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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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January 14 2009

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

By Mark Sisson
657 Comments

GraphYesterday, low-carb blogger Dr. Michael Eades (he of Protein Power) posted a message from his friend and fellow low-carb guru Richard Feinman as sort of a call-to-action in public policy-making for upcoming 2010 USDA guidelines. Dr. Eades and Dr. Feinman have suggested that we ought to quickly find a way to help the USDA arrive at a sensible recommendation for carbohydrate consumption. Feinman asked:

“how can the benefits of carbohydrate restriction that you have experienced personally or in your immediate environment be translated into reasonable recommendations that the USDA could put out?”

In conjunction with my forthcoming book “The Primal Blueprint”, I have been working on an easy-to-understand explanation of how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them (or not) in our diet. I have also developed a chart (not the one above) that is intended to assist those who want to go “Primal” in visualizing the impact of carbs consumed within certain ranges. I was going to hold off on releasing this information until my book is published, but decided to introduce it here in response to Dr. Eades’ post. Since the choice of how many and what types of carbs in one’s diet depends on the context of one’s life (current weight, disease condition, activity levels, etc), I see carb intake as a “curve” ranging from “allowable” to “desirable” to “unhealthy”.

The following descriptions illustrate how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them, or not, in our diet. The ranges represent daily averages and are subject to variables like age, current height and weight and particularly training volume. For example, a heavy, active person can be successful at a higher number than a light, moderately active person. In particular, hard training endurance athletes will experience a greater need for carbs and can adjust their personal curve accordingly. This is a topic I address further in the book (e.g. – experimenting with adding 100g of carbs per hour of training per day), on MarksDailyApple.com and in a future “primal” book dedicated to endurance athletes. Here then is my “Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve.”

300 or more grams/day Danger Zone!

Easy to reach with the “normal” American diet (cereals, pasta, rice, bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins, soft drinks, packaged snacks, sweets, desserts). High risk of excess fat storage, inflammation, increased disease markers including Metabolic Syndrome or diabetes. Sharp reduction of grains and other processed carbs is critical unless you are on the “chronic cardio” treadmill (which has its own major drawbacks).

150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain

Continued higher insulin-stimulating effect prevents efficient fat burning and contributes to widespread chronic disease conditions. This range – irresponsibly recommended by the USDA and other diet authorities – can lead to the statistical US average gain of 1.5 pounds of fat per year for forty years.

100-150 grams/dayPrimal Blueprint Maintenance Range

This range based on body weight and activity level. When combined with Primal exercises, allows for genetically optimal fat burning and muscle development. Range derived from Grok’s (ancestors’) example of enjoying abundant vegetables and fruits and avoiding grains and sugars.

50-100 grams/day – Primal Sweet Spot for Effortless Weight Loss

Minimizes insulin production and ramps up fat metabolism. By meeting average daily protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight formula), eating nutritious vegetables and fruits (easy to stay in 50-100 gram range, even with generous servings), and staying satisfied with delicious high fat foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds), you can lose one to two pounds of body fat per week and then keep it off forever by eating in the maintenance range.

0-50 grams/day – Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning

Acceptable for a day or two of Intermittent Fasting towards aggressive weight loss efforts, provided adequate protein, fat and supplements are consumed otherwise. May be ideal for many diabetics. Not necessarily recommended as a long-term practice for otherwise healthy people due to resultant deprivation of high nutrient value vegetables and fruits.

Drop me a line in the comment boards. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes (and You’ll Understand It)

Primal Fitness

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657 thoughts on “The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve”

  1. You hit the nail right on the head with the grams of carb’s consumed for your goals.0 to 50 grams thats where the obese should be and thats where i am at.When i get bored or feel i want to lose a little slower because ive lost alot already i will go to 50 to 75 grams to see how i lose ect.I have to tell you carb’s are so addictive when you cut way back you feel like you lost a friend.

    1. lol……aint that the truth…. I feel like my best friend stabbed me in the back…lol

    2. “feel like you lost a friend” YOU hit the nail on the head 😛

    3. Agreed – I only carry a few extra pounds and have no health issues. And even still, I have to be very low on the carb curve to see any pounds come off.

      1. instead of restricting carbs be more active better you improve your fitness plus dont starve your self! just make sure their gluten free!

        1. I agree, starving is very dangerous. Long term you will have very bad results, I starved a while and then I got all kinds of trouble, doctors, bad bones, everything.

        2. I found by eliminating carbs, sugars, and starchs. I could eat as much as I wanted. I found I did not have to starve my self. Unlike other diets that leave you wanting more. As you know there is an 80% rule.
          Well I did start eating more carbs, due to holiday eating and stress eating. To get back on track was quite the challenge. But I found that if a person does it gradually, and if they are persistent, they can do it.
          I portion my grains, and sweet treats in baggies, cutting them in portions, and putting them in the freezer. So when I am in need, or want of grains, or sweet treats, they are right there, and I don’t have to bing.
          Works for me. I found with less weight I feel a lot better, and healthier.
          Your metabolism slows down at a later age, so eating healthier is important. At least for me.

    4. Strategically timing carb intake may be beneficial in this case. I have found that if I go too long without starches (a week or so) and continue exercise, I begin to feel fatigued and cranky. Overfeeding on carbs (preferably paleo/primal-friendly ones) one day a week and/or in the hour following a hard workout keeps energy levels high. And when glycogen is topped off after overfeeding on carbs, you feel like a rockstar!

      1. As an endurance runner (I know, that’s SO not primal!) LOL
        I went through that when I cut carbs. I am at the -50 and below range due to diabetes and other blood sugar problems, but when I started, I found the wall within the first 2 miles and thought it would never work, but a friend told me it could be done, but I had to be persistent. After about a month, my endurance is better than ever. I carry raw walnuts ‘just in case’ but I never have to fuel. I recover faster, run longer and still have energy to burn afterward. I say, hang in there if you want to go low carb. Fueling is a myth! Just like ‘low fat’ diets!

        1. I completely agree. I am a distance runner–however, I never allow my heart rate to go above 75% max–and my performance has improved tremendously since giving up wheat and most other grains — I still eat a touch of white rice two or three times/year.

        2. Check out “The art and science of low-carb performance”. By Drs. Phinney and Volek, leading researchers on nutrition. They will show that even high endurance/performance athletes can low-carb effectively.

        3. pro cyclist eat tons of carbs, but high quiality ones. and their super skinny , im a cyclist myself i improved my performance going gluten free plus i dont eat red meat and no chicken n poultry! instead eggs and fish for me are easier to digest.plus vegan protein powders are a plus! soy free! no dairy! stay away from processed foods go gluten free,eat steady complex carbs like oats with almond milk with an omelette best energy breakfast plus fat loss!

      2. what I also did to increase my energy, is along with B-complex, is to add folic acid. The two together made such a difference.
        I am glad my daughter & her husband turned me on to the primal way of eating.

