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

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

GraphYesterday, low-carb blogger Dr. Michael Eades (he of Protein Power) posted a message from his friend and fellow low-carb guru Richard Feinman as sort of a call-to-action in public policy-making for upcoming 2010 USDA guidelines. Dr. Eades and Dr. Feinman have suggested that we ought to quickly find a way to help the USDA arrive at a sensible recommendation for carbohydrate consumption. Feinman asked:

“how can the benefits of carbohydrate restriction that you have experienced personally or in your immediate environment be translated into reasonable recommendations that the USDA could put out?”

In conjunction with my forthcoming book “The Primal Blueprint”, I have been working on an easy-to-understand explanation of how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them (or not) in our diet. I have also developed a chart (not the one above) that is intended to assist those who want to go “Primal” in visualizing the impact of carbs consumed within certain ranges. I was going to hold off on releasing this information until my book is published, but decided to introduce it here in response to Dr. Eades’ post. Since the choice of how many and what types of carbs in one’s diet depends on the context of one’s life (current weight, disease condition, activity levels, etc), I see carb intake as a “curve” ranging from “allowable” to “desirable” to “unhealthy”.

The following descriptions illustrate how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them, or not, in our diet. The ranges represent daily averages and are subject to variables like age, current height and weight and particularly training volume. For example, a heavy, active person can be successful at a higher number than a light, moderately active person. In particular, hard training endurance athletes will experience a greater need for carbs and can adjust their personal curve accordingly. This is a topic I address further in the book (e.g. – experimenting with adding 100g of carbs per hour of training per day), on and in a future “primal” book dedicated to endurance athletes. Here then is my “Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve.”

300 or more grams/day Danger Zone!

Easy to reach with the “normal” American diet (cereals, pasta, rice, bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins, soft drinks, packaged snacks, sweets, desserts). High risk of excess fat storage, inflammation, increased disease markers including Metabolic Syndrome or diabetes. Sharp reduction of grains and other processed carbs is critical unless you are on the “chronic cardio” treadmill (which has its own major drawbacks).

150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain

Continued higher insulin-stimulating effect prevents efficient fat burning and contributes to widespread chronic disease conditions. This range – irresponsibly recommended by the USDA and other diet authorities – can lead to the statistical US average gain of 1.5 pounds of fat per year for forty years.

100-150 grams/dayPrimal Blueprint Maintenance Range

This range based on body weight and activity level. When combined with Primal exercises, allows for genetically optimal fat burning and muscle development. Range derived from Grok’s (ancestors’) example of enjoying abundant vegetables and fruits and avoiding grains and sugars.

50-100 grams/day – Primal Sweet Spot for Effortless Weight Loss

Minimizes insulin production and ramps up fat metabolism. By meeting average daily protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight formula), eating nutritious vegetables and fruits (easy to stay in 50-100 gram range, even with generous servings), and staying satisfied with delicious high fat foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds), you can lose one to two pounds of body fat per week and then keep it off forever by eating in the maintenance range.

0-50 grams/day – Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning

Acceptable for a day or two of Intermittent Fasting towards aggressive weight loss efforts, provided adequate protein, fat and supplements are consumed otherwise. May be ideal for many diabetics. Not necessarily recommended as a long-term practice for otherwise healthy people due to resultant deprivation of high nutrient value vegetables and fruits.

Drop me a line in the comment boards. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes (and You’ll Understand It)

Primal Fitness

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 having a hard time locating a good plan to follow and this one seems simple enough for me. My problem is though do I just watch how many carbs i take in or do I need to watch how many calories as well? I was planning to take in 1200 calories plus only 50 carbs But i’m finding its going to be hard making meal plans for this. What is your advice?

    Lisa wrote on October 28th, 2009
    • Lisa, if you cut the carbs to 50, the calories should take care of themselves. Try sketching out a few meal plans of what you might like on and see how they work out calorie-wise

      Mark Sisson wrote on October 28th, 2009
    • Lisa, I’ve been working on 55 carbs/day for the last 6 wks and never consider the calories. If you concentrate on getting your protein for each meal (eggs, chicken and fish are my main go to’s), then the rest of the meal comes together. Just remember, 4oz of protein and 15 carbs per meal with a snack or two. It really does start to make sense after the first couple of weeks and ‘meals’ aren’t hard to plan once you ‘see’ the amounts. The Dr.’s Eads have some recipes in their book to help if you want to look it up.

      Kimala wrote on November 24th, 2009
      • Quick note: ratio of protein/carb vary for each person of course.

        Kimala wrote on November 24th, 2009
  2. Bingo… weight loss or not, NO ONE really needs more than 100g of carbs per day. You also need to be aware of the TYPE of carbs.

    Some people respond well to the new age carbs such as wheat and potatoes and some respond better to the Paleo lifestyle (sh*t only cavemen were able to eat… such as meat, berries, fruits etc.)

    Not everyone in this day an age is evolved enough to efficiently handle white bread. *barf*

    FitJerks Fitness Blog wrote on November 4th, 2009
  3. I have another question, I have seen in a couple of diets that they have a cheat day. Like one day a week eating sweets or things wont ruin your whole diet. Is this true? Can they same be done on a low carb diet?

