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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 04 2008

Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint

By Mark Sisson
208 Comments

Build the Healthiest Possible Body with the Primal Blueprint

I get emails every day from people who are changing their lives for the better by following the guidelines I outline on this site. But many are looking for more of what the Primal Blueprint has to offer. That is to say, they want a comprehensive break down of the elements that make up the Blueprint; a Primal primer if you will. In coming weeks I will be going into detail – anthropological evidence, modern research, etc. – regarding this health philosophy, but I first want to offer up this summary of the Blueprint. I think it is a good starting point for what is to come.

In this extended article you will find the basic building blocks needed to discover the Primal side of your life. What does this mean? It means learning and understanding what it means to be human. It means using this knowledge to help you make important lifestyle choices. It means modeling your life after your ancestors in order to promote optimal health and wellness. And, most importantly, it means taking control of your body and mind.

If this article intrigues you be on the look out for a much more thorough explanation of how we can learn from our past to shape and mold our future.

My basic premise is this: The Primal Blueprint is a set of simple instructions (the blueprint) that allows you to control how your genes express themselves in order to build the strongest, leanest, healthiest body possible, taking clues from evolutionary biology (that’s the primal part).

Sometimes we get so lost in the science of human biology we just can’t see the forest for the trees. We overlook the simplicity and ease with which we could all be achieving exceptional health and fitness.

Living in modern society is extremely complex. With daily mind-boggling achievements made in science, technology and medicine, and with an ever-expanding knowledge base that increasingly grows more esoteric and niche, it is no wonder that we often look for complicated scientific solutions to problems that really only require simple answers. One of the best examples is the huge – and expensive – race to identify all the new possible genetic variances (or SNPs) within the human genome that might predispose some of us to certain health conditions. Hardly a week goes by without a new announcement of the discovery of a so-called “defective” gene that increases someone or some group’s risk of being obese, of getting cancer, of developing type 2 diabetes or arthritis. The net effect of all these announcements and the sensationalized news headlines is that many of us have become accustomed to blaming our health conditions on our unlucky inheritance of these “defective” genes. As if it weren’t enough to abdicate responsibility here, we then cross our fingers and close our eyes and hope that the scientists can create pharmaceutical “answers” to our particular condition before it’s too late. In most cases a few lifestyle adjustments are all that are needed to address all but the most serious of these genetic variations. Yes, I agree that some serious genetic diseases exist which are best treated with modern, truly life-saving drugs, but for the vast majority of the minor genetic variations that exist throughout the human genome, the real deciding factor as to whether or not a particular gene will be expressed in a particular manner, if at all, comes down to what you eat, how you move, what kind of air you breathe, what you think – in other words your environment. Big Pharma (CW) doesn’t want us to believe that most of our ills can be so easily solved, and so billions of dollars are being spent to unlock the so-called secrets of the genome. Meanwhile, the real secrets – and solutions – are contained within the DNA of every single one of our cells.

The essence of the Primal Blueprint is this: Most of life is really much simpler than modern medicine and science would like to have you believe. You can have a tremendous impact on how your genes express themselves, simply by providing your cells the right environments. All you need is a basic understanding of how your body works and a simple philosophical roadmap you can use to find answers to just about any questions of health and fitness – whether it involves personal choices or lifestyle adjustments or whether medical intervention might be appropriate. With this simple strategy, you will forever be able to examine or evaluate any food choice, any form of exercise or any other behavior in the context of how it impacts your genes! Even if you decide to opt for a “bad choice”, at least you’ll know why it’s bad…

You may already have a pretty fair understanding of how the human genome evolved to exactly where it is today (or 10,000 years ago, to be more precise) based on the environmental and behavioral factors under which our ancestors lived through natural selection. Tens of thousands of anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, paleontologists, geneticists and others have worked for over 100 years to piece together a fairly detailed picture of all the elements that helped influence our development as a species. Ironically though, when we examine all of the many environmental influences and behaviors that shaped our genome, we arrive at a very simple list of general things our early ancestors did to become what and who they were and which allowed them to pass 99.9% of those genes down to us. In essence, this list is the original “Primal Blueprint” since it provided the only set of behaviors they knew – the exact behaviors that enabled then to shape their bodies into healthy, robust, happy beings.

The Original Primal Blueprint® – The Rules of Living 10,000 Years Ago:

 

1. Eat lots of animals, insects and plants.

Fish

This is the basic description of everything our ancestors ate to get the protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phenols, fiber, water and other nutrients necessary to sustain life. But it was a huge list of individual foods – some anthropologists say it may have been 200 or 300 food choices at a time depending upon the geographic area. The net result was a dietary “breakdown” of fat, protein and carbohydrate that was far different from what Conventional Wisdom considers optimum today. This diet provided all the necessary fuel and building blocks that, along with specific exercise, prompted their genes to create strong muscles, enabled them to expend lots of energy each day moving about, to maintain healthy immune systems, to evolve larger brains and to raise healthy children. They ate sporadically, too. When food was plentiful, they ate more than they needed (and stored the excess as fat). When times were scarce, they survived on fat stores. This random or “non-linear” eating pattern kept their bodies in a constant state of preparedness.

2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.

HikeWe know that our ancestors spent an average of several hours each day moving about at what today’s exercise physiologists might describe as a “low level aerobic pace.” They hunted, gathered, foraged, wandered, scouted, migrated, climbed and crawled. This low level of activity prompted their genes to build a stronger capillary (blood vessel) network to fuel each muscle cell, to be able to store some excess food as fat, but also to be readily able to convert the stored fat back into energy. Of course, they did all this without the benefit of paved sidewalks or comfortable shoes. Because every footfall landed at a different angle, every muscle, tendon and ligament worked and became stronger together in balance. Note that they did NOT go out and “jog” at 80% of their MAX Heart Rate for long periods of time as Conventional Wisdom suggests today!

3. Lift heavy things.

Lift Heavy ThingsThe women carried their babies much of the time (hey, no babysitters in those days), as well as bundles of firewood, or whatever they had gathered, foraged or scavenged. The men carried heavy spears or other tools, they dragged heavy carcasses of animals they had hunted, and they moved large boulders or logs to build shelters. They also lifted themselves into trees or up onto higher ground when escaping from danger or to scout a new route. The biochemical signals created by these very brief but intense muscle contractions generated a slight surge in growth hormone and a reduction in myostatin gene expression, prompting an increase in muscle size and power; particularly fast twitch fibers.

4. Run really fast every once in a while.

Rhino ChargingIn a world where danger lurked around every corner, your ability to run was a strong indicator of whether you would live long enough to pass your genes down to the next generation. (Note to Nietzsche: That which didn’t kill Grok made him stronger). Avoiding a charging beast to save your life, or surging forward to catch a different beast for dinner, the net effect was still survival. A combination of the hormonal events that occurred simultaneously and the resultant gene expression within fast twitch muscle made sure that the next time this happened Grok could sprint a little faster.

5. Get lots of sleep.

MoonOur ancestors got plenty of sleep. Even after the discovery of fire, it wasn’t as if they stayed up all night partying. From sunset to sunrise it was safer to huddle together and rest. Long days of hunting and gathering and otherwise working hard for every bite of food also required sufficient time to repair and recover. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers suggest it wasn’t necessarily always an uninterrupted nine or ten hours, either. It’s likely that they slept together as families or as small tribes, keeping a watch out for predators, breast-feeding the baby or just dozing in and out throughout the night. Growth hormone and melatonin were the major hormonal players. Of course, the occasional afternoon nap was also available when the urge hit, with no guilt about what else they really should have been doing.

6. Play.

Just like in modern times, all work and no play made Grok a dull boy. Hunter-gatherers have always generally worked fewer hours and have had more leisure time than the average 40-hour-plus American worker. Once the day’s catch was complete or the roots, shoots, nuts and berries had been gathered, our ancestors spent hours involved in various forms of social interaction that we might categorize today as “play.” Young males would chase each other around and wrestle, vying for a place higher up in the tribe social strata. The males might also practice spear- or rock-throwing for accuracy or chase small animals just for sport. Young females might spend time grooming each other. To the extent that play was considered enjoyable, the net effect was to solidify social bonds and to prompt the release of endorphins (feel-good brain chemicals) and to mitigate any lingering stress effects of life-threatening situations.

7. Get some sunlight every day.

SunCavemen weren’t really men (or women) who lived their lives in caves all the time. Most of the day, they were in the great outdoors pursuing their various survival tasks. Regular exposure to sun provided lots of vitamin D, an all-important vitamin which they could not easily obtain from food and which their bodies could not manufacture without direct sunlight.

 

8. Avoid trauma.

CrocOur ancestors required an acute sense of self-preservation matched with a keen sense of observation. Always scanning, smelling, listening to the surroundings, on the watch for danger, aware of what immediate action needed to be taken, whether it was running from a saber-tooth tiger, dodging a falling rock, eluding a poisonous snake, or just avoiding a careless footfall. Remember that a twisted knee or a broken ankle could spell death to anyone who couldn’t run away from danger. In fact, it was probably trauma (or a brief careless lapse in judgment) that was most responsible for the low average life expectancy of our ancestors, despite their otherwise robust good health. Avoid trauma and there was a very good chance you could live to be 60 or 70 – and be extremely healthy and fit. Modern day hunter gatherers maintain strength and health often well into their 80s.

