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

A Primal Blueprint Sample Menu

Last Wednesday I published The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve. In it I provided my recommendations for daily carbohydrate consumption. I received a lot of great feedback from readers. A couple readers, namely Patrick and Heather, requested sample menus to give them an idea of what a single day that comes in at around 100 grams of carbs looks like. I’ve done similar posts in the past (2 Minute Salad and My Daily Diet) but I thought I’d offer up something a little different this time. In this variation of eating like Grok in the modern world I’ve included pics that closely approximate what I eat on an average day, followed by FitDay macronutrient breakdowns (Click on the images to see a larger version. You may have to scroll down the page a bit to view the enlarged versions.)

Breakfast

A typical breakfast for me is a cup of coffee with cream and sugar and an omelet. Sometimes I’ll throw in a little cheese, but most days I go without it. The veggies change as well from day to day.

If it isn’t an omelet it might be some leftovers from the night before, or one of my balanced meal replacement shakes (link to my store).

Also, I don’t eat breakfast every day of the week. If I’m hungry I eat. Otherwise I don’t. You’ll find this is a common theme for me throughout the day.

coffee 1

omelet

Picture2 14 Picture3 11

Lunch

The following is a variation of my Big Ass Salad. This is where I load up on all kinds of colorful vegetables. The veggies comprise the bulk of the meal and vary from day to day. Mushrooms, bell peppers, red onions, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and snow peas are some of my favorites. I also make sure to get some protein with this meal – some leftover chicken or steak from the night before, or canned salmon are regulars. This is usually my largest meal of the day and I always look forward to it. There are nearly endless permutations. Experiment until you find something you absolutely love. This will help ensure you keep coming back for more.

salad 1

Picture10 2 Picture11 1

Snack

If I’m hungry mid to late afternoon and dinner looks to be a ways off I’ll often grab a handful of nuts. Macadamias, walnuts and pine nuts are great, but I usually reach for almonds.

almonds 2

Picture4 10 Picture5 8

Dinner

For dinner it has to be a good cut of meat and a heaping side of veggies. Of course, this changes from day to day as well. Salmon, chicken (with the skin on!) and a nice rib eye are regulars, but I’ll often do lamb, pork or some other fish as well. If it isn’t Brussels sprouts it’s broccoli, squash, cabbage, the occasional sweet potato, or a stir fry with a good mix of veggies.

ribeye

brussels

Picture6 6 Picture7 4

After Dinner

Occasionally I’ll have some fruit with a glass of wine to wind down the day. Or if I’m beginning an overnight stint of Intermittent Fasting I’ll skip it altogether.

blueberries 2

redwine 1

Picture8 2 Picture9 2

Totals

Let’s take a look at the totals. If I ate all three large meals and the snack and the berries and the wine I’m still just over 2,500 calories. Truth be told I rarely eat all of this in a single day; unless I’ve been especially active.

But what we are really interested in is the carbs. This sample menu came in at 115 g of carbs which leaves us with plenty of wiggle room. This is the take home message: You can enjoy copious amounts of fruits and veggies and still never crack 150 g. It’s important that you let that sink in. What this means is that you don’t have to count carbs like I have done here if all you are trying to do is maintain your body composition. Even if you are attempting to speed up weight loss by keeping your daily carb intake to below 100 g you can see that it can be done with very little effort or thought as long as you stick to nuts/seeds, fruits, veggies, and meat.

Picture13 1

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Post Workout Fasting

How To: Intermittent Fasting

Top 10 Ways to “Go Nuts”

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. Hi Mark,

    I love your site, your philosophy… everything. Question: in one of your posts you mention that a single meal should not exceed 400 calories. Yet in this one nearly all your meals do – your lunch and dinner are both over 800. I’m a bit confused. :)

    I’m also confused about the sugar in the morning coffee. I love coffee, but cannot drink it unsweetened. So I’ve recently switched from sugar to Equal sweetener and as of today consume no sugar at all. Are artificial sweeteners worse than sugar? Or am I on the right track? Thanks!

    Maria wrote on December 11th, 2009
    • Maria,

      I have long since changed that 400 cal philosophy. Thanks for reminding me to go back and edit. And as for sweeteners, a little sugar in your coffee is not a terrible indulgence. Probably better that you go for table sugar than for Equal.