    Lisa wrote on November 7th, 2009
  4. Hello. I have a question about the societal structures and this nutritional information: how long can we continue to eat at the top of the food chain on a regular basis (meat)? Food is going to become much more scarce, with meat being the most expensive because of its high energy-input ratio. I’m not a vegetarian, but I am curious if this is an issue anyone here has thought about.

    Of course, around this same time, food in general will be less available, so I assume that like Cuba when peak oil hit them, the average citizen lost 20 lbs. The good news, was that farmers and grow-it-yourself movements grew, and the average citizen ate a lot healthier than before.

    I am also against agribiz.

    Just speculating about high meat diets, the cost of those food choices, and what we will do when meat is too expensive for the average citizen to eat several servings a day of it.

    Joey wrote on November 20th, 2009
  5. Mark
    I found your book on Amazon and back tracked to find your website. Your Book
    Primal Blueprint is in print only Any
    chance via Amazon you will offer it in digital form? Amazon now has free software for download.. Kindle for the PC
    making digital accessible to anyone with a IPhone, netbook or coomputer. Digital is my way of going green and saving the paper/trees … I hope you will consider Digital format

    KA wrote on November 23rd, 2009
  6. I am a 34 year old female 5’4″ I have tried to loose the last 10 pounds that I am holding on to, just can’t seem to get rid of it. I do p90X and go to the gym I am 130lbs but want to be 120 I do have alot of muscle, but don’t want to look bulkey. How can i get rid of this and feel lighter?

    Carrie wrote on November 25th, 2009
  7. You may be working out too much.

    Have you cut calories (have you read the Primal Blueprint?) Have you tried IF’ing? Have you incorporated sprinting into your routine? Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit to lose those last few.

    Mark Sisson wrote on November 25th, 2009
  8. just ordered the book Primal blueprint very excited about it, what is IF’ing I do go on the treadmill, stair climber, bike and i go up a level every min maybe i am platoing I will try to sprinting however can i do it on a tredmill? I count all my calories and weigh my food I thought I should have so much protien and so many carbs in one day i usually have 1550 calories one day 1369 one day and 1118 another day and some days i only have protien shakes. I eat low green veggies I am very stricked with my diet. will protien make me fat or bigger muscle wise?

    Carrie wrote on November 26th, 2009
  9. mark, im trying to find where i fit in on the carb curve. i have seen a lot about increasing carb intake for endurance athletes. i am assuming endurance athlete means runner or long distance cardio of some kind. i am an mma fighter, so i wouldnt put myself in that same category, but i was wondering if my carb requirements would also be higher. i tend to lose weight and even lean muscle mass when i eat mostly veggies for my carbs. what would you recommend so i dont wither away to nothing! haha. do you have anything in the book about trying to increase mass and strength on primal diet? or am i doomed to be skinny since i burn so many calories working out every day?

    craig wrote on December 1st, 2009
  10. Hey Mark,

    Even since I lowered my carbs my calories are through the roof. Before watching the carbs I used to eat about 1700 a day, with carbs in the insane 200+ range. Now I’m trying to keep them under 100, which I’ve successfully done for the past week. However, I was shocked to do some tracking and realize that I’ve been consuming 2000+ calories a day. I eat about the same things you eat, omelette for breakfast, salad for lunch, meat and veggies for dinner with a snack of nuts, fruit or yogurt in between. The thing is, I don’t feel I’ve been eating too much at all. If anything, I feel like I don’t eat enough, but I’m afraid to up my caloric intake. Am I just being silly?

    Maria wrote on December 13th, 2009
    • Maria, I wouldn’t say it’s “silly” to feel that way. It’s a normal fear when you first start eating Primally. I would say to eat what you need to from Primal foods to feel satisfied at your meals. Then have a Primal snack to take the edge off if you get really hungry (like those nuts). In a few weeks, you’ll notice that your appetite will subside and it will be easy to “fill up” on fewer calories. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that you will gain weight (fat) as long as you keep the carbs under 100.

      Mark Sisson wrote on December 15th, 2009
      • My carbs are in the 80s right now, so I’m good. Don’t want to go too low. I’ve noticed a difference in my appetite patterns already, even though it’s only been a week. There’s zero appetite right after I wake up. This sometimes happened before Primal, but now I tend to go much longer before I eat my first meal. Once I eat, I’m satisfied for a good 5 or 6 hours, which never happened before. I just don’t think about food as much, and when I do eat, it’s more enjoyable and I’m more focused on it.

        Thanks for the answers, Mark. You’re an inspiration! :)

        Maria wrote on December 15th, 2009
        • I’ve found the same thing to be true of myself. I would eat dinner around 9pm and wouldn’t feel hungry until noon – but moreover, I didn’t feel “hungy” as I used to know it. No stomach roaring, just a calm “hmm.. maybe I should eat something.”

          The longer I stay away from carbs, the more I realize that “hunger” is just a symptom of a high carb diet. I think that’s why it’s so much harder to maintain other diets – the hunger pains are artificially induced by the carbs we eat.

