Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Aug

How to Succeed with the Primal Blueprint

So you’ve decided to join the challenge. You’ve created your own Primal Challenge Journal and have publicly stated your goals for the next month. Now what? First things first. You have to know the basics. If you’re new to the Primal Blueprint the following article will be like gold to you. Revisit it again and again until you’ve committed the concepts to memory. The graphs and charts are visual representations of the principles that are at the core of the Primal health philosophy and give you a taste of what it is in my new book, The Primal Blueprint.

You’ve defined the “what”. If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, increase energy or just generally look and feel healthier these graphics explain the basics of the “how”.

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

What’ll It Be? The “Sweet Spot” or the “Danger Zone”?

Carb Curve color

Carbohydrate intake is often the decisive factor in weight loss success and prevention of widespread health problems like Metabolic Syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. These average daily intake levels assume that you are also getting sufficient protein and healthy fats, and are doing some amount of Primal exercise. The ranges in each zone account for individual metabolic differences.

  • 0-50 grams per day: Ketosis and I.F. (Intermittent Fasting) zone. Excellent catalyst for rapid fat loss through I.F. Not recommended for prolonged periods (except in medically supervised programs for obese or Type 2 diabetics) due to unnecessary deprivation of plant foods.
  • 50-100 grams per day: Sweet Spot for Weight Loss. Steadily drop excess body fat by minimizing insulin production. Enables 1-2 pounds per week of fat loss with satisfying, minimally restrictive meals.
  • 100-150 grams per day: Primal Maintenance zone. Once you’ve arrived at your goal or ideal body composition, you can maintain it quite easily here while enjoying abundant vegetables, fruits and other Primal foods.
  • 150-300 grams a day: Insidious Weight Gain zone. Most health conscious eaters and unsuccessful dieters end up here, due to frequent intake of sugar and grain products (breads, pastas, cereals, rice, potatoes – even whole grains). Despite trying to “do the right thing” (minimize fat, cut calories), people can still gain an average of 1.5 pounds of fat every year for decades.
  • 300+ grams a day: Danger Zone of average American diet. All but the most extreme exercisers will tend to produce excessive insulin and store excessive fat over the years at this intake level. Increases risk for obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

For effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and maximum longevity

food pyramid flat 2011sm 1

General Guidelines: 80% of body composition success is determined by diet. Limit processed carb intake (hence, insulin production), and obtain sufficient protein and fat to fuel and rebuild.

  • Protein: Average .7 – 1 gram per pound of lean body mass/day – depending on activity levels (more at times is fine).
  • Carbs: 50-100 grams/day (or less) = accelerated fat loss. 100-150 grams/day = effortless weight maintenance. Heavy exercisers can increase carb intake as needed to replace glycogen stores.
  • Fat: Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and high dietary satisfaction levels.
  • Avoid Poisonous Things: Conventional Wisdom’s dietary guidelines promote fat storage, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and obesity!
  • Eliminate: Sugary foods and beverages, grains (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, breads, cereals, etc.), legumes (soy and other beans), trans and partially hydrogenated fats, high-risk conventional meat and produce, and excess PUFA’s (instead, increase omega-3 oils).
  • Modern Adjustments: Some modern foods that Grok didn’t eat can still be included in a healthy diet
  • Moderation: Certain high glycemic fruit, coffee, high-fat dairy products, starchy tuber vegetables, and wild rice.
  • Supplements: Multivitamin/mineral formula, probiotics, omega-3 fish oil and protein powder.
  • Herbs, spices and extracts: Offer many health benefits and enhance enjoyment of meals.
  • Sensible indulgences: Dark chocolate, moderate alcohol, high-fat treats.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid

For functional, diverse athletic ability, and a lean, proportioned physique

fitness pyramid flat 2012

Exercising according to the three Primal Blueprint laws will optimize gene expression and promote Primal Fitness.

  • Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace strengthens the cardiovascular and immune systems, promotes efficient fat metabolism and gives you a strong base to handle more intense workouts.
  • Law: #4: Lift Heavy Things stimulates lean muscle development, improves organ reserve, accelerates fat loss, and increases energy.
  • Law #5: Sprint Once in a While stimulates the production of HGH and testosterone, which help improve overall fitness and delay the aging process – without the burnout risk of excessive prolonged workouts.

The Conventional Wisdom approach to fitness is clearly not working! Stress is excessive, weight loss goals are compromised, and many are misguided to pursue narrow fitness goals that are unhealthy.

  • Avoid Chronic Cardio (frequent medium-to-high intensity sustained workouts)
  • Avoid Chronic Strength Training (frequent and/or prolonged sub-maximal lifting sessions ending in exhaustion)
  • Avoid Regimented Schedules (instead, allow for spontaneous, intuitive variation in type, difficulty and frequency of workouts)

All this and much more can be found in my new book, The Primal Blueprint. Order a copy today and start getting Primal!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I am a 20 year-old college student recovering from a back surgery due to a herniated disk from what is being referred to as “chronic cardio”. My goal was to be an ultra-marathon runner but all I got out of it in the end was a bad knee, torqued hips and a back surgery ha! In the meantime I have found the Primal Blueprint (hallelujah!) but am struggling with the exercise component of PB. How should I best get into sprinting and lifting heavy things with a compromised back? any ideas on workouts or suggestions in general?? I’d love any and all advice…

    Taylor wrote on September 24th, 2010
  2. I love this site! I have been lo-to-no carbing it for 3 or 4 years now. At my max I dropped 60 pounds from my highest weight of 265lbs! Yikes! I had dropped down to 205 but normally maintain around 210-215 range. I seem to have plateued here. I am 6’3″ btw. Anyway I love your site. It is fantastic!!! Just wish I could lose the last of this belly fat…

    MikeT wrote on October 14th, 2010
  3. One question though about this and other paleo type diets… why no cheese?

    I mean, I realize that they did not have cheese back then so is this just to go along with the paleo theme or is there an actual health reason? I eat alot (and I do mean alot) of cheeses which I find mostly labeled zero carbs or <1 gram of carbs per serving. High protein, high fat low carb. So what is wrong with cheese. When I lost my 60 lbs I was only eating meat, eggs and cheese! Are there reasons that I should now avoid cheese? My current diet is mainly meats, cheeses, greens and some fruits.
    Thanks!

    MikeT wrote on October 14th, 2010
  4. why is fruits at the base of the pyramid. I thought fruits were rare finds in Grok’s day and were few and far between???

    Shelly wrote on October 15th, 2010
  5. Question- is quinoa, a high-protein grain, also not allowed?

    Julia wrote on November 7th, 2010
    • Quinoa is not a grain. :-)

      Michael wrote on November 8th, 2010
      • Then, what is it?

        Elizabeth wrote on March 2nd, 2011
        • It’s a seed :)

          Miss_kristi wrote on April 12th, 2011
  6. Why is it that the levels of recommended carbs are not ‘per lb of bodyweight’ as the protein is?

    I am 6’4″ and 200lbs surely I can safely eat more carbs than a 110lb woman?

    Andrew wrote on November 18th, 2010
  7. The results from this way of life just speaks for itself. You’re happier and have a higher sense of well being.

    Jeff wrote on November 20th, 2010
  8. So how do I do this diet, being that I’m a vegetarian? I don’t get my protein from meats, but from legumes and grains. Help!

    Titusclan wrote on November 23rd, 2010
    • The easiest solution would be to abandon vegetarianism. Alternatively, eat lots of eggs and drink whey protein.

      Andrew wrote on November 23rd, 2010
    • Ya I have the same issue. I am a vegetarian (I do eat eggs and milk). How do I follow this diet? Since I get my protein from legumes as well.

