Tag Archives: primal

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:


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.


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.


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

Are Your Beans and Bread Making You SicK?

Wheat Field

Lectin.  Remember this word.  For your health and well being you need to know about lectin.

Lectin is a family name of a group of proteins found in both plants and animals. Their roles in life are still being studied, but one role they perform is to recognize and bind up substances that may challenge or compromise the survival of its host.  One member of this protein family, known as phytohemagglutinin, is plant based and is highly concentrated in seeds like beans and grains; many that are common in the human diet. Its purpose is to protect the seeds from microorganisms, pests, insects and other challenges, even digestion.

Lectin, itself, is indigestible by many animals including humans. Its presence is to shield the seed from digestion too. It is common to see whole and partially chewed seeds pass undigested in the feces of animals that eat them.  However, here is the problem; lectin (although indigestible) can pass intact from human intestines into the blood stream with bad results that you may not associate with their cause.

What’s the harm if lectin passes into your bloodstream? Remember, lectin likes to bind to things.  So, if by chewing or grinding into flour for example, the lectins have been freed from their seed hosts and the lectin ends up in your blood stream, it will bind to something, none of which your body will recognize as friendly.

Lectin is fond of joint tissue and will often bind to your joints. When your body fails to recognize it, your immune system will go to battle against the lectin by inducing swelling, pain and general inflammation around it.  You’ll wonder why your knees hurt or your shoulder aches.  It is unlikely that you’ll blame the bread you ate last night, unless you understand how lectin, from the flour, in the bread you ate last night, found its way into your joint tissue.

Lectin may bind to other foods you’ve eaten and prevent them from being properly digested too.  If you’re lucky, you’ll only feel the gas or constipation that comes from undigested food.

If you’re unlucky, lectin may actually bind to the walls of your intestines and disrupt the activity of the cells of your intestines, further affecting digestion or even causing those cells to separate sufficiently to allow lectin and other undigested food to enter directly into your bloodstream. This likely will cause a host of immune system responses.

Worse things can happen.  In sufficient quantity, lectin may choose to bind to the sugars of your red blood cells and make them clump together, actually acting as a poison.  Not a good outcome.

So how do you prevent these bad consequences from happening? Naturally, the best way is simply to avoid eating seeds that contain the lectin.  That would include most grains and beans.  How likely is that? Many people have quit eating grain products and beans and have experienced amazing health benefits.  The elimination of grain and beans is highly promoted by those folks following a paleo or primal eating template. Ideally, this is what one does.  Then, there can’t be a lectin issue at all.

Falling short of that, it is important that measures be taken to at least minimize the amount of lectin that is consumed.  Eat less of it and learn to recognize the symptoms of lectin ingestion. Learn. Learn which beans and grains bear less lectin than others.  For example, white rice is near the bottom of the list for lectin content as are lentils. Kidney beans and wheat are at the top of their respective lists.  Or, learn and strictly abide by the old, traditional ways of preparing beans and grains, while understanding that even these methods are compromises that will not totally eliminate the potential consequences. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting beans and grains prior to preparation will reduce lectin content but not eliminate all.

What about that grain protein everyone wants to argue about called gluten? Is gluten a lectin? No, but it has been described as an ugly cousin of lectin. Some people appear to be more sensitive to gluten than others, but the argument is pointless.  It overshadows the issue of lectin. If one takes measures to avoid the known dangers of lectin you’ll automatically avoid any dangers of gluten.

Avoidance of lectin, or at least minimizing lectin intake, can only benefit your health and well being.

My Primal Play


I am on the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation and only now am I realizing that I am still an infant in my Primal Ways. This is my story.

My Primal Ways birthday is March 3, 2014. This is the day when I began a new journey down an old path.

I have rubbed shoulders with Primal Ways all of my life but it hasn’t been a coalesced lifestyle.  That’s why I think of myself as an infant, learning and putting meaning into Primal Ways.

I have never met anyone else, my age, who can boast that their grandfather was born during the Civil War. It happened that my grandfather was an older man when my father was born and my father was an older man when I was born. Only two generations fell between me and the Civil War.

