So Richard, How’s the New Paleo 101 Book Going So Far?

I’m so glad you asked.

But first, thanks so much to the hundreds of you who’ve popped for it, with zero refunds (just confirmed by the publisher). I’m in this for the long haul, which means: I want there to be something out there that’s inexpensive, quick, easy to read and gets that random person motivated and excited to begin right now…Today: you can be on your way to a better life inside of 3 hours or so!

I got an email from the totally awesome Denise Minger yesterday.

…Opened your book with the intention of “taking a peek”… and a few later I’m at the last page barely aware that any time had passed.

THAT is the mark of a good book.

Comprehensive, engaging, and fabulously written. When I get emails from people asking for the best health resources, this puppy is now on the list.

Truly awesome job, Richard. You should be really proud of this. Let me know if I can do anything to help spread the word.

It was almost embarrassing to read, given the exhaustive nature of what that cute little smarty pants does. Red-faced & happy, I guess you could say. Relieved, too. 🙂

Of course, there was a risk in disappointing the long time readers with what might be perceived as a review of lots of info they already know. Thankfully, that’s not what I’m hearing. in addition to the many positive tweets and Facebook comments—and comments on the blog—the Amazon reviews at the time of this writing are still batting 1,000.

Raf Laurent just posted a question/comment on the FTA Facebook page:

Rich I’m a huge fan and I’m curious what makes your book different???

That’ll be answered in the Amazon reviews I’m going to copy into this post right now. So here they are, 10 so far, all 5-star.

Betsy in Portland, Or:

Richard Nikoley came to paleo as an already-established entrepreneur, whipsmart independent thinker, and no-holds-barred individualist.

And he brings all of those characteristics (regularly visible on the Free the Animal blog he created to talk about his paleolithic journey) to this book, distilled from both popular posts on his site and augmented by pointers to other sources, resources and leading ancestral thinkers.

It’s the book I wish I would have had last April, when I came to paleo as an obese 40-something woman flirting with type 2 diabetes and recently diagnosed with high blood pressure & metabolic syndrome. (And after dragging myself, kicking & screaming to the paleo side of the fence – what, no baking bread any more? AIIIEEE? – I’ve rid myself of all of the labels, significantly lowered my blood pressure & lost 42 lbs in 8 months.)

Richard’s no-nonsense style and ability to reference compelling facts (without bombarding you with statistical analyses & charts up the yin-yang to make his point) just makes sense. And since an average reader can blast through it in an evening & the book costs less than an overpriced fancy-schmancy coffee drink? There’s no real excuse to avoid buying this book.

If you, too, like to think of yourself as a smart, independent thinker and *your* health and well-being matter to you, that is.

Maria from Planet Earth (I’m assuming):

I love the way Richard tells a story, in a matter of fact way, to the point you feel like you’re talking to the guy at a pub or coffee house. Very intimate and friendly read about his journey from an unhealthy lifestyle to the paleo lifestyle. (There are plenty of links for the research enthusiasts.)

When you finish the book, you long for a second… so that you can revisit that pub with Richard and have another fascinating discussion about living life to its fullest.

Read it and enjoy!

Primal Pig, also, from Planet Earth—and that needs no assuming:

I’ve been paleo-ish for about two years now, and wish I had this easy to read, no flub e-book from the beginning. Not that I don’t appreciate the longer round about journey I took to get to where I am now, but Richard’s Free the Animal hits it right on the head. He digests a lot of the very compelling data out there from Paleo/Primal resources all over and makes it so straightforward that it’s hard to fail.

Just eat REAL food – meat, veggies, fats, eggs, nuts and occasional fruit; no processed grains (and even whole grains are just that – processed), seed/grain oils or sugar. But Richard also puts special emphasis on humans as ANIMALS, instinctively eating when and what their bodies need in order to stay vibrant, lean and alert.

You’ll possibly want to flesh out your knowledge afterwards with a few books from Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson or Loren Cordain if you feel the need to intellectualize it to your peers, but this book gives you all you need to get back on to the healthy path we’ve been carving out for hundreds of millions of years.

And lastly, I love that Richard went the e-book route as it makes it so accessible as well as empowers most readers to instantly validate his resources… a steal @ $3.99!

Darren Reed:

Simple, practical, no holds barred paleo for those who like to eat big, lift heavy, be lean and live well. Richard knows his stuff and his easy to understand, no holds barred writing style is a joy to read. Like a fine single malt whisky, this is paleo eating and living distilled perfectly down to its essence. Must have.

