An In Depth Review of: The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

Free 2 hour video by Primal Blueprint author Mark Sisson. Click to watch in HD.

primal blueprint review

 

Begin official Primal Blueprint review.

 

primal blueprint review

 

I’d like to kick start this review of The Primal Blueprint by saying that there was a feeling of relief upon completing it. The practical information and understanding Mark Sisson has compiled into this book is a true first in the field of paleo diet nutrition, and perhaps “lifestyle” as well.

As it stands, this is my number one pick for understanding proper nutrition- a spot on my roster that has previously been left empty- to my dismay

Hence if you’ve checked out the resources section lately you’ll find a handful of books, that together, painted a decent picture of my views on nutrition and exercise. Individually, they all fell short in the field of nutrition.

Even the popular Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain fell short in a few (critical) areas- namely saturated fat and cholesterol intake.

Mark not only trounces those false dangers supported by conventional wisdom, but ventures beyond and creates a comprehensive book on “Primal Living” as he calls it- meaning the book doesn’t just “fix” what was in The Paleo Diet, it’s scope is far greater.

The table of contents is as follows (titles somewhat abbreviated)

  • Welcome from Mark
  • Introduction: What is Going on Here?
  • Chapter 1: The Ten Primal Blueprint Laws
  • Chapter 2: Grok and Korg- From Indigenous to Digital: One Giant Step (Backward) for Mankind
  • Chapter 3: The Primal Blueprint Eating Philosophy
  • Chapter 4: Primal Blueprint Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals
  • Chapter 5: Primal Blueprint Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
  • Chapter 6: The Primal Blueprint Exercise Laws
  • Chapter 7: The Primal Blueprint Lifestyle Laws
  • Chapter 8: A Primal Approach To Weight Loss
  • Chapter 9: Conclusion

Welcome from Mark

A short welcome from Mark, and an especially great jump start for anyone new to Mark’s work. Also introduces the 80/20 rule (the first hint Mark is a fan of Tim Ferriss).

Introduction

This is a really sick (and slick) intro. Well formatted (you’ll see what I’m talking about), and captivating for those already in the “know”, yet not overly polarizing to those still buying into conventional wisdom surrounding exercise and nutrition (meaning it won’t generate knee jerk emotional responses in most people).

Well, actually, I’m not completely on board with Mark’s view on exercise, but he does speak the truth concerning over training and “chronic cardio” as he calls it- which refers to our societies current obsession (fad) with the cardiovascular system. More in the review later.

The end of the intro is particularly cool when Mark takes a stance against the lazy scape goat of “genetics” for health problems, rather than the individual taking responsibility for their own well being.

Chapter 1: The Ten Primal Blueprint Laws

In this chapter Mark outlines the specific laws of The Primal Blueprint- the foundation of the entire book.

The best thing about this chapter?

It’s at the beginning- which sadly, is about the extent to which 90% of people who purchase the book will read to. This is a statistical fact for virtually all books unfortunately =(. But hey, if people read up to the end of chapter 1 and actually apply what they learn, lives will change.

Sounds to good to be true, but it really is that simple, nutritionally speaking (and perhaps in terms of daily habits as well).

There are also a few “snippets” in the chapter- as well as throughout the rest of the book- that are definitely worth the read. Do NOT skip these.

Chapter 2: Grok and Korg- From Indigenous to Digital: One Giant Step (Backward) for Mankind

This is one of my favorite chapters- and at the same time, one of the “deeper” sections. Mark paints a realistic- and therefore frightening for most- picture of the typical day in America, for the average person, and contrasts it against our ancestors.

Suffice to say, it’s been a different scenario for the past blink in human evolution (some 10,000 years), and DRAMATICALLY different over the past few decades.

Putting the two side by side was an excellent idea, one that served as a sharp refresh personally after eating properly for so long now.

The chapter end notes in small print are particularly potent and extensive this time around.

Chapter 3: Primal Blueprint Eating Philosophy

Mark, my hat is off in this section.

This is the single best chapter in the entire book- by my humble opinion. It what’s let me breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that there is finally a book I can recommend to people who want to know more about how I EAT, specifically (usually after hanging out with me, or obviously, having a meal with me).

It’s such a simple concept, but up until this book released, I did not know of one that matched my own views on nutrition (and dove into the concepts head first).