          I’ve also been fixated on the fact that we are not alone.. we have over 500 different kinds of bacteria in our intestines, and they outnumber the cells in our bodies by a factor of 10 to 1. I rarely see anyone say how diet cultivates different bacteria populations – I have to imagine that on a low carb diet, some starve out while others begin to flourish. On the wikipedia entry for gut flora, it says some bacteria can influence us into storing fat, and if they take the bacteria from fat rats and put it into thin rats, those rats get fatter, too.

          I’ve also tried eliminating lectin containing foods. Peanuts, soy, wheat – grains in general – as their natural defenses against being eaten cause small holes in our intestinal lining that lets in bacteria – some studies are suggesting that this can cause chronic illness like MS.

          Yesterday I ate a vending machine blue berry muffin. It pretty much made me ill for about 5 hours, which makes me wonder if I do have glutton sensitivity and the lack of it in my diet has lowered my defenses to it.

          I’ve found that one cure for such snacking (besides the pain) is to take a bite of whatever it is you think you want to snack on.. and chew it until your saliva starts to break down the sugars and starches.. and you start tasting the chemical preservatives that the sugar and salt were hiding.. it’s really not so appetizing after that.

          Lastly, in the December 2009 issue of National Geographic, was a great article about a tribe in Africa that still lived a pretty Groky lifestyle, living in clans of about 30 people (about as many as can be fed on one kill). They worked up to six hours a day collecting and preparing food and spent the rest of the time on relaxing and social matters. If they wanted meat, they hunted for it.
          He joins them on a hunt for a baboon – very dangerous critters. They throw it on the fire. Everyone basically shuns the lean meat, going for the fat and internal organs.. bashing open the bones for the marrow. And the leader boils the brains (a very high fat source) in the skull and offers the reporter some. It’s a nutritious treat.

          My mom lived 12 years with the Eskimos in Alaska – she was married to one. Dried fish, seal oil, whale blubber, caribou, salmon, gull eggs, bear, and moose were all on the menu. In the winter, dried fish would be mashed in the seal oil. In the spring they would take fresh fern fronds and soak them in oil to preserve them for later consumption.

          Those Groks did have a harsh lifestyle -they would trek for miles through the snow on a high fat, mid protein diet. They have to be sharp and alert at all times. When it comes to polar bears, it’s about 50/50 on who’s eating who – “depends on who spots the other first” she said. “Especially if you’re both hunting seals and you’re too focused on a blow hole in the ice.”

          Samson wrote on January 21st, 2010
  11. I’m about 5’8 and 155 pounds after being on low carb for eight months. I’m still very low carb, rarely approaching 50grams a day if that. Usually much less.

    I do have treat days about two to three times a month now (after loosing the weight) where I totally carb up. Will eat an entire pizza, then go back to my low carb easily. As long as I don’t spread the carbs out over days, the cravings are not strong after a carb up.

    I’ve wolfed down entire pizzas with garlic bread, relished it, but then with the bloating and gas, and carb coma….it gets easier to avoid them next time.

    Again this is usually done on purpose, and is set as a special day, and if you take it for what it is, it’s fine.

    BUT…it’s true, after each time it sticks in your head how terrible carbs make me feel. they sit in you like a weight, and I don’t mean in the stomach…but in the digestive system. Feels terrible! And the vile endless gas from them….sorry TMI!

    It actually get’s easier not to cheat, as each bought with carbs shows you just how awful they can be.

    rob wrote on December 16th, 2009
    • Back when I had gall stones, it was the same thing with fat. Instant pain for any transgression – if I ate fats, I’d be curled up in pain. I almost feel like it’s getting to the point to where I’m getting physically punished for eating grainy carbs. But, I’m not so upset about it.

      Who wouldn’t like a 800 lb gorilla to knock them around every time they tried to eat a donut? :p

      Samson wrote on January 21st, 2010
  12. If you need guinea pigs for the endurance athlete book, let me know, I’m training to do Ironman for charity.

    Help with nutrition, which is my weak point, would be fabulous! :)

    Judy wrote on December 19th, 2009
  13. Sorry if I’ve put this on the wrong page (I’m new)! But I’ve just been diagnozed with an underactive thyroid and prescribed 50mg of Levothyroxine a day. Is it safe for me to go on a low carb diet in an effort to alleviate my problem for myself? As soon as I mention low carb to the Doctor she just get’s mad and tells me not to be silly. But I was wondering ?????? (I’m 59)

    Ron wrote on December 27th, 2009
  14. Help please!…I am trying to follow as paleo diet as possible, but the amount of carbs is causing problem. The guide says about 100g per day? and after trying to make a salad for lunch (lettuce/spinach, cherry toms, tiny bit of shredded carrot, along with protein & fat) I was pretty much over 100g on my carbs! It was a small salad too! Am misunderstanding something? or are we really meant to have only 100g/per day? Spread over a few meals thats like having a single lettuce leaf per meal!? Any help would be great. Thanks in advance

    Phil wrote on January 20th, 2010
    • Phil, it’s by the grams of carbohydrates that are IN the food, not the actual weight of the food itself in grams. Most veggies are 905 water by weight. Go to and enter everything you put into your salad. You’ll be hard pressed to exceed 50 grams of carbs.

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 20th, 2010
  15. How did you work out the 100g carb?
    Did you weigh each piece of vegie and then work out how much carb is contained in each piece?