Why is that important?  It means that I was exposed, as a child, to many old ideas.  I heard many old stories from my grandfather who spent cold Oklahoma winters with my family and then spent summers with my Uncle’s family.  You see, the concept of Assisted Living Centers for the aged, was a foreign concept. A Primal Way.

When I got a sore throat in the winter, my father would grab my grandfather’s bottle of iodine and swab my throat.  Come morning, it was gone.

When my grandfather started getting winter sniffles, he would find his horehound candy in a bag and start sucking on the hard candy. Sniffles went away.

Come early springtime, a man with a mule and plow went from house to house in the neighborhood to turn the wintered soil of each neighbors’ garden plot. Right behind him, came another man in a pickup truck filled with composted manure to be piled next to the garden plots for use as each neighbor planted their gardens.

By summertime, the gardens were producing and being harvested.  On most days our kitchen was filled with the heat and humidity of a pressure cooker as jar after jar of fresh produce was canned and put away for the coming winter when my grandfather would return.  This was my life in the 1950’s.

By the 1960’s, my personal viewpoints were clarifying and my life’s plan was forming.  I realized that I had been raised in a backward and uneducated lifestyle and that a different lifestyle would be better for me.

After college I settled into a corporate workstyle while living with my young family in urban apartments. As the children neared school age, we decided a suburban home would be a better lifestyle.  Everything else remained the same.

There was a large backyard with a playground that the children soon outgrew.  Something needed to be done with the space so it was transformed into a garden space. From my childhood I retained the lesson of organic gardening so I wanted nothing else for my garden, all the while eating conventional pesticide laced produce from the supermarket when the summer organic tomatoes, squash and okra were finished. No canning was done.  There wasn’t enough to store anyway.  This was Primal Play, not Primal Ways.

I found a Whole Foods Market one day while driving in Dallas and stopped in. My goodness, it smelled good.  I walked the aisles as a form of entertainment.  I sure couldn’t afford their prices.  I ended up, however, buying a bottle of trace minerals from the Great Salt Lake that we all took until the bottle ran out. Boy, did we feel good! We didn’t replace it. Just Primal Play.

On that trip to Whole Foods Market I browsed a small stand of magazines and found my first “Mother Earth News”.  That was interesting reading and brought back some memories of things I heard about and witnessed as a child, things that uneducated and old-fashioned folks did. I didn’t yet subscribe but I would find copies elsewhere occasionally.  I read enough that I started to fantasize a remote cabin as a getaway from the hardships of work and urban living.

The fantasy grew and we found a small acreage in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. We couldn’t afford to build yet so it sat, visited once in a while for short times. More Primal Play.

I smoked a pipe since college, convinced that it would not hurt me like cigarettes would have. I worried sometimes, until I heard a guy at work say he had read that for every 20 cigarettes smoked, it took 1 gram of Vitamin C to counteract the nicotine.  I wanted to remain healthy and I figured my 1 ½ oz of pipe tobacco per day was the equivalent of a pack of 20 cigarettes.  I became a 1 gram per day Vitamin C junkie. Vitamin C became my license to smoke.

I gradually was gaining weight from the skinny 129 lb. college graduate to a plump 30-something. One of my children called me “fatty” one day and I looked in the mirror;  then I weighed.  I’m a short guy and 178 lbs really did not look good.  I managed to drop some of it off and my weight hovered around 167 forever, but with continual difficulty, like the proverbial yo-yo.

Over the next 20+ years, I thought I was being healthy, as evidenced by my ability to keep my weight around 167.  I was now supplementing with every known thing that I thought an aging body might need. Long life hasn’t been a primary motivation, but I sure did not want to feel bad, however long I might live.  So I read a lot, implemented some things, and tried to supplement my way past my bad lifestyle decisions.  I still smoked a pack of pipe tobacco each day.  As income increased, I returned to Whole Foods for the best supplements and occasionally splurged on some organic produce. When my work hours permitted, I still had an occasional summer organic (of course) garden. Primal Play.