Which, for the record, I spent an enormous amount of time cultivating by sifting through all the quackery on the Internet- at my own peril. For the record, this book is a beacon for sound information on nutrition- yet unfortunately still a needle in a hay stack for the lay reader browsing around at a book store.

If anything I believe Mark should have spent additional time on this section- especially on the topics of saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease. But, that’s probably my own bias speaking, they are covered well, very well.

If you are new to eating in accordance with our evolution, do yourself a favor and read this chapter 2, or 3 times over.

The last point made in the chapter really hit home for me personally. Eating foods outside of our natural food matrix… Basically over time I’ve been less and less inclined to eat grains, beans, and so on. I thought it was all in my head, but the (negative) effects of eating those foods are very real at this point for me, and it’s interesting at the very least to hear this experience in the voice of another.

Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. The longer you eat properly, the less you want to eat crappy food- because it makes you feel just that way, crappy.

primal blueprint review

Chapter 4: Law #1- Eat Lots of Plants and Animals (Insects Optional)

Ha, probably should have mentioned by now that Mark has a sense of humor and that this is NOT a textbook read- it’s professional, yet enjoyable and even comical at times. Perhaps that’s even one of it’s strongest aspects- since what good is great knowledge if the communication of it is sub par?

In this chapter, Mark get’s a bit more specific with eating habits and choices. The vast, vast majority I agree with. A few details here and there I’m not exactly in agreement with, but overall, another excellent portion of the book.

If anything, I think more emphasis should have been placed on nuts/seeds, and a tad less on fruits and veggies. But hey, that’s me, and the difference for most people would be negligible.

Also, I’m a (bit) more “anti-pill” than Mark, and as a result I’m not totally in agreement with the supplements section. Again though, it’s a small difference, and that particular section is still a great read.

Chapter 5: Law #2- Avoid Poisonous Things

In this section Mark takes apart the conventional wisdom surrounding grains (that’s right, grains have no place in the human diet, for the purpose of proper nutrition)- in a way that is superior to any other in print book that I have ever seen.

Not only that, he really drives it home. I sincerely believe few people on Earth exist who can read this section objectively, and then in good conscious continue to keep grains and beans as the staples of their diet.

I suspect even the most hardcore, veteran “licensed dietitians” (fiber fanatics) will fall drastically short in a logical argument with this section. It simply can’t be done.

If you have any worries, or questions, about why you should be dramatically reducing or entirely eliminating the majority of grains and beans from your diet, this section will undoubtedly answer those calls.

Chapter 6: The Primal Blueprint Exercise Laws

While I believe Mark’s stance on exercise and physical activity is far superior to the run of the mill “chronic cardio” and bodybuilding crowd, I do not agree with the majority of what is written in this chapter.

It is well written like the rest of the book, yes, but (most) of the content…

I think Mark- well intentioned as he is- falls short by romanticizing our ancestor’s activities- a common mistake that’s easy to make.

What is most interesting to me is that Mark can see the modern (yet minor) improvements in nutrition- but when it comes to exercise, he is entirely focused on replicating our “primal fitness”- with little to no regard for modern improvements.

I could list a few specifics of what I don’t agree with, but I think most long time followers already know. Check this post out if you are new, or feel free to ask and I’ll take the extra time to list out the differences in our thoughts via commenting.

I will say though that I was happy to see the “Happy Feet” section, where Mark discusses my all time favorite “shoe”, the Vibram Five Fingers.

primal blueprint review

My Latest Pair of Vibrams- Blue Camo Sprints

In fact I believe a bit more emphasis could have been placed on just how detrimental conventional footwear is to our health- but the facts are there and the book is quite long as it is (well over 200 pages). Come to think of it I wouldn’t be surprised if the original “Happy Feet” section was a bit longer and had to be downsized for editing purposes.

Chapter 7: The Primal Blueprint Lifestyle Laws

The title says it all… from sleep, to recreation and play, to adequate sunlight- Mark ties all of these together and shows how they affect our health (mental and physical).

He also delves into the final Primal Blueprint laws of “Avoiding Stupid Mistakes” and Using your Brain- truly making the book comprehensive and not just a typical diet or exercise book. In fact I was a bit surprised he didn’t speak more about the topics in this section- but perhaps it would have been to strong a tangent for a lifestyle book.

Chapter 8: A Primal Approach to Weight Loss

I actually didn’t take the time to examine the table of contents until after reading the book, so this chapter was a pleasant surprise- as I suspect a fair number (if not, majority) of people purchasing this book are doing so with the desire to lose fat (notice I didn’t say “weight”, a generic and slightly overused term, IMO).

