Meet Mark

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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January 30 2014

Try It for 21 Days, or Your Poor Health Back!

By Mark Sisson
131 Comments

Your Poor Health Back - Guaranteed!Over the years I’ve gotten all variety of excuses and complaints about why people couldn’t – or wouldn’t – try the Primal Blueprint eating and lifestyle strategy.

  • Some were just wholly anti-Primal/paleo from the get-go. They hated the “caveman” concept itself and dismissed it out of hand for that reason alone. (Bad Paleolithic past life maybe…who can say?)
  • Some argued I was irresponsible for encouraging people to eat fat – especially saturated fat.
  • Some argued I was insensitive for encouraging people to eat meat.
  • Some thought aspects of the Primal Blueprint eating plan were a “turn off.” (The offal recipes were too much apparently.)
  • Some thought I had it in for the food industry and all American farmers. (I promise you I do not grow all my own food and livestock in a personal biosphere.)
  • Some complained I couldn’t possibly expect people to adhere to such a difficult diet. (For the record, I don’t have any expectations of anyone and believe we all are responsible for our own choices.)
  • Some said they loved the principle itself but just couldn’t give up x, y or z. (I’ll let you all guess what x, y and z are.)
  • Some said they lacked the necessary willpower to make such a “big” change. (At least there’s honesty if nothing else.)
  • Some said they would try it but don’t consider themselves healthy or fit enough. (Yes, you read that right. Isn’t there an ecard floating around with this very concept? Please make one if not.)

I could go on (and trust me – it gets much more interesting and bizarre), but you get the gist. There are a million and one reasons not to go Primal. Too much work, too much change, too much money, too much hassle, too much bacon. (I kid.) The fact is, they’re the same reasons that are readily available to all of us when we want to avoid doing something good for ourselves. There are no limits on how to sell ourselves short, no shortage of ways we can keep ourselves as stuck as we want to be. It’s amazing how creative, persistent and “logical” we can be when we’re trying to subconsciously (or consciously) justify our M.O.

Of course, it all comes down to the ultimate question: how’s your way workin’ for you?

True, eating and living Primal doesn’t come automatically or easily for many people because it’s unfortunately so countercultural in many regards. It’s sad really – how far we’ve strayed from our innate blueprints, but it’s also why going Primal begins to feel so intuitively satisfying once you’re doing it and have made peace with the mismatch between it and conventional practice.

What if, in the middle of this cultural incongruence, you could find the health that you’ve wanted, the body that you’ve dreamed of, the life that felt good – amazing even. (Don’t believe it? Check out the Friday success stories.) Could you overcome the emotional inertia to make a foray into this uncharted lifestyle? Could you pick up hope again after maybe dozens of past disappointments (e.g. fad diets, exercises du jour, etc.)? Could you convince yourself to make an investment that begins with a mere 21 days?

Yes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let’s think a little bolder for the moment. Let’s imagine 21 days – 3 weeks of your life. Does it seem like a lot? Imagine how many weeks of your life you’ve lost criticizing yourself or worrying about your health or sitting on the sidelines because you didn’t have the energy or confidence to be out there doing what you wanted to do. Trust me, for most of us we’re way beyond putting it in terms of hours. Maybe it’s more accurately months, years, decades. If you don’t do Primal for the next 21 days, what will those days look like for you? Will they make you happy and fulfilled, or will you continue doing and feeling the same old, same old? What do you have to lose by going Primal for a mere 21 days?

The thing is, you can try the Primal Blueprint and even the 21-Day Transformation without shelling out a cent. (Of course, thousands of people have found the 21 Day book and the Transformation program more than worthwhile, but you can find all the essential information on the site here totally free.) The point is, the only thing you have to lose is your subpar health and everything that goes along with it (e.g. the gut, the love handles, the daily fatigue, the poor sleep, the insulin resistance, the poor cardiovascular conditioning, the rampant inflammation, etc.). No, not everything will be fixed in three weeks, but I guarantee you will make the best progress you’ve ever made toward these comprehensive goals. You won’t feel the same. You won’t look the same or sleep the same or move the same. You’ll have crossed a threshold to which you won’t want to return because it feels too good on the other side of it.

If you’re unsatisfied with the results of the Primal Blueprint after three weeks, however, you’ll have full opportunity to return to every facet of poor health and excess weight you brought to the program. Yes, you’ll be free to gain back every pound, recalibrate every blood marker, and relinquish every metabolic shift, biochemical enhancement and epigenetic upgrade achieved during the three weeks (no overstatement there). If there isn’t a safer, more secure assurance for those who are afraid to change their health and life, I’ll eat my own book – glossy cover and all.

But let’s not stop there. If you don’t take my word for it, listen to the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken the path before you. Maybe they experienced some of the same self-questioning, the same emotional inertia, the same hesitancy or skepticism, but see what happened when they took the plunge. Listen to their stories of change and adaptation. Witness their success and visualize yourself with the same potential. Imagine life on the other side of 21 days….

Grokkers, what do you have to say to those on the fence (or even solidly on the other side of it)? What could your stories – how you made the eventual choice and what happened afterward – offer them as they weigh the option? The floor is yours, and your audience is listening. Thanks for reading and sharing, everyone. Grok on!

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131 thoughts on “Try It for 21 Days, or Your Poor Health Back!”

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  1. I made the move to “the other side” a year ago, and while there has been some slippage (a current remedial Whole30 is a godsend), I never want to go back to what I left behind: depression, lethargy, and all the poor choices that left this 60+ y.o. body and mind on the threshold of diabetes and the verge of absolute despair.

    It’s not just about having boundless energy and a desire to experience all that living offers, but an entirely new outlook on all aspects of life. Thank you, Mark!

        1. I’ll be 71 years old on Wednesday. I’ve been Primal for around two years now and feel better than I did 25 years ago. My husband is T2D and primal eating controls his blood sugar with no bother. We’ve both lost loads of weight along the way. Before he died we watched my husband’s father, in his eighties, suffer from Dementia, being helpless, doubly incontinent and confused even halucinating at times and I swore we would not end up like that if I had anything to do with it. MDA has changed our lives and I would not change this way of eating if you paid me. Many thanks Mark.

    1. I was in almost exactly the same place. One year ago this week, I got on the scale, joined a gym, and started reading. It didn’t take long to find this site. I went from a size 14 to a 2, while enjoying excellent meals. I can do real pushups. I take long, beautiful hikes. All my test results are good, and I feel wonderful. I’ll be sixty in about 18 months, and I rest easy knowing that I’ve prepped myself for the next decades as well as I could. Bring it on.

    2. I started with a one week challenge 2 1/2 years ago at age 52. There was no turning back. This month I got my 2nd A+ on my blood tests, have more energy than ever, my body composition has changed so much that the last time I weighed what I do now (3 years ago), I was 3 sizes larger, and my outlook on aging has completely changed. At 55 I am healthier and have more energy than I did 30 years ago.

    3. I’ll try to keep this short, but – thank you, all. My first year Primal, I lost 50 pounds and regained energy, but even more important learned that what I ate *mattered.* I’d never felt better in my life. I was always in a fantastic mood, etc.

      But then – I was unemployed for six months. It was awful, in every way you can imagine – financially of course, and socially, and ultimately morally. I have regained 10 pounds.Then I finally regained a job, but will not be out of the red for another month. Food has become a nuisance, something I need but can’t afford so I eat what I had in the cabinets (meaning the cr@p I had stored from before I went Primal). I’d hoped to eventually shift all that to the Food Bank, but there you go. A lifetime of poverty kept me from doing so until I was on solid footing, and my fear turned out to be accurate.

      I’m writing this to say – for anyone in my position or something similar, please remember, it is a journey. Some can go all in, others can not. The reasons vary but ultimately do not matter. Yet the knowledge of what we can or can not do at any given time – it’s important to remember. Even in my now-poverty times, I endeavor to make the best choices possible on a given day, and consider the week ahead. This means food (not good in my case), exercise or any daily movement (I love it!) and all available exposure to nature.

      – M

      1. ” I endeavor to make the best choices possible on a given day…”
        THIS
        This is the essence of being successful in the journey to better health.
        I wish you speedy progress on your financial recovery.