    Sue wrote on January 20th, 2010
    • Of course, I was weighing the food, but after using fit-day and working out the actual carb content it made sense! Thanks!

      Phil wrote on January 21st, 2010
  16. Great thread. Really inspired to adapt this type of diet. Paleo Diet all the way!

    Tyler wrote on January 22nd, 2010
  17. I came across this site by accident (I was searching for new recipes). My first thought was, “Yeah, just what we need… Another absurd fad diet to sell to the young, the gullible and the desperate.”

    If what you claim about carbs and grains is true, then please explain how I was able to effortlessly lose 25 lbs and keep it off for over 5 years by sticking to a diet of lean meats, veggies, whole grains, a little fruit and a little dairy, plus a moderate workout routine. “150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain” – well then, I must be an alien! Because 70% of my diet is carbs (easily 200-250g if not more a day), yet I haven’t noticed any weight gain in years. I’m hardly starving, in fact, I eat very well. My weight is healthy, and my health is picture perfect. My sister in law is Chinese, she and her family eat tons of rice and noodles every single day, yet they are all extremely healthy – in fact her grandmother is a rather healthy, energetic lady who recently celebrated her 96th birthday. Explain that. Or the fact that the longest living, healthiest people on the planet are Okinawans (who eat grains but very little meat).

    Amanda wrote on February 5th, 2010
    • Amanda,

      I spent many years being slim eating a very high carb diet; it depends on the individual.

      however, I have now been eating low carb for 10 months and have never felt better, in terms of energy, fat loss, muscle gain, happiness.

      the studies published in peer reviewed journals point to the scientific evidence of low carb, as do evolution itself.

      At the end of the day, think of it like an experiemnt you can do on your body; I too was skeptical but I tried this and never looked back. please try this; its too important to dismiss without even trying (for at least 2-3 weeks)

      alex wrote on February 7th, 2010
      • Thanks for your reply, and I do apologize if I came across sounding a bit rude in my previous comment.

        The reason I felt indignant is that I have actually tried a low-carb diet. I’ve tried just about everything back when I was overweight – low carb, vegetarian, low-fat, you name it. I was on low-carb for about 3 months. I noticed no difference in how I felt, apart from the fact that by the end every time I saw steak, I wanted to hurl. LOL. The diet just seemed boring and bland and did not help me to lose much weight. It wasn’t until I started on a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and good fats that the weight began to come off, and I began to feel like a million bucks.

        Which, I guess, proves what you said in your first sentence: it depends on the individual. If low-carb does it for you, go with it. I don’t think the evolution angle makes sense though – primitive people ate what they could find, not what they knew was good for them. 😉

        Amanda wrote on February 7th, 2010
        • Amanda,

          don’t forget that in paleolithic times people couldn’t ‘find’ bread, special K, fries etc as they didn’t exist.

          When you tried low carb last time, did you also increase your fat intake? low carb and low fat is a recipe for disaster. You need plenty of fats such as animal fat, eggs, avocado, nuts, olive oil, butter, cream, lard etc. (But not vegetable oil.)

          Its useful to use to track what you are eating; it may be surprising, for example some people end up eating very low calories as they don’t get enough fat hence they feel low on energy.

          Also, low carb is not about just eating steak; i did low carb as a vegetarian for 10 months, although now I’ve switched to meat. Maybe you felt a psychological downer as you found the diet boring? We can all help you to find recipes you like if you post in the forum.

          Examples of what I eat are:
          -greek yogurt with flaked almonds or flax seeds
          -prawn and avocado salad
          -breakfast of fried eggs, fried tomato with fried cheese, fried bacon (all fried in coconut oil)
          -cod florentine
          -various curries such as okra, egg and sweet potato or prawn
          -homemade nut bars

          I actually keep a list of web links of good primal recipes, many from this site.

          So in conclusion; it does depend very much on the individual, but I firmly believe that as everyone’s biology is the same, the evidence pints to low carb for all. If you have a ‘need’ for carbs it may be due to your habits/environment, e.g. doing long distance running / psychological need for comfort food, habit etc.

          alex wrote on February 8th, 2010
    • Okinawans eat rice which is LOW in fiber and has little anti-nutrients.
      They also have a diet high in fish which is lots of omega 3.
      High omega 6 is what drives cancer, inflammation and degenerative disease.
      They also don’t eat packaged, processed foods laden with chemicals that inhibit who knows what important body functions and triggers people to eat more, (e.g. MSG). Okinawans take in complete amino acid profiles, compared to Westerners who consume packaged foods that contain in-complete amino acids and have added lab produced sugars.
      Okinawans eat their native,primal foods which are minimally cooked and as mother nature intended. I don’t see them chowing down on a ‘healthy’ burrito made out of wheat flour void of any nutrients, filled with high fiber beans, added un-fermented soy oil and brown rice WITH bran, and over cooked grainfed-feedlot hamburger meat, totalled with preservatives, do they?

      Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
  18. Hi! You folks seem very well informed. I need help. I am 40 yrs. old, 6ft1 and weigh in at 440lbs. My waist is size 60,if that is any help on a visual. Should/could I use the Primal Blueprint for myself? I am otherwise very healthy with no heart/respiratory history. My main exercise is swimming. I feel like I only have a short time to turn myself around before it becomes impossible due to age. If anyone else out there is also morbidly obese andhas had success with this, please respond. Thanks

    Andy wrote on February 7th, 2010
    • Hi Andy,
      I’m not morbidly obese but I noticed your comment and wanted to respond all the same. First, may I suggest signing up with the forum and posting this comment there as you’re a bit more likely to garner a response (I only noticed this comment because it was the most recently posted). Second, do what you’re doing and go through Primal 101 links. I would also go through the recipes and if you think of something you’re interested in more info on, try a search. I use the search function pretty frequently. All of this will get your brain thinking about eating primally and that planning will help when you stay focused when you start going primal.
      Finally, go for it! Don’t worry about how much you eat, just try to eat the right foods until you’re full. Stick with it and if you fall of the wagon, get back on. I like to keep a food diary as I learn the carb count of foods I eat, but whatever works for you. If you get derailed or unmotivated, go back to the forum. If I were you I’d probably start limiting carbs without worrying about the amount you eat, then start moving slowly and often. After these become habits look at increasing the quality of your food more and moving more as you gain energy.
      Good luck!

      Karell wrote on February 7th, 2010
  19. Hi Mark,

    You mention adding 100g of carbs per hour of training per day. I’m still trying to figure this one out.
    I do cardio at low intensity, staying below 75% of my max HR. I will usually do up to 5 hrs of running and cycling per week.
    With this said, I am trying to go Primal and do away with eating so much rice and pastas. How would a low carb diet (100-150g) affect my performance? and should I consider ingesting 100g of carbs over the 150g on my running/cyclng days?
    I have read your book, and I couldn’t find much information on this topic. The reference to Dr. Maffetone’s method is useful though.
    Don’t know if this will help answer my question, but I’m 24, male, 5’8″ and 145lbs.

    Danielht wrote on February 11th, 2010
    • Danielht, I should have said “per extra hour of hard training (beyond a 45-minute daily average base level).” If you are truly staying below 75% max HR, it’s possible you don’t need any supplemental carbs at all (beyond your 150g/day).

      Mark Sisson wrote on February 11th, 2010
  20. Mark, I am disturbed by the habit of discussing carbs without distinguishing between starches, sugars, and greens/fruits. I am also bothered by the failure of most “experts” to separate wild salmon from the Frankensalmon raised in pens, which accounts for 95% of what we eat. I like your saturated fats blog entry.

    Phat Tony wrote on February 14th, 2010
  21. Is there a general guideline for what percentage of calories should be coming from fat? I can’t find one.

    Signy wrote on February 17th, 2010
  22. Signy,

    I eat between 50% and 70% fat on a given day. However, if you take care of the carbs, the fat should take care of itself. What I mean is:

    Your appetite will guide you, and since if you dont eat carbs you have to eat either protein or fat, you will get the right amount.

    Your body will find its own stasis; you dont have to count coliories so just eat as much as you want, or even as much as you can, and youl be fine; your metabolism, appetite and energy expenditure will regulate themselves to match. As Taubes explains in his book, its not about calories in versus calories out, just watch that you dont suffer ill health which means you are eating too few calories (starvation diet), in which case add some more fat.

    alex wrote on February 18th, 2010
  23. A friend sent me an epigenetics article from this site, and I happened to see the “low carb” link in the margin. Admittedly, I am not familiar with this site, generally, or with Primal/Paleo dieting, specifically, but I am, nevertheless, a disciple of a higher protein and higher healthy fats/lower carb lifestyle. It works! Period.

    I have lived and seen the successful results of adhering to such a plan, and unfortunately, have also experienced and am currently seeing what happens when one returns to a higher carb diet.

    I don’t have all of the facts yet, but I intend to research “calorie shifting” or something along those lines whereby I’ll consume protein and healthy fats with no/ultra-low glycemic carbs regularly allowing myself planned distinct intervals for “treats” (foods that may not be as protein/healthy fat – rich as my more stringent “reigmen”), so that I’m able to desgin a plan that gives me optimal health and virtually guarantees my success in adhering to it for the long term. That’s the key for me – something that I know I am able to maintain for life. I think it’s really important to know yourself – what has worked/failed in the past and why. For example, I KNOW unequivocally that I am not a “low fat” dieter, or a liquid shakes person.

    Ri wrote on March 21st, 2010
  24. hi, I’ve just started atkins again and been having 25-30 carbs which going to work up 5 carbs a week. However, I’ve been eating 1200-1400 calories and want to slowly move up to like 1500-1800 since thats the norm range and I just started yesterday to move to 1378 well highest so far and my weight is doing very well. The nutritionist told me from the atkins site to move up by adding 100 calories a day. I don’t need to lose weight just maintain, is this ok? and then she say work on carb amount until i get calories to a high point then move up 5 carbs till hit the part that works for me and doesn’t cause weight gain.

    would this be correct?

    tosha wrote on March 25th, 2010
  25. Gary Taubes did some research that suggests that the only way to store fat is to produce insulin ( from eating carbs ) and that without insulin, your fat cells will not absorb fats.

    Summary and link to his presentation on it.

