Primal Body, Primal Mind: Q&A #2

Welcome to the second virtual meeting of our book club and our discussion of Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas! (If you don’t know what’s going on around here, read this post…or read the first Q&A.) If you’re new here, you’re welcome to join us! Just get a copy of Primal Body, Primal Mind and chime in on the discussion anytime!

Book Club Meetings
Chapters 1-9 – Monday, August 29 – Read the Q&A
Chapters 10-23 – Monday, September 19 – DONE!
Chapters 24-31
– Friday, September 30

Just like last time, I’ll ask a few questions to get things started. Take a look at the questions below and share your thoughts in comments. Don’t feel pressure to answer all the questions… you can just respond to the ones that inspire you. Or blast us with all of your thoughts, if you’re really feelin’ it.

1. Chapters 10-12 delivered some pretty bad news about the garbage fats in packaged food (and restaurants). I definitely thought about that when I ate breakfast out on Saturday morning. How about you? How do you manage the balance of good fats at home and the potential for industrial seed oils when you eat in the wilds of modern life?

2. In Chapter 14, Nora writes, “In many ways, [leptin] is the single most important hormone in the body.” So much of the advice we read puts the spotlight on insulin, instead. Discuss.

3. Um… ew. “The researchers who developed sucralose, also known as Splenda, originally started out in an attempt to create an insecticide. Have you given up artificial sweeteners? How was that experience? Are you still consuming drinks and foods with these sweeteners?

4. This isn’t a question, but… I loved the chapter on water. Physically and psychologically, I feel better when I drink enough water, and my skin looks WAY better.

5. I nearly fell out of my bus seat when I read the protein recommendations on page 144 and Chapter 21 kinda freaked me out. I eat about 100-110g grams of protein every day, so the idea of cutting so much makes me uncomfortable. What do you think about Nora’s guidelines?

6. Also not a question: Those monkey photos on page 212 are amazing.

Before we hit the discussion, I want to say that I think the kindling vs. logs analogy (chapter 13,  p. 128) is a brilliant, easy-to-understand way to communicate the difference between being a carb-burner and a fat-burner. Should come in very handy when trying to explain the benefits of paleo to other people. OK! Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Sound off!

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  • Shelly says:


    She keeps referring to things as “unnatural” or even “exceedingly unnatural.” While I know what she means, the appeal to nature is a logical fallacy and doesn’t do anything to help our cause in the Eat Real Food movement. Fallacy Files has a great overview of all the logical fallacies:

    There has to be another way to talk about these things. We can’t say things are bad because they’re “unnatural” — that doesn’t mean anything.


    Chapter 13.

    I didn’t know insulin’s job wasn’t regulating blood sugar. I get that all hormones have lots of jobs, but so much focus is on blood sugar in our culture that it’s stunning that insulin only accepted this responsibility recently. Furthermore, the whole chapter on carbohydrate metabolism terrified me.
    pg. 125 – Bjornholt study she cites actually states as the conclusion: “CONCLUSIONS: Fasting blood glucose values in the upper normal range appears to be an important independent predictor of cardiovascular death in nondiabetic apparently healthy middle-aged men.” It looked like a good study, but that’s a bold statement. I checked articles that cite this article — there’s a meta-analysis (a study of lots of studies! in this case, 38) titled “Is Nondiabetic Hyperglycemia a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular disease?” (Archives of Internal Medicine October 25, 2004 164:2147-2155) and THAT concludes that “Blood glucose level is a risk marker for CVD among apparently healthy individuals without diabetes.” This is pretty shocking to me — whenever I had my yearly checkup done, it seemed like they wanted to relate my fasting blood glucose to diabetes risk, not CVD. Why isn’t this a bigger deal? Even the higher end of normal is an increased risk — so why is that still in the “normal” range?! It’s like people in the medical profession just assume we’re all going to become diabetic at some point, it’s just a question of when. Which is, sadly, true for a lot of Americans.

    Glycation? Terrifying! Pg. 127 — “Glycation and its damage is ultimately a cumulative process, so every bit of sugar or starch we eat eventually counts. Every piece of candy, cookie, bread, or potato, every spoonful of honey, and every drop of soda effectively shortens your life.” Citations for this whole section on glycation and AGEs are really lacking, but I understand that it’s something we’re just coming to know more about. Is it really cumulative? Is there really no way to get rid of AGEs once they’re formed? Are they really formed EVERY TIME you consume sugar? It seems like the whole American population would be filled with them, but I only hear about elevated AGE levels in older populations. She also doesn’t say how to reverse the effects of glycation, but I’ve read elsewhere ( — also without citation. what is WRONG with people on the internet?) that some nutrients stimulate the degradation of glycated proteins. I get that it’s better to just avoid sugar rather than have sugar and then pretend like supplementing with something is going to help you not get sick. But I’m not sufficiently scared away from my occasional cheats of nachos and ice cream yet in the context of my otherwise healthy and nutrient-rich diet.