      Mark Sisson wrote on December 12th, 2009
      • That’s interesting, but not surprising. Sugar is natural, after all. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, I just like my coffee and tea sweet. Thanks for the feedback!

        Maria wrote on December 12th, 2009
  2. Do you not consume dairy products? How are you getting sufficient calcium in your diet?

    As well, this seems like an awful lot of fat to be consuming.. over half of your diet??

    Sarah wrote on January 12th, 2010
  3. Why not just eat the egg WHITES?
    It takes away the cholesterol and gives you all of the protein….since all of the protein is in the whites.

    Donna wrote on January 19th, 2010
    • …Because egg yolks taste so damn good. ;)

      Seriously though, I think the danger of cholesterol from egg yolks is GREATLY exaggerated. From the time I was old enough to eat solid food I ate eggs every single morning, not by choice but because I come from a poor country and had to eat what was available. So technically I’ve been eating at least 5-6 eggs a week for 35 years. My cholesterol is perfectly fine, and so is my overall health. It’s the same story with my mother, who’s also a fan of eggs and is 65… So far I see no good reason why I should toss those yolks.

      Maria wrote on February 19th, 2010
  4. Mark, which program did you used for the charts ? It looks nice.

    Decker wrote on January 23rd, 2010
    • “I’ve included pics that closely approximate what I eat on an average day, followed by FitDay macronutrient breakdowns (Click on the images to see a larger version. You may have to scroll down the page a bit to view the enlarged versions.)” Fitday

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 23rd, 2010
  5. Boy do I wish I were taller and bigger. at five feet tall and a whopping hundred pounds, I only get 80-100 g of protein a day. Keeping it in this realm has been my biggest challenge. I could easily eat twice that much. :(

    Jamie wrote on January 25th, 2010
  6. HI Mark,

    I bought your book a little while ago and love it. I’ve always been very interested in origianl human diet and what we really should be eating. But old habits die hard, and I’m using the excuse that I am breastfeeding to eat too many processed carbs. I’m scared to cut back carbs too much incase it compromises my milk supply. What do you think? Thanks.

    Karen wrote on April 16th, 2010
  7. My husband and I are really enjoying the mentality of how we, as humans, should be eating. Especially after watching Food, Inc., etc. Disturbing, that was!! My question is, I’m a fitness instructor and enjoy doing my own personal workouts, so I’m very active. I’m ALWAYS hungry and I know it’s not in my head, as my stomach is growling. I have a small snack 2x’s a day (in between breakfast/lunch and lunch/dinner. My question is, is it possible to over do it with the “good fats”, like oil and nuts? I have been following the Primal eating for about 2.5 weeks at about 85% and haven’t seen a budge in my weight. It’s really frustrating, in fact. I feel like I need that “ah-ha” for someone to throw in my face. What is it Mark??? Thanks for all this great info, keep it coming.

    Taryn wrote on April 27th, 2010
  8. I’ve eliminated starch and grains, with the exception of an occasional cheat, workout pretty hard about 4 times a week, and am at less than 19% body fat, BMI is 19%, and am a woman. I don’t have any heart disease.

    I love fruit and dairy though, and eat lots of that. Given that I’m not trying to lose weight and my heart is fine, is this acceptable?

    Page wrote on May 13th, 2010
  9. I eat very similar to this on a daily basis and have for some time now. One question I have is what would be a typical post workout meal for you. I’ve read so many contrasting articles about post workout nutrition I just thought your perspective would help not only myself but many other readers out there.

    Thanks

    Jeremy wrote on July 14th, 2010
  10. I hope nobody buys into this diet! Of course fruits and vegtables should be increased but if your fat content is higher than your carbs you have got another thing coming. You need carbs to have energy that cannot be provided by fruits and veggies. Try this diet and when you are completely run down and have no energy it is because you need carbs. If you plan on working out at all on this diet you will become fatigued much faster. Look at any other website that talks about nutrition. Carbs always comes firsts. Don’t fall victim to this. Please!!! Do your research and follow a much more practical and successful plan.

