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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 30 2008

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

By Mark Sisson
282 Comments

Food Scale

Do the Math

In my recent Context of Calories post, I explained how the different macronutrients we eat at each meal (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) have different effects in the body. I suggested that, despite their raw calorie values, it’s far more important to get a lasting intuitive sense of how much of each macronutrient you need and when you need it (or not).

But how do you do that? How do you figure out the proper number of calories – and breakdown of fats, protein and carbs – to accomplish your fitness and health goals? To lose weight? Lose fat? Gain muscle? Maintain status quo? Run marathons?

In fact, most popular daily diets look at overall calories as the main factor in weight loss and weight gain. The age-old conservation of energy Conventional Wisdom says that “a calorie is a calorie.” From there most diet gurus generally prescribe some formulaic one-size-fits-all breakdown of fats, protein and carbs. A classically trained Registered Dietician will tell you that protein should be around 10-15% of calories, carbs should be 60% (and mostly from whole grains) and fat under 30%. This macronutrient breakdown stays the same regardless of how much weight you need to lose or what other goals you might have. Barry Sears has his 40/30/30 “Zone” diet. The USDA bases everything on a choice of between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. But, as I said earlier, it’s not that simple. Calories do have context.

The human body uses these macronutrients for a variety of different functions, some of which are structural and some of which are simply to provide energy – immediately or well into the future. Moreover, with regards to energy conservation or expenditure, the body acts as both an efficient fuel storage depot (and as a toxic “waist” site) as well as a potent generator of energy, depending largely on the hormonal signals it gets. It will store glycogen and/or fat and it will build muscle – or it will just as easily tear them all down and use them for fuel – based on input from you: what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, what you’re doing before or after you eat – even what you’re thinking when you eat. Yet because your body always seeks to achieve homeostasis over time, the notion of you trying to zero in on a precise day-to-day or meal-to-meal eating plan is generally fruitless (yes, Charlotte, some fruit is allowed). The good news in all this is that falling off the wagon once or twice this week won’t have the immediate disastrous effect that you might imagine – as long as you can keep your average intake under control and understand how the various macronutrients function over time.

Which brings me to the crux of today’s discussion. Not only is it nearly impossible to accurately gauge your exact meal-to-meal calorie and macronutrient requirements, doing so will drive you crazy. In fact, to accurately figure your true structural and functional fuel needs (and hence to achieve your goals) it’s far more effective to look at a much larger span of time, like a few weeks, and aim for an “average” consumption. Then you can review that average daily intake over weeks or months and adjust accordingly. Below, I’ll give you a way to figure a “jumping off” point to start with, but remember, our genes are accustomed to the way our ancestors ate: intermittently, sporadically, sometimes in large quantities, and sometimes not at all for days. Their bodies figured out a way to maintain homeostasis and preserve lean tissue and good health through all this and so can we. Our genes want us to be lean and fit. It’s actually quite easy as long as we eat from the long list of Primal Blueprint healthy foods and try to avoid that other list of grain-laden, sugary, processed and otherwise unhealthy foods. Realistically, we also want to allow for the occasional party-splurge, a pre-planned (or accidental) intermittent fast, an over-the-top workout or even a week of laziness. Where most people get into trouble is in miscalculating their energy needs over extended periods of time – not day-to-day. They don’t see the average amount of carbs creeping upwards, or they figure they need x amount of calories, but don’t have a clue as to what kind of food those should be coming from.

I start with these four basic principles to guide my Primal Blueprint eating style:

1) 80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet. Yes, exercise is also important to health and to speed up fat-burning and muscle-building, but most of your results will come from how you eat. I’ll write more on this later, so just trust me on this one for now. Suffice to say, people who weigh a ton and exercise a ton, but eat a ton, still tend to weigh a ton. I think I’ll have that made into a t-shirt…

2) Lean Body Mass (LBM) is the key to life. I’ve said it many times on this site: lean mass (muscle and all the rest of you that is not fat) is directly correlated with longevity and excellent health. Rather than strive to “lose weight”, most people would be better off striving to lose only fat and to build or maintain muscle. Since other organs tend to function at a level that correlates to muscle mass, the more muscle you maintain throughout life, the more “organ reserve” you’ll have (i.e. the better the rest of you will work). Refer back to rule #1 and eat to build or maintain muscle.

3) Excess body fat is bad. Most human studies show that being significantly overweight increases your risk of nearly every disease (except osteoporosis – because ironically it responds to weight-bearing activities). Fat just doesn’t look that great either. See rule #1 and eat to keep body fat relatively low.

4) Excess insulin is bad. We’ve written about it here a lot. Chronic excess insulin may be even worse than excess sugar (and we know how bad that is). All animals produce insulin, but within any species, those that produce less insulin live longer than those who produce a lot. Eat to keep insulin low.

Here is how I use these principles to guide my individual macronutrient intake:

Protein

Raw Steak

Protein takes priority. If there is ample glycogen (stored glucose) and the body is getting the rest of its energy efficiently from fats, protein will always go first towards repair or building cells or enzymes. In that context, it hardly seems fair to assign it a “burn rate” of 4 calories per gram. It’s like saying the 2×4 studs that support the walls of your house can burn nicely if you run out of firewood. They will, but I prefer to burn other fuel first. At a minimum you need .5 grams of protein per pound of lean mass/per day on average to maintain your “structure”. If you are moderately active you need .7 or .8, and if you are an active athlete you need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass. That’s at a minimum, but it’s on a daily average. So a 155 lb moderately active woman who has 25% body fat (and thus) has 116 lb of lean body mass needs 93 grams of protein on average per day (116 x .8). If she gets 60 or 80 some days and 110 on others, she’ll still be in a healthy average range. And even if she exceeds the 110, it’s no problem if she’s eating low carb because the excess protein will convert to glucose, which will reduce her effective carbohydrate needs (see below). At 4 calories per gram, that’s between 320 and 440 calories per day in protein. It’s not that much.

Carbs

Vegetables

If you’ve forgotten everything you ever learned in biology, just remember this and “own” it: Carbohydrate drives insulin drives fat (Cahill 1965, and Taubes 2007). The idea in the PB is to limit your carbs to only those you need to provide glucose for the brain and for some reasonable amount (certainly less than an hour) of occasional anaerobic exercise. And the truth is, you don’t even need glucose to fuel the brain. Ketones from a very-low carb diet work extremely efficiently at that task. Either way, ideally, we would like most of our daily energy to come from dietary or stored fats. Typically, (if you are at an ideal body composition now) I use a rule of thumb that 100-150 grams of carbohydrate per day is plenty to keep you out of ketosis (and ketosis is NOT a bad thing) but away from storing the excess as fat if you are the least bit active. Don’t forget that your body can make up to 200 grams of glycogen from fats and protein every day, too. On the other hand, if you are looking to lose body fat, keeping carbs to under 80 grams per day will help immensely in lowering insulin and taking fat out of storage. On the other other hand, if you are insistent on training hard for long periods of time, you would add more carbs (say, 100 per day extra for every extra hour you train hard). It becomes a matter of doing the math and experimenting with the results.

Ironically, it’s tough to exceed 100 grams of carbs even if you eat tons of colorful vegetables – as long as you eat like our ancestors and consume no grains, no sugars and few starchy vegetables (potatoes, yams, beets, legumes, etc). Even if you eat a ton of vegetables AND a fair amount of fruit, you’ll be hard pressed to exceed 150 grams of carbs on average per day. Our remote ancestors couldn’t average 150 grams of carbs a day if they tried, yet they had plenty of energy and maintained their lean mass. At 4 calories per gram that’s only between 400 and 600 calories per day. Add that in to the protein above and our sample girl is barely at 1,000 calories on the high end. So where does the rest of the fuel come from?

Fats

Olive Oil

Learn to love them. They are the fuel of choice and should become the balance of your Primal Blueprint diet. Fats have little or no impact on insulin and, as a result, promote the burning of both dietary and stored (adipose) fat as fuel. Think about this: if protein and carbs stay fairly constant (and carbs stay under 150), you can use fat as the major energy variable in your diet. Feeling like you need more fuel (and you’ve already covered your bases with protein and carbs)? Reach for something with fat. Nuts, avocados, coconut, eggs, butter, olive oil, fish, chicken, lamb, beef, the list is a long one. 100 grams of fats per day would only add 900 calories to our girl’s daily average, putting her at between 1620 and 1940 calories a day. Even if she averages somewhere between 1400 and 2200 calories per day over a few weeks, as long as she pays attention to protein and carbs, her body composition will shift to lower body fat and more desirable lean mass. If she decides to do some walking, a few brief intense weight sessions and a sprint day here and there, that process would accelerate greatly. If she gets to a point where she’s content with her body fat, she can even add in a little more fat to provide energy that she previously got from her stored fat.

The main thing I’ve figured out from eating this way for years is that I don’t need nearly as many calories to maintain health, mass, and body fat as I once thought I did – or as the Conventional Wisdom says I do. I eat 600-1000 calories per day less than when I ate a carbohydrate-based diet, yet I maintain slightly lower body fat and slightly higher muscle mass on even less training. Remember: 80% of body composition is determined by diet. The best part is that I don’t ever feel hungry because I base my eating on exactly what my 10,000-year-old genes want me to eat.

For a look at my upcoming book, The Primal Blueprint, click here. I’ve included a sneak peek at the jacket artwork, a PDF of the table of contents and full chapter summaries.

Further Reading:

Definitive Guides to:

The Primal Blueprint

Grains

Fats

Cholesterol

Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes

Stress, Cortisol and the Adrenals

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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282 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan”

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    1. Don’t forget that protein’s insulinogenic effects are largely counterbalanced by the release of glucagon, a hormone that helps us burn previously stored fat, after protein consumption.

      This is in contrast to carbs, which unapologetically raise insulin, and fat which is essentially biologically inert.

      1. There’s also the fact that even though primal/paleo diets contain more protein, the amount doesn’t come close to the amount of carbs that were removed.

        For example, you might remove 200 grams of carbs but add 50 grams of protein. The total amount of foods that stimulate insulin goes way down.

        You’re mostly replacing carbs with fat. Carbs raise insulin, fat does not.

        1. What about the fact that animal protein is very acidic, and cancer thrives in an acidic environment, and that we should keep our bodies alkaline. I’m referring to Dr. Robert Young, THE PH MIRACLE.

          1. In reading the citation above I noted the 3rd paragraph from the bottom where it states that “many scientists believe that when injesting to much animal protein which is acidic the body buffers that acid with calcium from the bones. This would seem to support the reduction the animal protien intake daily. What are your thought on this!

      2. Exactly Abel AND we also need to acknowledge that amino acids do NOT cause a biphasic insulin response. The community tends to look at topics as black or white when in reality, when it comes to amino acids and insulin, it’s more complex.

        CARBs=biphasic insulin response, AA do not.

      1. I have to ask do we really need that much protein? I use to follow this .5 for every pound of lean muscle and when doing that I barely have room for any other food. That’s a lot of protein. Most of the centurions say they have eaten modest amounts of meat is any. Watch Forks over Knives. I definitely looked fitter and was lean but my immune system was under-active. I believe we need some protein but not this much to be healthy, maybe only to look a certain way.

        Saying all that I have your approach to eating for structural building, energy creating and tearing down is very interesting. I think I need it in greater detail. This level isn’t making me a believe and I do really long to find that correct balance.

        Thank you for posting.

    2. I have just started this program and have a question about the blood type diet. My fiance picked up the blook type book from the organic food store where he picked up some things for us to begin the primal blueprint and it said in the blood diet for my type A, I should not eat meats and only vegetables, some fruit and some seafood. It said meat was bad for my digestion system. I would just like some feedback on this so I can be sure the primal blueprint program will work for me. Thanks,

      1. To be frank, the blood type diet is complete junk. It is not based on scientific fact and only a ploy to make money.Sure you may lose weight but the weight loss would be the same regardless of what your blood type is and what path of the diet you follow. Not only does d’Adamo have a poor grasp of genetics but also a poor grasp of nutrition. The blood type diet is based on a single gene that is irrelevant, while the paleo/primal diet is based on the other 23,000 genes that have shaped the human body and its nutritional needs for the past ~200,000 years.

    3. I don’t understand, how Mark keeps saying it is tough to eat 100 carbs of veggies, etc.
      here is a day that is NOT finished of eating vegetables and some fruit:

      1 cup kale = 7 carbs
      20 brussel sprouts = 20 carbs
      2 cups of carrots – 24 carbs
      1 med. banana = 51 carb
      pineapple cup = 20 carb
      raisins 1 ounce = 22 g
      20 + 51 + 24 + 20 + 7 + 22= 144
      So far up to 144 carbs…. and that was NOT very difficult, nor a ton of food…. so what am i doing wrong… should just avoid any fruit????

      1. it is tough to eat 100g of carbohydrates from just veggies. it isn’t, however, tough to do so from fruit. Do not avoid fruit, Just dont over do it.

        1. Thanks Jay, I think i need to not eat fruit, because if throughout the day i ate:
          kale 3 cups = 21 carbs
          brussel sprounts, 20 = 20
          2 cups eggplant = 10
          1 cup diced tomatoes = 7
          med. onion = 10
          zucchini = 7
          1 sm. head pureed cauliflower = 14

          then the total carbs = 89… i think lack of fruit needs to be emphasized for persons close to their ideal weight, but still wanting to lose fat.
          thank you for your comment. 🙂

          1. If you really want to know how to control insulin, research Dr. Richard Bernstein, a type 1 diabetic of 70+ years. He does not recommend 100 carbs, but more like 20 a day. Seventy years with type 1 is remarkable.

      2. Mary,

        There are a few issues, for one you banana measurement is twice the carbs. One medium banana equals about 27 grams of carbs. If you eat fruit you need to stick to the berries, most of them are low carbs with maybe the exception of blueberries. Over all in the primal diet, fruit should be more like a treat/desert, not part of your everyday diet with maybe the exception of one being really active.

        1. Ken, thanks for noticing the banana calculation… I got that from “My Fitness pal” where i track my food, and for some reason they have 2 listings for a medium banana, and one is 200 calories and 51 carbs, the other is 105 calories and 27 carbs.
          weird…

      3. pineapple bananas carrots n dried fruit are too high in sugar and carbs… he says non starchy fruit and veggies. trade those for berries and celery… low sugar.