9. Avoid poisonous things.

Poisonous BerriesMan’s ability to exploit almost every corner of this earth was partly predicated on his ability to consume vastly different types of plant and animal life. But moving into a new environment and trying new foods posed a danger that the new food might contain potent toxins. Luckily, our liver and kidneys evolved to handle most brushes with novel-but-slightly-poisonous plant matter – at least to keep us alive anyway if the stomach didn’t regurgitate it first. Our keen senses of smell and taste also helped us sort out the good from the bad. The reason we have a sweet tooth today (dammit) is probably an evolved response to an almost universal truth in the plant world that just about anything that tastes sweet is safe to eat.

 

10. Use your mind.

Cave PaintingObviously, one of the most important things that separate man from all other animals is his intellectual ability. The rapid increase in the size of our brains over just a few thousand generations is the combined result of a high-fat, high protein diet (see rule #1) and a continued reliance on complex thought – working the brain out just like a muscle. Hunter gatherers all around the world have developed language, tools and superior hunting methods independently. The fact that some haven’t entered the industrial age doesn’t mean they don’t possess the same ability to process information rapidly and effectively (try living in a jungle where you need to catalog thousands of different plant and animal species, knowing which can kill you and which can sustain you).

That’s it.

That’s the full – albeit general – list of behaviors that shaped our current genome (OK, I left out the sex part because that kind of goes without saying. On the other hand, having sex with your partner IS a natural part of the Primal Blueprint. I’ll cover it in a future post)…

If there’s any doubt on your part about whether or not we should emulate our ancestors’ behavior (but in a context of a modern world) let’s at least agree that we are looking to achieve some very similar benefits. Certainly, we all want to be:

Healthy

Ideally, we’d never want to be sick. We’d want to be in the best possible health all of the time.

Energetic

We’d want to have lots of energy to do all the fun things life has to offer and not feel like we are dragging at any point during the day.

Happy

No one wants to be depressed or miserable. It’s no way to go through life. We want a reason to get out of bed every day and take on all the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Lean

We’d want to be in a metabolically balanced state where we burn off our excess or stored fat, where we find a point at which we have enough fat to be healthy, but we rarely (or never) store any more additional fat.

Strong

Let’s face it: we’d want muscles that not only look great in a bathing suit, but that serve us well in allowing us to move, to play, and to stay balanced throughout that movement. That means well-balanced strength with proportional muscles.

Bright

We’d want full access to our mental faculties, to be bright and alert, creative, focused when appropriate, able to recall all the great memories, etc.

Productive

We’d certainly want to feel as if we are contributing to ourselves, our family and society.

We know from evolutionary biology that our ancestors exemplified all the above healthy traits (as I will detail later). Those may or may not have been their stated goals, but those attributes certainly allowed them to survive the rigors of a hostile environment and be in a position to pass their traits along to the next generation, and finally, to us.

Now, understanding that everything we do, eat, think and breathe can affect our 10,000-year-old genes, how does that Original Primal Blueprint compare to what we might have to do today to achieve robust good health, a well-sculpted body, a strong immune system, boundless energy and an increase in productivity – all the goals we are after? Ironically, it’s almost the exact same thing.

The Modern Primal Blueprint® – The Rules of Living Today:

 

1. Eat lots of animals, insects and plants.

SaladFocus on quality sources of protein (all forms of meat, fowl, fish), lots of colorful vegetables, some select fruits (mostly berries), and healthy fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil). Observe portion control (calorie distribution) week to week more than meal to meal. Eliminate grains, sugars, trans- and hydrogenated fats from your diet.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Blueprint Eating Plan

A Primal Blueprint Sample Menu

Why Grains are Unhealthy

The Primal Blueprint Diagrams

Action Item #3: Make the Healthiest Choices Across the Spectrum

2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.

Do some form of low level aerobic activity 2-5 hours a week, whether it is walking, hiking, easy bike riding or swimming. Ideally, and when possible, find time to go barefoot or wear as little foot support as possible. Low-level activity is necessary (especially if you find yourself chained to a desk every day). The combined effect will be an increase in capillary perfusion, fat-burning and overall integration of muscle strength and flexibility.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Low Level Aerobic Activity

The Definitive Guide to Walking

Why We Don’t Walk Anymore

3. Lift heavy things.

WeightliftingGo to the gym and lift weights for 30-45 minutes, 2-3 times a week. Focus on movements that involve the entire body and in wider ranges of motion – not just on isolating body parts. Emulate the movements of our ancestors: jumping, squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, etc. This will stimulate your genes to increase muscle strength and power, increase bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate growth hormone secretion, and consume stored body fat.

Further Reading:

Primal Blueprint Fitness

Action Item #4: Exercise Primally – Move, Lift, and Sprint!

How to Gain Weight and Build Muscle

4. Run really fast every once in a while.

SprintDo some form of intense anaerobic sprint bursts several times a week. This could be as simple as six or eight (or more) short sprints up a hill, on the grass, at the beach… or repeated intense sessions on a bicycle (stationary, road or mountain bike). These short bursts also increase HGH release (HGH is actually released in proportion to the intensity (not the duration) of the exercise).

Further Reading:

Why We Don’t Sprint Anymore

Sprint for Your Life: A Primal Workout

Mark’s Beach Sprints

5. Get lots of sleep.

SleepGet plenty of quality sleep. Our lives are so hectic and full of things to do after the sun goes down that it’s often difficult to get enough sleep. Yet sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health, vibrant energy and a strong immune system.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Sleep

17 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

How Light Affects Our Sleep

Is “8 Uninterrupted Hours a Night” Flawed Conventional Wisdom?

7 Ways You May Be Inadvertently Sabotaging a Good Night’s Sleep

6. Play.

PlaySpend some time each week involved in active play. In addition to allowing you to apply your fitness to a real-life situation, play helps dissipate some of the negative effects of the chronic stress hormones you’ve been accumulating through the week.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Play

The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition

Primal Play: Dance

7. Get some sunlight every day.

SunlightContrary to the“Common Wisdom” dispensed by dermatologists (who suggest you shun the sun), the Primal Blueprint would insist that you get some direct sunlight every day. Certainly not so much that you come close to burning, but definitely enough to prompt your body to make the all-important vitamin D and to support the mood-lifting benefits. A slight tan is a good indicator that you have maintained adequate Vitamin D levels. Natural sunlight also has a powerful mood-elevating effect, which can enhance productivity at work and in inter-personal interactions.

Further Reading:

Vitamin D: Sun Exposure, Supplementation and Doses

8 Natural Ways to Prevent a Sunburn

7 Home Remedies to Relieve a Suburn

8. Avoid trauma.

SeatbeltEliminate self-destructive behaviors. These concepts are self evident to most people (wear seat belts, don’t smoke or do drugs, don’t dive into shallow water) yet so many of us live our lives oblivious to impending danger. Develop a keen sense of awareness of your surroundings.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol and the Adrenals

Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention

Exercising Through Injury

9. Avoid poisonous things.

McDonald's ArchesAvoid exposure to chemical toxins in your food (pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, etc) and on your skin. But also try to avoid the hidden poisons in foods like sugars, grains, processed foods, trans and hydrogenated fats, and mercury in certain fish.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Sugar

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

Action Item #1: Eliminate SAD Foods

10. Use your mind.

BookExercise your brain daily as our ancestors did. Be inventive, creative, and aware. If your work is not stimulating (or even if it is), find time to read, write, play an instrument and interact socially.

Further Reading:

Music Therapy: Striking a Primal Chord

Handicraft: The Ancient Tradition of Creating Things with Your Hands

Writing Therapy, or What You Get for the Cost of a Number Two Pencil and a Sheet of Paper

As with the Original Primal Blueprint, this list is very general, designed simply to allow you to understand that everything our ancestors did can benefit us as well. Except that we can do it having fun, enjoying every aspect of the lifestyle and without worrying about our survival! In future blog posts (and to a much greater extent in my book) I will be going into much more detail as to how and why these behaviors work and exactly what foods to eat, what exercises to do and how to otherwise find ways to allow your genes to recreate you in the healthiest, fittest way possible.

chotda, tricky TM, Mark Sadowski, driki, TerenceKearns.com, Paul Watson, *Giorgio*, dennis collette, sirwiseowl, jahdakine, ecreyes, Ned Trifle, amy’s pocket-camera, Arno & Louise, Christing-O-, Gio JL, est miltis no ausim, una cierta mierda, glazaro Flickr Photos (CC)

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208 thoughts on “Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint”

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  1. *Claps* That was awesome Mark! It may be “general,” but it covers that basics that anyone can put into place for leading a healthy life.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  2. Mark,

    This is outstanding advice! I’ll be sure to do a summary on my blog and point readers to this amazing article.