    Aaron wrote on August 6th, 2010
    • Dude. There are about 8 gazillion people who visit this website who have experienced exactly the opposite of the symptoms you describe. Try it, maybe you’ll like it.

      Holly wrote on August 6th, 2010
    • Actually, I have MORE energy on the low-carb diet. I used to be beat after 45 minutes of cardio, now I feel like I can go for another 45. And, the added benefit is that I no longer experience carb withdrawal (which used to hit me every 2 hours). No more shakes, headaches and dizzy spells… I don’t believe in vegetarianism or no-carb diet, but keeping the carbs at 100-150 g a day is beneficial for me. I was skeptical too, but I listen to my body, and my body is happier and healthier when the carbs are low.

      Maria wrote on August 6th, 2010
    • Really??
      I have not felt this good in YEARS, gone with all the “healthy” carbs is the spaciness, the bloated feeling, the LACK of energy, I feel GOOD, even structurally speaking…try it, before you comment maybe.

      Suzanne wrote on September 14th, 2010
  11. I would have to agree with Holly! As a fitness instructor, P90X nut and avid athlete, I follow the Primal eating lifestyle, about 95% of the time, and that 5% is not coming from grains. Aaron is right that you do need carbs for energy and recovery, but they don’t HAVE to come from grains. I think anyone looking to embark on a new eating life plan, needs to do their research, as this may not be suitable to everyone, but I wouldn’t come on here and start bashing it and staying “don’t buy into it”, as then you insenuate that it’s a “gimmick”, and it’s anything but.

    Taryn wrote on August 6th, 2010
  12. I love this site… it seems to be tougher and tougher for people to just eat. With new studies every day, we have lost our connection to food and to our bodies. No other animal in the world needs experts to help them eat.

    We do, and it is nice to finally come across a real plan that actually seems to revolve around how we are supposed to eat, and did eat for many many years.

    SO thank you!

    I am in good shape and good health, but always striving to grow more.. mentally, physically, spiritually.

    That being said, where do I find your food calculator that I saw you plug your foods in in the above sample menus? It is a great tool.

    jonah wrote on August 9th, 2010
    • ”No other animal in the world needs experts to help them eat.”

      Took me a while to pick myself up from the floor laughing… :)

      LordoftheJungle wrote on March 3rd, 2011
  13. Ok.. answered my own quetion.. checked out Fitday

    thanks

    jonah wrote on August 9th, 2010
  14. For those interested in a lower GI alternative to sugar, consider using acacia honey and chestnut honey. Not all honeys are created equal when it comes to GI. Chestnut honey blends nicely with coffee. Fructose is low GI, too (the aforementioned honeys are mostly fructose). Have a sweet day.

    Elena wrote on August 27th, 2010
  15. This is a before post. Just found your website – I am 47years old – 115kg’s and 185cm tall with a BMI of 34!!! All created through a living plan of eat and drink whatever I want…. Constantly tired and misisng seeing my toes!! Today is day 1 and I will post with progress….
    Thanks

    Sean wrote on January 9th, 2011
  16. Hi Mark – Thanks for your posts and for making so many of your books available for free, it really helps out us struggling grad students :)

    Just a quick question for you – I’ve read your PB and PB fitness and I’m wanting to purchase the cookbook. Just wondering if the cookbook includes nutritional info for all of the recipes? Or if that’s something we need to calculate by putting all the ingredients into Fitday or recipecalculator, etc??

    Thanks so much!

    Brittany wrote on January 18th, 2011
    • @Brittany, you’re very welcome. The original cookbook does not have macronutrient breakdowns. The one coming out in March has all new recipes and does provide macronutrient breakdowns.

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 18th, 2011
  17. OOOOOOYEEEEEEEEE

    gogus buyutucu wrote on January 29th, 2011
  18. Very boring menu. I would hate eating the same things every day! To change it up, you might want to try some recipes from the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) which also follows Paleo guidelines most of the time. It is grain/starch free.
    Yes, you can eat things like pancakes on the diet, made with nut butter and bananas. How about making chocolate pudding cooking milk/milk substitute, eggs, gelatin in a pan and putting it overnight in the fridge, add chocolate baking powder and honey and blend it in the blender?

    My kid does best low carb and these are just a few of the things I feed him.

    Change it up or you’ll get burned out.

