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« Q&A With Mark Sisson, Part One | Main | Techie Opinions Wanted: Apply Within »

August 13, 2009

Q&A With Mark Sisson, Part Two

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A couple of days ago, I introduced the eating-and-fitness coach Mark Sisson, who advocates what he calls the Primal Blueprint. I'm crazy about Mark's website, and I think his new book is downright sensational. (Buy a copy at Amazon.) Speaking from personal experience: I've obtained excellent results from doing my eating and my exercising in a more Primal way.

Yesterday I ran Part One of my interview with Mark. Today -- in the second part of my two-part interview with Mark -- I talk with him about the Food Pyramid, "herd medicine," and what it's like to publish your own book.



Michael Blowhard: What sort of efforts do you and your team put into evaluating the studies and the science?

Mark Sisson: My staff and I spend thousands of hours collectively going over the research every year, updating our knowledge base and refining our philosophy and our advice. No practicing physician today has a tenth of the time to do that kind of research.

MB: What's it like to be out there in public on a regular basis?

MS: That brings its own benefits. My blog has hundreds of thousands of visitors who are free to comment on or critique anything I write, which often forces me to further substantiate (or even alter or abandon) my position. Conversely, most research scientists are so engrossed in the minutiae of their particular specialty that they haven’t the luxury of a wide perspective to provide general lifestyle and health advice, let alone synthesize a world-view on that.

MB: Many scientists do seem to have a narrow focus.

MS: I certainly respect and admire the work they do, and I call upon many of those studies every single day. But I do so understanding that not all research provides an actual answer to a specific question.

MB: Where health issues go, so much so often turns to be less certain than a civilian thinks it’s going to be.

MS: For any health issue you posit we can each find opposing research to support our points. How do we know which one is correct?

The lipid hypothesis of heart disease drove every well-financed study and every major new heart disease drug for 40 years, but there’s extremely solid research now that proves that the lipid hypothesis is wickedly flawed if not downright inaccurate. The USDA's Food Pyramid has had grains as the very basis of a recommended daily diet for 40 or 50 years.

MB: The authorities seem to have driven themselves into a corner on that one.

MS: Despite overwhelming new evidence that excess carbs (mostly from grains) have driven the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics, do you think the US government would ever admit to having given wrong advice -- even if it were shown to be 100% conclusive? The process of Public Health Policy decision-making is as inefficient, unscientific and perverse a system as could ever be designed. Yet that’s where we get most of our basic health advice.

There are so many problems with the Conventional Wisdom and modern medicine. It’s hard to know where to start.

So whom do you believe? In short, I think you need to find someone you can trust, whether it’s a nutrition-minded doctor or well-researched book. And then just start thinking critically for yourself.

MB: How about other ways of eating and living that seem to work out pretty well: the Okinawans, the Kitavans, etc? My own hunch, FWIW, is that there may be numerous, though not infinite, OK-to-good ways to eat and move for the sake of well-being. But what do I know?

MS: Humans can accommodate a wide variety of different foods. That’s a double-edged sword, because it allows us to survive for long periods of time on foods to which we have not fully adapted. At least long enough to procreate, after which our evolutionary job on earth is done. But being able to “survive” on substandard foods does not equate to “thriving” on those foods.

MB: What do you mean?

MS: You can survive on Big Macs, Coke and Twinkies for years, but the effects will be devastating at some point past puberty. That’s at the far end of the spectrum. You know, there has never been a society or race of people that survived, let alone thrived, on a meatless diet. I am suggesting that a Primal diet (lots of meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc and little or no grains or dairy) is optimal for most people’s health, longevity, energy, etc.

You mention the Okinawans and Kitavans as examples of other successful dietary approaches (ie., lack of typical modern lifestyle diseases like chronic heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc). Yes, the Okinawans eat some rice and the Kitavans have their root tubers. But far more of their lives are aligned with the Primal Blueprint than one might think.

MB: In what ways?