      3. Carb “re feed” or what ever it´s called these day seems to be not only beneficial to your mental state but it also helps hormone function does it not?
        A Keto cycle seems to be an excellent way to keep the body fat low.

    5. just wondering if counting your calories is neccecary when your counting carbs

      1. The consensus seems to say no. This is because after the first few days, your hunger diminishes greatly, and there is no desire to overeat. Also, low carb eating makes you burn fat much more easily. You may overeat for a few days at first before your metabolism adjusts, but you’re also losing water weight at first, so you’ll still start looking thinner right away. Instead of counting calories, you can accelerate weight loss by doing short fasts (like just half a day) once your hunger is under control. At that point it is easy.

      2. I think if you are really eating low carb you will be less sensitive to caloric levels, but there are limits. People seem try to satisfy the cravings by eating a lot and, even if you’re eating steak, at some point your weight loss will be disappointing if you over do it.
        For me low-carb works best if I use a little self control and take food out of my rewards system.

        1. I agree with Andrew. For many calorie counting is not needed, but for those who haven’t learned to follow their body’s true hunger signals or have issues interfering with the normal functioning of those signals, it may be advisable until you get used to it or heal and rebalance.

          Personally, I found that at first I was overeating because I was used to needing to eat a lot to feel satisfied (symptom of gluten intolerance) for so long that mentally I wasn’t prepared to cut back on my food intake. Eating large portions had become so normal to me, it never occurred to me I could be satisfied with less once the grain issues were dealt with. I was able to lose weight at first, but when it stalled after about 3 weeks, I lowered my calories and I started losing again. I’m not talking extremely low calories either. I was eating about 2400/day which put me in the maintenance range instead of the weight loss range.

          I will say though, I am not one of those people who has experienced days of not feeling hungry, rather for me personally, now when I am hungry it’s not an insatiable ever present crazy monster. It’s something I can ignore if the timing is inconvenient without losing my focus. I also don’t have the out of control need to stuff myself with pizza urges which is great because I used to think it was all mental and would feel bad for being “weak”.

          One last comment because this is turning into its own blog post lol, is that for me personally, staying under 100g carbs/day doesn’t guarantee weight loss. I think I must be very carb sensitive because I’m unable to lose weight if my carb intake is higher than 65g carbs or so/day. Which really sucks because I like vegetables and fruits way more than I like proteins LOL

        2. At present I am low carbing to lose weight. I don’t like to count calories but I did notice that on the Brie Cheese I had as a treat for a late lunch it was 700 calories (and zero carb). It was lovely an dI’ve not felt like any dinner (had a bit breakfast – bacon and eggs every day) but it was a lot of calories and typicl of me that however I eat even if just protein and fat I can pack away a lot of calories without knowing.

        3. moderate carb intake is the fat loss and energy barrier! low carb is temporary and high carb doctor crisis!! just go medium to high on protein low to medium in fat and well the carb you know!

      3. just try to eat at least 150 grams of protein a day with 150 grams of carbs and 89 grams of fat. WARNING the fat must be from olive oil, nuts, eggs , fish, omega 3 supplement !! thats 2,001 calories total! see is not that hard never go less than 100 grams of carbs unless your not going to workout! fasted cardio is a big plus! it just empty your bodys glycogen reserves making your sensitive to insulin so when you eat carbs more carb storage less fat storage!

    6. Hi! I’m new here, and I’ve been perusing the website. One question I have not been able to find the answer to is: when counting carbs, which carbs are counted? Does this include fruits and vegetables (good carbs) too?I realize that all grains and starches are counted, but does this also include “moderated” foods, such as bananas, potatoes, and cottage cheese? Any advice is appreciated! Thanks.

      1. I’m pretty sure that all sources of carbohydrates are counted.

      2. You count All carbs. I am not going below 200 grams of carbs daily due to working out. Also you must replace them with dietary fat. Here they don’t talk about that. If 100 grams of protein daily that is only 400 calories. 200 grams carbs, thats 800 calories and you might be starving. You need to eat fat to account for the rest of your daily caloric needs.

      3. You need protein, vegetables, and good fats in your diet for optimal health. What you don’t need is sweets, grains and junkfood. Some fruit is good but don’t go overboard with it. The same is true of nuts and seeds–healthy but fattening. If trying to lose weight, stick mostly with protein and lots of low glycemic veggies with very little fruit until you’ve achieved your desired weight.

        1. Which fruits are low in carb as i miss eating fruit?
          also what does ‘net carbs’ means i find this a little confusing

        2. @Tammie – Berries are your friend: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. They pack a lot of nutritional value for low carbs/calories

      4. I’m fairly new also but “All carbs” count I believe.
        I became diabetic 2 years ago at 55 & finally learned how to eat right.
        I count carbs more precisly than & calories but I monitor both.
        Marks Daily Apple has contributed greatly to my knowledge & desire to live healthy & fit.
        Trying to convince the rest of the family to eat better.
        Never stop learning now.

    7. this is so true when I limit myself I tend to crave more than usual

      1. I agree. I’m very healthy and fit and prob have a low-ish body fat. I find that if I limit my carbs too much I crave stuff, especially chocolate (super dark, not necessarily a bad thing). I was trying to only have carbs once a day, at dinner, but I found that, even after a normal “adjustment period,” I would crave more chocolate etc. So i started including more, not tons, but fresh fruits etc (mmm berries) and I find that that helps a TON.

        And when I do have chocolate (which actually has less carbs than some fruit and a lot of starchy veggies) I have super dark. Nothing wrong with that because depriving yourself too much will just make you miserable.

    8. I’ve also believed in a low carb diet but i have eaten oatmeal every morning for years. I am bodybuilder and ate oatmeal throughout my pre contest dieting. As well I also use karbolean right after I train. With both meals I am still under 100 grams of carbs. What is your view on this ?

      1. Protein, Carbs, Dietary Fat. Calculate your caloric needs for the day. Divide that into the desired amounts of Protein, carbs, fat. Fat has 9 calories per gram, carbs and protein 4. If you train add 500 calories daily for that alone.