    That said, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon have put some of their research up on their site as well regarding high fat diets.

    This chart shows that men eating a diet consisting of 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs helps them lose weight. Mostly because fat made people feel satiated and they self regulated without any kind of appetite suppressant.

    Mark has mentioned before (in interviews) that he gets 60% of his calories from fat.

    And here Dr Jay Wortman discusses his challenges with diabetes, heart conditions, and carbohydrates as a native american – and the trials he conducted with his tribes to help them lose weight.

    Dr. Worthman & Taubes would both tell you that you do not need ANY carbs in your diet.

    Neither of them go into any great detail on why people undergoing ketosis have bad breath – and what it means: too much synthesis of proteins for energy – need to decrease protein intake and increase fat intake.

    Arg.. At one point I found a source saying that if you are undergoing ketosis but your breath is bad, you’re doing it wrong an the acetates that you’re creating are going to damage your liver (hence the need to get more energy from fat than protein) but I can’t find the source now.

    I’m sticking with the whole “Eat Meat and Veggies” approach that Mark suggests.

    Sam wrote on March 25th, 2010
  26. I wondered if a fitness program like Insanity meets the “Grok” exercise criterion?

    Frank Zemo wrote on March 29th, 2010
  27. Hi there,

    My goal is improve my physique as a Bikini model. I need to weight about 105-110 by mid July (photoshoot) and currently I am 129 pounds at 5’2.

    I do cardio every morning before breakfast for 45 min then weight train and a bit more cardio in the mid-afternoon, 5 days a week.

    What would be your suggestion for my diet and training regimen? I feel like all I do is cardio!!!!!! What calorie range and macronutrient % would you place me at….

    Your diet seems alot better then anything else I’ve read!

    Katie wrote on April 4th, 2010
    • If you want to lose 20 pounds or 15% of your bodyweight in only 8-10 weeks, you have set a huge challenge for yourself.
      Cardio ex is aerobic, and that leaves lots of imflammation to recover from. I am sure Mark would agree. You don’t give your age, so barring any medical issues, I suggest you start a weight lifting program, and not on any machines. Free weights. And get as far away from sugars,starches, and anything sweet tasting. The big lesson is that you can’t always control the outcome to your satisfaction, so learn to live with who you are. Don’t eat if you aren’t hungry; fast occasionally; exercise randomly and with varied intensity (Mark Twight used to do “depletion days,” for instance); and do what makes you feel good. I guy I worked construction with said that if he couldn’t pronounce it (the ingredients) he wouldn’t eat it. So skip processed food. If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat it. If it tastes sweet, spit it out. Get the equiv of 2000IU of V D3 a day, along with calcium and magnesium. Gett away from the treadmill. And stop reading for a while.

      Tony wrote on April 6th, 2010
  28. skip the cardio sessions!

    focus on diet – cut out grains (bread, pasta, rice, pastry etc), white potatoes and anything processed like cakes.

    Eat lots of meat, fish, nuts, veg, some fruit and dairy, sat fat like coconut oil and butter.

    the ratios will take care of themselves.

    For exercise – frequent slow pace and infrequent maximum effort. i.e. walk every day, sprint once per week. throw in some weight training sessions for no more than 1 hour 2-3 times per week. and youre laughing.

    The ratioes will take care of themselves

    alex wrote on April 6th, 2010
  29. I don’t get how the carb curve can be used without talking about calories also?
    I know you guys say that calories will manage themselves and your body will settle with what it needs. But since I started PB about 3 weeks ago I have eaten BIG. I have been more hungry (WHEN I eat – not in between meals). But when I eat I eat big. It doesn’t concern me that much – since I also believe that my body will tell me what it needs if I listen good. But to look at the carb curve here and automatically say “I’m in that area – good I’m loosing weight” doesn’t quite seem that straight forward to me?

    George Clooney wrote on April 13th, 2010
    • George,
      two questions…are you avoiding starches/sugars/sugar substitutes?
      Are you feeling more energetic?

      Tony wrote on April 13th, 2010
      • Hi Tony,

        Yes I’m avoiding starches/sugars/substitutes..

        I feel a bit more energetic overall (not through the roof kind of). But I feel MUCH more stable in my energy. I feel like I can choose to eat when I want – which is a very funky feeling. Between meals I’m not hungry and when I get hungry I can choose to eat or not. If I don’t eat the hunger goes away /in the background and I keep my energy level. That’s very new to me and quite interesting. I did my first IF the other day, 24 hours. I worked out quite hard in the fasted state and I felt great with very good energy level all through the fast. I’m definitely gonna experiment more with IF..

        George Clooney wrote on April 13th, 2010
        • Hi George,
          You are getting some great results rather quickly, so enjoy your freedom from feeling you must eat at certain times of day. The IF part is flexible also, meaning that some days 16 hours is enough to give your body time to repair itself. You can also eat the amount of food you skipped if you spread it over the next two days or so. An interesting study was done on daytime fasting during Ramadan. Michael Eades has the study info…

          keep up the great work!!

