say that Mark wants us to eat non-organic meat…

    2. Sam, what evidence do you have that the people eating bacon are gaining weight?

      The principle is that when eating fats and proteins, with fewer carbs (by eliminating grains), the metabolic process shifts from predominately carb burning for energy, to lipid (fat) burning as the primary source.

      When this happens, and you have excessive fat stores, these fat stores are accessible (due to the reduced insulin response biochemically allowing the release of fats from the fat cells – which is impossible in the presence of elevated insulin levels).

      Due to the fact you have this energy available now and the primary metabolic process for energy is now from fats, your caloric intake is naturally reduced – you don’t feel as hungry, because you have enough energy available.

      Anyone that has followed the Primal Blueprint will attest to two things:

      1) their energy levels increase (for some after a lull as they shift from carb to fat burning)

      2) they are not as hungry – feel full on less food.

      When you eat bacon with bread or pancakes you elevate insulin which ensures the fats are stored, and also results in an eventual blood sugar drop, resulting in hunger at some point a few hours later.

      When you eat predominately fats and protein, and reduced carbs, you aren’t on the hunger cycle you would be on on the SAD.

      So it is true, if someone ate fats and proteins in excess of their caloric needs, they would gain weight, just as people that eat low fat, high carb, mod protein diets gain weight. However the point is when you eat predominately fats and proteins, your hunger is moderated, to the point where it is very hard to eat excess calories – and this is biochemically a fact, and evidenced by the experiences of people who follow thus approach.

      The only way bacon can be inherently fattening is if it is consumed within a diet that is relatively high in carbs, especially from grains (cause it’s hard to eat lots if carbs if you only eat vegetables and some fruit).

      Read Gary Taubes book(s) for an excellent outline of why the eating fats = getting fat hypothesis is inherently false.

      That information is on Mark’s Daily Apple (with references to the science), but you seem skeptical, so perhaps another source (that also fully references the science) will be more convincing.

      By the way – I studied biochemistry at university, and when I was in the pharmaceutical industry marketing a diabetes drug, confirmed this information (ie the role of insulin in storing fat, and shitting down lipid metabolism) with endocrinologists. I’m out of that industry now. The answer to the diabetes epidemic is not drugs it is diet – and specifically it is the elimination of the following from the diet (in order of priority):

      1) sugar and corn derived sweeteners
      2) trans fats
      3) all highly processed grains eg corn chips, White bread, pasta etc
      4) processed grains eg wholemeal bread
      5) unprocessed grains eg oats
      6) potatoes and other starchy foods that tend to be served with a lot of fat (if you eats fats with foods that illicit a major insulin response you will end up storing that fat and eating in excess)

      This would get blood sugar levels under control and for those not yet diabetic, prevent it ever occurring.

      I say not yet diabetic, because in the US and other developed countries, the % of people with diabetes increases with age. Essentially slants everyone ends up diabetic if they live long enough eating the Standard American Diet – it eventually catches up with you.

      Fats are not the enemy – sugar and carbs from grains are, because the cause the release of insulin which is a metabolic death sentence.

      Coming from the pharmaceutical industry I was a skeptic at first too – just keep reading about this stuff, here and from any other sources you can find. However the evidence is there, and the biochemical and metabic facts are what they are – insulin makes you fat (and any diabetic that has been put on insulin will testify to that)

      1. I agree with everything you said. However, all that doesn’t counter the fact it is still VERY easy to overeat on high fat foods such as bacon. I’m an elite level athlete and ‘gym rat’ and I still find myself overeating on high fat foods.

        I bring this up because the vast majority of people who are reading this site are ‘average joes’ looking for solutions to lose weight and likey have a literal addiction to food. They read these articles and condense it to “fat it okay, carbs are bad” and then go on their way overeating on a the new drug.

        Overeating is the real issue at hand in my opinion. People in this country are literally bombarded with ads and have literal physical and mental addictions to food. Thinking that cutting carbs and eating all the bacon you want is not the solution.

        1. A few years back I cut ALL my carbs, restricting intake to about 5-6 grams a day!

          I had a lot of bacon and eggs for breakfast everyday. I lost 14 pounds in 4 weeks. Sorry, but ketosis is a fact. You loose weight in bacon, but it wont turn you healthy 😉

        2. A) We all have an addiction to food. The alternative is death by starvation. It’s called anorexia.

          B) It’s next to impossible to overeat meat and fat. They satiate, and you stop wanting to eat.

          C) I smell a CW troll.

        3. To be fair, while Mark’s Daily Apple DOES make liberal use of bacon as an example of an appealing Primal food…it spends much more time discussing natural, whole foods, with a huge emphasis on vegetables (and, to a lesser degree, fruits).

          I agree that people in this country are addicted to food and overeating, but if all they take away from the website is “Eat lots of bacon,” well…they didn’t read much, or aren’t very smart. Neither is Mark’s fault, it’s that particular reader’s. As Luke in Oz wrote, it’s hard to eat say, 3,000 calories (or however much would be “too much” for any given individual) if you are truly eating primally. Don’t bash the message or messenger because some people didn’t really read the message.

          And all that comes from someone who eats the entire pound of bacon whenever I make it, and still managed to get cut with relatively minimal effort. 😉

        4. Carbs are the addiction! they are the cause of that insatiable hunger food addicts feel! Cut the carbs you kill the addiction!

        5. Once you adapt to burning fats/ketones, I think it could be theoretically possible to takei n too many calories. I also think it would be quite difficult, without the help of carbs, to do it consistently enough to override the body’s own overeating mechanisms. But it is possible, and that’s why I like to get a general idea of the calorie content of what I eat (actually, I mostly do that so I don’t accidentally starve myself)


          I actually am/was psychologically addicted to food, to relieve stress.
          Sorry, it doesn’t work that way unless the bacon is glazed with cake frosting.

          Nothing can beat the addictiveness of carbs. Once I went primal & dropped the carbs, the addiction disappeared.

          (Not to mention nothing can beat their effects on insulin resistance and fat storage as well as their effects on leptin resistance and weight dysregulation)

      2. “(if you eats fats with foods that illicit a major insulin response you will end up storing that fat and eating in excess)” This makes me think of Suzanne Somers and her “Somersize” diet plan which promotes eating proteins and fats SEPARATE from carbs (though veggies and protein/fat are okay) and avoiding foods that are a combination of the two, while eating fruit on its own as as separate snack or meal. My mom did very well on it for a short spell, but it’s one of those things that takes a lot of planning to do right and to me it is hard to sustain.

        1. We have a woman here in the UK who promotes exactly the same thing (Google Zoe Harcombe/The Harcombe Diet). She doesn’t eschew grains (on her ‘induction’ programme, you’re allowed 50g rice OR oats per day (150g if you’re veggie/vegan, though her approach is nigh on impossible to follow if you are vegan)..

          It’s just another approach, similar to the Hay Diet – and I agree, I couldn’t sustain it for very long, eiither.

          Zoe’s reasoning was that the reason we gain fat/weight is we have intolerances/disorders and, by eliminating the majority of carbs, we rebalance our systems (the 3 she points to are: – candidasis, hypoglycaemia and food intolerance). So, as Somers, you’re allowed to eat a jacket potato, provided you don’t have it with cheese (ratatouille’s fine) and you’re allowed that steak, provided you don’t have it with bearnaise sauce (she defined ‘fats’ as ‘anything which comes from something which had a face’).

          I tried it, couldn’t sustain it, so I bought Mark’s book instead – and here I am!

