The origins of the 10 primal blueprint laws trace back to 2006, when Mark Sisson founded the acclaimed and most-visited primal and paleo blog, Mark's Daily Apple. Following the success of Mark's Daily Apple, Mark published his original runaway bestseller, The Primal Blueprint in 2009. Thus, solidifying his status as a bona fide expert in the field of ancestral health.
If we fast forward 14 years to 2023, the world looks a little different now. Smartphones and social media have changed how we communicate and gather information. It's hard to escape from high-tech modern life.
But it's not all doom and gloom. The general population wants to be healthy and happy, they just don't know how to achieve this. There's more mainstream awareness of ancestral living today. Gluten-free keto, intermittent fasting, MAF training and primal movement are becoming commonly known phrases.
What most people don't realize is that our modern creature comforts are the very things that are making us sick. Modern living is filled with unhealthy sedentary lifestyle patterns that are not conducive to vibrant health. Despite the growing desire to live healthier, happier lives, our high-stress existences have contributed to the chronic metabolic disease epidemic sweeping the globe. We're seeing a rapid escalation in the number of people suffering from preventable diseases such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease (caused by vascular disease and oxidative damage)
This is where health coaches can help!
In 2014, Mark Sisson and Aaron Fox launched the very first ancestral health coaching certification. Almost a decade on, the Primal Health Coach Institute (PHCI) now offers 13 certifications. These courses cover a comprehensive array of specializations in the fields of health and fitness. All of our courses are based on the lifestyle principles outlined in the 10 primal blueprint laws.
In this post, we're going to revisit the original 10 primal blueprint laws. Whether you're discovering the primal blueprint laws for the first time, or you're a PHCI student or grad looking to brush up on primal living basics. This post is for you. Let's get started!
The 10 Primal Blueprint Laws
The key to effortless healthy living can be found in our DNA. Our Homo sapiens genes were shaped by selection pressures our hunter-gatherer ancestors were exposed to, including:
- Food availability
- Climate - such as weather patterns and temperatures
- Sun exposure
What this means, is that our bodies function best when we choose lifestyle preferences that mimic the selection pressures our hunter-gatherer ancestors were exposed to.
The great news is, it's possible to reprogram our genes. So whether your goal is to improve muscle development, lower blood sugar levels, stop weight gain, or improve mental health - overall wellness can be achieved through optimal gene expression.
How is this possible?
By following these 10 primal blueprint laws which are:
- Eat lots of animals and plants
- Move around a lot at a slow pace
- Lift heavy things
- Run really fast once in a while
- Get lots of sleep
- Get some sunlight every day
- Avoid trauma
- Avoid poisonous things
- Use your mind
The 10 primal blueprint laws are based on the natural selection pressures that have shaped human evolution for over two million years. Our ancestors didn't have gym memberships and they didn't buy certified organic produce and groceries. They hunted animals, collected firewood and foraged for wild berries. Surviving each day was healthy living in the Paleolithic era.
Technological advancements have removed many of the daily tasks that our ancestors performed in their everyday lives. But our genetic makeup has remained the same. We still require the same selection pressures as our ancestors, in order to live optimally. The 10 primal blueprint laws describe lifestyle choices that we can make, to help us live our healthiest lives in our modern world.
We'll now dive a little deeper into how you can apply these laws into your everyday life.
Law 1: Eat lots of animals and plants
The primal blueprint outlines an eating plan that looks a lot different to the nutrition advice outlined in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Flawed conventional wisdom will have you following a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. But, there is an abundance of scientific and medical data to prove that eating in such a way causes wildly excessive insulin production, excess body fat and can lead to chronic metabolic disease.
Conventional wisdom will also have you believing that willpower and calorie restriction are the only way to avoid packing on the pounds as we age. But, the healthy diet habits outlined in the primal blueprint provides a nutrition strategy that bucks this trend.
Here's a list of primal blueprint foods:
Foods to eat in abundance:
- Protein - local, pasture-raised, certified organic meat, fowl and fish
- Colorful vegetables and lots of them!
