The 2016 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Begins Now

If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, reduce stress, increase energy or just generally look and feel healthier you’ve come to the right place. Oh, and you can win lots of cool Primal gear, too. That’s right, it’s the annual Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge!

Before we get to all the details, let’s kick things off with a simple contest. Click on over to this page and register for the free Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge in the Vimify app. That’s it! I’ll explain more about the app below, but rest assured that you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to if you register for free.

This contest ends at 8 pm PST tonight, January 11. A winner will be selected at random and everyone around the world is eligible, including people that registered before today.

Now, on to the challenge details…

What Is the 21-Day Challenge?

What’s the challenge? To get Primal, of course! Click here to view the full version of a nifty graphic that summarizes the 21-Day Challenge. (I encourage any bloggers out there to share this infographic using the html I’ve included below it.) Additionally, you can dig deeper into each section of the infographic by visiting this more detailed Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge page.

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Infographic

In brief, this is the Challenge. Do it for just 21 days and the results will speak for themselves.

  1. Eat real food.
  2. Avoid sugar, grains, unhealthy fats, beans/legumes.
  3. Align your carb intake with your weight goals and activity levels.
  4. Move frequently at a slow pace: Get between 2-5 hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise.
  5. Lift heavy things: Conduct 1-3 brief, intense sessions of full-body functional movements.
  6. Sprint: Go “all out” once a week.
  7. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
  8. Get 15 minutes of direct sun exposure each day.
  9. Play! Find time to let go, disconnect, unwind and have fun each day.

No sign-up required. Anyone can participate. Just commit to the challenge, and check back every day for motivation and guidance. Articles over the next two weeks will be about taking steps to align your lifestyle with the Primal Blueprint. The third and final week of the challenge will be mostly comprised of reader-created content. That’s right, MDA readers (you!) will be running the show.

Above and beyond the challenge as outlined above, I encourage you to make your own personal challenges. Whether it’s eliminating or adding a certain food to your diet, losing weight, going barefoot more often, getting better sleep, or anything else, customize your goals to fit your needs and commit to 21 days starting now.

Who Is the 21-Day Challenge For?

I hold this 21-Day Challenge every year to encourage Primal beginners to give this way of eating, moving and living a try because I know it works, I know how empowering it is, and I know it changes lives.

I also do it to motivate those that have been dabbling with the Primal lifestyle for a while, but haven’t fully committed or still have some room for improvement (myself included!), to go all in and resolve to finally take control of their health.

There’s something here for Primal veterans, too. It’s a good idea to revisit the basics from time to time. And hey, the chance to win free stuff isn’t half bad either.

Why 21 Days?

After many years of training clients and interacting with hundreds of thousands of Mark’s Daily Apple readers, my team and I have found that 21 days is the sweet spot for eliminating old habits and replacing them with new ones. It’s long enough to make legitimate progress toward reversing years of adverse lifestyle habits, long enough for most people to get past the low carb flu (if you experience it at all), and long enough to give the Primal Blueprint a fair shake, but not so long as to be seen as a daunting undertaking. In other words, anyone, including you, can give this a go for three measly weeks, and in that time you are bound to see results. If you have weight to lose, it’s reasonable to expect a reduction of three to seven pounds of excess body fat during this period, and to continue at that rate safely until you reach your ideal body composition.

I’m confident that you can transform your life in just 21 days with the Primal Blueprint. But I also know that people want to maximize their chances of success. To help you on that path, I’m offering two new tools:

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge App

I told you all about the app last week. Once again, we’ve partnered with Vimify to bring you a free Primal Blueprint 21-Day Transformation App Challenge for your desktop computer or Apple iOS device. As you move through the Challenge, the app will be updated to reflect the day’s contests, your progress, and the progress of your friends. With the app, you’ll join a community of like-minded individuals working toward common goals. Compare, contrast, compete, encourage, and gently rib each other as you work through the contests and smash your stated goals.