    3. Actually, I (and I’m sure many others will attest) that it’s quite difficult to overeat high fat foods. You get ill before you can consume too much… fat is very satiating. Which probably explains why most people spontaneously reduce caloric intake following a low carb diet. Now carbs/sugars on the other hand… those are very easy to consume too much of. Besides, it’s not all about calories. Read Taubes’ Good Calories Bad Calories.

      Another great post, Mark! Thanks!

      1. I’m not trying to be rude, but you aren’t lean and the bottom line IS calories. Any bodybuilder/person with an ELITE low-level of bodyfat will attest to this.

        1. The best thing about the Primal Blueprint is that you don’t have to be an “elite” anything/anybody to follow it and have success. It works really well for us average folks that need a plan we can live with, eating normal whole foods, and not spending hours in a gym. I don’t need to be “lean”. Slim and healthy are just fine!

        2. Have you ever thought that maybe the fact that you are an “elite level athlete” is what gives you the ability to “overeat” on fat? That either because you have more mass to fuel and you burn a lot of calories you eat more, or conversely, that your genetics allow you to eat much more than the average person which allows you to put on and maintain muscle mass that most people cannot?

          I think if you polled most people on this site you will find that the experiences that I and the others here have is a LOT more typical. Animal fat fills us up.

          For example, I am a pretty big, athletic guy. 6’3, 210. A typical breakfast for me would be 3 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, and a piece of fruit. That fills me up. According to FitDay, 1 strip of “thick” bacon, cooked, is 65 calories. That’s just about 200 calories.

          What other things are 200 calories? Two 100 calorie “snack packs” of junk carbs. One cake donut. One cup of rice. I GUARANTEE I am far more satiated on 1/4 lb. of bacon than a donut or a handful of chips. I think that, except for the particularly disordered and the particularly unique, the majority of people would find this to be the case. Macronutrient content trumps strict calorie counting.

        3. It looks like MDA is forming its own version of CW. Over-eating fatty, high-calorie foods like bacon is actually pretty easy in my experience. Like high-carb foods, high fat foods (especially processed junk like bacon) are like candy — you start and the next thing you know you’ve eaten 800 calories that you didn’t need.

          Don’t waste you time counting macronutrient grams. Just eat real food, not processed garbage.

        4. I’m really not trying to come across like a jerk. However, my whole point is to make sure people who are really wanting to take control of their lives and their bodies get the CORRECT information.

          Obviously I don’t believe consuming fat makes you fat. However, consuming too much of ANYTHING WILL and DOES make you fat. If you’re trying to say that you can eat all the calories you want as long as long as most don’t come from carbs, you’re dead wrong and going to be in a losing battle (as far as arguing the science and also in your own ability to lose and or gain weight).

          So with that being the case and calories being the bottom line, it’s important to let people who are struggling and looking for answers to understand. That’s all I’m trying to do here.

          Bacon is VERY easy to over eat. It’s not because I’m cut from a different cloth either, or have special bacon consuming genetics. The reason you only 3 pieces of bacon isn’t because you’re stuffed full, it’s because you’re a conscious eater. Be honest. You have developed a accurate awareness of food and it’s effect on you (I applaud you for this by the way).

          In other words, you eat til you’re comfortably full. People who struggle with their weight DO NOT eat til they’re comfortably full. Their concept of what full feels like, is completely screwed up.

          People who are looking for real answers could easily misinterpret alot of what is written on this site to mean “eat all the fat and bacon I want, just avoid the evil sugar and grains!” That simply isn’t true and anyone who has actually been successful in this area of their life will tell you that.

          I have been able to get my bodyfat very low through alot of work and endless nutritional scrutiny. I carry alot of muscle mass and therefore require waaaay more calories then the average person and I still have to be VERY careful with fat consumption as it’s extremely easy to over do-it and exceed my bodies calorie requirements.

        5. CW is “conventional wisdom.”

          For what it’s worth, I mostly agree with you. People in the US, with all the food and “food” available to them, are mostly pigs. Our gargantuan proportions, disgusting Frankenfoods, and rising obesity levels attest to that. Yes…calories do matter. Of course they do. Especially when you are trying to lose that last 10 lbs and get to what I guess you would refer to as an ‘elite’ level of low body fat.

          But…I think the point you miss is that A, most people doing the Primal Blueprint do not have that goal, which is Mark does not emphasize calorie-counting and B, eating high-fat and low-carb really DOES fill a lot of people up to the point they don’t overeat. The idea isn’t to train people into muscular, ripped workout machines – it’s to give them the best ‘natural’ body for them.

          I will admit, being a former gymnast and dancer, I pay a lot of attention to how I look, how I feel, what I eat, and how they correlate. So I am one of those people you refer to as being a conscious eater, and I understand meeting high athletic and training goals and the extra work involved. But, I will say, I am GENUINELY more satiated at a LOWER daily caloric intake on high-fat, low-carb than I ever was eating a “balanced” diet of lean meats, veggies and whole grains. I am not even a “typical” PB’er (is there a typical one?) in that I DO still eat grains and starches sometimes, when I need to (e.g. when I decide to train for awhile, take a couple dance classes in an afternoon, etc), but still far less than I used to. I eat only the carbs I need, and don’t mindlessly shovel them down because they’re available and “everybody knows carbs are good for you.”

          You say people looking for “real answers” could “easily misinterpret” the information here because of the mention of bacon. That seems to suggest the problem isn’t really the information here, per se, but rather how you feel it is worded obscurely and people might misunderstand. I could say similar things about any nutrition/fitness blog or book I’ve ever read. Whatever the theory or program is, it cannot be condensed down into 5 easy soundbites. Those people looking for quick solutions will invariably fail, regardless of the program they choose. You can harp on bacon all you want, but it’s not the bacon’s fault, or Mark’s fault, or even your fault for the few clients who inevitably do not succeed – it is their fault, for not educating themselves enough, or not following a training program closely enough. Nobody can do that for someone. At some point, it’s about personal responsibility, not harping because Mark SOMETIMES talks about bacon, and always in the context of the multiple other eating patterns of the PB. I have never seen him say “eat all the bacon you want, as long as you don’t eat carbs,” so I’m not sure how anyone could come away with that unless it’s what they wanted to hear in the first place.

        6. I also meant to add that people who are severely obese or overweight did not get there eating only bacon, meat and natural vegetables, they did it with crappy refined carbs and junk food. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, I would say for 99% of those people that they would lose weight, without counting calories, by simply substituting those junky carbs for real, whole foods. Until, of course, they reached a point counting calories is necessary. Sadly, most get so intimidated with immediately being confronted with food logs, tortuous workout regimes and what regard as a fairly foreign diet that they quit. The PB seems to be designed to ease people through that transition more naturally, with food substitutions and little other thought other than “make sure you get outdoors sometimes, move around, and lift crap occasionally.” Seems eminently more doable for most people than most fitness/nutrition regimes I’ve come across. (And believe me, I’ve wasted so much time on so many of them throughout the years. Maybe not WASTED, but certainly spent sub-optimally.)

        7. I’m not trying to be rude, but you aren’t lean
          No, you’re not TRYING to be rude, you ARE being rude!

          How do you know I’m not lean – have you ever met me…?!

          and the bottom line IS calories. Any bodybuilder/person with an ELITE low-level of bodyfat will attest to this.

          REALLY…?! Let me introduce you to Martin Berkhan and his clients (www.leangains.com) you can argue that with him. See that photo? He’s 5% there. Regularly stuffs his face with cheesecake he does.