    RM wrote on February 2nd, 2011
    • protip: meat and vegetables can be cooked in so many different ways, you’re not really eating the same thing every day.

      have fun with that sugary pudding crap though!

      Rhys wrote on February 16th, 2011
  19. Can anyone tell me why bananas get such a bad rep when i consistently find that they are a low-mod GI fruit, depending on the ripeness of it. In fact, I have read in numerous sources that if they are eaten without brown spots/with greenish coloring, there GI number is between 35-50.

    Jonah wrote on March 3rd, 2011
  20. An omelot for breakfast? Or any fried or scrambled egg? Doesn’t heating an egg to high temp pretty much destroy a good bit of the protein? Wouldn’t a boiled egg retain more nutrition? I’ve read a lot on nutrition and that’s my current understanding.

    Chuck wrote on April 11th, 2011
  21. I recently switched from fitday to livestrong’s “my plate” which is far easier to use.

    Claire wrote on May 5th, 2011
  22. Hey Mark!

    What is the name of the program you used to depict us the meals and the nutritional value of each food (cals,fats,prots etc.). Where can I download it?

    Thanks :)

    Tasos wrote on May 5th, 2011
  23. I am an Atkins eater and we were taught to use Net Carbs but I found that I consume way more dairy than I think I should although I’m still under 25 Net carbs a day. I use a great site – better than FITDAY – it’s called FATSECRET.com – it’s a lot easier to use than FITDAY. And trust me – I’m a lifelong dieter so I’ve tried them all! It breaks it all down for you just like Fitday but again it’s easier to use and offers a lot more. I’ve decided to go Primal and get rid of the dairy to see if maybe NOW I’ll lose weight. I’ve been doing ATkins for 11 weeks now perfectly and I’ve lost a total of 7 lbs. which is very discouraging. I know that grains and sugar are toxic and they make me feel horrible. For the first time in 11 weeks I had a bite of sugar…it was a small bite of banana cream pie and OMG! it was beyond sweet and I was up all night and my stomach…yikes! It’s just not worth it anymore when you feel so clean w/out it. It’s amazing how fast ones’ body can react to what you eat. I was lightheaded and just did not feel right. Crazy! The best thing about not eating those things is that I finally stopped being hungry and thinking about food 24/7…it’s a miracle! I can go an entire day w/out eating b/c I am simply not hungry and yet I still don’t drop a fricking lb! I even had my lab work done to see if it was my hormones or my thyroid and they came back perfect! Rats! I’m 46 so maybe it’s just age but I refuse to believe that. Then I read somewhere that it can literally take your body months – 4-6 months for your body to let go of the fat it’s holding onto b/c your cells want to stay the same size that they are so they replace the fat you’ve lost w/water until your body just can’t hold the water anymore and then all of sudden you lose the weight in what appears to be overnight. Here’s hoping! Unfortunately, I’m impatient and figure if I drop the dairy I might be able to finally see some weight loss. Wish me luck! I will say that after reading all here that I’m concerned that it may not work b/c realistically I’m totally under 80 carbs a day and I’m still not losing – so what on earth could it possibly be? I eat no sugar no grains, no fake sugar – olive oil, olives, veggies, coconut oil, meat, eggs fish, an occassional berry or 10 – maybe some nuts every once in a while, cheese, heavy cream(4 tlbs in my coffee), sour cream – I swear it’s gotta be the dairy?? I’m at about 1200-1500 calories a day and I eat 5%-10% carbs, 60%-70% fats and 20%-30% proteins – so what could it be? Mark any suggestions?

    Simone wrote on May 9th, 2011
    • Starving your body by not eating is definitely not going to help you lose weight. It will throw off your metabolism.

      Jenn wrote on January 31st, 2012
  24. Let me clarify that last part – I do NOT eat sugar, fake sugar, grains or anything WHITE or beans/legumes…I DO eat Olive oil, olives, tons of veggies, coconut oil, meat, eggs, fish, berries- very occassionally otherwise no fruit and occassionally some nuts – maybe an ounce but not often, cheese, heavy cream (4 tbls in my coffee every day- my only treat) and sour cream…Again, Mark? Any suggestions as to why I’m not losing b/c I’m totally primal but for the dang dairy! I think it’s the dairy and if I cut it I’ll finally start losing.