The chapter begins by stringing together, and purposefully re-stating which aspects of The Primal Blueprint will help you lose weight (fat)- although I hope by the end of the book that most people will realize that health, body composition, daily habits, and so on, are all inter-related, and rarely (damn near never) exclusive to one another.

He discusses exercise as well in this section- again, I agree only with a few points throughout the entire book on exercise. I believe the concepts in Body by Science are far more powerful- including their thoughts on exercise as it relates to fat loss (link).

Primal Conclusion

A strong ending for an excellent book. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement- despite my criticisms, this book is damn near a master piece and a true gem in the field of nutrition.

Wrapping up, Mark get’s really down to earth- and a bit more behind the scenes. Not only in terms of psychology, but also in what a few days out of his life typically look like- specific foods eaten, activities, and so on.

And finally, what you’re looking for at the end of the book- a complete list of foods and habits to shoot for, and foods/habits to avoid. Simple as it is, I think most people will really appreciate this final section- especially the “primal newbies” (my own term I just created on the fly haha).

Personal Conclusion

Overall, I give this book my highest regard and recommendation when it comes to proper nutrition and positive lifestyle habits to develop. If Body by Science is the definitive book on exercise, this book is it’s twin brother in the field of nutrition- especially considering how practical the information is and immediately applicable.

Having written my own book before- albeit dramatically smaller in size and scope- I can attest to the mountain of hard work that went into the creation (and distribution) of this book. I sincerely hope it makes a mark in western society, as we desperately need a book such as this to make an impact in the lives of every person still buying into conventional wisdom- which, 99% of the time, is the exact opposite of what needs to be done.

You can find The Primal Blueprint on Amazon here.

Kudos Mark, job well done.

– Anthony Dream Johnson

Founder & Architect: The 21 Convention

primal blueprint review

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

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34 Responses to An In Depth Review of: The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

  1. Seven Islands September 3, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    Dream thanks a lot for pointing me in the right direction (nutrition wise) with this review, its a mind field out there!

    Been reading your blog over the last month or so and i’m confident i can trust your opinion on something like this.

    Checked out his blog out too, and i’m sold so cheers mate.

    body by science = exercise
    primal blueprint = nutrition.

    lovely.

  2. matthew October 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    i agree almost totally with your review. Excellent book and a slight romanticizing about Grok – but the principles of exercise he lays out hold up.

    I would also bring to your attention what I think is page for page a better book (in some ways) Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas.

    Sisson and Gedgaudas together I think link it all together pretty remarkably.

  3. Dream October 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    Will check out Primal Mind Primal body soon (just ordered Catching Fire, so, its next on my list!).

    As for the exercise principles, I discussed my reasoning very in depth in this post

    http://www.thedreamlounge.net/2009/08/12/strength-training-superior-to-p90x-cardio-crossfit-functional-group-exercise-fitness-classes/

    thanks for commenting, look forward to your thoughts on that post

    -Anthony

    • Darren T. January 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      So, how does Primal Mind Primal Body compare to The Primal Blueprint ?

      • Dream January 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

        Haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard good things (even that it’s better than TPB in some ways), and it is on my Amazon wishlist! So much to read, so little time.

        By the way, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human is an excellent, excellent read.

        • Christoph Dollis March 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

          She’s less into fruit, isn’t she?

          I have The Primal Blueprint and it’s also. I just signed up for Nora Gedgaudas’ Primal Body – Primal Mind blog and newsletter and I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen so far.

  4. Christoph Dollis March 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    ^fantastic

    It’s also “fantastic” is what I meant to say.

  5. Me June 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Just a head’s up about a typo in the “Chapter 5″ section:
    It’s not “good conscious” it’s “good conscience”.

    Thank you for a fine review.

  6. will February 1, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    The only problem with switching to this diet is that people are telling me that I will not be able to properly digest all the saturated fat unless I have starch?

    Any ideas on how their thinking is incorrect because I know that starch should not be a part of this diet?

    I am really just looking for some kind of proof to let me know that I will not have trouble with stomach pains or digestive issues when I remove the rice and potatoes that have starch. I did previously believe they help to digest the fat and stuff but if you are doing fine without it, it must not be a digestive problem in the first place or do you have something else within your diet that aids in digestion?

