Tag Archives: Exercise

10 Ways to Get Primal

  • by Mark Sisson

We advocate the Primal Blueprint Lifestyle, that is, a health philosophy that in large part acts to mimic the diet and physical activity of our pre-agricultural ancestors.

Read on to learn how you can get primal on every level on every occasion:

Hike:

Whether it was searching for food, shelter or just greener pastures, our ancestors spent a lot of time taking the heel-toe express! (Though, it wasn’t exactly heel-toe in those days.) These days, of course, we have planes, trains and automobiles to get us from A to B, which means hoofing it has become our least likely mode of transport. To get back to the Primal Blueprint, set aside some time every week to participate in sustained activity as a way to return your body to its natural state (that is, being in a constant state of motion). And, although hiking was the primary modality for sustained exercise for our predecessors, feel free to substitute it for biking or any other low-level physical activity you can do for a long period with little interruption.

Sprint:

Although eat or be eaten is no longer really considered a threat in today’s society, for our ancestors, it was a pretty big (and potentially lethal) deal. The solution? Run fast, run hard, and run for your life! You can incorporate these same theories by adding a series of short sprints into your exercise routine (see Mark explain his sprint routine here). The idea here isn’t necessarily to be the fastest kid on the block (although that would be awesome), but rather to give all you’ve got for a brief period of time. Also, bear in mind that this concept of going hard and fast for a few seconds isn’t limited to the act of sprinting; you could try water sprints, power cycling, jump rope intervals or any other activity that requires short, intense bursts of energy.

Lift Hard:

Think Cavemen killed time pounding weights in a dingy gym? Think again! Our ancestors tested their strength only in real-life situations (as opposed to having a pose-off with the meathead in the cut-off shirt!) and grew strong by doing, for the most part, weight bearing exercises. Naturally, they focused on activities that would help them carry out real life functions. Want to work out like your primal ancestors? Try weight bearing activities such as squats or dead lifts, which our ancestors did when lifting a heavy rock or log for building; lunges, which mimic the action of transversing steep terrain or stepping into a throw; pull-ups and standing rows to mimic the movement of pulling a heavy object towards the body; pushing, to mimic the motion of… well, pushing things; and twisting motions such as medicine ball throws or cable woodchoppers, which our ancestors did when throwing spears or hoisting objects. For a new challenge (and an exercise that combines just about all of the above motions, try the Turkish get-up:

Ditch Grain and Sugar:

With the tagline “so simple even a caveman could do it,” the commercial suggests that our ancestors were, well, not the sharpest tools in the shed. But, clearly they were smart enough to shun grains and sugar (a feat that the majority of current day Americans have yet to accomplish). In fact, according to some anthropologists, our ancestors only consumed about 80 g of carbohydrates per day, largely because sources of carbohydrates – such as grains, beans and potatoes – are toxic in raw form. To keep it primal, avoid all grains, including bread, pasta, rice and noodles, and all refined sugar. It should also probably be noted that the majority (if not all) of processed foods are packed with carbs – either in the form of a grain, sugar, or both – so it’s best to cut those out too!

Eat Meat and Fish:

When dinner time rolled around for our ancestors, they weren’t exactly reaching for the yellow pages! Instead, they were reaching for a spear, ax or some other weapon to catch their meal. While we’re certainly not advocating that you begin hunting for your own entrees (people might talk!) we do recommend that you begin thinking about your diet in a way that resembles their dietary habits. That is, if you can’t catch it or find it in nature, you can’t eat it. In short, opt for meat and fish and don’t get hung up on the fat content. Not only is fat integral to health, it will also help keep you feeling satiated longer!

Eat Berries, Nuts and Unbridled Amounts of Veggies:

Again, when selecting foods, remember that you’re playing the role of the hunter and gatherer, so feel free to indulge in foods you would find in nature. Specifically, the Primal eating strategy recommends berries, which are low in sugar and packed with vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, and nuts, including walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamias and almonds (but not peanuts which are a legume and should also be avoided for fear of aflatoxins). When it comes to vegetables, seek out root vegetables including carrots, turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas; swede, leafy greens, tomatoes and other brightly-hued vegetables (which not only add color to dishes, but also seriously improve the nutrition value).

Drink Water:

Although there is some back and forth about how much water our early ancestors actually consumed (with some anthropologists suggesting that early man got most of his water from the vegetables he consumed as opposed to risking his life standing in line with the other predators and prey at the local waterhole), the reality is that even if early man didn’t consume that much pure water, he certainly wasn’t reaching for a Coke. Get back to your primal roots by ditching the Gatorade, the soda (including the diet ones – they’re nearly as bad!) and especially the juice. All you really need is water, and lucky for you, it’s as easy as turning on the tap.