    9. Mark- I saw you speaking the other night about gluten and was very inspired. Of all the health/fitness gurus out there, I think you’ve got it RIGHT! This part about the carb curve solves a mystery I’ve been working on for 20 years now. Competitive Nordic Skiing is my favorite sport. Weight is paramount due to the limited bearing capacity of snow- heavy people just don’t do well in Nordic, so weight loss is stressed. At the same time, nordic skiing is considered THE most calorie intensive sport on the planet and if you’ve ever skate skied up a mountain you will soon find out why. That said, during numerous times in my life, I’ve tried limiting calories to lose weight while training. The easiest calories to cut out are carbohydrates as they generally come in distinct doses: donuts, pancakes, rice dish, potatoes, bread etc. That works for a while and your body does burn off a lot of fat. But when you get below a certain body fat percentage, things start to change. Eventually you become chronically exhausted. So, that said, when engaging in prolonged high-intensity sports, complex carbohydrates are essential, otherwise your body undergoes extreme unsustainable hormonal stress trying to maintain blood sugar levels. Another thing is that when fructose is metabolized, it must pass through the liver. In so doing, 30% of it is converted to fat (per Robert Lustig’s “Sugar the Bitter Truth” and other referenced research). If you consume most of your calories via simple carbs such as sports drinks, you won’t lose as much fat as if you consumed them via complex carbs, sweet potatoes are a perfect example. Nevertheless, carbohydrates are a must for sustained high-intensity exercise. It’s like a pyramid- the base of the pyramid is fat(lipolytic), the middle is carbs(glycolytic) and the peak is phosphocreatine. The middle can only be replaced with carbs, preferrably complex carbs. Mark, I really love what you are doing and can’t wait to pick up your book! You are an inspiration to us all, keep up the great work, Charlie Bader, Anchorage, Alaska

      1. Be sure to research the effects of gliadin and amylopectin-A. The first is a protein In modern wheat that breaks down into polypeptides that bind to opiate receptors in the brain. These polypeptides do not provide pain relief or euphoria, but they do make one ravenously hungry. The second is a starch that is broken down by amylase (another pancreatic enzyme) into glucose. That is why wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. (Source: Dr. W. Davis, cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly)

        1. Wasn’t Wheat Belly just the most amazing book? My mother-in-law told me about it and I rushed right out to buy it, then read it within a couple days. I felt like I was already pretty well informed about how carbs worked in the body, but I had no idea about the history of wheat and why our current wheat is so much more “fattening” than the wheat our grandmothers baked with back in 1935. This is awful scary, too. While I’m sure the genetic engineering of our foodstuffs in some ways has been useful/helpful (although I will only plant heirloom seeds in my garden) for some things, it’s these unintended consequences that have made the tinkering such a bad thing. Wheat Belly really illustrates this pretty well.

      2. thats why moderation is key! moderate carb intake is best for fat loss and energy the word low is temporary and high carb is only for true athletes if not doctor crisis!

    10. Weight loss is not hard just eat a calorie deficit and you will lose weight. Stay away from process food like chips, cookies, white bread.

      I’m on a cutting diet and I’m eating 300g of carbs a day, 200 protein and around 70-90 fat. If you eat 200-300 calories below what you need per day your body is forced to lose weight at a healthy pace.

      1. Read “Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It” (Gary Taubes) for a very clear and intelligent explanation of the science and logic of why your prescription is wrong-headed.

        Seriously. It hasn’t worked for the past 60 years, and it won’t work – ever – because the basic energy assumption is too simplistic.

        What you eat matters, because you are what your body does with what you eat.

        1. This book (Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes) was what convinced me 2 years ago to eat Paleo. It explained complex concepts about hormones adn history of food in a way i could understand. I have found Mark’s sight today and will get with the program. Did anyone hear that just recenly in Sweden the Pyramid Food Chart has been officially dissed?

        2. That is the book that did it for me and led me to Paleo and Mark Sisson. Great book, easy to understand, explained in layman’s terms. A must buy, in my mind.

      2. Unhealthy pace? What does that mean? Our bodies will heal themselves when fed properly, and when we have been accumulating fat at an “unhealthy pace,” we might expect to lose it when our body is healing itself.

        BTW, what source are your carbs? Are they NET carbs, or total carbs? The benefit to choosing non-starchy veggies over grains is that you get A LOT of food by volume for the same net carbs…And they taste great with FAT which will ensure that you have access to all the nutrients as well.

      3. Weight loss shouldn’t be the goal……fat loss should be if you are overweight or obese. You don’t have to have a caloric deficit to reduce fat….rather, your body needs to learn how to use fat as fuel instead of carbs.

        Sure, you can lose weight cutting calories…but the body will react negatively and you will eventually gain that weight back!

      4. Hmmm, not necessarily.. most of it comes down to the rate of your metabolism when it comes to weight loss. It’s not as easy as cutting back on less calories than you need, as likely this will slow down your metabolism which will have the opposite effect you want it to. Plus, the less calories you eat, the less you can stand to eat before gaining weight.. if that makes sense. Sometimes what people actually need when on those calorie restrictive diets is to eat more calories rather than cutting back (of good calories, from whole foods, not refined processed junk, of course) in order to lose weight. That and blood sugar control – vital. Insulin causes fat to be stored like no other! It’s not as simple as calories in calories out, that has been proven now.

        1. This claim has never been backed by real academic research. Basal metabolism does NOT markedly decrease until bodyfat reaches about 4 or 5% in men and about 7% in women. And to further burst your myth bubble the starvation studies conducted on hunger strikers showed that these fasting individuals lost fat disproportionately to muscle – sorry folks, yes the body holds onto muscle as long as it can. Skipping a meal or cutting down on your caloric intake will not markedly decrease metabolism for gods sake.

      5. This sint true, ato least according to many in the loow carb/paleo world. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories or Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes for more info.
        Low Carb isthe antithesis of calorie counting. If that truly worked we wouldnt have the obesity issues we have since as you say, “weight loss is not hard”. All we have to do is count our calories, create a deficit and presto! We lose weight. Not so for most ppl.

      6. Eating calorie deficit is not always the answer. As you age your hormones decrease and cortisol and insulin sensitivity are affected. I was working out like crazy and eating clean. Mathematically I should have lost a ton of weight but ended up gaining a belly due to increase in cortisol levels because of the increase in exercise. Marks book is great at explaining this!

    11. Oh my. I know this is what I need to do. I lost a ton of weight before and have gained some back after going back to carbs and being sedentary after my husband and son were in an accident. But I’m so stuck on bread, etc. I know once I’m off of it for a while I can resist and not even consider it. But gosh it’s hard to get to that point. Someone encourage me!

      1. I completely understand. You must remember that the physical cravings are only temporary…. estimated at about 3 days. You can speed up this carb detox but doing cardio exercise to burn through your carb storage. If the bread thing is really presenting a problem try that Neuman’s Own Fiber bread…. eat it sparingly to satisfy craving until you deplete your carb stores. Hang in there…. it’s worth it!

      2. Have you read the book wheat belly? It provides a pretty interesting explanation of why wheat (and most other grains) can be bad for people even those are not gluten intolerant. If weight loss isn’t enough motivation to ditch the bread, reading this book may help. I think if I remember correctly, this book talks about bread being similar in ingredients to wallpaper glue! You can imagine that wallpaper glue is not good for your insides. Also the fact that grains have a very long shelf life without refrigeration is also a clue that something about them can’t be good 😉 Anyways, good luck and I hope this helps a little.