      Aruna wrote on January 20th, 2011
  9. I don’t know where to start. I’m 21, and unhealthy. I want to become healthy, but I have alot of bad habits. I don’t know where to start for my health. If anyone, anyone at all has any advice, I’d really like to hear it.

    AJ wrote on January 21st, 2011
  10. I’m sorry if you’ve already answered this somewhere. Your book is on the way to my mailbox as we speak, but I’m curious….do the veggies count in the carb intake? I know fruit counts if you’re trying to lose weight, so veggies probably do too huh?

    Ashley Smith wrote on January 25th, 2011
  11. Looking at the carbohydrate chart, it is interesting to compare with the Federal Food Pyramid. The current reccomendation is 45-65% of daily calories from carbs, which if you are consuming 2000 calories is 275 calories from carbs. This is near the top of the “Insidious Weight Gain” region. Yikes! A good addition to the chart might be a red arrow “Federal Guideline” pointing at that spot on the curve with a note about what it means…

    References: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/D-5-Carbohydrates.pdf (Page 4 of 61)

    Mark: Great work, thans a bunch!

    Steve Schilz

    Steve Schilz wrote on May 25th, 2011
  12. With my lifestyle it is hard to carry around lots of meat with me.

    Kai wrote on June 14th, 2011
  13. Hi!
    I love this approach!
    The only thing I feel a little uncomfortable with is avoiding prolonged cardio. I’m a cross country runner, and we train daily 6 times a week (with different intensities, of course, we run 20-50 minute range).
    I’ve never had a problem with cardio before, running has actually improved my joints ever since I started.
    I want to know the problems behind cardio, especially since it’s provided great benefits for me.

    Harmony wrote on July 21st, 2011
  14. How do I know if I am eating the 100 grs of carbs daily or I am exceeding them. I am a little bit confused with this. I am already eating clean for 3 weeks but I am not sure if I am doing the carb thing correctly. I am eating no more than 2 pieces of fruits a day, mainly berries..

    Virginia wrote on September 21st, 2011
  15. Mark,
    I am stupid & lazy.
    My daughter is a Registered Dietition in Oncology.
    BUT I hate figuring out all the how muc of this in Grams, how much of that in Grams.
    Why can’t anyone just give us “simple folk” exact amounts; say, 1 slice of bread a day; 1/2 filet of Tilapia, etc.
    I know most people probably know all this by heart, but I don’t and it is too time consuming for me to figure out what each “gram” or other measurement means in SIZE or PORTION of the food to eat.
    Sorry, I’m ranting. I get so aggrevated about the whole “measurement or weight? thing with eating.

    Donna Jenschke wrote on September 27th, 2011
  16. So, what constitutes 100gms a day of carbs?
    I don’t have a scale and such, so ….
    How do I figure my grams if I make
    homemade bread?
    I want to spend my latter years remembering what my children did as toddlers, grade schoolers, etc.
    I want to remember the moments in time of their special days, times & family time.
    How can I loose weight w/o impacting my brain with more stuff I have to remember as opposed to stuff I WANT to remember?
    http://www.mealsmatter.org/MealPlanning/Equivalents/
    http://www.livestrong.com also talks about portion size, but not Grams.
    Someone please S-P-E-L-L it out in simple life using terms.

    Donna Jenschke wrote on September 27th, 2011
    • Hi Donna!

      I understund what do you mean. I use http://www.livestrong.com/myplate/ it helps and you don’t need to calculate anything. It does it for you.

      Have a nice day!

      Girardi wrote on September 29th, 2011
  17. My carbo intake is between 60 to 80/ day. I use the carbo curve as a guideline. But I discovery that some products as for example wine doesn’t gives you so much carbo. 2 glasses of wine gives you 4 carbs. Not much. I read and over read the book PB and others like Paleo diet but I don’t find anything about what kind of products you have to be alert even if they gives you low carbs. Should we be alert of the calories or fat(under 100 a day)? What do you think? I still can get the last fat and make me crazy. I do weight lift, sprint (once a week) and walk with the dog. Love wine (2 or 3 glasses not more a day). Shall I stop? If I look my carbos they still under 90.

