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How is your experience with the primal blueprint?

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traineo Guru
Posts: 1117
Member since
Sep 21, 2006
Posted: March 23, 2010
Some friends of mine have been living by the primal blueprint. This lifestyle is based on the theory that agriculture isn't a natural food source for humans. There's more to it than that but I haven't read everything about it yet. It seems very interesting and makes a lot of good points but what troubles me is it seems a lot like a fad diet as well.

I know some people on this forum follow (or have followed) this plan and wanted to hear from them. Have they had success? Have they had any problems?

My friends love it and highly recommend it but have only been following this plan for a few months. Also, most of them haven't really struggled with being overweight before so I think they could probably follow anything and still look trim and fit.

thanks in advance.
traineo Guru
Posts: 547
Member since
Oct 26, 2009
Posted: March 23, 2010
Hi Dan

I have heard a lot about this. It makes good sense to me, if you can manage it. I think it would take way more willpower than I have to sustain such a diet, tho.

I have also been told that, if I could eat this way, I would not have to count calories.

Anyone else have thoughts? I'm curious, too...
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traineo Guru
Posts: 815
Member since
Nov 3, 2008
Posted: March 23, 2010
Personally I think the basic assumption of the primal diet is wrong. I mean come on, in 2,000BC if you lived to 28 you could get social security

Very topical as I got this today. Check out what Tom Venuto thinks;

Fat Burning Tips Weekly e-zine
March 23rd, 2010

In This Issue:
* Burn the Fat Q & A: Should we eat like our paleolithic,
cave-man ancestors?

To read this newsletter online, go to:
http://www.burnthefat.com/paleo_diet.html

The paleolithic diet, aka the "paleo diet" has been growing
in popularity recently, if the amount of email questions I
receive about it is any indication.

The paleo diet is not a "new" program in any sense of the word.
I recall reading Loren Cordain's book of the same title many
years ago, and the entire premise of the diet is based on
going back to a style of eating that is very, very "old."

But does the paleo diet work, or is it just another diet fad?

The premise is that "since our genetic code has changed less
than 0.02 percent in 40,000 years, this means that our bodies
are still expecting to get the same foods and nutrition they
were getting 40,000 years ago."

Forty thousand years ago, you had to eat nature-made food. There
was no food in cans, boxes or packages was there? The packaging
was peel, a skin or a shell!

There were no TV dinners. There was no drive in fast food. There
were no convenience stores.

There was no corn syrup. There was no white sugar. There were no
hydrogenated oils. No chemicals. No preservatives. No artificial
anything.

There was only what could be hunted and gathered: Meat, fish,
nuts, seeds, plants, vegetables, fruits.

By eating what our "stone age" hunter and gatherer ancestors ate,
says the paleo philosophy, we will be eating our proper evolutionary
diet and we will rid ourselves of the health and obesity problems
that have only recently begun to plague us as a result of modern
lifestyle and processed manmade foods.

So far, so good. By all means, we should be eating more unprocessed
foods, similar to the way our ancestors ate. But frankly I don't
think we have to dive into anthropological theory or research to
draw that conclusion - it's common sense isn't it?

My only major constructive criticism is that some of these
paleo programs not only recommend removal of all kinds of
grains and starches (and even dairy), they outright condemn
them in an absolutist fashion.

Why? well, they claim that agriculture arrived on the scene only
10,000 or so years ago, so any foods produced as a result of the
modern agricultural system should also be on the "banned" list
because our bodies aren't biologically engineered to consume them.

The truth is, some people can metabolically handle starches
and grains just fine, while others cannot (notably many
obese sedentary individuals, who are prone to metabolic syndrome).

To condemn natural foods like brown rice (a staple food for
centuries in some cultures such as Asia), sweet potatoes, oatmeal,
legumes and so on for healthy carb-tolerant people, especially those
who are highly active and already reasonably lean, doesn't
make a whit of sense to me.

For one thing, I'm not sure if anyone knows EXACTLY how our
ancestors ate, but I'm pretty certain that it depended a lot
on the culture, climate and geography. Therefore, the amount
of carbs eaten could have varied quite a bit, so I don't think
there is just ONE type of paleo diet.

What all paleolithic diets would have had in common is the
absence of processed and refined foods. The foods were natural;
whether they were proteins, fats OR carbs.

Of course, the carb intake wouldn't be as high, since there
would be no refined sugar or processed carbs. But even
according to Cordain, a "paleo" diet could be as high as
40% in carbs, a far cry from many of the low carb diets today
that condemn all carbs to the point of even putting restrictions
on fruits and veggies.

But should ALL grains and starches be completely avoided
by everyone?

For example, look at white flour cereal grains versus old
fashioned rolled or steel-cut unsweetened oatmeal - a body-
building STAPLE.

They are no where near the same, yet there are Paleo (and low
carb) advocates who dogmatically cling to the notion that
NO ONE should EVER be eating grains or natural carbs like
oatmeal and brown rice.

