Free 2 hour video by Primal Blueprint author Mark Sisson. Click to watch in HD.
Begin official 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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
Kudos Mark, job well done.
– Anthony Dream Johnson
Founder & Architect: The 21 Convention