J. Jones “Bones” from Arizona:

For those that aren’t interested in delving into the medical mumbo jumbo of some of the other paleo books, Richard does a great job of getting to the meat of issues and ignoring the fluff. If you are a fan of his blog, this book is a must read. If you’re just starting to research and read about the paleo diet, add this to your list and think about reading it first so you can get all the basics (and nothing that isn’t needed).

John Cole:

Using the ideas and advice found in Richard’s book, I have lost seventy pounds and no longer have to take blood pressure or cholesterol medications.

I have never felt better physically or psychologically. Physically I can eat “real foods” until I’m full- I NEVER go hungry. Psychologically, I feel confident in the idea that my weight troubles now make sense: eating “processed” foods, developing insulin resistance from a diet high in refined sugars, and believing the myth that all fats are created equal and, therefore, inherently evil.

Richard’s book focuses a great deal on listening to your body and experimenting with real foods and how you respond to them. For example, I can tolerate dairy with little trouble while others struggle with digesting them. In the end, Richard stresses listening to your body and following the basic principles of eating real food.

No diet is for everyone, but I recommend taking a look at the ideas found in this book. It has changed my life for the better and for that I am eternally grateful.


I’ve recently read Wolf’s paleo Solution and Nikoley’s Free the Animal. I think they are exact compliments. Wolf – TONS of info to justify nearly every assertion in the work. Important and helpful for a certain crowd. Nikoley – well, concision is the word. Short, sweet, to the point. Exactly what a bunch of people need, who aren’t looking to know all the medical ins and outs, but simply want the goods on “how to.” I’d recommend this book in a heart-beat as a first-rate intro to a Primal/Paleo way of eating. Not quite the “colorful” language you get on his blog, but if you read him much you can sort of fill in the expected… Read it – you’ll be glad you did!

Robert Rio from Florida:

For me the chief benefit of paleo has come from preparing my own meals instead of just heating processed food in the microwave. That by itself has made a tremendous difference in my life.

Cooking was a totally alien, incomprehensible practice to me until fairly recently. I learned a lot of what I know about cooking from Richard, he de-mystifies it and explains it in terms that the cooking-challenged can understand and replicate in the real world. He doesn’t present recipes written by professional chefs and leave it at that, he presents his dinner and explains how you can make it yourself.

twoidhd from Oklahoma:

I’ve been following Richard for a couple of years and this is a great starter book if you are interested in the paleo way of life. He covers it all in a short, direct, and thorough way. It’s all here….all you need to do is follow the ideas laid out in this book.

Good luck with your journey.

It’s worked for me. I’ve lost 100lbs since going paleo and have never been in better shape in my adult life.

And finally, Jimmy Moore who was the very first up with a review, which is cross-posted to both his blog and Amazon. It’s longish, so go to his blog to read it. Here’s the first paragraph.

I have been a BIG FAN of the writings and work of paleo health blogger Richard Nikoley from the insanely-popular “Free The Animal” blog for several years and consider him a great friend and champion of what healthy living is really all about. His no-holds-barred style is in-your-face and unapologetic as he seeks to help others find the health and weight changes that have eluded them for years. Sure, he can be a bit rough around the edges for some people with his colorful, expressive language. But it’s indicative of a sincere passion that runs deep and wide at the root of everything Nikoley shares with the paleo community through his thought-provoking posts. With the highly-interactive e-book Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The paleo Diet, he is taking the best of everything he has personally learned through this journey and wrapping it up in a convenient package designed to arm virtually anyone who desires weight loss and vastly improved health to make it happen for themselves. There are so many clickable links to a treasure trove of information included in this e-book that you’ll spend months trying to go through them all!

And dear Chris Highcock from Scotland, who has been an Internet friend from day one, also blogged about it.

And Erwan Le Corre of MovNat lent me a hand as well.

I thank you all, am humbled by the support, and in particular, the clever, individual ways you have found to send the message of what this is about.

I didn’t write it for you, stalwart readers. I wrote it for the people you love the most.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Jeremy on January 21, 2012 at 16:07

    I bought the book also, read it in one night…..great value..

    This on the heels of finding out my liver enzymes are too high, had a sonogram done and the Dr. said it’s a fatty liver and probably genetic and not much I can do about it.

    I respectively disagree with him and I plan on proving it by eating whole foods minus the grains and processed oils.

    But I have one issue, fruit, I like it, alot of it…(or what I think is alot)…

    Richard, I have a question though….other than this article….I can’t seem to find much on why we shouldn’t ‘alot of fruit’.