    Girardi wrote on September 29th, 2011
  18. I’ve been primal for 17 days, I feel so much better but I’m not losing as much weight as I was hoping. I only wanted to lose about ten pounds but I’ve only lost two or three in 17 days. I’m very active and have always eaten well but I really wanted to eat even better and look even better. Any advice or suggestions to help me drop the weight and tone? Thanks!

    Amanda wrote on September 30th, 2011
  19. Here’s the thing. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but I want to go primal for health, but yet eating meat just goes against my beliefs. Yes, I already read the articles about why humans need meat and Mr. Sisson’s escape from vegan island. My question is, can I use eggs to replace meat and still keep primal and healthy? What about fermented milk and cheese?

    Peter wrote on October 20th, 2011
  20. Can you eat all bran while doing this? Because it is a carbohydrate
    sorry if that sounds stupid

    molly wrote on October 26th, 2011
  21. What are some examples of a “high Fat treat” at the bottom of the pyramid?

    Primal Parrothead wrote on October 26th, 2011
  22. After a decade of circling through everything from zero-carb fat fast Atkins to 100% Raw Veganism these diagrams are genius.

    Its what I do – fruits & vege first (though from your recipes/etc. it seems like meat/fish/fowl/eggs is actually on the bottom rung!?) I eat 80%+ raw veges (green juices, sprouted seedss, microgreens, wheatgrass, etc.). Roasted beetroot & steamed veg once in a while. Low GI fruits for treats and a few times a week I’ll have wild salmon or wagyu.

    For me its an ethical thing – so its wild meats once or twice a week – rather than “hunting” & gorging on giant serves of meat three times a day every day. Unsure if we did that in the primal era.

    Veronika wrote on October 29th, 2011
  23. Oh, and I also do organic fresh coconuts & avocado and pinches of the wild superfoods (goji, spirulina, etc)…

    Veronika wrote on October 29th, 2011
  24. We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with useful information to work on. You have done a formidable activity and our entire neighborhood can be thankful to you.

    dieta wrote on November 9th, 2011
  25. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they just do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.

    jigsawclothings wrote on November 10th, 2011
  26. Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

    kewcloting wrote on November 10th, 2011
  27. A lot of thanks for all your valuable hard work on this web site. Kim take interest in participating in investigations and its really easy to understand why. A lot of people learn all relating to the powerful manner you provide invaluable techniques through your web blog and as well boost participation from website visitors on that matter so my girl is truly discovering a great deal. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You are performing a great job.

    lollipopmonsoonclothings wrote on November 10th, 2011
  28. I would suggest trying to get away from the yogurt with added sugar though. Now I eat plain greek yogurt with some added berries. While I was transitioning from sugared yogurt I added a small amount of jam, and gradually decreased the jam until I didnt need it any more. When fresh berries are out of season (or just too expensive) I use frozen ones thawed in the fridge overnight.

    moteldresses wrote on November 10th, 2011
  29. This man hacks my email and facebook accounts daily hacked my website and is generally made my life hell any time i touch a computer for the last seven years. his latest prank was to use someones account that I was romantically interested in and interfere in our relationship eh even went as far as to get someone to pretend to be him on the phone and try to tell me horrible things.

    phaseeightdresses wrote on November 11th, 2011
  30. My own take on privacy is that at least with Facebook, Twitter, etc. I CHOOSE to put data up there, and am careful in selecting what I do commit to tehse people. After 20 years online in one form or another (I go back to the days of dialup BBS and FIDONETs) I work on the principle that everything I commit online may come back and bite my bottom anyway.

    I am more concerned about the invasion of privacy conducted by Google with its Street View, its keeping of search records to build its database of intentions, etc.