          Tony wrote on April 13th, 2010
  30. I have to agree with George here – I eat big on PB too and I am concerned about calories now as I went on PB 1 month ago and gained 2 lbs.! My goal in starting PB was not weight loss but to improve my energy levels, improve my skin and decrease my mood swings. While PB was a success because I feel and look better, I didn’t expect to gain weight. While the weight is minimal, it is a bit upsetting as I really miss my pasta, bread, sandwiches and desserts I use to enjoy so much. I find I eat more on PB because I am trying to break these cravings. I question if perhaps 1-piece of wholegrain toast might be better than a big handful of nuts I eat as the toast has less calories. Not fair to gain weight eating so healthy.

    Susan wrote on April 13th, 2010
    • Hi Susan, could be that you gained some muscle mass in those 2 lbs?
      There’s a quite interesting study with a group of relatively lean people that goes through a study where they double their calorie intake each day for one month. The video is here (I’ve linked to the results which is video number 6 out of 7)=

      George Clooney wrote on April 13th, 2010
  31. Can you gain 2# of muscle in a month?

    Greyelf57 wrote on April 14th, 2010
  32. Hi, i am about 100 pounds overweight and i can say that i am not a huge eater.. just figured out i am a HUGE carb eater!!! I have gained about 10 pounds a year for 10 years and always thought i WAS watching what i eat! My question is that i definitely lose weight when i watch my carbs, but it seems they have to be quite a bit below 50 a day. i also have pancreatitus so i have to go low fat too. I am following a low fat, low carb 1,500 cal. a day diet and the weight is coming off SOOO slow! Any advice? I am getting frustrated and bored on this fairly restrictive diet. THANKS!

    marie wrote on April 17th, 2010
    • what does your Dr say? acute or chronic? gallstones or other imflammation? on meds now?

      Tony wrote on April 17th, 2010
      • Tony,
        It is chronic pancreatitis, being that i have 3 serious attacks and a few minor but i can control it with diet.. and sometimes i have to go 3 or 4 days and eat NOTHING to make the pain go away. My Dr. says just eat low fat and 1,500-2,000 cals and told me to eat MORE carbs..BUT I GAINED weight doing this. I tried Atkins and that threw me into an attack after 4 weeks…BUT i did lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks eating very low carbs. My Dr. is VERY against high protein for me because of the pancreas issue. It seems I have to watch all three things..cals, carbs and fat to lose weight but my menu is so boring and it is so hard to stick to. I usually end up eating extra carbs and then blamo! Weight gain. I am totally for the primal diet. I really believe in it. My husband naturally has eaten the primal diet all his life by accident because that is just what he likes. He is in tip top shape and eats as much as he wants, when he wants. He doesn’t have the crazy ups and downs that i do and his weight has been between 165-170 for 20 years with no effort!! I want to do it too! Can you suggest anything? Is there a way to eat primally and not effect my pancreas?

        marie wrote on April 17th, 2010
        • Marie, hope you are not too frustrated. My suggestions are out the window when a medical condition such as yours exists. I don’t know if you are seeing a specialist or a family doctor, but if it were me, I would find one who specializes in pancreatic issues. Most MDs I know spend less time on nutrition than on pharmacology, so they tend to go by the book.

          Tony wrote on May 9th, 2010
        • Hi, So I have an update on my slight change up on this plan and it is working for me.(I have pancreas issues).
          I found that if i eat chicken breast and fish at least once a day it helps to keep my fAT content down but also low carb. I watch the red meat and pork(but still do eat).I do not over endulge in the fatter items but really have big helpings of the low carb. I have lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks and the bloating is gone!So far, no pain. Yessss pRIMAL DIET!

          marie wrote on May 31st, 2010
  33. I am a 30 year old female. I weigh 186, 5″9, & have around 27-28% bmi. I read The Primal Blueprint & based on my understanding of the calorie calculations I should be eating around 1600 to lose 8 pounds a month. I have been doing Paleo & Zone combined the past 7 months. I like to know what I am eating so I journal everything. I put my calorie intake into zone blocks of 19-8-30 (P-C-F)…can you tell me if I am correct. I don’t want to screw this part up & end up gaining weight. I have about 135 pounds of lean muscle so I did 19 blks of Protein which is 133 g…8 blks of Carbs is 72g…& 30 blks of fat is 90g all total to 1630 calories. I do crossfit 3 times a week & cycle trails & the road on my off days for fun. Any info you can give me would be helpful…Thanks!

    Chris wrote on May 9th, 2010
  34. Wow, lots of info on this page…im intrigued about the various carb categories.

    Might be time to invest. Cheers

    Rob wrote on May 31st, 2010
  35. I find that carb guideline to pretty much be on track for me. Only when I was a competitive Muay Thai boxer could I get away with unlimited carbs. But that was 4 hours of hard training a day.

    Now that I live a more normal lifestyle, I simply eliminate grains and most starches and belly fat seems to take care of itself.

    nathan wrote on June 1st, 2010
  36. Really interesting post!

    Glad to see endurance sport is covered as most low carb artivles I’ve read just don’t mention medium-intensity long-duration execise.

    I do a fair amount of cycling and wondered how lower carb and cycling (Notorious for energy drinks, gels all sorts of carb imaginable!) would go together.

    Nice one Mark.