      2. +1. It is the time and freedome from a lifetime of self-criticising,nagging judgemental neurotic foos related crap and self-hate that has most helped me. Still trying to lose the fat, but this time with misstep or bite of “Knock you naked” brownies at a superbowl party (err, um, hypothetically speaking only, of course) there is confidence of knowledge gained and the sure success ahead.

  2. I have a very simple reason I do not eat grains. I am a woman about to turn 40. I can’t eat with an abundance of a male teen, no matter what. So, I want the tastiest food I can get for my tiny caloric budget. Grains don’t have flavor of texture, fruit, veggies, nuts and meat do. So, I don’t waste my ‘calories in’ pennies on grains.

    I like plants more than I like animals so I try to give the greens & serene a bit of a fighting chance and eat meat. 🙂

    Yes, there are things that are very hard to stop eating. But once you do, and keep going for a few weeks without it becomes hard to start eating it again. The power of habit works both ways.

  3. I just began my 21 day challenge on Jan. 27th (for the 3rd time) – I’m hoping that three really is a charm! I’m not aiming for grand weight loss but rather for a more active lifestyle, toned up body, improved energy and stamina. I want to feel good and be able to remain active for many years to come. I read MDA most days and really appreciate all the info, recipes, WOW’s and Friday stories. Thank you, Mark for everything. Off for an afternoon of cross country skiing!! Grok On! 🙂

  4. Just do it! You can whine and debate all you like but trying it out is the only way to know and once you do the ignorant will be silenced forever.

  5. I know one thing: what I’m currently doing ain’t working for me now so what have I got to lose? Even though I have a Las Vegas trip in two weeks, I plan on whole-30-ing through it (today being day 1) and primalling afterward probably.

  6. Sigh, Got up early enough to check out the “life story” today at home so I could see the photos, I so look forward to Fridays….. apparently I’m the only one living in the future….. ahahahahaha, I suppose I will have to do Thursday first.
    At least I got to see the daffodils blooming on my way in and right now the sun is shining here in Hillsboro Oregon, a welcome sight and a good consolation prize for NOT having two Fridays this week. 🙂

    1. Daffodils? Already? You. are. so. lucky. Here in WI it’s nothing but white snow, black ice, and grey skies. I can barely remember what a daffodil looks like… We normally don’t see them until April, or March, if spring is early.

      1. Yes, it’s comical that they come in early in that corner of the yard, however, I am grateful for the hope it inspires. We see the little green shoots sometime in December and the flowers make their way out late Jan or early Feb. However, our winter (mild) can dump snow on them as late as the end of March. It doesn’t kill them but they do lay flat on the ground for a few days and then perk up. One year we had our pink cherry blossoms peeking out from under a few inches of snow, made for a pretty photo.

  7. Timely. After a couple of months of indulging my sweet tooth and laziness, I needed some motivation. Primal February is a good start.

  8. One cannot learn to swim by standing on the poolside..
    Jump in..!

  9. Two years ago I agreed to try to eat primal for a full month, along with two of my former housemates. I made it about a week and a half. I just got so…hungry. I’m 27 years old, male, 5’10”, and weigh a measly 120 pounds. On a good day. This despite the fact that I can eat like a Seahawks linebacker. The most difficult part of the primal diet for me was that I never felt full eating just protein, fats, and vegetables. I don’t really care for sweets at all. The thought of eating a Twinkie or some Little Debbie snack makes me feel ill. But I love my starches. I grew up in Southeast Asia (my parents were missionaries in Taiwan), so rice was a staple of my diet growing up. And the noodles! I adore yakisoba, pho, bun cha, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, along with other starchy Asian delicacies such as nigiri, maki sushi, banh mi, jiaozi, and fresh spring rolls.

    Is there hope for me? Can I embrace the primal diet without starving, and without feeling like I am turning my back on the cuisines of Asia that I love? Should a primal eater who is trying to gain weight (rather than lose it, as so many on this site have strived for and accomplished) feel alright with eating some of the healthier starches?

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. I had the same problem when I did my first Whole30. I was hungry ALL the time, and even the starches from fruit didn’t satisfy me. I think those of us with a higher metabolism just need more starches and carbs to stay full longer. I eat a lot more sweet potatoes now, and have significantly increased my intake of fats. Full fat yogurt, greens cooked in bacon fat with chopped bacon thrown in, cheese, butter, eggs, etc. Carrots and winter squash are also staples in my diet now. I am not as thin as you, but I also can’t afford to lose any more fat or muscle. People don’t believe me when I tell them how much fat I consume, but I know if I didn’t, I would start losing weight and not have any energy for my taekwondo classes.

    2. Aaron, someone like you should be able to eat lots of starchy foods. Some of those foods are unfamiliar to me. White rice and foods made from it should be OK. Starchy roots and tubers would be even better. You shouldn’t ever have to be hungry on Primal.

    3. Keep the rice. Keep the rice noodles. Heck, keep the wheat noodles for an occasional treat if they don’t bother you. Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are also good for weight gain, and you need to gain weight.

      My bet is that while you were “starving” you weren’t getting enough protein and fat.

      Also, start lifting heavy things. If your body doesn’t get the stimulus that it needs more muscle, it will never bother to grow any more than it currently has.

      Some of this “starving” is just conditioning, too. When I lived in Taiwan (Kaohsiung, 2009ish) my Korean friends said they could not feel full without some rice. By the time I left Taiwan, I felt that way too sometimes, but I was able to get over it. Your body will adapt if you want it to.

      1. Jesse, I lived in Kaohsiung for six years, near Cheng Ching Lake. They were some of the best years of my life. What part of the city were you in? I miss taking the ferry out to Cijin Island and eating some barbecued squid on a stick.

        To all, thanks for the replies. Since getting married six months ago, I’ve put on a little weight. I’ve been trying to eat more in the mornings, which has been difficult for me in the past. I definitely don’t do as many lifting exercises as I should. My wife is pretty skinny, as well, and while we do go on frequent long walks together, that doesn’t help me in terms of weight gain. Working long hours at my desk job certainly doesn’t help, either. Can anyone recommend the best heavy lifting exercises someone like me should be doing? Are they possible without a gym membership? I appreciate hearing that I should be able to keep rice and some other starches in my diet. There may be a 21 day challenge in my near future, and hopefully I can get my wife to join me, as well.

        Thanks again for your comments. They are much appreciated!

        1. Aaron,

          Sounds like you’re yearning for http://www.nomnompaleo.com, the food blog of another superstar of Paleo cuisine, Michelle Tam. Check her recipe index for many Asian-inspired recipes, the first two of which (Asian cauliflower fried rice and Asian meatballs) might satisfy your craving for Asian food. Michelle and her husband, Henry Fong, have just produced their first cookbook (Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans). You also seem to have the same quandary with gaining weight that my 5’10” 120 lb son had prior to his starting to lift heavy things and drinking a post-workout protein and carb shake. He put on 10 lbs of what looked like muscle fairly quickly; it was crazy to see my skinny son with chest muscles bulging under his shirt. You also might check out Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet; Paul is a prominent advocate of safe starches to include in your Paleo/Primal nutrition, which you likely need as a skinny guy who wants to put on weight. Last, which I should have referenced first, is Mark’s post on gaining weight and building muscle: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/gain-weight-build-muscle/#axzz2ruJMATO7
          Good luck!

    4. Aaron, it is my understanding that it is quite common for people who are thin to become incredibly hungry after going primal. Teenage and 20-something men often go through this, or so I hear. Once you start eating such nutrient-dense foods, your body can’t get enough of them, because it is finally getting all the nutrients it was missing for so long. You are always hungry because your body continuously wants more of those good things. Eventually, your appetite should go back to normal, but that might take weeks, months, a year? I don’t know exactly, it depends on what your needs are. I think Mark himself even talked about how he doesn’t eat as much meat as he used to when he first went primal. At first, his body just needed so much to make up for what it was missing. Eventually, though, it got caught up, and now he needs/craves much less.
      Wish I could be more specific or scientific about it. I’m sure there are others out there that know a lot more about this than I do, but I just wanted to mention it.

