“Apps aren’t paleo, Sisson. Grok waited for days for aurochs to wander within spear-chucking range, not overnight for the release of the iPhone X.” True. But this is the world we live in. These are the tools we have.
If you’re going to lug around an addictive piece of tech in your pocket all day, it might as well contain some apps that make living healthy and living Primal easier, rather than harder. What follows are some of the best paleo/Primal apps I’ve found. Some I use, some I don’t. They’re not all explicitly “paleo,” but they’re all at least tangentially related to this thing we call the pursuit of optimal health and happiness.
The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint way of eating (a.k.a. Primal) are both based on similar evolutionary science. The story goes something like this. Our modern Western diet bears little resemblance to the eating habits of early humans throughout several 100,000 years of evolutionary history. Instead, since the Agricultural Revolution some mere 10,000 years ago, we’ve adopted a nutritional regime to which our physiology is poorly adapted. When the basics of our diet return to the patterns of our pre-agricultural ancestors, we work with, instead of against, our physiology. More simply: eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it.
The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint both recommend limiting carb intake (especially grains) to only as many as you require for performance, eating more protein and fat, and including lots of veggies as a base. But in the midst of this common ground are some key differences.
In 2002, Gary Taubes penned a New York Times piece that questioned the legitimacy of the presiding low-fat dogma. His article made a persuasive case for the safety—and metabolic urgency—of eating more animal fat and fewer carbs. It shifted the national conversation on healthy eating and paved the way for the rise of the ancestral health community. If the experts were that wrong about a healthy diet, what else were they getting wrong?
Last month, I installed an infrared sauna in my house. A company offered it to me to try out, and I was willing to give it a go, knowing a little about them already. It also inspired me to dig into the research—to test it personally but also to see what studies had demonstrated in terms of benefits. I’ll say I’ve been pleased with what I’ve found from both angles.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following a new bedtime ritual: a half hour in the sauna, a cold plunge in the pool, bed. The reasoning is that after warming up my tissues in the sauna, I drop them back down to prepare for sleep. So far, it’s working. I wasn’t exactly starting from a deficit—my sleep has been consistently good ever since I changed how I consume alcohol—but I’m really happy with the new setup.
A traditional sauna heats the air around you. An infrared sauna uses infrared light to penetrate your skin and warm you directly without affecting the ambient temperature. This makes them great for home use.
Podcasts have become a lifesaver for me. Whenever I’m stuck in traffic (which is whenever I drive in LA), or have a long trip ahead of me (and I don’t feel like or can’t read), I use podcasts to make otherwise wasted time incredibly productive, engaging, and enjoyable. Here are what I consider to be the best Primal/paleo/ancestral health-related podcasts in the world. I’ll also throw in some of my favorite podcasts that have nothing at all to do with health and fitness and Primal living.
Let’s get right to it:
Not the barbell. Not the bicycle. Not the rower, the Airdyne, not the pullup bar. I’m talking about the Smith Machine, of course, specifically the squats and curls you can do within its elite confines.
Just kidding. It’s the Versaclimber, folks: the most brutally effective piece of fitness equipment you’ll ever use (but probably haven’t).
Most people don’t know about it because no one talks about it, few use it, and gyms don’t stock more than one if you’re lucky. Is this because it’s a useless piece of machinery? No. The Versaclimber is almost too good, too effective, too intense an experience for most people. The few that have used it almost invariably quit because it’s so hard. And gyms don’t have many because they can’t convince people to use it, to actually go all out like they’ve never gone all out before.
I spend a lot of time talking about evolutionary blueprints, primordial logic and genetic instinct because I happen to think there’s value in it. We live today with the belief (or maybe bluster) that we’re “evolved” beyond our evolution. Too often there’s a resistance to scrutinize our innate responses to the world, to question our choices or to imagine that what we want to pursue is anything other than deep and enlightened rationality at its finest. Sometimes people are offended by the concept of seeing themselves as products of their evolution. For some people, it’s the equivalent of calling them advanced animals, to which I basically agree (much to their continuing exasperation). And, yet, there’s the crux of our human story – these additional, incredible capabilities that we can access and use to guide our lives. These capacities over the millennia have impressively flowered into everything from science to art to, most notably for today’s post, life philosophy.
At the dawn of a new year, I like to go back and revisit everything from the past year on the blog. It helps me reflect on the past and plan for the future. 365 posts a year is a lot to remember, and sometimes you need to go back and jog your memory. Then it all comes flooding back. Normally, I do this at home, in my office, in quiet solitude, as a sort of personal ritual. This year, I’ve decided to publish my remembrances.
2014 has been a big year. Let’s take a look at what we learned and explored together. Where to begin? Well, first…
Ah, it’s good to be back with a regular old Dear Mark. Today we’re discussing the nutritional value of canned salmon, and whether the canning process negates some or much of the impressive nutrient profile of fresh salmon. After that, I discuss the dietary views of Ray Peat, an increasingly popular topic in the MDA forums and a seemingly wildly divergent way of eating. Is there any reconciliation to be made between Peat and Primal? I think so, actually. Finally, I explore why we might be inherently drawn to crispy, crunchy food despite the lack of potato chips, Fritos, and Pringles during the most formative years of our evolution.
These are chemicals you probably aren’t too excited about in common personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunblocks, and makeups – you know, the stuff you’re covering yourself in everyday. Cosmetics manufacturers use these ingredients to improve their product’s ability to clean, moisturize, beautify, or improve an odor, but they often do lots of other bad stuff in the process. So the question is, do these products need these chemicals to work like we want them to, or are there alternative products that manage to use more natural and/or less harmful ingredients while still getting the job done? Indeed, there are, and today I’m going to share my findings with you.