          What most bodybuilders know, as Martin will tell you, is bull. Now do go and disembowel yourself with a rusty screwdriver, you CW troll! Don’t let the door smack you on the arse on the way down!

        8. I wasn’t referring to you when I said you weren’t lean. I was referring to another person that claimed calorie restriction isn’t the bottom line for weight loss. I checked out her website and that’s how I know she’s not lean (pictures). I don’t know you, and don’t know if you have results or not.

          Trust me, I get it. I don’t know everything and would never claim to, but I’ve studied nutrition for years and applied it on myself. I’m not the one posting anonymously. I’m more than willing to show you RESULTS, instead of talk theory.

          I actually LOVE MDA. However, my only complaint is calories aren’t talked about enough. You can overeat and not see RESULTS from a low carb diet. How do I know? EXPERIENCE.

          You’ve definitely bought into the mob/cult mindset that MDA somehow has created. Way to name call. Classy.

          Let me reiterate my only point: you can overeat on fats and therefore exceed your daily caloric requirements and therefore not see results.

          In fact, over eating is the REAL issue for weight gain. Obviously, some foods promote overeating for alot of people sugars, grains, BACON.

          ps. If you actually read Martin’s articles you’ll find that the number 1 thing he preaches is calories. In fact, that’s the reason intermittent fasting is so effective. It allows you to have a system for CONSUMING LESS. He doesn’t even necessarily advocate a low carb diet (although he’s not against it either).

          pps. I’ve learned a ton from Martin and Sisson and I’m grateful for them.

        9. Dear Mr. Elite. This is a funny statement and one that I’ve witnessed again and again. People who are genetically adapted to being very lean are the ones who profess the most to “KNOW” how to be thin…and of course think everyone is the same as they are. It’s the equivalent of having a full head of hair and telling bald men you KNOW how to have hair.

          I can lose weight eating 2200 calories, or be stalled working with a trainer and eating 1000…it all depends on what’s happening with HORMONES. People with weight problems who work with physical trainers usually end up miserable because it’s NOT ABOUT CALORIES — IT’S ABOUT HORMONES.

          I suggest you read up on Gary Taubes “Why we get fat” — it’s much shorter than Good Calories Bad Calories. You should be able to fit it in between weight lifting sessions…

        10. Oh really?

          Why don’t you go ahead and check these out (make sure to zoom in):


          Wow. I’m definitely ‘genetically skinny.’ Except I’m not….This is when I was doing it wrong. I thought there was a substitute for the cold hard bottom line: overcoming OVEREATING (doesn’t matter if it’s fat, protein, or carbs).



          Macronutrient composition MATTERS. But the bottom line is calories.

        11. ” Any bodybuilder/person with an ELITE low-level of bodyfat will attest to this.”

          You’ve got to be joking me… those guys figured it out before everyone else did

        12. Your comment was rude. I don’t need to be lean to tell you that I get quite ill if I eat too much fat. (Keep swallowing big spoonfuls of coconut oil and see if you feel nauseated.) Nor do I need to be lean to know that calories are not the whole picture. I’ve lost and regained and re-lost weight and probably have more experience dieting than you – and counting calories. I dieted on and off for years. I kept track of my calories in fit day for years before I finally cured myself of that obsession. I never said that calories don’t matter, just that it’s not the whole story.

          I also never said low carb is the best way to go. I eat carbs, but my point was that I and many others find it’s much easier to overeat carbs than it is to overeat fats.

          I think part of the point is that one should be able to achieve a healthy, normal weight without monitoring calories on a day to day basis. Not everyone’s goal is to become lean. I used to be interested in that, and I used to be quite thin (125 lbs at 5’6″), having lost a lot of weight on a bodybuilding style diet (there are also pictures of my thin self on my blog in earlier entries). But I didn’t find that way of eating sustainable. I was constantly hungry… for years.

          I’ve been eating paleo style for about four months now and I’ve lost about ten pounds. And that’s eating as much bacon, butter, coconut oil/milk, eggs, steak, bone marrow, as I want. Will I lose more? Probably, but it’s not my focus anymore. After having cancer… and a baby… I’m more interested in being healthy and energetic and not walking around hungry and thinking about my next mini-meal and how many calories I’ve had today. There’s a better way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and it’s called eating nourishing foods, including fats, to satiation and avoiding foods that increase appetite (like carbs and super stimulating processed foods).

    4. Sam – you REALLY don’t get this, do you…?! Have you even bought the book (never mind READ it)…?!

      Methinks you’re confusing “high fat” with “high carb”.

      Let me give you an example: there are 1,875kcals in a pat of British butter (a pat being 250g or around 10oz).

      There are the same number of calories in 6 Buds, 1 standard bag of Doritos, 2 jars Doritos Hot & Spicy and 200g Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.

      Which would you be able to eat in one go…? I rest my case.

      Now, would you like to run the “eat fat get fat” and “counting calories is the only way to lose weight” argument past me again…?

    5. The “bottom line” is that being overweight/obese is symptomatic of hormonal dysregulation, NOT how much you eat, but how what you eat affects your hormones.

      Einstein once stated that “one should make things as simple as possible, BUT NOT SIMPLER” (my emphasis added). The “calories in vs. calories out” pardigm for body fat is WAY too simple.

  20. Hey Mark, and what about boozing it up (which I do just about every day) and actually cut my adverse liver enzymes in half in the process.


    Indeed: choices, choices. Perhaps a Real Food, primal diet is even more powerful than adverse effects from alcohol. Good thing I like my scotch far better than sugar.

    Get a craving for chocolate or a Twinkie, reach for the McCallan’s. That’s what i always say. 🙂

    1. Those are impressive blood lipid values Richard.


      Just curious. Were those taken after a normal 12-hour fasting period or after a longer IF period?

  21. excellent points Mark, I was that “Brother”, I used to believe that as long as I worked out consistently every day, it didn’t matter what I ate, and it worked, until I turned 40, that is why I have educated myself on matters of health and not just fitness and now feel better then ever.

  22. Mark I’m new to the DA and I agree with what you say, but I am having a difficult time giving up the grains. I really enjoy eating them, I miss them and crave them. Any advice?

    1. Once I’d read Taubes, then Blueprint, I realised what grains/sugar were doing to my body so I told myself they are poison to me. Once I got that in my head I’ve never been tempted again. For me becoming free of bipolar is a huge incentive to stay ‘on the wagon’.

        1. Yes. And I’m beginning to uncover the science behind why this unexpected (and very welcome) consequence came about once I switched to a PB diet.

          Cutting edge science is looking at the insulin IG pathway and how inter-connected it is with all the other hormonal pathways we depend upon. Over-stimulated insulin response has effects on up and down regulating other hormones such as dopamine and seratonin to name but a few, both afore-mentioned are highly correlated in mood disorders.

          I think it’s fair to say the science is just beginning to reveal just how little we truly understand about the affect of pushing our genotype through nutrition that we are simply NOT evolved for.

          My money’s on mal-nutrition (over-used insulin pathway and ‘foods’ causing inflammation and disordered gut function) being the root cause of just about every modern disease from the obvious metabolic ones through cancers, automimmune diseases and many nuerologically-based ones too.

    2. Tamara, it took me 4 months to entirely give up the grains. That’s how long I kept craving them. Then one week I ate a brownie that tasted overly sweet and like chemicals to me. I felt like I needed a nap in a really bad way after eating it and that’s when I never looked back. You might try what I did, which was to only allow them for one meal a week. But, once I stopped them entirely, my cravings for grains went away. And so did my constant hunger.

