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”?

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

New Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

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

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. if someone, namely me, has a lot of food intolerances how could they eat primal? The native americans never drank cows milk, which is why I figure more NA’s are lactose intolerant than any other race.
    so, i have tried all sorts of beef and pork, bought from many different places, including pastured, and i still cannot eat either meat. I can eat turkey and chicken and fish, though my husband doesn’t like the smell so cooking it is hard. i have a severe intolerance to all things dairy, so cheeses and milk are out. My intolerance to many different vegetables is rapidly rising also, green peppers, radishes, potatoes, onions, ginger are all out of my current diet. Oil is another thing i find makes me feel ill when consumed. Chocolate and caffeine have been gone from my diet for years. I now drink only water or white teas. I have a really hard time with most grains already, though i do love and enjoy wild rice. I suffer migraines or extreme discomfort when i eat anything on the above list. When I eat too much refined sugar i get a ‘fog’ headache.
    So, based on all these restrictions, is there any way i could go primal?
    would love to hear from other people who have food intolerances.

    PurpleSpongeBob wrote on May 26th, 2010
    • I have been in a similar condition. What I found is that the more things I removed from my diet, the more I ate the same foods over and over. The constant exposure to the same items allowed my immune system to become increasingly more sensitive to what I was eating. It was a vicious cycle.

      What has helped me: 1)to not eat anything every day, once every 4+ days is better; 2) identify 4 or more items for each food type (meats/veg/fruit/etc) and eat them in a 4+ day rotation; 3) always eat fruit with some form or protein, always eat veggies with some form of fat.

      I was already eating primal and this allowed me to continue to do so while restabilizing my immune system.

      A.D. Sevigny wrote on June 25th, 2010
    • PurpleSpongeBob I cannot tell you how exactly you describe my exact situation. I was wondering if you have had any results or any suggestion that you have followed that gave you positive results.

      Tim wrote on January 23rd, 2011
    • I have migraines, too. I’ve been trying to control them using Dr. Bucholz’ “Heal Your Headaches: the 1-2-3 Program” diet, which eliminates several of the foods that you mentioned. I had already gone low-carb a year before adopting the anti-migraine diet, so I was determined to keep to that (starches & grains don’t agree with my stomach & cause me to gain weight).

      You’ll probably end up eating a lot of chicken and allowable vegetables. Green peppers are not digestible by many people due to their skin. Shallots, leeks, & green onions are not supposed to be migraine triggers and may be a good substitute for onions for you.

      The recommendation to pair fruit with protein is a good one. I find that if Ii pair it with protein or fat, I’m ok; but if I eat it on its own, I also get a “fog” headache.

      Elizabeth wrote on March 2nd, 2011
    • Maybe look more into FODMAP’s. Fructose intolerance or HFI the more detrimental kind of fructose intolerance where you can not tolerate any form of fructose and sometimes galactose.
      I too have suffered all my life with adverse affects to fruit and veggies. I’m now in the process of do the tests associated with these intolerances.
      Maybe looking into them further might give you the answers you are looking for…..
      Hope that helps :)

      KarMar wrote on July 12th, 2012
  2. Wow, I can’t believe how succinctly you posted exactly how one should live to be healthy, lean and fit. I have tried to explain this lifestyle numerous times but for now on will just send people to this page.

    As for carbs, the recommendations here are pretty much right for me. I train a lot so I do get away with more carbs than I should eat. But ultimately carbs easily make me fat and lethargic.

    Great article!

    nathan wrote on May 26th, 2010
  3. I am dairy intolerant – my mom is native american.

    I am primal for six months and do not eat any dairy, potatoes, grains, chocolate or sugar. I have not eaten dairy for years, but my ND told me to give up sugar completely, period, about six months ago. I was having terrific IBS and my cholesterol was rising. She told me sugar raises cholesterol. So, I listened and sugar is a goner for me since November,2009.

    PB is easy to implement with your personal restrictions. Do not think of your life in terms of what you cannot have, but in terms of what you can have.

    If you haven’t already, get rid of grains, sugar and dairy. Entirely. You will feel so much better you will not ever want the stuff again.

    It sounds like you need to give your gut a time to rest and heal. In time you can re-introduce beef and pork. It may take a few months. It took me about 4 months to heal up to the place where I can now eat a tiny cracker without misery.

    I am O negative, so a big meat eater according to Eat Right for Your Type. I feel great on meat. Remember, the reason for rising anecdotal “intolerance” (I have been tested through a blood test for my intolerances) is your damaged intestinal track. Stop the offending foods, give your body a simple pure diet for a few months, and it will heal. You can re-introduce foods slowly over time.

    I have healed, you can too!


    Sandra wrote on June 6th, 2010
  4. I am looking at the Carbohydrate Curve graphic and wondering if the presentation of the data could somehow be flipped so that the ideal (Grok) is at the top instead of cornered at the bottom. In other words: put the superior state on top for quicker conveyance of the message?

    A.D. Sevigny wrote on June 25th, 2010
  5. Just getting started. Makes a lot of sense. Are raisins a good snack? Eat lots now.

    My wife was wondering the validity of Eat Right for Your Type and if the two diets are intertwined in any way.

    Wayne Sorensen wrote on July 17th, 2010
    • Like most dried fruit, for the weight, raisins are mostly sugar. Lots of fructose carbs. One quarter cup has 25 grams of sugar. Also, there may be other ingredients such as pesticides, canola oil, etc.

      ArcticBear wrote on July 18th, 2010
    • Like most dried fruit, for the weight, raisins are mostly sugar. Lots of fructose carbs. One quarter cup has 25 grams of sugar. Also, there may be other ingredients such as pesticides, canola oil, sulfites etc.

      ArcticBear wrote on July 18th, 2010
  6. Nice visuals. Thanks for putting two complex topics into such a simple and easy to understand visual.

    Dr. Peter Osborne wrote on August 14th, 2010
  7. I want to raid my pantry and throw away ALL the high carb stuff but the hubby doesn’t understand why. I really want to lose this extra weight that I have been carrying around since the birth of my daughter (over 2 yrs ago)!

    Marina wrote on September 9th, 2010
    • Hello! I had the same problem. I was completely convinced that Primal was THE WAY and he was totally wacked out by it.

      Just go ahead and delegate your own pantry or cupboard. At the least, just start making primal meals. If he starts gaining weight by eating his other junk foods in addition and sees you loosing it (which you will right away)… he will be convinced. Or better yet he will feel full with the meals you make and be loosing weight with you, which is my experience.

      Just wait until you cook up a hearty breakfast…

      Annie wrote on September 10th, 2010
  8. I’m 21 years old, 5’4″ and 115 pounds. I lost about 80 pounds on my own at home over the past little while, but I feel like I’m stuck with a higher body fat percentage than is preferable for someone of my light weight. I do lift heavy weights and do body weight exercises, accompanied by some cardio, but nothing has seemed to work so far at getting rid of the last excess bits of fat.

    About one or two months ago, I stopped eating grains. That helped my stomach problems a lot, but admittedly, I just replaced the grains with other carb sources (like quinoa, for example). I feel like I can’t function on a low-carb diet.

    I went low-carb/high fat for quite awhile (a couple of months) and the result was me having chest and stomach pains, from consuming too much fat — even if it was from a healthy source — and migraine headaches.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I feel like I have no idea what to do at this point. :(

    Liana wrote on September 12th, 2010
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.

    MikeT wrote on October 14th, 2010
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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: (Page 4 of 61)

    Mark: Great work, thans a bunch!

    Steve Schilz

    Steve Schilz wrote on May 25th, 2011

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