  7. Tiffany April 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I just finished reading TPB. I started the primal diet a couple of months back after my girlfriend convinced me that it would help my bipolar symptoms. Wow, was she right! I’m a believer in the primal way of life. It’s not a diet or a passing fad–it’s a life-change that makes so much sense for me. Along the path of learning about the primal way, I learned that depression is an inflammatory disorder. What causes inflammation in our bodies? Carbohydrates, of course! I was poisoning myself with every piece of bread or bowl of cereal; it made no difference that they were whole grains. Eating right isn’t the only change I made. Routine exercise, meditation and regular sleep patterns have become the norm making insomnia, fatigue and stress a thing of the past. This book really does offer the tools one needs to change your life! I highly recommend it!

  8. Regev Elya October 31, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Great review..!

    I’m becoming more and more presold to go and buy the book.
    I believe I understand the concept, but there is still something that bothers my mind. Most of the time, we can make zero conclusions from human evolutionary history to their optimal nutrition. I mean, evolution needs ‘pressure’ in order to work its magic, and no matter what you’re gonna eat, you will most likely reach the age of reproduction, and thus pass your genes forward. What happens next – cancer/heart disease/whatever, does not matter one bit, since the offspring is already out there with the genes. How can Mark claim that this nutrition is optimal? Even if our primal ancestors would eat the modern diet, they would still survive and make it to these days, without any adaption to this diet, since no one would die before having offspring.

  9. Socialkenny April 1, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Call me a realist or what not,but all this Paelo diet,standard diet and nutritional advice stuff is plain BULLSHIT!We need to admit it!

    These ppl are scammers.There’s no such thing as proper diet.Although I’m a liberal(politically),if it’s 1 thing I agree with with Conservatives about is “diet”.Ppl should eat what the hell they want,without someone(government or individuals)telling them what’s more healthy.

    It’s all a damn myth(nutrition) and huge scam.What we eat isn’t what kills us or makes us sick.My great grandpa is still alive at age 96,and he doesn’t know shit about nutrition,Paleo nor dieting.He eats the most un-nutricious things since birth.He’s 96 and he loves soda which he’s been drinking since sodas were manufactured lol.

    On the flip side,I had an uncle who died about age 59.And you know what?He was a strict vegetarian and organic eater.No alcohol,no red meat except an occasional fish for protein about few times per year.Yet he died at 59.Vegetarianism is a fucking myth(as far as believing they’re healthier than non-organic food eaters).So the myth of “eat right and you’ll live longer,feel healthier” is BULLSHIT,fact-less(as Penn and Teller would say).

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Vegetarianism is both immoral and physically unhealthy.

      • The Classics April 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

        Amoral. Not immoral.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

          No, I specifically meant immoral.

          • The Classics April 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

            there’s not a strong case for one’s diet of choice being either immoral or moral. conscious morality or lack thereof rarely plays a part in what people eat. rather natural environment and social culture do. that being said, go on and make your case. im all ears. or as the case may be, all eyes.

            • Anthony Dream Johnson April 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

              Vegetarianism as a culture and movement is immoral for a few reasons.

              One: any argument in vegetarianism that puts forward the idea that man eating animals is fundamentally immoral, is asserting the idea that man aligning himself with nature, is immoral.

              This, on the most basic level, pits man against nature. It makes his own nature, his enemy, and makes morality impossible.

              Ie. man can only be a moral animal by defying nature, including his own. In this specific context it means man will only be moral when his physical health (an important value) is sacrificed to improve his moral standing.

              Two: intentional and prolonged vegetarianism as a diet, is anti-reality, and anti-man. Man’s life and man’s mind are the good. Vegetarianism impacts these directly, negatively, and significantly. Vegetarianism is an intentional de-alignment of man with his nature (eating animals). This is no more “moral” than is sticking a pencil in your eye.

              The effects are just much more subtle, less easily observable, and less complicated to glamorize into a moral ideal — than is injuring yourself with a sharp object.

              • Socialkenny April 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

                @Anthony-Great argument you made for vegetarianism being immoral.It’s definitely unnatural.For the religious-heads,all throughout the Bible,they were flesh eaters.So from a religious viewpoint,vegetarians have no argument.

                I was a vegetarian for about 5 years straight.After pondering that whole lifestyle,I came to the conclusion that it was a regressive diet(anti-man)

                • The Classics April 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

                  @Socialkenny, “For the religious-heads,all throughout the Bible,they were flesh eaters.So from a religious viewpoint,vegetarians have no argument.”