    And ultimately Hell, Im MUCH more worried (living in the UK) about the authoritarian laws of personal liberties that my Government is still introducing.

    primarkonlineshoppings wrote on November 11th, 2011
  31. As I understand it you have full capacity to delete information and their rights to your information ends with the deletion (not to be confused with deactivation) of your account, except for that data which has already been distributed. Also they note that it may persist in backup for a reasonable length of time, which I can only assume is until the backup is phased out.

    The parts about facebook applications seems more troubling to me than facebooks stake in the matter.

    ps3bundlenews wrote on November 11th, 2011
  32. The problem is when they have castrated, cut-off, and self-mutilated genitalia on their brains and think they are doing people a favor when they try and put this self-projecting morbidity on theirs!

    Im sure Im not the only one to happily refuse to let every healthy, natural, genital impulse be associated and over-coded in advance with pallid, sickly ideations of incest & castration.

    Much better orgasms that way! And dating becomes both a self-affirmation and an affirmation of earthly, somatic, natural-biological life!

    Lacan in Seminar XVII broadens the concept of castration that much, that a change of terminology is more than just a little justified

    ps3emulator wrote on November 11th, 2011
  33. I gained more muscle in the off-season,
    lost more fat in the contest season (as low as 3.4%) and stayed leaner all year round,
    maintaining a 7-9% body fat percentage without much difficulty. I also moved up a full
    weight class. My energy was better. I was leaner. I was stronger.
    My small adjustment to 50-30-20 might have worked well for me simply because
    I have an endo mesomorph body type and Im a bit carbohydrate sensitive, but it also
    worked for the vast majority of my 600+ personal coaching protgs.
    - Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle p. 163

    Everything else is solid, but this Carb curve is not telling the whole story, in terms of weight maintenance.

    ps3emulators wrote on November 11th, 2011
  34. I’m with you on this. I still consider myself new to the blogging world and can still (at times) be insecure with my posts and writing. When someone takes the time to at least acknowledge that they read it and leave a positive..thanks for sharing. It helps encourage newbies :)

    barbados holidays wrote on November 15th, 2011
  35. Mark,
    I’m past the point where I’m going to sprint anywhere anytime anymore. I walk daily and sometimes work out on an incline treadmill, do yoga and use the weight machines at the gym. What can I do to replace the sprinting? I also don’t Play much. Never have.
    Thanks. I’m using your cookbook on a regular basis and gave it to friends for Christmas.

    dale wrote on December 22nd, 2011
  36. Mark,

    Quick question, there are more and more diets out there that are restrictive diets, and as I have been with PB for just under a month (and WOW has my life improved already! I am currently 6’1” 230lbs, down from 240lbs) but I digress. My question is that there are diets out there that are specific to bloodtype, do you support these diets within the PB food map? e.g. I am A+ and it suggests that I avoid mushrooms, peppers, and other awesome things like citrus fruits. This restricts me even fruther, yet, I am seeing amazing losses on the scale without cutting these from my diet. Should I continue to stick with PB’s recommendations and say NUTS! to their suggestions?

    It really is confusing with the myriad of nutrition suggestions, and I have never felt so energetic before switching to PB. A little insight from your vast wisdom would be very much appreciated!

    ~Jason

    Jason B. wrote on January 4th, 2012
  37. Should athletes follow the same guidelines considering they need to be even more fit? Obviously runners need to have the endurance and therefore do a lot of cardio….?

    Angie Brown wrote on January 28th, 2012
  38. About coffee – I don’t drink caffeine, so I only drink decaffeinated coffee (and black or with coconut milk). Is there something specific about coffee to consider, or is it just the caffeine intake?

    Casey wrote on January 31st, 2012
  39. Is organic raw sugar alright to use in replace of regualar sugar, or is it just as bad.

    maryellen wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  40. I know this may be silly but what would lentils count as?

    elissa wrote on February 6th, 2012

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