    Now I live in Seattle, so point number 7 (get sunlight everyday) is going to be a challenge.

    I certainly think that “running really fast” every once in a while is solid advice. I’m willing to bet that 80% of adults over the age of 40 haven’t ran really fast even once this year!

    Point number 6…I enjoy playing. Especially if it is with 3-4 attractive female volleyball players like pictured above (I should probably behave).

    Great post!

  3. Wow!! what an exciting well thought out detailed post.
    “Emulate the movements of our ancestors”. This theory is an excellent guide for those of us that want to maximize our bodies potential. Does anyone know of any other “Primal” exercises?

  4. Fantastic post!
    I’ve been living this way for two years now with terrific results. (Thanks to you and Art De Vany.)
    I turned 55 last week and have never felt and looked better. It’s so simple, but yet I’ve made very few converts from people that ask what my secret is. Maybe this post will help.

  5. Holy cow! This may be the best post ever…anywhere.

    In all seriousness, take this post down now! If everyone reads and starts doing these simple things, may career as a health psycologist may come to an end as there will be no one left to treat.

  6. When can we expect the book, Mark? If this post is just the beginning as you allude to then I can’t wait to get into it all deeper. Thanks for the awesome article!

  7. Great Stuff! The point-for-point comparison makes so much sense. We’re not built for Starbucks, office spaces, and repetitive-motion treadmill exercise. You get right to the point of what we ARE built for.

    1. That’s exactly right. “Experts” try to make us think that we should do this or that to stay healthy. But we really don’t have to do much of what they say. Just follow our ancestors’ example!

  8. Now you have me thinking. How about adding:

    1) “Eat lots of animals, insects and plants” – “while in the presence of others for whom you care and who care for you” See the classic post “what is food and what does it represent?” per Modern Forager.

    2) “Spend time sitting around and exchanging stories and laughs with others.”

    3) “Have regular sex with someone you love.” I hate to be the guy that keeps bringing-up sex. However, it is very healthy and does not get much more primal than this.

    just some of my additional thoughts.

  9. Fantastic post Mark!

    I often think about what our diets must have been like back in the day so thoroughly enjoyed this one.
    Keep up the great work!

    Sally

  10. Hi greetings from Australia,
    Look forward to the book. The diet\nutrition stuff has been covered a bt by others, as have some other bits and pieces, but a book that brings it all together would be great.
    OB

  11. Great stuff Mark. I’ve been using a similar set of rules now for the last 8 years and haven’t had a days illness in that time. Coincidence or magic? you decide 🙂

  12. I would love to see some research/evidence to support claims regarding how our ancestors lived and also that shows a life lived the guidelines listed actually creates healthy people.

    1. I agree, how do we know that they ate more to store up fat? If they ate the right kinds of food and were constantly moving out of necessity then they would remain lean. They didn’t have the wrong fats and denatured foods we have today. Their homegrown and wild foods would help them burn fat all the time.

      1. Great point! We tend to believe what “experts” say about how our ancestors ate and what that means for us. But how do they really know?

  13. Thanks for the comment, 32. If you look back through our Worker Bees’ Weekly Bites category you will find a number of articles on the latest research that all seem to point to a life lived by the Primal Blueprint is a healthy life indeed (high fat, low carb, no grains, high intensity, weight bearing etc etc.). As for posts on how our ancestors lived I’ll add that to our long list of things to cover. In coming months we’ll dive further into the Primal Blueprint and continue to offer up the latest research for your consideration.

  14. Thanks Mark!

    Sometimes we all need reminded of what we should be doing, even if we should realize these things are more or less common sense.

  15. Got a chuckle from the McDonald’s photo under “Don’t eat poisonous things.”

    1. I thought that was funny too! But it sure makes sense…. all those chemicals and processed junk to make it last longer, cook faster….

  16. This is a great article. I do have to take issue, though, with the idea that dermatologists’ advice to avoid the sun can be dismissed as “common wisdom.” Would you say, “Well, ‘common wisdom’ says not to smoke, but…” As a person with skin cancer in my family, I’ll get my Vitamin D in shoddy pill form rather than risk, y’know, dying. I love the healthy life you advocate – please don’t tell people to hurt themselves. Folks without a family history of skin cancer, folks without a personal history of burns or a tendency to freckles and beauty marks – they’re probably okay with some daily exposure, but please highlight that this isn’t three hours without SPF, just 20 minutes or so. Even without burning, if you get tan, your skin is being damaged. Melanoma is a real danger. Moderation.

    1. Well, the dermatologists’ advice is more like a common misconception or intentional falsehood than wisdom. Misconception because everyone needs Vitamin D, whether in a pill or from the sun. Lie because there’s a big damn sunscreen industry that needs the general public to believe that you will immediately get skin cancer and die if you are in contact with the skin for five seconds.

      Either way – yes, your skin is only supposed to get pinkish in the sun, not to burn or tan. I personally don’t get pink even sitting in direct sunlight for 40+ minutes (I’m so very healthy), so I supplement with D3.

      1. And the Ozone layer is much thinner than it was 10k years ago. So something we must consider.

  17. I’ve had skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, MOHS surgery, repaired with plastic surgery & skin graft repair – on my nose, front and center). The wound healing of the surgical site took several months and the skin graft regeneration took a full year. I shunned the sun for nearly a decade afterward and it wasn’t good. Looking back on it, it was like living in a cave.

    I do take Vitamin D3 now (big doses), but I also try to get a bit (15 minutes) of strong sun several days a week when I can (even in coastal So Cal it isn’t always sunny or warm enough the the winter sun has too little of the right light angle). I feel much better in numerous ways now that I am “back in the sun” and out of my “cave”. I do take great pains not to burn by covering up, limiting unprotected time, and using strong sunscreen when covering up or limiting time are not practical. I barely have any tan (my Irish-German skin has never kept a tan well or long anyway). I’m finding my resistance to sunburn is much better now that I consume only a tiny amount of unstable PUFA oils and a lot more stable sat and monosat fats.

    My risk for skin cancers is probably high due to the severe sunburns I had as a teenager and young adult in the NE US, not the careful exposure I get now in the SW. Staying deficient in Vit D to avoid cosmetic skin damage like wrinkles and the admittedly annoying but rarely basal cell and squamous cell cancers seems riskier to me, especially when sunshine & Vit D is increasingly shown to be a key player in avoidance of many more deadly forms of cancer, including melanoma.

    In fact, the role of sun exposure in melanoma is turning out to be far more interesting and less straightforward than anyone ever thought. It may well be that prudent sun exposure (& the resultant Vit D production) protects against melanoma, rather than causing it. I’ll risk a bit of wrinkling and basal cell scars to avoid melanoma, breast cancer, etc.

  18. Jaime,

    I understand your concerns, but as Anna says, it’s far more complicated than just staying out of the sun because you have a family history. It may be that regular controlled daily exposure reduces your risk for melanoma and BCC. I think I did suggest here and in past posts that I’m not necessarily talking about lengthy exposure. Certainly not espousing a burn, but even my dermatologist syas she keeps a bit of a tan because it’s healthier than not.

    Also, diet may have a lot more to do with skin-cancer risk. A high carb (high glucose) diet may increase susceptibility of skin (AGE’s, inflammation, etc) and a diet too high in PUFA’s (or too low in saturated fats), or even too low in carotenoids may also increase risk. That’s why I say so often, when you take on the Primal Blueprint lifestyle, you’d benefit most from embracing all of it – as opposed to just bits and pieces.

  19. Mark,

    Thanks for the great post! It’s an incredible reminder that, when all else fails — or when the conflicting information on health, fitness and nutrition becomes overwhelming — use your intuition and get back to the basics.

  20. Thank you! Great help and inspiration!
    I was led here by my son, who always investigate thngs properly. I asked him for advice as health problems started to come a bit closer that horizon. Here I am – a future primal Norwegian? 🙂

  21. this is great advice, thanks, i’ve been doing this for years, mainly on my camping trips. 🙂

  22. Hello,
    You advise above to eliminate sugars….in one post had you breakfast including coffee with sugar…another had muffins with maple flakes (sugar). ?? I don’t have the Primal Diet book, perhaps you have a 90/10 rule or something (like precision nutrition)? I look forward to your book being released.
    Kate.

  23. Kate, book will be out around end of March. Meanwhile, the PB is about understanding the effects of certain foods and being able to make informed choices. A teaspoon of sugar in my coffee lets me enjoy it a bit more…and is nothing at all like the amount of sugar in a piece of pie or a soft drink. If that’s all the sugar I consume in a day, I’m 95% “perfect” 😉

  24. I feel like this would make a great little flash video for beginners. The images are great.

    I am slowly trying to make the transition, Caveman cookies are really helping to ease the transition (banana is my hands down favorite). I’ve tried to make such changes in the past but it never stuck. I am trying to take it one day at a time (and one bite at a time!), and remind myself that I was given this body as a gift from a higher power and that I should honor and respect it to the best of my capacity.

