The Primal Blueprint is a book written by health and fitness expert Mark Sisson, who is popular in the field of paleo diet nutrition and lifestyle. Sisson is one of the leading voices of the rapidly growing evolutionary health movement having also written various other books including The Primal Connection, 21-Day Total Body Transformation and The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, to name only a few. He also runs a blog, marksdailyapple.com, one of the highest-ranked resources providing health information on the internet today.
The purpose of The Primal Blueprint book is to prove that one can reprogram their genes toward the path to weight loss, health and longevity. Readers are to do so by following 10 absolute primal laws within the book. This is not necessarily a diet book, as the cover suggests. The book claims that it is not a fad diet or a temporary exercise program. Instead, it aims to be a sustainable set of behaviors in nutrition, fitness and lifestyle that will align people with their genes’ expectations in order to enjoy superior health and wellness.
The Primal Man
The poster child of the Primal Blueprint is a fictional Paleolithic caveman named Grok. He is a tall, healthy and agile 30-year-old with all measures of health in optimal levels. He and his family eat very healthy by gathering wild nuts, seeds, grasses, seasonal vegetables, roots and berries, as well as the meat and fish they hunt. Grok has a strenuous, dangerous and physically demanding life. Even so, he manages to be stress-free and get plenty of sleep and time for enjoyment. Apparently, Grok is seen as a typical representation of a common primal hunter-gatherer. The diet and life of Grok is what Sisson bases his set of primal blueprint guidelines off of to try to “allow you to control how your genes express themselves in order to build the strongest, leanest, healthiest body possible, taking cues from evolutionary biology.”
Sisson’s approach is to mimic to the best of your ability the diet that humans ate thousands of years ago. The problem with this notion is however, that even if the Paleolithic man truly lived this way, it is not how most paleo dieters today live. Some may be able to do some occasional hunting or urban foraging, but most of the proponents of the primal way of eating and living are inaccessible or unrealistic for the modern dieter. Not only that, but the main concepts that the book is based upon seems to group all Paleolithic populations together to create one diet plan, when what hunter-gatherers ate greatly varies based on global location. Depending on where a population resided on the earth, their diets also had significant differences which means that there is not one absolute primal diet across the board.
The 10 Primal Blueprint Laws
1. Eat lots of plants and animals
2. Avoid poisonous things
3. Move frequently at a slow pace
4. Lift heavy things
5. Sprint once in a while
6. Get adequate sleep
8. Get adequate sunlight
9. Avoid stupid mistakes
10. Use your brain
These ten laws or principles seem simple and realistic enough. Everyone knows to eat more vegetables and fruits. The first law makes grocery shopping easy to think about as the majority of products sold at the supermarket do not fit the category of plants or animals. Some processed foods may be made from plant ingredients such as corn or wheat, but that does not count as a whole plant. So basically, just fill up your cart with plant and animal foods and you will have mastered the first law. The second law discourages the use or consumption of poisonous things. This is another obvious notion as it is understandable to avoid things that could be harmful to your health. Move frequently at a slow pace is a reminder to live an active lifestyle. This means to try to keep an active lifestyle day to day, instead of focusing on spending specific amounts of time allotted just for exercising as the main form of physical activity. Sleep is also well-known to be extremely necessary and beneficial for good health.
The rest of the principles provided by the book involve other good recommendations that are feasible for most people to follow. Overall, this is not a specific diet book, though it does build off of the paleo diet’s concepts. It offers easy to understand material and nutrition information. It is less technical and scientific when compared to some other popular health books. A positive of the book is that it focuses on a complete lifestyle approach and not just the diet aspect of achieving optimal health.