        1. You might also need to limit portion sizes of “sweet” vegetables, such as carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and even of a benign veg such as cauliflower.

      4. Also, in addition to reducing fruit consumption, perhaps you’ve consumed less carb than you think. Perhaps you also should not be counting the dietary fibre content of these veggies you’re eating. In the UK we don’t count the fibre as a carbohydrate on nutrition labels (the fibre is listed separately). My understanding is that americans (and so, many websites also) include fibre in the carb listing. So you say that a small head of cauliflower contains 14g carb, but when I check it on the nutritiondata website I see that 7g of this is fibre, which wouldn’t be digested by the body, and so shouldn’t be included in your calculations. That said, I’m no expert on the primal diet (I’m not following it, but have tried Atkins in the past, where I learnt this info about fibre and carbs on American nutrition labels).

      5. First, let me say that I am by no means an expert. I only started eating Paleo 3 weeks ago, but here is my take on it & if there is an expert out there that disagrees with me please post.
        1) Most low carb diets count net carbs. What the definition of that is depends on who you ask, but most people agree that it is the carb content – the fiber, So if you have a veggie that is 7 carbs a serving, but 5 grams of fiber, the net carbs would only be 2, not the full 7 total carbs.
        2) If you are going to eat a low carb diet you need to avoid high carb fruits like bananas and dried fruits. They are just too concentrated in their sugar content. If you eat berries you’ll have an easier time keeping your carbs down. You also may want to limit yourself to one fruit a day (maybe two if your other carbs are really low).
        1 cup kale = 7 carbs – 2 grams fiber = 5 carbs
        20 brussel sprouts = 20 carbs – 9 grams fiber = 11
        2 cups of carrots – 24 carbs – 8 grams fiber = 16
        1 med. banana = 51 carb – (my guide says a med banana is 28 carbs) – 3 grams fiber = 25
        pineapple cup = 20 carb – 2 grams of fiber = 18
        raisins 1 ounce = 22 g – 2 grams of fiber = 20
        20 + 51 + 24 + 20 + 7 + 22= 144
        5 + 11 + 16 + 25 + 18 + 20= 95 carbs
        Get rid of the high sugar fruits and substitute 1 cup of raspberries and you have
        5 + 11 + 16 + 10 = 42

        I don’t usually have any trouble keeping my net carbs under 50.

        My last comment is about the carrots. I love them and they are a part of my diet, but since they are a higher carb veggie I limit myself to about a half a cup a day. Try a wilted spinach salad or celery in place of part of the carrots. This should get you down far enough in your carb count to add more if you are hungry. Also, are eating enough protein and fat? The fat and protein really will keep your hunger at bay.

        Read more: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-primal-eating-plan/#ixzz2gQJm5ogs

      6. You have to remember, dietary fiber is indegestible and can’t be broken down into a simple sugar. Most vegetables have great amounts of dietary fiber. So subtract the fiber #away from the carb count and you get your real carb count. Also, I recommend not eating as much fruit for the reason it contains fructose, which is a fairly simple sugar that can give you an insulin spike and store fat after 5 grams

    4. I’m a huge carb lover, grew up eating cereal and noodles every meal. Parents never bought veggies or fruit beyond bananas and grapes. I’m really interested in trying this diet, just unsure of where to begin or where to get protein. I’m not a big meat eater and am unsure of how to be creative. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore. Please help

      1. For starters, cut out all processed foods. Eat whole foods. Concerning meat, just try it out, Have some cuts of beef, chicken or pork. I’m personally more into fish – salmon, sardines, tuna, trout. You’ll find out what you like best, don’t worry,, just give it a try. Add in some leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, …), some nuts and berries once or twice a week, and you’re fine. If you still feel hungry though, drink half a cup of olive oil / macadamia nut oil to very meal (feels gross, I know, but it’s healthy and you’ll get used to it). Also, you can have fattier cuts (spare ribs, bacon, chicken wings/legs instead of breasts etc.). Before, I hated fat. Now I love it.

        1. Oh My God. Drink a 1/2 olive oil if you have low energy? Eat bacon because it’s healthy? Have you had any blood work done? If you have been consuming that much fat, you should really see a doctor and make sure you are not on an even earlier track to heart disease.

        2. Yes, Cory Marsh, both my husband and I visited the doctor and found that all our too-high bad numbers WENT DOWN. Many, many primal eaters have had this same experience, and the same of experience of having their doctors say, “what the heck? What’s the name of that book again?” Just search this site. It’s not anecdotal – it happens over and over.
          Even a little research shows that we are meant to be fat-burning animals, not carb-burning, and that REAL fats are infinitely better for you than industrial fats. So much of the conventional-wisdom scholarly “research”(often paid for by Big Food) has been answered by equally scholarly, peer-reviewed research (but independent), but it’s hard to get it because the Industrial Food complex has a vested interest in selling carbs, processed oils, etc.

      2. Not an expert, but I recommend making eggs a staple in your diet. They are easy to make and can be made many different ways. If I have time, I will make a scramble or omelette with whatever I like to add to it (sausage, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, etc). I also keep hard-boiled eggs on hand for snacking or on-the-go. When I want something warm and soothing, I make a basic egg-drop soup (chicken stock, green onion, a little soy sauce, couple drops of sesame oil and egg). Poached or fried eggs also work for a quick meal. I buy rotisserie chickens from the grocery store as they are tasty and do not require any cooking by me. When I want a nice dinner, I put something in the slow-cooker with garlic, onions and chicken or beef stock such as beef short ribs or a pot roast. Slow-cooked meats ALWAYS taste good! Good luck and don’t give up! The weight will come off if you limit your carbs! Mark says under 80 grams per day but less is even better at removing fat! Shoot for 60 grams or less (and don’t count fiber towards your carbs!). Example someone gave earlier: 1 cup kale = 7 g carbs (but 2 g of this are fiber). THEREFORE only 5 grams are counted towards your carb intake. I call these the “active carbs” (carbs your body actually absorbs).

        1. oh yea! I also love to make tuna salad with whatever additions I like…I do mayo, celery, onion, scallions, cilantro and cracked pepper. I also buy smoked salmon or lox to snack on. Just wanted to give you some specific ideas to get started!

  1. So some one wonting to lose a lot of fat say 120 lbs can do it on 80 gram’s of carbs a day?that’s way to high to calm the insulin down because the truth be told carb’s are non essential to the human diet.All carb’s do even veggies is flood the blood strem with insulin to make you fat and store it as fat.Is this true i dunno can someone explain to a guy who get’s easly confussed.Because the body only has so much room to store carbs in the liver and muscles.

    1. i think the veggies and fruit come into play more for their roll in nutrients!

    2. You are absolutely right! I am prediabetic and my doctor has me on a 60 carb a day diet…She gave me books to read and studies show that you can literally live without carbs, not recommended but you can. Carbs do raise the insullin level…they need to be limited, especially the complex carbs and the ones that are white! I am on a 60 carb a day diet and I have lost 20 pounds in less than a month. I have more energy and am healthier now than I have every been and my lab results prove it!! Read the book “Living Low Carb” by Johnny Bowden. I would never try a diet like the one on this web page unless it was prescribed by a doctor.

  2. Bill,

    Depends on your goals and how agreesive you want to be. I said “under 80” grams, meaning that is a high-end number. If you shoot for 20-50 grams a day, I guarantee you’ll lose the fat. But even if you were at 120 grams a day, you’d lose fat (provided you keep calories under control) just at a slower pace.

    1. you said “provided you keep calories under control” – so does that mean you have to count calories even if you’re controlling the number of carbs?

      1. So basically you say that if you eat less calories you will lose weight? mmm, I heard that before….

        1. If you control your carbs to a lower number, then calories don’t matter so much because your body is then a “fat burning” system…as you increase your carbs (such as the 120 carbs in question) it stands to reason that calories would then come into play because you’re transitioning your fuel system from a fat burner back over to a calorie burning system. At least that’s my understanding of how it works.

        2. Forget about calorie counting. That’s an archaic system that is a pain in the patoot and doesn’t work in the long run, probably because it displays zero understanding of how the human body actually works.

          If you stick with a primal system that is very low in carbs (as stated in the article), you will lose weight like crazy without counting anything–guaranteed. Anybody who tries to tell you they couldn’t lose weight on a primal, Atkins-type diet was absolutely, unquestionably cheating!

          My son was on a ketogenic diet for seizure control a number of years ago. This is a very severe, medically-monitored version of the Atkins (or primal) diet. In order to keep him from losing too much weight, which he did not need to do, we had to add loads of fat into his diet.

          I should mention that I don’t think an ultra-low carb diet is the healthiest way to eat. It’s the most effective thing there is for weight loss, bar none, but it should not be adhered to permanently because the body does need the nutrients found in fruit and veggies.

  3. Varangy,

    I really like what Peter does at hyperlipid in terms of self-experimentation and research. He is definitely on the leading edge of the “truly high fat” diet.

    I agree that protein can have insulinegenic properties and that excess protein can be converted to glucose, but I still feel that it’s better to err on the side of a little too much protein (especially if you train intensely on occasion. Don’t recall that Peter trains intensely ever, but I could be wrong. And the micronutrient benefits of fruits and vegetables can’t be overstated either.

    1. I love peppers and usually eat them raw daily. Do you think organic peppers are healthy and contain nutrients?

      1. Absolutely! Red bell peppers are especially loaded with nutrients! The colors of fruits and veggies usually represent some part of their nutrient breakdown…for example, orange-colored fruits/veggies (pumpkin, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, etc) contain the antioxidant nutrient Beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to the ever-important Vitamin A, used for eye health among other things. Most fruits/veggies contain multiple nutrients, but it is still important to vary what you eat. Superstars are broccoli and leafy greens (such as spinach and kale)…they seem to contain nearly every vitamin and many minerals!

  4. Excellent post as always Mark.

    I’ve been gradually lowering my carbs a little more each week.

    I’m going to reanalyze everything this week via FitDay, but I’d estimate I’m down to about 100-150, with ALL of them coming from whole, natural foods.

  5. Varangy,

    Most plants have some type of toxin that acts as a defense mechanism. Some are worse than others, but if we avoided all plants for that reason, we would perish.

    As for nightshades. some are worse than others and some people are more susceptible that others. I would suspect that many of today’s bell peppers, for instance, are bred for color and sweetness and retain very little of the potentially offending alkyloids found in wilder versions. Same for tomatoes. And, having said that, I would still probably moderate my consumption of these, since they are but a small portion of the overall menu in the vegetable world.

    1. Don’t forget also that nightshades are NOT vegetables. They are fruit. More veg, controlled amounts of fruit. Peppers, tomatos and other things that have the seeds INSIDE the item are fruit. Vegetables do not contain seeds. That is why things that contains seeds are GENERALLY higher in calories. Even cucumbers are much higher in calories (and carbs) than say radishes or lettuce and they are one of the less caloric options.

  6. Love what you said about tracking your macronutrient ratios and calories over the course of several weeks and adjusting them based on your goals. very sensible advice that gets lost amidst all the calorie screaming in the media. Also loved your emphasis (again) that calories DO have a context.

    One question tho (and I’m sure I’m reading you wrong) but when you said that you now eat 600-1000 less calories per day than when you were higher carb but still maintain a healthy physique it sounds to me like most people would say “so I can eat 600-1000 MORE cals per day if I incorporate carbs? And still maintain a healthy phsyique?” Is that just because you were training harder and burning more cals then?

    1. No, I think he meant that he wasn’t hungry for more than the calories he consumed, due to the satiation from a greater percentage of protein and fat in his diet.

      (At least that is the way it works for me)

  7. The main problem I have with continuing to increase my protein and fat consumption is that commonly available meat is of such low quality. The feedlot and industrial produced meat we buy at our supermarkets is from animals that have been abused, pumped full of chemicals and fed any number of really nasty Things.

    How many of us have the resources to seek out top quality grass-fed and naturally raised meat?

    The other reason is that I decided to embrace the Primal or Paleolithic eating system because I’m very leery of theory spinning regarding what is best for our bodies. Instead I’d like to emulate the diet that my distant ancestors ate since, by definition, that is the diet my body evolved on.

    It’s very hard to determine exactly what Paleolithic man ate and in what proportions. But every single hunter-gatherer society that we have encountered has eaten a wide variety of plant foods unless plant foods simply weren’t available. Most hunter-gatherer societies that have been studied, people who live in a way very similar to the way our Paleolithic ancestors are thought to have lived, gather and eat a great variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and tubers.

    The Inuit lived entirely off animal products because that’s all that was available. The Masai eat mostly dairy but this is a post-paleolithic adaptation to an extremely arid environment. These are the exceptions. In general, we have no reason at all to think that ancient man limited his diet to meat by choice. In fact when hunting was scarce, as it probably often was, he is likely to have lived almost entirely off of nuts and tubers.

    So, in my view at least, when we try to cut carbs down to almost nothing we are not necessarily trying to emulate the primal diet. Instead we are experimenting, much like the guy at Hyper-Lipid admits he is doing. But, personally, at this point I’d rather try to actually emulate the typical Paleolithic diet rather than embark on an experimental super-low carb regime.

    1. Oh Boy! Somebody seems to have issues with eating meat; just doesn’t want to admit it.

      The Inuit, the Masai as well as the Polynesians ate a diet that was both high in animal/fish or animal/fish derived products. Their diet was also very very high in Saturated Fat; especially Saturated Animal Fat as in the case of the Inuit and Masai. In the case of the Polynesians it was very high in Saturated Fat from vegetative sources – Coconut – yet it still is Saturated Fat.

      In all cases there was an abundant intake of Animal Protein as well as Saturated Fat (predominantly Saturated Animal Fat). Yet these people have one of the lowest cases of Heart Disease or Type 2 Diabetes in the world.

      In fact when some of the Masai people moved to cites and adapted a more modern diet higher in Carbs but also lower in Protein (that is Animal Protein not Vegan Soy Protein by the way) there was a dramatic increase in both Heart Disease as well as Type 2 Diabetes.

      Till that point of time many had assumed that the Masai(as well as the others) had developed some kind of resistance to such “High” Levels of “Dangerous” Animal Protein and Saturated Fat. I guess they got it wrong!