  25. Now that sums it up perfectly. I read a lot of health and fitness material but this was simple and intelligent. As he said, this is truly a blueprint for life!

  26. sounds hideously similar to the Atkins diet. very low amounts carbs, even natural ones, eat lots of meat, avoid dairy, sounds like deficiencies will build up, and there will be an unnescessary accumulation of other things, such as large amounts of iron from meat. I’d rather stick with a diet of moderate saturated fat, little or no trans fats, lots of EFA’s, lots of protein, and legumes and unrefined carbs as my source of carbs, with lower fat dairy here and there, which seems to have worked for many people, why try to fix something if it is not broken? obese people do not eat this way, the exercise regime in this prgram seems sound though

    1. how does it sound like deficiencies will build up? Primal foods can supply all the vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and water that you need. by the way the primal blueprint is the diet you described, minus legumes and with high-fat dairy instead of low-fat.

  27. hmmmm- there is a lot you need to learn about primal and diet in general. There is something broken- the American diet and the food it eats. Primal is CLEAN. Some diary is fine but I’d steer clear of most carbs like corn and soy and most if not all grains. Beans are fine.
    If you knew Atkins, you would know it is heavy into Vegetables, that is if you read past the introduction.

      1. I’m not so sure that it’s really “poison”. It’s definitely NOT healthy, but I wouldn’t classify it as poison. Eaten in large amounts(like HUGE amounts), yes, you can experience toxicity (salt and other chemicals) but a burger or chicken nugget once in a while isn’t poison. Also, a little stomach upset after eating something isn’t being poisoned, getting actually sick is getting poisoned.

  28. hmm…the atkins diet is very healthy and very pro-veggie. to suggest otherwise is proof that you have never done it or read the book. and, sans your focus on legumes, it is exactly the diet you described.
    the primal diet IS basically atkins, just focused on clean real food and less prepackaged, nutritionally substandard food.

  29. jenni,

    i won’t argue that there are some similarities between primal and atkins but as you see here, primal is not a diet, it is a way of life. fitness and care of the body is just as important as what we eat. atkins does not have such a strong focus on fitness, rest, and clean real food.

  30. i agree with you….that is why i am here. But, atkins “dieters” would say that that too is a way of life. The strict induction portion of his diet plan is a short term way of eating. Atkins maintenance and primal are almost identical…that is a good thing!! The difference is the focus here on natural, clean foods and weight-bearing exersise. I am not hating on either of them…I have been living this “way of life” for a good long while now. I just have to periodically defend the very very misunderstood Atkins :-)!!

  31. Primal is far more CLEAN. All praise to Dr. Atkins and his low carb diet and its influence on the American diet and diabetics’ diets. I think we had more faith in the food supply then we do now which has made ‘going Clean’ a priority.

    Dr Bernstein and Dr Atkins changed everything.

  32. Carbohydrates (and fiber, which is another name for indigestible carbohydrates) are not essential nutrients, nor are polyphenols. Technically some vitamins are antioxidants, but as a rule this category isn’t necessary either. The only essential nutrients are water, oxygen, sunlight (or more specifically UVB rays, although this is debatable), and all of the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is perfectly possible to emulate early humans while eating only fatty animal products, with no plants whatsoever in the diet.

  33. mark, love your site and reading your posts…

    i shared this with my girlfriend yesterday and for the most part she liked it, except for one thing: grains.

    she asked “what’s wrong with grains? especially whole grains like quinoa and brown rice?”

    i really couldn’t answer her.

    i skimmed thru your site a little but couldn’t really find anything that addresses what’s really wrong with grains, specifically, which grains.

    thanks

      1. Sorry, it’s “Why Grains Are Unhealthy.” Not that that changes anything.

  34. hello – I just found your website today!
    I love it. Currently I’m mostly eating your primal way, however I believe my body has a tough time digesting (healthy) fats so I backed off. At the same time its the fats that sustain me and alleviate cravings and overeating. The flip side is weight gain, and bloat. Gall bladder, liver issues I suspect. Do you have any suggestions?

    thank you

  35. I love this! This is how I am trying to live, and, (accept for some stresses at work do to the economy, which I make up for by teaching music!!! which is playing and creative activity that uses my brain!), I’m feeling great at age 56. I’ll be back to visit this site again soon.

  36. thank you so very much for this information. I really want to get to do these things mentioned above to leave longer with my partner who who discovered this website and sent it to me so we can leave like our ancestors did and any other persons.

  37. Love the site, especially the above Primal Blueprint. I’m just curious, it seems that you are not responding to comments…or am I missing something?

    1. Cilla, I get a ton of emails and comments every day. I try to respond to comments when they happen in real time on a post from that day. This post is 16 months old. We post every day. Imagine how many comments come in from old posts…all the time. I just don’t have the time, especially when many of the questions involve subjects I’ve already written about extensively and the answer is on the site. So, often I leave the responses to my readers. Many of them are well-qualified to answer. Otherwise, I remind people that most of the answers are found in my book.

  38. Love the blog, I really want to commit to the 30-day challenge, however what os your take if your an athlete, Im doing track this semester, and I also need to lose a few, as far as carbs should I eat denser fruits- bananas,mangoes, before our workouts, or even dried fruits- you recommend, berries but thats just not enough to really give me the best workout, I know about fat adaption but in regards to beating out my competition I need some kind of edge!! Please any advice is greatly appreciated!!!

  39. with all the good food you mentioned ,and the exercise, how com that the everage lifespan was 37 years
    of age for males 30.000 years ago?

    1. Multiple reasons, the biggest of which I believe is high infant death rate, followed by a lot of death in the teen years… those raging hormones making them reckless I’d imagine. I read somewhere that if you factored in the people who lived to be 20, the average lifespan was about 65 years.
      Not bad for a population without plumbing/proper housing (infection), doctors (trauma-induced death), and a lot of animals who would gladly eat us.

  40. Surely someone has theorized that people lived longer if they got a lot of exercise as they got older: this would be what would happen if the nuclear family or the tribe needed you and your work for survival as a unit. The exercise would be a signal that you are needed, and thus create somehow a situation where your body made you live longer. No? (PS I’ve thought this for years but never expressed it; I assumed some evolutionary biologist had thought of it and published it in some form.)

  41. Just stumbled across this site, you have really opened my eyes.Bill

  42. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m not a scientist, nor am I a medical or fitness expert. I’m just a woman who has struggled with weight, anxiety, depression, and intestinal disorders for pretty much my entire life… a life lived eating, for the most part, “healthy” foods. My grandpa was Italian, my grandma was a dietitian, and her values were passed along to my mom with grandpa’s love of pasta. Ergo a lot of grains. A couple months ago I had an epiphany, and it turns out I’m not alone. I read a lot– history, science, philosophy etc. and it dawned on me that we humans didn’t evolve to eat grains or processed foods. That’s it. It’s so simple that I laughed like a lunatic for a few, then changed my eating (I don’t drive, and hate being cooped up, so I get bunches of exercise from walking literally everywhere… and climbing things lol). Guess what? The pounds are falling off, I’m not starving myself at all, and I’m starting to feel pretty darn good. I now have to say to myself “Welcome to (un)common sense!”

    1. From being eaten by sabre-toothed tiger, otherwise would likely live to his late 60s.

      Remember, average does not mean individual. Remove trauma and predation, and natural death occurs much later.

  43. awesome stuff, so logical, so natural and a challenge for us all in today’s modern lifestyle!

  44. The reason our brains grew larger isn’t due merely to a high fat/high-protein diet. Rather, our brains started growing (and our intestines shrinking) when we started cooking our food, making it easier to digest, so that the extra energy our bodies suddenly had went toward brain development.

    I agree with you on everything, but the specificity of *cooking* all that animal fat and protein, rather than fat and protein of themselves, is what led to the evolutionary jump in brain-size, and that needs to be pointed out.

  45. Mark this was wonderful. THis makes me want to go outside an play. I will comment more later.

  46. Thanks for this comment, Francis, I was starting to get scared reading the other ones.

  47. Mark, this is amazing. It resonates with me big time. I love number 6. PLAY PLAY PLAY! I’d love to invite you to come visit my personal development blog and leave a comment. Great site! Thank you! CSH

  48. Mark, this is amazing. It resonates with me big time. I love number 6. PLAY PLAY PLAY! I’d love to invite you to come visit my personal development blog and leave a comment. Great site! Thank you! CSH

  49. As a child care center teacher for the past 10 years, I have watched children closely. I have developed the theory that children use their bodies in every which way imaginable but as we grow into adults, we learn to severely limit the types of movements that our bodies make to strictly vertical motion(e.g. to sitting, standing, walking, running, etc). Thus we lose strength and flexibility and constantly have to fight the fat. I also think it effects our creativity. I find that if I go to the park and swing really high on the swings and go upside-down on the monkey bars, I feel alive again and can’t help smiling and laughing. It’s hard, too, because my arms are so weak from lack of doing any serious lifting. ANYWAY, I just read this blog for the first time, and it really makes sense to me!!! It IS simple but isn’t that what we’re lacking in these modern times…simplicity, playfulness, and creativity?