      1. Thanks for the info Kelda. That is what is happening to me right now. If I eat something carby I become very tired and sluggish.

      2. Thanks for the advice. I know I need to make choices and stick to it.

    3. It’s called the low-carb flu. I recommend you join the MDA forums, and search for it. It’s a temporary thing and you will get past it – IF you are serious about cutting out the carbs and grains. But you have to cut them out completely for a while so your body gets the point: we’re running on fat now, not on sugar anymore.

    4. Tamara,

      You’re experiencing the “carb flu”. Search this site for “low carb flu” and join the forum – plenty of excellent advice there.

      Of COURSE you’re craving them! You were an addict – now you’ve stopped and your body’s searching for that next fix.

      It passes. It may take a fortnight or so, but it passes… Trust me on this…

      1. I know I have to just keep doing it, especially since my body doesn’t need it with all the extra fruit and veggies that I’m eating.

  23. The simple reason a lot of people seem like they can eat anything they want and never gain is because the observer either a) doesn’t realize that the person’s diet is a healthy one or b) doesn’t realize how much he is actually eating compared to the observed person.

    A personal example: I had this gripe about my lean husband for years, till I learned that lowfat, high-whole-grain diets make you crave grains & sugar night and day. I learned that the higher fat, naturally low in grains diet he naturally gravitated to meant that he never craved grains or sugar, never cared to eat more than his fill, never ate a huge quantity of anything (like half a box of cookies). It *seemed* to me like his steak, butter, eggs, & sausage should make him fat, but that was b/c I didn’t know his diet was far more likely to make a person lean than mine.

    And that leads to b). I would go into the pantry and down huge quantities of sweets, which he would NEVER EVER do with anything, whether sweets or steak. So I was really eating much more than he, and certainly far more carbs, which are the real culprit in fat.

    I think Mark’s point about the 30BAD type folks being okay *for now* is an excellent one, b/c I, too, stayed thin for many years on my crappy lowfat high-grain diet until it caught up to me. Then I moaned and groaned about it until I learned how to change my diet, which is where the a) & b) above come in. Those like my husband are just naturally inclined to eat fat & protein, and are not drawn to overindulgence in carbs. Are they carb types, who can tolerate a moderate amount (whereas I, a protein type, suffer from carb addiction with even moderate amounts of grain and/or sugar)? Is it ancestral (possibly – he has Italian heritage)? Is it blood type (doubtful – he’s type O & I’m A+)?

    All I know is a lot of those lucky skinny folks aren’t eating nearly as much as we think they are and are just naturally drawn to the primal diet that many of us had to research for years to find.

  24. Clarence is one hell of a positive role model and has inspired thousands to attain better health.

    Note, however, that he has had hip replacement and prostate surgery. Just bad luck, or something else?

  25. Thanks for this post, Mark. I really appreciate how passionate you are about Primal living, yet you work with real life, with its imperfections and inconsistencies. Some “diet” websites are like religions, and I find myself reading them, feeling alternately convinced and scared, and then having to sort out fact, fiction, and religion afterward.

  26. So nice to hear you are a year younger than me.
    I became 59( almost 60!) yesterday. God bless you Mark for your work. I have always been a primalist and even got through to my Pa about the evils of sugar having read Yudkins @pure white and [email protected] in te early 70″s.
    I will stop now but you are 100% right.
    If any fellow Paleo wish to go on my third 200 mile Cambrian Migration this May email on [email protected]

  27. All but one of my grandparents died of different sorts of cancer in their 60s and my mother died of a severe, arrhythmia/tachycardia heart decease in her 40s. My dad is obese, manly through a thyroid anomaly which makes his body store pretty much any energy he eats. Then there is his intermittently lack of self-discipline.

    My mothers dad, my granddad is however 76 years old and in really good shape. He’s one of those that can eat pretty much anything and he also lives a very active life for his age, always busy going long walks, meeting friends, plays in a jazz band, taking care of his own big house, garden, sweeping snow, (he has a girlfriend!) very active.

    I am the one of those that gain, fast, when eating more. If I work out a lot I grow muscles like the hulk. If I’m inactive it gets to the waist (Exactly like my dad used to be in he’s youth). Our genome was probably meant for a active life doing heavy work, not for the office…

    Given my family’s history you can understand I’m worried for my health. On the verge of being slightly overweight, I’ve been searching for the most logical and natural way of eating and living. I found the primal way most interesting. It gives answers to all the contradictions an non-logic of established carb-paradigm.

    After 10 days on primal, I’ve lost 4 pounds. I eat meat and fish like a cave man and veggies like a gorilla. I don’t feel hungry and I don’t get tired during the day. Protein, nutrients and ketosis. Thank you!

  28. The issue seems to be one of balance. Okinawans (and other Asian groups) can eat a high starch diet (rice) without ill effects as long as it is balanced with restricted calories and physical activity. It is the sum total of what you do that makes the difference.

  29. Another thing to consider is that people who eat anything they want (the SAD, and even “all” fruit or grain) without gaining weight on the “outside” will most likely end up having a fatty liver, whether or not it is bad enough to diagnose as NAFLD – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

  30. The stuff about burning more fat when you eat less carbs or reducing insulin is just nonsense, the evidence is there that insulin is more complex than that and that increased lipolysis doesn’t mean increase fat burning.

    The idea that since eating less carbs means burning more fat and therefore burning more body fat doesn’t make any sense. If your body is burning more fat because there’s less carbs to burn, it is mostly burning dietary fat since the lack of carbs makes fat more predominant in the diet.

    Insulin has absolutely no role in weight gain or weight loss as no hormone can create fat out of nothing.

    Weight loss and weight gain is only about energy balance and the people who seem to eat a lot but are thin simply skip meal, eat less when we don’t see them, have a more active lifestyle even if it’s not apparent, are taller and bigger than us, are more nervous and are restless even if they don’t exericise.

    Of course this doesn’t mean they’re healthy. But food quality, blood glucose, macronutrients, toxins, intolerances, vitamins and so on are relevant only as far as health as concerned, as far as weight loss/gain is concerned they have no role at all.

    1. I have a genetic predisposition to diabetes so learning about insulin is very important to me. I’m 46 and starting a healthy program of diet and exercise. People think I’m healthy because I’m thin and ride my bike and can eat lots of food. However, I’m malnourished from lack of adequate amounts of protein and weight training exercise. I’ve shifted my diet to improve the quality of food, the quantity of food, and to support my exercise program. Everything comes into play for me. To be a healthy person, I have to consume enormous amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs to the point where my jealous, overweight friends are finally starting to get that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. I believe that people who gain weight eating less food have a much more efficient body than me. Like a car that runs on less fuel and gets more miles. Everybody wants to be a Mazurati, but they are expensive to maintain in both time and money. So be grateful if you are a Honda Civic. More fuel efficient, and maintenance, parts, and labor are a lot less expensive. LOL.

    2. Stephan (ignorantly) says: “Insulin has absolutely no role in weight gain or weight loss as no hormone can create fat out of nothing.”

      Not even the worst of the supporters of SAD and FDA food pyramids would make this claim.

      So it’s just a coincidence that Type I diabetics get thin, Stephan?

      1. Normal levels of insulin have not role in weight gain or weight loss. If you check the studies you will see that even zero-carbers have absolutely normal levels of insulin, not much different than those of SAD eaters or high-carb eaters.