It was a good time to develop the acreage we had bought in Oklahoma so one of my now grown sons and I built a storage shed and then a covered carport and started a cabin. Trips to the land began to be more enjoyable and productive as the small cabin took shape.  Naturally, I followed the “Mother Earth News” way and built it off-the-grid.  I was now a homesteader, just like those stories in the magazine. Primal Play.

In my late 50’s I went for my every-ten-year physical examination. My Doctor did not like what he saw before him.  I almost walked out on him, convinced he was looking at someone else’s labs. I hadn’t weighed in a while but I already knew I was still around 167. Nope. His scales said 183. My blood pressure was high at 140ish over something.  He ordered me to quit smoking or find another Doctor and he insisted I have my first colonoscopy.

I had the colonoscopy and was happy to learn my colon was clean and healthy. I thought I was doing a great job of staying healthy. There was proof. Why was everything else so bad?

The key, my doctor said, was to quit smoking so I did and my blood pressure normalized.  But, I didn’t quit nicotine.  After all, I found some sites on the Internet that proclaimed great mental benefits for nicotine. I used nicotine lozenges for several years thereafter until I traced my stomach and intestinal distress back to them.  I weaned myself off of them, while having considerable cravings to resume pipe smoking.  I didn’t.

In the absence of nicotine, my weight began to climb from its renewed 167 level. It passed the 170 mark again, then 178.  I couldn’t stop it.  I was starving myself.  I drank only Diet Coke.  I was feeling my health slipping so I did another round of research and determined that I wasn’t eating enough whole grains and certainly not enough fruit.  I changed that.

I learned during my research that whole grains had lectins that prevented nutrient absorption and were probably why I got gas after eating them.  The Internet taught me to soak and/or ferment them. I bought a good supply of assorted grains from Whole Foods and had a batch of one or the other, soaking and fermenting continually.  Every day, for breakfast, I feasted on a fermented or soaked grain, cooked minimally.  I had with it, some kind of fruit.  I had fruit for lunch and sometimes drank a fruit juice. I was feeling good and knew I was on the right track. Primal Play.

I loathe exercise.  I really do.  I’ve always known it was the right thing to do and I jogged for a few years back in my 20’s.  But, despite the good feelings derived from it, I didn’t want to continue.  It interfered with my smoking. Nevertheless, I have known the benefits of exercise.  So with my new found devotion to eating healthy whole grains and fruit, I began to stair-climb at work.  It’s a six story building and was pretty challenging in the beginning. I never felt better in my whole life.  The weight was coming off and I was back down to the 167 mark.  I wanted to get below 165. But, I knew starvation did not work.  I continued to eat my new friends, whole grains, fruit and vegetables and some meats, chicken as often as I could. I targeted 1800 calories per day and figured that, coupled with daily exhaustive stair climbing would get the weight below 165 with ease. No, it started heading back up and topped 170 again.

Something new started happening as well.  In August 2013 I had to suspend my stair climbing as my left knee became swollen and quite painful. It hurt all the time. I was Primal Playing and decided to find a natural way to address the pain, cayenne pepper ointment. It actually worked pretty well, for a short time. By November, the left knee was better but the right knee began to have the same symptoms. No more stairs.  I blamed them.  I continued my increased intake of grains and fruits.

On a weekend trip to the cabin in January 2014, after the first night, I awoke with both knees doubled in size and in so much pain I barely could walk.  I slathered both of them with the cayenne ointment and they loosened enough that I could walk but with considerable pain still.  I returned home early, wondering why they were so bad.  I had done no strenuous work at the cabin or elsewhere.  I hadn’t stair climbed in months.

Monday morning I was better and the knees were returning to their normal size by the end of the week. On that weekend I did no work but the knees began to swell again.  This pattern of swelling, pain, relief and swelling again continued in a weekly pattern until March 3, 2014, the day my Primal Play ended and my Primal Ways began.

I did not want to see a Doctor for my knees.  I was convinced I was headed for surgery.  I went to the internet looking for my answers. I do not remember the search words I used.  Whatever they were, Dr. Jack Kruse was the predominant response. Where I landed painted a picture of me, my grain and fructose intake from the fruit I was consuming. I read that and I read about leptin. I read how a leptin reset can be the beginning of healing.  My leptin reset began that very day. The next morning, I struggled to get my 50 grams of protein down, absent any grains and no fruit. And the next day and the next.