      1. Brooke,

        Thank you for your response. You provided some good insight. One worry I have with the primal diet is that while it certainly provides plenty of nutrition, I may not be able to consume enough calories. For example, below is a roughly primal menu for one work day (allowing some starches):

        4 large eggs – 310 cal
        Breakfast calories: 310

        1 large stalk broccoli – 100 cal
        1 large sweet potato – 160 cal
        2 tbsp melted butter – 200 cal
        12 large shrimp – 60 cal
        Lunch calories: 520

        8 oz top sirloin steak – 550 cal
        3 cups stir fried kale with two tbsp olive oil – 340 cal
        2 baked potatoes with one tbsp butter – 360 cal
        Dinner calories: 1,250

        Total calories: 2,080

        That may be enough calories for me to maintain my weight, but not to gain any. Apart from that, eating much more than 1,250 calories in one sitting can be tough. I recognize that one solution could be to eat more meals throughout the day, but on a day I’m at the office, this just isn’t possible. I’m also not one of those people who can eat a stick of butter, or chug a cup of olive oil, just to consume a bunch of calories quickly.

        In a nutshell, this is why I am convinced that the primal diet is excellent for someone trying to lose weight, but not convinced that it’s for someone trying to gain. It seems to be a whole lot easier to eat 1000 calories worth of pasta, than it is to eat 1000 calories worth of meat (even if the meat does taste significantly better).

        I sincerely hope this does not come across as being argumentative. This is a genuine concern of mine in regards to the paleo/primal diet. I would appreciate any responses, particularly from those who have also tried gaining weight on this diet. What worked for you? Did you have to consume a blueberry, coconut milk, and almond butter shake every morning after breakfast? Thanks again!

        1. This doesn’t seem like a lot of fat, maybe not enough for you? Check out Peter Attia’s site The Eating Academy for some ideas of how to get more fat in your diet. I also vote for keeping the healthy starches -you really don’t seem to have any metabolic problems.

        2. Aaron, my husband is a tall skinny man. We did a whole30 and he got dangerously thin and his hormones got WAY out of whack. We couldn’t figure it out, since the only thing we removed was white rice, white potatoes, wine and chocolate. We added the white rice back in and it was night and day for him. I agree that there is a slant towards weight loss on this diet and that for people trying to gain mass or maintain (NOT ALL PEOPLE, I KNOW), white rice and white potatoes are the way to go. He was eating as much sweet potato and fruit as he could stomach without being completely turned off to it and adding ghee to his coffee, his meat, vegetables, everything.

          I think that doing this protocol + whatever reasonable thing you need to gain / keep weight on you is way better than completely throwing the towel in. And we have discovered that white rice is the most digestive friendly and gives a feeling of fullness better than potato. Again, I know not the most nutrient dense food, but if the remainder of your diet is stellar, I have to agree with other commenters here that it is better than nothing. And a huge bowl of white rice drowning in butter and salt? Fuggetaboutit. Out of this world.

        3. Aaron, IMHO you’re not eating enough fat, no where near enough. And 2,000 or so calories isn’t that much for a guy. How about adding bacon to breakfast? An egg only has 4.5g of fat. Okay, you eat 4 of them, but that’s a good bit of protein and not much fat to fuel you’re morning.

          Try entering your food into FitDay, a free online service that will break down fat, carbs, etc for each day. A high fat diet would mean around 65-70% of calories from fat, at least. Just glancing at your food list, it looks to me like lots of protein and not enough fat.

          You list the calories but it’s the ratio of macronutrients that is important, too. Use the search box to see if Mark has written about how much fat to eat – I’m sure he has! And you might want to read “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” by Volek and Phinney for more in-depth info (available on Amazon).

        4. Aaron, you did not come across as argumentative at all, just bringing up relevant points. I hope you can find a healthy, doable solution for yourself.
          Meanwhile, I’m still trying not to picture someone eating a whole stick of butter or a cup of olive oil in one sitting! I can’t (or don’t want to) imagine anyone doing that!

        5. Thanks to Krispy, Allison, Marisa, Laurie, and Brooke for your responses. I appreciate your insight greatly.

          Krispy, it was great to read about your son’s results, especially given that we have the same body size. I’d be interested to know what his workouts consisted in order to get his weight gains. Without a gym membership, I sometimes feel pretty restricted to cardio and body weight exercises, and the occasional set of pull-ups at the park across the street from my house. I know I’ve read some posts on MDA about prison-style exercises and the like. I may have to start incorporating some of those into my day.

          Marisa – Make it a huge bowl of white rice swimming in butter and tamari, and you’ve got a deal! Throw some shrimp, broccoli, and kimchi out that and…man, I’m getting hungry!

          Laurie, you’re writing to a guy who definitely loves his bacon! That said, on a work day, I rarely have time to make a breakfast (I have to be at the office by 6:30am), and grabbing some hard boiled eggs is usually my best bet. It probably would be better if I ate some butter or other fat with them. Thanks for the FitDay recommendation. I’ll look into that.

          Brooke, believe it or not, eating a stick of butter or sipping on a cup of olive oil are real recommendations that I’ve seen on hardgainer websites. I try not to picture it, either. Kind of like how I don’t want to imagine how bloated I would look on the GOMAD diet.

          Thanks again for your comments!

        6. Aaron,

          I grew up on a largely Asian diet — lots of veggies, rice, seafood, and chicken, with meat served more as a condiment. We only had steak and roast beef on holidays!

          Also like you, I am very slim with a high metabolism. You should probably keep eating the rice, maybe bake something tasty with millet flour (the poor people’s rice).

          I hope you find a good balance!

        7. Aaron,

          Perhaps you could have some bacon (mm… bacon) with your breakfast (or any meal really!), have some almonds/macadamias to nibble on during the day, throw in some avocado, or the odd banana to get some higher cal foods in?

        8. It might not be as ideal as fresh hot bacon, but you could cook up a whole package at once at night and refrigerate it, and then grab a couple slices along with your hard-boiled eggs and go out the door!. Make ahead stuff and pre-prep might be your solution for breakfast. I’ve seen recipes for breakfast ‘muffins’ which are muffin tins lined in sausage or bacon and then eggs poured into the center and baked… I’ve done it, it’s good. Also I know smoothies are generally frowned on because so many people go nuts adding too many things to them (mainly fruit) but it might be a way for you to get a lot of balanced macronutrients in the morning. A lot easier to down it in liquid form, than the equivalent in calories in whole form (one of the reasons people advocate not doing them for folks trying to lose weight). this way you could make sure you got the proper ratio of fat, protein and carbs and it’s quite quick to whip one up in a magic bullet and head out the door with it…

        9. Hi Aaron- I’m not an expert on the fat/protein/carb balance based on body composition and weight loss/gain goals, but I have recently started my journey with cultured foods, which makes me wonder if you have “leaky gut” and are not absorbing enough of your nutrients, sending signals to your brain that you are not satiated. Read the info on culturedfoodlife.com. This site is not nearly as scientific as MDA, but there’s something to the world of cultured foods. This is the first time I’ve really been able to stick to my primal ways, bc I am digesting more efficiently.

        10. I’ve found the best easiest breakfast to make the night before (actually I make a few and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days). I call them egg turnovers. They take about 5 minutes max to make.

          Put a tablespoon of butter in a largish frying pan, on high heat for a moment, add strips of bacon once the butter’s melted. I do about 3-4 at a time. The strips should be about 6-8 inches long, half a rasher here in Aus.
          Once one side is cooked, flip over then drop an egg on one end of each strip. Cook a moment longer then turn the other end of the strip over the egg. So your egg is wrapped in bacon.

          Now the tricky part, flip the egg wrapped in bacon over to cook the other side. Cook to desired cookedness of the egg. Cool quickly and put in fridge, covered. I take one out each morning for breakfast at work. I start early too. These are very nice cold. And add a bit more fat and flavour than a hard boiled egg.