        1. Hi Rosie.
          Thanks for the refer of this book. I was actually looking for something to explain the Gluten process in human body and the relation with round bellies. 🙂 I will certanly read this book.

    12. When mark is discussing carbohydrates above is he talking about grams of net carbs or is he talking about carbohydrates weighed out in grams?

    13. Haha I feel you there, def feels like losing a friend. But, for me, that actually isn’t far from the truth. I pretty much stopped going out to restaurants and started declining invites to party while I was dieting. Take about a diet taking over your social life, I didn’t see my friends nearly as much as before starting the keto diet. It’s pretty sad, but I’m almost at my goal weight, then I can start bulking cleanly afterwards. That means more carbs 😀

    14. Hi Mark,

      It is such an honor to hear you out on youtube and be apart of this primal blueprint. Since I have followed your way of eating I am truly feeling better in every aspect. My question is, that you state :

      “50-100 grams a day is the primal sweet spot of effortless weightloss”.

      Are you saying that if i want to loose fat fast, I have to eat literally 50-100 grams a day of Veggies? Since Veggies include calories I presume ? or 50-100 grams of Carbs? I am so confused.

      I am 1.88 cm tall, 116 kg , male.

      I am a confused of how many veggies I should eat, and meat i should eat to maintain high fat loss.

      I hope you read this and respond! Thanks so much!!

    15. I’ve been following the primal blueprint for a while now and have recently decided to track my carbs just to see how it affects my weight loss. For about a month now, I’ve averaged about 30-35 carbs a day, BUT have only lost an average of 2 pounds a week. This seems quite low considering my carb level. Could I actually be eating too few carbs? I exercise regularly (kempo karate) so I am getting good exercise.

      Any suggestions or ideas?

    16. I decided to go the eliminate carbs, sugar, & the starches thing. I went from a size 18 to a size 10. For me losing wt was extremely important. I felt a whole lot better, plus I did not crave food that way. People say, “what do you eat?” There is lots to eat. All you have to is research, and try… for me it works

  2. Love it. Part of my beef with Atkins and extreme ketosis (less than 20 carbs/day) is it really limits variety, even one salad can put you over the limit. But I typically maintain 75-80 carbs a day, which allows for the occasional “sensible vice” like dark chocolate without the accompanying fretting that I’ve totally fallen off the wagon.

    1. I am 5’2″ and am over weight by 30 pounds. On low carb should I still count calories?

      1. Deborah,
        You won’t gain more weight on a true low carb diet…but to lose what you are still carrying, you will have to create a deficit (so you burn off a bit of stored body fat every day). The book has details on how to create that deficit

        1. You still believe in calories in calories out? Haven’t you read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes?

        2. It’s not the amount of calories consumed, but the kind. Eat until you are satiated, if that’s 3000 calories fine! Just make sure you limit carbs. It’s carbs that drive insulin, that drives fat, cut the carbs and cut the fat!

        3. people say carbs make them fat, the truth is people are eating the wrong types of carbs! just like fats and protein. for example compare quinoa to white wheat bread, quinoa has more nutrients plus high quality proteins and carbs! witch your body uses more efficiently. hot dogs to lean turkey, is processed foods that make you fat! not carbs alone!

      2. Nope, just make sure you don’t eat any grains. Watch the movie “Fat Head”. It is an eye opener and supports the primal diet almost to a “T”

        1. I have to do a face plant every time I hear someone dismiss the importance of calories in a weight loss program. It *is* about the calories, always has been, always will be. Without a calorie deficit you’ll never lose much weight beyond the initial water loss. Yup, even a low-carb diet fails if a calorie deficit isn’t created. Sorry folks, that’s the law and no ideology in the world can change it.

        2. “I have to do a face plant every time I hear someone dismiss the importance of calories in a weight loss program. It *is* about the calories, always has been, always will be.”

          You really need to read “Why we get Fat,” by Gary Taubes. It’s a fascinating read, and will relieve you of having to do any more face plants upon hearing people dismiss the importance of calories. You need to have a better understanding of fat regulation, the role of insulin and how a low carb diet works.

          Calories are only important on the extreme end. Yes, if you’re packing in thousands of calories a day, you’re not going to lose weight. But one of the reasons calories don’t matter on a low carb diet, within reason, is that for most a low carb diet greatly decreases your urge to splurge.

          Calories in, calories out is one of the major myths of losing weight, and you should find out more about it, instead of spreading the myth.

        3. Stella,

          I have read Taubes’ book Why we Get Fat. Sorry but studies have shown that all successful diets, low carb included, were successful due to consuming fewer calories. The lies and half-truths in Taubes’ books are enough to give me a concussion from all the face-plants. Taubes has been known to misquote his sources to suit his agenda. Sorry, Taubes just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. Last time I checked, Taubes credentials consisted of … being a journalist.

        4. Add to Fathead, “Science for smart people”, a free you tube video by Tom Naughton. Funny, informative, and reminds you how to look at science with a critical thinker’s eye.

        5. Thanks for that. I just watched Fat Head. Very good, those short of time watch the second half. It sums up all my views – fat good, carbs bad.

      3. The body has many rebundant/futile cycles it can engage to burn off excess calories… especially if you’re 30 pounds overweight and your brain is receiving the leptin hormones generated by your fat cells. You’d have to eat a LOT of calories to hinder your weight loss once you’re no longer leptin & insulin resistant because your brain gets all like “oh shit! am I really 30 lbs overweight? Damn, I’m, like, soo gonna get eaten by a sabertooth tiger!! Alright fat, it’s hammer time!”

        But if you really want to cut the calories (maybe you want to save on your grocery bills?) make sure you get enough protein and figure out how many calories minimum you need before your thyroid starts to slow down your metabolism and make you too tired. For me it’s approx. 900-1,200 calories/day. I save so much money on grocery bills.

        Also, if your metabolism is as messed as mine (or as mine used to be) you may have to go very, very low carb, or even zero carbs to lose a decent amount of weight. When you get closer to your ideal weight you can try carb refeeds/carb loading (search Mark’s Daily Apple for an article on that)

    2. Atkins doesn’t stay at 20g if you’re following the book. The point of the 20g is to make darned sure you get into that ketosis. You stay there for 2 weeks and then you’re supposed to increase by 5g a week and observe how your body responds.

      I really wish people would, I dunno, visit their public library and check out a book once in a while before they criticize something that’s been documented out the wazoo. It’s not just you, I see this stuff everywhere.

      Shoot, you can even do Atkins in a primal way. Nothing stopping you.

      1. Atkins also requires that a salad be eaten every day, regardless of what phase you are in. I know. Atkins ignorance is one of my pet peeves. The only flaw in the Atkins diet is products produced that contain evil chemicals and artificial sweeteners….if you did primal Atkins, you’d be the picture of good health!

