There are quite literally hundreds of different diet books lining the shelves of bookstores coast to coast. Each one with a slightly, or radically, different approach than the next to helping its reader shed unwanted pounds, improve body composition, tighten up their waist line, and increase health and longevity. And do this all quickly and painlessly to boot! But what if I told you that even though all these numerous programs, approaches, ideas, and methods are valid and do work, to a point, for some individuals some of the time, there is actually only one diet that is suitable for us all? This is exactly what author Mark Sisson asserts in his book, The Primal Blueprint. You see, prior to the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago (give or take), all humans – everyone on the planet – ate basically the same diet. Of course there were some variations due to geography, climate, and seasons, yes, but basically the same diet. And what if I told you that this one diet kept our caveman (and woman) ancestors leaner, stronger, fitter, and even healthier than we are today? It enabled them to survive and thrive for over 2 million years.
Enter the Primal Blueprint. According to Sisson (and considerable research), our genes have remained virtually unchanged since pre-agricultural times. We are quite literally cavemen in business suits – some of us more so than others! The Primal Blueprint premise is that our current genetic expression is influenced, positively or negatively, by our lifestyle. So that how we eat, how we exercise (or don’t), how we rest, play, and sleep all combine to create the body we have today. This means that we literally have the ability to optimize our genetic potential one forkful at a time. Sisson lays out 10 Primal Blueprint Laws to help us begin reprograming our genes by changing our lifestyle behaviors.
Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals
This is pretty self-explanatory. Vegetables, fruits, and meat should make up the bulk of your diet. Round it out with nuts and seeds. These foods formed the diet that fueled human evolution for 2 million years. The whole plan is laid out in the book.
Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
You’ll notice grains and other processed foods at the top of this list. Yes, even the supposedly healthy, whole grains. Why? Simply because humans did not evolve to digest grains properly. They make us fat and unhealthy. Remember our genes have not changed since pre-Agricultural times. Want to know more? Read the book.
Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
Hunter Gatherers spent a lot of time walking. This very low intensity aerobic exercise provides a great base upon which to build physical fitness.
Law #4: Lift Heavy Things
Brief intense muscular efforts to climb, lift, carry, drag, pull, etc. were required by our caveman ancestors. These functional, full body movements prompt improvements in muscular size and strength.
Law #5: Sprint Once in a While
Whether running for your life or sprinting to take down a kill, the ability to run fast was definitely a skill needed 10,000 years ago and today.
Law #6: Get Adequate Sleep
This is a hard one for us. Studies constantly tell us Americans do not get enough sleep. Usually 8 hours is recommended as the average, but how many of us get more than 6 hours a night? Find out why sleep is so important in the book!
Law #7: Play
Hunter Gatherers had much more down time than we do today. Take some time to get outside in the fresh air and enjoy yourself.
Law #8: Get Adequate Sunlight
Regardless of the term, Caveman, our prehistoric ancestors did not spend much of their time in caves. They were outdoors most of the day. Adequate sunlight exposure is one of the best ways to obtain sufficient Vitamin D.
Law #9 Avoid Stupid Mistakes
Back before emergency rooms and doctors for that matter, a careless injury which would sideline us for a short time today would be deadly to a caveman. They had to maintain awareness – zanshin anyone?
Law #10: Use Your Brain
Creative expression for mental health and well being.
Does It Work? My Primal Experience
Let’s get down to the real question though – does it work and how difficult is it to implement? Well, I’m half Italian so I love my pasta and bread, and my wife is Filipino so we love our rice and noodles. I’ve always been taught grains are a staple and necessary for energy not to mention healthy – bottom of the food pyramid, right? However after reading The Primal Blueprint and understanding why grains are not necessary for you and really not as healthy as we’ve been led to believe, I was more than willing to take Sisson at his word and give it a try. Dropping grains out of my diet wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Many of us, me included, have strong emotional attachments to our food. The Italian part of me was literally screaming – no bread? No pasta? Are you nuts??? But once I got over the initial hump, it was actually pretty easy. The fact is though no matter how much I tell you about my own experience you won’t really know until you try it for yourself. I went cold turkey on the grains – can you? Give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at what your body can do!
What about my results so far? I’ve been following the Primal Blueprint laws, as laid out above for about 2 weeks now. I feel great! Energy levels are high and steady, no post meal crashes. I’ve already begun to lean out some more and am looking forward to even greater fat loss while increasing lean muscle mass. The best part for me is that I’m not constantly hungry. Usually, as those who know me can attest, I’m the first one to be ready to eat at meal times. Now I hardly even notice what time it is, I just eat when I’m hungry. I am even able to skip meals with no sluggish side effects. Warrior Fitness workouts align very well with Primal Fitness concepts (brief high intensity sessions, no chronic cardio) so I have not really made too many modifications there. Although, I am definitely looking to add some sprinting in to round out my training week now. It just seems like too much fun not to do it.
My opinion? The Primal Blueprint is intelligently written, well researched, and also quite entertaining to read, and it just might save your life. Highly recommended!!
For more information, check out Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple – HERE!