80/20 Principle

For anyone who’s ever adopted a new diet plan for weight loss or overall health, it’s a familiar nightmare. The backdrop varies (an all you can eat buffet, holiday party, dark and silent kitchen in the middle of the night), but the suspense is universal. The temptation, a mental struggle, the cautious scanning of the room. A subliminal background track climbs in crescendo. You give into the slightest slip, a minor indiscretion, really, and suddenly there you are, dropping through a trap door, plummeting down a dark, cavernous shoot, screaming in terror, only to fall into a sorry heap of shame at the fiery center of the earth (or other subconscious setting for doom or disgrace).

Though the vision itself is imaginary, the performance anxiety is often real. “Will I measure up?” “Can I hack it?” “How can I be that strict 100% of the time?” Questions (and doubts) abound for many as they contemplate a diet and lifestyle overhaul, including the Primal Blueprint. Perfectionism, the letter of the law, looms large in these moments.

We’ve tackled the angst-ridden questions, taken on the transition trials before, but there’s an overarching PB principle to be noted here. The Primal Blueprint, as we say, is all about Primal living. Living. Enjoying. Even chilling out. This is not a lab controlled experiment or a boot camp. No interns in white coats with clip boards will show up at your door or spy on you. No screaming sergeants will get in your face. As we’ve noted before – on a personal level, it’s your own process, your own journey. But even at the heart of its philosophy, the PB isn’t an austere all or nothing proposition. Enter the 80/20 principle….

We often say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” And for good reason. The target of the PB is deep-seated: the long haul of a healthful life, not a brief stop off for cosmetic fixes. The necessary approach, then, is centered around sustainability. One hundred percent compliance with PB principles is ideal, sure, but consider it the ultimate representation – a consummate form rather than typical daily function. The PB is rooted in life, not just research, after all. A practical baseline is this: if you align your life with the PB principles 80% of the time, consider yourself on course.

However… Even though 100% compliance isn’t the exact everyday expectation, 100% commitment is the intention. While we concede that real life happens, the acknowledgement is a necessary reality check, not an easy excuse. PB living does require steady commitment, genuine effort and daily dedication. But the key here is personal commitment – a primal “lens” you develop and learn to view decisions through. Think of your PB transition and continuing evolution in terms of process-oriented goals rather than the rigid commandments of typical diet plans. Give your PB plan 100%, and understand it’s O.K. when daily life moderates the overall picture. An 80% end result will have you well on your way to success and sustainable health.

That said, some aspects of the Blueprint do call for consistent adherence in the interest of meaningful impact. Particular among these is avoidance of processed carbs. The fact is, the physiological effects of processed carbs simply are harsher and harder to recover from – especially when they’re a regular player in the body’s daily functioning. It’s not that your body can’t bounce back. It’s just an unnecessary detour in your progress – a diversion and interruption (albeit temporary) in the physiological homeostasis that maximizes hormonal balance, fat burning and energy consistency.

As you continue the Primal transition, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised. Taste buds have a strange way of adapting themselves. Once you’re off the physiological sugar roller coaster, the psychological habit has a way of falling by the wayside. You find recipes, workouts, stress management practices you genuinely enjoy. In fact, you miss them if you have to or choose to skip a day. You actually look forward to getting back to the routine. After learning/relearning how a good night’s sleep can make you feel, you’re now unwilling to go without it unnecessarily. Earnest perseverance facilitates compliance, which begins to come naturally. You see and feel the benefits. Going backward seems unrewarding.

Rest assured, in the course of the transition you’ll make the pieces fit comfortably into your own life. As a lifestyle and process-oriented plan, the PB inherently cultivates an internal compass.

PB living will become less about regimen and more about natural gravitation toward the lifestyle that offers vitality and balance. Eventually, the process will take on its own momentum and actually require less effort and thought over time.

The take home message is this. The PB is not a white knuckle ride. Loosen the grip, look for smart adjustments, absorb the overall vision and weave it into your life instead of nailing it over top your old habits.

And remember that the essence of the Blueprint (and its success) is found in the overall picture – your own encompassing and idiosyncratic embodiment – not the collection of minute details. (No checklists here.) It’s less about what you do at any one meal or single bout at the gym and more about what you do over the course of a given week or month. Think the spirit rather than letter of the law. Where full commitment and full life intersect – that’s the seat of the Primal success and the logic of its 80% principle.