    3. I am on Atkins right now and was considering switching to this program. Any advice in that regard or can I just
      jump in?

      1. I am on the Medifast 5&1 plan and it works wonderfully and I am never hungry. The pounds are coming off effortlessly. Carb intake averages around 70g per day.

      2. Don’t switch, just ditch the ‘products’ like Atkins bars and mixes. If you followed the book (as written) protocol and ate natural foods, you’d be golden. 🙂

    4. GEEZ I hate this! Atkins 20g of carbs is ONLY FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS. People, get it right before bashing it. People are on Atkins OWL, Pre-Maintenance and Maintenance around 50-100g of carbs. GET EDUCATED!!

    5. Robin, the Atkins Diet recommends carb intake of 20g/day only for the first 2 weeks or so, to start ketosis and reduce appetite. After that (“Phase 2”), carb intake is initially increased to 25g/dy, and then gradually more until the ideal (for you) balance of eating/weight loss is found.

      By the way, I was skeptical when I first tried this. One of the most immediate and surprising benefits was that my chronic heartburn (20+ years) disappeared immediately. If I eat a lot of empty carbs, it coms back.

      1. Very good post. The Atkins system has a lot of merit. You do the first two weeks and later add carbs little by little until you find your level. I miss the old man Dr Atkins, his sharp wit when being interviewed on TV.

      2. Check the book to be sure..however -increasing is allowed after induction if desired -at 5gm/day -holding steady for at least one week or more to see if results. There is a risk of under estimating or becoming sloppy in measuring/remembering number of gms.of carbs eaten and also risk of carb/hunger cravings being stimulated by glucose/insulin surges, resulting in reports of “it didn’t work for me”.

    6. OTOH too much variety has been indicated as a prime source of overeating.If optimal health involves less variety overall, it may be worth it,especially for those more metabolically resistant. Not always easy to accept that we’re a bit spoiled in having such a variety of foods.

    7. Regarding extreme ketosis, on Atkins you really should be only restricting to less then 20 during the induction phase of the program.

      1. This is true, depending on your metabolism. Some people (like myself) don’t lose unless we are in that zone….like, forever. Don’t worry, I do eat berries, lots of green veggies and coconut oil chocolate…I just can’t add more than that or my insulin resistance kicks in. 🙁 It’s relative.

    8. Just remember, Atkins only suggests less than 20 carbs per day for TWO weeks (Phase 1), then in Ongoing Weight Loss (Phase 2), you continue adding in carbs slowly and in a controlled manner, until you begin to tip the scale toward stalling. This is Atkins way of getting you to know your personal limit for carbs and weight loss/gain. There are two more phases, which don’t really need addressing here. Overall, his plan is quite good and is tailored to the individual. The problem for most of us (myself included) is we all want the weight gone now so we use the quick fix of Phase 1, jump off to our poor eating habits because Phase 1 “got old,” and don’t really follow the “doctor’s orders,” which are quite do-able if we would realize we are running a marathon – not a sprint! Now, I just need to take my own advice (and the doctor’s)! 🙂

  3. Randy, yes, the point here is that if we know what happens at different levels, we can choose to go from one to another level, fully cognizant of the impact.

  4. I love it.. it looks great. I don’t see the USDA going for it by any means though. Especially when grain and corn farmers put most of them in office.

    The SoG

    1. A nutritionist doesn’t know of any other sources of B vitamines other than grains? Whoever they are charging should ask for their money back.

  5. This reminds me of the argument I had with a nutritionist friend last night. I made the mistake of telling her I didn’t eat grains, ever. She was stunned. How did I get my B vitamins? And fiber? It was like there were no other sources of either anywhere in the food chain. Sigh. So much misinformation has been perpetuated for so long…

    1. And there is the fact that if you follow the USDA recommended daily values for grain/bread intake and carb intake, your body converts all those carbs to the equilivent of 1.5 cups of sugar in your bloodstream. *note* that amount is considered fatal if consumed at one time.

    2. Fiber: The Most Useless “Nutrient”… most doctors don’t even know the difference between water soluble and insoluble fiber, or how they work in your intestines… if they did, they wouldn’t be recommending any form of fiber at all.

  6. Your recommendations as to amounts of carbs is very good, but your rationale for the lower ranges is fairly weak.

    Isotopic bone analysis of H. Sapiens sapiens paleolithic hunter-gatherers in temperate latitudes shows about 96% animal sourced nutrition (Neanderthals show 100%). Plant material was primarily high calorie nuts and seeds and to a lesser degree fruits (and paleolithic fruits bear no resemblance to those of today). Only in equatorial latitudes did any degree of starchy tubers or other vegetation enter the diet.

    A human being does not require a single gram of dietary carbohydrate and can obtain every necessary micronutrient from whole-carcass animal consumption.

    Even today when we follow only a model of the paleodiet (and generally don’t consume whole-carcasses…) all necessary micronutrients can be derived from animal sources. Particular attention can be paid to lightly cooking meat to preserve Vitamin C analogs and preparing bone broths to obtain minerals.

    Extreme ketogenic diets (as Randy above characterized it) are paleo-historically the norm. Grok would have been in ketosis the vast majority of the time, with the obvious exceptions when he discovered honey or fruiting trees.

    Note that I’m not claiming carbs are evil – I’m just attempting to show there’s a more accurate view of paleonutrition than the one Cordain et al presents.

    1. bla bla bla who r u trying to impress? the basic info laid out on this web site was right and understandable

      1. Sam, thanks for that. Maggi what’s the problem? That was good info.

    2. Plus you don’t need as much vitamin C on an animal-foods-only diet. Arctic explorers laid that myth to rest in the early 1900s. If they ate like the locals they didn’t get scurvy even though there wasn’t a citrus fruit to be seen for miles and miles. Apparently vitamin C is structurally similar to glucose and uses the same receptor, but cells preferentially uptake glucose since vitamin C’s not going to kill you if left circulating in your bloodstream. You can see where it goes from there.

      1. Hi Dana, that is good info, my sister is actually allergic to certain types of Vit. C and has a hard time doing any diets that use extreme fruit and veggies. I will have to forward her your comment. There may be hope for her yet!

    3. That isn’t the ideal way to fuel an athlete’s body, though. I can’t run a marathon on steaks. And to suggest that ancient humans were more carnivorous than bears and even our genetic counterparts, apes and chimpanzees, is sort of ridiculous. I would need some kind of citation to ever believe that.

      1. Apes are hindgut fermenters. Smaller brains, bigger guts. Google around… human brains are a big energy drain, had to lose something somewhere. We can’t eat grass and extract nutrients from it… and we have to cook a lot of our food (=pre digest).

      2. WRONG!!! you can run a marathon on steaks. Once you lower your carbs to a normal, primal level your body will start to use fat cells to fuel your muscles instead of blood sugar. I ran a marathon last november while in ketosis. Felt awesome during and after.