    On p. 129 she says L-glutamine can help with transitioning away from sugar. I also heard this from Mistress Krista, who started me on the paleo way, and whose advice I heed. I think I’m pretty well transitioned away from sugar, but L-glutamine as a supplement still sounds like fun. An immediate source of brain-energy without the bad effects of sugar? Does it have a good effect on people who are already keto-adapted, or does it really not increase that kind of energy you get with sugar (before the crash and fog, of course) if you’re already burning fat for fuel? Just wondering if anyone has tried it or makes it a part of a routine. It’s pretty cheap. I might start keeping some around for hormone-poisoning time.

    Now, what you asked!

    Question 1:

    She recommends eating poultry with skin on — I thought the skin was where the omega 6 lived!

    Question 2:

    They only discovered leptin in 1994? I’m definitely not waiting around for science to catch up with what is pretty obvious to me. If it makes sense to me, I’m going to experiment with it. Evolutionary nutrition makes sense to me. Other people can wait around for their controlled double-blind studies if they want. I can’t believe the number of people who dismiss paleo without even trying it.

    Question 3:

    Yes, ew. Ew ew ew. The bit on page 175 that says sucralose started out as an attempt to create an insecticide cites a Discover Magazine article that doesn’t cite its source for this information. Looking around some more, it looks like the a better citation for this should be the article “The Search for Sweet” in the May 22, 2006 New Yorker by Burkhard Bilger. That whole article is a fascinating read if you have access: That said, I never did use these sweeteners and I certainly won’t start.

    Question 4:

    Yes! Me too!
    The talk she cites is available on youtube:
    Dr. Gerald Pollack, UW professor of bioengineering, has developed a theory of water that has been called revolutionary. The researcher has spent the past decade convincing worldwide audiences that water is not actually a liquid. Pollack explains his fascinating theory in this 32nd Annual Faculty Lecture.
    Also, UW represent. <3

    Is this TRUE? This is FASCINATING. I am totally going to read his articles and books. I have the "Cells, Gels.." one waiting for me at the library desk right now. I didn't know anything about water molecule clumping! I DO know that I've been exposed in the past to water that was absolutely not hydrating. When I lived in Indiana the water was full of contaminants and was some of the hardest water in the nation. When I drank the tap water, no matter how much, I could never get hydrated. I never knew that could happen. A water filter mostly solved it but not entirely. This section of the book makes me want to get a good water filtration system.

    The Berkey system Nora recommends looks pretty affordable! Also, I think they're really pretty. What's the difference between the light system and the stainless steel one, if any? Is it just the capacity and materials? I'll have to look into it, but it sounds like a great deal for good water. Maybe even a travel one would be enough for a two-person household? Hm.
    Question 5:
    Limiting protein is difficult for me. I eat really fatty grassfed meat and organ meat as well, so I'm doing well on that front. I must need to eat more vegetables if I'm going to start limiting protein. I'm trying to see which ones agree with me — not all of them do. Bell peppers give me stomach gas. I like and tolerate cauliflower, all leafy greens, well-cooked broccoli, seaweed, brussels sprouts, cabbage, so that's what I'm cycling through. What am I missing that could add good things to my diet? Very sad about the bell peppers disagreeing with me, cooked or no!

    Question 6:

    Chapter 22 brings up caloric restriction with optimal nutrition (CRON) by name, I think for the first time. There's almost too much research on it to ignore the benefits of CR, and CRON is really just about making everything count, which is something I love to do, anyway. That really appeals to me. I hate wasting things — breath, words, money, time, food. I want things to be just what I need and nothing more.

    The monkey study she cites is SO AWESOME.

    How everyone isn't on the CRON train after reading this study is beyond me. I'm not necessarily interested in life-extension (I'm 27 — even retirement seems like it'll never happen!) but I LOVE the photos of those monkeys! Staying healthy and beautiful via CR is enough for me! Look at the beautiful monkeys! The shiny, thick fur! The sharp eyes! I want to be a shiny-fur-having bright-eye-having ape well into my life.

    • Kat says:

      Shelly, thanks for the extra research and citations. I love your critical analysis!

    • Hallois Shelly!