  50. . . . is that a bible under the modern ‘Use Your Mind’? . . . is that a joke? I sure hope so.

    1. I’m pretty sure it just means that reading is good for your brain.

    2. Reading the Bible would clear up many misconceptions about our past…the earth is only 6000 years old…antediluvians lived from over 100 to less than 1000 years of age before the flood. Noah was 500 years old when the flood began,..

  51. Klotho protein deficiency and aging (Article first published online: 2 JUN 2010)

    “It is of interest that both ?-kl?/? mice and FGF23 knockout mice show similar symptoms resembling human aging.1,30,34 Both mice also show aberrant renal phosphate re-absorption and enhanced 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis, leading to the elevation of serum concentrations of phosphate, 1,25(OH)2D3, and calcium. In wild-type mice, administered vitamin D3 alters several gene expressions, including the upregulation of CYP24A1 and vitamin D receptor, and downregulation of CYP27B1. In contrast, these gene responses were not observed in ?-kl?/? mice and restriction of vitamin D3 improved abnormal phenotypes of ?-kl?/? mice. ?-Klotho protein is shown to function in the negative feedback regulation of vitamin D3 synthesis by downregulation of CYP27B1.35,36 These observations indicated that abnormal vitamin D3 metabolism is the main cause of aging phenotypes.35,36”

    Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States see ‘Figure 1. County Life Expectancies by Race’.
    If you can’t be bothered here it is on a blog post

    It shows the life expectancy by county for US whites, the higher the latitude the longer they live. Please explain how that tallies with the more is better theory of UV – B / vitamin D

  52. Killer stuff. Im a personal trainer with my own clients and I encouraged a few of them to buy your book. I got your book too and its great. Keep up the research. I think as far as nutrition and lifestyle are concerned, you are the best around Mark.

    Dave

  53. This is fantastic. It can be hard to get enough sunshine, taking an oral dose of 5000iu of vitamin d is the next best thing.

  54. This is a great post, makes it really simple to start living Paleo. You should put this on the front page with a little sign that says “Newcomers click here” or something like that.

  55. Humans also evolved to handle eating grains. They aren’t neccessary so if you don’t want to eat them, don’t eat them. Am I inflamed, suffering chronic fatigue or disease from eating them? No. Haven’t been sick for years.
    You won’t be far off by following these precepts. Listening to your body and heart and you won’t be far off either.

  56. This one is a definite classic, always a good idea to come back here and read this post every once in a while to remind myself of what all of this is really about

  57. What about spirituality? My opinion is that falls under using your mind. I suspect that our ancestors naturally pondered the universe and their place in it.

  58. Mark – Outstanding, your philosophy of life and how to strive to get the most out of it by reaching our potential as human beings in all facets of life from diet to happiness to reconnecting to the natural world should be taught in schools and colleges throughout the world. You have my admiration and respect, keep up the great work.

  59. hello every one in gork land.

    i have read the book. make alot of sense,
    but iam having a problem with the potion for a 300lb person. please if you can
    help me figure out how much potein, and carb a person need to start the bp eating plan.

  60. How bout..Paleo exercises Cut down trees. Split firewood…stack fire wood.

    I am allergic to sunscreen. I gradually go out in the sun. I am a gardener, so I put on long sleeves if I need to and wear a hat.I have a sneaking suspicion that sunscreen does not filter out all the bad stuff. Maybe the burn is not why we get cancer..maybe it is lack of a sun tan or something else. It sure seems like cancer is on the rise as sunscreen is used more and more.
    I have lots of crazy theories from observing life these 56 years…

  61. I also have a suspicion that fat free diet causes panic attacks…I know a few very strict vegetarians and they are all on medication…just another crazy observation. I wonder if any studies have been done.

  62. I am a massage therapist and people constantly ask me why they get so much pain in their backs and neck. 9/10ths of them work at a desk. They have horrible posture and dont move after they get home. I always refer them to our ancestors (even before reading this!)because they moved, played, ran, got sunlight, avoided crap foods in their diets. I am so glad my cousin referenced me to this site!! Now I can refer my clients to someone else who has done the research and its not just nagging coming out of my mouth!

  63. Great post. To comment, it was not just the male of our species that”…carried heavy spears or other tools, they dragged heavy carcasses of animals they had hunted, and they moved large boulders or logs to build shelters. They also lifted themselves into trees or up onto higher ground when escaping from danger or to scout a new route…” FEMALES did too!!!

  64. It’s so simple it brings a tear to my eye. Thank you for all your work – this site is overflowing with beneficial information.

  65. This is the best page on your site. Simple, scientific, convincing and applicable to modern times.

  66. I have very high arches and always believed that its best to be barefoot. but, it hurts to wear shoes that have no support so i bought 300 dollar arch supports. the lady said i need to wear them all the time and didn’t believe me when i mentioned my barefoot idea. what do you think? and what should i do?

  67. i just laughed at this one
    #”The rapid increase in the size of our brains over just a few thousand generations is the combined result of a high-fat, high protein diet”
    – when does the lions and tigers (and so on) begin to get bigger brains ?

    hey man i just started the primal approuch today. and im just kidding – you know rule #6 – play and have fun 😉

  68. “Avoid poisonous things” this is the ultimate “evil”:)for me. I really love your post here. It really makes sense. Lucky for the people in the old days, they don’t junk foods like we have today.

  69. Mark
    Im new to this – just decided with no website to reduce carbs and see what happened.
    What happened was I felt amazing, lost 5kg (in three weeks) and found your website whilst working out carbs in my daily apple (no seriously I was eating an apple a day, and thought it might be too much carbs so I googled how many carbs in an apple a day) HOW FUNNY!

    Today I cheated. I ate a piece of chocolate cake. Im in agony. I want it OUT OF ME. Its been a few hours and its killing me.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE my new life and am so excited to see what happens next week and next month and next year. Ive barely scratched the surface and Im loving it!

    Jane 🙂

  70. I just love the comparison you made here between now and then, it makes really sense.

  71. I love this post…when you put it like that, it all seems so simple. We always try to over complicate things.

  72. i have a wedding in 12 months, i’m hoping to be healthyer and look better when that day comes around…

  73. That’s a great way to stay healthy. I would just change one think about it. Instead of eating lot’s of animals, I would suggest to eat animals occasionally.

    Otherwise fantastic advice to live healthy, fit, high performing life.

  74. I do have saved this post, “Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint | Mark's Daily Apple” ! Thanks !.

  75. I like a lot of the concepts in your primal blueprint. I homeschool my children and we pursue many of these ideas naturally, where the children can sleep if tired, spend more time outdoors, etc…. We’ve changed our diets recently, as well, and the chance in our children has been enormous, in the best possible way.

    But I’d have to say one thing: for a truly primal diet, I can’t imagine grains being completely eliminated. The calories would have made it worth the effort, when plentiful. All year round, as a staple of everyday eating, I’d agree that they seem to be a problem, though

    I’m getting to experience this first hand, at the moment. After years of illness, we finally discovered I react with neurological issues to gluten, and at such low levels that it’s nearly impossible to avoid without a huge effort. A gluten derived ingredient in an organic fertilizer spray can be enough to make me ill from the vegetable. Sprays, gases, and chemicals used on nuts, veggies and fruits, to clean meat carcases (both organic and conventional) – I get sick from almost all of it, it seems.

    I now have one safe farmer and one rancher I buy food from, and I’m completely healthy on that, but I’ve had to start learning how to forage in my area, to try and find sources of food that are completely safe, as a back-up/supplementary food source.

    I can honestly say, I really, REALLY understand how important calories are now. If there is something that’s edible, I’m going to eat it. My closest to a wild grain is actually a seed: in season, wild amaranth where I live can be gathered in the hand, rubbed a little, and the chaff blown off to leave one with a handful of high calories seeds.

    Walking or hiking in my area, during the season it’s ripe, I will constantly graze on this as I walk, gathering handfuls of these seeds every time we pause, or as we go through. Easier than bringing food with me, and it’s higher in calories than many of the foods I can get, even if small.

    I don’t know that true grains would be that easily collected – I suspect not. But depending on the ease of collection and obtaining the grain in an edible form, compared to how much effort I have to do for my other food, and the calories I get for that effort, gathering a little grain can still be a net gain.

    I know this is merely a philosophical point for most, and most are not in my situation. But I thought I’d share my point of view, from the oddly yuppie-esque primal trenches, as it were. 🙂

  76. I agree with you because these are the steps or rules to achieve better health in modern times. Unfortunately, there are some people can not follow the steps or rules for several reasons including not having time to exercise or can not avoid stress at work. In my opinion, it all depends on the person who wants to have the desire to do it.

  77. Great article, there was a lot of interesting information. I had to have my husband type this due to the fact that I am too weak to throw spears, rocks, and type. My arms are useless for anything but grooming.

  78. I keep wondering why the article advises gym time–surely this could be updated to reflect the gym-free exercise plan in the PB guide?