MS: Neither of them eats processed grains, trans fats, vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats) or high fructose corn syrup. They both exercise at the appropriate low levels for hours a day (they call it making a living), they certainly get plenty of vitamin D from being in the sun, and they get healthy doses Omega 3 fats from fish in their diets. I would also wager that their stress is low and that they play more often than we do. The only real difference, then, is that they eat less protein than I do and maybe a bit more carbohydrate.

MB: Do you see yourself as a coach? A guru? A role model?

MS: Well, I have been a coach of sorts for twenty years, so that’s my background. I also fancy myself a “critical thinker.” I believe my unique combination of education and experiences as an athlete, coach, triathlon anti-doping commissioner, health blogger, supplement designer and health researcher has given me a kind of broad perspective that I might not have had had I chosen a career in medicine or pure research.

A guru is defined as a person who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and uses it to guide others (teacher). I guess that’s what I am now, if I do say so myself.

As for being a role model, I think if you are teaching a new way of living as I am, you damn well better represent. I am so disgusted by so-called health experts who are hawking their wares or advice yet are overweight or sickly.

My wife and I both take pride in living the lifestyle and looking the part. Now that’s not to say we don’t slack off once in a while.

MB: Examples, please!

MS: I like wine, I have a few beers now and then, I’ll try a piece of bread dipped in olive oil at a restaurant. If I can’t find grass-fed, I’ll have a regular steak.

I’m certainly not a food Nazi. I want people to know that life is for living and enjoying. I never feel as if I am sacrificing anything to live Primally.

MB: What's going to become of the Conventional Wisdom, do you suppose? Will the critiques gather force and demolish it? Will it just be forgotten?

MS: There is definitely a critical mass forming in the health community that is challenging the Conventional Wisdom on many fronts. Most of it is coming not from traditional researchers or popular doctor-authors like Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz or Dean Ornish, but from science writers like Gary Taubes or “renegade” critical-thinking physicians like Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades who have the medical background and have sifted through the research for years.

MB: Do you see doubts sprouting in people’s minds?

MS: I’m seeing the light go on in the minds of many cardiologists, endocrinologists, bariatric surgeons, etc., where they are just now beginning to rethink their dogma.

MB: That’s good to hear.

MS: At some point we’ll see a major shift away from today’s truly barbaric medical methods that look to cutting and poisoning as “treatment,” to realizing that the body wants to be healthy and the main focus is on identifying the genetic signals needed to rebuild, repair and renew ourselves.

I know that sounds a little new-agey. But the reality is that everything that happens to us -- everything we eat, how we move, exposure to sunlight or to toxic chemicals -- it all affects gene expression. In fact, most medical practitioners point to stem cell research as the next big frontier … and, as I stated earlier, that’s just really another form of gene reprogramming.

Still, I see it taking another decade before we really “get it" as a society.


With wife Carrie -- what the 50s can look like

MB: You were a pretty devoted, if not fanatical, athlete yourself back in the day. How'd you go from there to having a better-rounded vision?

MS: It has become all about fun and enjoyment of life for me as I’ve gotten older. The realization that we often work way too hard to become fit and healthy was drilled home to me when I was spending 25 or 30 hours a week training to be race-fit for triathlons, but was seeing my health deteriorate.

MB: That can’t have been good to experience.

MS: The irony was that most of that training wasn’t even “fun,” but was drudgery. Yes, there were days I felt invincible biking up a long steep hill or on a long trail run. But on many days the sense of obligation that I had to get up and do it all over again to maintain my fitness was overwhelming.

MB: Sounds like a burden, in fact.

MS: I had no real social life, I couldn’t afford to play fun team games that might jeopardize my rigid training, I obsessed over eating carbs every few hours. It was what I call “digging a hole to place the ladder in to wash the basement windows.” Of course the mind finds ways to rationalize the effort and it creates endorphins to literally dull the pain and cause a false sense of euphoria. But once I backed off all that training and drudgery -- once the endorphins wore off -- I realized how much of the rest of my life I had missed out on.

With that in mind, the Primal Blueprint became my way of optimizing training and diet to emphasize excellent health, functional strength, beautiful bodies, fun, play, rest, and enjoyment of food, all with the caveat that if you fall off the wagon, it’s no big deal because you know exactly what you need to do to get back on.