    Simone wrote on May 9th, 2011
  25. Hey Mark, where do you usually find your potassium in this whole mix?

    Tom E wrote on July 5th, 2011
  26. I have been eating like this for about 2 weeks. Boiled eggs, fruit, coffee for breakfast. Salad with salmon for lunch and a protein and veggies for dinner. I eat fruit or veggies in between and I’VE NOT LOST ONE OUNCE! I was thinking of following your plan , but if I’m not losing weight doing what I am now, I’m afraid yours is not much different and that I still won’t lose.

    Diane wrote on July 20th, 2011
    • Two weeks is nothin’. I dropped a lot in the first week and plateaued for the next two. Your body does take some time to adapt to the program. Once you get over week 4, weight loss does accelerate a little more.

      bec wrote on July 27th, 2011
  27. This is great, thanks Mark.

    Check out my new cooking blog for some more primal recipes.

    http://sarahsprimalkitchen.blogspot.com/

    Thanks, hope you like it and try some recipes out.

    Sarah wrote on August 9th, 2011
  28. If anyone is looking for more recipes, here is my Primal cooking blog. I frequently add new posts with step by step recipes and pictures.

    http://sarahsprimalkitchen.blogspot.com/

    Hope you try some out.

    Sarah wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • oops didn’t mean to post again, thought it didn’t go through earlier.

      Sarah wrote on August 12th, 2011
  29. What about the breakdown of extra animal proteins that acidify your system and taxes your kidneys? Those issues are usually brought up when you read about vegan diets and anti-high-protein diets.

    catherine wrote on September 5th, 2011
  30. Hows you diet work for lowering cholesterol?

    Steve wrote on September 19th, 2011
  31. This website is known as a stroll-by way of for all of the info you needed about this and didn?t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you?ll definitely uncover it.

    Sherlyn Welti wrote on October 6th, 2011
  32. Hi Mark

    Ive stumbled upon your website just wanting to know where to start and recipes for beginners?

    nancy wrote on October 26th, 2011
  33. Hello I have a few questions one is I have diabetes which they say to eat more veggies and so on but I also have IBS and mine can be diarrhea. So I cannot eat alot of veggies like cabbage, corn and onions, peppers without having issues. Is there a way to follow what you recommend without alot of veggies? I like them they do not like me. I have started taking some probiotics and that has helped alot but for my diabetes I would like to follow more of their diet if there is a way that will not cause me such cramping and bathroom time. Thanks

    peggy wrote on November 7th, 2011
  34. I was curious… I live in northern Chile and quinoa is a staple here… how does this fit in with the primal diet? It is very high in carbs but it is also very high in complete protein.

    Mila Bulic wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  35. in my part of the world, i can not find organic, freerange meat 95% of the time and i can never find grass-fed meat. all the fresh fish is either from farms or from polluted water. we do have free-range organic eggs and milk, but i doubt if the chickens and cows are grass-fed. we do not have raw milk. we have canned mackeral and sardines. in this case, what do you suggest? to eat regular chicken and beef?

    lorena wrote on January 10th, 2012
  36. So where are you getting the 0.7 – 1gr of protein per pound? I lift regularly & I find getting the recommended dose of protein to be quite difficult.

    Sean wrote on February 4th, 2012
  37. Hi Mark,

    I follow a similar meal plan, but I’m a little worried I’m taking in too much protein for my weight.

    I take in around 100g of protein a day, but I weigh 137 lbs and have a body fat percentage of 23%.
    Is this too much protein?

    Thanks very much!

    Loll wrote on February 13th, 2012
  38. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL this is still awsome

    troll face wrote on February 21st, 2012
  39. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO this is awsome thnx

    troll face wrote on February 21st, 2012
    • Whoever sent this is a jerk

      troll face wrote on February 21st, 2012
  40. Question on protein utilization:

    I’ve read lots of material on diet and exercise and I remember reading that we humans can only metabolize about 50 grams of protein maximum per meal. There is also the warning that too much protein can be toxic, such as the kidneys or liver producing something akin to amonia. So, is this true or not?

    Dano442 wrote on March 14th, 2012

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