Sleep Smart:

When the sun went down, early man started prepping for bed. When the sun sets today, most men (and women) will do the dishes, watch Grey’s Anatomy, finish up paperwork, pay bills and check their email before falling asleep with the television blaring Conan O’Brien. No offense to Mr. O’Brien, but when nature starts heading to bed, so too should you. To catch Zzzs like our ancestors, remove all electronics from the bedroom and focus on creating an environment that is dark, quiet and serene. Also, while it might seem counterintuitive to not close the blinds, allowing natural light to be your wake-up call is far more refreshing (and natural) then waking to the shrills of an alarm clock.

Relax:

As much as we harp on about how hard early man had it (what with having to work hard to survive and all that), make no mistake, early man liked his downtime too! Unlike our ancestors, however, many of us tend to spend our downtime plunked in front of the TV or computer engaged(?) in mindless activity for hours on end. To get back to our primal roots, select an activity that will clear your mind and help you recharge and refocus. And don’t forget that part of this getting up and moving around a bit.

Crack a Coconut, Spear your Dinner and Sleep in a Cave:

Ok, maybe we’re kidding on this last one. But imagine how primal it’d make you feel!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ten-ways-to-get-primal/#ixzz44652jhkn

The Primal Blueprint – 8 Key Concepts

 

  • By Mark Sisson
  1. Yes, You Really Can Reprogram Your Genes

The popular conception of a gene is “a weird collection of DNA and chromosomes and other stuff that determines whether or not you’re going to get this type of cancer, how long you’ll live, and if you’ll get a coronary bypass at some point in your life.” There’s this idea that genes are immutable, that they represent a sort of cosmic destiny for an individual. But, aside from some heritable traits like eye and hair color or the number of fingers on your hands and feet, genes are actually programmable. They “express” themselves in different ways according to information gathered from our environment, our food, and our behaviors. They “turn on” or “turn off” in response to these environmental signals. Thus, though you might have “the gene for type 2 diabetes” – which is really just a genetic proclivity towards the disease, not a sentence – providing the right environmental signals will prevent the gene from ever turning on.

How we eat, exercise, sleep, interact with our social circles, stress, and spend time outdoors (plus tons of other environmental signals) determines how our genes express themselves; how our genes express themselves in turn determines our level of health. Genetic predisposition is not your destiny.

  1. The Clues to Optimal Gene Expression Are Found in Evolution

While we can’t sit at a control panel and fiddle with our gene expression like a mad scientist just yet, we can make some very good guesses based on a powerful heuristic: human evolution. Reason being, two million years of selection pressure exerted upon the hominid line designed a healthy, successful, productive, vibrant organism. We didn’t just “happen,” after all. We look like we do and work like we do and have the genes that we do that express themselves the way that they do because of very powerful selection pressures. The habitats in which we lived, the foods we ate, the movements we had to perform in order to survive, the sunlight to which we were exposed, the stressors we faced – these environmental factors shaped our genetic code, and it is to these various environmental stimuli that our genetic expression responds most favorably. The clues to realizing our Primal Blueprint lies scattered amidst our evolutionary history.

Until that day when we can sit a computer terminal and decide which genes we want to express today, and how, the best we can probably do is use human evolution as a base level tool for making lifestyle decisions. You’ll probably refine the details later, but evolution is a darn good place to start.

  1. Your Body Prefers Burning Fat Over Carbohydrates

We’ve evolved to be fat-burners (must be why we’re so adept at storing it on our bodies!). It’s easy to see why. Fat burns slow and evenly, providing all-day steady energy levels. Carbohydrates burn quickly, and they’re gone in an instant, leaving you groggy and depleted unless you “carb up.” Furthermore, carbohydrates are an inherently unreliable and fleeting source of energy for our body, with most people only able to store about 400-500 grams of carbohydrates on the body at any one time. Our storage capacity for fat, on the other hand, is virtually endless. Just ten or fifteen pounds of body fat, which is the bare minimum available on even the leanest individuals, can provide tens of thousands of calories. Luckily, reducing carbohydrates and increasing fat intake sends the epigenetic signals necessary to help us revert back to fat-burning, and it only takes a week or two to get things moving in the right direction.

Become fat-adapted, enjoy boundless energy. Free yourself from the shackles of a carbohydrate-based metabolism/dependency.

  1. 80 Percent of Your Body Composition Success Is Determined by How You Eat

Food is the single most important factor in body composition. You can exercise all you want but as long as you’re eating garbage, and too much of it, you won’t get very far. For that reason, any real attempt to modify your body composition has to begin by addressing what you put in your mouth. I like to start with the quality of the food you eat. I don’t discount the importance of quantity, mind you, but I do find that honing in on the quality of the food is more crucial and effective. Case in point: 2000 calories of fast food will have a very different effect on your body composition, satiety, and nutrient intake than 2000 calories of grass-fed meatwild fish, and produce grown in rich, fertile, nutrient-dense soil. The fast food won’t be as satiating, nor as nutrient-dense, as the real food, so you’ll likely be compelled to eat more of it. The fast food will primarily include trans- and polyunsaturated fats, sugary sauces, refined grains, and poor quality meat, which will promote insulin resistance and the storage of body fat while inhibiting fat burning. Eating Primal food, rich in animals, plants, and healthy fat, on the other hand, will normalize insulin sensitivity, thereby allowing fat burning. In effect, quality will determine quantity; you’ll eat less spontaneously when you eat healthy Primal foods. Quality paired with proper quantity will in turn determine your body composition.