  79. Hello I am 32 years old and was recently diagnosed with DJD Degenerative Joint Disease, the extreme pain in my joints has literally crippled me, making the simply activities such as walking and climbing stairs nearly impossible or very difficult without crutches or a cane. I have been very active working out 4-5 days a week before I was diagnosed and my symptoms began to hinder my ability to do certain excursuses. I am very concerned out my weight and health. I would like to continue my work out schedule at least 3-4 days a week. I need advise on what exercises are best for my condition. I am also careful on what I eat my meals normally consist of baked meats, fish, turkey, and chicken I desire to keep myself in shape despite my disease I need help can anyone offer any useful advice to me.
    Thanks in advance 😉

    1. If possible work out in a pool. I know many professional athletes do this when rehabilitating knee injuries. Water creates a great resistance while at the same time giving the body buoyancy to help eliminate joint stress.

  80. A good back to basics guideline post there.

    Though note the average life expectancy in prehistoric times was 25-40yrs.

    While going back to basics has some advantages, don’t take for granted some of the advantages we have in the modern world.

  81. I’m vegetarian (religious reasons). Anyway I can still follow this way of eating?

  82. Dear Mr Mark,
    All the posted points {10 of all}someof them are missing from everybodys life now a days.Very interesting.Ido like to get some advice personaly if available.

    Thank You Verymuch

    Rajesh.

  83. What a great article…especially as it became clear to me why I feel so good about myself after a round of golf:

    -low intensity walk for 3-4 hours
    -sunlight
    -play
    -exercise brain (calculate yardages – scores – choose right club etc.)

    Will definitely go for the rest in this article right away

  84. Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint | Mark's Daily Apple I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re wonderful! Thanks! your article about Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint | Mark's Daily AppleBest Regards Rolf

  85. Love this. Minimalistic.
    Simple.
    I feel myself getting healthier as I read it.

    Can’t wait to explore the site more.
    I am primal Day 1. Looking forward to the journey.

  86. Great way of looking at life. You guys got an instant follower here!!!

    Cheers!!!

  87. What I don’t see here is any discussion of the purpose hunger, and how the feeling we call ‘hungry’ helped us survive as a successfully evolving species. I’m not a biologist, but I strongly suspect that most of our ancestors usually did not have a convenient supply of food at close hand and that the chemical signals that bring the ‘hungry’ feeling evolved as a way to signal us that we must go out and procure something to eat. In the good old days (when we needed to go find food to gather or kill), such chemical signals, to be successful, should have occurred several hours before we would be too weak to obtain the food that needed to be found and killed/gathered. What I’m getting at is that modern men and women in priviledged countries feel as though they must eat as soon as they start getting ‘hungry’, and that is where I personally think the problem of overeating (good or bad food) begins. No one likes being hungry, but I believe that the onset of hunger is something that’s hard to ignore and usually ends up with a person consistently overeating in the long run (as in snacks or drinks before dinner). Hunger over a short period of time is something that is good to be able to tolerate, I think, as long as you already know where your next meal is coming from!

    1. This is something I practice often. I can’t remember where I found the study but a group of biologists were testing mice to see which ones had more drive and focus. Those that had steady food or those that had to work for theirs and often spent short amounts of time in “hunger” mode. The study showed that the “hungry” mice not only showed better decision making skills and a greater degree of focus but they also lived slightly longer lives. It had something to do with certain chemicals that are released when the body gets “hungry.”

      Personally I try to practice this a bit everyday. I rarely eat at the same time each day. I wait until I am hungry and then try to push past that feeling for 20 or 30 minutes before eating. I often find myself getting small projects at worked knocked out very fast because of the added focus I get when i am slightly “hungry.” The cool part is once I do eat I get what I call the “meat sweats.” It’s like your metabolism is super charged and you literally feel like your body is digesting what you just ate as quickly as it can.

      Its a simple concept without much scientific background but eating irregularly seems to have its benefits for me anyways

  88. Ok, so I read this thoroughly and agree with it, BUT I’m going to be 70 soon. Any advice to an overweight, in decent shape female? I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks.

  89. Seriously, has anyone ever asked how much money this peroxided pornstar is making by exploiting people’s limited knowledge of health science?
    Three key signs of a fad diet are prohibiting food groups completely (no scientifically based healthy eating plan bans any food group completely), selling products to ‘assist’ with the process and offering a simple quick fix to all related and non related health problems.

  90. Mark– You succinctly encapsulate ideas I’ve been toying around with for years, but unfortunately not in an integrated fashion. I do think there was likely more variability in the paleo diet than you state, though, and that depending upon locale, some of our cave ancestors ate a fairly high carbohydrate diet from, say, fruit in the tropics, or roots like cassava. Likewise, there was probably a great deal of variability with regard to sun exposure, once again depending upon locale. Fur-clad northeners probably got very little sun, ergo the development of fair skin.

  91. Mark this is an amazing post! I can remember working out at Williams with the likes of you and Hubbs. You seemed to instinctively know then the primal wisdom that you impart to us now. Thanks man.

  92. I am intruiged by all of this, my friend of many years has been on this type of diet (caveman diet) she actually is so raw in her diet she eats raw meat – fish , chicken, buffallo brains, seal meat etc , what say you of this mark?
    i only ask because she has been a healthy specimen for years but has suffered trauma and has lost weight to the point of discomfort and i am concerned.
    she doesnt advocate the legumes or pulses or even fruit for fatties like me. ( i regard my weight to be an issue of having 5 operations in 3 years – one on my foot causing lack of mobiity and 3 on my natal cleft -which is your bum crack to those who dont know!)
    I am up for this totally – 30 day trial at least , i live in a country with little sun (scotland) so may consider the supplements for vitamin D.
    thanks for the site – it makes sense – tho i have nagging doubts – as we have actually evolved!!!! well some of us have hahahaha x

  93. So how does a sugarholic, compulsive overeater, sugar substituter get started, seems daunting and sounds self depriving. i am not disagreeing just need encouragement. BMI 38.

    1. Dee, this is late, don’t know if you have jumped in yet but here’s some encouragement – DO IT. Jump in with both feet. You’ll be feeling yucky while you go through withdrawls, however, once you are clean and feeling great it’ll be worth it. Sugar is one of my favorites too but I have my memories of it, that’s good enough. When I slip and eat something like, oh, say a dish of ice cream (tiny one tho) with chocolate sauce….. Next day I have a “carb hangover” and decide it’s NOT worth it. Life is lovely without grains, sugar, beans, etc. Plus, we can have FAT, what’s better than that! Mmmmmmmm, I don’t get hungry and so don’t end up overeating anymore. DO IT !!!!!
      Smiles

  94. Question: I’ve understood your point to be
    1) human genetics has evolved to suit the historical behaviour patterns with optimal health
    2) we want optimal health
    c) we should mimic historical behaviour patterns

    But, I have the suspicion that it would be very difficult for a current human to (actually) mimic the historical movement trends – because of job/commute/crunch requirements. (Ie, I’m pretty sure that whatever the cavemen did in their sitting-quietly time, it probably wasn’t at a desk in a static position)

    So, does it still follow that we should eat and exercise the way the cavemen did?

    Where have I gotten lost in your argument?

    Thanks, amy

    Otherwise, thanks for the write-up.

  95. Finally, someone who puts it all together. Thanks, Mark for making it clear, obvious, and simple.

    Rob

  96. Fantastic site & great advice. I was made aware of recent studies on fasting and it’s overall benefits to health and decided to do a bit more research. I’m glad I found your site before I began.
    I am fasting today, for what is probably the first time in my life! I’m 54 yrs old & excited by the recent claims for possible benefits but a bit daunted by the prospect. You’re PB really has put it in perspective and given me the confidence to have a go!
    I intend to begin ADF – alternate day fasting as from today & I will post my progression and results if anyone is interested.
    Regards.

  97. Good insight. I do try to move about slowly and spend as much time out of doors as I can. Could not do the vegetarian diet. There is quite a ways to go to get closer to Gronk-life. Looking forward to the weekly newsletter and the e-books.

  98. I am a health professional with an interest in prevetative health, in particular, chronic disease, which is costing the health systems and governments world wide zillions, not only in dollars but lost production and positive life outcomes. I believe, as you do, that the majority of ill health and disease is preventable through diet and lifestyle. I marvel, in horror, at the myriad of medications dished out to people with chronic disease to support their health without the cause of their condition being addressed. All of these medications have side effects which cause a cascade of adverse affects. In most cases though, health professionals feel almost powerless to change these regimes as their clients don’t want to or won’t change their lifestyle choices or don’t have the knowledge or resources. We also need to explore the role of “Maslows hierarchy of needs” and the circumstances that precipitate difficulties in changing or adjusting one’s opportunities in life such as health outcomes. Your theories are a great resource but unless someone can make money out of it no-one will listen! I have constantly referred to the cave-man theory with issues such as how we live “independant” lives not supporting one another and that people constantly say things like “I / she can’t breast feed”, how on earth did we get this far then, there was no baby formular (baby poison) around 10,000 years ago. To conclude – loved the reference to McDonald’s poison.