MB: It seems to have a lot to do with being well-adjusted, and with taking the basics into account.

MS: When you look at any hunter-gatherer tribe even today, you see people who need very little in the way of material things to be happy, who work about half as much as we work to sustain their diet and lifestyle, who rest a lot, and who spend huge amounts of time in social interaction or play. They do very naturally what we all claim to want to do, but we “just don’t have the time for.” I’m trying to provide a little framework to achieve that.

MB: It seems to me that the Conventional Wisdom tends to be controlling and top-down. You might call it bureaucratic / socialistic, even. Meanwhile, the Primal and Paleo worlds seem far more bottom-up and freewheeling. They’re happy to help out in a patchwork way. Fair?

MS: I would say that the Primal Blueprint is libertarian, although I don’t really like political labels. It is most assuredly about the self and not about the masses. It’s about empowerment and personal responsibility. Natural selection may have abated since the advent of grains, but I am still all for survival of the fittest.

MB: Take charge of things for yourself!

MS: For example, I strongly reject this new “herd medicine” approach that says we should all get flu shots for the greater good of the population, or that all twelve-year-old girls should be vaccinated with Gardasil to possibly prevent a few cases of cervical cancer decades down the road. There are doctors now suggesting that we should put statins in the public water supply the way they added fluoride in the '70s. It’s frightening, really.

MB: It turns you into someone else's lab rat, for one thing.

MS: My approach is to make sure that I and members of my family have a diet and lifestyle that promote strong muscles, strong teeth and bones, and strong hearts and strong immune systems so that the typical lifestyle degenerative diseases are never an issue for us. I would hope my readers feel exactly the same way.

Too many people cede complete control of their health and their lives to people in white coats who would rather prescribe a pill than describe a lifestyle change. Of course, then they get to blame them when something goes wrong -- and it invariably does -- and they sue them.

MB: That's a pattern we're all familiar with.

MS: So many people suffer so much from debilitating, crippling, life-threatening conditions that could easily be cured with a few relatively minor lifestyle alterations. But they can’t get past the habit or the addiction they have to whatever is making them miserable.

It’s a reason the American Diabetes Association says “there’s no reason not to include sugary treats in your diet." That’s a ridiculous concession to make to a population that ought to be avoiding sugar completely.

I want to explore that kind of self-destructive tendency. If you believe, as I do, that 80 percent or more of all disease has some degree of dietary etiology, you realize that reframing that mindset could be more powerful than any medical breakthrough in human history.

MB: As someone who followed book publishing for ages, I'm also fascinated by your book as a publishing project. What led you to make the decision to self-publish?

MS: I had gone both routes in earlier books. I got hosed working with a conventional publisher, and then I self-published a small specialty book that netted me multiples of my deal with my big-time publisher. So this time it was a no-brainer.

I already have an infrastructure with my Primal Nutrition direct-response company that allows me to warehouse, pick and pack, take phone calls, process credit cards, etc. Of course, you still have to write the work, but printing is printing. As long as you have the money to invest and can afford designers and can negotiate great pricing, it’s relatively easy to print a well-designed hardcover -- but not so easy to write one!

I also have a voice and a following where we do over two million page views a month at, so that helped get the word out initially.

MB: Did you make any mistakes along the way?

MS: I did just sign with a distributor, since I have learned that the major chains don’t do business with publishers carrying fewer than ten titles. That might represent an initial mistake -- assuming I could handle distribution and receivables paperwork to thousands of bookstores. But all-in-all, I am uniquely well-positioned to self-publish.

I would highly recommend self-publishing to any author who haa a great story, at least $20K to invest in him or herself, and lots of time to publicize the book. Otherwise, find an agent and / or a publisher.

MB: How did you know what belonged in the book and what belongs on the website?

MS: One of the consistent compliments I get on the book is how well it encapsulates the three million words we’ve produced over three years on Mark’s Daily Apple into a very readable, understandable 283-page instructional manual.

MB: I was certainly struck by that.

