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. 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 B. wrote on January 4th, 2012
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Is organic raw sugar alright to use in replace of regualar sugar, or is it just as bad.

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

    elissa wrote on February 6th, 2012
  6. I put a link to this info graphic in my latest “I’m finally going paleo blog” post. Surely this has got to be one of the most helpful pages in the history of the net.

    I also referred to Mark as the “pop-king of primal”. Woo-whoo. Wee-hee.

    100% Paleo wrote on February 16th, 2012
  7. Salmonman wrote on February 19th, 2012
  8. I would put fat grams instead of carb grams in that graph:

    carb-g fat-g
    300 77 danger
    250 100
    200 122 gain
    150 144 maintain
    100 166 lose
    50 188 keto
    0 211

    Assuming 2000 calories/day & 100 grams protein. Otherwise you’ll end up in hibernation.

    tam wrote on March 1st, 2012
  9. Mark,

    When you say you should not stay under 50 carbs per day for very long are you referring to total carbs or net? I just started Atkins and my total carbs are @ 40, but it’s 20 net. I’m perfectly happy in this zone: losing weight, not hungry, not craving. What’s the probem with staying here? I’m getting lots of veggies (tons) but no fruit yet. The only reason I’ve been able to get from Atkins that it’s important to steadily increase carbs is because you’ll get bored if you don’t.

    Well, I don’t think the addition of a cup of milk, a few nuts and some strawberries is going to make much of a difference for me either way if I don’t desire them. Is it really unhealthy to stay in the “induction” phase if you’re doing well with it? Why does my body NEED more carbs when I already feel like I’m about to burst with the many and varied veggies I already consume?

    Joanne wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • From what I can tell..there really is no such thing as a “Net Carb”. A carb is a carb is a carb. It seems like Atkins gets you a little closer to a PB than the regular American diet, but doesn’t take you home, so to speak.

      If you are smaller, maybe you are closer to your optimal than it would appear…the amounts in the chart, from what i have read, are ranges…and those ranges can vary a little I would guess.

      The blueprint is about the optimal way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The best thing to do, is listen to Your body.

      Misty wrote on March 12th, 2012
  10. Don’t forget that protein’s insulinogenic effects are largely counterbalanced by the release of glucagon, a hormone that helps us burn previously stored fat, after protein consumption.

    This is in contrast to carbs, which unapologetically raise insulin, and fat which is essentially biologically inert.

    Primark online shopping wrote on March 13th, 2012
  11. I calculated that my lean body mass is about 135 lbs. So even if I use the 1 gram/lb per day of protein as a guideline, this means I should be having less than 5 ounces of protein a day? How can it be so little when protein is the bulk of what I should be consuming in a day?

    Adam wrote on March 17th, 2012
  12. Adam, it’s the amount of protein in the food, not the weight of the food.

    Carol wrote on March 25th, 2012
  13. So, I know it’s somewhere on your site, but short of sitting at my computer longer than I need to hunting down info, how can fruit be so unhealthy for you. I have a pretty big salad for dinner every day and it includes apples, strawberries, blueberries, and other various veggies. Plus, I eat other fruits here and there. Yes, I know it has sugar, but it’s natural sugar as opposed to table sugar. What other info do have to offer on a low to no fruit option in your diet? I just don’t see cutting out the fruit.

    Gina wrote on April 20th, 2012
  14. Mark, I just don’t think this diet is healthy with protein at the bottom of the pyramid. Too much protein will lead to a highly acid forming diet which is not healthy. Surely vegetables should be at the bottom of the pyramid. FYI I do agree with you about carbohydrates. Maybe this diet helps you stay thin, but you are doing long term damage to your organs. Why not just reduce the amount of protein to that which you need to maintain muscle mass etc?

    I look forward to your reply (if you have one).

    Damian McE wrote on May 5th, 2012
  15. is there a no exercise diet plan? What if you are disabled or paralized?

    Laurie wrote on May 9th, 2012
  16. Hi i am currently new to the PB’s diet and just trying to order all the main elements I will need. Cocunut oil is down as an essential. However from further research there seems to be main different types HELP. Do i need:
    – Refined coconut oil
    – Virgin coconut oil
    – Pure coconut oil

    Becky wrote on June 11th, 2012
  17. is it more beneficial to IF in the morning, afternoon, or night? Or does is not make a difference?

    John wrote on June 26th, 2012
  18. I was wondering how could i accostume this diet for someone who´s vegetarian? I have a hard time eating lost of veggies and i think i´d end up starving. Do you (or anybody) have any ideas for how to follow the primal diet the healthy way,while still being vegetarian?

    Grati wrote on July 3rd, 2012
  19. Mark, I’ve been a fan and subscriber to your website for a while now and noticed something strange when I went to order the Primal Blueprint book. On the website article here these comments go with Meal, Fish, Fowl, etc is on the bottom of the pyramid at the base. When I went to purchase the book (unsucessully due to computer issues – trying again later) it showed a free PB Food pyramid poster with it, that featured Meat, etc on the next to bottom layer and Veggies, etc were now on the bottom. Is this a mistake, change of concept or a new way of thinking?

    Robert wrote on July 20th, 2012
  20. So I’ve decided to cut my carb intake down because on average I was eating 150-200g carbs a day on a roughly 3000-3200 calorie diet. Those carbs came from a couple of fruits and dairy products. I’m attempting to go almost complete primal/paleo by cutting out all dairy except for at max 2 cups of whole milk a day immediately after my workout.

    My goal is to keep my total carb intake between the 50-100g range. I crossfit 5 days a week also.

    What I don’t seem to understand is this: will cutting the carbs down but eating roughly the same amount of calories allow me to shed the fat I have? Or will i still need to cut the calories down slightly to stimulate weight loss

    I’m currently 201 lbs, and 6’1 at 28 years old.

    Any help is appreciated!

    Chance wrote on July 24th, 2012

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