    5. I am so happy to have read your comment! I’ve been trying to adapt to a primal/paleo lifestyle for a year now but I too have the same problem of needing to GAIN weight not lose it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create a version of a paleo diet that will help me with that but still, a year later, I have not gained one extra pound. This has caused me to “relapse” back to grain foods on occasion just so I don’t feel like I’m wasting away. But everytime I am on blogs or am reading books, it’s all about weight loss. So, I haven’t been able to find advice or a food plan to successfully gain. I’m a 29 year old female who is 5’9 and 112 lbs. Last year I tried a whole30 and 3,4 days in I was down to 108. I woke up one morning and could not stand to make my breakfast because I felt like I was going to pass out. After that episode I did cave and go back to sandwiches. I could not decide what was worse for me…a diet in grains but that would sustain a normal weight or paleo and being very underweight. Both of which have health consequences. Fast forward to now, I’m doing much better not relapsing on grains but I cannot follow anything as strict as whole30 anymore. I eat 2-3 servings of fruit a day and I don’t limit my intake of starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and squash. I have not added in anything like white rice however because I am scared of rice spiking my blood sugar (which my main reason for starting this diet was problems with my blood sugars spiking and than plummeting. My sugar crashes come in the form of pretty bad hypoglycemia.) I am thankful I have not lost any more weight over the past year but my goal is still 20-25 more pounds. I’m very discouraged I’m not 1 pound closer to that goal. I will admit I do not do any heavy lifting except my toddlers. This past year I have been afraid to do any large amounts of exercise because I’m afraid I’ll lose weight. I eat as much fat as I can but as far as copious amounts per meal, my budget just does not allow that. We’re a family of 5 and only my husband works. Grass fed meat/pastured eggs are hard on our budget so I have to be very conservative with them.
      I am just very happy I found that there IS in fact other people struggling on the underweight side of this diet besides myself!

  10. I thought about this lifestyle a whole year before I started. It seemed really hard and too good to be true and kind of silly. I got so sick, I thought well, I have nothing left to lose. Four days in, I felt so good, I knew I would never go back. 🙂

  11. The biggest challenge I have expereinced when advocating the primal/ancestral eating style is that many people believe they are quite alright as they are. They do ok and don’t understand how their choices may be impacting their health in the short and long term. If they can’t see the changes almost immediately they lose faith.

    I feel like many have not experienced the boundless energy, freedom from intestional distress, acne, food cravings, that we take for granted. They haven’t been empowered by the beauty and strength that the body is capable of manifesting. They accept the ‘2:30 slump feeling’ as inevitable, that it happens to everyone and it is the way it is. Is aging just a number or is the gradual (or sometimes abrupt) decline in health a ‘normal’ part of life?

    The greatest challenge of how to promote this preventive lifestyle approach to life long health is that people don’t seem to realize what is possible in terms of life improvement. We are capable of amazing things, but if we are only operating at 60% of our potential, how much of life are we missing out on?

    1. I have had this experience myself. I chose primal after I was diagnosed with RA and when I found out that my father is celiac (has been all his life but still eats SAD!!). People think that I am so unfortunate to have RA that I have to eat this way, but the longer I talk to them the sooner I hear that they are on statins and BP meds or have GERD or IBS or some other ailment – yet it’s as though they’d rather live with the pain – the “familiar” – than try primal/paleo. Makes you just shake your head.

  12. The best thing about Mark is the fact that even though he sells his book and supplements, he gives away all the info in his book and tells you that you don’t necessarily need supplements.

    He’s either the BEST or WORST salesman out there.

  13. I’ve been primal now for nearly 3 years. I’ve taken it slowly. At times I have been more stringent with my eating, other times not so much. And do I feel it! I have always shied away from the 21-day commitment as I have been too afraid to fail: one step out of line=throwing the entire process out the window.

    I’m facing my fear this time and going to commit to this. There’s really no failure–I can simply keep improving.

    Try it out–like Mark says, you can always have your previous eating and lifestyle back.

  14. My wife and I have been following the Primal lifestyle for a little over one year and for me it has been transformative. However, we have always enjoyed our red wine as it had become in a sense a part of the “food/dining” experience, and we were adherents to the 80/20 principle on the food side. But we finally decided to just do the Whole30 (just like the 21 day transformation program) Why I thought doing this during football playoffs and Super Bowl was a good idea I still can’t figure out! However, we both have never felt more energized, rested, clear, optimistic and just plain content, in our entire lives! We now know we will never return to the “close but no cigar” lifestyle we were living before. Thanks to you Mark and the entire MDA community for the part you played. And if you’re still deciding whether to jump in or not, stop deciding and start enjoying!

  15. Migraines-gone, metabolic syndrome-gone, ugly belly-gone, grouchy-gone, lack of energy-gone, tasteless grains-gone, stomach upsets-gone, hunger between meals-gone, colds and flu-gone………….sixpack-back, energy-back, health-back, nice to my mate-back, great food-back, run circles around people my age-back, must I go on? Time to get off the fence.

  16. I’ve been bouncing back and forth on the Primal/Paleo diet for a few years now. My reasons for vacillating on and off were all of the excuses listed above. I’ve known the merits of eating Primal, but I’d continued to eat junk for lunch every day for months.

    My wife and I recently enlisted in the Quantified Diet Study to ween ourselves off the SAD diet and on Primal. We’ve made small adjustments that have big impact and our lifestyles have completely changed with little to no effort after the first week.

    It’s a little boring to some, but my constant obsession with what i was going to have for lunch or dinner has completely vanished and my mood and energy levels have increased exponentially.

    *Hard boiled eggs for breakfast every day (If I have breakfast). I boil a few days worth while I’m making dinner or in my morning shower.

    *Lunch is always leftovers from the night before

    *Office is stocked with almonds and jerky for snacks (rarely needed)

    *Dinner is doubled for lunches.

    *Pickles/Kimchi/Sauerkraut are my crunchy snack if i’m watching the tube.

    I have been allowing myself a cheat on Saturday, but those have naturally been pretty tame. Maybe my tastes are changing?? in general, I don’t think i’m going back folks!!!

  17. Primal became my default without me even really trying. I’m 22 and was dipping my toes in the primal lifestyle for at least a year before I realised recently that I had become totally immersed. Sometimes I forget I didn’t used to feel this good, because feeling as healthy as I do now is so effortless. I’m sensitive now to non-primal foods and when they take my body to its old state I appreciate the reminder that my lifestyle tweaks are entirely worth it. I can’t wait to take this lifestyle into older age and be as inspiring to others as the senior groks on here!

  18. I hesitated a long time prior to plunging into a Whole30 sponsored through my Crossfit gym; just couldn’t get over that CW about whole grains, legumes, etc. It will be 3 years in March since starting. My biggest concern is that my husband is not at all on board with eating meat; he’s been a vegetarian most of his life for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. This despite the fact that he’s having gut issues that can incapacitate him for 3 days or more. I guess some people have to get really bad prior to going beyond contemplation and into their blueprint.

  19. My only objection to this is that 21 days may not be long enough of a transition for some people, especially heavy-duty SADs. There were several cases on the forum where a 10-day carb flu kicked in only after 21 days, or other cases where the person really had to ramp down the carbs before starting the 21-day clock. And I haven’t read any cases of this, but a vegan suddenly eating lots of meat may not be a great idea either…

    1. Speaking as a one-time vegan who suddenly started eating lots of meat: it’s a totally great idea! I mean, at least, it was for me. Before the end of the first meat feast, I immediately started feeling brighter. In the months that followed, my gut and joint issues disappeared and my brain started working again. For sure, it might be a tumultuous transition for some, but I reckon 21 days is plenty of time to experience the value of the transition. For me, it meant regaining my potential – everything wasn’t such an uphill struggle any more.

      Also, I really enjoyed Lierre Keith’s awesome ‘The Vegetarian Myth’, which Mark recommends. Made me link primal eating with sustainable lifestyles and climate change activism in a way I hadn’t been able to grok before. Doesn’t get mentioned much, but the food that clicks with our bodies also clicks with our environment. And turns out grains tear up eco-systems and soil as bad as they tear up our intestines. Pretty interesting stuff.

  20. Great post Mark. If you find yourself on the fence ask yourself WHY your considering starting in the first place. Dig really deep into that answer and discover what’s really important to you.

    Many people think “I need to get active” but why? If the answer is so you can be a more active parent, make that your focus. That will motivate and inspire you to see it through. Because “the doctor said I should eat better” or “I need to lose some weight” probably won’t!

    Lastly, just like Mark said you can go back to your old ways. Your not skydiving, once you jump you can turn back, should you choose to!

