Primal Blueprint Success Story

I got this message from a reader who has been following our site for some time and decided to incorporate my Primal Blueprint ® lifestyle tactics into his life. Photos, results and advice follow…

Hello Mark,

I have been following your blog for quite a while now, and am very grateful for all the information you share over here. I have changed my lifestyle significantly over the last 8 months or so, under the influence of the information on this site, and based on the Evolutionary Fitness ideas of Arthur de Vany (through whom I heard of you).

I have a question about gene expression and the ribbed look. I will get to in just a moment, but first I need to share a bit about the context I am coming from.

Over the last 8 months, I have made gradual changes to my lifestyle. Nowadays, I have by-and-large cut out the empty calories from my diet. On most days, I eat eggs and fruit for breakfast, a big salad for lunch (inspired by you!), and light meats and vegetables for dinner. My snacks comprise of nuts and berries. I also occasionally skip a meal, based on the Art de Vany’s Intermittent Fasting idea.

I workout three times a week, doing mainly Art de Vany’s Hierarchical Sets. I also play soccer and cricket for around 3-4 hours over the weekends, and on other days I keep active by walking around the neighborhood, or sprinting up flights of stairs, or cleaning out the house, etc.

Of course, my lifestyle is not ‘primal perfect’, and I do have the occasional dessert or cookie. And sometimes I treat myself to a little sugar in my coffee. But the volume of these things is orders of magnitude less than it was a year ago. Also, I live in India, and this is a very grain based society. So a lot of the seafood and other sources of good proteins are simply not available here or are prohibitively expensive. So I do the best I can with what is available. And that is but an approximation to your daily diet.

The results, nonetheless, have been extremely encouraging. I now really need a whole new wardrobe: my old jeans just slip right off! I have had to get two extra notches on my belt. And I am also much stronger and quicker on the soccer field: I now regularly win the ‘strength battles’ which are common on a soccer field, while I use to regularly lose them earlier. I am also much healthier than I was before: my body now responds exceptionally well to the inevitable occasional external stresses (late nights, hectic days, etc.) that are a part of life. I have pictures of myself over the year that speak for themselves. Unfortunately this forum does not enable me to attach them.

After that elaborate preface, I finally come to my question. As I mentioned, I have lost a lot of weight. I am now around 6′ tall, weigh around 140lbs, and my waist size is a tad less than 32? (it used to be 36? at one point). As you can imagine, I look quite thin. The muscle I can feel (based on the tightness of my shirt sleeves and chest) does not really show. And above all, I still have a thin layer of flab around my belly and the back of my arms. While this flab has reduced dramatically over the months, it has been quite stable for a while now. I simply don’t have that ‘ribbed’ look that I would really like.

I have read that in order to have the ribbed look, one’s body fat must be less than 10% . I have also read that based on genetic disposition, it could be very hard for some people to get their body fat less than 10% . I know that you firmly hold the position that how we express our genes is a key determinant on our health and fitness, but yet you do concede that genetics do play a factor.

Based on my experience, I am beginning to wonder whether I am reaching the limit of my ‘genetic allowance’ . Is it feasible that some people simply will not look ribbed no matter what they do? Or is it simply a matter of time? If so, what is a realistic amount of time before a once modern-looking (apple shaped, flabby) individual begins to look like a ribbed primal man once the primal lifestyle has been established?

Thanks for the time you take in sharing your wisdom and knowledge. It has made a huge difference to my life, and that of those around me (they can’t help getting inspired 🙂 ) .


PS: I am a 24 year old male. After reading through my post, I thought that this might be relevant.

Before we get to Apurva’s photos I want to commend him for all the steps he has made to lead a healthy lifestyle. It sounds like he is on track to getting in shape. As the photos attest, he is doing just that.

Photo 1: This was taken several months before I heard about Primal Health or Evolutionary fitness. I used to eat the usual (Indian) diet of lots of grains, with vegetables, and with minimal protein and fruit. I did not work out, though I used to swim and play soccer. I used to enjoy my sweets, and ate a lot of them at that point.

Photo 2: [This was] taken just this morning. At this point, I think my food pyramid is the close to Mark’s. My activity cycle is also pretty close. The only difference in the diet is that I cannot get as much variety in protein sources over here, so that is a bit less than is perhaps ideal. As I mentioned in the post, these days I eat fruits and eggs for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and a light dinner of chicken/fish and vegetables.

First off I want to say, congratulations, Apurva! In a matter of months you have gone from chubby to trim by making a few simple lifestyle changes. Many of our readers have had similar experiences. I am always very happy to hear success stories from my blog readers. In fact, anyone out there that would like their results to be featured in a blog post or simply would like personalized advice I’d be glad to help you reach your goals. Just shoot me a line. Back to Apurva…

Luckily for Apurva I’ve already addressed his questions generally in the following posts:

The Secret to Great Abs
How Long Do I Have to Exercise to See Results?
Dear Mark: Hardgainer

But let’s be a little more specific here:

To get the ripped, cut, shredded look you want you will, as you acknowledge, have to lose fat. You have started the process and it will only continue as you stay on the Primal Blueprint program. Your immediate goal is to build more muscle while you burn more body fat. In terms of your diet, I would aim for at least 140-160 grams of protein a day (200 is even better), at least 100 grams of healthy fat, and try to make up the rest of your daily intake with vegetables and a little fruit (berries are best). I would recommend a 45-day commitment to eliminating refined carbs and sugars. I’d also cut back on alcohol. Once you achieve your goal, you can slack off a little with minimal damage. Or you can stick with it and move to the next level.

No matter how hard you work out you may not be genetically predisposed to ever look like Bruce Lee. Then again, his 2% body fat was just too low for good health! For you, 8-10% is well within reach. But to get there sooner, you will probably have to work a little harder and longer than you have been up to now. Again, make a 45-day commitment to training just a little harder in the gym. More compound exercises to stimulate HGH and lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions to total muscle failure in order to build muscle. I’d do three days a week (alternating days) of that. Two days a week, I would do some kind of intense running intervals – see my beach sprints video for more info – but you could also do “stadium steps” where you sprint up several flights of stairs as hard as you can for 10 sets (always after a warm-up). You can still play soccer or cricket on the weekends. On a side note, as an alternative to gym workouts, you can get the best home-workout system around: the P90X designed and hosted by my very good friend Tony Horton. Sort of a CrossFit at home series.

You have been doing a great job. To see further results it will just take some fine tuning to the changes you have already made. As you say, the results have been extremely encouraging. Keep us posted.

Further Reading:

Skinny Fat

Magnificent Muscle

Matt Metzgar: Undermuscled

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