        1. I enjoy endurance cycling, 60 to 100 mile rides, some with lots of climbing. I did them all in a ketogenic state. I fueled with berries, turkey and cheese, and a low carb electrolyte drink.
          It was my 3rd year of riding and my first on what I call “Primal Atkins” Unlike the previous 2 years, I never BONKED. I was very surprised. I am also a type2 diabetic.
          Paul

      3. Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Nutrition: The Influence of
        Brain and Body Size on Diet and Metabolism
        WILLIAM R LEONARD RNU MARCIA L. ROBERTSON
        School of Human Biology, Unrversrty of Guelph, Guelph,
        Ontano NIG 2WI, Canada

        … just to be annoying 😛
        well known fact that humans and our acestors consumed more animal meat than our related acestors i.e. chimp.

        i don’t think anyone would recommend only eating stakes if you’re a healthy althete about to embark on a marathon. i think this article is primarily about consuming what we REQUIRE (keep in mind that most people are sedimentary today, and so then require less carbs, run a marathon and that’s a different story!)

        1. I wouldn’t want to eat stakes either! I’d get splinters in my tongue! Kind of rough going down too….

      4. I run marathons on steaks. And ultra-marathons too. Carbs are not really needed for long distance running.

        1. BS!!! True marathon runners eat plenty of carbs. Your post is utter crap!

      5. I run marathons. Yes, you can. Look into the book ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance’…..I don’t fuel on carbs, and I drink water, and I run fine. 😉 I do not fuel for any run.)

    4. I’d like to run into some people in the community that actually eat an all meat diet. I do and I totally thrive on it. In fact, an all meat diet is the only variant of the paleo diet that I have been successful with. I occasionally eat a little cilantro and green onions because they’re good on soup. Once every couple weeks I guess I eat an avocado. I make bone broths and eat organs. Occasionally I have a day where I eat fruits or sweet potatoes but it is only occasional. Most days I eat only meat. I too have a problem with Mark’s advice not to eat an all, or nearly all, animal product diet. I really think he should go into the strategy, benefits, and history of 90% – 100% animal sourced nutrition.

      1. Strategy? Huh?

        I, too, am seriously doubtful that human ancestors ate an almost entirely meat diet. I am wondering what your sources are for this claim, Sam.

        1. hey, this was taken from an article i found (i do bio at uni, so i have access to these). ancestors did not eat an “entirely” a meat diet, but a substancially higher meat diet than our relatives.

          “Food items included
          in the “animal” category were meat,
          insects, and larvae, while those categorized
          as “reproductive plant parts” included
          seeds, nuts, fruits, bulbs, and tubers. All foliage
          and leafy material were categorized as
          “structural plant parts.”
          Animal foods contribute anywhere from
          one third to more than 95% of energy intake
          in these contemporary foragers (mean =
          59 +- 24%; median = 56%). While this would
          hardly qualify humans as “carnivores,” it is
          substantially more animal material than
          any other primate of our size. By comparison,
          chimpanzees, the most predatory of the
          large-bodied apes, derive only about 5-7% of
          their daily energy intake from animal material
          (2-396 from meat; 34% from insects,
          estimated from data in Teleki, 1981; Mc-
          Grew, 1974; Wu Leung, 1968).”

        2. You should be skeptical. Our ancestors didn’t eat an all-meat diet. All hunter-gatherers consumed varying amounts of plant foods. With the quality, or lack thereof, of the meat today people eating all-meat diets are fools.

      2. Sounds great, works great,,,,,,,,,,,,,but go and have blood work drawn. Your numbers will most likely be out of Wack!

        1. I thought the same thing! After spending most of my adult life on a similar diet, I started annual serum tests when I reached 40 years old (company-sponsored freebie). I was surprised to find iron and potassium way over range, so I consulted my doctor for further testing (she checked liver and kidney function), tapered on meats a little and increased fish, supplemented magnesium (which was low), and started donating whole blood regularly (recommended way to control high iron over time).

          That’s not to say a high-meat diet is wrong, just sharing my own experience. (I’m another endurance cyclist without a high-carb diet).

        2. I was off and on with Atkins for a few years, but I really hit it hard last August. During this time ate mostly protein; steaks, chicken, eggs, bacon, cheese, heavy cream for my coffee, lots of water. I lost 40 pounds eating this way and never had a problem with cravings or energy, etc. The following January i changed doctors, and she needed to know what she had to work with.

          When we discussed my diet, she was very skeptical, and was sure i had a whole slew of problems. She decided to have me get bloodwork done, because she KNEW i would be deficient in several places and was sure my cholesterol and sodium were through the roof. No bread? No. No fruits? Nope. No juices? No. Veggies? Barely. Only eggs, bacon, meat, jerky, cheese? You got it, Doc. Got my blood work done and she was shocked –

          All of my levels came back absolutely perfect, every range (except vit. D, but living in the Pacific Northwest AND having an indoor office job doesn’t help). She shook her head and told me to keep it up.

          I didn’t eat bread or fruit, hardly any veggies, no processed foods either – so all i can rely on is my own facts as i see them, the truth of personal experience.

          This July, I’ve come to eat more Paleo because my kids also share my table and it’s important as they grow that they learn to make proper food choices. As long as things are done in moderation and my kids see me eating the good healthy foods, they’ve got the best start in life that i can give them, right?

          Finally, everyone is different AND entitled to their own opinions. we talk about ancestral eating and assume that everyone comes from the same roots – which we do, originally – but as the tribes broke off and spread over the globe, think of the genetic makeup of each individual race, their history, and how their cultures adapted them to eating their local foods. Just saying, when i was younger I loved rice but when i ate it, i had huge cravings and the weight piled on. i was always hungry. I’m of german/native american decent. I have a friend that is slim and svelte and she eats rice at least twice a day every day, and doesn’t gain an ounce. She also happens to be 1/2 Japanese (3rd generation)…

          just my two cents!

    5. You are right on!
      Those are exactly my thoughts…I totally agree with you.
      Hazelnuts, Chestnuts placed behind stones near fire to be roasted, wild Rose Hip also slow roasted behind flat rocks near fire, the flower tops of the small european clover plant (taste nutty), the flowers of wild rose bushes (tastes sweet). Occassional wild onion, wild carrot (which is white in color not orange), wild berries including a european berry I haven’t been able to find in the States called Johannisbeere.
      Grasshoppers, small rodents like squirrels, occassional small eggs from birds, snails, frogs, brown trout, depending on season european salmon (extinct from over farming, called Lachs), rabbit (different breeds), turkey, pheasant, elk (extinct from over farming), wild boar, deer, wild mountain goat (Gemse, still available today in some dishes mostly goulash), occassional bear and wild cats (extinct, over farmed). The entire carcass was consumed, including eyeballs, salivary glands and brain. Bones were broken with rocks to get to marrow, which was high prized.
      The blood was also consumed, not wasted.