    1. But I hardly think you would want to!

      I agree with the specific mindset. This was true for me after struggling through the early winter and holiday season. Summer was fantastic–I was 90% primal and had some very specific athletic goals. I’ve been extremely frustrated over the last several months because it seemed like I didn’t have the willpower to remain primal or get back to primal a midst the darker days and holiday treats. Now I’m training for a triathlon and just like that I’ve focused back in and am doing and feeling great!

  21. For the newly primal who are stuggling: I too would get so hungry as to fall off the primal wagon (and I’m a female in her 40s). I did this for a year and a half. I also had constant stomach distress. I thought it was fiber, so I decreased my vegetables and upped fat. I thought it was FODMAPs, so I eliminated those for awhile. I even tried GAPS – bone broth, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Finally, I sort of gave up, but still would not eat grains, beans or dairy (I’m lactose-intolerant) because of what I learned here. Giving up meant eating more starches (potatoes – gasp! sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables and reducing fat somewhat. I feel better than I’ve felt in 2 years! Now, I’m happy all the time, no more SAD (seasonal affective disorder) for the first time in many years, my digestion is much better, I sated after meals and I’m not crazy hungry all the time.

    My two cents? If you are really struggling with hunger and it causes you to eat half a bag of bagels, try eating starches for awhile. Then, when you’re ready, you can experiment with reducing those. I’d like to be a bit leaner, so I’m experimenting with cycling my starches: lower carb, higher fat one day, starches and slightly lower fat the next day.

    What works for the masses might not always be best for the individual. I’m really proud of myself for finally figuring this out!

    1. Thanks for this Kim… I’m 26 with IBS diagnosis since I was 14… I thought Primal would fix it but it seems to have coincided with some other underlying issues and I feel horrendous. Fatigued, pain, my hypermobility is worse (probably less inflammation but then conversely…) my IBS is worse too. At least my periods have come back which is a huge achievement but I’m baffled by all these talks of people feeling miraculously better. After years of distress I thought this would be my answer, but it just seems to cause flare ups! After my first go for 8 weeks, and very solid commitment, I got the flu and I gorged on carbs because it was all I seemed to want. I gained 12 kgs in 3 months even after the carb-binging died down after 2 weeks. Now I can’t seem to drop anything… even on Mark’s Primal Blueprint macros-plan and carb cycling and not super low calories… but they should be low enough (plus exercise). Thank you for your comment…. Maybe I need to be more experimental still. I can’t seem to kill this hunger.

      1. I would definitely experiment–it sounds like you may need to work on healing your gut? Hopefully someone with more knowledge will chime in. I think the important take-away with primal is to experiment with real food to find what works for you (not going back to processed foods and chemicals)

        1. I’ve been tested for everything under the sun (I got very very sick last year)… obviously all the doctors keep telling me is meds and grains… which I refuse to do. I don’t think I’ve eaten processed or packaged foods since I moved back from America in 2010 and I’ve kept myself away from meds (except one unfortunate round of apocalyptic antibiotics about 5 months ago). I shop organic and local from a farmer’s market and I’m fermenting things too… I promise I’m really trying! I think there might be quite a bit of hormone disruption and I’m terrible at some of the primal laws (like sunlight (I’m a lawyer) and reducing stress… which in turn prevents me from adequate sleep). But there is nothing diagnostically wrong with me. I just hope I can settle into this lifestyle eventually, because the philosophy really resonates with me. I just appreciate the suggestions to experiment beyond some of the hard and fast rules too. It’s good to see some stories like that! 🙂 Thanks for your help AngelaT!

        2. Perhaps the issue is parasite related. Underground Wellness has a brief series with Paul Chek that talks about parasites and such. Dietary approaches, treatments, etc. Fascinating talk; that Paul Chek is a pretty “fun-gi”

        1. Krissy, Have you checked out Stefani Ruper’s site:paleoforwomen? She does a great job discussing the differet and specific needs of women what with all our wonderfully craptastic hormones. And “at least my period came back”, which assumes you lost it for a time, suggests something that should surely be addressed. She has a flow chart of symptoms in her topic of PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome) that may be helpful to you,as loss of period is part of it.

      2. Really think about gut healing. I have gluten allergy/intolerance, so taking that out helped a lot, but I was also having symptoms to everything. I started drinking lots of chicken bone broth and drinking kombucha every day. Even after just a couple of months it has made a huge difference. Everyone is different, keep trying. Probiotic supplements don’t seem to work as well for me, but the kombucha is a life saver. Make sure it has no added sugar. Ginger is great. Good luck. Heal yourself, get some energy, then worry about weight.

    2. This. I started playing around with Primal back in 2009 and had some great success. While I was playing, it was fun, although I look back and realize that somewhere along the way I became the really obnoxious, judgmental born-again who thought 80/20 was weak but was gorging on frozen cookie dough behind closed doors. So healthy (not). In 2012, I stopped taking hormonal birth control and… Nothing… So I tried GAPS, I tried eliminating FODMAPS, I went zero carb for a week, I tried “safe starches,” blah blah blah. Over the holidays, I indulged, and I became so much more pleasant and balanced that when I came back to healthy, I did it by replacing the bare spoonfuls of coconut oil with fruit, potatoes, and yes, even rice and oatmeal (it’s a good carrier for pumpkin and cranberries!). And you know what? I feel better. I also weigh more. And some hormones woke up. Humans are omnivores, and any serious look at traditional societies shows that humans thrive under a wide variety of circumstances. That’s why this is a blueprint, and that’s what I forgot along the way to dietary perfection.

  22. I fell upon Marks website back in Oct. I lost 27lbs now have a six pack that I could never achieve even in my younger working out harder days. It was hard to figure out what to eat at first since I was use to just heating up premade food from a box. It took a bout 2 weeks. I started out eating a lot of of omelettes.i would also slice up a lot of veggies and dip them into humus or cream cheese. I work 12 to 14hrs a day as a truck driver come home and was spending 2hrs in the kitchen preparing for the next day. I would make fruit salads with high fat yogurt and shredded coconut then changed it to berry salads. Then I figured out by experiment how to make grainless pancakes. I started with small ripe banana 2 farm fresh eggs alittle almond milk some vanilla. I would also put melted coconut oil or pastured butter in.Put in my blender on beat. Mixed tapioca flour and baking powder and chopped up pecans together. Then added the liquid mix and it made delicious pancakes. Since then I modified it. I now add flax meal and almond flour. I have tried coconut flour but don’t like how they come out. Bean flour not good for pancakes. Then after doing that for a month I discovered if I make the batter a little thicker and put in muffin tin it makes great muffins and I could make enough for the week cutting my kitchen time down. After that I thought maybe if I leave out the pecans and the banana pour on to a waxed piece of paper and cookie sheet it would make a good bun. I decided to use heavy cream instead of almond milk for bun and it turned out even better. So now I take sandwiches. I find it fun trying new things and seeing the progress. I will never go back to the way I was I enjoy the way I feel to much. The other thing we figured out was to make a hearty soup or stew or chillie and eat it all week. So now I am down to maybe 1/2hr in kitchen.

  23. After going primal a year ago, and gently working on my husband for the past year to go primal as well (he hasn’t), I’ve learned that you just can’t flip that switch for another person. They have to decide for themselves that their health is so important to them that they’re willing to change deeply ingrained habits/routines, change their diet, change their daily schedule, and make recovering their health HAPPEN. If you like the taste of Girl Scout cookies more than you like sleeping through the night, and if you like pancakes more than you like being pain-free and having tons of energy throughout the day, then nothing I say is going to change your mind. You have to decide you want it, and then you have to make it happen. And there are TONS of tools here at MDA alone to help you do that, but again, first you have to WANT it and make it a priority in your life.

  24. I don’t offer Primal to anyone, but to those who notice how I eat and live, ask about it, and then tell me why they can’t do this or that, I just say, “So don’t.” Other’s excuses aren’t my concern. They need to live with their choices.

  25. I love how this way of eating makes me feel. I eat around 50 – 100gs of carbs a day and I have a very varied diet full of veg, a little fruit and lots of meat and good fat.

    Thank you Mark for everything, you really have changed my life. I wish I had found you before I had my gastric sleeve op, but so glad I’ve found you now.

    Thank you so very much.