        Type 1 diabetics lack insulin.
        Just because insulin is needed to transport nutrients to the cells (including fat to the cells) it doesn’t mean that it is responsible for how much fat is transported into the cell.
        Lacking the hormone that transports nutrients to the cells indeed means wasting away but this has nothing to do with the fact that insulin doesn’t determine the amount of fat sent to adipocites.

        That would be like blaming the postman for the junk mail you get. He just deliver them. And while the absence of the postman would indeed results in an absence of junk mails as well it doesn’t mean that the postman was the one determining whether you get junk mail or not.

        If you check studies on isocaloric controlled diets you will see that higher levels of circulating insulin made no difference in fat gainer vs fat lost. And paleo-eaters don’t have super low levels of insulin, they have very average levels of insulin.

      2. I completely agree. Insulin matters, anyone diabetic can attest to that.

        Energy intake and body mass can not be calculated the same way during kitosis.

        I ate more calories on Atkins diet, A LOT OF FAT, A LOT OF PROTEIN. Around 3000 calories/day. I LOST 25 pounds in 30 days.

        Then I got to a certain limit when I didn’t loose much. I got slim and not lean, like 14% body fat. Somewhere on the weight/intake curve I gained stability and started to eat carbs again.

        ENERGY INTAKE always matters (I stopped loosing weight, didn’t I), but not in the same way during kitosis. Stephan’s argument is probably based on science during different criterias and research environment.

      3. Stephan’s a troll (either that or EXTREMELY ignorant of basic human physiology). There’s no other explanation for it.

        I have PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). One of its characteristics/symptoms is insulin insensitivity. I know that, if I eat a high-carb diet, I can easily get very fat indeed; if I eat a high-fat, low-carb diet, I stay lean (well, lean-ish).

    3. ‘scuse me whilst I get a cloth to wipe the coffee off my monitor!

      Say, you don’t subscribe to 30BAD, do ya…?!

      The idea that since eating less carbs means burning more fat and therefore burning more body fat doesn’t make any sense.

      Why? If you’re not burning carbs for energy, then you gotta burn something – or you’ll die, y’know…?!

      If your body is burning more fat because there’s less carbs to burn, it is mostly burning dietary fat since the lack of carbs makes fat more predominant in the diet.

      You REALLY don’t have the first clue about human physiology, do you…?! I’d quit whilst you’re behind, bro, I really would!

      If that was the case, how do bodybuilders lose fat on ketogenic diets? (of course I’m assuming that you actually understand what a ketogenic diet is – BIG assumption in your case…!)

      Insulin has absolutely no role in weight gain or weight loss as no hormone can create fat out of nothing.

      This shows you haven’t the first clue about basic human physiology! The role of insulin is to convert excess glucose to fat. That’s its JOB!!

      I’m not going to waste any more time on you – you’re obviously here to troll, nothing more…

  31. Great post! of course we have all wondered this. I was watching listening to a Gary Taubes video and he talked about how in populations eating the same poor diet (high in carbs) there will be many obese but at the same time some under weight individuals.
    Also sometimes people can eat a certain way for a while but later on it catches up with them and maybe not in the form of obesity but some other health problem

  32. Clarence Bass reported in 1998:

    “EBCT [electron beam computed tomography] detected enough calcium in my left anterior descending (LAD) artery to warrant a thallium stress test to determine if there is any narrowing or damage to the heart.”


    A follow up found a 20% blockage of the coronary artery with calcification. Art DeVany has similar age but I believe no calcification.

    Bass works hard to counter the effects of his diet. If he didn’t eat neolithic foods he wouldn’t have to work so hard.

  33. Having evolved in a period of extreme environmental variability and climate change, our species is well adapted for surviving a variety of diets and lifestyles. However this evolutionary advantage for our adaptability supposedly comes with a price, a price that manifests itself later in life through the process of aging.

    Michael Rose has an interesting hypothesis on antagonistic pleiotropy, how our genetic adaptability is correlated to aging. It may explain why we are able to maintain relatively good health with a less than optimal diet and lifestyle when we are young and then later in life, we find that what we did as youngsters has become obviously detrimental to our genetic expression and health. In other words, in youth we are able to reap the benefits of a neolithic diet and lifestyle to help us procreate, but as we move into middle and old age beyond procreation, our genes lose that adaptability that we had as youths. Hence, as we age, we need to revert further and further back towards our ancestral evolutionary lifestyle to compensate for the loss of our genetic adaptability. I can no longer tolerate alcohol the way I did 30 years ago, same goes for carbs and more recently dairy.

    But sure, we’re all different to some degree and yet maintain the self-similarity of our genome so that some can smoke cigars well into their 90’s without any adverse effects while others die in their 50’s doing the same things.

  34. Mark

    The potato was to pre-Famine Ireland what the yam is to to-day’s Kitava – comprising about 68% of average daily nutrition.

    Where Kitava has fish supplying their protein and coconut supplying fats, the Irish cottier class kept hens, a pig or cow, and thus consumed milk, eggs, and cured pig, as well as rabbit, fish, eels as opportunity offered. In general, there was sufficient protein to produce “sturdy and handsome labourers”.

    While it is clear that an ALL-potato diet is deficient in protein; potato as a starch source, with sufficient protein and fat, an apple-a-day and cabbage is an adequate diet.


    PS I usually eat MY spuds with KerryGold, parsley and scallions!

  35. “Don’t confuse leanness with good health” – I love this!! An example is eating disorders – an anorexic is not at all fat, but healthy? Heart murmurs, organ failure, digestive problems, etc. etc. Definitely not healthy.

    I prefer to eat the most nutrient-rich food possible, which to me generally means lots of colors on my plate, thereby guaranteeing that I’m doing my part in helping my genes express themselves in the healthiest way possible. Thank you, Primal Blueprint!!

    1. In a way an anorexic is actually fat.
      She/he has wasted more muscles than fat (the emaciated look is due to lack of muscles not lack of fat) and because of this their body composition is mostly fat regardless of how little their weigh.

  36. I’ve always been very thin and could eat whatever I wanted and not gain any weight. Then I found out I was prediabetic and on the road to IBS. I went primal over a year ago and feel amazing.

    1. I agree with you about feeling great eating paleo style. I used to eat a low carb bread for a couple of years. However it seems that eating grains of any kind made me crave. I would go crazy on bread and cake samples in grocery stores. Now that i have dropped grains altogether the craving is gone.

  37. “But let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health” — wow, great idea’s Mark.

  38. I think how you grow up is huge.
    Especially your experiences from ages 4 through around 11.

    We grew up near the river where we swam and swam and swam, then ice skated in the winter.
    Baseball, basketball, football.
    Apple battle, tomato battle, snow ball battle.
    Hiking, running, romping, sparring, hunting, fishing, climbing trees and on and on.

    We ate wild game, garden grown fresh and home canned food and local farm eggs, milk and cheese.
    Nuts and berries abounded. Still do.
    We cleaned up our plates because it was required.

    Because we exerted ourselves and did it in an environment of absolute beauty and richness, we slept well because we were tired and ate well because we were hungry. Dreamed well because we were well.

    I too am 57 and I have no prescriptions, no ailments, my appendix, tonsils and everything else are still mine.
    I don’t remember any of my running buddies having problems either.

    We were all sticks except for the one fat kid and he really did have gland problems.

    Four to eleven. Get after it and you’ll do fine!

    Thanks for listening.