      And in some regions in central europe (southern germany, austria, switzerland and northern italy called Tirol) people still consume traditional, native foods on a daily basis…usually served with a slice of Vollkornbrot und Butter, which would be neolithic. You can even get dandalion salad (with pedals). The cooking methods are of course neolithic, nobody wants a boar roast 5 hours after ordering coming with sand and dried up flies attached.

      1. Hi,
        I love your description of wild foods. I just wanted to add a note of caution for those who might be tempted to run out and do some gathering of their own: please do NOT try to gather wild carrots. The poison hemlock plant bears a truly remarkable similarity to the carrot/parsnip family, with feathery leaves and a long, tapered, creamy colored, sweet-scented root. It is responsible for deaths and hospitalizations every year among inexperienced gatherers. My sister-in-law found it growing in the herb bed of her newly purchased home in the Santa Cruz mountains here in CA. A small nibble of the leaf, to see what herb she was growing, ended her up in the hospital for two weeks with severe liver damage….she almost needed a liver transplant. She is well now, and much more cautious about what she puts into her mouth!

    6. Yeah, I’ve noticed Mark Sisson really loves his anti-oxidants, and over-promotes fruits while steering people away from ketogenic diets in the process. I don’t share his views on plant anti-oxidants; I think their effects on our bodies are often unproven, potentially harmful or only weakly beneficial.

  7. So, are these effective carb numbers or are you counting fiber in your carb continuum?

  8. Gary Taubes describes a study of low-carbohydrate dieters where one individual couldn’t even eat an apple without immediately beginning to gain weight again. He also claims that the Inuit would avoid all vegetables unless they were starving.

    Maybe the zero carbohydrate diet is healthiest. Of course, tens of thousands of years of evolution have given certain populations (like Europeans and Asians) a certain amount of resistance to the problems of carbohydrates, and these grounds develop much less diabetes, etc., on the “Western diet.” Perhaps they are also somewhat dependent on carbs for health by now? After all, with larger populations due to agriculture, evolutionary change has sped up a great deal in the recent past. (The number of new mutations in a population goes up linearly with population size, and the total number of fixation events goes up linearly with that.)

    Probably worth it to study the problem before setting anything stone about public health recommendations below 100 grams of carbs. Hasty recommendations are what got us into this mess, after all.

    1. Are you seriously using something Gary Taubes has said to justify low-carb? No one has ever rapidly gained weight by eating 1 apple. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

      What needs to happen is people need to stop buying these bs diet books and actually go to college and take some classes in nutrition. There’s a reason that the information in college costs thousands while the information the general public has is just a $20 book in their favorite book store…..

      1. hhahaha ya…. because college nutrition classes are spot-on! I think you need more $20 books of your own picking in your life, as opposed to the $200 books shoved at you by colleges to ensure you are brainwashed to “go with the grain.” Maybe branch out.

        1. The best thing about a good college education in nutrition science is understanding the underlying biochemistry of digestion and nutrition, which you can then apply to any theory and see if it rings true. A lot of $20.00 diet books don’t stack up when it comes to biochemistry – but unless you have studied it you would know and go along with them thoughtlessly.

      2. Aren’t the academics who teach the nutrition classes the same ones who devlope The Food Pyramid? Buyer beware!

        1. Correction: …a relatively tiny number of carbs…

      3. It’s clear to me that you don’t understand the metabolic mechanisms of weight gain, so I have to ask: have you actually read Gary’s book???

        The guy is impressively smart and thorough, with a Real Scientist’s mindset – he started with a profound understanding of what makes good research, brought no preconceived agenda to the task, looked at the science, good and bad, and let the data take him to his conclusions. He is intelectually honest, and he writes well to boot. I could say the same of the Drs. Eades and their work.

        Find some holes in these peoples reasonings, back it up with some sound evidence, and I will be happy to listen to your point of view. Until then, I will continue to follow a program that my own education and knowledge tells me is sensible.

        And you know what? I believe the apple story: I myself can only eat a relativly tiny carbs before my body’s insulin response starts holding water and packing on the pounds. And I’m not alone.

      4. I remember that same study from GCBC. I think the point was that refined carbs are bad, and the sub-point was that some people have trouble with even small amounts of carbs.

        It’s pretty hard to argue that any class could have taught you how every single person will react to a given situation.

        Also GCBC is quite pro low carb (I’m guessing that surprise was facetious?)

      5. Not only can someone rapidly gain weight by eating 1 apple, it can be much less carbs than that! My body is so sensitive that I can only eat 25 carbs a day and 1200 calories or less OR I gain weight, rapidly and immediately. It’s referred to as “Liquid Pounds” and is absolutley related to insulin.
        Keeping a strict food journal with calculations and daily weight has made this very clear and REAL. Also Dr. Christiane Northrup sees it often in her practice. Everyone is not the same.

        1. You said it right evrybody is differrent you have to do some experimenting yourself with a low carb diet to find out what suits you.I certainly found out quickly through fatique (because I work out 5-6 days a week)that my carb intake was to low at 75 per day. You have to keep a strict log of what you eat and dont cheat your self.It took at least 8 weeks for me to find the best cab intake that suited me and now i feel great.

      6. Most university nutrition programs are puppets for the ADA. The ADA is sponsored by soda and fast food companies. You’re better off doing your own research or taking bio-food classes to understand the science.

        University programs are mostly a crock.

        1. Sadly, I remember the nutrition counseling I received when I was diagnosed with diabetes…I was told I should eat some oatmeal and lowfat yogurt for breakfast because it was sensible. HA!
          I am also in the 25g or below crowd, no longer need Metphormin, and run marathons. College nutrition classes certainly didn’t get me here! Seriously! Think for yourself! Find what works for YOU!

      7. I learned more from reading books from Gary Taubes and watching Fat Head than I did from my Food Science Health Nutrition classes. Got books from library and video from NetFlix so practically free…and advice actually helped become healthier…imagine that 🙂

      8. Gary Taubes isnt a diet book writer, he is an investigative writer. Maybe you should give one of his books a read?

    2. I think the key element here is not so much whether an apple can cause weight gain as it is that:

      People need to listen to their bodies.

      Yes, some people can eat cake and cookies and be fine. Others might blow up like a balloon on one apple. These guidelines are bogus for SO MANY reasons (faulty science, corruption and political influence, basic human biology).

      Thras: Where did you read about this?

      1. Use your gift of reason. You really believe a piece of fruit like an apple, so low in calories will make you “ballon up”? I mean sure if that apple was 3500 calories, which it isn’t.

        1. Justin, a bee sting injects less than a gram into your body, but if you’re sensitive to it then you could put on a few kilograms in weight when you swell up, i.e. a factor of many thousands. So, while I’ve not seen it happen myself, the concept of eating an apple and gaining weight a fairly small multiple of the weight of the apple is plausible. After all, we aren’t actually talking about the calories themselves here.

