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

Introducing the New Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

When I got involved with this blogging thing, I figured I’d stick with it for a year or so and then run out of things to say. 365 posts in 365 days seemed like a tall order by itself, let alone maintaining such a schedule into perpetuity. I felt I had something to offer people, and I knew what I was talking about, but that there were limits. Yeah, 365 posts would do nicely. I could get some stuff off my chest and maybe help some folks in the process. Why not?

So much for that.

A year passed and I just kept writing without even noticing. Yeah, I had exhausted all the topics for which I’d originally planned, but new ones kept popping up and grabbing me. Sometimes as I researched a topic, I’d discover something totally unrelated (but extremely interesting to me) to that topic. Little niggling thoughts about health/fitness/nutrition tend to embed themselves in my brain and wiggle around until I acknowledge them, so once I was finished with the original piece I’d usually dig into the new one and come up with a new post. Other post ideas arose organically, usually from some offhand comments by a reader.

As my readership grew, I started receiving a lot of feedback via email and comment sections. They’d bounce ideas off of me and each other, and I off them, and it was like this great big undergrad setting with ideas rattling around (inside and outside my head). There was no shortage of post fodder, but best of all, my ideas about health, fitness, and nutrition were evolving day by day. You guys proved to be the deepest source of ideas and innovation. Or, put another way, knowing I had an ever-growing team of sharp readers watching and judging my ideas kept me from slacking off.

Which brings me to the new Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, published in the recently released Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

The old one was working just fine. Its basic message – eat lots of plants and animals – is still my basic message, and you’d be hard-pressed to eat poorly while following its recommendations, but is that good enough? Is “just fine” good enough for you? It isn’t for me. I want (and expect) simplicity, succinctness, both of which the old pyramid has, but also clarity and thoroughness (gosh, “thoroughness” just sounds awful; is there a better noun form of “thorough”?). The old pyramid left a lot up to the reader to figure out, and I think it could have been more clear and thorough. With the new pyramid, I addressed those and other concerns.

Well, before I explain the differences, let’s take a look at the two so you can see for yourself.

Here’s the old pyramid (click to enlarge).

Old Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

Here’s the new pyramid (click to enlarge).

New Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

The most noticeable change is making meat/fish/fowl/eggs, rather than produce, the base. It’s actually not a huge thematic change, as I’ve always suggested that animal products comprise the bulk of calories, but now it’s clear. Before, I’d often have to clarify to people that yes, vegetables may often make up the bulk of your food by sheer volume, but no, they will probably not make up the bulk of your food by caloric content. The repositioning of the two sections makes that clearer and less confusing.

I added an entirely new section: “Moderation Foods.” My thinking on certain foods has changed over the years, and this is my acknowledgment of that. Fruit, while an awesome, delicious method of seed dispersal that I’m glad plants employ, may not be right for everyone in unlimited quantities. Dense carb sources like starchy tubers and wild rice, while probably worth limiting and outright avoiding for people trying to lose weight, can be useful in the right situations. Dairy is another tool that many find extremely helpful (and tasty), and I’ve realized that nuts/nut butters/nut oils aren’t like other sources of fat, and that moderation is probably prudent. When thinking changes, so to must the products of that thinking.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added more sub-sections. So, instead of fruits and vegetables (including starchy tubers and roots, presumably) being lumped together, I separated them. Why? Well, a fruit is not a vegetable is not a potato. They all rely on photosynthesis, leaves or leafy-like things, water, a good loamy, nutrient-rich soil, and the caring hand of either Mother Nature or a grizzled farmer to come into existence, but they confer very different metabolic and health effects. In the old pyramid, rice is a grain (and therefore not allowed) and a sweet potato is a vegetable, but the new pyramid acknowledges that they share more commonalities than differences. For athletes looking to increase their carb intake, both are good ways to do it. The old pyramid didn’t make that clear, while the new way of classifying foods makes it obvious.

I also sacrificed brevity for clarity. Consider what the old pyramid said: “Approved Fats and Oils.” Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and I still stand by the fact that you should only consume “approved fats and oils.” But what is an example of an approved fat and oil? You might know it off the top of your head, but what about the person who’s just getting into this? The pyramid isn’t just for the person who can bust out a list of every animal fat arranged in order of omega-6 fat content on the fly. It’s also for the person who still has a tub of margarine in the fridge. It’s also for the guy whose browser doesn’t autofill “Paleohacks” when he so much as thinks about typing a “P.” And for those folks, for the beginners (and the curious who want a quick idea of this Primal Blueprint nonsense without reading blogs or books), giving a rough idea of what I mean by “approved fats and oils” is extremely helpful. “Oh, butter, coconut oil, and animal fats for eating, and avocados, macadamia nuts, and olives/extra virgin olive oil for eating? That’s easy enough for now, and if I need more info, maybe I’ll check out the articles on the website,” is what we’re shooting for here. I still think it reads well and reads quickly. I don’t think the brevity “sacrifice” was a crushing one.

