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What is the Difference between 'Paleo' and 'Primal?'

by (190)
Updated about 10 hours ago
Created February 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM

What is the Difference between 'Paleo' and 'Primal?' Is one better for weightloss than the other? Or should I just experiment with it and see how my body responds?

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1571 · February 17, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Sisson actually mentions cutting dairy if you're having trouble loosing weight. Haven't read his book but found it on his blog: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-insulin/#axzz1mfbT6Ksr.

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1571 · February 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Joshua - Wish I could give you a star for your response! I get so tired of all this misinformation floating around.

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1571 · February 17, 2012 at 7:36 PM

WCC Paul - Hold up. How is rice Paleo? Where does it say that?

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480 · February 14, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Fascinating discussion, I really thought they were the same!

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3450 · February 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM

IMHO, primal was Mark Sisson's attempt to create a marketing plan around paleo--name, logo, etc... Like the difference between cola and "Coca Cola." One's a generic name, and one refers to a specific cola product made by a specific company. Not that I have anything against someone marketing a product or making money. We all have to support ourselves somehow.

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37177 · February 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM

I get along fine with home-made yogurt, but it definitely slows my weight loss as does large quantities of sweet fruit. For steady weight loss (1/2 to 1 lb per week) I eat moderate fruit and cream in my coffee but no yogurt. I don't eat a lot of starch either.

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11683 · February 13, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Point taken, Joshua. (I knew someone would correct me!) Tyler, here's Sisson admitting to eating wheat http://www.marksdailyapple.com/grain-pain/#axzz1mIB24C3w

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955 · February 13, 2012 at 7:06 PM

I think the bread indulging has more to do with both of their severity of response to gluten. I've never heard Sisson mention "cheating" with bread, however, as I'm pretty sure he has to run to the bathroom, just like Wolf does, but I'd be interested to see the quote if it's out there.

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9647 · February 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Here's a classic answer from Melissa HGL that will help with this: http://paleohacks.com/questions/4034/whats-the-difference-between-atkins-and-the-paleo-diet/4035#4035 Of course things are a little different these days, since dairy and rice are pretty much paleo .... Well I guess it depends on who you talk to. It's a wide-open term. And probably better that way.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4
9647 · February 13, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Here's a classic answer from Melissa that will help with this: http://paleohacks.com/questions/4034/whats-the-difference-between-atkins-and-the-paleo-diet/4035#4035 Of course things are a little different these days, since dairy and rice are pretty much paleo .... Well I guess it depends who you talk to. It's a wide-open term. And probably better that way.

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21400 · February 13, 2012 at 6:11 PM

The author of the Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain, originally advocated the 80/20 rule.

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1363 · February 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Do you mean in respect to diet requirements or "lifestyle" suggestions? They have some differences in both areas..

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190 · February 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

VERY helpful, thank you!

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7 Answers

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21400 · February 13, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Paleo: A general concept shared by multiple authors and gurus regarding the elimination of toxins by basing a diet on "Ancestral" foods. Core beliefs are "No gluten-containing grains, no legumes, no-lactose or casein (cheese/yogurt/milk), no sugar". There are many other various iterations (of which Primal can be considered one) that adjust these measures based on even more varied reasons. Classic "Paleo" as coined by early 2000's authors Audette (Book: Neanderthin) and Cordain (The Paleo Diet) would fall in the "Low Carb, dairy-free" camp, whereas more modern (Harris (Archevore), Jaminet (Perfect Health Diet)) proponents would allow for moderate-to-high starch intake, and slightly more leeway in regards to some dairy.

Primal: An adaptation of the Paleo diet as authored by Mark Sisson (Book: The Primal Blueprint) that focuses on carbohydrates and toxins. Primal allows for considerably more leeway in regards to dairy, some "safe" grain and other starches, and even fermented legumes. Diet can be adjusted to suit personal needs, although being completely grain, legume, and sugar free still seems to be the main objective.

