7

votes

What's the difference between being "primal" and "paleo?"

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 12, 2010 at 8:24 PM

And is it a significant difference?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:28 PM

Okay, Robb Wolf and Richard Nikoley also deserve a mention, as well as all the peeps on this site and all the other paleo bloggers (John Durant/Melissa Mcewen/Girl Gone Primal/etc)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:24 PM

Cordain doesn't "own" paleo. His book isn't the first. Or even the best. When I think "paleo", I think: Dr. Harris, Peter at Hyperlipid, Stephen Guyenet and Sisson - few of which would actually call themselves paleo. I would even think of Tom Naughton, Jimmy Moore, & the Drs. Eades before Cordain. Mybe its my bias due to the path that led me here, but just sayin'.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:18 PM

But isn't Cordain wrong? At the very least on saturated fat - even if he is changing his tune a bit. I think the case against salt is also very weak. And frankly, high fat dairy is okay by me.

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on May 12, 2010
at 06:09 PM

Mark -- great back and forth discussion between Cordain and Stephen Phinney there. Interesting to note that while saturated fat may cause placque, myocardial infarction doesn't take place in the absence of inflammation. Cordain specifically points out grains plus fat is deadly!

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on May 12, 2010
at 06:04 PM

Discussion between Cordain and Stephen Phinney here: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/loren-cordain-caution-on-saturated-fats-disaster-with-grains-will-be-public-after-march-25th/ Saturated fat may increase placque, but myocardial infarction doesn't take place in the absence of inflammation.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 12, 2010
at 03:48 PM

JakeA--see this page, which has links to the paper, as well as an interview (audio) with Cordain. I forgot to mention that the mummies also exhibited severe osteoporosis, which was attributed to their very acidic diet: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/loren-cordain-caution-on-saturated-fats-disaster-with-grains-will-be-public-after-march-25th/comment-page-1/

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:51 PM

I'd love to see an article on whether or not to eat saturated fats and especially would like to see a link to the data from the mummies that you referenced.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:28 PM

I agree with a lot of what you say, it does not seem to be a fashionable view at the moment :) Many people get their fat from dairy and processed coconut products too. It is harder to get such a high level of fat intake year round from wild game. What is paleolithic nutrition if not trying to bring our diets closer to the ancestral norm.

2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

(233)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:26 PM

That's unfair as Primal just isn't a diet. It includes aspects of weight training, sprint training, long walks and avoiding excessive medium-intensity cardio, which I used to do all of the time and it didn't work. I believe I've gotten as much out of the exercise concepts as I have from the diet concept. Primal fills in a lot of blanks exercise wise and also talks about limiting caloric intake for loss of weight.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 12, 2010
at 12:26 PM

I think Sisson's characterizations of Cordain's paleo are entirely self-serving and off-base. He mischaracterizes Cordain's statements and then tells us how wrong Cordain is.

118c80acf27cc770098c489e98de17a1

(118)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:51 AM

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. "Primal" is a gimmick that lets Mark define his own brand of paleo, one that's a lot more accessible and beginner-friendly than the hardcore cavemen. Like a lot of people, I'm not sure if I would have made to the happy paleo-carnivore state I'm in if I hadn't come across Sisson's site.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 12, 2010
at 11:15 PM

I don't think that "Primal" is a gimmick. Mark is doing a lot of good stuff in the Primal/Paleo world.

8316be0c30dec093fc5c3a09ea69a218

(183)

on February 12, 2010
at 08:53 PM

Got it - I've seen "primal" so much I didn't know its genesis. Thought they meant two different things (particularly when it comes to dairy).

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5 Answers

6
83d6a06c93bb3490dbca339cbbb63385

(526)

on February 12, 2010
at 08:41 PM

Primal is a marketing gimmick invented by Mark Sisson. Paleo is a catch-all for people mimicking the ancestral/paleolithic diet.

8316be0c30dec093fc5c3a09ea69a218

(183)

on February 12, 2010
at 08:53 PM

Got it - I've seen "primal" so much I didn't know its genesis. Thought they meant two different things (particularly when it comes to dairy).

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 12, 2010
at 11:15 PM

I don't think that "Primal" is a gimmick. Mark is doing a lot of good stuff in the Primal/Paleo world.

118c80acf27cc770098c489e98de17a1

(118)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:51 AM

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. "Primal" is a gimmick that lets Mark define his own brand of paleo, one that's a lot more accessible and beginner-friendly than the hardcore cavemen. Like a lot of people, I'm not sure if I would have made to the happy paleo-carnivore state I'm in if I hadn't come across Sisson's site.

2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

(233)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:26 PM

That's unfair as Primal just isn't a diet. It includes aspects of weight training, sprint training, long walks and avoiding excessive medium-intensity cardio, which I used to do all of the time and it didn't work. I believe I've gotten as much out of the exercise concepts as I have from the diet concept. Primal fills in a lot of blanks exercise wise and also talks about limiting caloric intake for loss of weight.