How does the 80% principle play out in your Primal lifestyle? Share your thoughts and questions on the concept.

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  1. Greatly appreciate the 80/20 rule. Used it last night to celebrate a friend’s birthday actually. Question though, if avoiding processed carbs is to be adhered to all the time, what exactly does one eat during that 20%?

  2. The 80-20 principle is fine, but what we do in the 20% often is a leanness ball-breaker. In the sense that a wild binge that is self-excused as the 20% often undermines the discipline necessary to achieve consistent weight loss. I find I do better when I am strict with myself, even vigilanté like in my consciousness. When I relax my vigil, I tend to go overboard, gradually. This is rather like a stock market correction!

  3. Drip, drip, drip is the sound of water falling on stone. One shot doesn’t do much, but over the course of years it will wear a groove in the stone! That’s how I often explain health and fitness to my clients. Each “better” decision you take is like a drop of water on the stone. If you make those better decisions often enough you’ll wear a new groove in your reality.

    I think it is important to play with the percentages when talking about something like 80/20 though. Sometimes, you need to be dialed in at 100% to get traction. Sometimes you might let yourself go a bit and drop to 70/30 (like over the holidays). For me, I find that sticking to my guns 90% of the time in general gets me the results I want. Different individuals, different goals and different situations will warrant a more or less stringent approach.


    1. Adam- excellent water -dripping- on- stone analogy! thanks for that…

  4. So true!
    Thanks for that! Sometimes life just doesn’t play by the PB rules, but it does become easier and also I find the people around you learn to respect your choices, if not even become curious and interested themselves.
    The best thing about the PB is that it makes you feel incredible and its for life and not just another set of excercises, but a whole lifestyle

  5. Processed sugar is my greatest enemy. It seems that whenever I indulge in it just a little, it’s like bashing my knee with a crowbar while I stride along the road of fat loss. It might take weeks before I start to see results again.

    But Adam is right. Persistence is the key. Keep at it, and eventually something in your mind and in your body will click and it will be smooth sailing from then on. For those of you who study Buddhism, it’s like a moment of enlightenment.

    I no longer crave cheesecake and ice cream. I crave sheep and goat cheese, macadamia nuts, and 99% dark chocolate. Now those things are my “20%.”

  6. As a former vegetarian (20 yrs!) my switch to the PB was something I had to consider deeply…now that I’ve committed to this lifestyle (yes, I eat local/farmers market meat now) it’s all about the long-term benefits. I’ve been keeping track in my journal to see how I’m doing & look forward to reviewing my thoughts a year from now (as well as the hoped-for weight loss & muscle tone!) Much progress has been made already-my daily workouts are more intense but shorter, my hungry horrors diiminished, and my mind is clear (no more brain fog!) all thanks in part to the info gleaned from this wonderful blog & the PB community.
    The 80-20 works for me in my job (as a salesperson) and in my life. We all need to heed our bodies and know where our weaknesses lie. I’m with Primalchild on the cheese, nuts & choco. Make ’em raw & it’s even better. How refreshing to crave good-for-you food. Everyone should have this experience!

    1. I too am giving up vegetarian after 10+ years. My body must have been Needing that salmon & other protein goodies!

      My vice is also dark, organic chocolate. And when I’m *really* bad, with a glass of red wine…

  7. At the end it’s all about a happier life, right? Most of my 20% (and sometimes more) non-primal dietary side is due to beer consumption. Real beer I mean ( https://tinyurl.com/fvwgh ).

    Embracing the 80/20 might allow me to gradually go from my current fear of beer-less doom and disgrace to, maybe, a painful couple of Michelobs ultra light a month. You never know.

    On the other hand, the PB seems to be better for my health than other dietary habits in spite of my eventual fermented grain purees.

  8. I had my 20% moment this weekend. When I had some beer. I only had beer, I didn’t consume any other form of carbs. I thought I got away with it, because the next morning I was a pound less, but Monday and Tuesday morning I gained, even though I ate perfectly. I didn’t return to my Saturday weight until this morning.

    I enjoy a good beer on occasion, but the more I follow the diet the more it seems a hassle to have that enjoyment. Following the lifestyle is truly changing my perspective. I looked at our school’s lunch this afternoon and I was disgusted.