Since all of these have considerable crossover, I would suggest looking into the specific authors. This thread should help you out...

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1571 · February 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Joshua - Wish I could give you a star for your response! I get so tired of all this misinformation floating around.

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3450 · February 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM

IMHO, primal was Mark Sisson's attempt to create a marketing plan around paleo--name, logo, etc... Like the difference between cola and "Coca Cola." One's a generic name, and one refers to a specific cola product made by a specific company. Not that I have anything against someone marketing a product or making money. We all have to support ourselves somehow.

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1118 · February 13, 2012 at 5:49 PM

The way I understand it, the biggest difference, is that Primal allows some full fat dairy. In my opinion, I feel that Paleo is more rigid than Primal, when it comes to food rules. I think tubers and night shades are thought of as acceptable on Primal as well. That's my take, from the information I've read. Hopefully that's helpful...

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190 · February 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

VERY helpful, thank you!

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37177 · February 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM

There's no statutory definition here. I use the umbrella term "ancestral eating" and I consider all the plans as variations under the same umbrella. Some recommend specific eating patterns and others engage in healthy dialogue about nutritional science: Archevore, Gnoll, Primal, Quilt, Cordain, Wolf, Jaminet, Kresser, CarbSane, Guyenet, etc.

They all have the same goal, they just differ slightly with regard to execution. The whole point is to maximize health, energy and longevity. Since humans aren't all the same, ALL the interpretations are correct for at least some of us.

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78407 · February 13, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Is one better for weightloss than the other? Or should I just experiment with it and see how my body responds?

Nobody knows. Everyone is far too busy redefining "paleo" and trying to think up excuses for why they need to add dairy and starches back into their diet. lol

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37177 · February 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM

I get along fine with home-made yogurt, but it definitely slows my weight loss as does large quantities of sweet fruit. For steady weight loss (1/2 to 1 lb per week) I eat moderate fruit and cream in my coffee but no yogurt. I don't eat a lot of starch either.

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15003 · February 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM

I consider primal to be paleo + dairy, largely because the original founding fathers of paleo (Cordain, Wolf) were anti-dairy and Mark Sisson (Mr. Primal Blueprint) was more dairy friendly.

Re your question about weight loss, a number of folks (like Tim Ferriss of 4 Hour Body fame) suggest avoiding dairy if weight loss is your goal. But experimenting and seeing what works for you is absolutely spot on. If you can tolerate dairy (and especially if you can get dairy products from grass-fed cows), it's certainly well worth considering.

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1571 · February 17, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Sisson actually mentions cutting dairy if you're having trouble loosing weight. Haven't read his book but found it on his blog: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-insulin/#axzz1mfbT6Ksr.

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10 · June 08, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I don't have much dairy - some cream once or twice a week and butter cos I can't find coconut oil anywhere. Du think this is slowing down my weightloss? I don't tend to have fruit other than a little rhubarb a few times a week the rest is just veggies protein and fats. Should I cut out all dairy du think?

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11683 · February 13, 2012 at 6:09 PM

In addition to allowing dairy, my understand is that Primal aims to be a bit more flexible, aiming for 80% compliance, whereas Paleo aims for 100%. For example Mark Sisson wrote that if he's in a restaurant with a nice-looking bread basket, he might indulge, whereas Robb Wolf wouldn't. Is that at all accurate, anyone?

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986
11683 · February 13, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Point taken, Joshua. (I knew someone would correct me!) Tyler, here's Sisson admitting to eating wheat http://www.marksdailyapple.com/grain-pain/#axzz1mIB24C3w

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955 · February 13, 2012 at 7:06 PM

I think the bread indulging has more to do with both of their severity of response to gluten. I've never heard Sisson mention "cheating" with bread, however, as I'm pretty sure he has to run to the bathroom, just like Wolf does, but I'd be interested to see the quote if it's out there.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0
21400 · February 13, 2012 at 6:11 PM

The author of the Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain, originally advocated the 80/20 rule.

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