Sleep matters, exercise helps, stress has an effect, but how you eat – what you eat and how much you eat – is the prime determinant of your body composition.

  1. Grains Are Totally Unnecessary

Despite their exalted position in the Conventional hierarchy of healthy foods, grains are completely and utterly unnecessary. And yes, that even goes for whole grains. I mean, what’s so great about them, anyway? What unique nutrients do they provide? If you want fiber, eat vegetables. If you want antioxidants, eat colorful produce. If you want carbs, eat fruits and tubers. Humans got along fairly well without wide scale grain agriculture for many thousands of years, and there’s no real reason to buy in today, especially when you consider the grainantinutrients like gluten that impair digestion, reduce mineral absorption, and damage the intestinal lining. What is it, then, that necessitates 10-12 servings of whole grains a day? It’s madness. Besides, for all the supposed health benefits that the grain-obsessed like to say are supported with tons of studies, this just isn’t the case when you look a little deeper. Those studies invariably compare whole grains to refined grains, and in that case, the whole grain will generally win out. I’d suspect that if you compared a whole grain-based diet to a grain-free Primal way of eating, you’d get very different results. Unfortunately, that study hasn’t been done.

There’s nothing good in grains that you can’t get elsewhere, and plenty bad that you won’t find elsewhere. Don’t eat ’em.

  1. Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Are Not Your Enemy

Another popular health canard is that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol are horrible, evil things that seek only to clog our arteries, thicken our blood, and pad our waistlines. That’s crazy, of course. Fat, especially saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol are important building blocks for sex hormones like testosterone. Saturated fat helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Saturated fat is inherently the most stable fat, able to withstand heat and light stress without oxidizing, and it’s incredibly satiating. Cholesterol is crucial in the creation of vitamin D from sun exposure. And contrary to popular belief and the protestations of “experts,” neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Sugar, refined PUFA oils, trans-fats? Those are the real enemies. Oh, and consider this: every successful diet is actually a high-fat diet. When you lose weight, whether it’s through low-carb Primal or high-carb vegan, you are consuming ample amounts of highly saturated animal fat. The only thing is that this animal fat is coming off your body, but it’s still saturated animal fat just the same.

A diet rich in animal fat and cholesterol is not just safe, it’s downright healthy.

  1. Exercise is Ineffective for Weight Management

Exercise is healthy. Exercise is necessary for lasting wellness. Exercise builds muscle and exerts beneficial effects on hormone expression and function. Exercise gets you strong, gets you fit, and keeps you young. I like exercise; I do some form of it every single day, and I recommend that you do the same. But exercise alone is highly ineffective for weight management. For it to truly help manage your weight, exercise must be paired with a healthy eating plan, adequate sleep, effective stress management, ample sun exposure, and healthy amounts of social contact with friends, family, and loved ones. Sure, some people take exercise to the extreme, training for hours and hours on end, all in the quest to burn a few hundred more calories, to “make up for” those donuts at breakfast, to eradicate those love handles. And if you go long enough and hard enough, yeah, you’ll “burn calories.” But at what cost? Exercise is a stressor, after all. Maintained at a chronic, extreme pace and frequency, exercise becomes a chronic stressor that does more harm than good. It makes you hungry. It increases systemic and local inflammation. It depresses your immune system. It fatigues you, leading to less activity throughout the day. You’ll eventually and inevitably burn out unless you eat a massive amount of calories to make up for all that you’ve lost, and, at that point, you’re back at square one.

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet and poor lifestyle.

  1. Maximum Fitness Can Be Achieved in Minimal Time With High Intensity Workouts

Study after study shows that the key to optimal health, aging, and fitness is muscle strength and mass. The more lean mass we have, the better we’re able to handle what life can dish out, whether it’s carrying groceries, playing with our kids, saving our own lives in a life-or-death situation, or engaging in the time-tested essential activity known as love-making. Luckily for those of us who relish our free time, the most effective, most efficient ways to build and maintain lean mass are through intense strength and sprint training. Twice a week, spend 15-40 minuteslifting heavy things using functional, full-body compound movements – squatspullupspushupsplanks – and once every 7-10 days, spend 10-20 minutes doing 8-10 all out sprints. If you don’t want to move heavy weights, you don’t have to; bodyweight exercises are plenty of stimulus for most people. And if you’re not ready to run sprints on a track, plenty of lower-impact alternatives exist, like cycling, swimming, rowing, or even uphill sprints.

Make your short, intense workouts shorter and more intense. Round them out with lots of slow moving – walks, hikes, and the like – throughout your everyday life, and you’ll be incredibly fit and well-rounded, in a fraction of the time most people presume is required.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-blueprint-8-key-concepts/#ixzz440SHVzQi