The weekly pattern of knee suffering was broken.  I wasn’t healed immediately but the pain subsided day by day. In about 3 weeks I had no more knee pain. I was never hungry and I noticed my weight was dropping.  That was a side benefit at this point. I mostly wanted to be rid of the pain, but the weight loss was welcomed as well. In the first day or two, I followed Dr. Kruse’s references over to Mark Sisson’s Mark’s Daily Apple blog for my introduction to Primal eating.  I diligently adopted all I could of that as part of the leptin reset.  I studied the differences between Mark Sisson’s plan and Jack Kruse’s Epi-Paleo food plan and ate accordingly.

After 8 weeks of following the leptin reset plan, I implemented Jack Kruse’s post-leptin reset plan but I modified it to lighten up a little with some resistant starches that Mark Sisson and some others advocated.  I certainly understood their evidence of the benefits of resistant starches but as I gradually added potato starch to my diet, in opposition to Dr. Kruse’s argument, my knee pain started to return and I had to start the leptin reset over again. I am now back to implementing the post leptin reset protocol, using nuts to feed my gut bacteria instead of resistant starch.  Someday, I’ll be healed sufficiently, perhaps, to use resistant starch but it did not work for me, not yet.

Today, 6 months later, I weigh 148 pounds.  I would have been happy to be at 165. My blood pressure has been pretty even for the last 6 months, around the 110/75 level. No prescription meds of any kind. I am back to climbing stairs, the last thing I do before I leave work. I don’t have to take the 3 mg of melatonin I used to take nightly to sleep.  I bought some blue-blocker goggles that I put on 2-3 hours before bedtime, to simulate the primal yellow light frequencies of the old ways. I now sleep 7+ hours per night with no difficulty.

Mine is not a miracle story.  It is nothing like Dr. Kruse experienced personally, nor like the awesome stories I read on Mark’s Daily Apple every Friday. But, it is my story and I know this is the real deal. Someday, I hope to thank both of you personally for the contributions you made to my healing, the ending of my Primal Play and the birth of my new journey down this old path.

What I have learned about Primal eating is; this is not Primal Play anymore.  It is a small part of my newly welcomed Primal Ways.



Why Primal Ways?

September 8, 2014

What’s in a name? Why use the name, “Primal Ways”?

The “Ways” portion is easy to define.  “Primal” is more difficult. As used here, “Ways” refers to methods employed to achieve personal goals; pursue ambitions. As a whole, we can view “Ways” as our lifestyles; our styles of living.

Now, what do we mean by “Primal”?  The word means “first”, “original” or “foremost”.  I doubt we can really identify many of the first, original or foremost methods that our ancestors employed to achieve their goals and to pursue their ambitions. As used here, Primal has a broader context. Primal will simply mean the methods employed in prior times (before this current generation) to achieve myriad goals and ambitions.

summer-spring-flow1.jpgGoals and ambitions, pursued through lifestyles or ways, are primarily personal matters. But, many Primal Ways are shared commonly by segments of the population. It may be impossible to identify all of those shared ways, but the mission of this Primal Ways site is to exchange information, opinions and ideas about as many Primal Ways as we can identify.

Currently, there are numerous lifestyles being promoted as “Primal”. Diet is a huge one, being presented as a variant of the Paleo diet. Some other “Primal” lifestyles, promoted as such, include fitness, therapy, parenting, healing and spirituality.  All are valid Primal Ways, but there are many more that are not specifically presented or promoted as “Primal”.

How about homesteading, both rural and urban?  Homesteading is a huge example of Primal Ways.

How about gardening and agriculture, in general? Home gardens and a growing number of small farms are shifting to Primal Ways.

How about hunting, fishing and foraging? Can any lifestyles claim the name more than these Primal Ways?

How about the arts? Primitive and tribal music and painting are just two of many artistic expressions of Primal Ways.

How about commitments to the environment and to conservation? How about dedication to helping others? How about communication and transportation? How about education? Do these have Primal Ways we should consider?

Which Primal Ways yield greater benefits than do modern ways?  Which do not?