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 MarksDailyApple.com 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. Hey Irene,

    If you decide the MDA approach is the way to go, I would wager heavily that next 4th of July you will love “the new you.” Please do give yourself this gift that you so deserve ! Best wishes with your health and wellness.

    Eddie

    Eddie wrote on July 12th, 2009
  2. As a Type 2 diabetic of 24-years, I found that I needed to keep my daily carb level at 50 or less. By doing so, I have been able to get off all my diabetes meds (Byetta, Metformin & Levemir). I was in fair control before I started this in January of this year (2009), but I expect to have the glucose numbers of a young healthy person soon.

    David wrote on August 3rd, 2009
  3. Hi David,

    That’s great! You’re are making real progress. Proving that taking control of your own health really works.

    I suggest a few things that should really make your efforts take off. If you make sure not to eat too much protein, you will also help control your blood sugar because 1/2 of all protein can be converted to glucose. I know this because I help my husband with this. Also, make sure that your fat intake is around 80% of your daily totals. Why? Because this will really lower your blood sugar and it’s how sugars were controlled before insulin was developed. There is a doctor in Europe who helps people who are so sick that they are facing amputation and he brings them back from the dead doing this. His name is Dr. Jan Kwasniewski, M.D. He is a Polish Doctor who created The Optimal Diet. Just make sure the fats are healthy. See my fat page for this.

    Louise - Curemyfatigue wrote on August 3rd, 2009
    • Thanks, Louise,

      One day last week I converted my diet into calories by macronutrient and, that day, my diet was about 70% fat. I’m sure it was inaccurate but was probably in the ballpark. I do eat coconut oil and will be interested in seeing my lipid panel at the end of this month. Hopefully the numbers will back up the good things I’ve read, and not the dire predictions of the cardiologists I’ve mentioned it to. I also eat almonds and, tomorrow, I am driving to pick up 1/2 of a grass fed cow – the farmer is about 1.5 hours away. I have read The Optimal Diet. I don’t think the total amount of protein in my diet has changed much, perhaps a little. Thanks again for your tips.

      David wrote on August 3rd, 2009
  4. Thanks so much for this information! I was looking all over for a daily carb intake listing, and this was perfect! I now now that I’ve been maintaining pretty well in the Primal Blueprint Maintenance Range. :)

    Adjo (ey-joe) wrote on August 14th, 2009
  5. HEY READ THIS!!!!

    i’ve gone through the charts and the USDA recommends i eat 130 g carbs a day, which actually hits inside your maintenance range. i’m currently doing about 50-60 g carbs a day, and i would say that is best for me, but still… what exactly is the problem with the USDA guidelines, as is? who cares about the USDA, anyway? booo, i say!

    jellysoda wrote on August 27th, 2009
    • The USDA wants you to base your diet on grains and 45-65% carbs

      LittleMissGrok wrote on August 27th, 2009
  6. Just started the book and was wondering about the “whole grain issue” as it relates to having Oatmeal every morning…. which I do. Some diets close to the Primal concept like the Zone think Oatmeal is a “good carb” and an exception to “the rule”….. What say anyone else on this?

    Tom Skinner wrote on September 17th, 2009
    • Hey Tom,
      oatmeal is technically gluten free, though most manufacturers do it on lines where other gluten products are processed so if you aren’t buying gluten free oatmeal…it still has gluten in it.
      Also, oatmeal has avenin protein in it, which appears to have similar effects to gluten. I would just stay away from grains as much as possible, all of them…including rice, corn, quinoa, etc.
      it still is a carb, so choose wisely what you choose for the day!

      danielle wrote on October 4th, 2010
      • Quinoa is not a grain.

        Avi wrote on May 23rd, 2011
        • grain, kernel, seed…it is the part of the plant that it needs to reproduce itself and should not be eaten because it contains toxins.
          Coffee and cocoa, soy, peanuts fall under that category, too. So do nuts.

          But, MDA allows Chocolate, coffee and nuts in small amounts.

          Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
  7. Hi all, Im on a doctor restricted diet and doing well 18 pds down last month. Im 152lbs ‘5ft 5″ so im going on vacation and its imperitive to my diet that i dont gain more then 2 lbs. from what i gathered from this site is if i stay around 50 carbs i should be able to maintain my current weight? thanks for any input. michelle

    michelle wrote on September 18th, 2009
  8. Sam
    you’re very wrong with your analysis as there’s no way to determine wether humans ate animal or plan sources from bone scans.

    That being said the norm was not ketosis but fat metabolism (which involved ketones anyway, no matter if you eat lot of carbs) at rest and carb metabolism during spurts of energy. As Jared Diamond noted the majority of hunter-gatherer societies that live in condition almost identical to the one paleo humans ate, are very organized in gathering and they’re in hunting and they always have a supplies of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables. All the primitives Jared interviewed said they thought leaves were the healthiest curative foods and that no human could do without them.