      No offense Binko but your comment seems Sophist!

      1. I don’t understand, are you saying that it’s pointless to be concerned about quality of meat then? Or was it just a desire to insult rather than inform that prompted you to reply?

    2. Hi ..my take is also is to not concentrate wholely on the diet, while not paying attention to the “move slowly and often” piece…if you are moving your body the natural appetite and feeling of wellbeing at the end of the day is almost as important. If you can keep to the low carb guidelines don’t sweat it out counting calories unless it is wildly obvious that you have a problem in that area…eating 5 steaks is problem in that area…when a single one would do. Good luck and hope it all goes well ( or went well )

      1. I am almost certain that much like animals the world over that primal men would also eat absolutely as much of their kill as they could. Five stakes should not be out of the question.

      1. Life expectancy can be misleading. If you looked at the age that adults lived to you’d probably find that they were comparable to our own. High infant mortality drives down life expectancy. You have 10 kids, 3 survive. Do the math.

        Also, hunter gatherers were on the move most of the time, and children needed to be able to track along behind migrating groups from a fairly young age. Those that couldn’t keep up didn’t survive.

        Diet has no relation to this. The idea is not to abandon modernity, it is to combine the benefits of modernity with the benefits of the diet we evolved to eat.

    3. Supermarket meat is better than organic wheat any day and stressing on the right or wrong of it is just as bad…..buy the best when you can. Relax a bit…..the portions of guilt, judgement, anger, resentment we take in as we eat does more damage than the toxin….I read somewhere that if you give thanks [or bless or pray or be grateful for or white light your food….or whatever your belief system calls it] as your prepare and before you eat it raises the energy of the food…..works for me.

    4. Commonly available meat is low quality, but its still better for you than a carb diet. There is tones of local farms, if you do research that sell beef jerky, steaks, meats and even the dairy farms aswell you can buy cheese at half the price of the local grocery. If you read more into History no its not hard to determine exactly what Paleolithic man ate, because depending on climate and location it differs. And especially in Canada the majority survived on deer, moose, elk many others that are hugely available. Hunting was never scarce until the white man wiped out all of the buffalo. Animal fat was their number once source of protein over the winter and yes they did mix it with berries and other plants, but nuts do not grow as naturally here as in other countries. If you take a trip to Canada, you will know that hunting/fishing has never been scarce. When I take a drive through the mountains and mountain lakes, I encounter hundreds of deer and fish over the years. and thats not something that just happened. Carbs are nothing. and have no health benefits. for such a lengthy paragraph, there is no helpful information and biased opinion only. If you have such problems finding good meat, maybe you should educate yourself better.

    5. It’s not that hard, at least where I live, to obtain good grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free, free range meat… I did some googling, checked out some Slow Food websites, and asked around. I met some farmers in the nearby area, and visited the farms. These producers have become good friends, I buy directly from them, (often 1/3 to 1/2 of retail prices) and I can visit the farms any time I like (well, I call ahead to make sure they’re not busy) to see how the animals are, sometimes even help out with chores. I know everyone doesn’t have this kind of time, but once you take time to establish the initial relationship, you can just order your meat without worrying about things. Other friends didn’t have this time, but were interested in the product, so I’ve managed e-mail intros to the farmers, and numerous folks have been able to access the same good product…so many people in my local area are now on board, my lovely 74 year old farmer friend now does deliveries a few times a year, win for everyone I would say!

      It’s my opinion that we spend a lot of time these days on entertainments etc, many of which might not enrich our lives to any great extent (though some enrich our lives immeasurably!). Makes sense to me to take a wee bit of time out of that other stuff, and direct it towards taking care of health, and relationships, so making these connections with people is one of the ways I’ve found to do that!

      Good luck with it all

  8. I’ve been reading MDA for a while now, I’ve never really taken the PB to be ‘low carb’ in the stereotypical ‘low carb’ way. In fact, I’ve read several times that Mark puts vegatables at the base of the PB food pyramid. Take my Fitday for today (crustless spinach quiche, monster kitchen sink salad, and I’m planning to have a handful of almonds if I have time and then salmon and asparagus for dinner). Comes out to only 63 grams carbs, 114 grams protein, 86 grams fat (hello homemand olive oil dressing!) I don’t often track on Fitday, but this post made me curious. Believe me, I’ve eaten a ton of veggies today (even had a co-worker ask ‘Are you really going to eat all that?’ when I got ready to eat my lunch salad), but total carbs still come out pretty low. To my mind, the PB is NOT low carb, it is eating whole, unprocessed foods; simple, sane concept.

  9. But every single hunter-gatherer society that we have encountered has eaten a wide variety of plant foods unless plant foods simply weren’t available. Most hunter-gatherer societies that have been studied, people who live in a way very similar to the way our Paleolithic ancestors are thought to have lived, gather and eat a great variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and tubers.

    1) As one of my anthro professors noted, it is common mistake to equate contemporary or near-contemporary hunter-gatherers with our paleolithic ancestors.

    They are not one and the same — and these hunter-gatherers most likely do not make good proxies for paleolithic humans. For example, I do not think that Paleolithic humans had much access to fruits, vegetables and nuts (some tubers excepted) — most if not all of what we know as contemporary fruits and vegetables are distant modern and most importantly, considerably domesticated (read: sweeter), cousins of wild plants – same goes for animals as well.

    Therefore, one must be careful in drawing conclusions based on hunter-gatherer behavior.

    2) One issue I have not seen discussed on this site with regard to low carb/paleo eating is sleep.

    I, sample size (n = 1), have radically improved my sleep. I used to suffer from racing thoughts and restlessness many a night — now I can actually lay down and get a restful night’s sleep.

    This newfound return to normalcy correlates directly with my hybrid hyperlipid/low carb/paleo style eating — is it responsible for it? Maybe.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    1. My Sleep has improved so much I find it hard to believe that it can’t be the way I’m eating. Having been an insomniac for 20 years, I now sleep like a babe, and wake refreshed after 6-8 hoours.

      1. My Sig-o used to snore all night and feel miserable in the morning; his dad has sleep apnea and he was worried about the same. We started eating based on Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” which is a low carb, whole-food, high fat, good healthy meats kinda diet (which eventually lead me here)and he immediately noticed how much better he slept; shoot, I sleep better too, without all his snoring! 😉 He wakes feeling refreshed, alert, and eager to start his day (also a refreshing change from Mr. Grumpy-pants). I can’t speak for sleep schedules because I work a split-shift that has me up some nights and asleep others…I hate it; it will be the next thing to go, if I have my way! 🙂

  10. Varangy-

    n=2

    I used to think I was doomed to a lifetime of restless nights. I’ve been Primal for 4 months now and have seen vast improvements. I still have trouble getting to sleep every once in awhile (which seems to correlate with straying from Primal eating) but most nights I sleep like a baby. Everything is connected. Get the big things right and it is sort of like a domino effect. Everything begins to fall into place.

  11. “Fats have little or no impact on insulin and, as a result, promote the burning of both dietary and stored (adipose) fat as fuel”.
    Mark, I am sorry to have to ask you this (I am knew here) but I have been told all my life that fat is exactly what is sounds like, fat! Now you are espousing the belief, and I can see that you have done your homework, that I can have 120 grams of fat and still lose weight??? I just don’t see how that is possible? Can you put into simple terms how this works?
    Jen

  12. @Jen C.

    Not to answer on behalf of Mark, but we have all suffered under the massive mis-information cascade of ‘low-fat’ diets. Read Gary Taubes’s book for a fantastic review.

    8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.

    9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.

    10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.

    11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

    http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400040780

  13. The old fashioned notion was that the your body simply burned calories as they were consumed and stored the excess as fat. But the body is actually a much more complex machine than that.

    In simple terms the body will store fat when it is in fat storage mode. When it is not in fat storage mode excess calories simply pass through or burn off. It seems that anything that spikes your insulin, mainly simple carbs and sugars, will tend to move the body into fat storage mode.

    In Dr. Steven Gundry’s new book “The Diet Evolution” he goes into this in detail. He says that when we eat a great mass of sugars or carbs the body’s hormonal system concludes that it must be autumn when the fruit is ripe and plants are richest and starts to move into what he calls “store fat for winter” mode.

    But with modern processed food people are always eating tons of simple carbs and thus they are always in “store fat for winter” mode. This is the great fallacy of the low-fat diet theory. It tells you to avoid fat, which helps stabalize blood sugar and insulin levels, and eat more carbs which spike blood sugar and insulin. But low-fat and high carb will kick you into fat storage mode while high-fat and low-carb will tend to put you into “get lean for summer hunting” mode.

    1. Never thought of it that way, brilliant.
      I have to order the book!

  14. Charlotte, good question. When I ate carbs I did have to work out longer and harder…and then I had to eat more to replace the lost glycogen. A viscious cycle of working out more than I needed to and then eating more than I needed to. Life is much easier this way. I CAN get by on less, but as long as I keep carbs low, I can also eat more fat and not have it affect me. For a guy whose college buddies still call him “Arnold Ziffle” (after the pig on Green Acres, because I could eat so much) I marvel at how often I can cruise through a day without getting that hungry. Can’t do that on a high carb plan.

    Varangy, when I was a carb eater, I would often not be able to sleep (among other reasons) because the accelerated beating of my endurance-trained heart would keep me awake as the blood pumped through my eardrums…seriously. That is no longer a problem, so I also sleep better. n=3

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you so much for the information that you’ve put out here. I’m new to Primal eating and have just started your book. You may have answered this question elsewhere, so please forgive me if you have. In eating 50-100g or 100-150g of carbs a day, how do grams of sugar fit/add in? Are the numbers for carbohydrates and sugars you’d find on a nutritional label simply additive? Would the molar difference be only slight because of a loss of water in the polysaccharides?

      Thanks so much for your help with all this!

  15. Mark,
    there is a guy on jimmy moore’s forum named charles he eats 0 carb’s and is a marathon runner,i listened to his interview by jimmy it was interesting.Can someone survive on 0 carbs 0 fiber and 0 veggies.

    1. Chances are that “Charles” wasn’t making a distinction between sugar/grain/starch carbs and healthful fruits and vegetables, which are also classified as carbohydrates.

      Fact is, a longterm zero-carb diet will eventually lead to emaciation, chronic exhaustion, and various serious health issues, not the least of which would be constipation like you wouldn’t believe.

  16. Bill, I’ll check it out. YOu can live on zero carbs, but you’d have to be very careful what you ate (grassfed, organic, etc) and you’d definitely have to take a high-potency multi-vitamin. I think the fiber thing has been way over-done, so I wouldn’t be so concerned with taking a fiber supplement. 0 carbs is just a tough way to live…he also can’t be very fast as a marathoner.

  17. Dear Mark,

    I have embarked on my no grain “way of life”. I am keeping it low carb and adding in the fats to keep the ball rolling. I am scared to even take a bit of fruit however because I am not sure how the insulin thingy works. I want my body to burn fat efficiently and get off the carb burning roller coaster. Can you give me an idea of how I am able to add any carbs (that are not grains) but fruit ect. to my meal w/out raising my insulin and storing the fat I am eating in my meal on my hips.

    I have read that if I eat fat in my meals (which is great to do on low carb) then I eat carbs too my insulin can rise and cause fat storage. Is there a number of carbs to stay below in each meal? Is it possible to have say half and apple at my breakfast of 2 whole eggs, natural bacon and avacado.

    Also, do you have a take on cheese on salads, whole cream in coffee, and yogurt plain with no sweetener…. Is dairy to be avoided at all costs like grains?

    xoxo Autumn
    125lb 5 foot 2 23%bf and currently living in brain fog (first 2 days of low carb so far)

  18. Autumn, dairy is one of our “sensible vices”. Grok didn’t consume dairy, but many of us who don’t have lactose intolerance (or casein issues) can have a little refined or fermented dairy now and then. For that reason, a little feta on a salad, whole cream in coffee and the occasional Greek-style yogurt will be fine.

  19. So what happens if I drink lots of 1% or skim milk? I’m lactose and casein tolerant, and put down between 1 and 2 quarts per day as a teenager. At 35, I still LOVE milk. What’s the effect of 16 or so ounces per day on top of low fat cheese, hormonally/biochemically speaking?

    1. Many of the nutrients in milk are found in the fat! You should be drinking at least 2% fat milk, or even whole milk…skim and 1% do not contain as many nutrients (gram for gram…or quart for quart). Remember: FAT IS NOT THE ENEMY HERE! That is conventional wisdom telling you to drink skim milk to avoid “excess calories”. Among its many beneficial functions, fat also has a very high satiety factor (i.e. fat keeps you full longer because it takes longer to move from your stomach to your intestines…in other words, takes longer to digest).

  20. Susanne, maybe you are one of the few who can truly tolerate a ton of dairy. I’d be concerned if you are consuming that much factory-farmed, hormone-and-antibiotic-laden product, though.

  21. Mark,
    I like the information here.. This is very similar to a “Paleolithic Diet” or Caveman Style Diet, which I endorse & write often about on JohnFit.COM Fitness Blog.. Fats have such high anti-inflammatory effects on the body that they make for “calming” features on your internal tissues.. Also, switching to this style of eating is great for a less bloated look and lean appearance.. My body fat stays around 8%, but I’ve noticed that I often look 10%+ from the bloating features of wheat and grain products.. This may also be linked to a “Wheat Allergy” that I have, but I think its a very common allergy & grade A red Flag for, “YOUR FEEDING SOMETHING TO YOUR BODY THATS ITS NOT MENT TO PROCESS”! So, I cut out the wheat products, and leave the breads on the shelf.. Not to mention, Gluten is a growing concern in our “Get Lean & Fit, while supporting immune system” eating lifestyle.. Bump up the fats, consolidate the carbs, and focus on becoming more organic.. I like to say, “If it doesn’t run, grow, &/or respond to sunlight” then don’t eat it.. Everything from improved skin conditions, shinier hair & healthier teeth, to shaving body fat & improving immune system fuctions will occur when you supplement this eating style into your new positive habit patterns.. Great article Bud.. I’m a fan!

    John Fit..