5
03591e15b7650ac61d96dd0141427cf0

(355)

on February 12, 2010
at 09:29 PM

Here's Mark Sisson's explanation: link text

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 12, 2010
at 12:26 PM

I think Sisson's characterizations of Cordain's paleo are entirely self-serving and off-base. He mischaracterizes Cordain's statements and then tells us how wrong Cordain is.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:18 PM

But isn't Cordain wrong? At the very least on saturated fat - even if he is changing his tune a bit. I think the case against salt is also very weak. And frankly, high fat dairy is okay by me.

4
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on February 13, 2010
at 01:47 AM

I think typically "primal" has some built in fitness and lifestyle connotations built into it that "paleo" typically does not have. I almost always see primal referred to as the "primal blueprint" as coined by Mark Sisson, and incorporates a more natural lifestyle in general.

I think there are some linguistic semantics that speak more directly to normal people, since the word primal is very well known. That may cause it to be used more often. A lot of people have no idea what the word "paleolithic" even means.

Diet wise, I believe the two terms are synonymous, but "primal" definitely carries some extra meaning behind it that "paleo" does not.

2
6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 12, 2010
at 12:48 PM

I associate "paleo" with Cordain's original paleo diet and "primal" with Sisson's Primal Blueprint and Harris' Paleonu. The primary difference seems to revolve around saturated fat. Sisson and Harris maintain that you can eat all the saturated fat you want as long it's from healthy animals, while Cordain says that paleolithic man just didn't have access to that much fat and therefore just didn't eat that much of it.

There are numerous scientific papers which have analyzed the fat composition of ruminants killed at different times of the year. This analysis includes all fat in the body (subcutaneous, brains, etc.). Even if you kill a "fat" deer in the Fall, it is still a pretty lean animal. And during the Summer, forget it--5 percent body fat or less. So, on that Fall day of the kill, they may have feasted on fat, but the rest of the week would have had much leaner food from the carcass.

There is also evidence that a low-carb diet, rich in animal saturated fat, causes atherosclerosis, as in the 1600-year old Inuit mummies with clogged arteries. This is not a sign of good health, and is a potentially life-threatening condition.

I think this puts me in the minority here, but I'm in the Cordain camp on this. I've had great success with The Paleo Diet, and wouldn't change a thing. Harris derisively refers to this as paleo reconstructionism, but I think it's an accurate statement nonetheless.

Bottom line: The science is still evolving and you just gotta read a bunch of stuff and make up your own mind.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:51 PM

I'd love to see an article on whether or not to eat saturated fats and especially would like to see a link to the data from the mummies that you referenced.

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on May 12, 2010
at 06:09 PM

Mark -- great back and forth discussion between Cordain and Stephen Phinney there. Interesting to note that while saturated fat may cause placque, myocardial infarction doesn't take place in the absence of inflammation. Cordain specifically points out grains plus fat is deadly!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:28 PM

I agree with a lot of what you say, it does not seem to be a fashionable view at the moment :) Many people get their fat from dairy and processed coconut products too. It is harder to get such a high level of fat intake year round from wild game. What is paleolithic nutrition if not trying to bring our diets closer to the ancestral norm.

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on May 12, 2010
at 06:04 PM

Discussion between Cordain and Stephen Phinney here: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/loren-cordain-caution-on-saturated-fats-disaster-with-grains-will-be-public-after-march-25th/ Saturated fat may increase placque, but myocardial infarction doesn't take place in the absence of inflammation.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 12, 2010
at 03:48 PM

JakeA--see this page, which has links to the paper, as well as an interview (audio) with Cordain. I forgot to mention that the mummies also exhibited severe osteoporosis, which was attributed to their very acidic diet: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/loren-cordain-caution-on-saturated-fats-disaster-with-grains-will-be-public-after-march-25th/comment-page-1/

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:28 PM

Okay, Robb Wolf and Richard Nikoley also deserve a mention, as well as all the peeps on this site and all the other paleo bloggers (John Durant/Melissa Mcewen/Girl Gone Primal/etc)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 04:24 PM

Cordain doesn't "own" paleo. His book isn't the first. Or even the best. When I think "paleo", I think: Dr. Harris, Peter at Hyperlipid, Stephen Guyenet and Sisson - few of which would actually call themselves paleo. I would even think of Tom Naughton, Jimmy Moore, & the Drs. Eades before Cordain. Mybe its my bias due to the path that led me here, but just sayin'.

1
149056f0f8fe87e592d3ead1826badb5

(248)

on February 12, 2010
at 09:04 PM

"aleo" To me Primal is the entire lifestyle (rest, play, eat well, avoid stress, etc.) While Paleo is mainly a diet thing. Largely it is the same thing though when speaking of the diet. But really it doesn't matter. Paleo is some loose guidelines on how to eat and live with plenty of room for experimentation and self-discovery.

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