Adopting the primal way of life is a topic we're passionate about. But if you've been eating the sad American diet for your whole life, it can be daunting trying to figure out what really constitutes healthy living.

"Free the Animal" by Richard Nikoley is one of the few books that introduces Primal way of life in a straightforward, easy to understand format. We were fortunate to interview Richard and get his thoughts on how beginners should approach Primal eating. He also shared his advice on applying Primal living in various aspects of our modern lifestyle.

SlimKicker: Briefly tell us how you discovered Paleo, and how your book 'Free the Animal' is unique from other Paleo books.

Richard: It was back in 2007. It began with an exercise program to lift heavy but briefly—2 sessions per week, 30 minutes each. The goal was to reduce blood pressure which worked very well. I was already a blogger, blogged about it, and someone pointed me to the burgeoning Paleo thing.

My book seeks to make it quick and simple to read and acquire for those who know nothing. It's not designed to speak to those already in the know, but rather provide them with something they might pick first to give to a friend or loved one because it has a real chance of actually being read. Other books, those in hardcover and bookstores have economies of scale which dictate 300 pages or so. It's just not necessary to have that much volume to get through to get started.

SlimKicker: For beginners, would you recommend people dive into Paleo with a strict, disciplined approach, or ease into it (giving up non Paleo foods gradually)?

Richard: It really depends upon the individual. Some people are the gung-ho types who want to jump into anything they do with the absolute best, most intense effort. Others may be reluctant to even try for various reasons.

Obviously, the gung-ho type is going to find everything they need to do from day one. For the reluctant type, the easiest way is to look at it either prescriptively or proscriptively, depending on preference.

Prescriptive: eat meat, fish, fowl, vegetables & fruit.

Proscriptive: avoid all grains, refined sugars, vegetable oils and all processed foods made from them.

SlimKicker: Are the rules different for someone who needs to lose weight? Do they still need to count calories, or limit their fruit intake?

Richard: There are individual differences but in general, calories must be cut to lose fat. However, in the context of a Paleo diet, similar to a low carb diet, the nutritional density of the food is so much higher when you cut out grains and sugar and the products derived from them and replace them with whole meat, fish, fowl, vegetables and fruits that satiety works to spontaneously lower caloric intake in most people.

They often conclude there's some magic going on (a common error with low-carb zealots). Low and behold, one day they "stall." They didn't stall. It's that their weight dropped to the point that with the amount they eat and are satisfied with, they are at equilibrium. This is often 20-30 pounds from what they see as ideal.

I don't think carbohydrate from fruit or starches has anything to do with it for otherwise healthy people (e.g., non-diabetics). Perhaps for the very obese with very deranged metabolisms, though that too, is tough to define out of the context of diabetes.

The bottom line is that to continue to lose weight if a person wants to get off that last 20-30 pounds, they are probably going to have to restrict calories beyond their comfort, satiety level. Intermittent fasting is one good way to undertake this.

SlimKicker: While eating Paleo might be beneficial individually, do you think it would sustainable if the entire world ate Paleo? A side benefit of having an agricultural economy is that it can feed lots more people.

Richard: I don't care.

I'll leave social engineering to the busybodies, simply do the best I can to live my life as best and as enjoyably as I can, enjoying my friends and loved ones, with absolutely zero guilt or hand wringing as to the rest of the world.

SlimKicker: Do you apply "Primal living" to other areas of your lives, besides eating Paleo and exercise? For instance, socially and work-wise, working with a small group vs a huge corporation, living in a small community, etc.

Richard: I go barefoot a lot in public, like walking the dogs & stuff. I never use substances on my skin like soap, shampoo, lotions and such—water only. My skin is soft and my hair flawless.

Socially, I'm an anarchist who doesn't vote, and I admonish people to not waste their time either. Why spend so much life capital agitating over a 1/300,000,000th say in your own affairs? We evolved to account for the values and actions of perhaps about 50 other people and in that social context, every individual had real potential to influence the entire society. People today behave in political activism as though they have that power now, when in reality it's totally masturbatory.

"Huge corporation" is just another manifestation of the state. I'm very pro "capital" (private ownership and control) and entrepreneurship, but corporations are a state created entity for the purpose of shielding owners from personal liability for their actions.

We have huge corporations because it's in the interest of the state to have huge corporations. I like smaller, entrepreneurial businesses. They could be quite big even, but I doubt they'd scale to what they are now without the state protection they enjoy, not only from personal liability, but from competition as well via numerous barriers to entry.

SlimKicker: Do you view social networks like Facebook as a net benefit to humanity? On one hand, it's great for keeping in touch. On the other, a lot of people spend way too much time on it, which can be used doing physical activity, or face to face socializing.

Richard: Yes, yes. I really don't know what I think about all of it. Some days I wax on nostalgically about when I was in college, and you either picked up a phone, visited someone in person, or penned a letter. In many ways, all the Twitter, Facebook stuff, et all—and perhaps even my blog—have a superficial side to them that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, now and then. While on the other hand, it's hard to dismiss certain aspects.

For instance, I reserve my personal Facebook page for friends and family I actually know in realspace (I have a page for my blog, Free the Animal). Many of those friends and family travel and it is very nice to see the pictures and commentary and to somewhat vicariously enjoy their travels along with them. In other respects, I have far more contact with some friends and family than I ever would have back in the snail mail days.

I suppose it's like any other tool, like a hammer or a gun. Fabulously useful, with the potential for abuse. So use wisely is I guess what I would say, and take breaks from the whole thing from time to time.

SlimKicker: Any big plans in store for the future, such as a new book or project?

Richard: I have a 2nd version of my book being worked right now to revise and add a lot of more recent material and some changes in my thinking and approach. This is why I chose a publisher with an editor at my disposal, but in an ebook format. I'm one of Hyperink's ver best sellers among the hundreds of books they've published.

We have also begun a new book that's not directly related to Paleo and diet, but is about leanness. I'll save the rest for suspense.

Beyond that, two other books have been approved by Hyperink. One will address the social/mind aspects of Paleo I talked about above. The other will be an unrelated how-to involving making money with vacation rentals.

Richard Nikoley is the author of Free the Animal, and blogs about ways to free our inner animal by expressing our primal genes for leanness, health and vitality. His blog is at


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