Almost every bodybuilder I know eats oatmeal for breakfast
plus lots of rice, sweet potatoes and other natural carbs.
They are the leanest muscular athletes on earth.

Certainly, many people need to avoid gluten and lactose, but
not everyone is intolerant.

What about biochemical individuality? Is there really only
ONE "perfect diet" suited to every human being or do we
vary depending on:

1. your metabolic/body type
2. your current body composition (fat or lean)
3. your genetic predispositions
4. your current state of health
5. your goals; fat loss, muscle growth, athletic performance?

In particular, for endurance athletes with a high energy
expenditures, eating the concentrated starchy carbs and grains
is not only beneficial, it's often crucial to sustaining
energy and performance.

Even bodybuilders and strength athletes can benefit from fairly
generous starchy carb intakes when increasing muscle mass is
the goal.

Aside from that minor quibble I have with some of these paleo programs
being too strict with their no grains/starches dictum, I do think
most of the intentions behind the "paleolithic" eating concept are
in the right place.

I do believe that the modern Western diet is giving many
people an overdose of refined grains and sugar (contributing
to the energy imbalance that causes obesity) and that
moderating intake of concentrated carbs almost always
helps with fat loss, even if that's simply because you
are reducing caloric density.

But I don't believe that agriculture, cooking or the modern food
system and everything that came with it is inherently "evil."

Despite all the crap food that is manufactured today, modern
technology is a boon to society and today is the greatest time
to be alive in all of human history.

If you really want to be 100% like a cave man, Why not ditch
your car and your computer too, because that will certainly
get you off your butt more won't it?

heck, ditch your electricity and your refrigerator too while
you're at it because that would be on the same level of
thinking as universally condemning all natural carbs for
the sake of being more "paleo."

Strict nutritional dogma doesn't help anyone; it only
confuses and restricts people.

That's why in my programs I never prescribe only one list
of foods or one ratio of protein, carbs and fats - the
macronutrient ratios can vary widely based on a person's
needs and preferences.

But what ALL my nutrition programs have in common is they are
high in protein, high in vegetables, greens and fibrous carbs
and they are based on 90% or more natural, unprocessed foods -

That's what the type of "bodybuilding diet" I follow has in
common with the paleo diet.

You can get info about my Burn The Fat program, which is based
on natural foods and bodybuilding nutrition techniques for
burning fat while building muscle, by visiting:
http://www.burnthefat.com

Train hard and expect success,

Tom Venuto,
http://www.burnthefat.com
http://www.burnthefat.com/innercircle

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traineo Guru
Posts: 547
Member since
Oct 26, 2009
Posted: March 23, 2010
Thanks for that, Dave. Very interesting!
Strict nutritional dogma doesn't help anyone; it only
confuses and restricts people.

I agree!
Plus, I can't make it without my granola...
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traineo Regular
Posts: 33
Member since
Jan 26, 2010
Posted: March 23, 2010
I am down with whatever works for your body. If that is the way you lose weight, and you do not sacrifice your health, go for it.
Everyone is always coming up the the "next best thing" but in reality the age old idea of not eating more than you should, and raising your heart rate everyday has not failed anyone that I know.
I am for sure no expert, but the perfect three for me is diet, exercise, and motivation.
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traineo Guru
Posts: 519
Member since
Sep 10, 2007
Posted: March 23, 2010
The premise is that "since our genetic code has changed less than 0.02 percent in 40,000 years, this means that our bodies are still expecting to get the same foods and nutrition they
were getting 40,000 years ago."


Here's my issue with that premise: even granting that the 0.02 is accurate (I have no idea if it is or not), the assumption here is that our genome would have to change significantly more than that in order for us to adapt to the diet of an agricultural society? Bullshit.

You know what the genetic difference is between someone who is lactose-intolerant and one who isn't? Someone who is allergic to peanuts or sensitive to gluten vs someone who isn't? I don't either, but I can tell you for damn sure it is orders of magnitude less than 0.02 percent. I mean we share 50% of our DNA with a banana for god's sake, and 96% with a chimpanzee.

Anyway... it just seems to me that if the fundamental tenet of the paleo-diet is that human evolution has not had enough time to adapt to changes in our diet that have been in place for tens of thousands of years, then it's not very scientifically sound.
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traineo Guru
Posts: 1117
Member since
Sep 21, 2006
Posted: March 24, 2010
I agree that it is a little strict, I guess I'm not really looking to follow this per say but more looking into it for curiosity's sake. I'm more of a moderation type of guy and don't believe in restricting anything in your diet but rather just moderating and eating a correct amount of calories.

I did do some research and found that paleolithic man had an average lifespan of 33 years. Neolithic man, once agriculture came into existence, had a lifespan of 20 years.. a significant drop. A few of my friends said they found information on how the Egyptians also experienced a decrease in their lifespan once agriculture was introduced.

Most of the information I've read has come from the site Mark's Daily Apple (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/).

I believe it also mentions to try and maintain an 80/20 ratio, meaning you eat primal only 80% of the time which would allow some grains and starch into our diet.