  22. Hi Mark. Very interesting take on nutrition, and one I will be trying this year. In the past, I have been guilty for over-emphasizing carbs and taking in too little fat, mostly because I have been concerned with lacking the fuel needed for long workouts. Which brings me to my question: what exactly do you mean by training hard for long periods of time? For example, is it training more than 1 hour per day? 2 hours per day? I am an Ironman Triathlete so typically training is from 2 hours to 6 hours per day. Also, am I right in assuming that the extra 100g of carbs includes those taken in during exercising?
    Thanks for all the information on your site!
    Tammy
    ps I feed my dog raw and she a thriving athletic machine!

  23. Tammy, I have done a few posts on this, but basically, my theory is that unless you are training to compete, anything over an hour is counter-productive. In your case, you will need the carbs. Generally, I say 100 grams for every training hour over the first hour.

  24. @Mark

    What carbs do you suggest for a 100 gram post work-out snack?

    A sweet potato?

    Your input is much appreciated. TIA.

  25. Any guidelines for a vegetarian/vegan diet? Same idea? Or are you wholly against that?

    1. I’m a vegan also but Mark’s advice is still excellent imo. For protein I’m drinking Spirulina. I know, it tastes horrendous but right now I just can’t eat animals. I take flaxseed oil which single handedly eliminated my fatigue and muscle soreness. Avacados also are wonderful fat source.

  26. all i need is your help to loose about 50 pounds please i am counting on you

  27. Hi there, just going through your archives over the last bit and have a question for you.

    I have PCOS (Insulin resistance as a result/cause?) and am quite over weight. I am trying to add muscle mass, exercise etc to get down to a normal weight. I’ve done the atkins thing in the past and it made me feel sick. As a female, with about 48% BF, what would you suggest carb intake to be at to burn fat? Still the same 100-150/day? I’ve got the protein needs figured out (same as your example woman) but I just need to get this right. The ability to loose this weight seems to be just out of reach. With PCOS, I can literally work my butt off in the gym, eat within my caloric range and not loose a lb. I can also sit on my ass on the couch and read this (while eating very little/or whatever the hell I want – doesn’t seem to make a difference) and not gain/loose a lb.

    HELP!

    1. Jennifer, I know exactly what you are talking about! It is frustrating and seems impossible at times. I found just cutting out almost all sugar and grain, even cutting back some on fruit, but eating plenty of raw veggies, protein and some fat is what’s finally working for me. I also had to get a glucometer. I started testing my blood sugars and the numbers on the meter made me realize I was indeed insulin resistant (I didn’t think I was because I was so active). It also helped me determined what foods I could handle well and what foods I couldn’t. Many dinners were a steak and a sweet potato with butter. Many lunches were tuna, mayo, fermented pickles, mustard. Often just by itself or with a salad. All the raw veggies I wanted, like celery, carrots (kind of sugary but so hard to eat it’s hard to OD, radishes, turnips, broccoli etc). I really like raw pecans for snacks. If I had some grain it was usually ezekiel bread, which is sprouted. I did actually eat pizza once per week, thin crust from Dominoes. But at first I had to be very careful and not eat too much because my blood sugar would get too high (over 140- it should NEVER get above 140, you are in active damage in that range- should also come down below 120 within two hours) I started that last November, so about 10 months ago. The first couple of weeks I was starving. But that was nothing too new, I was always hungry anyway, even right after eating. And I was not one to eat a lot of sweets or crap either. I ate decent food. The hunger was because my body was perceiving a normal blood sugar as low. But eventually I got to where I was not so hungry anymore! Since the change I’ve lost 27 lbs, and gained muscle mass from exersize. Not only that, but my back pain is gone, I had constant back pain, my hands would be numb etc. Like I say, I was very active and all the hard work I was doing was just tearing my inflamed body down, I was not able to cope with it. Now I work harder than ever and feel better than ever. I’m trying to really tighten down some more to get the last 20 lbs off that I need to lose. But at least I feel great.

  28. Hi Mark: I just have to say what an incredible site you have really outdone yourself. I have started on this about 4 days in now and I can just say WOW!. The first couple of day’s you have cravings but after that you just start feeling so great you just do not want to eat that stuff anymore. Keep it coming and the recipes sound awesome can’t wait to try a few.
    Thanks Owen.

    May God Bless you and you family.

  29. counting calories and following the usda food pyramid is HOPELESS. It’s too bad so many people have been nothing short of brainwashed and don’t realize there is a better way!

  30. Fixed Gear~
    I think that alot of that will come to change in future generations. I find the whole “Well if the doctor says I should tie these cinder blocks to my feet and jump into a canal, I guess its what’s best for my health.” mentality more common among my parents/similarly aged people. Unfortunately with the recent economic collapse I am sure there are people forgetting everything about anything diet related and are sticking with the bare minimum “I need to put food in my/my kid’s mouth.” and what is most easily availiable is highly processed grain.

    Love the article, It backs my general thoughts on eating with empirical data, the most important of which is that fat dosen’t go sideways out of your stomach and into your belly. I’ve always believed that when you digest food you turn it into other things (hence we dont flush pork chops and beer) so you would be pretty hard pressed to get fat from fat, since it will turn into something *not* fat.

    I was wondering if you could help me try to *gain* weight. I seem to have hit a wall at 140. I’m lean so I did my fat% at 16%. Im an intense exerciser so I do 1g/lb protien which is ~120g with about 95g carbs and 80g fat. Not sure if I need to up the protien or maybe the carbs (I run 6x a week mon/wed/fri 1 mile sprint slow to jog if I can’t make the full dist. usually get 3/4, tue/thur 3 mile interval, sat 5 mile brisk jog along with the anaerobics I do to gain muscle mass) so maybe I need more carbs to keep the running from eating my muscles for energy?

    Only thing with that is like you say in your article its way hard to get many more carbs without picking up some wonderbread…

  31. im not sure how the whole insulin hormone whatever thing works. i just eat wen im hungry. i have fruits, tree nuts, veggies and meat, and the occasional baked sweet potato. i eat generally watever is in season, and i buy most of my weekly requirements from the farmers markets on saturdays and thursdays.

  32. I’ve been doing lower carb for years, but having Type 1 Diabetes, the insulin I have to take, puts on weight… 14kg since 2006, and 4kg since June when I went on an insulin pump. However, my blood glucose levels have drastically improved. I need to lose about 20kg. The dietician said I wasn’t eating enough carbs so I’m not losing weight. Wrong! I also rarely eat fruit.

    Great discussion about fructose here: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2007/1969924.htm and it emphasizes the importance of fibre and exercise and talks about fructose metabolism.

    As a result of the way I eat (under 120 carbs a day, but do better under 80), I’m on much less insulin than most for my weight. I do have one weakness – good quality dark chocolate. Still grappling with that one, and I certainly don’t have it every day. But… my issue is that I have other autoimmune diseases (arthritic) as well, and exercise is a form of torture. Somehow it must be added, and not for burning calories. I try, then I’m down for days. No swimming pool anywhere close. Pity. Any suggestions of what I can do for very low impact exercise? Walking is out – too painful (needing a knee replacement, and have arthritis in my spine). Would Yoga be good?

    I’m also one of those with super-high cholesterol – have had as long as it’s been measured. I refuse to take statins. Fish oil isn’t making much difference. Not sure what will – even a vegan diet years ago didn’t make much difference.

    My liver seems to really good at dumping glucose when it’s not required, which of course, raises my insulin needs. So really my overzealous liver is likely the problem.

    Would really appreciate some advice.

  33. Hey Mark,

    I have a question about lowish carbs and sleep. I noticed you mentioned that 80g is still on the high end and that if you lower them between 20-50 you’ll lose fat quicker..well I know this personally to be true! The thing I find when I cut my carbs is that I cannot sleep at night for the life of me. Even at around 50-100 my sleep isn’t as great as if I were eating more. Yet, the more carbs I eat the harder it is for me to lose fat, the lower my calories must be, and the IBS symptoms become unbearable. Lowish carb makes my tummy happy.
    Do you know any correlation between carbs and sleep?
    Thanks!

  34. Oops let me re-phrase my question above so I don’t sound like an idiot. I know there is a strong correlation between carbs and sleep. I’ve researched this like crazy. BUT, how can you manage it and still eat low carb? I’ve heard of taking melatonin but this does not work for me.
    Thanks again!

    1. Heather, the correlation between sleep and carbs is, in my estimation, a loose one based on carbs’ relationship to serotonin. After a time on a low carb plan, theoretically, your sleep adjusts. There may be other factors involved, though, like stress, ambient light, time-of-life hormone balance, etc. I say that if you are allowing yourself enough time for sleep, your body should do fine. There’s no law that says we have to sleep straight through the night, either. Some people lose sleep worrying over how much sleep they are losing!! Finally, I’m not a huge fan of taking melatonin regularly (I do, however, use it to reset my internal clock when I cross more than three time zones traveling).

  35. Awesome article. I too have encountered the ridiculousness of a registered dietician. He was on about 65% of the diet being comprised of carbs. I wanted to stab my eyes out.

  36. Hi Mark and all other posters!.Im struggling to understand the amount of carbs per day…it says 100g-150g/per day, but I had a small salad (lettuce/spinach, cherry toms, shredded carrot) and it came to nearly 100g, just in 1 small salad! I am misunderstanding something?? Any help would be much appreciated

  37. Hello just wondering Im into bodybuilding age 28, workout 5 days a week and currently have a lean and muscular body already at about 8% bodyfat. Im interested in following this diet but afraid would this slow my gains?
    As some that I read that you need to have carbs after workout and carbs to grow would 50-150gm be enough? I’ve always been sticking to low GI carbs Quick Oats mainly.

  38. Heather,
    I wanted to respond to you because I have the exact same issue. No matter how good it is for you, dropping carbs too quickly can really mess with your blood sugar. Some people can tolerate it better than others. It’s just like quitting caffeine; some people can go cold turkey and suffer only minor withdrawal symptoms but others really struggle and have to wean themselves off slowly.

    What’s likely keeping you up/waking you up is hypoglycemia/hyperinsulemia. I suffered from chronic insomnia for 4 months before I finally figured it out. Your blood sugar dips too low and your body has what’s called a “vigilant response”; it releases adrenaline to up your glucose levels so your basic bodily functions can still occur. That’s what wakes you up. To get back on track, I’ve upped my carbs so I can sleep, then I’m going to slowly start cutting back so as not to shock my system again. I’ve also started taking a cinnamon supplement, and I’ve noticed that within minutes of taking it my hunger pains have subsided and my blood sugar evens out.

    Sleep is too important for anyone to dismiss. It has been tied to obesity, difficulty regulating blood sugar, and a deficient immune system, just to name a few. It impairs your reaction times the same way being drunk does. It is also the single most important thing you can do to repair your adrenals if they’re fatigued. When you don’t sleep, your body has to pump out all sorts of stuff (cortisol, adrenaline) that are horrible for your body over a prolonged period of time. Too much cortisol in particular raises blood sugar and insulin levels and makes it very difficult to lose weight. Did you know that most of your fat burning occurs when you sleep? So if you’re not sleeping, you’re not burning fat. You’re also not releasing human growth hormone the way you need to, which has tremendous fat burning and anti-aging effects.

    I hope this helps. I know how frustrating and stressful insomnia is, and most of us do not have the luxury of shrugging it off. Good luck to you.

  39. yes thankyou Klamolsch! I googled and searched high and low for a reason why I couldn’t sleep without the carbs and couldn’t find anything…so thanks for explaining that. I thought I would just never be able to do the low carb thang..

    I agree totally about the importance of sleep! I have issues sleeping as it is..body is so darn sensitive to everything and sometimes I go days struggling to fall asleep due to stress, change of routine, or even accidentally eating sugar! One crumb of sugar or anything processed and I’m up all night! Ridiculous! I am so envious of people who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.
    I am going to do as you are .. slowly begin dropping my carbs. Sort of like Atkins backwards eh 🙂

  40. What do we do if we can only eat about 800 calories a day or we gain weight? Water weight is poundage just the same. I was on Atkins, loved it, but my setpoint is now higher then it should be, possibly because of starvation mode or something. Now i am screwed…

  41. To be perfectly honest though I don’t really count too many of anything except for protein. I do this b/c it’s simpler and I just don’t have the time. I work a lot, have a young family and am always on the run. I still take time to relax, workout and get close to right amount of sleep. Average between 6.5-8 hours per night.

    I eat very healthy with lots of veggies, good protein (probably 150-180 g per day form various sources), nuts, seeds and have basically cut out dairy and grain products. I do have the occasionally piece of garlic toast though. no more cold cereal, oatmeal, and fruits. I only eat fruits with a very high nutritional value.

  42. I am interested in trying this method to reduce my bodyfat percentage from 25-26% to 19-20%. I get close, start to see some abs, and I squish up again. My question is… I know you discourage crazy intense exercise for long periods of time. I teach dance and I love it. It is extremely intense (I try to make it HIIT and take 45 second breaks every 2 minutes or so) and I”m soaking afterwards. I do this 4-5 times per week and I lift heavy weights 3 times a week. Do you think I can get away with the intenseness (intensity?) of my cardio if I eat enough protein?

  43. I definitely need help.

    But here’s the thing: I can’t eat meat. I read Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation” 25 years ago and haven’t eaten meat since. I know that it’s morally wrong to cause suffering to sentient beings (who experiences suffering just as acutely as we do) if we can possibly avoid causing that suffering.

    So what vegetable-based meat substitutes do you recommend to vegetarians?

  44. I just have a few questions. Is your program based on net carbs? Also, I eat this sprouted grain bread that is only one net carb. Is that ok to eat? I even have low carb pitas. I was just wondering what your take is on this.

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  46. Thanks Mark. Do you have a simple “do not eat these foods” list. I started to type this up as I want to leave it with my cook so she knows what not to use. I’ve been following protein power / eades diet for a while now but wanting to get a little more primal…. if you have a list to ensure my kitchen stays primal too that would be great! I have switched to organic free range eggs and the difference is amazing!

  47. I love this article…thank you for all the info. It has cleared up a few things for me regarding carb intake.

    Currently i find it very difficult to maintain muscle mass when i reduce my carb intake?

  48. A lot of Eastern Block Olympic lifters would get 50% of their calories from fat. Their chubby American competitors are high carb diets instead. Guess who won all the medals back then?