    The very popular and respected bloggger, Steve Pavlina went raw vegan for 30 days (no grains, oils or meat). He wrote this afterward concerning his blood sugar levels.

    “I monitored my blood sugar using a blood sugar testing device, the same kind diabetics may use. It showed no discernible spikes in blood sugar throughout the trial whatsoever — absolutely none. In fact, my blood sugar remained incredibly steady throughout the trial. My highest blood sugar reading of the trial was 94, which is still medium-low. All that sweet fruit in my diet simply did not have any adverse effect on my blood sugar.

    Eating this way gave my blood sugar more consistency than ever. I couldn’t spike my blood sugar on this diet if I tried. Even eating 19 bananas in one day made no difference.”

    I ask because my diet since my liver test has consisted of:

    Breakfast = 1QT of green smoothie consisting of 2 huge handfuls of organic baby, 2 bananas, 3 dates, 1 kwii and a handful of strawberries

    Lunch = same smoothie as above with a bowl of lentils

    Dinner = Paleo (meat/vegetables)

    Desert 2 hrs later = raw fruit salad (oranges, bananas, kiwi)


    If so, why exactly? Steve said it didn’t affect his blood sugar levels…..teach me…somebody

    • Clarissa on January 22, 2012 at 08:25

      Excess fructose can cause fatty liver disease, because it is metabolized in the liver similar to how alcohol is metabolized. Chris Masterjohn has covered this topic in his blogs extensively, and I recommend you go there to read about how you might protect and heal your liver ( Your diet sounds problematic for someone with fatty liver disease.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 22, 2012 at 08:47

      Hi Jeremy:

      Yes, as Clarissa said, huge loads of fructose seem to be problematic. So even if your blood glucose is stable, doesn’t mean you might not be storing fat in your liver (or preventing it from normalizing). On the other hand, there are so many factors involved, and if you otherwise have a pretty clean diet of real food, eschewing processed and fast food, who knows?

      In addition to Chris Masterjohn whom she links to, here’s a post I did on fatty liver reversal with lots of links for you to follow. Essentially, fish oil seems to help tremendously.

      Good luck. Offhand, I don’t take much stock in a guy associated with someone who does “intuitive readings” for a living. Why people will pay money to have people coax them into giving clues so that person can then tell them what they already know, I’ll never understand. But I guess fools and their money are soon parted, so at least there’s that.

    • Jeremy on January 22, 2012 at 15:55

      @Clarissa….Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’ve been on the site before, I’ll start digging again…

      @Richard….I’ve read quite a bit of your blog in the past week, but I hadn’t run into that post yet (reversing NAFLD…I really appreciate you pointing me that way. It’s a great post and now I have something to actually show my wife to prove the DR. was probably wrong about it being ‘genetic’.

      This brings up something new that I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around yet…If raw vegans don’t have NAFLD, and Paleo people don’t have NAFLD, wouldn’t the common denominator be that they are both abstaining from the grains, processed oils, sodas, etc? It would still seem that fruit is ok…..or….would fruit mixed with fat (in meat) become the culprit?

      Do we know for sure these fruits…oranges, bandannas, strawberries, kiwis didn’t exist in cavemen days?

      As you can see I”m struggling with this topic as fruit just seems so natural…

    • gallier2 on January 22, 2012 at 23:11

      Jeremy, fruit is relatively low in fructose. Normal fruits are very low density and contain a lot of water and soluble fibers (pectin) so that in absolute numbers, the fructose load is rather low. The important point is that you avoid the processing that increases that density, which is juice and drying. Certain fruits also have a higher sugar content and should be avoided at the beginning of your “treatment” like bananas (high in starch), dates and figs (trivia: the french word for liver “foie” like in “foie gras” which translates in english as “fatty liver” is derived from the word ficae, fig in latin, because dried figs were used to fatten the geese and the ducks).

      If you have read Chris Masterjohn’s post (I know it’s a bit technical) you would see that choline (aka lecithin) is a key player in fatty livers. The take home message is that choline containing food is extremely important in managing the liver. One of the best sources of choline is egg yolk.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2012 at 02:09

      Perfect. Gallier 2.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2012 at 02:10

      …Although, I can’t resist a little pineapple juice from time to time… A little.

