Ranking the Paleo Books – March 2011

Now that the paleo diet is becoming more mainstream, I thought I put together a list ranking the paleo books. This list is for the person new to the diet and not my fellow nutritional geeks. Since I expect more books will be released in the coming years, I added “March 2011” in the post title.

#1 The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy by Mark Sisson

In my opinion, The Primal Blueprint is still the gold standard for explaining the paleo diet to the average person. It is brilliantly edited into 10 Primal Blueprint Laws. This book proves that the paleo diet isn’t that complicated. Although Mark Sisson’s blog tends to be long and technical, his book is extremely accessible.

#2 Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas

Primal Body-Primal Mind: Empower Your Total Health The Way Evolution Intended (…And Didn’t) by Nora Teresa Gedgaudas

I loved this book. It goes into greater detail than The Primal Blueprint and covers supplementation options to accelerate healing from certain conditions. I emailed the author with a question and received a detailed response a day later. This book had some editing issues and will be republished with new information later this year.

#3 The New Evolution Diet by Art De Vany

The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging by Arthur De Vany

Art De Vany is my mentor. It was his influence that started me down the paleo path. I love his writing and interviews. There were some misprints in the book that De Vany has addressed in interviews since the publication. It is still an excellent read. Just know that castor oil and canola oil should be on the NO list. De Vany’s approach to the paleo diet is lower in fat than others. His section on exercise is outstanding.

#4 The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf

If you dig scientific details and want to understand the evils of grains, then this is the book for you. I liked the detail, but some may find it overwhelming. For most people who want some basic knowledge and recommendations, I would recommend one of the three books above. The 30 days Paleo Challenge is admirable, but most people will fail in days trying to give everything up at once. The “all or nothing” approach tends to only work with people who¬†have already had success with restrictive diets in the past. If you try the challenge and fail, be kind to yourself. Instead of changing everything at once, fix one thing a month. Sugar one month, grains another month, etc.

#5 Neaderthin by Ray Audette

NeanderThin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body by Ray Audette

The first 60 pages of this book are pretty good. I don’t like how the author attacked coffee, but the rest of the nutritional stuff is the basis for what we know about what the Paleolithic man ate. The second half of this book is a poorly written exercise manual. Ignore that section. Check the library or look for a cheap used copy of this book.

Other Books

I never read the original 2002 Paleo Diet by Cordain. A new edition was released in December 2010. Might be worth checking out. Mark Sisson also released The Primal Cookbook. I gave mine away. I thought it was cheaply put together with poor photography.

The Best Book For You?

My above rankings are for the average person. Below are more customized recommendations.

  • Give Me Some Facts and a Plan – The Primal Blueprint
  • Give Me More Facts and a Plan – Primal Body, Primal Mind
  • Supplement Questions – Primal Body, Primal Mind
  • A High Fat Approach to Paleo – Primal Body, Primal Mind
  • A Lower Fat Approach to Paleo – The New Evolution Diet
  • Best Exercise Section – The New Evolution Diet
  • Best Case to Cut Out Grains – The Paleo Solution
  • Easiest Read – The Primal Blueprint
  • Best Edited – The Primal Blueprint


Add yours

  1. I have got to read Primal Body, Primal Mind. Another great book that promotes paleo but spends more time debunking conventional wisdom in regard to health and healthcare is Trick and Treat by Barry Groves. I rarely hear it talked about in Paleo circles but it is a great read.

  2. @Chuck – Underground Wellness just did a good interview with Nora. I’ll add TRICK and TREAT to my reading list. Thanks.

  3. Michael,
    Great review “grid.” Well thought out.
    I’m curious what you liked about Art’s exercise program.
    I follow Art’s writings, and am a subscriber to his site, so I found the Zen-like, “just let it happen” fitness approach in the book enjoyable. I thought it might be a bit unstructured for a newbie, though.


  4. yeah, i listened to that podcast. just got the app, doggcatcher, on my phone and am loving it. pretty sure it will allow me to cancel my sirius radio subscription. are there any other interesting podcasts out there? i listen to robb wolf, jimmy moore, and chris kresser along with UW.

  5. @Jim – I like De Vany’s power law philosophy applied to exercise. It goes against the top-down commercialized scheduled exercise programs of today. He favors sprinting, higher intensity weight training and rest. Like me he is anti-jogging.

    The unstructured approach to fitness is something that may inspire the newbie. If the newbie avoids exercise, because it is perceived as work, then maybe De Vany’s method is more inspiring.

  6. @Chuck – I canceled my Sirius XM subscription for different reasons. Probably one of the most commented posts on this site is Filing Fraud Charges Against XM Radio.

    Latest In Paleo is another show I catch occasionally. Jimmy Moore is still my favorite. Nora had a podcast, but I don’t think it is still active.

  7. thepaleogarden

    Mar 4, 2011 — 9:45 am

    I have all of these books that you mention, and agree with all of your different perspectives on optimal audience. We all may find the “paleo path” with the help of different guides who speak a message more attune to our ears… we all have different ears… thank goodness there are different tunes and messages.

    One book that you may want to review that often is categorized as a Paleo Book is The Protein Power Life Plan by Mike Eades. I never read the first book “Protein Power”, I read the sequel first (e.g., The Protein Power Life Plan). I read that shortly after Paleo Diet by Cordain and became an avid follower of Eades’ blog. There’s some good stuff in there, the magnesium chapter I still turn to, along with the iron/giving blood chapter.

    Best Regards,

  8. @thepaleogarden – Thanks for the tip. I don’t read Eades blog (too long), but I follow his Twitter feed as he finds some real gems in the medical journals with 1-sentence summaries.

  9. Ok, now that the Paleo diet appears to have gone mainstream, independent, forward thinkers will realize that nothing is forever and that all diets go out of fashion or are proven eventually not to work. Paleo is pretty much Atkins 2.0 from 40 years ago anyway. So, what’s the Next Big Thing in diet & nutrition? Time to think ahead.

  10. @Mike – Excellent question. I have an idea, which might make for its own blog post. Need to think about it some more.

  11. Thanks for the tips! We are back on the Paleo diet after a couple of years break, so I am looking for good books. My husband is training for the RAAM so we need to make sure we look into all approaches to the diet.
    I recognize several of the books but I haven’t that many read that yet.

  12. I’m new to Paleo and will order the first book you have listed as an introduction. Thank you!!

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