If you haven’t downloaded it, you’ve missed the preparatory tasks. But no worries. They’re really straightforward, and you can do them now so you’re ready for the Challenge:

  • Purge your pantry of all non-Primal foods and restock it with Primal fare. Take an hour out of your day to toss (or re-home) all the junk, grains, sugar, and vegetable oils in your pantry and hit the local grocery store or farmer’s market to stock up on meat, plants, nuts, and good fats.
  • Do a Primal Essential Movement assessment. Determining your level of physical fitness won’t take longer than twenty, thirty minutes, and it will give you a good idea of where you stand physically. (Check out Primal Blueprint Fitness for the detailed assessment.)
  • Invite friends to join you in the Challenge. Time’s a wasting for this one. Get your friends involved. Send them the link to this blog post. Suggest that they download the free app. The strength of this app lies in the community you build, the accountability it promotes, and the healthy competition it provides. You need people to get those benefits.

Today is the last day you can download the app for free and participate in this round of the app challenge. Although it isn’t necessary to join the Challenge, it does enhance the experience. You have until 11:59 this evening (PST) to download it, so get on it.

There’s another tool, too:

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Transformation Program

Or rather, three tools. The three 21-Day Transformation Program packages are made to simplify and streamline Primal living. They eliminate guesswork and give you everything you need to hit the ground running down the path toward success in the Challenge. And once the Challenge is over, the Transformation packages increase your ability to stay the course and make this a permanent lifestyle change. You’ve got:

The Digital Package. Receive immediate access to digital versions of the 21-Day Total Body Transformation (the official book of the Challenge that perfectly distills the essential aspects of the Primal Blueprint and shows you how to integrate them), plus an audiobook version (if you prefer to listen). You’ll also get digital versions of Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals, the Primal Blueprint Poster (a graphic guide to the lifestyle), the Primal Blueprint Shopping List (a complete list of all Primal-approved foods), and an in-depth 90-minute video of me covering all the major elements of the Primal Blueprint lifestyle. You’ll also receive daily email encouragement for the duration of the Challenge, plus instant access to the app.

The Fuel Package. Receive all of the above, plus physical versions of the book, the cookbook, the poster, and the shopping list shipped directly to your door. You’ll also get a bag of Primal Fuel, a Primal Fuel recipe book, and a Primal Fuel blender bottle. This is the best value of the three packages.

The Essentials Package has everything from the Fuel Package PLUS bottles of Vital Omegas (my high-quality omega-3 fish oil), Primal Calm (my herbal stress-fighting blend), and Vitamin D (because sun is scarce this time of year). If you have been wondering how the supplements fit into the lifestyle, this is the perfect opportunity to give them a try and see how they work for you.

Of course, these aren’t necessary to succeed or even partake in the Challenge, but they do make things easier and your success more certain. Choose your Transformation Package today to enhance this year’s challenge, and for added guidance and direction.

The 21-Day Challenge Contests

The main challenge itself isn’t competitive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some friendly contests along they way!

Over the course of the next three weeks Mark’s Daily Apple and sponsors will be giving away thousands of dollars in prizes.

Here are some rules and answers to FAQ:

  • There will be new contests on Mark’s Daily Apple most days for the first two weeks (through Jan. 24) of the 21-Day Challenge, so check back daily!
  • All contest prizes relate in some way to the Primal lifestyle. You won’t find any miracle weight loss pills, tummy crunching sling-a-ma-doo-dads, or whole wheat health blast jazzer snackers.
  • Some contests will require a bit of leg work while others will require something as simple as commenting on a blog post.
  • There is no limit to how many contests you can participate in.
  • The duration of any one contest depends on the nature of the contest. Some will last a couple weeks (to give you time to complete the contest task) while others will be as short as one day. All deadlines are Pacific Standard Time.
  • Contest prizes will be awarded either by a random drawing, by reader voting/polling or by an executive decision (who I think should win!).
  • Some prizes will only be available to United States residents. If you live outside the U.S. and win a prize that can’t be shipped internationally an alternate prize of equal value will be awarded.
  • I’m not being paid by any company for being featured in a 21-Day Challenge contest.

To track all the contests visit the 2016 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Contest Page for daily updates.

New to the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple?

If you are new to the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple and don’t know where to begin, here are some resources to get you started:

1. Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge page – On this page you’ll be introduced to the basics of the Primal Blueprint and can follow numerous links to learn more.

2. The Forum – I highly encourage you to use the forum during the challenge. In it you can start a “Primal Challenge Journal” to publicly state your goals and track your progress. Create a journal to receive positive feedback, advice and help along the way from the Mark’s Daily Apple community.