I also agree that everyone is different. I don't believe I've EVER had a problem with any food source. Man, can I eat However, I do agree that eating organic and cutting out the processed food from our life is a good thing to take away from this plan.

I've already introduced organic fruits, milk and eggs into my diet in the past year. Some supermarkets have hormone and antibiotic free meats which I buy when I see. I even found some awesome nitrate free roast beef at Costco (Kirkland brand.. tastes AMAZING!). I would like to start cow-pooling this year, I really have to force myself to go find a farm.

I've never been a fad diet guy but whenever I read something and it grabs my attention I like to research and find out more about it. I do this with workouts, running and diets. Often I find the best research is using yourself as a guinea pig.. not sure I'm ready for cutting grains though... I love them so much.
traineo Fanatic
Posts: 187
Member since
Dec 29, 2009
Posted: March 24, 2010
Here's my issue with that premise: even granting that the 0.02 is accurate (I have no idea if it is or not), the assumption here is that our genome would have to change significantly more than that in order for us to adapt to the diet of an agricultural society? Bullshit.


Agreed, and the thing is our genome did adapt to agriculture (or at least our skeletal structure).

I did do some research and found that paleolithic man had an average lifespan of 33 years. Neolithic man, once agriculture came into existence, had a lifespan of 20 years.. a significant drop. A few of my friends said they found information on how the Egyptians also experienced a decrease in their lifespan once agriculture was introduced.


This is true, and if you ask most anthropologists they will tell you that man kind came close to dying off with agriculture. This was thought to be because agriculture brought the start of processed foods (bread and the like) and our bodies weren't designed for it. But eventually we adapted and our bodies did change to take those new foods. We know this from skeletal records, our bone structures changed (Especially our teeth and jaws).

This helped us survive as we had to evolve a bit to eat these new foods we found we could make. And amusingly there are some who think we have beer to thank for that evolution and eventual survival as our bodies could more easily process it. Though I'm not entirely sure if I buy that one, but wouldn't it be great lol.
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traineo Guru
Posts: 1097
Member since
Aug 17, 2006
Posted: March 24, 2010
I wonder how different primal beer was from what we drink now.
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traineo Fanatic
Posts: 187
Member since
Dec 29, 2009
Posted: March 24, 2010
Very different, they were literally liquid bread (at least as far as we can tell)
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traineo Newbie
Posts: 3
Member since
May 26, 2008
Posted: March 24, 2010
I think the article above sums it up very well. If you cut out processed foods with flour "filler" and stick to lean protein, healthy unprocessed fats, and fruits and veggies for carbs, you will lose weight if you're overweight now. It can be difficult to give up pasta or even whole wheat bread, but if you can, you'll see some results. Go for your oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, all still good unprocessed (and by that I mean nothing added) grains, and you'll be fine. Does the paleo diet advocate you eat all your meat raw? It's just a different spin on eating naturally.
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traineo Newbie
Posts: 3
Member since
May 26, 2008
Posted: March 24, 2010
oh! And to Dan D: I wonder if the reason that the Egyptians experienced a significant drop in their lifespan with farming was that they had poor storage methods? You think of all the nasty molds and bacteria that can grow and ferment in grains stored in a moist environment. We don't have those issues now, so we're able to tolerate grains.
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traineo Guru
Posts: 1097
Member since
Aug 17, 2006
Posted: March 24, 2010
Sid Meyer's Civilization tells me that the drop in life expectancy that comes with agriculture is a result of expanded populations. I.e. more people, just not living as long.

I guess video games aren't the fount of knowledge I had hoped:
http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/angel-1984/angel-1984-1a.shtml

re: Neolithic lifespan
Most disease stressors in evidence at this time came from crowded settlement, and included hookworm, dysentery, and malaria consequent upon more frequent location of settlements near marshes/streams without tree cover. Also at this time, genetic adaptation to endemic infectious diseases such as malaria began to occur.

Essentially what Kathy2 said.
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traineo Regular
Posts: 79
Member since
Aug 14, 2009
Posted: March 24, 2010
Sid is a genius on the gaming front, but I'm not 100% sure about the archaeological records he references. Although part of that makes sense. With every expansion in food supply comes an expansion in population. Kathy makes a good point of poor storage and contaminated food. Also, we have to consider fairly high infant mortality rates were probably common. Farming needs more people to work to supply bigger crops, but not all the kids live long enough to help out on the farm. This was also true with US settlers on the plains. While the average lifespan may have been shortened, it doesn't mean everyone was dying at a younger age.

Also, as a society becomes more dependent on a farming existence, one year without a good harvest and they're screwed.
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traineo Guru
Posts: 815
Member since
Nov 3, 2008
Posted: March 24, 2010
Also, as a society becomes more dependent on a farming existence, one year without a good harvest and they're screwed.


that is ultimately what is going to bend over modern civilization and shaft it from behind.
So few variaties of crops, not going to take much to wipe out our food supply. No corn, no meat, no nothing.

Sorright by me, I have a years supply of protein powder stashed.

I guess at least then we will be eating a primitive diet if we want to or not
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