  39. The key is finding what works for you. Do I believe that Paleo/Primal will be best for the widest range of people? Yes. Just because someone looks lean doesn`t mean they are optimizing their potential. Even within the Paleo/Primal realm, there are certainly individual variations. People who are already lean can usually tolerate a higher carbohydrate load, while those with a possible auto-immune disease will have to weed out what other trigger foods may hurt them (nightshades, eggs, etc.) The best thing to do is to start fresh, eat real foods, and see how you do. It may take some time to develop an awareness to how your body reacts to different foods, but you`ll get there and be better off for it. The best judge of your own health is YOU!

  40. Nailed it, Mark. Leanness and health are so often confused – how often do you hear someone say something like, “Well, if you exercise enough you can eat whatever you want,” meaning that a massive energy output will usually result in a lean body? Body composition is a great indicator, but far from the only measure of health. PB attracted me in the first place because even though I was thin, something just felt “off” in my body.

  41. Mark says, “based on what we know about evolution and epigenetics” and Uncephalized
    says, “if they applied good science and rational evolutionary principles.” Etc.

    I love the website, the diet, the information here about exercising, nutrition, etc. But there seems to be an obsession with evolution on this website. The fact is evolution has never happened, and as Dr. David Menton, Associate Professor Emeritus in Anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine says, “If evolution were thrown out of consideration, it would have no negative impact in medicine—it plays no necessary role in either the teaching or practice of medicine.”

    That statement also applies to diet, nutrition, and exercise. Is there some reason so many here bring up an irrelevant issue? Why not just stick to the facts and what works?

    1. The fact is you don’t know what your talking about. The whole website is based on evolutionary principles.

    2. My apologies to you Mr. Spock if I misinterpreted your post. To me, it sounded as though you were trying to say that genetics and/or evolution are not based on fact.

      If indeed that was the intent of your message, I am compelled to note that you are ignorantly mistaken.

      Primal in “Primal Blueprint” refers to our human evolution while the blueprint in “Primal Blueprint” refers to our genetic encoding.

      Some folks are ignorant about evolution and/or genetics because they do not have a sufficient knowledge background in science to understand the facts pertaining to these subjects. There is nothing wrong with that, as not everyone is a scientist. But for someone to say or imply that evolution and/or genetics are not based on fact because of their own religious “beliefs” is not only ignorant, but also wrong.

      I do have an open mind to the power of belief and recent studies are beginning to link this power of mind and belief to our human genetic expression. However, belief is not a substitute for fact.

      Best wishes.

      1. Asturian: “The fact is you don’t know what your talking about. The whole website is based on evolutionary principles.”

        Really? So if I give you 5 pages I pick at random you can tell me how each of those pages is based on “evolutionary principles?”

        “To me, it sounded as though you were trying to say that genetics and/or evolution are not based on fact… for someone to say or imply that evolution and/or genetics are not based on fact because of their own religious “beliefs” is not only ignorant, but also wrong.”

        Well, since I said nothing about genetics and nothing about religion, I can see why you would so easily fall for the fairy tale of evolution. Apparently it doesn’t take much for you to see things that aren’t there. Where is the logic in that?

        “I am compelled to note that you are ignorantly mistaken.”

        Compelled, eh? Oh, the drama.

        “Some folks are ignorant about evolution and/or genetics because they do not have a sufficient knowledge background in science to understand the facts pertaining to these subjects.”

        The “facts” of evolution is that there aren’t any. I recently read an article about a Dr. Terry Mortenson, who stated something about the “facts” of evolution that I thought was worth saving: “Science has not found a living cell spontaneously evolving into existence by chance from non-living matter, as evolutionists claim has happened 3.5 billion years ago. Science has not found transitional forms between different kinds of plants and animals, either living or in the fossil record, to support evolutionist claims that all life is descended from a common ancestor—the first living cell. And science has not found millions of years of time in the rocks or a gas cloud collapsing to form a star. None of those things has ever been observed by any scientist, so they are not findings of science.”

        1. Ummm. Errr. Uhhhh. Ok. Good luck with that.

          I’ve heard that ignorance can be bliss.

        2. Oh. And not worry. I don’t mind taking back my apology.

          Happy Creations!

    3. This site’s been around what – 3 years? – and only NOW are the creationists crawling out the woodwork…?!

      What’s taken you so long…?!

      1. Asturian has “heard that ignorance can be bliss.” Based on his reply, he must be one of the most blissful people I know.

        First he attacks me personally. He was “compelled” to tell me that I am ignorant, mistaken, ignorant again, I don’t have a sufficient knowledge background in science, am unable to understand facts, ignorant again, and not only that, I am also wrong.

        Five times he used the word fact. And then, when I challenged his religion of evolution, and asked about these “facts,” he ran away. Typical of these blissful people. I also noticed that there was no reply link after he ran for the tall grass (which is why I’m replying here). Not sure if that’s a coincidence or not, but if he removed it, that also would indicate cowardice. Pretty funny that someone with so many facts would run away like that.

        1. First of all, I have no control over the reply link(s). The blog software seems only to allow for 3 levels of replies and then the reply button disappears. Bitch to Mark about it, I can’t help you with that.

          Second, FACT 6: YOU ARE A CREATIONIST! And I can’t help you with that problem either. Your creationist professor of systemic theology has no credibility in anthropology, evolution, or genetics, and though he may claim to specialize in historical geology, I’m quite certain his knowledge in that subject is found terribly lacking.

          Finally, as long as you are counting, FACT number seven: I think you are an idiot rather than just ignorant or wrong. And I don’t have much patience for people with your problems. I’m sorry, but you are just too far gone to be saved by science. Give it up and go back to your faith-based reality and make-believe facts.


      1. Asturian: “Your creationist professor of systemic theology…”

        First, I have no professor. Second, I assume you meant systematic theology. For one who claims to be so bright, you really aren’t, and as I mentioned before, see a lot of things that just aren’t there.

        “I’m sorry, but you are just too far gone to be saved by science.”

        Science can’t save anyone. But I think that is one of the mantras of your religion of evolutionism. Just like calling names when you don’t have an intelligent answer.

        It’s really funny how much emphasis there is on evolution here, and when asked, no one (including Mr. Sisson) could provide a shred of evidence for how “evolutionary principles” affected diet and nutrition, let alone evidence of evolution itself. When shown how bankrupt that religion is, the intellectually and morally bankrupt adherents of that fairy tale resort to name calling. Pretty telling, isn’t it? You are free to have the last say, if you wish, as I don’t plan on posting on this subject again.

  42. Wow. I’m just starting a long weight loss journey, and this post is really hitting me where I don’t yet want to be hit! Thanks for that. Lots to ponder.

  43. Great article. I’m reminded that as we age, I’m now 52, we definetly can’t eat as much as we want without putting on weight. I have always put weight on easily, however some of my friends from school, were really skinny into their early 40’s and could not put weight on however much they ate, now these same friends have ever growing waistlines which increase every year. And they keep complaining that despite gong to the gym and eating pasta (healthy lifestyle to them) they are still piling on the pounds.

  44. speaking of gerd, mine got much worse when i tried paleo for 6 months, now i got back to eating pasta and biscuits and i feel just fine.

    1. speaking of gerd, mine got much worse when i tried paleo for 6 months, now i got back to eating pasta and biscuits and i feel just fine.

      Why are my ‘trolly’ senses tingling…?

      1. Well it’s true! Same thing happened to me. Sorry some people’s stomachs cannot handle a lot of meat. Believe it!

  45. Mark says “Let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health.” (TRUE) Well, my cousin’s husband is unbelievably thin. He eats anything he wants and as much as he wants, never gains a pound, NO exercise. Well, he recently had a stroke. Dr’s tell him it’s from WHAT he eats that they believed caused this. Yes, he’s lean, but NOT healthy!

