Samuel's Reviews > The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
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's review
Dec 02, 2011

it was amazing
Read from December 02 to 05, 2011

Let me make it clear up front that I'm giving 5 stars to the concept of primal eating and not to the quality of the book. I would rate the book more like 3 stars. The concepts in this book are seemingly life-changing for me. I've been eating according to these guidelines in this book for about 4-5 weeks now and have experienced convincing and even dramatic results.

But first let me give you a little background.

I've had gradually declining health for many years now. All my vitals are borderline dangerous: weight, waist size (over 40"), blood pressure, lipid profile (high cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, etc), signs of insulin resistance. My father has adult-onset diabetes and I know I'm on the same track if I don't make a change. While I've known for almost 10 years that the warning signs are there, it wasn't until a health check-up through my employer prompted me to take action. In the check-up I had all the signs of metabolic syndrome which is just a term used to describe the combination of all the above symptoms and also is used to describe someone with insulin resistance which is essentially a pre-diabetic state. I figured I'd have significant lifestyle changes sooner or later if I get diabetes. I might as well make the changes now so that I can choose what they will be.

I visited the doctor to get checked out and did extensive research and reading to find out how best to address metabolic syndrome. What I found was very confusing at best. Every book I read touted a different approach to handling metabolic syndrome. They mostly had similarities but sometimes were dramatically different and contradictory.

I settled on an approach outlined in the book "The Insulin-Resistance Diet." This was a great book that taught be the importance of insulin in your metabolic process and that controlling your insulin response is key in managing your weight and, in-turn, metabolic syndrome. To manage insulin it taught a way of "linking" carbs and protein so dampen the insulin response. The method was simple and seemed sustainable as a long-term eating plan. For about 4 months I used this method (with varying degrees of faithfulness) and lost about 5 pounds over that period of time.

In October a friend from high school came into town with his family. Over dinner we found out that he and his wife had made some dramatic lifestyle changes over the last many months, one of which was to eat a paleo diet which is very similar to that found in this book (yes I'll get back to the book). I remembered that my doctor had suggested I might try a paleo diet and asked more about it. It didn't take much convincing and I was ready to give it a try. I started applying some of the principles within a few days and gradually got more and more strict in living the principles as I learned more.

Here are my results so far:

--I've lost just over 10 pounds.
--I've re-gained 3 notches on my belt.
--My blood pressure is now normal (119/79) after being in the pre-hypertension range (140/90).
--My energe level is extremely stable. No more highs and lows. No more food comas. No more trying to stay awake on my drive home. I can even wake up much more easily in the morning (I've never been a morning person).
--No more food cravings, particularly for cookies and doughnuts which were my personal kryptonite.

We'll see in the next couple of months how this improves my poor lipid profile. The good news with this lifestyle is that it's one I think I'll be able to maintain.

A very rough overview of the book

The book outlines several steps for living a primal lifestyle - that is to say one that paleolithic man may have lived. Mostly the steps are diet related but also outline other aspects of general living. Here's an overview to the most important concepts.

1. DON'T EAT GRAINS, SUGAR, OR LEGUMES, AND REDUCE CARB INTAKE - The book recommends a daily carb intake of 50-100g for weight loss and 100-150 for weight maintenance.

This is by far the most shocking and seemingly unrealistic parts of the plan and one that I didn't immediately embrace. But after starting to dramatically reduce my grain intake I found a dramatic reduction in cravings, particularly for sweets (I could rarely resist a cookie or doughnut everyday after lunch). It was almost magical. I never thought I would be able to resist eating grains. It was tough at first but within the first week I didn't even have a desire for grains. Sure I get a craving on occasion if others are eating cookies or other sweets, and sometimes I indulge, but on a day-to-day basis those cravings are gone.

There are two reasons for not eating grains and reducing carb intake. The first and less-convincing is simply because paleolithic man didn't farm and therefore didn't eat grains. The more convincing reason is that excess carbs and grains in particular produce a very sharp insulin response. Insulin is the main culprit in inducing fat storage not to mention taking a toll on your pancreas which can lead to diabetes.

In my mind this is the single most important principle.


With this lifestyle you get most of your calories from protein and fat. You train your body to burn body fat and dietary fat for fuel rather than sugar or blood glucose. This seems so counter-intuitive because you end up eating a lot of fats but since you're not producing excessive insulin your body uses the fat for fuel instead of storing it. A great side-effect of this is you don't tend to get ravenously hungry and your energy level remains much more consistent.


I can't speak so much to the exercise portion of the plan since I've just started implementing it. In short you do low-grade cardio (walking primarily) for roughly 2 hours a week (30 minutes a few days a week). Do strength training for 2 days a week focusing mostly on natural body exercises. Do sprinting or interval training for 20-30 minutes once every 7-10 days. Avoid doing cardio over 75% of your max heart rate for extended periods of time.


I haven't followed these guidlines but plan on integrating them in with our family diet over time. Basically you should eat organic produce, grass-fed meat (that sounds weird, I should probably say grass-fed protein sources), and stay was from anything too processed. It reminds me to a recommendation I once heard to shop on the outside walls of your grocery stores. This ends up being about how we're starting to shop now. We avoid boxes :).

So, back to the actual book rating.

The good:
I'm obviously a fan of this lifestyle and right now plan on living these principles for the long haul. The results have been dramatic for me. It's not just the weight loss either but mostly the dramatic difference in how I feel.

The bad:
The book seemed long and drawn out. Chapter 2 was particularly good which chronicles the lifestyle of a typical family and how broken it is. You can get all the basic principles from the authors website ( without having to slog through the book. In fact, he seems to refer to his website countless times throughout the book. Nonetheless I'm was glad to have read the book in whole to get a grasp of the big picture.
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02/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Doris (new) - added it

Doris Jean I think you'd enjoy Dr, Richard Bernstein's book "Diabetes Solution" which is good for non-diabetics, too. He also has a great little recipe book.

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