  49. Any advice on quitting coffee/caffeine?

    I have noticed that even a small amount interferes with blood sugar.

    Thank you for your great site!

  50. Mark,

    My girlfriend has IBS and is extremely sensitive to vegetables. Basically, when she eats most kinds of vegetables, her stomach balloons to the point where she looks about 8 months pregnant. What are your thoughts on this and IBS in general?

  51. Mark,
    I am new to your plan. I am Type 2 Diabetic, sit behind a desk all day Monday thru Thursday and only get out early mornings (sometimes) to walk at fitness center or I go hiking with a friend at a local nature park. I weight currently 341 and would like to get down to 180. I also take High Blood PRessure meds (2 of them), diabetes med. My nutritionist told me to eat btwn 50-60 grabs carbs per meal 3 times a day. I have tried different things to lose weight, but everytime I come down to 300, my body decides to go back up. I NEED HELP!

  52. Mark,

    I just purchased your Primal Blueprint book, and just started reading it. Some things are a little confusing to me. im a plan and simple kinda guy. Like to take the guess work outta things. My question is are there any list out there to tell us what would be the best meats, vegs and fruits to eat?

  53. Later in the book, Mark highlights some of the best plants and fruits to eat, ones that give the most nutrient bang for the least carb buck. He also explains in full detail what meat labels mean, and how to make your purchasing choices based off them.

  54. I did not realize it but after reading what the Primal Blueprint diet is, I have been doing that diet for at least the last 5 months. I have been dieting since January and I have lost 43 pounds. I started with about 100-200 grams of carbs a day and gradually lowered that amount. Now I am at 20-40 grams of carbs a day and the weight loss is moving quicker. I eat lots of protein, a good amount of vegetables and I snack on peanuts and hard boiled eggs. I exercise 2-2.5 hours a day (2-3 aerobic classes). I am in the last 10-15 pounds of my diet. I started with cellulite in my legs and fat rolls on my stomach. Now I have no cellulite on my legs and no fat rolls on my stomach and my skin is very toned. I went from 203 to 160 pounds and transformed my body and I know the exercise and eating right had alot to do with it.

  55. On a 20 carbs a day my body can take 1200 calories max. On more carbs, I can eat about 800 calories. My metabolism is SCREWED UP. And now, a sedentary job.
    ugh. Be grateful for small achievements. Cellulite? Turn the lights out!

  56. I just want to know if two slices of health nut bread are going to screw up the meat, cheese, or vegetable, inside it, and make it an unhealthy meal.

  57. Hi Mark,
    I am enjoying reading your articles. Have you read the book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS? If not, he devoted 10 years to travel around the world in search of the secret to health. He found the healthiest people ate their indigenous foods (which did not include modernized foods)which may have included milk, grains, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. Do you claim that our ancestors did not drink milk or eat grains or they are just not health? Do you mind explaining for clarity?
    Thanks so much

  58. Hi Mark,
    I am very interested in trying the PB diet. I started yesterday and noticed that I am hungrier than usual. Is that normal? In addition, I am 5’8″ and 140 lb female who wants to cut weight for the upcoming wrestling season. Will following PB allow me to cut weight even though im at a healthy weight for my height?

    1. Hi Stacy! I am by far a PB expert, but like you I am at the low end of my weight but want to lose some fat. I have found I have to be extra strict about carbs (I am around 30 g of carbs per day, all from vegs and dairy) and have lost about 3.5 pounds since Sept 1 (the bodyfat percentage is only down 1%, so I think some of that was bloat, but as long as it’s gone, I don’t care).

      The last few days, I have been INCREDIBLY hungry despite eating plenty of cals, fat and protein. Last night after suffering for days and days, I gave in and just ate primal food whenever I felt hungry. The scale is finally down another pound this morning after being stuck for several days. I’m not sure if you’ll experience this, but I say, PB can improve all of our health (not just our waistline) and just listen to your body’s hunger cues. If it’s urgently telling you to eat, EAT.

      1. The devil is in the details. It’s NOT a simple balance between calories in/calories out to maintain a healthy ratio of lean muscle to body fat. As Mark has said, calories have context. Read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Or, wait for his new book in a few weeks Why We Get Fat: And What to Do about It

  59. Hi Mark,
    You say to cut out sugars (which are carbs and affect insultin – noted), but what about the sugars found in fruits and especially dried fruits. Do you have an amount of sugar grams we should aim for?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Use fitday.com to track your carbohydrates (and therefore sugar of all kinds, including that in fruit) and keep it around 100g per day to maintain fat and below 80g per day to lose fat.

      For instance, an apple has about 20g carbs, depending on size. So, that’s about 20-25% of your daily intake.

      The only exception is milk, which has an insulinogenic response that is greater than the carb content alone would suggest. The likely culprit is the whey component of milk. So, hard cheeses should be OK, but you need to be careful with milk and whey cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, etc.

      It only takes a couple of weeks of daily tracking to get a firm grasp on what to eat and what to avoid.

  60. Wow, Toni- I wish I had enough time to exercise 2- 2.5 hours every day! Good for you!

  61. “that’s between 320 and 440 calories per day in protein. It’s not that much.”
    – Are you kidding it’s almost imposable for me to get that much protein even when I make protein shakes.

  62. The primal eating plan is related to the ‘natural’ eating habits of man, yet should we not, as humans, be able to listen to our own bodies and respond by eating the food that our body wants? One would think that evolution would have equipped us with the knowledge of what our body needs to function, and what foods will best fuel us throughout our lives. The real problem, therein lies when others try to tell us what to eat. That we even need to be told to eat by eating plans such as this stems from a larger problem, that our society as a whole has, through advertisement, distribution, and public policy, been telling the American population what to eat for decades. This has led to a multitude of health problems in society, and also led to a market for diets and eating plans as we no longer are able to simply listen to what our body wants and have access the food it wants. Whether or not the primal eating plan is, in my opinion, the best plan for us all to follow is not the most important issue facing the American population. The most important issues are the social influences that effect our diet and health.

  63. In my opinion there are no perfect diets for everybody. I been employing a “part-time vegetarian” approach, which I consider optimal for me. I reasoned that our ancestors, while hunting, did not have access to the amount of proteins that you are talking about everyday. I agree with Pollan where most of our nutrients should come from plants, since this is what primal man had most access to. I also employ some French philosophies such as caloric restriction through smaller portions, eating more meals but sparingly throughout the day, omega-3’s from a natural source (not from pill supplements), low sugars, good fats, particularly dairy products, and genuinely try to enjoy the process of eating. Emphasis on organic whole foods, in my opinion, is the most important thing for Americans today.

  64. I have to agree with several people in terms of the amount of protein one is supposed to consume under a primal diet. It does appear that fruits and veggies were the most available sources of energy for our ancestors. Meat was consumed only on occasion.
    It is very confusing for someone to make decisions regarding one’s diet with so much contradictory information. What is one to do? The definition of “health” varies across the board. The USDA says one thing, other countries follow drastically different diets, where should one start?
    I’m definitely interested in lowering my body fat percentage, but I also want to make sure I am following a balanced diet. I am a bit wary of a high protein diet because so much of the meat on the market is not healthy, organic, and hormone free.
    I was also a little confused at legumes being paired with starchy carbs. I always thought they were a great alternative to protein??

  65. This all sounds very convincing, except that there are SO many theories about how we should eat that sound convincing… The most convincing thing I’ve read is that the healthiest, longest living people in the world eat mostly plants- mostly carbs by FAR. THE longest lived people in the world- the women of Okinawa Japan- eat about 80% carbohydrates!

    Have you read studies like these? What do you make of them?
    http://www.bluezones.com/

    By the way, I got to your web site looking for information about soaking grains and nuts – Thank you for providing that info.

  66. April- when we talk about CARBS we are most concerned with processed foods such as grains, engineered fruits and GMOs, etc. Carbohydrate content that occurs naturally in vegetation is optimal. Some of us have to count even those carbs, but eating Primal is about eating what occurs naturally, not what the agricultural revolution forced upon us.

  67. Jeff,

    I am doing P90X and Insanity. I am 5’9″ and weigh 199. I love white rice (I’m Puerto Rican and my wife is Filipino). Would I be able to still eat rice on the weekend (in very small amounts) or would that throw off my insulin levels after eating a primal diet. Also, is it ok to have a protien shake containing 1 cup of skim milk and a banana? At the moment I am constantly hungry. Is my body going through withdrawls for bread, rice etc?

  68. In the end carb or no carbs, it all comes down to caloric intake. Eat to many calories… You will gain weight. Eat less calories… You will maintain or loose weight.

    Mark says eat 20 to 50 to loose weight…
    That’s Atkins !!

    Eat 80 – 100 you may still gain weight if you
    Aren’t watching your calories.

    To lose weight just eat less and drink a good quality whey protein drink 120 calories 25 grams of protein… Drink 2 of them a day. You WILL loose weight. No if’s and’s or but’s about it !

  69. Thomas, I agree with your post. A few years back I went low carb (no fruit, no grains, no starchy food like squash/potatoes) and I gained a whack load of weight..about 13lbs in 4 months. I kept up with the low carb eating but it wasn’t until I started counting calories and jogging regularly that the weight began to go down.

    Atkins even says calories count. It says when you get closer to your goal you may have to start counting. Why? Because calories is what counts with weight loss.

    Lower carbs, in my opinion, are more of a health thing. For diabetes, colitis, etc. I won’t do low carb again unless I’m counting .. and if I’m counting I’m going to count in some carbs !

    1. My initial low-carb experience was similar. The cravings for sweets went away, but I was eating too much fat & consequently too many calories. Once I adjusted down the fat and started adding more vegetables (but still limiting the carbs – no more sugar & very rarely starches & grains), the weight came off. I think the key is that the low-carb helps you to resist cravings for junky foods so that you can tolerate limiting your calories to a point where you start losing weight. I am pretty carb-sensitive, so every low-fat diet has resulted in me sneaking out to buy brownies. Whether primal would work for you probably depends on how carb-sensitive you are.

  70. Just a few comments from an old newbie. I’m pre-diabetic and found out the hard way that my blood sugar reads normal when I am slightly hungry, which I try to stay most of the time. To do this I have 2 small meals or 1 moderate meal a day and snack as needed. Would have never believed it but once used to it, it’s easy to do. I choose to starve to keep slim, cannot understand how big fat people can stand themselves.

    I was diagnosed lactose intolerant, LOVE MILK, and discovered that the flora in yogurt restores milk tolerance. Make sure you buy yogurt with live cultures in it. The flora give off a by-product called lactase which digests milk. Antibiotics and diarhea gets rid of them but they are easily replaced.

    I grew up cutting every little scrap of fat off my meat before anyone ever heard of colesterol. Reading about you eating fat makes me sick. Must lack the enzymes to digest animal fat.

    I’m interested in your web site as a way of increas- ing my quality of life. Oldness has decreased mine.

  71. Lactose Intolerant? Get rid of gluten and your small intestine will heal. No gluten, no dairy problem. Yes, probiotics are essential, but celiac is direcly related to lactose intolerance. Read Columbia University’s Dr. Peter Green’s book-celiac is not just one thing.

  72. Hi Mark, so how many grams of fats per pound of lean mass/per day on average do you recommend?

    1. Gus, whatever it takes. The calculations are all in the book, but figure protein first, carbs second and fill the rest in with fat. It gets intuitive very quickly. No specific grams per pound.

      1. I’ve been experiencing some fat cravings. Like… I cooked some delicious Italian sausage for lunch and ate several spoonfuls of the hot fat from the pan. EW, right??? I also drizzled some over my green beans.

        My tummy is very happy but I feel a little disgusted with myself. I guess it’s better than craving cookies, but does anyone know why I’m craving FAT?

  73. Hi! First time poster here, my co-worker sent me this site because he is following your plan and has seen great results. I have been browsing your website, and I am having a hard time find recommendations for vegetarians. Is it possible to follow this plan as a vegetarian?

  74. I do like a lot of what you say and the premises of the diet. But, what I have learned and read suggests that we are closer to about 5000 years behind our “culture evolution”, not 10,000. Is there a reason you are attempting to base it closely on 10,000 years ago? I often think that the 5000 years makes a lot of sense, especially when we consider that more and more people seem to be becoming tolerant of grains (I do realize that most people believe they are tolerant and are probably not, but it seems that some people truly are). I am curious about your ideas on this. Oh, and I am NOT one of those grain tolerant ones… LOL

  75. More tolerant of grains? There are things happening on a cellular level when we eat grains (not to mention insulin response)that we don’t even know about and people with aches, pains, heeadaches, hormone imbalance mood swings…probably from the processed foods they are eating. Thems GRAINS.

  76. JUST found you, and glad I have~! I’m wondering, Mark… what about dairy? Goat cheese? Almond milk unsweetened? eggs? Thanks!

  77. also…….. meant to ask, what if I do not live near a beach? what kind of surface do you recommend for the sprint?

  78. So how would i go about figuring out the amount of carbs that i am eating through out the day?

  79. Hi Mark…

    I’ve searched all over to find some good advice on my particular situation because it’s so extreme. Here goes…
    I’m 73 years old, 5’8″ and weigh around 350 lbs. I need a rollator to get around and because of congestive heart failure I get winded with not much exertion. I move around my apartment, and except for taking the elevator downstairs to check my mail a few times a week and going to the laundry room, that’s pretty much it. I have no idea how many calories I burn a day but it can’t be much. Is there anything that you know of that might be helpful for someone like me? I really don’t want to be buried in a piano case if I can help it!

    Jim

  80. I’m pretty convinced but I do have a question that is keeping me in confusion about these carbs. If say I want to aim for 150 grams of carbs a day cause I know i’m active, is fiber also accountable? Whenever I input fiber out of the total carbs i’ve eaten it subtracts. I’m guessing cause your body burns calories just passing fiber? I honestly dont know why but what role does fiber play with carb intake? If i eat say 95 grams protein, 100 grams fat and 150 grams carbs and 15 grams of it is fiber does it add up to 1820 calories or 1880? http://www.scientificpsychic.com/fitness/macronutrients.html i’ve been using this site to check my macronutrients

  81. I am finding this conversation fascinating, and inspiring, but I have some trouble buying the premise that our primal ancestors were healthy. They were lean, most likely, but healthy? ON what do you base that assumption? My understanding is that people lived to be about 35, if they were lucky, in the times when the most available source of food was meat. I’m aware of the plethora of diet-related diseases today, but I am curious how you came to the conclusion that “early man” was somehow much healthier than we – as a population – are today.