  46. Has anybody tried the tropical fruit noni? From what I’ve heard it can help promote good internal health in addition to Primal living.

    1. I had noni in Hawaai on the big island once and it tasted awful. It might be good for you but I wouldn’t have it for breakfast with my yogurt.

    2. I’ve tried Noni juice once for several weeks. I didn’t notice any change except for the change in my pocketbook. It’s expensive. I think it’s a scam or a ripoff.

      1. Personally, i’m NOT a believer in Noni Juice, i see NO magic wand in it. My 2 cents!!

  47. It makes so much sense when I think about it. I would never give my cat or my dog bread and candy and french fries with the belief that it would not be good for their bodies and that animals shouldn’t eat “people food” because it will harm them. Yet, we are all animals, so why do we eat “people food?” People really should not eat “people food.” It’s just not healthy!

  48. I think ‘never’ is a long time. Just because there’s no overt negative consequences in the short term, who’s to say what the damage is long-term? One trip to the ice cream parlor does not a diabetic make. One trip a week, probably also not – depends on what happens the rest of the time. One a day makes me think that there’s a problem. Emotionally as well as physiologically. Do that for decades and you have just one more obese, unhealthy human. Even with excess exercise to ward off the damage for a long time, there’s still damage and God forbid there should be an injury that kibosh’s the exercise. I don’t look at people who ‘can eat whatever they want’ with envy. I look with caution and pity – for their future. I don’t believe one can do that for life with impunity. Gotta pay the piper sometime.

  49. Mark, there are a number of logical fallacies in your argument. If your basic premise is true, I and many others following a low fat vegan diet would NOT put on weight on other diets apart from a LF vegan diet. However, we do. When we eat icecream and drink beer, we do put on fat, quite readily. When we eat meat and eggs, we do put on fat, very very easily.

    In my experience, being a low fat vegan has helped me put on muscle and build a strong, lean physique very easily compared to my healthy days of eating meat. I say healthy because I followed a “healthy” version of it.

    1. Hannanne,

      Ice cream and beer are high carb, so the fact you gain is a given.

      What were you eating with the meat and eggs…? Toast? Cereal? Griff, see a few posts back, is living proof of what a Primal lifestyle can do – forget how many pounds of body fat he’s lost, but it must be getting close to 200.

      It is PHYSIOLOGICALLY impossible to put on lean muscle eating low-fat vegan (and you cannot use the word ‘healthy’ in the same sentence as “low fat vegan” without it being an oxymoron – because, just like there’s no such thing as a healthy fruitarian, there’s no such thing as a healthy vegan, either – you’re cutting so much out of your diet, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to be healthy.

      Now, this is the truth (and you can argue until you’re blue in the face – and that won’t take long, because you’re that unhealthy).

      When you lived on meat and eggs (assuming you weren’t consuming carbs too) you were building muscle, but you’re the kind of airhead who just looks at the numbers on the scale and saw you were gaining ‘weight’ and mistook the muscle you were gaining (assuming you were working out SENSIBLY – see the Primal Blueprint Fitness Guide for the sensible way to work out) for fat.

      Now you’re eating a nutritionally-poor diet, you’re losing all that muscle (I will repeat: – it is IMPOSSIBLE to gain MUSCLE on a vegan diet because, by definition, it’s severely lacking in protein) so you think you’re ‘leaning out’.

      Either way, your way of life is not sustainable. I’m betting that, like our 30BAD friends, you’re young, and it’s not had time to catch up with you yet – but it will do. I very much doubt you’ll live much past 50 either (though you might live slightly longer than the fruitcaketarians – just not much…).

      If you had the first clue about human physiology, you’d know what you’ve written was a load of BS – but you don’t (or you’d not have written it…).

      1. Sarah, your replies are so rude even if you had any valid points (which you don’t) they are lost by your immature obnoxious attitude.

        EDUCATE yourself, you need to stay alive until we are 50 so you can finally realise the truth.

      2. Very rude! Don’t you understand that calling people names and personal attacks are not going to help your case? what kind of a zealot are you? A closed minded one, apparently.

    2. “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

      BTW – Eating meat is what enabled proto-evolutionary humans and our own speices to develop such powerful brains — to facilitate with logic and reasoning. It could explain your own difficulties with understanding Mark’s argument. Just a thought.

  50. Sam,

    I see you’ve turned off the ‘reply’ function to your posts now – what a surprise!

    I understand Martin’s IF approach because I follow it – you don’t, because you’d never heard of it – until I mentioned it (and nothing you say will get me to believe otherwise; your responses to me (and others) believe me to be correct on this point…)

      1. “Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences”

        Oh well, so much for that idea. 🙂

      2. Yo dude, cool blog. I fast intermittently to, I try to skip breakfast daily.

        however consider that the anger response you demonstrated has the potential to increase your cortisol, which may mobilize proteins from your muscle tissue with the aid of catecholamines, and blunt fat loss. It’s quite a tangible possibility.

  51. Great article Mark. Thank you for posting this. 🙂 I’m going to add it to my bookmarks to send ppl when they start drilling me about the Primal BluePrint not being healthy and how other ppl can lose weight eating carbs. Excellent post!

    1. Totally agree with Kimmy. A lot of people don’t understand why grains are bad…and most of the time the ones that stay lean while eating grains.
      Thanks for this post Mark!

  52. I come from a long, long line of very thin – eat all you want & don’t gain a pound – people. Most died in their 50’s or went on to develop cancer. For years I had realized that there were certain foods that I could not tolerate. It was only after reading about primal eating, that I realized that most of these foods were carbs. At first, going on a low carb diet caused me to lose even more weight, but now I have stabilized. I have seen a lot of positive changes since beginning the diet. No weight gain yet, but I’ll settle with being healthy.

  53. “maybe some GERD for which they gladly take a pill”

    I don’t gladly take a pill for this; I reluctantly take it to stay alive. If there is a dietary way to cure it, I’ll gladly go for it. But all anyone ever does is make fun of those afflicted with it, but offer no solution.

  54. Ah jeez. Play nice, you guys!

    I have done an 801010 style raw diet before, and while I felt amazing when I could get it right (enough calories, enough water, enough exercise, enough sleep) it wasn’t sustainable for me. Durianrider and Freelee are both super fit folks, and i think that when people here call them “nutters”, blasting off about all of the illnesses they will most definitely incur, it doesn’t really help anybody (this also applies to the LFRV guys who have commented in a harsh manner, too).

    I’m on PB now, and it works for me. Much better than anything ever has before. But I don’t necessarily think that PB is the be all end all of every lifestyle there is – yes, 801010 and PB are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and supporters of both seem to really want to discredit the other – we should remember that we all have the goal of eliminating grains. That’s always a good thing. More than anything, we have to find what works for US.

    When I read threads about Mark and his approach on the 30bad forums, I see a lot of misunderstanding about his program. Similarly, I see the same thing here, about LFRV. Personally, I would recommend PB over LFRV any day, but there’s a huge difference between a high fat diet with a lot of fruit, and a low fat diet (no grains) with a lot of fruit… The body is going to react in a different way.

