How I Lost 160 Pounds and Reclaimed My Brain by Going Primal

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2In June of 2011, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at Bilkent University in Turkey, with a GPA of 3.28/4.00 (you will see why I shared my GPA later on.) At that time my weight was 358 lbs. Then I followed up with my Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University. (I am currently doing my PhD in the same program with a MS degree already in hand.) When I realized that I was coming over to a completely different country (even continent), I made up my mind on becoming healthier, taking control over my life and losing the extra weight I had been carrying on for years.

Me & My dad at dinner after graduation ceremony June 2011

One of the first few days I arrived to Arizona State USA January 2012So at first, I started cutting calories, eating very little and exercising regularly. I’m not going to lie: I was losing weight. I had lost about 60 lbs that way in one year. However, I was constantly hungry, lethargic and foggy. After the first semester in my Master’s program, my term GPA was 2.89/4.00. So unless I did something about my health, I was going to fail the graduate program, be kicked out of school and forced to return to my home country. (When you have a GPA of under 3.00/4.00 after one year, you are done.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country, but I wanted to build my future here in the USA. So I stopped the calorie counting and exercising for one semester to save my education. I got a 3.78/4.00 (which increased my overall GPA to 3.33/4.00) in the next semester and secured my spot in the university for another year. But with that sacrifice, I gained some of the weight I had lost and was almost close to where I started. On the other hand, I was able to pass my classes with high grades and at the end I actually got my Master’s degree. As soon as that was done, I was admitted to the PhD program, but there was one problem: I was still unhealthy and obese. I knew there was a way to lose all the weight, get high grades and make contributions to the engineering world at the same time. So as any other engineering student would do, I started taking a deeper dive into the research in order to find out how I could get out of the unhealthy habits of dieting to lose weight and actually excel in my study at the same time.

during masters

Enter Primal living. I found out about your blog, which led me to reading peer reviewed publications and amazing books. I wanted to give it a shot because it all made sense. The picture I had understood back then was simple: If I eat what nature provides and keep my body moving/playing, everything will be in order. And like our ancestors, I will strive. It was simple as that, at first at least (after a while, I dug into more research and learned about human biochemistry and everything else, all thanks to you.) So I started eating more fat from good sources. I fell in love with avocados, which I never even tasted back in Turkey. I cut down on my carb intake. I started eating my carbs at dinner on my hard training days. I started enjoying grassfed/pasture-raised healthy ground beef and turkey, which I tried to stay away from for years. I started eating wild caught seafood like salmon, tuna, halibut, cod, scallops and shrimp. Then I finally tried wild caught sardines. OH MY GOD, I love eating sardines now.


Two years into my PhD program, I have a GPA of 4.00. It’s actually more with all the A+’s I got, but overall GPA does not go above 4.00. 🙂  What is more is that I now weigh 190 lbs with some of my abs showing up, which you can see in the attached photo. I feel more energetic and more focused than I have ever felt in my entire life. I currently live in Phoenix, AZ where I get my sunlight every day, sleep eight hours every night and eat what nature supplies from our local farmers.


Let me explain a little bit more about what I did after finding out about Mark’s Daily Apple. After starting to read more and more on MDA, the information resonated with me. I began to understand what I should eat, how I should move, and how and when I should sleep. For example, some of the things I started implementing were: getting eight hours of sleep at night and cutting out the awful-tasting bread slices and “healthy” fruit juices (those sugar filled evil drinks) in my breakfast. For exercise, I stopped running on the treadmill like a hamster, and started lifting some weights like Grok, sprinting every once in a while, and my favorite: just moving around and walking in nature.

February 2016In Phoenix, there are tons of hiking trails and the beautiful sun is out almost 11 months of the whole year. Hence I started hiking more often, discovering new trails and I even started making new friends who were hiking the same trails. One thing I want to share here is that after walking around in nature, I realized that my sleep quality became better. After reading a little bit more about this, I realized that this was thanks to being close to the beautiful vibration of earth and getting the whole spectrum of the sunlight. Here is an example of a weekly workout:

  • 2 days of heavy lifting: 5 reps of squats, deadlifts, over-head press, bent rows
  • 1 day of sprinting or walking on a treadmill
  • 1 day of playing basketball with my friends or hiking

And the rest of the days, I just simply walked or tried to stay active. It was that simple. I was not locking myself inside of a gym for hours and hours. I was just simply applying the good information put out by Mark.

So, thank you so much for putting this outstanding, incredible information out there. I’m trying my best to pay it forward by sharing my story and explaining to other people how a lifestyle change can impact our lives.

Thank you,

Mehmet Bugra Balaban

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