MS: Long-time followers are surprised at how fresh the information seems presented in this format. Most surprising to me is the story of the Korg family.

MB: Those are the sections where you discuss an overstressed modern-day couple -- the Korgs -- who constrast mightily with your happy and fit hunter-gatherer Grok.

MS: I thought some readers would find the Korg sections unnecessary. In fact, many readers have told me that the Korg passages are their favorite parts of the book because they hit so close to home.

MB: I’m impressed by the way the book and the website complement each other.

MS: Almost all readers of the book wind up back at the website because it’s a constant source of new ideas, philosophies, recipes and communal support. So everyone who goes to the site should eventually get the book and everyone who gets the book should eventually go to the site!

MB: Thanks for the great work as well as this chat. And it’s fun being back in touch.

MS: My pleasure.


Visit Mark’s blog and website. Buy Mark’s book. (Or buy it at Amazon.) Check out his pills and shakes. Yak with others who are trying out some Primal ideas.

* Read Richard Nikoley's interview with Mark. Richard raves about "The Primal Blueprint" here.

* Listen to Jimmy Moore's podcast-interview with Mark.

* Go Healthy Go Fit interviews Mark.

* Shelley writes about how going Primal has affected her life.

* Paleo food fan Elizabeth shares a lot of Primal-suitable recipes and meal plans.

Many thanks to Mark Sisson for giving us this long Q&A.



posted by Michael at August 13, 2009


A nice passage from Nina Planck:

"When I was in high school and college the nutritional advice was very clear: eat more plants. Avoid animal foods and animal fats, especially saturated fats. Eat less fat. If that were true, I figured that no animal foods and no fats would be the best diet of all. I ate a clean vegan diet – lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and (a little) olive oil. I ran 6 miles a day, 6 days a week. And my reward for this virtuous diet? I was 20 pounds heavier than I am now and struggled constantly with my weight. I got colds and flu in colds and flu season. I was moody and irritable once a month. My nails were brittle and my skin was dry. My digestion was poor. Since I became a conscientious omnivore, all those symptoms have disappeared. I keep my weight easily eating meat, dairy, and fat to appetite– and (always) lots of fruit and vegetables."


Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 13, 2009 3:53 AM

Alex Birch is a Paleo fan too.


Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 13, 2009 4:41 AM

When I was in high school and college the nutritional advice was very clear: eat more plants. Avoid animal foods and animal fats, especially saturated fats. Eat less fat. If that were true, I figured that no animal foods and no fats would be the best diet of all

People often imagine that if a little bit of something is good, then more of it must be better. This is how sensible advice gets mangled into idiotic doctrine. Eat more greens does not mean eat only greens. Exercise daily does not mean run yourself to death. Biological systems don't operate on the principle of linearity. More is not necessarily better, as frequently more means diminishing or negative returns. The trick in life is to find the balance. Everything in moderation.

Posted by: slumlord on August 13, 2009 8:32 AM

Thanks for the interesting Q&A, Michael. You're such a pro.

Posted by: Vanessa on August 13, 2009 10:42 AM

This gets even better. The lipid theory of heart disease comes from the Framingham study, which has turned out to be fraudulent. The source data from this study was never published. The source data was "linearized" before it was published. This, in and of itself, represent criminal intent. Hence, the Framingham study must be considered bogus.

Mark Sisson is spot on about the go with the flow herd mentality as well as lack of scientific clarity in medicine. Putting statin drugs in the drinking water is lunacy. Statins work by inhibiting the production of CoQ-10, which is a core ingredient of the metabolic pathway. To inhibit this just to prevent the formation of cholesterol is the biochemical equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Statins are poison, period.

A fundamental problem of medicine is that most of the people in the industry are liberal arts people, not technical people. This is a primary reason why medicine is not based on bio-engineering principles in the same manner as semiconductor chip manufacturing is based on principles of chemistry and materials science.

