Mark Sisson is an athlete, coach, and student on a “lifelong quest for exceptional health, happiness, and peak performance.”
He’s in many ways the embodiment of where I’d like to be 15 years from now. At 55 he weighs 165 pounds with 8 percent body fat, eats as much food as he pleases, and rarely gets sick. He also says he’s healthier, fitter, happier and more productive than ever.
So what is Mark’s secret (beyond the fact that he lives on the beach)? In his words, “Modeling your 21st-century life after our primal hunter-gather ancestors will help you greatly reduce or eliminate almost all of the disease risk factors that you may falsely blame on genes you inherited from your parents…Weight loss does not have to involve the suffering, sacrifice, and deprivation we’ve been conditioned to accept but instead is a matter of eating the right foods (plants and animals), avoiding the wrong foods (processed carbs—including grains—and trans and partially hydrogenated fats), and exercising strategically, for far fewer hours than you might assume, to reach your desired fitness goals.”
He breaks his blueprint into “Ten Primal Blueprint Laws.” I’ll hit you with five this week , and five next week, along with a few thoughts of my own.
Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals
The bulk of the caveman diet is animal protein (organic, free-range, or wild sources of meat, fowl, and fish), a plethora of colorful veggies and fruits, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, their derivative butters, certain oils, and avocados).
I’m still on the fence with this one (the meat part) as I believe there is plenty of evidence out there to suggest that an entirely plant-based diet may be the best way to go. However, he makes a strong case for animal protein in the book.
Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
For the caveman this meant staying away from poisonous plants. For you this means staying away from sugars, sodas, chemically altered fats, processed, packaged, fried and preserved foods. It also means cutting out grains. Grains? Yes. I know. This was a hard one for me too. But we’re evolutionarily not built to digest grains according to Mark and more harm than benefit comes from consuming them. Eating grains is a relatively recent development in humanity’s journey.
Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
The caveman spent several hours each day moving around at a low-level aerobic pace. This helped develop strong bones, joints, and connective tissue. Meanwhile, most of us are sitting on our backsides all day. This goes back to my ongoing mantra: “just get off your can and move around…as regularly as possible.”
Law #4: Lift Heavy Things
Frequent bursts of intense physical effort were a daily part of the caveman’s life. Biochemical signals would be triggered that prompted improvements and adaptations in muscle tone, size and power. Since most of us don’t have reason to do this during an average day at the office, it is essential that we create or find exercise programs that make us lift things. We have to stress our muscles or we’ll lose them.
Law #5: Sprint Once in a While
For the caveman a fast sprint meant the difference between being eaten and staying alive. Little did he know that those sprints were helping to increase his energy levels, improve athletic performance and minimize the effects of aging by promoting the release of testosterone and human growth hormone. Remember all that stuff I’ve been saying about high intensity intervals? There’s a reason we love to hate burpees…
That’s it for now. We’ll get to the final five next post.
In the meantime, think about how you can incorporate the above in your own life and let me know if I can be of any help in doing so.