    Also, the majority of LFRV folks are fiercely vegan (I was too) and feel that they are doing ‘the right thing’ by speaking out against Mark’s program. In a way I get that, but when I look back on how I reacted in those days, I feel a little ashamed. I was rather naive in my understanding of environmental food-focused sustainability and believed all of the statistics about how destructive the meat industry is… I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve gone down so many paths and seen (and believed, no less) people who claim to have found the correct path, that I’ve learned to be kind and patient, and open minded towards other people and their dietary approaches. I’ve seen so many communities where people get SO hung up on specifics, and so hung up on the one path, that they alienate others in the process. They get smug and feel superior to others around them, think that anyone not following the same program as them is an idiot… Not cool.

    I’m not saying that paleo/primal paths may not be the most effective- in my mind, they are – but I’m not going to go around calling people names just because I believe that I’m right.

    This is not applicable to everyone, a lot of you are extremely lovely… but it annoys me to see others react so harshly.

  55. “I can’t comment on the 20 potatoes guy except to say that if the 19th century Irish lived on potatoes for decades and couldn’t gain much muscle, it makes sense that he couldn’t either in 60 days”.

    Actually, they DID gain a lot of muscle (in good seasons), because as well as doing a lot of physical labour they mostly lived on potatoes AND MILK (often from miniature breeds of cattle like Dexters that could be kept on their small plots), and on other food, e.g. cabbage and carrots when they could grow them. That top up sometimes even included meat, e.g. if they also kept a pig fed on potato peelings and other scraps, or when a cow got old or a calf was needed to start the cow’s milk but was surplus itself – though those might get sold instead. Places where oppressed peasants had bad diets were where all their produce could be marketed and the landlords took most of that in cash rent; for the Irish, milk and potatoes didn’t get sold so much, because with the technology of that time and place they couldn’t easily be exported before they went off and the local consumers were mostly in the same boat – so the landlords’ only use for those was to keep their tenants going.

    “Biological processes don’t really differ from one person to another (except in rare occasions)”.

    Er… no. There are wide genetic differences as between whole populations in the ability to process ethyl alcohol, and to a lesser extent dairy products; there are probably yet other material differences. It isn’t precisely racial; nearly all the Chinese and about half the Japanese process ethyl alcohol in a safer way, like just about all Europeans and Africans, but Australian aborigines and Native Americans usually process it in a way that lets highly toxic intermediate breakdown products build up. For them, the first stage of processing is more efficient than the last, but for the rest of us it’s the other way around, unless we take Antabuse which slows the last stage (so that alcohol causes far more discomfort).

  56. The more I have read about different dietary styles and nutrition plans the more I am convinced that different diets just work for different people and nobody knows why. I used to have GERD and IBS (like Mark). The one thing that helped me the most was getting rid of high fat meals and also meat, especially red meat. One plate of grass fed beef and I could not poop for 3 days. I can eat a lot of carbs if they come from natural sources like fruit, beans and whole grains and not gain a pound. Still I am glad to see that people are getting healthy following a paleo type diet if it works for them.

  57. Reading through these comments, I see a typical condition that disables that ability to thrive eating suboptimal food.


    The people that I’ve seen who eat subway sandwiches and mediocre food are some of the nicest people I’ve met, all with good outlooks to life.

    Just my 2 cents there. The food is important of course! As Mark said, he may have had some IBS, GERD, mild arthiritis, and been content, but we really need to stop being so angry about food. Clearly people thrive on many diets, and making quick judgments about them, even the 70 a day banana eaters, digresses from the truth. I still respect those fruit eaters, but some of them are fairly healthy. Defining healthy is something we must be stressed about, but those that have no need to define it, those that live the simple happy life, are the ones who can eat the suboptimal food and be healthy.

    Once we get to whole foods, including grains, the mind has a large influence. Before that however, it is important to remove the foods that clog our minds.

  58. Wow, kj, that’s a great post you left there.
    Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed reading this back and forth bickering and name calling. I really don’t see a reason to cut anyone’s throat just because they follow a different life-style. If it works for them and it makes them happy, more power to them. As soon as Primal will start showing “diminishing returns” on my body and sense of well-being, I would be more than willing to look into whatever 30 bananas a day diets are out there.

  59. Hey Mark, being a fitness professional myself I have come to one conclusion that I will never question: there are hundreds of diets and fitness programs that work….but not for everyone. We have to figure out which ones work best for us.

  60. 80/10/10 diet seems too ideal. I suppose that is why I love it! Just like living the way in which Buddha or Christ did seems way too fantastical; I am still gonna give it my all!!! Best to everyone … keep evolving!!!

  61. Fruit causes Glycation?

    Neither fruit nor meat is bad unless you heat them up.

  62. I have Mr Bass’s Ripped DVDs and he does eat a lot of grains and beans. He lifts weights once a week and walks a few mile a day. The argument could be made that he eats whole grains and they don’t absorb very quickly… HOWEVER. He also eats an open face nut-butter and jelly sandwich before bed every night. So all I can figure is he has great genetics.

  63. So all grains are bad for you huh??Tell that to my grandfather,my aunts and uncle who live to be well in there 90’s eating bread 3 times a day ….It just proves you can control somethings but not everything in your body …half of your organs could have been defected from genes pass down thru generation.I hate an a-hole who claims they have all the answers..GODS IN CONTROL I have no highblood,cholestrol or any health issue despite being 15 pounds over weight by the way im 74…Oh yeah I love fastfood.

  64. I feel that the (traditional living) Okinawans can eat more, primarily because what they are mainly eating are foods that are nutrient dense and calorie slight… I may be wrong, but from what I have read, the main starch for them is the white sweet potato that they grow. They are all extremely active, well into their 90’s. Most of them are gardening, fishing and / or doing traditional dances at that age also. High nutrition mixed with lots of exercise, sunshine , outdoor activity- you won’t see them at the gym, but outside, yes. They drink many cups of their green tea daily too.

  65. Just eat anytime you hungry, just dont fill yourself up. And do some exercises couple time of week. And Remember fat do not burn if your stomach is empty. And forget all the diet programmes, it all get you fustrated and weak.

  66. My thoughts were more along the lines of constipation. I have family members who eat nothing but garbage for breakfast-lunch and dinner. I mean cookies and Mountain Dew for breakfast and a steady diet of Little Caesars, KFC, McDonald’s, etc. for the other meals, 7 days a week, year round. Yet, they use the toilet like champs! I on the other hand eat like a rabbit. Fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, never eat fast food, drink tons of water, drink herbal teas, don’t drink or smoke, workout 5 days/wk…….and although I have a BM everyday, many times they start out stiff. I guess that’s just life.

  67. Hi my name is Kelly I’m 20 years old I have been the same size since I was 13 and I haven’t even put any weight on I can eat and eat and drink Obviously but I’m just wondering why I’m still the same size as I was at the age 13 and I’m now 20 what is going on

  68. I’m 27 and I’ve never done formal workouts. However, I looove walking and moving around. I’ve been using a standing desk for many years now, long before it became popular. I rarely use the elevator (except of course when I have to get to the 27th floor!).

    As for eating, I’ve never followed a strict diet either. I listen to my body and eat what I feel like. So, I might want to eat ice cream for the entire day; then want to eat just apples the next day. Sometimes, I feel like having cereals for breakfast, rice and fish for lunch, and chocolates and bananas for dinner. Sometimes, I just eat chips and soda for the entire day. But, I’ve never liked snacking. It feels weird. I only eat three meals a day and lots of water in between.

    I’ve maintained the same weight at 44 kilos for the last 16 years. Many ask me how I’m able to do it, and then I tell them this. They don’t believe it until they stay with me for a week.