    I read a book about the traditional Innuit culture and they not only ate berries and Nikkaru (the veggie-based stomach contant of caribou) but they also made huge efforts to make sure they have plant matter to eat other than meat.

    Danny wrote on October 2nd, 2009
  9. Glucose is not a poison.
    It seems to me that the concept that every carb turns into “sugar” (well, glucose) is used as a way to suggest that eating whatever carb is like eating white sugar.

    But the point about glucose is not what glucose does per se but whether we allow the body to make good use of it.

    According Dr. Jan Kwasniewski there’s no point in forcing the body to convert proteins into glucose and it’s therefore better to eat as many carb as much glucose is needed to fuel the brain.

    This is perfectly in tune with Mark figures.

    So we’re supposed to get enough carbs to fuel our brain and certain bursts of intense activity and to get energy at rest, at night and between meals from fat metabolism.

    So glucose per se is harmless and usefull. In fact not only every carb becomes “sugar” but also at least 50% of protein, when a very low carb diet is followed, are turned into sugar.

    So eventually everything turns into sugar. The point though is whether you’re using that sugar to fuel needed process, or wether that sugar is in excess and is going to be stored.

    Sugar is a quick-burning fuel that can’t be stored in any big amount.
    Hence by its very nature it is supposed to fuel short-term intense activity.

    Fat on the other hand is a slow-burning fuel that can be stored without limit and even thin people have enough fat to survive for 30 days without eating.
    Hence by its very nature it is supposed to fuel us at rest, between meals, at night.

    The problem with poor high-carb eating is that people switched the two metabolism, training their body to expect sugar to fuel everything including at rest. That’s why people are suffering from low-blood sugar, hypoglycemia at night, mood swings and tiredness after a meal; because their body is accostumed to burn sugar exclusively but the body quickly runs out of it burning also the glucose that should be needed for the brain.

    If we just train the body to burn fat at rest and between meals again, we won’t need an ultra low carb diets or revolting no carb diets and won’t even need to call sugar (aka glucose) a poison.

    Danny wrote on October 2nd, 2009
    • How do you train the body to use fat as a fuel source other than not over eating carbs?

      You don’t even need to train the body to use fat. It just will in the abscence of “sugar”.

      Why people think that 100-150 grams of carbs is “low-carb” is beyond me. It is kinda hard to even reach 150 grams if you are not eating food with added sugar.

      puddingtime wrote on October 2nd, 2009
      • I should have said “retrain”
        Anyway you re-retrain the body to burn mostly fat by stopping eating more carbs than you can use.

        Since the brain alone burns around 90 grams of carbohydrate and glycolitic enzyme are upregulated and angry for sugar immediately after a bout of intense activity, 100-150 grams of carbs is a good amount to fuel those processes that are better suited for carbs and letting the body burn fat at rest, preventing the sugar crash many people experience nowadays.

        Eating nuts, veggies and fruits you can easily reach those numbers without problems. In fact dieters in the first stages of Atkins complain of how hard is to maintain their carb low enough even eating just veggies. They quickly add up.

        Danny wrote on October 2nd, 2009
        • Sounds pretty logic to mee. Good stuff, made me think that ketosis may not be that good? Maybe more ideal to stay just out of it?

          George Clooney wrote on April 13th, 2010
  10. I believe in the long-term health benefits of low-carb eating. That said, I’ve always been ‘slender’ (NOT skinny, I hate that word!) and have to work to maintain my weight. I’m a very active 5’4 and 117lbs. How does a person like me keep my weight with meat, vegs, nuts and fruit? I always end up losing. Any suggestions welcome.

    Jackie wrote on October 7th, 2009
    • Raw dairy is your friend.

      Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
  11. All wild mammals have a dietary consumption of 3-5g of protein per day. This is obtained by either direct consumption in carnivores or gut fermentation in herbivores.

    On a natural grass diet cattle They obtain nearly all their energy in the form of amino acids and volatile fatty acids via gut fermentation. Cattle despite being strict vegetarians gain about 25% of their energy from protein and 75% from fat. They get virtually no energy from carbohydrate. Grass fed cattle have a body fat content of <1%.

    I have 20 years experience as a food scientist.

    food dood wrote on October 26th, 2009
  12. Only your red blood cells, retina and a tiny part of your brain require glucose – no more than 60g per day. Many cells such as those in the heart muscle and the cells lining the gut can only use fat for energy.

    food dood wrote on October 26th, 2009
  13. 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 fitday.com 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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 fitday.com 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
  27. 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
  28. Great thread. Really inspired to adapt this type of diet. Paleo Diet all the way!

    Tyler wrote on January 22nd, 2010
  29. 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 โ€“ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        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 fitday.com 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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

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