      I’ve gotta concur with the other replier here, I love your critical analysis!

      (Something I haven’t been too good at myself in the past..)

      Anyways, please keep us posted if you find any more information on the Berkey or similar systems.

      I’ve been considering it for some time, and re-saw Pollack’s talk about water last night. I haven’t been able to find a clear statement that the Berkey system will structure the water in this respect though. Do you or anyone reading have any thoughts on that?

      Where I live in Norway the tap water isn’t really that bad, they even use UV-filtration instead of chlorination at my local water facility, and I haven’t found any indication that they add fluor either.. Of course there might be many other contaminents, but compared to the tap water I’m confronted with when traveling abroad it’s rather good.. So I’m weighing for and against getting a Berkey water system, and if I could find a link to water structuring that would definitely be a big positive!

  • Kat says:

    1. I haven’t eaten out since I read that. I still have about half a gallon of peanut oil leftover from before I started eating paleo that I use to season my cast iron pan (and apparently cast iron is also a no-no.) I might throw it out (the oil, not the pan). I haven’t eaten fast food in about 15 years except in extreme situations. I keep reading articles touting the health benefits of canola oil, yet cannot fathom how anyone can legitimately make that claim when 90% of the canola oil in the US is GMO. Monsanto must keep half the media, as well as politicians and the FDA on the payroll.

    2. Leptin: I have always had a problem with hypoglycemia. I was often a cranky child. Not much has changed in adulthood. Now I know the only way to control it is by not letting my blood sugar levels surge. Eliminating caffeine is going to be the hardest part.

    3. The last thing I wanted to give up was artificial sweeteners. I had always heard that the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners send a signal to your brain to raise insulin. I never believed it until the past couple of weeks when I stopped eating fruit. Since starting this carb restrictive diet, I am always hungry. There is sucralose in my whey protein and BCAAs and I thought I could still get away with using them. It just makes me more hungry. As of yesterday, I stopped using them.

    4. I drink way more water than Gedgaudas recommends, but I live in Arizona and work outdoors. A few months ago I bought a reverse osmosis system for my house and my dog and I love it. It tastes better and washing with it feels better. It’s also way easier to clean with.

    5. I was consuming 150+ grams of protein per day because I’m trying to gain muscle. I was shocked to read that this is too much. I’ve been trying to cut it down to 100g. I’ve been doing some research on ketogenic diets and read that it’s not necessarily the amount in grams of protein that is important, but the percentage of calories consumed. I’m going see if I can do 65% fat/25% protein/10% carbs. I know you’re not supposed to count calories or follow a formula, but how can you do a calorie/carb restricted diet without doing so?

    I checked Wikipedia for some info on amino acids. Leucine and lysine are ketogenic. Isoleucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyrosine and threonine are both glucogenic and ketogenic. All the others are purely glucogenic. I’m not sure how this fits into a ketogenic diet, but I thought it was interesting. I was wondering how amino acid supplementation would effect protein consumption. Would you have to eat less protein if you supplement so that none of it gets turned into glucose?

  • Kat says:

    I do have another question, about the calorie restrictive diet. How do I know how many calories I should be consuming?

  • Lis a says:

    Hi Kat,
    I haven’t gotten to the part in the book about aritficial sweetners yet. What does she say about stevia?
    I love my AOR whey powder and it is made with stevia.


    • Kat says:

      She says Stevia is ok if it’s pure. Many brands, like Truvia, add fillers. I used to buy “Stevia in the Raw” until I did an ingredient search and found out what Maltodextrin was made from. Now I use Sweetleaf Stevia extract (powder). A little goes a long way. She also recommends Stevita.

  • Suz says:

    I’ve just got the book and am trying to finish it before Nora comes
    out to do some talks in Australia in a few weeks time!

    After a long sweet tea addiction, I’ve been strict Paleo for the last month – I don’t think I could bear the taste of sweeteners anymore!

    • Jamie says:

      I’m hurriedly trying to finish this section – school has taken over my life! 🙂

      We’re not strict paleo ’round here, but I totally agree about your ‘bearing the taste of sweeteners’, Suz! Even being about 75% paleo, I’ve gotten to where I can’t even smell some sugars / sugary things anymore! It’s weird, but kind of cool. Our class had a pancake breakfast and people were all around with pancakes and maple syrup and it was all I could do to sit near them and chat – ugh.

  • Roberta says:

    I’ve been enjoying this book. Though I do think the author has a tendency to make absolute pronouncements. It’s easier reading robb wolfe or Mark Sisson because they allow for a little more fuzziness around the edges. I don’t think things are quite as black and white/good or bad as she portrays them. According to this book, my mom a wine and sugar lover, probably should no longer be around, but instead she a healthy, active (crossfit 3x per week), 72.5 year old with more energy than me.