Foods to eat in moderate amounts:
- Seasonal fruit (mostly berries)
- Healthy fats - nuts, avocados, coconuts, olive oil and animal fats
- Fermented dairy such as yogurt and kefir
- Specifically full fat dairy
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Vitamin supplements
- Herbs and spices
Eliminate the following proinflammatory foods to reduce systemic inflammation:
- Vegetable oils
- Refined vegetable oils
- Refined sugars
- Trans and hydrogenated fats
- Highly processed sugary breakfast cereals
- High fructose corn syrup
Eighty percent of body composition comes from what you eat, so getting your nutrition on point will have the greatest impact on your health.
Law 2: Move around a lot at a slow pace
There's no need to include exhausting exercise routines into your fitness schedule. Incorporating two to five hours per week of low-level aerobic activity is the best way to burn excess body fat and regulate your blood sugar levels. This low intensity exercise can be achieved by:
- Easy bike riding
- Stand up paddle boarding
The importance of low intensity exercise is gaining popularity, with Zone 2 and Maffetone Method training becoming more mainstream. These forms of low intensity exercise take into account your heart rate, and are often used by endurance athletes to improve their aerobic capacity.
Law 3: Lift heavy things
The idea behind lifting heavy things is to mimic the movements that were part of our ancestor's everyday life. The primal blueprint refers to these movements as the Primal Essential Movements and includes:
Lifting heavy things can involve pumping iron in the weights room, or performing bodyweight strength training at home. This form of exercise can be performed two to three times a week for 30-45 minutes.
Lifting heavy things has many health benefits including:
- Improves mood
- Increases muscle strength and power
- Boosts growth hormone release
- Improves bone density
- Enhances insulin sensitivity
- Reduces stored body fat
- Changes body composition
- Boosts energy levels
Law 4: Run really fast every once in a while
Sprinting every 7 to 10 days has many health benefits including:
- Increases the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH)
- Reduces the risk of soft tissue injury
- Boosts your mood
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Burns body fat
- Improves aerobic fitness
- Increases muscle mass and strength
Your sprints can be performed as a:
- Run (up a hill, on the grass, at the beach)
- Row (on an erg or on the water)
- Ski (on an erg or down a mountain)
- Bike (stationary, road or mountain)
When it comes to your sprint session, you'll spend most of your time warming up and cooling down. Your actual sprints should take around five minutes total.
Law 5: Get lots of sleep
Quality sleep is essential for good health. While you sleep your body uses this time to:
- Improve brain function
- Heal wounds and repair cells throughout the body
- Reorganize nerve cells
Not getting enough sleep may be what's holding you back from reaching your health goals. Improve your sleep health by:
- Being physically active during the day
- Avoid caffeine after noon
- Minimize blue light exposure two to three hours before bed
- Keep your bedroom temp cool (between 60-65 degrees fahrenheit)
Law 6: Play
Involve yourself in some unstructured play. This could be throwing a ball with your kids, swinging around on a ninja warrior course, or playing cards with friends. Play helps to:
- Reduce stress
- Improves mood
- Strengthens social bonds
- Sneak physical fun into your day
Law 7: Get some sunlight every day
Daily sun exposure (without burning) has many benefits including:
- Boosts vitamin D levels
- Increases Nitric Oxide
- Improves immune health
- Increases cognitive function
- Improves eye health
- Lifts mood
Whilst sun exposure is necessary for healthy living, it's important to avoid getting sun burnt as this can increase your risk of skin cancer. A slight tan is a good indicator that you've had a healthy amount of sun exposure.
Law 8: Avoid trauma
Avoiding trauma may seem like a no-brainer but it's essential to healthy living. Do your best to eliminate self-destructive behaviors by:
- Wearing seat belts
- Not smoking or taking drugs
- Not diving into shallow water
Being mindful of your surroundings will help you avoid dangerous situations.
Law 9: Avoid poisonous things
Avoiding poisonous things will take more planning and awareness than you may realize. Do your best to avoid exposure to chemical toxins (pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, etc.) in your foods and on your skin. It's also important to avoid the poisons found in toxic modern foods including:
- Processed foods
- Trans and hydrogenated fats
- Mercury in certain fish
Law 10: Use your mind
Brain health is just as important as your physical health. Exercise your brain every day by tapping into your creativity. This could involve:
- Playing an instrument
- Engaging in puzzles such as sudoku or crosswords
The 10 primal blueprint laws provide the ultimate guide to healthy living. Each of the 13 coaching certifications offered here at the PHCI, are based on evolutionary biology principles.
Are you ready to start your coaching journey? Find the right certification for you here.