I also included a nice serving of “why” along with the “what” and the “which.” See, the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid is a lot of folks’ introduction to the PB. And people want justification. They don’t just want to be spoon-fed rules, or be given blanket prescriptions without knowing why they’re being given out. Especially when it’s telling you to eat the bulk of your calories in the form of animals and animal fat. I mean, this could be the first time they’ve ever read the words “saturated fat” without the “artery clogging” modifier. We’ve got some ‘splainin to do; we can’t just gloss over it and assume they’re aware of the current science of saturated fat.

I tossed in “Sensible Indulgences,” because I realized that those indulgences weren’t just some throw-away option that a few people take advantage of. And it’s not just cause I wanted to justify my own red wine and dark chocolate habits. They were actually crucial parts of the Primal Blueprint, and in my experience dealing with thousands of people over the years, I’ve learned that the red wine and the chocolate (among others) are often what makes following the PB a realistic, sustainable alternative to conventional wisdom.

With all that said, the pyramid remains essentially the same. The focus is still on the importance of eating whole, real food. Grains, vegetable oils, and sugar are still woefully underrepresented. And the dietitians are still going to hate it (heck, they’ll hate it even more than before!). The thinking is more refined (or, gasp, processed), but that just means it’s even better than before.

If I didn’t make it abundantly clear already, I’m always open to refining the new pyramid, either because something is more confusing than helpful, or if new research dictates that changes be made. Lay into me (and it) if you must. And that’s a standing offer.

Okay – I’m done for today. If you have any questions about the new pyramid, leave them in the comment section. Thanks for reading.

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’m glad to see meat as the basis of the new pyramid! I get so tired of people telling me I’d lose weight, feel better, be healthier if only I’d fill my plate with yummy veggies. The fact is, I don’t like vegetables much, and I don’t feel very good if I eat a lot of them at once. They make me gassy and leave a bad taste in my mouth, and even eating a whole plateful leaves me hungry. I lose weight easiest and look and feel best when my diet is mostly meat and fish, animal fats and tropical oils. Other people may love vegetables and do well basing their diets on them, but I wish they would stop trying to convince me that I should too. Whether they’re coming from Primal or CW, it sounds the same.

    Elizabeth wrote on November 20th, 2012
  2. Be interesting to see the pyramid laid out as a 24-hour plate maybe?

    Carol wrote on February 13th, 2013
  3. Like most of the refinements, but my vote goes to reversing the two bottom layers (leaving in the comments about calories). Even through this thread, it is clear some people are interpreting it on a quantity (not caloric) basis.

    Frank wrote on February 13th, 2013
  4. I love the increased clarity and simplicity.

    I’d like to see more said in the vegetables section about low glycemic index, colorful, etc. vegies.

    michael wrote on March 1st, 2013
  5. ditch the wheat, corn, and white potatoes, keep the rice and oats

    after like six months if you dont eat rice you will get bad headaches and confusion, probably from low blood sugar… you can eat vegetables and fruit all day but they arent digested well and most people tend not to get enough carbs from them no matter how much you eat… try to get an imported rice which avoids arsenic, basmati is a good choice and has the same glycemic as sweet potatoes

    S wrote on April 25th, 2013
  6. Not to get hung up on details, but I really think fruits should be back at the base of the pyramid. Fruits are the best source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. A tomato has more than 10K phytochemicals, which far exceed the few chemicals isolated in even the best supplements. Unless you’re trying to lose major weight, its really important to incorporate a range of low/medium-GI fruits into the diet. Moving nut butters to a higher point makes a lot of sense, as they are processed into a form that allows massive carb/fat consumption- a really bad combo.

    JH wrote on August 29th, 2013
  7. Too many comments to sort through and see if anyone suggested this, but if the pyramid is based on pure calories instead of volume, then wouldn’t fats technically be at the bottom? That said, I do love this new pyramid :)

    Alex wrote on September 19th, 2013
  8. best price it was,doudoune moncler pas cherI went to vapor in February this year and have not smoked since,canada goose toronto. I bought different electric cigs and I didn’t like them due to them not lasting long,canada goose parka. I googled and found the above website and called and talked to William and he was so helpful,doudoune moncler homme.相关的主题文章:

    canadian geese wrote on December 26th, 2014
  9. cheap but not everything,canada goose parkaHere at Xbox 360 Repair Guy we have a 99.9% fix rate on all the xbox 360’s we receive,canadian geese, there has only been two xbox 360’s ever that we could not fix,canada goose expedition parka, as someone all ready tried fixing the console the wrong way and failed and melted the motherboard. They is only one way to fix a broken xbox 360 properly and that is to use a special machine called a BGA station which you use to reball and reflow the faulty chip

    canadian geese wrote on January 8th, 2015
  10. Hi Mark,

    That’s the same Paleo pyramid that I am following as well. I eat mostly vegetables now with smaller portions of fruit and lean meats and sea food as well. I enjoy readying all your articles very much. Cheers Mick

    Michael Cassidy wrote on January 18th, 2015
  11. Mark I dig this! I love seeing quinoa on this list- I’ve never had an issue with it and even though you’ve suggested it for athletes, I eat it twice a week, hasn’t hindered my weight loss efforts. But I don’t over do it. I always go with how my body feels and it sure loves quinoa 😁

    Alexis wrote on June 4th, 2015

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!