    1. The 35 year average thing is really misunderstood. People weren’t simply dropping dead at age 35 from bad health or some bizarre early onset of old age. The 35 year mark is an average lifespan of a population. And it’s heavily skewed downward by things like infant mortality, mothers’ deaths in childbirth, and a hostile environment full of dangerous animals and other natural perils. Those people that survived to adulthood and avoided being eaten or otherwise killed tended to be quite robust (they had to be, in general, otherwise life selected them for removal) and lived within the normal age range of human beings. Our dramatic increase in the average age we have today is due to scientific breakthroughs in sterilization and infection prevention, vast improvements in the infant mortality rate, and far fewer people being eaten by lions and killed by exposure to the elements.

  82. Mark,

    This was very helpful; especially the sample girl you referenced. Those stats are similar to mine. I weigh 155lbs, body fat 24% and LBM is about the same. I’ve been struggling with my paleo mainly because the lingo/terms I’m not always familiar with, so many times I just don’t understand what everything really means. This article was very helpful, but now I’m wondering if I’m eating to much protein. According to your sample I should be around 4ounces a day, but I’m definitely eating WAY more. What is too much? Thank you Mark – I greatly appreciate you!

    1. This reply is so late you will probably never see it, but 4 oz of meat is not 4 oz of protein. More like 25 grams of protein, or less than 1 oz. Read nutrition labels.

  83. Mark, do you have an easy way of figuring grams!? I am totally confused about how to figure it.

  84. Mark,

    You express that ketones work efficiently to fuel your brain. While I agree with that in terms of a person in starvation mode who needs to utilize all they can in order to avoid death, how do you address the risk of ketoacidosis? I was also wondering what specific formal medical or nutrition training you’ve had?

  85. Interesting information. I was wondering – you mention things like butter and olive oil. What’s your take on fats like lard or beef tallow?

  86. This is legitimately a beautiful article. I just wish people weren’t so narrow-minded and against saturated fats, fats in general. People are so stuck on their high glycemic index “heart healthy” whole grains that the government tells them they should eat, they won’t accept anything else, won’t accept what their genes want them to eat. There needs to be a food revolution.

  87. While I really appreciate that your example person was female, what’s with the “girl” crap? Are you writing diet advise for children? No, didn’t think so. You wouldn’t be writing boy if you had used a male example, would you? No, I didn’t think so. The appropriate word to use is WOMAN. Women read your site and women take your advice. Try showing us some respect.

    1. Try not taking offense to stupid stuff and try not to take stuff personally.

  88. So no oatmeal,rice,or pasta? I was with you until you said that.I’ve never heard this before. I know processed grains are unhealthy but I’ve only heard good things about whole grains.

  89. I have the no sugar, no dairy, and lots of water down…I have never eaten them. However I am a carb whore, for lack of a better word, I love pastas, potatoes, breads, etc. HELP!

  90. Mark,
    PLEASE HELP! I eat 1,200 calories a day (at the most) and I usually don’t get over 100 grams of carbs a day and I try to work out regularly but I still can’t lose weight. I supposedly have a normal thyroid but no matter what I do I can’t lose. What do you suggest?

  91. If you dont mind I have a question, I have been following a exercise routine that im sure most have heard of, p90x. When I first started it I was on a low carb high fat moderate protien diet most call atkins. I was only taking in about 25 net carbs a day. I heard alot of Stuff that i would have trouble growing anymass and i wouldnt ever be able to get below 10 percent body fat thus never getting to see the abs I was wanting to see eventually. the next 30 days I struggled with the eat clean mainly do to carb cravings again, and reduced cals. I lost half the wieght I had the proir 30 days and had half the energy I had when I was in deep ketoisis. My sleep has went crazy, i either cant sleep or cant wake up, where i was going on 6 hrs daily and was happy and rested. Can I shave body fat to below 10% on this type of diet, still enjoy my meats, olive oils, bacon, whole eggs, hard chesses. and what would a acceptable carb intake really be for a dialy intake and stay in keto and will adding say a grapefruit or apple a day blow me out of it.

  92. Impresive Mark. The more I read more I learn. The problem is that as I have dyslexia the studies looks great but reading them, that is a lot of work. Your blog is great but I as many millions of people with dyslexia or ADHD have very difficult to follow, sorry for that and for the gramatical errors. Could you explain all that in an easy way. I got the carbs and the curves. Great. Now, the fat is a little difficult. Boys and girls here write to much questions and as a snowball it goes big as it rolls. Why? Because I don’t know if I have to be under 100 grams fat a day or it doesn’t matter?
    Calories, I am between 1400 and 1800 a day. Shall I count them too?
    Keep my carbs as you wrote in your book (great book) between 25-85 grams/day.

    I am 42, 72 kg my BMI is 22,5 and my body fat is around 17%

    Four days of lifting heavy weights and one day of sprint or cross. Walk everyday and bike a lot. Take the subway for long distance and walk for shorts.

    I will love to get under the 10% as you. How?

    Please help me in a easy reading way 🙂

    1. Those are my questions too Girardi. Don’t know how to regulate the fat and protein for the weight loss. I am getting from the site that higher protein is for weight loss but then how much fat do we need for say a 260 pound man or a 110 pound woman. Surely we should not be eating the same!HAHA The site is great but I find it a bit hard to navigate around to get my answers. Good info though!

  93. I wish I could do this. But a high fat intake causes me spasms and a great deal of pain. Besides, I have to be careful with insoluble fibre (can’t just eat a plateful of spinach). I am wallowing in self-pity as before my current digestives woes started and when I was normal I used to go low-carb if I wanted to lose the little bit of flab around my middle and it was always successful. Now I cannot do that. I am a tall active female and apparently need 2000kcal to maintain my weight. You can quickly work out how it is impossible to maintain low carb and low fat (25% is just about do-able before I double up in pain). Not sure you can suggest anything, but was good to read all this and am pretty convinced it helps healthy people. By the way when you say 100g of carbs, is that net carbs?? Thanks.

  94. I’m 5’7″ and weigh 200 pounds, and thanks to the primal style diet, I have lost 10 pounds and 4% body fat in one month alone. I work out in the gym 4 days a week and do three days of walking for an hour. The strange thing is, I am only eating 1608 calories a day on average, some days barely topping 1300. I am not hungry at all, and yet I am way under what I have been told I should eat, about 500-600 per day on average more than I currently eat. It’s great to know that this is okay.

  95. Susie,
    Have you had your gallbladder checked? Sounds like it may need to come out.

  96. So I have some questions about this diet.

    1. Why don’t you guys eat raw meat like all the other omnivorous/carnivorous animals?
    2. Are there any primal athletes winning marathons, ultra-marathons, etc?
    3. How many of you guys go out each day and kill the animals that you are going to eat? If someone wasn’t doing it for you, could you do it yourself? (rhetorical)
    4. Why is it that meat tastes so bland/bad without cooking/salt/spices/oils?

    Just a few of my questions… I have many more but I don’t want to waste anyone’s time! Thanks.

    1. You’re not wasting anyone’s time; but many of the answers to your questions can be found, with a little initiative, throughout Mark’s website and on many other reliable sites, some of which are often linked through this one.

      With regards to your questions..

      1. We do eat a variety of raw meats, such as all kinds of fish, raw eggs, and other things such as steak tartare. Eating raw meat can have many benefits if it comes from a clean source (grass-fed organic beef, for example). But cooking meat also heightens and develops its flavour, gives it a more palatable texture, and also kills bacteria (not a big deal for those of us who eat raw fermented foods on a daily basis and are eating meat from clean sources).

      2. There’s an interesting post kicking around in this site’s archives somewhere that says the average Grok could perform as well as our top Olympians, or possibly out-perform them, on a daily basis. I’m not sure if any of our top Olympic athletes follow the Primal lifestyle… you should look it up. But I’m sure eating/living Primal would give any athlete the advantage.

      3. Yes, some of us do have hunting licenses, or [hobby] farms, and the time to hunt and slaughter our own food. But there are great local farmers and hunters who do that for those of us who have specific jobs which do not lend themselves well to Primal living. But why does it matter if someone could do it or not? Most people who follow this lifestyle have been brought up in a Western society, so they have not been exposed to killing, skinning, butchering animals. These skills are often not being passed down the generations. Thus, many people don’t have the stomach for it. But if everyone was brought up with the idea of killing your
      own food, then I’m sure they’d never give it a second thought or cringe. In fact, I think most of us living Primal would probably like to do that at some point, even just to try it. Personally, hunting game and killing livestock has given me a deep appreciation for life. It makes me feel even more thankful for the food I eat since I chose the animal, and was with it each moment until it died. It makes you feel enormously responsible. It’s a very strange- but undeniably natural- exchange. The first time (if your first time was during adulthood) feels a little surreal. But after that.. it just makes sense. But, like I said, very time consuming, so not exactly practical year-round.

      4. See answer #1. And meat does not taste bland without things added. Ever had sashimi (somehow, methinks not). Try eating unprocessed, whole foods only for a couple of months, and then try different meats plain, seared over high flame or roasted just on their own to caramelize the skin; Fire really does the trick. But all meats have subtle flavours, often which are difficult for the average Westerner (who eats processed foods on a daily basis) to detect and/or appreciate. But, salt and spices certainly enhance meat’s flavours, and can make something that tastes decent on its own taste absolutely amazing and memorable.

      If you have more questions, you should read through the archives on Marksdailyapple.com, rent some books on the subject from the library, and just do the research. Seek and ye shall find.

  97. Hi Mark!

    Am wondering if you can help. I am committed Vegetarian – actually most Vegan – I eat yogurt in the am. I am interested in your diet but I have an allergy to soy, so I am wondering what you recommend. Thanx!

    1. Soy is not recommended on this diet anyway, since it is a legume and not considered optimal for the health. We eat mostly vegetables, meats, eggs, a little dairy (this is optional), nuts and seeds and some fruit.

  98. Hello Mark,

    I wonder why you don’t advocate eating everything raw. Why not question the whole idea of cooking? Or are you, and I am not seeing it?

    I have been eating raw meat, eggs, fish, dairy, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds for close to four years and see no need to destroy proteins with heat.

    I teach this approach to parents who consult with me and see great thriving families, with children who grow up primal in every way (parenting ideas included.)

    Just food for thought for your to consider.

    Warmly,
    Naomi Aldort
    Author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

    1. Hi Naomi,

      Mark is interested in approximating the eating habits of our Paleolithic ancestors. They had fire and cooked their food, and therefore so do PBers. You might be interested in Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.

  99. Just started reading the blog entries and your philosophy regarding diet/exercise. Although I have always subscribed to anything healthy in moderation (including grains) I have an open mind. I have two concerns: the first is that I LOATHE meat of any kind, and eat primarily tofu, fish and eggs. Second, I’m training for a marathon. Didn’t certain tribes in Africa and South America routinely run marathon distances? So perhaps our ancient predecessors did more than just sprint periodically? Just wondering…

  100. Is it possible to do the primal plan when someone will not eat steamed or stir fry veggies. We don’t have an abundance of varieties where we live and only raw veggies everyday seems sort of boring and I am afraid he will not like eating this way. He eats broccoli,cauliflower,radishes,carrots,celery,cucumbers. Maybe a little peppers and kohlrabi when we can get it. He will eat greens so thats good. What do you think? He is trying to lose weight but with so many veggies out there not only do we not have them available but if we did,most of them he won’t eat. Im thankful he eats what he does though!!

  101. I am genuinely interested in this nutrition plan however I have a lot of food allergies including nuts and egg yolk and some fruits. Many plans require eating these things so I have to over look them. Are there work arounds or alternatives so I’m not eating the same 3 things?

  102. Any advice for cellulite? If I eat of fat it gets vorse.I am told low fat for cellulite works best.
    Any advice?

  103. This is a very interesting post to me. I started eating like this about a month ago, with great results. My only issue – I am a vegetarian, so I’m getting nearly all my protein from legumes (and Muscle Milk). I’ve made improvements in my diet (less processed food etc) but there is still room for improvement. Do I have to start eating meat to really follow this?

  104. I am very glad to find you. I have a blinding eye disease (uveitis), no cure yet. They believe inflammation has caused this. I have started eating grass fed beef, broccoli, spinach, eggs.
    With your help I am trying to find the lowest inflammatory foods to eat. My eye exam is better this month since eating only the above foods mentioned. Thank you very much, I do not want to go blind. I am reading everything you send me, working on fruits/veggies that are low or no inflammation.
    I am also a barefoot woman, if I have to wear shoes, they are water shoes.
    Keep up the great teaching, I will eat very little food as long as I do not go blind.
    Grok on,
    Ann

  105. Overproduction of ketones can lead to ketoacidosis in the bloodstream which is harmful to the body’s vital organs. Because it causes the blood to be so acidic, it “interferes with basic body functions, causes the loss of lean body mass, and damages many body tissues.” (p. 125, Nutrition: A Functional Approach. Thompson, Manore & Sheeska, 2010) This condition can lead to coma and eventually death.

    Where have you read that producing ketones on a regular basis is not bad for you?

    1. Hey Rebekah; Ketoacidosis is usually only an issue for diabetics, healthy individuals can typically tolerate ketosis without the condition evolving into ketoacidosis. you just excrete the excess ketones through urination.

      1. as a healthy person, if you ate like 0-5g carbs per day, and kept yourself dehydrated all the time, and consumed TONS of sugars and medicated yourself with insulin prohibiting drugs; then maybe your body would allow the ketones to build up.

  106. I currently live in poverty, having a budget of $30 a week on food after cutting as many expenses as I possibly can. (No, I don’t pay for internet, I’m at the library haha 🙂 ) I want to try the paleo diet for a month to see how I feel. Considering that whatever work I can actually find (10 hours a week) in the poor neighborhood I live in, is all physical labor. Some calculators online said I need 3000 calories a day. I’m not sure what to do or how I can afford to eat this way. Any help would be appreciated!

  107. I’ve been the Primal Blueprint for 1 month and the pasr week and a half I’ve started to re gain the weight I lost. I have been drinking diet soda could this be the problem.