    Cheese Bread
    Mandarin Oranges in Syrup
    Ice Cream

    Even the fruit was unhealthy.

  9. My wife and I used to plan “cheat days” – days where we would willingly eat starchy carbs, sugary foods, etc. The problem was that we *were* planning – and even looking forward to – these forays into junk territory. We’d almost gorge ourselves on crap for a 24-hour period every month or so. Not healthy.

    As such, we’re trying to stay away from the whole concept of pre-planned cheating. We may “fall off the wagon” for one meal once a month or so, but it’s never pre-planned (and often is a result of circumstances – we’re somewhere where we can’t even get “steak and salad” for supper, my normal primal standby in caveman-unfriendly restaurants).

  10. I’m one of those all or nothing people. If I give myself an inch, I’ll take a mile. That being said, my discretion (sort of, since I think it’s primal) is whole, raw, unpasteurized milk, goats milk when I can get it. I’m fortunate enough to live in a state where it’s legal, and easy for me to get. And I believe 100% good for you with all those enzymes and beneficial bacteria!

  11. I’m glad I knew this last week – my best friend’s son died (hit by a car – driver went around everyone else stopped to let him cross), and all week I ate only because I knew I needed something in my body. I didn’t want to think about anything – as soon as my brain turned I remembered Jack wasn’t climbing on my shoulders or some other such thing.

    As time goes on you recover, and then you go back. Life happens.

    Oh, and be careful out there.

    1. OH Henry– that’s awful. I’m so sorry for your best friend.
      Gah, the nerve of that awful driver. Makes me so mad 🙁 why is everyone in such a friggin hurry all the time??

      Your post is a good reminder for everyone to slow down – me included.

  12. I’m not exactly primal woman but the more I pay attention to you, your principles are beginning rub off on me. Keep it up!

  13. For me, the 80/20 thing is a good idea. I’m not there, but it does two things.

    First, it means that I don’t have to be *perfect* all the time. A little indulgence now and then is an okay thing.

    Second, it can help you cope in the long run. These days, I’m more into the long run than the short term. I was watching a video with Gary Taubes last night. He talks about the quantity of food that we eat over a number of years. It’s a staggering quantity of food. Splurging here and there isn’t going to hurt you in the long run.

    Which brings me to my other point – how often? For me, I work best splurging when I plan it out – as an example, plan on eating out at an excellent restaurant, and allow myself to eat whatever I want, including desert. But, then that’s it.

    It’s the same with trigger foods – how can you work with them? For a long time chocolate bars were something I’d crave. I’d buy the smallest size chocolate bar they had and go home and eat it. Once it was gone, that was it.

    For some people, avoiding trigger foods might be better. For me, given how I live (Don’t keep any real junk food in the house), going and buying something with the intention of eating it and stopping works.

  14. Right now, I use mini goals as my only “cheat” time. My first was to lose 20 lbs and once I met that I allowed myself to have beer one night. My next is to stay primal until Father’s Day. Once I achieve my ideal physique I will have to rethink when those days are going to happen, if they happen at all. I’m less and less attracted to “bad” food.

  15. Once you get to that point of 100%, feeling healthy, looking good, it then becomes the lifestyle you want to keep for the rest of your life. Eating 100% primal just pays off! I will say, for my birthday i had cheesecake, guess what, it made me feel sick, after that, i decided it wasn’t worth eating and no longer want it. Now, i just want to eat what makes me feel good, it just makes sense!!!

  16. I don’t believe in the 80/20. It’s like admitting defeat right away. I say do something 100%. Quit the wrong way cold turkey. I don’t want an “OK” diet or fitness. I want to optimally fit and optimally healthy. I am zero carb, I go to the gym for weightlifting 4 x a week no matter what. Don’t give up on yourself and “settle” for 80/20.

  17. I’m with timconradinc. I prefer to just eat primally during the weeks, and then either Friday or Saturday (or both days) eat whatever I want, usually out. As much variety as there is with the primal diet, there are some foods I love that it simply can’t provide: great sushi, a good Neapolitan pizza, cocktails, etc.

