The Primal Blueprint is generally considered a low-carb way of eating, especially in contrast to the Standard American Diet and the like. We’re not anti-carb. My Big-Ass Salad is a huge bowl of carbs from vegetables, after all. We’re selective about the sources of our carbs and generally mindful about how many we take in.
Given that, readers always want to know the “right” way to incorporate carbs. Which carb sources? How many? When? How often?
The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid and Carb Curve provide answers to the first two questions. The latter two… well, those are more complicated.
I’ve written about these topics many times, but the questions keep on coming. Today I’m going to try to condense the main points into one post. I’ll touch on some issues you’ve raised in the comments of recent posts, too.
In truth, I keep getting questions because there are so few definitive answers about the optimal way to incorporate carbs in your diet. Underlying hormonal and metabolic health, activity level, and lifestyle variables to make it impossible to make across-the-board recommendations. Few studies address these issues, and those that do always use standard high-carb diets in their manipulations.
The best I can do is explain the logic behind different strategies and encourage you to experiment. As with so many things, it might take time to discover which strategies work best for you.
If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Folks, I have been grateful for every story that has come my way over the years. It’s an incredible privilege being on the receiving end of your reflections and evolutions, and they are why I’ve kept at it all these years—knowing the message and information have made a difference in people’s lives. I appreciate every single one. This success story comes from Registered Dietician, Primal Health Coach, and cancer survivor Martha Tettenborn. She takes us through her journey from learning to advise a low-fat, high-carb lifestyle to beating cancer using Primal principles. Enjoy! —Mark
It has become my passion to share the power of nutritional interventions for improving health overall, but especially in the treatment of cancer. I have come to this from personal experience…
I studied at University in the early 1980’s to become a dietitian, because I had an overwhelming interest in nutrition and wanted to be in a helping profession. At that time, the cholesterol and saturated fat theory of heart disease and overall health was considered cutting edge science and we were fully indoctrinated into the low-fat approach to almost all health issues. The only exception was using a high calorie, high protein approach to under-nutrition (such as with failure-to-thrive or cancer patients), and in that situation, we recommended using sugar or honey, butter or cream, and other added fats and simple carbs to increase the caloric density of foods.
Even after publishing several books and hundreds of articles that draw upon the science of ketosis and low-carb living, I keep researching, thinking, revisiting, and discussing the underpinnings of ketosis. My writing partner, Brad Kearns, and I maintain a running dialogue on all things keto. The latest conversation revolved around two very common questions or “problems” that keep coming up in the ketogenic community: why am I getting low ketone readings?
It’s a fair question. Why do some people on a keto diet register high ketones while others eating the same way register low numbers?
I won’t offer definitive answers fit to etch into stone. I will offer my exploration of the research, some educated speculation, and actionable advice you can ruminate on. And by all means get back to me with your take on the questions and my explorations, please. Dialogue is essential to understanding.
A little planning and motivation will help you start a low-carb, keto, or Primal lifestyle, and under normal circumstances, keeping your carbs on the low side is easy. But let’s not create the illusion that it is easy all the time. From time to time, you may get stressed and eat mindlessly. Or, your aunt drops off her blue-ribbon cake that you’ve loved since you were in preschool, and you give in, just this once. Or, you had a jam-packed day and all you can muster to make for dinner is that package of gluten-free noodles in the back of your pantry. The next thing you know, you’ve eaten enough carbs for a week, and you wonder how you’ll get back into ketosis after a carb binge.
The short answer is, yes you will recover from a carb binge. Yes, you will get back into ketosis. As far as how long it will take to get back into ketosis – that depends on numerous factors, that we’ll dive into here. The important thing to remember is, you did not obliterate your goals with one misstep. Especially after you’ve spent some amount of time in ketosis, your body will allow for fluctuations in carb consumption here and there. That’s called metabolic flexibility, which we’ll go into shortly.
One of the more common questions we get in the Keto Reset Facebook community is, “How do I break through a weight-loss plateau?”
Stalls are frustrating. You’re cruising along on your Primal or Primal + keto diet, and then wham—you hit a wall. It’s all a totally normal and expected part of the weight loss process. Weight loss is never linear. There are always downs, ups, and flat spots.
In fact, if you’ve been losing weight for a while, and then you stall out for a week or two, I wouldn’t even consider that a plateau necessarily. Your body might keep losing weight on its own if you give it time and don’t stress about it. Still, I get it, you’re eager to kick-start the weight loss again.
You’ve been keto for a few months now (or longer). You know what you’re doing. You feel good about where you are. You’re fat-adapted. You’ve got a slew of recipes under your belt, your gym performance has normalized, the keto-flu is a distant memory. And now, you’re looking to explore further. The natural next step is intermittent fasting.
But is it the right move?
Does intermittent fasting work if you’re keto?
The short answer is: Yes. Intermittent fasting works really, really well if you’re on a ketogenic diet.
This post is a companion piece to the lazy keto article, which describes what lazy keto is and who might want to do it. The tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) version is that lazy keto is a simplified version of the keto diet where you only track carbs to make sure you’re under the limit to stay in ketosis. According to The Keto Reset Diet and Keto for Life, that would be about 50 grams total (gross) per day, with some wiggle room if most of your carbs are coming from non-starchy vegetables and avocados. Otherwise, you don’t micromanage your protein, fat, or total calorie intake.
Keto is hot right now, but it’s not the easiest diet to follow. It’s no surprise, then, that keto dieters have spun off different versions of the diet to suit their needs. One that gets a lot of hype on social media is lazy keto.
(As an aside, I bet there’s an interesting social psychology study here—people who hear “lazy keto” and go, “Oh cool, I can do keto and be lazy? Sign me up!” versus people who go, “Lazy?! That’s totally not the point of keto, arrgghh!” But I digress.)
Mark and I are both big proponents of self-experimentation and finding the eating plan that works for you. The question at hand is whether, and for whom, lazy keto might be a viable option. How does it stack up to “strict keto,” and does it work?
A little sweet, a lot spiced, and topped with cloud-like frothed (or warmed) milk, a chai latte is black tea steeped with milk as well as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and often black pepper, fennel, and ginger. Traditionally sweetened with a bit of honey, the chai lattes available widely in the Western world tend to be cloying with syrups and artificial flavors that don’t honor the Indian art of steeping the tea with whole spices. To find a Primal and Primal-keto version, forego the coffee house line and make your own at home.
If you want fast, easy, nutritious, and varied ways of cooking with ground beef, our three keto ground beef recipes will show you how. This keto-Primal meal plan and prep featuring ground beef will teach you how to cook lunches, dinners, and leftovers in 15 minutes. Disclaimer: If you’re not a fast vegetable chopper and dicing onions makes you feel like a teary slowpoke, you might not pull the entire meal prep off in 15 minutes, but that’s OK! Take your time to get everything washed, prepared, and chopped before you start cooking so that once the ground beef starts sizzling in the skillet, you’re 15 minutes away from an Asian Ground Beef Bowl, Cheeseburger Salad, and Spicy Ground Beef Tacos.