3. The Books

4. What to eat? – Primal Blueprint Recipes on MDA, The Primal Blueprint Meal Plan

5. The Newsletter – Sign up on this page to get several free ebooks, a 7-day course on the fundamentals of lifelong health, and more.

6. Have a question? – Contact Me

Tell your friends and family about the challenge so they can get Primal too!

Best wishes and good luck on your first day of the Challenge. Check back tomorrow for a new contest and an article on going into the Challenge with the right frame of mind. Grok on!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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28 thoughts on “The 2016 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Begins Now”

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  1. YAHOO!!! I’m ready for this year’s challenge. Last year’s helped me so much and it was a fun doing it in the process. I need this extra push after some choice holiday food disasters. Hahahah.

  2. 7 pounds down–that’s my goal for this challenge. It’s definitely within the “healthy” weight loss range for three weeks’ time. Let’s do this!!

  3. Looking forward to this. Tired of being on and off again Primal eating. Gotta get back on the wagon here.

  4. I plan to support the progress of everyone in the challenge because somehow I believe most of the PB principles must be correct. However, I tried these very faithfully for over 2 years. When I had my blood work checked every number except triglycerides had gotten much worse,(of course HDL went up, which is better.) Now, if I understand correctly about heart disease, the ratio of triglycerides to HDL is the important number so I guess that makes my foray into PB a success. But I wasn’t prepared for the jump in my fasting glucose, the elevation in my A1c,(long term blood glucose) or huge jump in LDL. To top off all that, I lost very little weight, not much more than could be accounted for by water loss alone. It was very discouraging. I still don’t eat bread or pizza or pasta, or refined starches of any kind, but I did go back to eating some lentils and small amounts of other beans, and I feel much better for it and my blood glucose levels finally went back to normal. I tolerate butter and small amounts of cheese and cream on occasion. So, considering all this, I just am left wondering why such a great-seeming program was such a disappointment for me personally. I’ve tweaked it in numerous ways based on what Mark says, which always sounds right to me, but the results are not what one would hope. Anyway I do support the idea and hope for best results for everyone. GROK ON!!!

    1. Hi Shasha. You are probably a woman. In mu view, the more traditional paleo diets dont work so well on women. It is the same with ketosis, which has more adverse effect o on women. The thing that our ancestors never did was to eat the same diet. It would change with the sessons but aldo, for what we know of traditional societies, with age, and gender. Given that, I remain surprised that this has not been better investigated in relation to the paleo diet.

  5. Hi ShaSha, rest assured you are not alone in your frustration. We see this quite often actually where standard paleo/primal just isn’t magic enough… How our diet and lifestyle interact with our various biomarkers, like blood lipids, is highly individual. A recent study in Cell shows pretty clearly that individuals respond quite differently to carbohydrate loads, probably due to differences in gut biome. While MDA and other ancestral health proponents offer a very good place to start and a much needed reality check for standard western dieters, in my experience it often requires fervent tweaking for the individual. Another issue I see quite a bit in the paleosphere is a total disregard for total food intake. One of the best things about paleo/primal is that most people can free-feed so to speak without concerning themselves with calories or macronutrients but some just can’t and a little more attention needs to be paid to how much of what your are consuming. All this being said I think you are doing the right thing by not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Even though you may not have dialed in the nutrition component yet the rest of the principals are still valid and usually quite helpful.

  6. Awesome infographic! Diet-wise following that to the T except eating more quinoa and black rice than what is ideal according to the chart, need to do better on sleep, and I’m sitting too much at my standing desk set-up lol. I’m at a good weight, would like to tighten up the ol’ midsection a tad without flaring up a bit of an umbilical hernia I have (sorry, that’s probably TMI).

    Anyway … very inspirational Mark and best wishes to everyone.

  7. Does the sleep for day 1 refer to the evening of 1/10 in to today 1/11, or today 1/11 in to tomorrow Tuesday 1/12?

  8. Adam, thanks for the reply to my post. When I manage to stick with primal principles I do notice a lessening of my appetite but it is usually short-lived as I also begin to feel sluggish and unwell. I think it is due to too much protein. As for tweaking the eating plan, I have found that consuming meat or high protein foods on a daily basis is almost too much for me. I’m finding out (rather late in life) that I do best on a diet of mostly vegetables, some animal foods, and not too much of anything else. Sounds a lot like Pollan’s advice to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. A strong appetite for everything does seem to run in my family and if there is any problem for me it usually centers around too much food rather than an issue with quality.
    I live in an area of the country where we can get pretty much the best of everything, organic, local, etc. and I have always been aware of eating top quality fare. One can still have issues with weight control if the portions are too large. Guess I missed the advice on that when I was young. But, hey its never too late, eh? Thanks again for the reply.