    Michelle

  26. I’ve been Primal for 16 months and have seen the following improvements:
    No more sinus infections (used to get 2 per year).
    Toe fungus clearing up after having it for over a year (thought it was just all the running and sweating I was doing).
    Barely ever get headaches/migraines anymore
    Hoarseness of voice cleared
    No more sore throats
    Used to have cold fingers and toes all the time – not anymore!
    No more muscle cramping in the legs/calves!
    So – all that is GOOD! However …
    I’ve put on 9-11 lbs of FAT, yes FAT, not just “weight.”
    I’ve lost much of my muscle definition, gone up a pant size, am a slower sprinter due to the weight gain, and no longer feel sexy or comfortable in a bathing suit or tighter clothing. 🙁
    Trying to figure out what the problem is. Going back to low fat foods is pretty tempting as the fat continues to accumulate.

    1. doesn’t hurt to experiment! it is clear high fat isn’t working, so try lowering the fat and more protein/starch.

  27. I went Primal a year ago. I had huge issues with inflammation and was taking large amounts of ibuprofen just to get through the day. My hands, wrists, elbows, ankles and knees would ‘crackle’ when I moved and were sore and swollen.

    Only days after giving up legumes, dairy and most importantly grains, the inflammation was totally GONE. I would be crazy to go back to the pain I lived with before.

    Grok ON!

  28. I started eating optimally over a year ago in the hope of losing weight. In this respect I have failed, however, I feel a million times better than I did a year ago. My weight is a symptom of imbalance in my body and I know I’m close to regaining balance and trust the weight will shift soon. For many people there seems to be a need for trial with different factors and this isn’t a quick fix, but it delivers. Thanks Mark.

  29. Never say never. My husband, the sweet tooth, has an acquaintance who is Native American and they got into a conversation about diet. The friend is Paleo and gave him a glimpse of the benefits. Husband said “You sound just like my wife!” He shared it with me and we had a discussion. No sudden changes, but it might be a seed planted? At any rate, it took me off the Whacko list! 😉

    I’m diabetic and contol it with diet. MDA is great for encouragement. I cook low-carb Paleo to the best of my knowledge and let hubby shop for his own grains. I have a regular exercise that includes lifting heavy things. I’ll never go back.

  30. I’m new to this lifestyle. I still have bread a couple of times a week (I won’t give an excuse) but I am mostly primal. I love it, yet still feel deprived; why do the shinny boxes on the shelves of the markets full of sweets, chips and cookies look so good? I don’t want them, I just think about them because I can’t have them. If I eat any of that stuff now I have terrible stomach problems, great deterrent.

    I think the food industry has a lot to answer for and wish there was a primal market close to me, where I can buy everything I need and never have to go into a SAD market again (Head out of clouds).

    I would tell anyone who asks me about this diet just to do it and stop wasting time. It is the best way to eat, so many benefits, such as sleeping better, no IBS, calm, energy and no cravings, no cravings and no cravings.

    Thanks Mark from the bottom of my healthy heart 🙂

  31. Prior to going primal, I really thought I was going to keel over one day. I thought I was eating healthy (Food Pyramid) and doctors told me I just needed to go on blood pressure medication. Turns out, I had a severe gluten allergy. After going primal:
    1. High Blood Pressure. GONE!!!
    2. Dermatitis: GONE!!!
    3. Asthma: GONE!!!
    4. Joint Pain: GONE!!!
    5. Stomach Issues: GONE!!!.
    6. Insomnia: GONE!!!
    7. Weight: At 6’3”, I’m holding at a steady 165-170. Lean and strong.

    Going primal was the best decision I ever made.

  32. I love reading MDA for info about all aspects of health, and I wish you luck in spreading your message of good health, but I have no intention of switching to a primal diet. Not because I don’t believe you when you say that it’s the best diet for good health, but because my health is not my only concern when it comes to diet. I choose to be mostly vegetarian because the sustainability of my diet is important to me and I think I can be almost as healthy eating this way. My diet certainly has more in common with the paleo diet than the SAD. There is still so much of the paleo lifestyle that I have applied to myself without adopting the diet.
    So thanks Mark for providing science backed health info that appeals to a wide range of people, not just those who love meat 🙂

    1. I’m glad to see a vegetarian with this point of view– I just recommended MDA to a vegetarian with autoimmune issues, & told her there was much she could learn here even without switching to a meat-eating protocol.

      I was vegetarian for many years & still don’t really have a “meat tooth” as my husband & sons do. I do eat meat now, but probably less than most folks here. What has changed most significantly for me is much more healthy fat in my diet, many more eggs, more calories, much less starch & sugar.

      Also much less chronic cardio! Vegetarians can profit from all of these as well!

    2. Jemma, I was a vegetarian, too, and I still have the exact same concerns you do. I say do whatever feels right in your heart even if it’s never eating a bite of meat. I resented every time my husband asked me to read an article about the benefits of Paleo, but he asked me to read it with an open mind and because he was concerned for my health and the health of his parents (still lifelong vegetarians but his mom has had several undiagnosable issues since her late 20s). I agree with Paleo-curious that there are a lot of features of this lifestyle that I see mirrored in Vegan books I’ve read, like the 80/20, gluten-free, fasting, drinking more water, sleep, etc etc.

      What has been really nice to see though is that I used to resent Whole Foods and similar grocery stores for the high prices, but I went into one the other day and saw that they grade their meat on a scale of 1 to 5+ to let you know how the animal lived. 5+ means they lived their entire life on a single farm with free access to the outdoors and no medication/antibiotics. In this way, you can still selectively support environmental and animal welfare causes without being completely meat free. Just wanted to offer those perspectives as food for thought! 🙂

  33. It’s pretty simple for me:

    Eat & move primal=feel great

    Eat grains/sugar & lay around=feel bad

    Not that it is always easy. Yesterday I caved in to a stressful situation and ate grains and sugar and felt like utter crap. A good lesson, learned again.

    Today ate primal breakfast, walked, lifted, feel good.

  34. I was lurking on all the Paleo websites for a while. I started to cut things out, but I was never very serious and didn’t see much in the results department. Then last January I finally decided to do a 21 day challenge and it was a revelation! Since then I’ve done 2 Whole30s and an 8 week Paleo challenge and I’m starting my next 30 day challenge on Monday! I still fall off the wagon time to time, but I always know I can get back on track with a good challenge. It’s so obviously that this lifestyle works for me: I look better, I feel better, and it just makes sense.

    Besides who doesn’t want to slim down eating bacon and steak?!

  35. Folks, it is sooooo worth it. 53 years old. Healthier than I’ve ever been, and loving the food. And yes, Whole30’s to reset are the bomb. In the middle of one right now. That, and following SimpleFit – and just loving life!

  36. These are some things that have improved or disappeared by eating primally:

    Fluid retention, bloated belly, achy joints, cracked heels, Hidradenitis suppurativa, constant irritation & angry outbursts, depression, lay on the floor tiredness, sore morning feet, terrible sleep, twitchy muscles, general itchiness, tinnitus, menstrual cramps, massive sugar cravings, anxiety, extreme salt sensitivity, constant hunger.

    I used to take ibuprofen every day. I only take it a few times a month now.

  37. Aaron, read the perfect health diet, it is a great book. Also I don’t think you need to justify wanting to eat rice because you want to gain weight. You can gain just as much weight if you stuff yourself with olive oil and avocado if you want. Eat what you love, and what feels right, I for one found out the hard way. To low carb for to long with my body type and activity level was a recipe for disaster. Find your own way, I think that is what this site is about anyway, not following along blindly because that is what someone told you to do, but doing what is right for you personally.

  38. I’ve been with the primal blueprint since March 2012 and have never looked back. I’m a 57 yr 5’10” male, and since the time I started down this path, the following results: lost 35 lbs – from 210 to 175 (maintained easily); all blood markers are excellent; no more acid reflux; and, no more joint pain – my knees and wrists used to bother me daily. Although, there are two problems with adopting this lifestyle: 1) you learn how to cook a lot better than with the SAD; and, 2) you spend a lot of money replacing all of your “fat” clothes with new, trim fit sizes!

  39. I was one of those dismissive types. I was a 80/20 vegan (never could completely give away that meat!).
    I thought the paleo/primal diet was a silly idea when I first heard about it, until I had a couple of “ah-ha” moments. I was doing a food diary and noticed how I felt/performed better after eating more protein. Then I heard about a study where the health issues of Australian Aboriginals were reversed after returning to their traditional diet.
    It started to make sense to me. I did a Whole 30 this time last year and have been paleo ever since. Give it a go, people!