    Questions. I don’t eat out much, because I like my own food better, but when I do I try my best to be healthy and then live in denial about the rest.

    I didn’t know much of anything about leptin until I read this book.

    I haven’t eaten artificial sweeteners in years.

    The biggest change I’ve made while reading this book, well, two. One I’m trying to chew more. Two I’m weighing my protein and only eating 4 oz per meal (I know she recommends 3 but that feels like nothing). And I feel much better and i think I’m digesting better!

    Not sure I could go with her starvation theory though.

  • Rhonda says:

    I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic last year and immediately started researching everything I could about lowering my fasting blood sugar – which is how I discovered the primal/paleo WOE…

    Of course Carbs were the first thing I cut, but after months of >40 carbs per day, I still got readings of 120-130. (non-diabetic readings would be below 100)

    Many sources mention that ‘excess’ protein will be converted to sugar in the body, but this book really inspired me to make drastic cuts.

    Now I eat >50 grams of protein per day (carbs still below 40 as well) and I get readings of 100 or less on a regular basis!

    It’s not as hard as it seems, and I’m finding that 3oz of meat per meal IS enough!

    side benefit – I enjoy more coconut butter and coconut flakes (delicious fats for upping the calorie count and satiety levels sans protein)

    • Glennie Beef & Coco says:

      Hey Rhonda!

      Happy to hear you’ve to a steady lower glucose level 🙂

      Just want to let you know that:
      > Reads “more than”
      < Reads "less than"

      So I presume you meant less than rather than more than in your comment, just a heads up 🙂

      Also I'd check out the nutritiondata for the coconut flakes you consume..
      ( – an example).

      Personally I love coconuts and coconut fat, but I've found through trial and error that overdoing coconut flakes or coconut spread etc seemed to be doing more harm than good. It's quite possible I've got an intolerance to it, but still it's worth keeping in mind. So for me it's coconut fat/oil only, at least for the time being..

  • ElizabethJ says:

    I got so bored on the chapter about Vitamin D that I haven’t picked the book up in about 2 weeks or so. You guys have re-sparked my interest. I can’t wait to read the other chapters. Thanks for sharing everyone.

  • Lauren says:

    A few of my favorite things, thoughts, and questions… (more questions than anything!)
    – I’m taking CLO now, should I take fish oil, too? She mentioned that on page 104.
    – Does anyone soak nuts before they eat them? Is it as easy as it sounds (just putting them in water overnight) or is there more to it?
    – Squeeze of fresh lemon juice in water helps yeast issues. Good to know!
    – On page 24, she’s talking about how bad sugar is (no doubt!), even in fruit. How much fruit is ‘ok’ to eat?
    – Has anyone tried L-glutamine? Any success with cutting out sugar cravings? Any other observations?
    – Page 148, she talks about eating sugar and fats together. One of my favorite treats is apple and almond butter, or frozen raspberries and coconut milk. I don’t eat too much of these, maybe a serving every other day or so, but it sounds like we shouldn’t combine these two… right? (That makes me sad!)
    – Don’t work out intensely for more than 20 minutes
    – Anyone use a water filtration system? Do you like it/is it worth it?
    – Does anyone take HCl to help with digestion? Notice anything?

    I’m looking forward to the next section!

  • Jude says:

    Regarding the industrial seed oils – Yeah. Wow. I’m going to be honest and say that I take a head in the sand approach when I’m eating out. I rarely do it and try to make the best choices, so if the restaurant is going to use industrial seed oils – I need to be ok with that. It’s part of my choice.
    It doesn’t mean I like it though.

    The Splenda thing? I was HORRIFIED by this. The problem is, even if not true, it has the potential to be true and that scares me. I was hooked on that stuff for years.

    The scary part is that I didn’t even think twice about consuming it. When the calorie is king, you take all kinds of short cuts without really thinking.
    On the protein guidelines – I also baulked at them. I’ve spent years with protein being so flipping that is a mind spin.

    But, I’m open to giving it a go – might require some tinkering, but I can think of worse things than eating fat.

    The chapter on weight management was right up my alley and it came as no surprise that I identified with the sugar burners. I liked the effort Nora went to discuss weight loss myths too, I think that’s important and the analogies were really helpful.

  • Tracy says:

    Which reverse osmosis system did you buy? I know this post is almost a year old, are you still using the system? I’ve been considering getting one of these..