The Primal Blueprint, a 'conservative' diet that works
Conservatism has at least two running themes. One is deference to custom and tradition. Or to put it another way: the notion that our ancestors knew better. The other is a gut distrust of self-appointed “experts,” or what 18th-century English statesman Edmund Burke called society’s “sophists, calculators, and economists” who seek to quantify and regulate humanity.
In its philosophy, the Primal Blueprint is essentially a conservative diet. Author and Primal Blueprint creator Mark Sisson says, “Forget everything you thought you knew about diet, exercise, and health. It’s time to go back to the beginning.” He believes that the “experts” at the Food and Drug Administration, with their food pyramid and nutritional advice about what constitutes a well-balanced meal, are full of it.
According to Sisson, “The Primal Blueprint is validated by the magnificent 2-million-year scientific study that is human evolution. Our genes prefer natural hunter-gatherer foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, fowl, and eggs.” What we should avoid are grains and sugars, writes Sisson. “Processed carbohydrates drive excess insulin production, which can lead to lifelong insidious weight gain. Even if you don’t have excess body fat concerns, a high-insulin producing diet promotes systemic inflammation, fatigue, and burnout.”
Sisson adds, “Grains might be the most offensive foods in your diet.”
I’ve never been on a diet my entire life, but the older I get, the more I try to be health conscious. This has typically meant just riding my bike for exercise and not eating crappy food all the time. Yet, during a business trip to Jacksonville, Fla., in October, my friend and author Thomas Woods kept telling me about how many intelligent people he knew had tried the Primal Blueprint diet and claimed it worked. Many said it changed their lives. I watched Tom order Mexican food, sans the tortilla wrap and corn chips, and devour a pile of ground beef and vegetables as he promoted the healthy virtues of this primal, caveman-style of eating.
I could never be a vegetarian. For me, it’s not a true meal if it doesn’t have meat. So giving up grains, bread, and sugar and eating as much meat and vegetables as I
wanted was an easy adjustment. But giving up two of the “bad” foods I loved the most — movie theater popcorn and my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese — would be more difficult. So I decided I would continue to eat both as freely as I always had, but the trade-off would be that I would become hardcore in following the plan in my everyday diet.
The first week I lost 10 pounds. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight, but did anyway. That week I ate steak, bacon, sausage, eggs, ribs, fish, chicken, and ground beef. I thoroughly enjoyed each meal, and I felt healthier quickly. Now, when I see rice, bread, or pasta, it’s easy to avoid them because I don’t want to feel sluggish and tense. As I write this, I’m enjoying a sausage and ham omelet with a side of fresh veggies — no potatoes, home fries, or biscuits. This is a diet? Really?
When I initially posted some of my positive results on Facebook, similar reports started coming in. One guy said he’d been on the plan for five months, lost 50 pounds, and felt fantastic. A woman I had known for some time from Charleston said she lost 33 pounds, but the lure of pasta and sweets was too hard to resist, and she piled it right back on. Regardless, she admitted the Primal Blueprint worked.
I’m not sure I buy into this whole caveman narrative (didn’t they die early and suffer from all sorts of diseases?) and my commitment to this plan has been entirely dietary — I remain a workaholic night-owl. Given my line of work, Sisson’s advice to chill out is not something I can afford to do. I still do my minimal biking for cardio. But that’s it.
But what continues to fascinate me is the generally conservative premise of the Primal Blueprint — that the experts who’ve told us for years that eating whole grains and fiber was a healthy alternative to fatty foods have been completely wrong and that our meat-and-plant-eating ancestors had it right. I know the “experts” at the Federal Reserve with their Keynesian economic approach to government “stimulus” and bailouts have been completely wrong in their analysis and prescriptions for the financial crisis. Perhaps the Food and Drug Administration and the entire
health establishment are just as ass-backward?
Then again, I don’t need to wonder. My body has already told me. I feel great.