Mark Sisson is spot on about another point he has made. The body is programmed for and does indeed want to be healthy. This is the self-repair, self-regenerative nature of biological systems. One of the major problems of medicine, again because its practitioners are not technical, is its assumption that biological systems are static structures such as a building or an airplane. This is what we call the "civil engineering" paradigm and it is most certainly wrong. The body, as with all biological systems, is an active, dynamic system with built-in self-repair capability. It is this dynamism that must be harnessed if we are to remain in optimal health into the indefinite future.

SENS, Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence, ( is an example of an appropriate bio-engineering approach to ending illness and restoring the body to optimal functionality. Stem-cell based regenerative medicine is another. A third approach is metabolic engineering. I argue that use of compounds such as CoQ-10, Resveratrol, and any anti-oxidant that actually enters the mitochondria are examples of metabolitic engineering that can be done today!

Finally Mark Sisson is correct in advocating a DIY approach to bio-medicine. My friends argue that conventional medicine has become a sort of state religion. Society commonly accepts the notion that the DIY approach is acceptable to electronics and portfolio management, but for completely unarticulated reasons, is not acceptable for bio-medicine and modifying ones own body and mind. The fact that the reasons for this go unarticulated is suggestive that people approach medicine like a religion. Since much of its tenets are enforced by government regulation and licensure, we refer to it as the modern state religion. It is refreshing to see people like Mark Sisson and others who question the state religion.

I would like to make a comment about genetics and gene expression. Many things alter gene expression. It is well known that caloric restriction diet alters gene expression. This has been demonstrated by many studies using gene expression microarrays. What is less know is that resistive weight training (e.g. body building) actually alters gene expression to as much, if not greater extent, than caloric restricted diets.

Even though his perspective is somewhat different than ours, in many ways, Mark Sisson is a transhumanist in that he believes in using his own knowledge and intelligence to alter himself for optimal health and fitness. This is an entirely rational and appropriate thing to do.

Posted by: kurt9 on August 13, 2009 11:54 AM

"This gets even better. The lipid theory of heart disease comes from the Framingham study, which has turned out to be fraudulent."

Human health medical research doesn't have to be fraudulent to be complete crap. I'm always stunned about what passes through peer review in this field: regular publication of statistically insignificant results, poor to non-existent handling of uncertainties (especially systematic errors that are not included in their error bars) , equating correlation with causation, etc. All then coupled to a media the breathlessly and ignorantly repeats the latest results to panic the populace. Ugh.

Posted by: CyndiF on August 13, 2009 1:35 PM

The lipid theory of heart disease comes from the Framingham study, which has turned out to be fraudulent.

If it would only get the repudiation it deserves . . .

(Great interview, Michael.)

Posted by: Kirsten on August 13, 2009 2:50 PM

Color me skeptical. These are true words:

"For any health issue you posit we can each find opposing research to support our points. How do we know which one is correct?"

We can only know from experiment, and from weighing contending bodies of evidence. These matters are not really all that complicated. Sisson calls himself an independent big-picture thinker - odd that he didn't actually explain, on any matter whatever, why it is that he takes such and such a view.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on August 13, 2009 3:24 PM

CyndiF and Kirsten,

Statistics is a branch of mathematics that no one in the medical industry is capable of understanding. That's because they do not have a technical background.

It took a group of people 7 years using the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the source data from the Framingham study. Once they had this data in hand, all of the medical journals refused to publish it.

This should tell you something about the field of medicine.

Posted by: kurt9 on August 13, 2009 3:34 PM

"Negligible Senescence?" Color me skeptical.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on August 13, 2009 3:35 PM

outstanding stuff. I'm looking forward to this. I ordered three (four, with the deal) books today.

Posted by: jonathanjones02 on August 13, 2009 8:14 PM

Thank you for a great interview. I'm no Primal devotee -- I think any fitness/diet should be realistic. But I agree with 90 percent of what Sisson says about statins and drugs and the way Americans have become separated from their instincts about food and exercise.