  40. I am 63, female, and have been primal for 3 years. I had all kinds of problems with digestion, arthritis, etc. They are all gone and have been for almost 3 years. I attribute it to my lifestyle because nothing else I tried helped at all. Even medication!!! My doctor can’t believe it when I tell her the changes I made. Hopefully, everyone, if they would just give it a try, will see what I mean.

  41. At 43: arthritis in hands and feet, gone. Exhaustion for three hours after lunch, gone. 20 pounds, gone (and still going). Constant sugar cravings, gone. Need to eat five or six times a day, gone. Huge stomach bloat, gone (I used to get asked when the baby was due every few months.)

    Plus, now I am on a very strict ketogenic diet for a cancer I am working to get rid of. I could never have transitioned to it as easily as I did if I hadn’t already been on a Primal diet for 18 months.

    I’m very grateful for MDA.

  42. My experience with those “on the other side of the fence” is extensive:
    I have preached the gospel many times, but my conversion rate is ZERO.
    Now what I do is tell the people to talk to somebody else for illumination/conversion, because it is clear that there is some reason behind my record.
    But wait, I KNOW the reason:
    If you read the Iliad (or watched the Troy movie) you will recall Cassandra (daughter of Priamus, the king of Troy). Well, she was given by the gods the power of prophesy. But later the gods realized their mistake, they could not undo the gift (don’t ask me why, some godhood rule). And what they did was to remove Cassandra’s ability to convince anyone (gods version of thinking outside the box).
    So know I know the truth: I have been cursed by the greek gods, I am the modern and male version of Cassandra!

  43. Hello apples!
    To me, the very first trigger to the paleo diet was weight loss. I had tried many other diets, zone and dukan included, and they had had few effects. Bonus: they were boring, unpracticeable and there was no science supporting them.
    I was fascinated by the whole idea behind the paleo/primal diet: eating real food, choosing the quality, listening to my own body. More than everithing else, thou, was the fact that the theory was convincing. What I read made sense to me, there were studies to read, and I was convinced by the theory even before I started trying it. When I took the “big step”, weight loss came slow, steady, healty. Fat was shredding all over my body uniformly, I changed my body composition and lost 2 sizes in a few months.
    The weight loss, that made me try the paleo/primal lifestyle on the first place, was not the best thing that happened: I was healthy for the first time in years. Hiperinsulinemia and chronic belly-aches gone, rosacea almost undetectable. This lifestye taught me to listen to my body, to love it and cooperate with it, and it changed my life so much that nowadays I can even feel that I need to work out if I sit to the computer all day. Going primal was the BEST.DECISION.EVER.
    Thanks for reading my very long story and thanks to Mark for his priceless work of information. Grock on!

  44. Actions speak louder than words, so I’ve chosen to let my transformation speck for me. I am 20 days in and enjoying the journey. I know there are people close to me who will be astounded and ask how I made the change because they won’t be able to control their amazement.

  45. If your on the fence, JUMP OFF AND JOIN THE TRIBE!! I beg you! I’ve been primal for about a year now and it’s literally cured my celiac symptoms. I had a lifetime of recurring canker sores (no longer!), dry skin, underweight, pain in knees etc. and that’s all behind me now (I’m almost 35). Now, life is full of long walks/hikes, barefooting everywhere, all the fatty, flavorful foods I can imagine (and bad cravings literally vanished), energy through the roof most of the time, 8% body fat, happier days, fun bodyweight workouts with no set schedule, more sprinting speed than ever before, and longevity to look forward to. My wife and kids are also primal and it’s changed our lives for the better. Our favorite lunch for the kids is apple/nut butter sandwiches (apple slices with nut butter in between). We consider all this knowledge a major blessing. Again, if you’re on the fence, jump off and don’t look back!!! Please!

  46. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d just given myself the “no more excuses” lecture this morning so am very grateful for today’s topic. I’ve been fairly Primal the last few years, but was slipping the second half of 2013 and into 2014. I absolutely know how much better I feel when more Primally focused, but sometimes when The Life Thing gets in the way I become scattered, and then, unfortunately, “feeling better” is just not a sufficient motivator.

    This time around I’ve decided to try some negative reinforcement rather than the promise of a reward–I’ve vowed to donate $$ to a political group I really dislike if I really slip up in the next 21 days. The husband thinks I’m crazy, but it already feels like a way more powerful motivator than any shopping spree at Lululemon 🙂

  47. I have been pseudo primal for the past month. I am not totally off SAD, but have cut WAY back from where I was. I am 30 and weighed my max last October, at 242 lb. I decided something HAD to change. My coworker told me about Primal and MDA and after an October test run (where I lost 6 lb before falling off), I am back at it, more motivated than ever, and enlisting the help of everyone around me that I can. Since Jan 2, I have lost 12 lb, twice as fast as I was aiming for (I was hoping to be 37 lb lighter by June… looks like it might be April or May!). I struggle with the… different kind of fullness that I feel with Protein, but I am learning to enjoy it. I read Mark’s Daily Apple at least on Fridays, more if I can, and am always in awe of the information here. It is SO tough to get away from the Standard American Diet, believe me, but if you can embrace the new feelings and flavors, it can be extremely enjoyable as well.

  48. i eat salads with “odd” greens and healthy meat at werk. i rave about putting bacon grease on everything (everything). i display an exaggerated countenance of disgust when somebody offers or recommends bread to me. (i use discretion with this one; i wouldn’t insult a baker so.) i lift with my hips, i do VitaMoves two or three times a shift in plain view of everybody. i live by example because it’s not pushy.
    When somebody decides to have a conversation with me, i listen to what they say and when i see they’re winding down i give a response that doesn’t sound like agreeing or disagreeing and is engineered to (hopefully) get them thinking. Usually, though, they reply with another long-winded speech about the topic. i don’t stress about them, though, because that’s a bad example.

  49. Mark hits this pretty hard in this literature, blog post, etc. but most people don’t understand that they could feel so much better. They have lived with feeling ‘sub-par’ for so long it has become the norm. The primal lifestyle offers a new lease on life, a path to becoming the best you possible. 2 years primal and going strong. Many friends have joined in the journey and only hoping to recruit more. It feels so good when I see a friend start to get healthy again, lost weight, get their energy back, and start kicking a**.

  50. 71 years old here, and I’ll NEVER go back to conventional eating! No more heartburn/acid reflux, cholesterol normal, no more BP meds, lost 35 lbs effortlessly, mood swings are pretty much a thing of the past, I have LOTS of energy for an old girl, and I LOVE THE FOOD. I’ll have a bacon-wrapped steak with a huge salad, please…

  51. I dived in two weeks ago. I’m not perfect and I’m probably averaging about 70 to 80% of the time, but I feel a lot better and can definitely say it’s worth it!

  52. I loved this post for motivation. 4 years and going strong. Just do 21 days people. You won’t look back.

  53. I’ve said this before – based on quote from the movie “the Matrix” which is a truism that can be applied to many aspects of life and our own self-sabotage: I guess your feeling a bit like Alice at the moment going down the rabbit hole – You take the blue pill, the journey ends, and you wake up in your bed eating whole grains and doing what “they” say is healthy, and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in primal land, and see just how far down the rabbit hole of mis leading health truths go….

  54. My only excuse would be that in Holland meat is just too damn expensive!!!

    But the payback is a lot as well.
    No more high blood pressure, no more heart rhythm issues…
    feeling a lot better…

  55. This is rather random, but I thought some of you might be interested in the recipe?

    I’m about 90% Paleo Monday – Thursday and 80% fri / sat / sun, but over Xmas visiting my 93 yr old grandmother (one of my two last living relatives) I couldn’t bring myself to refuse her offerings.

    So – thought I’d go completely no sugar for January. (Previously….dark choc (85%) most days…maybe some sort of sugary homemade treat, like a cookie, every couple of weeks.)

    After the first ten days all the real cravings were gone, but I missed dark chocolate. A chef friend of mine gave me the simplest and most FORGIVING recipe ever!