    That may sound super-indulgent, but even when I go out and eat whatever I want, I usually don’t consumer more than 2000 calories or so. This comes down not to choosing the healthiest possible food, but simply only eating when I’m hungry… I’ll sit down and enjoy a tasty, sinful meal that I’ve been looking forward to all day, but don’t really have any desire to munch on the chips and salsa just because they’re in front of me (as I used to do quite often).

    Anyway, the bottom line is that this rhythm works great for me. I’ve noticed huge changes in body composition and feel much more fit and energetic than I ever have.

    1. Hey Dan, but in the post Mark clearly says, on that 20% your supposed to stay away from carbs….I havent jump to the PB because i like to enjoy a burger or a cheat meal once in a while…i cant see my self not eating another piece of bread EVER…I mean right now i do eat complex carbs, protein and fat, im fairly fit, i mean, i have a six pack and all, but i want to take my fitness to the next level, just not sure i can ban carbs for the rest of my life.

      “That said, some aspects of the Blueprint do call for consistent adherence in the interest of meaningful impact. Particular among these is avoidance of processed carbs.”

      1. 100% how I feel. I’m just starting, and I plan on doing as much primal as I can, but I simply don’t think that my entire diet and health will be ruined if once or twice a month I eat at a restaurant and have a small side of pasta or sushi with rice.

        I have been a swimmer all my life and I ate enormous amounts of pasta to support that, but I’m going to try to cut out pasta as a meal and see what happens.

  18. I definately like the 80/20 rule however I’m a little like Dave…if I give myself an inch, I’ll take a mile. I have to be pretty careful and not get distracted. I love how I feel too much to mess with it. In saying that I still love my 85% chocolate and I’m pretty good at limiting that.

  19. Mark I’ve been eating strictly primal every day for about 3 months and the results are amazing. Not only the results but the lifestyle it carries with the habits are great. BUT the 80/20 thing? Why are you giving more obese Americans an excuse to stray away from what(in the long run) is going to be best. I’m sure you’re aware of how much we spend on health care each year due to obesity. The best way to lead is by example, strict or not. I’m sure YOU don’t do the 80/20…why encourage others?

  20. “PB living does require steady commitment, genuine effort and daily dedication.”

    This is only because the current dietary options most of us face at the supermarket, restaurant, etc. is so for out of balance with what our more remote ancestors ate. The difficulties in this diet are diametrically opposite to those of all other diets. In all other diets the difficulty in sticking to them is that they leave you hungry or malnutritioned. The Primal Diet is the opposite. Hunger melts away. Well being is restored. The difficulty is in finding the foods that do this in our market of limited availability. Fortunately, farmer’s markets and Whole Foods are becoming more prominent. I hope this trend continues! Then the difficulties will disappear.

  21. I think 80/20 is a good idea, but it’s a slippery slope. My challenge is getting out of the “cheat” mindset and developing a way of life. By implying that you have a “cheat” it means you are doing something restrictive which generally will not last.

    I think the point is not to beat yourself up. It’s a journey and there are bound to be pitfalls.

  22. I have found since going primal I don’t need to cheat or have a % of bad foods as since cutting out the carbs and eating just beef, chicken, fish, eggs and vegetables with generous amounts of butter, coconut oil and nut oils I am nourished and honestly don’t crave the crap (raisin bread was my weakness, I used to be able to eat a whole loaf, now I would rather just eat the lashings of butter I would put on it). I do have my good vices though which are 85% organic dark chocolate and preservative-free red wine.

  23. Thanks for this article. Very timely.

    I used to really enjoy my planned cheats. Lately they’ve only been disappointments. They don’t bring the same satisfaction they used to, and in some cases were downright dreadful. I never felt worse than I did after eating a big chocolate chip cookie the other day. I can’t even get remotely excited about sweets anymore.

    I went out to dinner at TGIFridays tonight, and I didn’t even think twice about skipping the bread stick, and going without dessert.

    I think the 80/20 theory is fantastic, and it really takes the pressure off to be perfect, especially when you’re still transitioning to PB. After you get into a routine you really don’t even have to think about it anymore, and living the PB lifestyle becomes second nature.

  24. Diana, I had the exact same experience this evening. Well, the feeling was the same but my vice is not the cookie but rather ice cream! I have been very strict about my primal eating habits the last three months or so but this evening I had the strongest craving for ice cream. So…I went out and bought some Breyers, ate a bowl and promptly threw the rest in the garbage. I felt no satisfaction from my indulgence but rather grave disappointment in myself. I don’t think ill be having any more ice cream in the near future.