  108. Please help and tell me how this diet can fit with a person who is on coumadin

  109. I recently came across this website and found myself incredibly intrigued by its proposals. I am scientifically literate in the field of chemistry (though not chiefly in biochemistry) and decided to do some research and came across some great research. The best article I’ve come across to date is “Low-Carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism,” Westman EC, et al., The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007). Although it is a few years out of date, it still serves as an excellent review article on the subject of low carbohydrate diets.

    For some background, I am in my late twenties and I suffer from all of the diagnostic indicators of metabolic syndrome. I am overweight. My BMI currently exceeds 30. I have elevated blood pressure. I have elevated triglycerides, LDL, low HDL, minor amounts of albumin and creatinine in my urine, abnormal/fluctuating thyroid hormone levels, etc…. (And yes, I do see a physician regularly, to alay any fears you might have after that laundry list)

    I have decided to perform my own experiment and have cut grains, dairy, and refined sugars from my diet. I have supplemented it with plenty of leafy green vegetables, meats, and the oils suggested by this website. I am currently recording my body weight, fat percentage, weight percent water, and blood pressure at roughly the same time every day.

    Although I have only been at it a few days, I have noticed some weight loss. A loss of 1 percent body fat, and I have maintained the same weight percent water. My blood pressure seems to have already decreased somewhat (no throbbing in the ears any more, at least). Most significantly for me, however, is that I don’t feel ravenous all day and I have been coming in well under my daily caloric allotment.

    I’m very pleased so far and will update you in a few weeks.

  110. What’s your view on the recent emerging buzz that the typical hunter-gatherer tribe eats only once a day? If humans can only absorb around 35g of protein at one time, this would mean that even H-Gs eating very high protein diets would ACTUALLY be on very low protein diets. This is huge no?

  111. I have a question. Do you address ketonic state and what negative affects it has on the brain function, stress, and the physical organs.

    I know a couple of people on this diet plan of living and their eyes look dull and sunken in. There coloring is not vibrant and young as they are in their 30’s. They adhere strictly and work out with a trainer at a gym. They also have two little babies and run a large manufacturing company. What could be the issue here? I will admit they ARE skinny.

  112. So if I am wanting to lose 30lbs. Then I need to keep my carbs under 80 grams, and still count the calories that I take in.

  113. Hi there,

    I do have a question: you say that you eat 600-1000 calories a day less than before (something which most people would say is undesirable)and you also say that you are only slightly more lean and that you exercise a bit less. Most people wouldn’t find that to be a great trade-off, and would prefer to exercise a little bit more in exchange for having the flexibility to eat more calories. Do you have a comment about that, or have I misunderstood? (By the way, I’m a huge supporter of lower carb/high fat eating, so I’m not in any way contradicting you- I just wonder if you could clarify my curiosity about this). Thanks.

  114. Hi Mark.
    I am 72 years old.I am diabated and have cordic problem.my body position is going from bad to worse.My physicist advised me open heart surgery but my physical position dont permit me.plz advice some good tips for my health including exercise .
    thanks.
    from Anwar shah.

  115. umm mark? our ancestors lived on nuts fruits and vegetables, fact. Once in a while they would kill something and eat it, no more than once a day.

    I don’t know your definition of primal but your just exercising in bare feet and then eating lots of fat doesn’t make you primal bro sorry.

  116. So I don’t eat red meat and only eat chicken, fish and bacon a few times a week…as a recovering veggo it’s taking me time to not feel nauseaus eating animals.

    So I eat lots of eggs, and yoghurt and cheese but no milk. I also like cream in my coffee.
    Other than this I am completely fructose and grain free. 4 months in I have not lost a kilo and am probably 10kgs overweight.
    Thoughts?

  117. I’ve come down from 211 lbs to 175 lbs, yet I still have the EXACT same body fat percentage that I started with when I started a diet program similar to Paleo. The Tanita Body Fat Analyzer used at the weight loss clinic I’m a part of says I’m 45% body fat.
    The clinic allows 100 grams or less of carbohydrates in the food plan and a moderate amount of fats. I noticed that I could accelerate my weight loss by cutting back on carbs so lowered them even more. They advise not to go under 40 carb grams.
    My usual day consists of a breakfast of an egg white omelet and whole grain toast (optional), lunch of grilled chicken salad, snack of nuts like almonds or peanuts and dinner of grilled fish like salmon or tilapia drizzled with olive oil and a side of salad greens. Exercise consists of resistance training (lifting heavy weight) and walking. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if I just have lots of stubborn body fat. Perhaps my bf percentage will decrease as I lose more weight. My goal is around 135 lbs.

    I enjoy reading your articles. Any advice?

  118. I know this works. I tried to go gluten free and just happened to do the same diet as above. I felt much better and lost 32 lbs in 4 months.

    AND…
    I suspected the gluten issues were from GMO grain. I bought NON GMO Organic Wheat berries, ginded them up and made my own bread. Results: I felt just as bad as if I ate store bought bread. No more grains for me.

  119. Dear Mark,

    I’m 63, female, not on any meds, take Vit C, D, Chromimium, spirulina, cod liver oil, Multi B vit, natural progesterone. I have around 16kg to lose. I started a protocol similar to your (Atkins) a week ago, i.e. protein, fats, 20g of salad type meals per day (no starches/fruit etc).

    I have not had any trouble sticking to it, feel satiated and not craving sugars and grains.

    At the end of the first week, I only lost 0.3kg. I was expecting a better result.

    Can you give me your thoughts on this result.

    Emma

    1. I can give you an advice: DITCH the Atkins diet.

      It basicly makes people be afraid of carbs to the point they don’t eat enough veggies (because they might stop their ketosis -.-).

      Eat plenty of veggies, some fruits (they’re so healthy, screw the fact that they’re high in fructose!) lots of fishes (rich in omega 3 e.g. salmon).
      Don’t rely too much on bacon and fatty meats…they’re high in saturated fats (and they’re ARE inflammatory!!!) – I know it is quite umhhh… unpopular opinion among MDA readers 🙂

      And the last MOST important: don’t make it just about weight loss – it’s about a lifestyle change! Don’t think “I’m gonna eat that chocolate muffin once I’m gonna loose those 15 pounds as a reward!”. Don’t reward yourself with food, you’re not a dog!!!

  120. I eat mixed raw nuts most ever day Iam not listing any more weight but Iam not gaining eather what should I do ?

  121. I find this website very interesting and informative. Unfortunately I can’t really follow the diet since I’m a vegetarian and from what I understand that’s pretty much a no no on this diet. I understand the science you’re outlining but I also have to point out that there are a lot of vegetarian buddhist cultures in the world who live remarkably long and well. Wheteher our ancestors really ate this much protein is debatable and probably depended a lot on location and season. I would also like to point out that that the kind of meat they ate was likely VERY different from the farm stock we have been modifying either through breeding or genetically for thousands of years now. High protein diet is an interesting concept but since you advise against some of the highest protein contributors like legumes I dont think it is something a vegetarian can achieve on your diet.

    1. It’s not a high protein diet. It’s high fat, adequate protein.

  122. so with a diet of beef/steak (red meats) and eggs butter
    would be a sure fire weightloss plan

    maybe dozen eggs
    1 stick or more butter
    1-1.5lb red meat

    = iron good nutrients from eggs b vitamins
    70% fat per meal

    mini munching all day

    would this be weightloss worthy?

    1. I’d probably sat go easy on the dozen eggs a day & Stick of butter!

      You’d be better of with a ton of greens, broccli,carrots & other good stuff. 3-4 eggs a day should be great, along with upto half a stick of butter.

      I love meat as well, but protein should be just enough to ensure muscle maintenance. Fats are the key.

      Regards,
      Vishnu

  123. I’ve been researching this primal, ancient way of eating and you have some of the best information I’ve come across! Thank-you for breaking it down in such a way that it will make sense when I’m at the grocery store, trying to figure out, not only what I should be eating, but how much of it and why. Your website is fantastic – very inspiring. Thank-you!

  124. So, I’m confused about a few things (I come in with experience with The slowcarb diet from Tim Ferris’ “The Four Hour Body.) That program, which has been effective for me, but I find VERY boring, focusses on insulin levels as much or more than blood sugar levels. So, it bans grains, like Mark. But it also bans all fruits (unlike Mark), and milk products (which cause high insulin response even though they drive little blood sugar.) And, it is heavily based on eating legumes (low insulin response.)

    So here are my questions:
    – Why no legumes?
    – What about milk products?
    – Why fruits (and why concentrate on total carbs, when blood sugar and insulin can spike when you eat the wrong things, even if IN TOTAL you stay at a level that is near ketosis.)
    – If you can stay near ketosis and burn fat based on keeping OVERALL carb consumption low, then it seems like our bodies must react fairly slowly. What is known about this, and can the effects of “falling off the wagon and eating simple carbs” be masked or slowed in some way?

    Thanks in advance for your insights!!!!!

  125. I used to be a sugar burner (eat lots of carbs) when I was living in Mexico. My diet would consist of tortillas, meat, beans, rice, fruit and vegetables and on my cheat days desserts and some junk food. I did interval traing 3 to 4 times a week and I was in the best shape of my life and my weight was ideal (120lb) with low fat percentage. I was happy. Maybe it was not the healthiest but I liked how my body looked and felt. I did not have any health issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetic etc. Then I moved to Canada about a year ago and it all changed. The moment I got here I started to gain weight even though I tried very hard to eat the way I used to back home (balanced and taking care of portion size). I´m 39 years old and I´m guessing I must have gained about 8 to 10 pounds (I do not have a scale, but my clothes don´t fit and I feel heavier) So I did a lot of reasearch to see why was I gaining weigth in spite of “doing the right thing” This is how I came upon this website. So I went primal about 5 months ago and I love the diet, but still I can not loose the weight I have gained. My diet consists of all kinds of meats and fish, full fat dairy (cheese, cottage cheese, full heavy cream and butter, that´s it) vegetables and ocasionally fruit as dessert. No sugar, no bad carbs. What am I doing wrong? My intake of carbs must be between 80 to 120 grams a day and I´m sure I do not eat more than 100 grams of protein. I walk for 45 min. 3 to 4 times a day and I still do interval training 2 to 3 times a week (in my training I include body weight exercises with sprinting). I have never been over wieght (not even now) but I miss my lean body. I hate to see some belly fat, lower back fat and some love handles) I want my clothes to fit again 🙁 🙁 I´m so frustrated. Can please some body tell what the heck am I doing wrong??? I can not afford all organic and grass fed. Could it be because of the hormones in the meat? Please help. I´m quite sure I´m not eating tons of calories. What is going on? There was a time I was very stressed out and had insomnia, but that was even back then when I was living in México and it did not affect my weigth at all. Now I try to keep stress under control and I sleep around 7 to 8 hours most of the time. I don´t drink or smoke.

    I was more careless about my diet before and was lean and now I´m strict and I gain weight. 🙁 🙁 Any ideas??

    1. Lo Siento! How frustrating to have this happen. I too had been slim for most of my life, hit 37 and neede “hormones” according to my doctor, on came the weight, slowly. Fast forward and viola, 30 pounds of yuck! (following the low fat, eat less, exercise more route to failure of course – in my youth I was “fine” on carbs but that all changes with our maturing body)
      Just a thought that you may be missing some Vitamin D for starters. Plus, there may be some hormone issues – we change through the years and the 30’s and 40’s have a reputation for being where problems seem to say “hello”. I’d say try to find a primal friendly doctor to speak with to check levels of those types of things. Also, the one thing that helped me the most was to eat more fat (I added coconut oil and butter) and it seems that I only gain weight if I eat grains (but I don’t anymore, hurts my tummy) or I make ice cream disappear (yeah, did that last weekend, suffering the effects now). I will not do that anymore either…… Keep trying!!!

  126. My other half and I are about to start the primal diet HOWEVER… He wants to lose weight whilst I’m desperately trying to put weight on!! Eating rubbish for the last few months has not helped me so far…the comments on here sre geared towards losing weight but this diet makes so much sense to me…how can o put on weight whilst being on it?

    1. Same here! There’s not much info in the discussions here on how to gain weight for someone like me who wants extra mass. With the amount of calories I need, should I be eating more carbs to gain mass or still stay below 100g to minimize fat gains? I find it hard to stay that low and still eat enough calories , and I get nauseous when I eat too much fat in my diet

  127. How do i know what is right for my body? i weigh 173 and am looking to get down to 145lbs. How do i figure my protein intake based on where i want to be, not to maintain? i am not sure what my fat % is but last time I check it was HIGH, 32%. Any help would be great. I want to start this program but do not know where to begin; do I buy a book? Does it have a meal plan?

    HELP 🙂

    1. Yes, buy a book and just start eating real food. Eat the foods you like first and see how that goes. I bought some cookbooks so that I could help my mind switch from grain eater to meat/veggie eater with added fun things like fat and nuts. It will take some time to heal your body, depends on where you are healthwise how long it will take. However, after about a month you should start to notice little things here and there that you are starting to take for granted – knees don’t hurt today, I’m standing more than sitting, I’m getting more done earlier, I’m sleeping all night….. good stuff. Have fun and try different things after you start feeling really good.

  128. Hey guys, with all this talk of losing weight and burning fat on primal diet…enter me with a question to the opposite! How do I GAIN weight??????? Conventional wisdom says to get most of your extras from carbs, but I’m guessing with primal you get your extras from fat? If so, how do I do that?

    I’m just recovering from gluten/lactose sensitivity and am 25 pounds UNDERweight. Although I feel alot better with the exclusion of lactose and gluten, I still think things could be much more better. Plus I’m not gaining any weight. Primal makes sense to me and I’m interested in trying it, but still trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to implement this?

    1. It sounds like your body needs to heal a bit more. Don’t worry too much about gaining weight at this point, your body will do that when it’s ready. To get more fat I add it to coffee, bone broth, cook with it, etc. To get it to “mix in” you can use a blender for the coffee and bone broth, most people don’t like drinking the fat floating on the top of drinks when they first start adding it in. I love the way fresh, lightly cooked veggies taste swimming in butter.
      As you get further into healing you may find you need to exclude something else or can add things that you may not tolerate presently. You will get better as listening to your body and what it needs. Just start eating good clean foods, keep the grains, beans and sugar out of the menu.