                  Jains are lacto vegetarians, as are some sects in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

                  (this comment got misposted)

              • The Classics April 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

                I can follow the logic as far as not being natural. But stretching that to “immoral” is a pretty far leap. Many “ethical vegetarians” are vegetarian on principal that mass industrial slaughter is cruel and inhumane.

                The non-ethical, or vegetarians who are veggies for health and not ethical reasons, that I know are all healthy, certainly more than me (a meat eater).

                A scientific conclusion wrt meat vs non-meat based diet can be deduced only after multi-generational studies spanning several decades if not hundreds of years. A study on that large of a scale has not been conducted yet, but I have no doubt that at some point it probably will be.

                Beyond just veg vs non-veg other factors like organic vs non-organic would have to be controlled for.

  10. Socialkenny April 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    @The Classics & Anthony-I wouldn’t even say immoral(vegetarianism).

    My overall point was just that if people are trying all kinds of new-age diets in order to prolong their lives and live healthier;it’s bullshit.Basically something done in vain.

    If one chooses to have a lifestyle change in diet just to feel good:well that’s cool.But it will NOT extend your life,not make you medically healthier.

  11. Atheria June 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Socialkenny, I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with you regarding people not getting MEDICALLY better by changing their diets. There are numerous true stories of people with major health problems who have been cured by eating differently. In my own family, my diabetic mother who also has a lot of chronic pain and hasn’t slept through the night in 30 years is now off insulin, is sleeping all night, and her pain is almost totally gone after just a few weeks on a non grain/non starch diet. I also know people who’ve cured chronic diseases by going vegan. We ARE what we eat. Yes, there will always be those few who eat “whatever” and live to be 105…but usually they are also people who’ve had very happy lives and their happiness level, along with less stress, is what caused their longevity. Happiness is a big component.

  12. Socialkenny June 13, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    @Atheria-So they say.

    But as I explained in my 1st comment above[I think I did],all the ppl I know who ate crappy stuff are still alive and kicking.

    I don’t know 1 healthy person,nor 1 Vegan who lived to be over 70.All the ppl I know or know of who are over 70(including all my grand parents):they don’t know shit about eating healthy.

    • Memo June 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      You don’t seem to make a very good argument in favor of your view. Saying that diets are bullshit, simply because you know a few ppl who either lived long, or died early is not sufficient proof. If that’s the case then your whole point of view can be considered B.S.

  13. Jim Bob Jones December 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    This is total crap. On the diet and routine for a full month, Faithful to Sisson’s plan. Didn’t lose a thing. Dumped the diet increased my exercise and the weight started to fall off. Any weight loss from this program is due to the excercise, not the diet. The Insulin idea makes sense and I do watch carbs now and not calories, but following this plan completely had no benefit on me.

    A co-worker was on it and lost 40lbs in 4 months, we did the same thing age the same foods. The difference was our ages only. I am 20 years older. We both weighed about the same. He actually excercized less than me, so while the concept may work, it depends on your own personal body needs and its ability to increase fat burning, not the foods.

  14. Scott March 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Paleo concept is OK as far as eliminating simple carbohydrates. As for it being an ancient and therefore better way to eat – I don’t buy it. Grains and legumes can be safely consumed with proper preparation and have been around since the beginning of time as well. See “Nourishing Traditions” for a balanced approach to eating and preparation of all food types to make them more digestible, nutritious and flavorful. Everything in moderation…

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      Bullshit.

      Your comment and the ideas within it are contradictory in themselves. Think about the statement you just made : “grains and legumes can be safely consumed with proper preparation”.

      Prepared by what demands, what requirements, what basic principles?

      Your body is your body is your body is your body.

      Those foods must be prepared in a way that are in alignment with the nature of your body as it is currently, and as it has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

      Eating paleo is respecting your paleolithic metabolism. Your capacity to change it is the same as your capacity to change your paleolithic anatomy.

      Chopping limbs off : cutting organs out.

      And dont get me started on “everything in moderation”. Do you eat poison in moderation? Do you snort cocaine in moderation? Do you jump off 10 story buildings “in moderation”?

      Moron.

      • Scott March 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        Just do your homework…calm down…listen to the wisdom of tradition. Oh, and as for the diminutive remarks: try the mirror on for size. Bet you didn’t even check out the referenced materials. Pot calling kettle…

  15. BlondeRagePageKrysia September 30, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Touché

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