  25. While I pretty much have to abide by not taking a cheat except in a very rare instance. I think the 80/20 principal is a good one to keep in mind, because too many people have the habit of giving up if they fail one time. The goal should be for 100%, but keep in mind that even if you achieve primal 80% of the time you are still successful and hopefully that will be enough to keep you on track and moving closer to that 100 mark.

  26. It really is more about not beating yourself up than “cheating.” When life throws you pizza – and you eat it – you just say “okay, that’s my 20%” and move on.

    And I have found, like Tracy and Diana and a few others that once I got fully into the Primal mode 1) I don’t crave the sugar and processed carb stuff I used to and 2) they aren’t as good as I remember. Too sweet, not tasty, and make me feel awful the next day (or for a few days!!). Now I generally take a small nibble if I’m really tempted by something and generally that’s all I care to eat. And if it IS super delicious, I don’t feel too bad about it – 20%. (I’m also a slippery sloper, so I try to stay as dialed in as possible). Really, for those of you not quite convinced, it really IS nice to crave veggies, olive oil, and that yummy coconut butter instead of cereal!

  27. last night i made dinner for my girlfriend. b/c she’s used to starch i made a quinoa/black bean salad to go with our grilled scallops, steak and asparagus. i also made a sorbet out of coconut milk, pineapple and a bit of honey. i guess this the way i go 80/20. it was a high-carb meal by P.B. standards but still unrefined, whole foods. today i’ll ratchet it back down and lead into an IF for 20 hrs or more. i like the idea of wiggle room esp, since i wiggle a lot less these days!

  28. Lisa you call for skepticism and I think that’s a great. I do, however, think that there is a lot of evidence supporting the PB.

    On the other hand, you make the following claims:

    – Claiming they ate no type of grains or starches is nonsense and very unlikely
    – In fact we evolved from even 11,000 years ago at a very fast pace and continue to do so.

    I haven’t found any evidence supporting them. Do you have any?

  29. I personally try not to feel guilty, because I think it just leads to more problems like binging and staying off track. I refuse to give up any food permanently, because it’s a recipe for failure and guilt. I think about how much better my diet is now, and I don’t consider 85% chocolate a bad thing at all. And if I indulge, you bet it’s going to be a fatty croissant, not something unenjoyable like brown rice or black beans. I make the rare indulgences count! Not sure about people who used to be obese, but personally my body seems to handle it fine. I think it’s important to have a diet that’s sustainable and enjoyable in the long run, and this works for me.

    1. re: “fatty croissant” I have been wondering lately if one must indulge in breads that things like croissants aren’t the way to go? If you look (in nutritiondata.com) at the N6:N3 ratio of a Butter Croissant 3:1 and French Bread 16:1 it makes one wonder if grains could be a reasonable cheat provided they are supplemented with a healthy serving of animal fat.

  30. Mark, I just pre-ordered your book.

    Thanks a bunch for your wonderful blog. It’s been inspiring to me, even if my application of your principles has been more like 10/90.

    I will work on reversing those numbers.

    Cheers all,


  31. Of course we’re not exactly the same as humans 5,000 years ago.

    That’s one of the reasons why natives (and I’m part North American native) have more diabetes, heart disease, and even alcoholism than caucasions: They’ve had only a couple hundred years to adjust to a high grain-and-sugar-based carbohydrate diet, whereas Europeans, Asians, etc., have had several thousand years.

    Regardless, the MAJORITY of genes in any of the above populations are from the Paleolithic. It’s still a healthier diet overall for most everybody.

    But, yes, a Chinese man will probably do better on a rice-based diet than will, say, an Inuit.

    Both would be better off with meats, veggies, and berries.

    And Paleo man did find starches where possible. I’ve lived off the land, as a teenager, in Canada. I used tuberous veggies.

    Still, you COULD NOT get enough calories to survive a Canadian summer much less winter without animal protein and especially fat.

    The natives here ate tons of both, and especially the latter.

    And I’m in southern Canada on the coast. That’s even more true up north.

  32. Oh, and further to the humans evolving thing.

    Duh. Yes. We are.

    There’s lots of cross-genes too, with air travel, etc., so people of different geographic origin are getting together more than ever before.