  99. Uh-oh…an MD is in the house. Don’t worry, I’ll be cordial. First of all, this is an awesome post! Although everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, this is exactly what we strive to teach our patients AGAIN and AGAIN and we even…wha?…refer them to your site! Big Med in bed with Primal Living?! Nah, that won’t sell as many books. 😉

    All joking aside, modern science, as you mentioned, is not, nor can it be, a cure all. There are neat advances but truly they can only do so much and the FIRST treatment for 99% of what we see is PREVENTION (aka, avoid the need for treatment all together) and the first step in prevention is proper diet and exercise. It’s good to see sites like this helping to take an initiative. Somehow we have to reach the rest of the world that would never come to this site on purpose until they came to me with type 2 diabetes and already 10 years of irreversible damage. Please…our offices are too busy as it is! And really a physician shortage means “the right amount” of physicians once we learn to make better health choices and the need for the reactionary care rather than preventative care subsides. I’d love to not have to see the effects of preventable chronic disease. Here’s to a healthy life.

    Anyway, keep spreading the word. Kudos to you all.

    PS…I’m going to regard point #1 (insects) as optional. 😉

  100. Great guide to health and wellness. Its broad and really allows you to encorperate these rules in to your daily life.

    Thanks Mark

  101. I am seeing a nutritionist and she wants me to go on a paleo diet. I am trying to heal my Multiple Sclerosis and am going gluten free. I feel conflicted about eating animals because they also feel pain but I guess I can start off doing it once a week.

  102. Mark
    Im hoping that this will be good for me it makes sense. I am depressed, everytime I eat anytype of wheat I crash and sleep for hours. I feel like Im not living I hope this will bring me back since at this point Im only existing and not living

  103. Mark,

    Spot on!! I have been preaching this for years…from a anthropological standpoint, our physiology is still stone age, and that’s not a bad thing, it’s what we should base our diet and activity levels on.

    From one Grok to another, I look forward to continuing the journey!

  104. I agree with most of your diet suggestions except for meat and grains. I only eat small amounts of fish and I eat mixed dark colored rice every day, rye toast and tofu. I am very fit and healthy and never get sick, almost 64.Play tennis with guys half my age and do sprint work barefoot on the beach twice a week.We should all look for vegetarian forms of protien more.Diet for a small planet !

  105. I was reading a hunting guide that recommended your website for a free E book
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    also i like to say what i read so far its sounds good and makes sense so many diet programs out there claim they are the best magic pill but noting happens i tried so many fad diets in ten yrs being over weight trying to loose weight for every pound i lost it would come back two pounds stronger so i get fatter and fatter, yours sounds like the best idea yet and i might actually enjoy it.

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  108. I have just started this new way of eating and I am thrilled. I already feel better after only a few days. You are so right Mark. If the low calorie, low fat food worked we wouldn’t have 45% obesity in this country. Food has become too easy to get and it’s killing us. My mother and father, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. were thin. I don’t think they were even familiar with the word diet.
    I have a few pounds to lose but basically I’m interested because I want to increase my energy level which in recent years tends to be on the low side.
    I will keep you posted on my progress

  109. Seems a very balanced approach, and instinctively I endorse much of what you write, Mark.

    But I have to take issue with the idea of looking at 10,000 years ago as an accurate snapshot of how our ancestors lived. Humankind has existed on a continuum for hundreds of thousands of years. There’s no reason why 10,000 years ago should be our benchmark for healthy living.

    And given that animal husbandry is wreaking havoc with the environment, the push to eat lots of meat of all kinds is unsustainable (and unethical), even if it could all be organic and grass fed and free range (which it can’t). We have to come up with a different practical model for the future.

    Question: how do we know that our cave-dwelling ancestors did not eat grains (not talking about modified wheat)? Where did the idea of cultivating grains come from, if people hadn’t already been eating grains in the wild? Just askin’

  110. Thanks for all the great information. As I continue my education,I continue to learn all the great things that we as people have often missed. This new world of modern technology, compressed and genetically altered food, is not the world my ancestors thrived in. Though I am just starting this way of life, I can already note the dramatic changes in my health, sex life, and mental capacity. It can be done!

  111. i am very interested in this, it does make sense. I was wondering though, you say on here to lift heavy weight. However my husband has sciatica (one buldging disc and one herniated), how would he be able to do full body exercises like that and not injure himself further? He currently does low impact and isolated machines so he does not put weight in strain on his discs, and does various core strengthening exercises that do not involve weight.

  112. I blog also and I’m authoring a thing similar to this blog post, Vertical Blinds “Definitive
    Guide: The Primal Blueprint | Mark’s Daily Apple”. Do you really care if I personallyincorporate a number of of your own ideas? Many thanks ,Damon

  113. And while spending most of our time at work, when would we have time to do all of those activities? – walking, gym, reading, a lot of sleep , running, playing and getting sunlight??? (especially the last one quite impossible in the UK…)

    1. Amen, not a lot of time in our schedules. Do as much as you can and just keep going. If you can add more fine, if not fine.
      Someone told me once: “Just do your best, some days it will be what you think is your best and other days it will not, but it will be the best at that moment.” Helps those of us who really wish we were perfect ……. Everything eventually changes, that gives me hope that I will eventually have the time for more than just “mental visulation” of me exercising…. He, he, he.
      Baby steps.

  114. Thanks, a instructor at my gym referred me to your website (London, UK). Looking forward to following the lifestyle.

  115. I hit 71 years last December. I consider myself middle-aged so I plan to live to about 140. The ancestors you write about lived to about 30 or 40 I believe so do the rules you set still apply at my age and beyond as the ancestors evolution only worked up to that 30 or 40.

  116. Aloha,
    I love this post! Makes total sense. I’ve been a Paleo/Primal for about 1 1/2 years with struggles, but I’m determined to continue. I have your books on my ipad and will continue to read and reread. Thanks for a geeat post!

  117. Aloha,
    I love this post! Makes total sense. I’ve been a Paleo/Primal for about 1 1/2 years with struggles, but I’m determined to continue. I have your books on my ipad and will continue to read and reread. Thanks for a great post!

  118. All of this is sound advice, but it has nothing to do with being “primal.” Because you forgot to add:

    11. Shun climate control. IOW, turn off your AC and heater.

    12. Starve for long periods of time.

    13. Throw out your mattress and pillow.

    14. Die at 35.

  119. Can you tell be if it is still beneficial for an older adult to adopt this lifestyle ?

  120. I have tested positive for Lupus. an auto immune disorder whereby your body, thinking your healthy tissue is diseased, fights it. It leads to inflammation and pain that i have suffered for over 4 years now. On separate doctors visits and ER visits over the course of these years, I have been diagnosed with bursitis, costochondritis, pacreatitis, bronchial infections, etc. I quit smoking almost 8 yrs ago and dedicated my life to fitness, and have tried to be conscious of what i put in my body. When I found out what the medical field thinks it is that I have, I also realized that those online everywhere I turned are hopeless victims of not only this devastating disorder, but the horrible side effects of the steroids and medications they are on in order to “manage” their primary ailment. There are too many people being diagnosed with disorders like this, and more and more are turning up. There is an epidemic of ingested industrial food mutation that is breaking down and destroying our population by the thousands daily. I am not a sufferer of a hopeless disease. I am the Ambassador of Hope. I believe that the answer is not what we are prescribed by doctors who are but mere indentured servants to the pharm companies, but in what we put in our bodies, and the abilities of our body to reconstitute those incredible amounts of toxins, and failure thereof. There is a lot of sense in the primal lifestyle. Back to the basics, and beyond medication as a solution. I would rather take a daily dose of Discipline over prednisone any day.

  121. Mark:
    I am an anesthesiologist, previous mechanical engineer, now 60 yrs. old have done CROSSFIT, for four yrs.. I used to accept evolution, partly because that is all they teach in universities. But as a grow older & believe more in God as Creator of all things, evolution is not even logical. If true, there would be all kinds of “deselected” “models” left behind. We don’t see evidence of anything like that. But, not to dwell on that discussion, I have changed my diet significantly, and like the result. But as a society, I do not see us going in the right direction as a whole. Our society is driven by profit, not by results. I do appreciate all the young people promoting exercise & responsible eating. God gives us choices, I believe God would not chose “Mcdonalds”!!