    Good quality cocoa powder
    Coconut oil
    Vanilla (bean seeds, or essence)
    tiny shake of salt
    1-2 tablespoons of some sort of not strongly flavored sweetener – I’ve used what we call in Australia ‘Golden Syrup’

    Do the mixing in a bowl which you sit in a larger bowl of very hot water, to keep the coconut oil liquid. Mix maybe 1/3 or so cup of coconut oil + 1 cup or so of cocoa + other ingredients to taste (start with tiny amounts and go from there).

    The consistency works if it is anywhere from pancake-batter (pourable) to cake batter (spreadable). Just spread on a sheet of baking paper or on baking paper on a tray if you like it more pourable. Chill until set. Break into pieces.

    Delicious! Takes about 5 mins, costs heaps less than store bought choc and I know exactly what goes in it. 🙂

    1. My boys and I have been making a version of a recipe from Elana’s Pantry – chocolate powder (Van Houten), dates, hazelnuts, vanilla extract, coconut oil and butter. Give it a blitz, roll into balls and chill – divine! Haha – that autocorrected to van gluten!

  56. Oh and – I’m a fitness professional and have been training consistently for 17 years. Only since discovering Primal in 2012 have I actually gotten the body I really wanted! (I was for before but a bit…padded.) I train less, am stronger and look better than I did as a teenager. Sleep = excellent, can go ages between meals, no digestion issues.

    My colleagues and I joke that putting ‘get a body like mine in just 17 years’ on a business card wouldn’t really work! 🙂 But hey I got there eventually!

  57. I thing tubers are a part of primitive peoples diet. Indians here on the Rez where I live ate camas root…the Hawiians ate poi from taro root…the South American Indians eat manioc which tapioca is made from.

    I’m 75 and imbraced the Paleo/Primal lifestyle and love it. Because I need to loose weight I keep potatoes and yams to a minimum but believe that ancient man would have eaten will tubers.

    You do what you have to to make the diet work for your life style.

  58. “Such a difficult diet” !? I’m sorry; which bit is difficult!?

  59. Hey Mark, I have followed your blog for some time now, though I have never gone 100% primal. But I plan on taking the 21 day trial…and turning it into a lifetime.

    Thank you for all the great information you provide to us.

  60. I think primal diets are great because of what they stop people from eating. I prefer a raw vegan diet myself, but keep up the great work encouraging people to eat primally! Is the world could eat better in general, it would be a tremendous step forward for our collective progress.

  61. After reading all the comments…. aahh I really feel, I need to go primal and try this 21 days therapy (as I would say it) to get back my Health

  62. Hey everyone- I didn’t have time to read all of the awesome insight above but I wanted to suggest, for those of you who have climbed onto and fallen off of the primal/paleo bandwagon multiple times like I have: try kefir and other cultured foods. I started my 21-day challenge a couple of weeks ago and this has been the least painful experience. Read up on “leaky gut” and you will see that having a plethora of “bad” bacteria and yeast in your gut makes you CRAVE sugars and starch. Once you start getting your gut flora to the proper balance by eating cultured foods, the cravings change to whole-food cravings. It is really amazing. I started drinking homemade kefir at the beginning of my 21-day challenge and it has made an enormous difference. I am not a huge fan of the taste of dairy, so I make smoothies with Primal Fuel (see Mark’s store), kefir and frozen fruit. Going to phase-in raw spinach soon. But my sugar/carb cravings are rapidly disappearing. Look online to see where you can get milk kefir grains and make it at home (sugar free, greater concentration and variety of bacteria/yeast strains). Google Donna Schwenk, too. I use hers. Grok on, y’all! Hopefully I’ll see you all on the other side in the form of a Friday success story! 😀

  63. I have been no grains since last October. Sugar is the hard thing for me. I did cut out the packet fake sugars and was only using coconut sugar but then over the holidays i started back drinking the Starbucks Cocoa and there that all went..
    So after listening to Mark on a another podcast i came back here to start all over . I got rid of all the crap in my house and i am ready to start again. The challenge looks great to me. The coffee got my attention too. He talked about that on the podcast The Angriest Trainer this morning also. You put a couple of egg yolks in your coffee. I had been doing the Bulletproof kind but i might have to give this a try too.

  64. Has anyone been able to overcome a big aversion to fruit and vegetables? I know someone who lives on meat and grain because he cannot handle the texture of vegetables or fruit. I’ve argued, to no avail that lettuce and watermelon hardly have similar textures, but it arguing doesn’t help (duh!). He has had it for his entire life. I’ve tried suggesting blending (all green smoothies anyone?) and sneaking things in pureed soup. It only sort of works, not enough to make much of a difference. He kind of likes to eat the same things day after day. Any adults out there who have overcome something like this and have resources to help?

    1. I have a long-standing texture issue. Certain food textures just make me gag; some are bad enough to nearly make me vomit. For me, stringy foods including celery, any avocado with strings in it, undercooked broccoli stems, and gristly meat are triggers. It’s involuntary, and I’ve always had this reaction; the only change was that it got worse after I nearly choked on a piece of meat several years ago.

      I also prefer to eat the same thing day after day. It’s easy, I don’t have to think about it, and honestly, it’s kind of comforting in a routine sort of way.

      Now, I recognize these tendencies and I consciously act to bypass the texture aversion by cooking veggies really well as well as jumping on any kind of adventurous mood and trying a new kind of veggie. However, the involuntary reflex isn’t going away, and I’ve just learned to live with it.

      Your friend has to *want* to eat things other than his meat and grains; if he doesn’t want to, he ain’t gonna. 😉

      1. I have the same aversion as you! Gagging just thinking about it…

  65. Lost about 8 lbs the first 21 days of imperfectly implementing Primal + gained the capacity to exercise (jogging, sprints, incline push-ups, dips, sit-ups) without the pain that previously accompanied such activity + lowered blood pressure and heart rate…has been over 2 months now getting much better with food compliance (currently ~2200 kc/day about 50-100 gm carbs not subtracting fiber, 125-150 gm pro, and 170 gm fat) still losing weight (59 yo male 5’10” 207 lbs down from 219). Recently decided to forgo all milk products except Kerrygold butter and I may nix that soon since I have mild prostate inflammation.

    I attend a lot of groups where I see scores of people my age +/- 30 years scarfing cake, doughnuts. cookies, and candy, putting loads of sugar and artifical creamer in their coffee or drinking juice or sugared sodas then complaining about “middle-age spread,” type-2 diabetes and so on. BUT I rarley tell people what I’m doing unless they ask…and then I just say, check out “Marks Daily Apple” on the web, go to the 21-day challenge, it will tell you everything you need to know” Simple.

  66. For the last 3 weeks, I managed to eat no wheat at all. Today, I had 3 small doughnuts, and they were not at all as good as I remembered. The pastry was bland and dry, the icing plastic-y, and overall they were too sweet with very litte flavour. I had bought 6, and I threw half of them away, they weren’t good enough for me. Now, I’m feeling a bit lethargic, after feeling so good the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to feeling better tomorrow. In February, I’m going to take another step, and try to get rid of the sugar. I expect a few slips at first, but I know I can do it.

    1. I’m also using weights more, and following an ab challenge, doing almost daily crunches in increasing amounts. I haven’t lost any weight, which was the main motivation for starting, but I feel clearer, and more focused. My sleep was good, but it suffered lately, due to personal stuff. Today, I’m feeling tired, headache-y, and bloated, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow, day 1 of the next step, getting rid of sugar as well as continuing with grain-free.

  67. To anyone saying, “January is the time for new beginnings,” I say, what’s wrong with February? What have you got to lose?

    It’s.

    Not.

    Too.

    Late!

  68. Read this post last Thursday and decided to go 100%, no half-assed approach like I have been doing for last two years lurking around on here. Into day 4 right now with a major carb flu (experienced with previous attempt at primal), but feeling great and optimistic about the future. No upset stomach this far with diarrhea, no bloated feeling after meals, and I have already seen 8 lb drop off scale (although I know this isn’t indicitave of how quickly it will drop). Been eating Big Ass Salads, eggs & bacon, and some good grub in between. Thanks Mark, for posting this because it is so true. We know what doesn’t work, but we just stick with it day after day. It felt like a light bulb going on, but something clicked with this post. 100% primal and never going back!!! Thanks again!!!