    • gallier2 on January 23, 2012 at 03:24

      My advice was intended for Jeremy who has issues with his liver and should be especially careful until he has managed that condition. Drinking fruit juice from time to time will not kill you (comparable to booze), the problem is the chronic drinking of juice and the insistance of it as “healthy” when obviously it is not. Most fruit juices have more sugar than sodas, a high quality apple or orange juice has around 120 g/l, pineapple and cherry juice around 140 g/l and the worst offenders are grape and cranberry with around 160 g/l. To compare, Coca-Cola and most other sodas are a bit less than 100 g/l (at least on our side of the Atlantic ocean).
      When I was a child, fruit juice existed only when there was fruit available, i.e. apple juice from excess apples from the orchard, orange juice only around christmas when the oranges were affordable and you had to squeeze them yourself.
      Now you can look at toddlers and small children without a juice box in the hand, all the time everywhere.

    • Jeremy on January 23, 2012 at 08:13

      thank you gallier2,

      I literally spent all day yesterday reading about this after Richard pointed me in the right direction. (Richard, I vote ‘IN’ for that forum, btw!)

      I did read about how most fruit is just water and fiber and is RELATIVELY low in fructose like you said.

      I do want to be clear though, the eating regimen I laid out above is NOT what got me in this spot…for the last 7-8 years I’ve ate fast food like 4-7 times a week, sodas, white bread, pastries, you name it, I had zero reason (in my mind) not to, as my body wasn’t getting all that fat (I play a ton of basketball). Upon reading more, it seems I haven’t got as fat as I deserve because of the way my liver is dealing with all of this, yes, it’s making my liver fat, but not my whole body all that much. Either way, it’s time for a change!

      I’ve been eating really well the last week and I can already notice my stomach shrinking, not sure if it was bloating, or just backed up crap.

      I’ll cut back on some of the dense fruits as you suggest, bye bye bananas and dates.

      Thank you for the help gentlemen. You have done a good deed.

    • Jeremy on January 23, 2012 at 08:15

      I freaking love pineapple juice, although I don’t drink it all that much….

      I don’t plan on drinking alcohol for a while, but when I do have an occasionally relaxing night, what could I mix in my rum instead of coke/pineapple juice?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2012 at 08:21

      Absolutely. When I was a kid, some OJ or grape juice was a special treat and also, they had such a thing as a juice glass, which was about 4-6 ounces.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2012 at 08:27

      I’m not a rum drinker. On the rare occasion when I’ve had one, I’ve used diet coke. You might search around for rum drinks. If you like tequila, there’s the Nor-Cal Margarita:

      Salt or no salt, as you prefer.
      2 shots or tequila
      juice of 1/2-1 lime as preferred.
      club soda

      This is my wife’s favorite drink. You can also augment with a half shot of triple sec, cointreau, or any other orange liqueur.

    • Alex on January 23, 2012 at 09:47

      I find that the excessive sweetness of fruit juice detracts from the fruit flavor, so if I have fruit juice, I mix one part fruit juice with four parts water. I find it enhances the flavor and makes it more refreshing and thirst quenching. A few dashes of Angostura bitters and sparkling water are also nice.

    • realLife on January 22, 2012 at 14:34

      the problem with fructose is that is has a low gylcemic index and does not raise blood glucose that is why you did not detect it on the glucose meter. fructose is processed in the liver differently and can cause non- alcoholic fatty liver disease. go to you tube and look up dr lustig talk on sugar and he will explain it all to you.
      I eat some berries, maybe a half fruit shared with the partner once a day, that is more than enough.
      bananas, dates, are loaded with fructose. just cut all that stuff out.
      paleo man only eat fruit when it was in season. stick with leafy greens and some cruciferous vegetables and cut out the starch potatoes and things like that too and you will be ok.

  2. Primal Toad on January 21, 2012 at 17:34

    Congrats on all the positive reviews Richard! I’ll have to buy this asap and give an honest review myself. I’m sure its loaded with information. I always love reading different perspectives on primal living.

  3. Lute Nikoley on January 21, 2012 at 17:34

    I won’t chime in until I’m done reading the book (I’m a slow reader), not really, just after going through hundreds of pages of specs. and doing takeoff on the computer for the new Santa Clara 49ers Stadium, I get a little tired of reading after I’m done working. But what the hell you know already what it’ll be, right?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 21, 2012 at 17:40

      That’s my dad and it’s his 74th birthday today. Here’s what i just wrote on the personal Facebook (I only have close friends and family on my personal Facebook, per my About page, but I do have a Free the Animal Page anyone can access).


      My dad turned 74 today. A few years back, I got him focussed on Real Food and living vibrantly, which he does, as well mom (he’s lost a good many pounds).