    Sincerely,

    Wes

  122. Hi all,
    I am new here and preparing to start this on Monday. I have struggled with my weight all my life. I have tried many “diets”, tried just eating “properly”, even hired a personal trainer 3 days a week. I am currently 198 lbs and 5′ 4″ 51 year old female. I get so frustrated by working so hard and depriving myself that after 5-6 mos I give up. In one of the first posts I read that people rely on scientific proof, well maybe that’s my issue. I have felt that I must be doing something wrong, working out, not eating enough or too much, and could never find some one to tell me either way. I just don’t want to end up like my step mother, on my death bed saying that I’m finally going to be skinny!!! I’d like to enjoy my later years! Right now I feel like I’m just surviving not living. So if anyone is still out there reading these posts, is it really possible to just eat meat veggies and fruits, move a little and lose weight? I’ve signed up for the meal plan but there isn’t a whole lot that I like, I don’t like fish, I’m more of a poultry eater, but I can substitute. Isn’t there particular amounts to eat? Here I go again with the scientifics! I just worry that it will be another waste of time for me, I’m not getting any younger. Sorry to have such a bleak outlook but I don’t want any more disappointment. My husband believes this will work for him but knows it will be very difficult for him to give up the carbs, especially the bread and potatoes. That will be very easy for me as I currently don’t eat lots of them anyway. I’d be glad to hear any advice and tips! Thanks!!

  123. Although a lot of today’s focus about diet is which foods are healthy and which ones are not. However, I think the key is variety. Even too much of a good thing can turn into poison. Human used to eat whatever they can find, so they can even out the good and evil. One the other hand, people in modern society eat what they like and this imbalance leads to problem.
    I like your suggestion on exercise, sadly that is not easy to achieve unless somebody is really dedicated or work in an occupation that required a lot of moving around (like a tour guide…).
    By the way, maybe we should start to eat insects? It’s not a joke! Some people believe that insects like cockroaches are very easy to farm and may be the key to solve world hunger.

  124. I’m not going to pat anyone on the back…I’ve read so many “this is amazing/fantastic/well done, ect. posts on the page. Sure, its interesting people, but did you seriously need a post such as Mark’s, to “understand” something so common sense? Really, think about it…its not revolutionary, just common sense.

  125. This is an awesome post, I read with fascination all the way. I am doing plenty of things that are on the list already, but I have to do a lot better job of avoiding poisions, I eat too much processed food.

  126. Great explanation and a clear way of putting it all together. One thing puzzles me though. Mark, you state: our 10,000-year old genes….. Are our human genes not a lot older than that? It is 10,000 yrs ago we started agriculture, but our primal past is way older than that. Surely we ar looking at our (genetically related) ancestors at least 100,000 years back. Especially if you refer to “primal”….. Or did I misunderstand you?

  127. This is amazing! It’s a great way of showing that we don’t necessarily need to do crazy diets and super intense workouts to be healthy. We just have to take simple steps and go back to the basics.

  128. Colquhoun said in one reading; however, a region critical to respect the individual case.

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  129. I have started weening our home of processed food, im grossly over weight, and admittedly have portion control issues and I’m a carb-a-holic. I juice daily, (90% organic veggies) and yet have zero energy and I mean zero. Will this aid in belly fat loss and increase my energy?

  130. All that is well and good, except that our ancestors did all that stuff before age 35, which was likely their limit before dying. What we need is a comparison for middle aged people of today versus an older version of “Grok” if any lived that long. In our 20’s and 30’s, I think most of us could have easily fit the “Grok” paradigm.

  131. Could I have this on a poster? Until after we’ve reprogrammed ourself out of harmful modern living habits that we’ve developed over time.

  132. Hi,
    I was just wondering what everyone’s thoughts on being vegetarian, cruelty to animals (pigs and fowl) in the farming industry and do we really need meat in our bodies? The reason I’m asking is because I’m interested in the primal lifestyle however have recently become vegetarian after watching one of Paul Mcartney’s video on animal cruelty in the farming industry.

    Thanks

  133. Dear Mark,

    Just over 3 weeks ago I randomly came across MDA and started reading. I had heard of the Paleo lifestyle. My brother-in-law actually has had great success in the last year following the Paleo lifestyle. Over the next week or so, I read through several articles under the PB101 link. I started becoming very interested in this newly presented opportunity to lose the excess weight and feel better about myself physically and mentally. The day before my son’s 4th birthday (three weeks ago today) I decided to change my lifestyle and live by the Primal Blueprint. I am 41 years old and started at 288 lbs (5’11”). I have been on many diet/lifestyle plans over the last 15 years, but none of them stuck. It was too easy to stop and fall off the plans which led to greater gains. While doing the 21 day challenge, I felt day one and two were the toughest days to resist the typical indulgences I ate and drank on a daily basis. After that, it became much easier. I almost completely cut out the grains, save for a dinner or two at my Italian in-laws, and a couple IIPAs (now my only permitted occasional indulgence) on two separate Friday evenings. No processed foods, dairy or legumes. After completing the 21 day challenge, I dropped 17lbs and could feel the buttons on my shirts stopped praying for relief from being choked and my pants fitting looser around my hips. I actually got to tighten one notch on my belt. What a great feeling! I didn’t even really get into the fitness aspect of the PB until the third week. During the first week and a half, I was getting all my information from MDA. I was so happy with the results and everything I read on your site that I went out and bought the book just to show my support of you and your Blueprint. I am about 2/3 through the book and feeling confident that this new lifestyle will be the one that sticks and leads me to achieving my health and fitness goals. It’s a little tough to deal with the Conventional Wisdomites as they think I am crazy for dropping grains from my life. The hardest thing about the fitness side is the slowing down. I have lost many pounds many times over the last several years through various diets and chronic cardio but I have gained more back each time I made those attempts. I could never see myself following those diets forever. I can envision myself living by the Primal Blueprint forever. Even though the 21 day challenge is over, I have absolutely no plans on stopping the lifestyle. When I was recently thinking about just accepting being fat and uncomfortable and unhealthy for the rest of my life, I now can see myself in the body I see in my dreams and in my minds eye feeling happy and comfortable and healthy. I am not giving up. I hope to be featured as one of your success stories down the road. Thank you for putting this information out there and giving hope to people like me.

    Kind Regards,
    Scott Y in NY

  134. I love the Primal Blueprint and 10 Rules, but politely comment that it seems something important is MISSING: hugging, kissing, making love — physically connecting with other humans. This makes us really happy and able to face the day. To embrace others and love them….try to do that too. I’m guessing Grok found some time for that!

  135. This is great, the whole caveman approach makes so much sense. The way our ancestors lived is so radically different to our modern day sedentary lives. We have just got used to the good life and become soft.

  136. FYI. Watching PBS documentary….1932 …….and I was struct by how thin the general public were. Hundreds in line to view a body in funeral home.
    Equals “natural” food without additives. I wd think.

  137. Hi Mark,

    I’m a chiropractor with a strong background in nutrition and have been in practice for nearly 30 years. One of my passions is nutrition (and body health of course), but it was turbo-charged from my own personal health challenges which nearly ended my life a few years ago (Stage III Lyme disease). I agree with nearly every aspect of your diet and philosophy (sans the spiritual), However, I’m not a proponent of the paleo/hunter-gather regimen. Re: it’s operating under a false premise: that we evolved from single-celled organisms and that the earth is millions of years old where man hunted animals exclusively for their sustenance. Even the majority of neo-Darwinism evolutionists are starting to come to the realization that evoution is not only flawed, it is impossible. One cannot gain information that doesn’t exist in the first place such as evolution suggests. (read: The Biotic Message by Walter James Remine, who’s logic makes the theory of evolution appear as though a 5 year old invented it, and Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati). As a Christian, who is well-educated in theology (by God’s grace), I happen to believe in a young earth AND that our bodies, while able to eat and process meat in limited quantities, were actually designed to better assimilate grains (as they were 150 years ago or more). Our digestive systems, our teeth, were made for grinding grain and processing the minerals, vitamins and EFAs out of healthy grains rather than primarily from meats. The garden of Eden is the first place to start for a vegetarian diet. However, even Christ and the apostles ate fish and some meats. Regardless of all the weak and unbacked arguments against Christianity: religion causes wars, religion is hypocritical, blah, blah, blah, the Bible is real and is absolutely full of references to grain consumption and is backed up by non-Christian historian-accounts such as those by Josephus and Origen. We need to be careful about espousing a diet that is not based in fact and in history. I’ve seen what eating too much meat can do to one’s health, even when it’s organic, clean meats. The body can only handle so much – meat in any form is acidic and hard to digest for many individuals. Thank you and God bless.

  138. Excellent Perspective as I constantly find myself referring to “Pro-Magnum” man’s daily routine; no shoes – – – he is well grounded, lots of sun, fresh air, pure water and raw foods, intermittent type exercises and diet of feast or fasting, no petroleum derivative chemicals in or on him, etc.

    Getting back to our roots is the best starting point. “I’ll be back” to read more, Thank You,

  139. You know, I don’t think the sex part “goes without saying.” It’s a huge part of being human and is statistically demonstrably different from the sex of basically any other animal in existence. Too many people assume that we don’t have to work to get good, healthy sex in our lives and that leads to under expression of sexuality, aggression, depression, and a whole slew of other problems. I think it’s wrong to leave that bit out (more than I think it’s wrong to stereotype female play as sedentary and non competitive)

  140. This is the first time that I’m hearing about most of this and although I know it is an old post I still felt compelled to write and say thank you for the information. I will be spreading the word to friends and family. I might even cover this on my blog. This is totally fascinating.