  129. Or consider that our paleo ancestors only lived for 12 to 20 years average. Even as early as 300-400 years ago, our ancestors, the early colonials, were living 30-40 years max. So, if we follow their diets, is this the lifespan we can expect?

  130. Mark, in the Atkins list of vegetables, only a small apple has 21g of carbs, even more than you should eat in the first phase of the atkin’s diet per day. You say that it’s tough to exceed 100 grams of carbs even if you eat tons of colorful vegetables. How much fruit and vegetables should I eat per day to lose weight and get the enought nutrients?
    Thank you!

  131. I’ve been eating primal for about 2 months. … I want a huge processed food eater so this hadn’t been super hard…plus I feel so good. The first month I meticulously counted everything and it stressed me out and I fell off the wagon.
    This last month I decided .. Throw out the scale and listen to my body.
    I listened to when I was hungry…. I questioned myself to see what I really needed… I listened to my body after my workouts and gauged my energy .
    From so many years of torturing myself with numbers I feel like I have finally won the battle with food. I view it as energy now but also something to be thankful for…. I don’t hate it anymore… I don’t hate my body … And remarkably I’m shrinking …. My abs are showing , my triceps have some definition. It’s been such a long battle losing 130 pounds all on my own and it was hard on my body, mind and spirit. I feel amazing … I’m going to let my body heal and I believe the body I’ve Envisioned for myself will show up 🙂 thank you Mark!!!!!!!!

  132. Mark, I’ve been reading some different stuff lately and am wondering what do you think about the China Study? Mostly veggies, little fat and animal protein.

  133. I’m having trouble eating only about 50 grams protein. I think I’m eating closer to 100. Also craving salt and fat very badly. I think I only need about 50 grams though. I’m 5’1″ 106 lbs and only minimal exercise due to a chronic illness. I don’t need to lose hardly any weight but I wouldn’t mind losing an inch or two off the love handles and gaining more muscle. But I’m doing paleo more just for my health. I did it 15 years ago successfully but can’t seem to lose the cravings this time. It’s been over three weeks on paleo – no nuts, no fruit, tons of greens. But I crave meat and fat and salt together. Am I overdoing the protein? If i stick to about fifty grams or so, I have no energy and am craving either fat/protein or carb/fat all day long.

    1. (Example…This a.m. for bfast I had half can of sardines in olive oil plus two eggs with two T. raw butter (I havent been doing butter, more coconut oil or olive oil until today I had butter) and even though my tummy is full, I have no energy and the cravings are intense for either carb/fat or more protein/fat/salt. I resisted to see if this will pass. Will it?

  134. Ok, so I did the math and what it looks like is that the ratio of Protein/ Carbs/ Fat depicted in this blog post would be:

    20% Protein
    30% Carbohydrates
    50% Fat

    Is this right?

    –Joe

  135. Hi there, I’ve been very interested in this eating plan for a long time, but I don’t eat any meat except fish. How can I adapt this without getting sick of fish and eggs? Plain Greek yogurt is currently a major source of protein for me.

  136. Excellent post. I love getting solid information on diet and this is a good one. I’m not sure I would follow this to a ‘T’ but it is a fair guideline and gives me motivation to look further into the balancing act of fats, carbs and protein.

  137. Hi.

    I was wondering if going on this diet would require additional supplementation for a 47 year old menopausal female. I have been active all of my life, in the military for 30 years, maintained weight in past at 122-126 pounds (distance runner at the time), 5’5″ tall. Now weigh 163 pounds, knee and hip issues (arthritis) and am not encouraged to continue running (stop long distance….cut off is five miles now as opposed to 10-15 miles). Never had issues controlling weight until menopausal (no menses since March). Insomnia a problem and when I do sleep, it is not a deep sleep. I wake some nights throughout the night. The weight, I am sure, is a big part of the knee and hip pain issue since I have never weighed this much before ever! With menopause, weight gain has been steady and seems to have maximized at 33 pounds over usual weight.

    I am definitely a high carb eater since distance runners were typically trained to prep for competition with a carb load. I am addicted to them! I crave them crazy! Any advice for getting through the hunger and sever craves with initial start of this diet? Do you recommend supplements to quiet the crave?

    Thanks!

    Soldier girl

  138. Hi! I’ve been slim most my life with an athletic build, always ate relatively healthy but bread and pasta on occasion, having no idea of gluten and lactose sensitivities. If I wanted ice cream I did but generally I was healthy. I didn’t drunk alcohol.. Three years ago I binged on rum, ice cream, pasta, pizza that was my diet for a while month. I gained 25 pounds in one month. Ever since I’ve yoyo dieted, needed my body up and seemingly intolerant to everything.

    I’ve been eating paleo for a while though not 100% and I can’t figure out what’s keeping me fat or this incredible bloating. My stomach is ROUND I look pregnant. I’ve tried eliminating all veg at one point. No difference.

    I’m now trying to eat little and often and keeping macros to under 30g carb, 1g protein per lbm and fat is medium.. Basically for my height at 5 foot it’s 80g protein, 60g day and 20g carb.

    I don’t know How to rid this balloon stomach. I look ridiculous at my height and I’m not over weight although I do want to lose 15 pounds :-\

  139. I am slightly confused by you protein calculations. In previous diets I have learned to divide my weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms. From there I would then multiply my weight (in kilograms) by .8. I noticed you multiplied the women’s weight in pounds by .8. Why is that?

  140. Mark:

    I have Metabolic Syndrome/Type II Diabetes and my physician wants me to eat Grain Free…Getting Carbs from Legumes, Fruits and Veggies….So in essence this is actually identical to what your book reccomends.

    Trouble I had…was I lost 20 lbs really quick I guess due to lowered inflammataion, and boom plataeu. So I decided to go lower carb….Down to 62 grams a day and still not budging. Doing Spin Classes and do some resistance training.

    Also I notices at this level of carbohydrate my workouts are suffering…I dont have any Ommph!

    My Body seems to adapt to anything…. But I think my body is wise to what I’m Doing.

    Also on Meds…So Going Below 60 grams of carbs is very uncomfortable. I cant get into Ketosis like normal folks so my brain is not happy. Actually I notice my BS numbers rising a bit especially my wakeup and post workout.

    All Seem to get better in the late afternoon.

  141. Hey Joe, Are you making sure you are eating enough fat? Same happened to me, didn’t realize how well I had been “conditioned” to not eat fat, but once I truly embraced the idea things have gotten much, much better.
    Here is a great way to eat some fat, I have 2 of these chocolate fat-bombs every day, and I add nuts to mine!

    Chocolate Fat Bombs
    Ingredients:
    3 TBSP Coconut Oil
    3TBSP Sun Butter (made from sesame seeds) (or nut butter of choice)
    1 TBSP Organic Honey
    1.5 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    2.5 TBSP grass fed salted butter
    Dash of cinnamon
    .5 tsp Vanilla Extract (add mint, coconut, and almonds, little almond joys)
    I add pecan pieces or almonds to mine
    Directions:
    Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.
    Microwave for 45 seconds or until butter and coconut oil have melted.
    Stir with whisk until smooth and well combined
    Place one tablespoon of the mixture in candy mold or ice cube tray.
    Place in the freezer to allow ingredients to set up.
    These are best stored in the freezer until they are ready to be enjoyed.
    Nutrition:
    Serving Size: 1 chocolate (mix makes about 16 chocolates depending on the size of your molds)
    Calories = 56

  142. Do you have references for “your body can make up to 200 grams of glycogen from fats and protein every day”?

    Thanks.

  143. Are the number of grams we should eat based on the desired (goal) weight or our actual weight?

    So if my weight is 200, but I’d like to be 165…do I use 165? Or use my current weight and adjust my diet as I begin losing weight?

  144. I’m 6’2″ 340lbs…truck driver…I don’t know how to eat healthy. Every time I try a “health regimen ” I’m always hungry. I’m on a small budget. Not lazy. I’ve devoted all my last 9yrs to my children and wife. I don’t know how to count calories, carbs, fats, I’m 40. Need to be around for my family in 30yrs…long story short, my son was born with a brain tumor, had many surgeries. Now he’s good. It’s time I take care of myself. … if I’m told what to eat specificly for breakfast, lunch and dinner. ..I’ll follow. …please help

    1. Hi Lexx, appreciate your comment was a few months ago, but if you’re still around, send me a PM if you can. Happy to share my experience & food plan.

  145. Thanks for the article mark. Very interesting read. I am struggling with working out how many carbs to eat though, as I am very active – training for a marathon – but I also want to lose about 10kg. Is 80g of carbs per day going to be sufficient to fuel my training whilst also helping weight loss or should I add the extra 100g as suggested in the articles? Sorry if this is a silly question with an obvious answer, but I’m a newbie to this manner of eating – and lifestyle – and I’m just trying to get my head around it all. I suppose i should just try it out and see what works best, but what is the most effective way of doing this? For example, one week at 80g of carbs with my usual training and 1 week at 180g of carbs with the same training and compare body fat and general feeling of health at the end of each week? I hope you can help me out. Thanks!

  146. Mark, this is exactly the type of nutritional overview I’ve been looking for. I do a lot of work with helping patients achieve their physical, mental, and emotional goals, and a healthy, achievable diet is a key underpin in all of those areas. It’s nice to see a well thought-out article based on nutritional science. Thank you for sharing!

  147. I would like to know how to break down % of carbs,protein,fats to eat each day.

  148. I wanted to compliment Mark on the best tasting salad dressing I have ever tasted. I wish I could make it at home ant have to order it. Bravo Mark.

  149. I found this site thru Grant Petersen’s Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, which I have great hopes for. I’m just 10 pounds over goal weight but insulin and AiC are high. I’m 71, in pretty good shape, but can’t comfortably eat carbs: a little gets me started. Here’s my breakfast smoothie: 4 oz heavy cream, 30 gr. Chia seeds, 25 gr protein powder (Sun Warrior plant based), 135 gr. Baby kale, spinach, chard. It provides 29 gr fat, 6 gr net carbs, 25 gr protein and 480 calories. Comments? Too much carbs? Bad form of protein?

  150. I’m a 180lb male looking to gain muscle. If I consume 180g of protein and 150g of carbs, that totals 1,320 calories. I need 2,800 calories per day based on my activity level and desire to gain mass, does that mean I need to consume 1,500 calories a day from fats? That seems very excessive and would be around 50% of my macros? Is that right?

    1. Thank you for such an informative and user friendly website. However, I have a question about Protein amounts. The amount recommended by you is significantly higher than most other websites I have read. They all agree on 0.8-1 mg protein per lean body mass but they calculate that per KG and you use pounds resulting in a much higher amount.

  151. I am new to this website, and trying to really turn around my dependence on carbs- I currently crash (blood sugar) almost daily, getting shaky and weak and needing a fast carb fix to feel better. I am just too addicted to carbs. One problem is that I do not eat meat, only fish. Any recommendations for snacks and smalls meals which will help me avoid carbs, WITHOUT relying solely on meat? I could use your suggestions!

  152. Great post there! It obviously has some deep researches behind it & great info. Needless to say, it’s quite wright, I’ve seen a video by dr. Jacob Willson, who works with Ben Pakulski (ifbb pro) & he said pretty much the same in his videos. Also he said that the ability to burn fat fast is regulated by the volume of the mitochondria in the cells of our body, & this volume can be increased by the weight training and cardio. What do you think about this statement, interesting to know how much cardio is safe to do for a 40 year old guy like me. Thanks!

  153. Mark, I have a question…. if you willingly or unwillingly reach ketosis, and still exercise is there not the danger of consuming lean mass? Even worse, consuming vital organ mass? I read about this somewhere and wondered… if one gets too little carbs, if this is a thing to worry about. Love your website btw and thanks for the always up to date information 😉

  154. Hi Mark
    Firstly Congrats for great work. This primal eating plan are help in our fitness too, and you are best Guide to Eating Ever. Highly Recomended

  155. Hi mark ! your article is very informative. but let me know that which foods are better for weight loss? kindly explain the low carb and high carb foods.
    thank you
    regard
    Mathew Haddin

  156. Hope this program works I am to over weight and I a! Following this thing to the T

  157. Hi Mark! Question for you: What should I keep my sugar intake under? is 50g too much? Thanks!

  158. You are so awesome! I don’t think I’ve read through anything like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

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  160. I want to comment on the Go Green Smoothie- yesterday we made one and ended up with Oxalic Acid overdose, vomiting, pains in the stomach, really sick. The book does not state that eating raw Silverbeet, Kale etc can give you high levels of Oxalic Adic and poison you??

  161. Okay you say not to count calories but then you provide calories? And no alternative unless missed something as opposed to tracking – I’m a little lost can you provide me some additional clarity here?

    1. Hi Stephen, Of course to some extent you should watch your caloric intake because too much of anything is not good for you. If you have read the primal blueprint book you would know there is a “carb sweet spot” that allows you to effortlessly lose weight and stabilize your insulin levels. He is not telling you how many calories to eat here he is telling you how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats you should try to get, these grams can very depending on what you are eating the calories don’t really effect it. For example you can eat 100 grams of fat which could be 900 calories or you could eat 100 grams of carbs which could be 60 calories, the point is keep your carbs under 150 grams (about 100 grams is best in my opinion if you are not working out. The phone app “My fitness pal” has a great built in food calculator which can help you calculate the grams of the food you are eating. Its so easy that it can even read the food off the bar codes on the food through your phones camera, you just simply scan it and then put how much of it you ate. I hope this helps some, good luck!

  162. Thank you so much for this Mark. I’ve been primal for about 9 years now, I have lost 110 lbs through intermittent fasting and eating the primal way, I fell off the wagon when I had endured a family tragedy and health issues and gained 55lbs back. I’ve tried Keto and I can not keto adapt, due to health issues I become dangerously ill when I am in ketosis. I can however always turn to primal and intermittent fasting. I can stabilize and lose at a healthy and happy pace.

    I am eternally grateful.

    1. Owl, thank you so much for the morning inspiration. I’m so glad you’ve customized the Primal diet and ancestral practices to work for you individually. That’s what it’s all about. I’d love for you to share your story with readers. I think many might learn and identify with your journey. Grok on – M