Posted by: Alana on August 13, 2009 10:23 PM

Gary Taubes has said that one of the main reasons he wrote "Good Calories, Bad Calories" was how bad health science is. He met and yakked with some health-medicine honcho, thought "this is one of the worst scientists I've ever met," and knew then that he had to look into the field.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 13, 2009 10:43 PM talked in their blog yesterday about an Austrian study on the effects of genetically modified foods on lab mice:


This study has never been published, didn't use control groups for their breeding studies, and again pushed statistically insignificant results out to the public. The intersection of public policy and scientific research is an ugly zone and it's not helped by the poor research training the PhDs in this field seem to have received. To be fair, I see some poor data analysis in my area (astrophysics) too, but it's more uncommon and much less tolerated by the community.

Posted by: CyndiF on August 14, 2009 10:55 AM

Nutrition science is not bad science. It's not science at all. It continues to get headlines because it feeds into cultural taboos and flashpoints and meets the needs of industry, politicians, regulators and lawyers, and media people looking for a story with some eyeball-grab.

Otherwise, almost completely worthless.

Posted by: PatrickH on August 14, 2009 2:15 PM

"The only real difference, then, is that they eat less protein than I do and maybe a bit more carbohydrate."

Maybe a bit more carbohydrates? That's a ridiculous claim. The Kitavans get around 70% of their calories from carbohydrates. A paleo or primal-blueprint diet does not come anywhere close to that.

In other words, the real difference is not known.

Posted by: Hamosh on August 14, 2009 5:31 PM

Firstly, I fail to see why attacks on liberals are necessary. Sorry, but we can't be blamed for everything. Nice deflection, Sisson. Badly played, Blowhard.

Secondly, there's a real danger of distraction here. If obesity is a problem (and it is), the cause can be deduced through pure, simple physics. It's not the magic combination of fatty acids, carbs, and other nonsense. Its calories consumed vs. calories used. People who are overweight consume too much. Not too much carbs. Just TOO MUCH. There's nothing magic about meat that will cause weight loss. The proof?

Diets that restrict carbs? They restrict calories. Ever notice how low-carb diet proponents never tell you count calories? Because if you do, you'll see that you're consuming fewer calories. A little more deduction and you'll see you could easily eschew the second chicken breast and get some mashed potatoes and still be under your calorie requirements.

This whole movement - like the diet movement itself - is totally decadent and is built on the idea that you can have something for nothing and that you can have it right now. You can't.

Posted by: Ray Butler on August 18, 2009 9:32 AM

Firstly, does anybody know the source of the Kitivans thing? All my searches just seem to result in people repeating it, without any detailed information.


Sorry, but you provide the rebuttal in your own response.

"Its calories consumed vs. calories used."
"Diets that restrict carbs? They restrict calories."

The other aspect that goes largely unspoken in low-fat circles is the issue of satiety. If you don't feel like eating, you're going to naturally consume less calories.

For me the biggest realization when I dropped the majority of carbohydrates was that I became more aware of true hunger, and while I enjoy the food I eat, it's much less demanding. There's a difference between your body physically needing to eat, and the almost compulsive desire to eat because of low blood sugar.

Of course low-fat proponents will stress the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple ones, but gunning the engine is still gunning the engine. I'd rather let mine putter along slow and steady, instead of stressing it out with constant up and down swings of insulin response.

"you can have something for nothing and that you can have it right now"

I honestly think you would eat those words (0 calories! fat free!) if you would just try the way of eating for a month. You'll have personal anecdotal evidence, just like I do, which isn't scientific at all, but the physical changes I've noticed in 2 months, after years of trying, simply can't be ignored.

Posted by: Arlo on August 20, 2009 2:46 AM

FWIW over the past 45 years my weight has remained within a twenty-pound range. Depending on who is describing me I've been called lean, wiry, and skinny. I haven't eaten more than a total of two or three pounds of beef in the past thirty years. Mostly I've followed the diet recently promoted by Michael Pollan; I eat food ... not too much ... mostly plants.

Given my Pollan-esque tendencies I try to buy local whenever I can, meaning I generally eat with the seasons. Fish and poultry are consumed a few times a month. Due to my wife's dietary constraints [she has wheat allergies and is somewhat lactose intolerant] most of the bread, pasta, etc. we eat is made from alternative grains like quinoa, millet, or spelt rather than wheat. My morning (wheat free) cereal is bathed in rice or almond "milk" ... although I do consume a fair amount of cheese. Even there much of it is made from goat and sheep's milk rather than all cow.