  9. Perfect timing. I am working to get myself back to where I was three years ago when I was doing obstacle course races regularly and was in terrific shape. I’m still good, but I want to be better!

  10. The 21-Day Challenge which started on 11 Jan, just arrived in my E-mail this morning (13 Jan, at 8:31 AM).

    Does that mean the contest is closed to me since I didn’t register before the deadline of two days ago?

    Thanks, Jeff

    1. Likewise. Am in the UK and just received the invite email wed 13th at 22:00 gmt.
      Tried to download the app. $9.99.

      Mind you going to do the 21days anyway just wont have as much support.

      First timer and ready for the challenge.

      Good luck everyone. Enjoy.


      1. I also just recieved this in email today (1/13) around 12:30 PST. Looked for other missed messages in spam and archive folders but can’t find anything. Won’t slow me down, but it’s still unfortunate.

        Looking forward to the challenge!

  11. Me too – just got the email!
    Also – I take it point 8 in the 9 point plan (Get 15 minutes of direct sun exposure each day) only applies to those of you lucky enough to live in California? Try fining 5 minutes of direct sun in Scotland in the middle of winter!!

    1. Sorry for the trouble! We had a couple of announcement posts last week as well. Without the app, you can still follow along with all the contests and the info on this page, but if you’d still like to join on Vimify, here’s a link that will get you into the current challenge:

  12. I too received the email two days after the start date. It’s a bummer that the opportunity to start on time with everyone has passed and my next chance is Feb without the bonus savings For the challenge.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Sorry for the trouble! We had a couple of announcement posts last week as well. Without the app, you can still follow along with all the contests and the info on this page, but if you’d still like to join on Vimify, here’s a link that will get you into the current challenge:

  13. I am follow Mark’s Daily Apple thru both the webpage/newsletter and Facebook. Not sure why the first notice I see about this year’s 21 Day Primal Blueprint Challenge is on Jan 13.
    Imagine my surprise when I go to the website and see that registration, the free app etc cutoff is Jan 11.
    Not impressed

    1. Sorry for the trouble! We had a couple of announcement posts last week as well. Without the app, you can still follow along with all the contests and the info on this page, but if you’d still like to join on Vimify, here’s a link that will get you into the current challenge:

  14. Same issues with timing here. Why offer the community something for free, or a contest, if you can’t get the info out on time for all to participate?

    1. Hi Michael,

      We had a couple of announcement go up last week. Without the app, you can still follow along with all the contests and the info on this page, but if you’d still like to join on Vimify, here’s a link that will get you into the current challenge:

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  15. Hey everyone!

    We’ve gotten some comments that last week’s announcement post was missed, therefore limiting participation on our free challenge app. If you missed registration, here’s a link that will get you into the free January challenge:

    1. Hi Liz,

      Thanks for reacting to this feedback by letting us join in the January challenge for free. I misunderstood and thought the challenge was from 8th Feb rather than from last Monday but I think access to the app now will give me a great chance to get prepared for my first 21 day transformation in February. I really appreciate seeing what the app has to offer.

      It’s the first time I have logged on to Vimify for anything and I have to admit I am a bit overwhelmed by it. But I will have a good look over the weekend.

      Thanks again,


  16. So this is what eating like a human feels like!

    I didn’t participate via the App but did the 21 day challenge on my own. I’d like to encourage any other sugar- / bread-junkies thinking, “I’d like to do this, but I’m not sure I can / not sure it’s worth it…” Just jump in and try it!

    Before the challenge I didn’t know how I’d possibly make it 21 days without sugar and grains. I thought I’d be counting the hours ’til I could go back to my old habits.

    In actual fact, by day 14 or so, I lost count. It’s now day.. um… 23? 24? and I have no intention of stopping. Why would I? I feel great, have loads more energy, feel calmer, have fewer aches and pains, and have lost 11lbs (your mileage may vary – I have lots to lose). I think of unhelpful foods they way I think of a bad ex: sure, there were good times and positives, but they just weren’t worth the trouble.

    Give it a try – you might just like it 🙂