    Further, lots of people are dying young due to their diets.

    So, natural selection being what it is, those people are passing their genes along less for 2 reasons:

    1. Early death
    2. Sexual selection — obesity and ill health not being as attractive as their counterparts

    I’m certain that there is evolution going on with those people who can tolerate a fast food, high sugar, diet reproducing more.

    But is it their ideal diet?

    I think not.

    And if you, like myself, have genes that respond poorly to these things, does it make sense to throw up our hands and say, “Well, that’s evolution at work! It’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it?”

    Or does it make more sense to eat according to one’s genetic make-up, eating the kind of healthy foods humans evolved on?

    And humans did not evolve on white floor, white rice, etc. Mark isn’t saying there have been no genetic changes in 5,000 years.

    That would be stupid.

    He’s saying the majority of our genetic heritage comes from the hundreds of thousands of years before 5,000 years ago, which is verifiably true.

    And for SOME people, like myself, a chunk of my genes came from people who were eating a hunter-gatherer type diet a mere 100 or so years ago.

  33. Agree with a lot of this. Mark is an idealist, that’s what we pay him for! Grok would probably have been more of an opportunist. I have this picture of him scarfing down a McDonalds because it was there, then barfing it back up and going in search of some real food.

    I tend to stay on plan most of the time but for example I just followed my fish and sea vegetables with some 85% chocolate and a cup of coffee, yesterday I had a glass of red wine with my organic beef sausages and asparagus. Sometimes I eat far too may carbs when I’m out. I always regret it afterwards, and like a lot of you I simply no longer enjoy things like pizza that I used to.

    What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If anything the odd indiscretion is a wake-up call as to why I do what I do the rest of the time, keeps me to 90/10

  34. Oh yeah, about the evolution thing, since Ancel Keys I believe we have all been placed in a giant Eugenics experiment where only the carb tolerant shall survive.

  35. I crave protein a lot even if there are awesome breads or cakes around (which I love).

    I’d like to know if anyone has the same problem as me. Once you start it’s tough to stop. If I don’t “need” cake, I’ll skip it. However, if I have one tiny piece, I find that I’ll want more. Or some other carb. Same with red wine. If I have more than 1-2 glasses I want other processed carbs. Odd. I thought it was alcohol impairing my judgement (LOL) but no I think it is driven by my insulin reaction. Thoughts?

  36. Wow! I’m glad someone else goes by the 80/20 rule….. I try to get my clients to understand this principle by seeing the big picture of sticking to the 80/20 whole heartedly!!! No slacking or it’s the 70/30, or 60/40 rule.You just have to stick to your guns and hold on, it’s not easy. If it was, every one would be thin and in perfect shape.Sit down figure out what 80% of your meals would be and make them your good ones, now allow yourself 20% of slack for those times to be human and live a little. Then get right back on track and stick to your 80%!
    CSCS/Personal Trainer
    Haywood Regional Health & Fitness

  37. The way I look at 80/20 is not exactly to just have a cheat day when I eat whatever I want. Instead 80/20 is part of my daily life, I try to follow the diet as close as possible (don’t eat potatoes, rice, pasta, processed food, etc) but I do still have one piece of sprouted whole grain bread with my lunch and maybe 1 small scoop of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast (i lift weights in the gym and don’t get the required energy just from protein and vegetable alone, i try to listen to my body). Sometimes, a greek yogurt with frozen berries as a snack. Small amounts of bread and oatmeal fall under my 20. Still way better than an average American diet with piles of white carbs. Also, I enjoy a glass of red wine, good strong beer, dark chocolate, small piece of good aged cheese, sometime even a small amount of good whiskey here and there. All of these also fall under my 20.

  38. It was really hard at first to make the transition. I got on and off it a few times.

    But I knew what I wanted and at some point, this shift happened in my mind and I stopped making excuses.

  39. i am glad for the 80/20 i’m new to PB and it feels more approachable and doable than any other food change i have done. there is a lot to change in foods i eat, habits and even understanding the concepts. so the 80/20 gives me a base to start off from and the more i learn and understand AND feel good i think i can strive for 90/10, then 100%. but i do agree sometimes life happens whether it’s good like celebrating a special birthday or bad like a funeral. and it’s not when we fall that matters it’s how we rise in the end and move forward.