No type of diet is right for everyone. There are many different allergies, deficiencies, lifestyle considerations, genetic proclivities, and so on that need to be factored in. To suggest that there is a diet or diet and exercise regime that will work for everyone is folly. In the case of paleo it seem no less built on anecdote and extrapolating universals from specific examples than any other diet fad. No doubt many will find it helpful and effective while others will suffer various negative consequences if they follow it. I'm especially skeptical of the 'hunter/gatherers ate this way, so should we' tautology. While a professional athlete and fitness guru who spends his life dedicated to fitness may have plenty of insight to offer, unless his followers are also giving up their desks for roaming the savannahs running down game and picking berries ... or carrying large water jugs up and down the beach all afternoon ... it is hard to connect a 21st C. life and lifestyle with a hunter/gatherer's diet.

Posted by: Chris White on August 20, 2009 11:46 AM

"unless his followers are also giving up their desks for roaming the savannahs running down game and picking berries ... or carrying large water jugs up and down the beach all afternoon ... it is hard to connect a 21st C. life and lifestyle with a hunter/gatherer's diet"

Missing the point. It's not about acting exactly the way our ancestors did, it's about adapting the principles to the way we live now. And from my admittedly personal experience, I DO feel more connected to the animal within, without it taking over my life.

Do we have to track down game to get cardio? No. But how about mixing up some slow and steady hiking with some barefoot sprints? (Instead of jogging steady-state for an hour every day).

Do we have to slug an animal carcass back to camp to get our anaerobic exercise? No, but we can do exercises that are compound and intense. (Instead of doing long, muscle isolating circuits on the machines at the gym).

Honestly, it takes no more time, and in most cases less (tabata for example), than most people spend getting exercise anyways. Although you mock the water jug carrying, if you actually want to get exercise, it's just an example of mixing things up and keeping them interesting for your body and your mind.

Do we HAVE to go pick berries and kill our own food? No, some people do, but we can also choose organic foods and pasture raised animals. No hunter-gatherer culture did it all themselves anyways. It's a group effort. Just turns out our group includes local farmers instead of tribes-mates.

If you are at all curious, I recently started barefoot trail running and it most absolutely DID connect my life with my inner animal. I was shocked at how profound it was to be sprinting with your feet on the dirt surrounded by high grass and trees.

(And not in any hippy bs back to nature hug a tree kind of way. People seem to think that's part of it.. :)


Posted by: Arlo on August 20, 2009 4:02 PM

I try to control my food intake by making sure a eat 2 grapefruits for breakfast every day, and a big bowl of bran cereal at least once a day, take it easy on fried foods, and stopped drinking beer.

It made a big difference!

John DeFlumeri Jr Clearwater, Fla.

Posted by: John DeFlumeri Jr on August 26, 2009 10:05 AM

You said:
"Its calories consumed vs. calories used. People who are overweight consume too much. Not too much carbs. Just TOO MUCH."

Ray, your whole comment is based on a pretty weighty assumption that calories consumes and calories used are independent variables. They are not.

Ever noticed that you get hungry after a workout? That's calories out affecting calories in. Ever noticed yourself getting lethargic after not eating for a long time? That's calories in affecting calories out. It's not just "pure, simple physics"; our metabolisms are more complicated than that.

Did you know that overweight people tend to eat LESS than their normal-weight counterparts? (See p. 229 of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, a book that will open your eyes to how conventional nutritional wisdom was shaped.)

By the way, I don't see where you get the idea that this is a "totally decadent", instant gratification sort of movement. This is NOT a short-term "diet"; it's a sustainable, long-term lifestyle change.

These are not people drinking "replacement meals" and running themselves to exhaustion to fit into a pair of jeans. We're talking people being happier, stronger, and healthier over the long term because they cook their own real food from scratch, avoid unhealthy foods, and exercise effectively. I see gratification here, but it's certainly not instant.

Posted by: EL on September 6, 2009 7:34 PM

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