    Tim Wheaton wrote on June 2nd, 2010
  37. Hey folks. I’m going primal again, and reviewing Mark’s Primal Blueprint 101. I’m about 5’11”, 195 pounds, and every time I calculate my body fat it’s between 21% and 23%, putting my lean mass at around 150 pounds.

    Reading this “carbohydrate continuum” has me a little concerned. It seems like every time I go primal, I am simply not hungry. I’m eating strictly meats and veggies and can only manage to eat 1200-1500 calories a day. My work is standing/walking/lifting, not overly strenuous, but active, and yet I only feel hungry enough to eat that many calories. I guess I should be getting 2500-3000 calories a day so around 1000 calories a day is coming from fat. (And this is down from carb/alcohol fueled days of 4000-5000 calories a day)…

    Even when I did intermittent fasting last summer, with weight lifting at the end of the fast, I could only stuff myself with around 1300 calories a day.

    Should I be worried? Keep going with it and see if my appetite increases once I reach a lower body fat %?

    Arlo wrote on June 21st, 2010
  38. Arlo,

    Your appetite should increase when you lower your body fat percentage. The reason I say this is because my appetite increased greatly when I lowered my body fat percentage to around 10%.

    I seemed like I just couldn’t get enough food. Eating every 3 hours!

    Arlo, don’t worry you will be just fine. Keep doing what you are doing until you reach your desired body fat percentage.

    Patrick Kallie wrote on July 6th, 2010
    • Thanks, yeah. I mean, I like the idea of following my body’s cues, rather than forcing it to eat when it’s obviously doing okay on it’s own. In fact, as I alluded, that caloric energy has to come from somewhere, so despite the fact that I’ve tortured my body all these years, it does seem to have an okay capacity for jumping into fat-burning mode!

      Thanks again!

      Arlo wrote on July 17th, 2010
  39. Hi Mark & Co,

    I’m wondering if someone can give me a word of advice. I’m a 36 y.o. female, 5’5″, 136-138 lbs (it fluctuates), and I cannot get to my goal of 125 lbs no matter what I do. Ever since ditching carbs about 6 months ago, I feel a lot better, stronger, more energized, and overall healthier (THANK YOU, Mark and the Primal diet!). I no longer obsess over food, and eat very little comparing to what I used to eat. I exercise 3 times a week for an hour, aerobics + strength training, in addition to a lot of walking. Got a clean bill of health from the doc, too.

    So yeah… This is about aesthetics more than health, sue me. 😉 There is resistant fat around my lower stomach and thighs that doesn’t go away. I’m a size 10, and I just look chubby, and I want to look lean… Not interested in being overly skinny, but dropping a size or two would be great. I have done everything, including IF (20 hrs is the most I can do or I pass out), and the flab simply refuses to budge. My typical diet is such: lunch around 12 pm (I’m never hungry for breakfast): 2 eggs, 2 oz steak or sausage, 1/2 tomato and 1/4 avocado. A small snack around 4 pm: 1/2 Fage total yogurt with 1/2 cup mixed berries. And a dinner around 7 pm: either a salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish) with 2 oz grilled chicken and homemade dressing, or a plate of grilled chicken, or fish, or steak with sautéed veggies like cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini… Everything that’s cooked is only cooked in extra virgin olive oil. Most is organic. I may have a snack on a dozen almonds throughout the day, or a slice of low-carb cheese. Two cups of coffee with cream and sugar are a must, LOL! (Apart from the 2 spoonfuls in the coffee I don’t consume sugar). And I also like a glass of red wine with dinner (I’ve tried cutting it, as well as the coffee sugar… no result).

    According to FitDay, I eat on average 1200-1300 cals a day, and burn over 2000 a day. I’m not sure if you can see it, but here’s the link to today: I burn more than I take in, shouldn’t I be losing that flab? What am I doing wrong? Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

    Flabby Mom on a Mission wrote on July 17th, 2010
  40. First right off of the bat you should be eating breakfast everyday. Never skip out on breakfast. This first meal will really jump start your metabolism early in the morning.

    How often do you change your workouts? You may have possibly each a plateau in your workouts, which can hold you back from reaching your ideal weight. Try to change your workout routines every week to prevent this problem. You are on the right track.

    I think if you do these 2 things you should be able to reach your goal weight of 125 pounds. I went through this myself and it helped me reach my goal weight.

    Patrick Kallie wrote on July 19th, 2010
    • Hi Patrick, and thanks so much for the input!

      Here’s a question: what if I gag (literally GAG) at the idea of food in the first 3-4 hours after waking up? It just doesn’t seem to make any sense to force food down my throat when it’s the last thing I want.

      I change my workouts here and there. Last week I did Latin dancing, which was new. This week I’m planning kickboxing. I change it up because if I don’t, it gets stale and I lose motivation.

      Do you think skipping breakfast is sending me into starvation mode, or should I change my workouts more?


      Flabby Mom on a Mission wrote on July 19th, 2010
      • When I eat a higher fat diet, low carb diet.. I don’t get hungry until noon anyway.. it just doesn’t happen. Not only that, I don’t experience “hunger” as a ravenous gnawing feeling that I thought was normal, and I bet 99% or more of people on the SAD diet do, as well.

        Sam wrote on July 20th, 2010

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