  40. Challenges first 2 months going Primal, and remaining focused.
    Fancy dinner at Italian restaurant with fresh baked bread. I ordered grilled salmon on a bed of mixed greens..Yum! Weekly breakfast at local diner, used to order eggs, buttered toast, sausage and home fries, coffee with Splenda. Now I order, 2 poached eggs, w/2 strips of bacon, black coffee and hot sauce.
    Pot luck dinner at friends house, was fasting that week, so I ate nothing.

    I spent all Saturday creating 8 different dishes, from Spanish, Indian and Italian influences and freezing them. No, they are not for me, they are for my husband, so I have more time to cook the new veggie recipes and not be concerned with cooking 2 seperate meals in one night.
    Every challenge motivates me to stick to Paleo options …you can always find and alternative and fasting is still very new to me, but skipping a meal will not harm me.
    Thanks for the easy recipes.

  41. I’ve been reading many of the comments here and I’m sure there is no one right answer for everyone. What might work for one person might not for someone else. As for myself, I have an all or nothing mentality as well, which means, I can’t just have a ‘bit’ of my favourite treats, such as sweet stuff, nuts, nut butters, bananas, or a combination thereof. I hardly eat non-primal foods (even if I eat bread, it’s either sprouted wheat or really dark rye with no sugar or syrup), but ‘trigger foods’ don’t necessarily have to be complete junk. Being off sick for 3 days now taught me a lesson though: less cardio equals a lowered appetite for sugary/energy dense foods. Lesson learned: may cut back even further next week and see how it affects my cravings..

  42. So true: “You find recipes, workouts, stress management practices you genuinely enjoy. In fact, you miss them if you have to or choose to skip a day.”

    I had to skip a week of strength training work-outs due to a forearm injury. One day, I woke up and realized I had been working out in my dreams. That’s how I knew I was ready to start up again!

  43. Hey guys i’m a vegetarian by choice, but i really want to try the primal way…eating meat makes me sick, is there any way i can do this without meat?

  44. Hi! Very thought-provoking comments! As a 50 y/o menopausal woman who has dieted on & off for my adult life, I would truly love to hear from women my age who have adopted this life-style! It all sounds great but it seems more successful w/ younger males.
    I then go on to read some of Ray Peat’s work as I am suspicious that I may have hypothyroidism (hypoglycemia, increasing weight gain, high cholesterol, HTN, triglycerides are climbing etc). I’ve been reading stuff on IF & it seems intriguing but it has it’s dark side as well (esp in folks w/ history of eating disorders).
    It’s all so CONFUSING! I do want to be healthier & fit but sometimes I just want some spaghetti & garlic bread!
    Hey, I’m all for cutting out the processed crap, getting off my ass for some exercise, but after literally years of intermittent dieting, I have hit a hard psychological wall. I cannot weigh, measure or journal one more thing! I would rather poke my eye out with a steak knife than weigh or journal one more freakin’ bite or sip!
    So my long winded ramble is really a plea to hear from my menopausal sisters who do not have histories of serious EDs & ask if the Primal Lifestyle works for them? I don’t need to be an Amazon Queen or a Cougar Model! That said, though, I don’t want to be a frumpy middle-age fat-assed lethargic cow. How do I incorportae this into my real-life? Should I? I’m also very interested to hear who Intuitive Eating works with the Primal Life-Style?
    Thanks for reading! Much obliged!

  45. I haven’t had a problem giving up sugary stuff since I never liked sweets, but it’s the complex carbs that will do me in.

    I couldn’t give up my red beans and rice a few dinners per week or my curry potatoes. Given, I don’t eat much, just a bowl about the size of my hand. But still, it probably exceeds the 20%.

  46. I encourage such philosophies with my clients. We do extensive food sensitivity testing at our office so we know what exactly is a no go and what might be allowable on the 20% days. For some people wheat is a major trigger, others it’s eggs, dairy, and so on. I personally intermittent fast during the week, but then on the weekends, I do what feels best. That might mean breakfast sausage and paleo avocado toast. It might also mean wine and ice cream. The weekends are a time to relax and hang with people that might not eat like we do. Then I go back to my routine Monday through Friday.

  47. Your site is very helpful and informative, this is helping me to gain a lot of information and ideas.