      But this is his day. Just got off the phone with him and he’s spent the last 10 days straight and probably 9 more to go estimating the painting of all things New 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara. He guestimates it’ll be about a $10 million paint job. I believe he’s been making painting contractors money with his meticulous going over of blueprints and specifications—finding errors and contradictions—for about 40 years. He loathes lazy architects who use boilerplate specs. Please, don’t get him started, especially around a camp fire with a drink or two in him.

      Happy birthday, my father. I love you.

  4. Betsy Richter (@betsywhim) on January 21, 2012 at 18:27

    Whoa – I get a mention in a blogpost here before I even leave my first comment? So not worthy…

    I omitted to mention the one negative aspect of the book (for me, anyways) – it needed more F-bombs sprinkled in to make it, er, more authentic.

  5. Jeremy Voluntaryist on January 22, 2012 at 11:50

    If I knew you were going to actually read and post our reviews I would have written more… Oh well. I read the whole thing in one sitting and have recommended to everyone I know. Hopefully you sell a ton.
    Point of contention. Next book I expect things to be less PC. Drop in some F bombs, rant about vegetarians, piss people off. I’ll buy that one too.

    J. Jones “Bones” from Arizona:

    For those that aren’t interested in delving into the medical mumbo jumbo of some of the other Paleo books, Richard does a great job of getting to the meat of issues and ignoring the fluff. If you are a fan of his blog, this book is a must read. If you’re just starting to research and read about the Paleo diet, add this to your list and think about reading it first so you can get all the basics (and nothing that isn’t needed).

  6. Clarissa on January 22, 2012 at 18:34

    Hi Richard,
    Hey, I just finished reading the .pdf version of your book. I really like how you took advantage of the electronic format to incorporate in the hyperlinks; it kept the text streamlined and focused, and made it very easy to check out the references that I was interested in. Also, I have to say that I appreciate your respectful and restrained language in the book. I’m a regular reader of your blog, so of course am accustomed to and enjoy your personal style. However, I’d like to refer some of my family members to your book, and not everyone is comfortable with casual profanity. I’ve been following a paleo/primal diet for over a year, but I still found a lot of value in reading your book. It made for a nice condensed refresher course in the basic principles of this diet, and reminded me of some of the areas that I still need to work on (like IF). Thanks for an easy and valuable read!

  7. Pauline on January 23, 2012 at 08:03

    Still waiting to download your book from amazon…but found this book in my library today, and its a beaut! Cooked in Africa, by Justin Bonello, it takes you on a cooking journey through Southern Africa, from Cape Town where I was born to deserts like Namibia. Its full of wonderful photos and delish/crazy food ideas. Have a look if you like at :

  8. Chris Highcock on January 23, 2012 at 13:57


    thanks for the kind words


  9. Antti E on January 24, 2012 at 08:33

    No 1 star vegan “reviews” yet? I’m disappointed.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2012 at 08:36

      Yea, I’ve been kinda holding my breath waiting for that one.

  10. Kyle Bennett on January 24, 2012 at 21:10

    I did the same thing, opened the file intending to just look it over, then a couple hours later discovered there were no more pages. Great job. Yeah, a lot of it was “old news”, but I found a lot of value in having it laid out in one integrated piece. It consolidated what I already know, and there were a few new things to incorporate.

  11. Pauline on February 1, 2012 at 06:59

    Hey Richard, I have finally downloaded your book off! It is fantastic to have it as an electronic book finally available to the rest of the world outside the USA! I look forward to reading it, already from the set go it looks amazing, the pictures are bright and clear…e-books are the way to go. Reading it on my pc but also have it on my ipad. So easy to buy and download. I love reading so this will be added to my collection, and hopefully I can get my partner to have a look too and I can now confidentally point others to the book for an introduction. You also provide so much information and many, many links to other websites which I have come to love from intermittent fasting to great recipes/food videos, to journalists in many interesting fields and that is just the tip of the information-sharing your website has to offer .Well done!

  12. […] my last update acknowledging those who have helped, here's a round out of what's happened […]

  13. Pauline on February 9, 2012 at 06:16

    Left a review of your book on When I did an amazon uk search for ‘free the animal, how to lose weight’ it comes up much further down the page, so I don’t know if this can be improved so that it is one of the books that is showns up fairly quickly in the search box. Best of luck with getting the word out there!

  14. Pauline on February 9, 2012 at 06:21

    Correction, this is when you do a search in amazon/uk under books, it shows up fairly quickly when you just search for Kindle.

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