        2. Hey Justin, I am one of those people who balloon up 2,3,4 pounds IN A DAY if I eat wheat or grains OR if I go over 25 grams of carbs a day. Holidays are murder for me. Inflammation and edema are real and yes, an apple can affect you, calories are not the issue. Things are happening on a cellular level.

        3. it has NOTHING to do with caloric intake.

          I could eat steak all day on monday, take in 2000+ calories, and still weigh the same or less on tuesday (and probably be in ketosis to boot).

          if i eat grains, i can gain 1-3 pounds in one day. it happens. (corn chips are my own achilles heel). i lose that weight in a day or two, as long as i’m good, but still, who wants to be bloated??

          water weight gain is the bane of my existence. ask any woman out there, and she’ll likely tell you the same.

        4. It has a lot to do with water retention. Well, an apple probably wouldn’t make much of a difference, but if you go heavy on carbs, you could retain a lot of water, especially if there’s a lot of fiber…I’m surprised how much fiber is touted as a digestive panacea, and yet how sick it used to make me, and even then I’d think it was because I wasn’t eating enough of it…fiber absorbs water and expands…bloat, bloat, bloat!

        5. I’m agreeing with DBeee.
          I wake up in the morning and weigh myself. I eat nothing and 2 hours later I’ve gained 4 lbs from eating nothing…how is that possible?
          Sometimes I lost 6 lbs over night while sleeping (and not using the toilet either). At times I’ve gained 10 lbs just by eating a small plain yogurt with a handful of berries for breakfast, how is that possible?

          Where would weight gain come from when nothing is consumed? Not even water. And no clothes changed either btw…

        6. sure it will if that apple makes your gutt growl with hunger and you go looking for other carbs…it is addictivel

    3. They don’t have that good of resistance to carbs in Europe and Asia. The only thing keeping them from being as messed up as we are is they still eat some of their traditional foods, whereas we have thrown 90+ percent of ours on the trash heap of history. Lucky to find anyone from the first generation after immigration onward who will even eat liver anymore, and I include myself in that number. And you still see chronic disease *and* obesity in Europe and Asia. And cancer.

  9. I have the same question as Patrick. Do these guidelines refer to overall carb grams or “effective” carbs (I believe that is the correct term) – grams of carbs that are left after you’ve removed the fiber.
    A good example is an average avocado. It has 20grams of carbs, but 16 of those are dietary fiber (or so says the nutrition database). So do I count it as 20 or 4?
    I know this is getting picky and the overall message is lots of protein, veggies and some fruits, but it would definitely help me understand the PB plan a little better. Thanks!

    1. I think as far as weight control is concerned, you can discount fiber in your calculations, because it simply isn’t absorbed. However, for general health maintenance reasons, fiber can make you bloated, and wreak havoc on digestion. I count all carbs, but when I was just starting I initially stuck to just net carbs, because it was easier that way than going cold turkey. 🙂

  10. It would be useful to have a reverse BMI calculator to estimate lean body mass and assess a carbohydrate load from that. For example, if we assume your lean mass is a BMI of 18 given your height, then we can say you should ingest around 1 g carb/day per 1 kg lean body mass.

  11. C’mon Mark: 150-300- Steady Insidious Weight Gain? Maybe if it is coming from sugars and processed grains. You do realize that many fitness buffs thrive on that amount of natural low-GI amount do you not? Besides, by timing it just right you can consume 300+ grams of carbs each day and be at single digit bodyfat year-round, like this guy: http://leangains.com
    Or this bloke: http://fitnessblackbook.com
    Or this fella: http://cbass.com
    Plus, did you not remain at 10% bodyfat year-round when consuming carbs? I’m not knocking your wisdom, because your lifestyle has done wonders for me and many readers, but the opposite has gotten people ripped.

    1. Exactly. Because it’s calories that matter more than anything else. You can eat zebra cakes all days but as long as your in a negative energy balance you will lose weight. Though you will probably be hungry all the time because your getting no fiber and no protein…. So it will be almost impossible to stay in a negative energy balance eating zebra cakes all day just because of the hunger that will come.

      1. The type of calories absolutley does matter. You cannot seriously believe that 3,000 calories of protein will have the same terrible effect as 3,000 calories of sugar, right?

        Just because something is taught in college does not make it automatically correct. Americans have been following the same nonsense, low fat diets for decades and are fatter than ever because of it. While there are alot of BS diet books out there….there are PLENTY with accurate and thought provoking info in them. Taubes is one of them.

        By the way, it is “you’re”…not your. They must have skipped that in college, huh?

      2. I agree. I can eat a carb based diet and not gain weight, but I’ll feel terrible for it with all the blood sugar rollercoastering…

        1. I imagined something like crab cakes, but made from zebra meat. I have no idea why my brain gave them stripes.

        1. Of course it is, as well as butter, flour, and eggs. Lol. My Grandmother lived to 85 on such traditions. She felt that was much too long.

    2. I agree if you aren’t eating grains, legumes, or processed stuff, sugar.. and just sticking to fruit and vegetable carbs… you won’t gain weight at 150+ I have dropped 30 lbs since just giving up all bad carbs, sugar, and meat and dairy.. and even with 150+ carbs and eating meat and dairy if i stay within a certain calorie range.. i will not gain weight.. One thing I am trying out is keeping my carbs low like 80 or lower and uping the protien and fat to see if i will loose more weight or stay the same or gain.. we’ll see.. anyway.. you can maintain with carbs if they are vegetable carbs.. and just to put it in perspective .. i have maintained 105 since april 2009 and I am 5-5 ft.. with eating only fruit, vegis, and some protein. Although if I exchange some carbs with protein it seems not to make a difference.. but we shall see.. if i loose a couple pounds or not..

      1. Um… WHAT? Unless it’s a typo, if you’re 105 at 5’5″, you’re dangerously underweight. A healthy weight for a woman your height is between 120 and 150. The lowest possible weight you can be and be “OK” is about 113. AND you want to lose MORE? No offense but that’s insane (and dangerous). Besides, low-carb AND low-fat is “a recipe for disaster”, as per Mark’s words, and I second them because my own experiences tell me so. Your information about processed stuff is wrong too. I keep good carbs between 50 and 80. I do eat meat and some dairy, but not a lot of fruit. I have been a steady 135 lbs for years (and I’m the same height as you). Not everyone will lose a lot of weight if they just cut that stuff out. They may lose a lot at first, then hit a plateau, and nothing short of starvation combined with rigorous exercise will change that, and I don’t see how that’s healthy… Not to rain on your parade, but the real reason you lost so much weight is because you’re not giving yourself enough food. And if you keep it up you’re going to get sick.

        1. I hate to disagree in regards to height/weight – I am also 5’5″ and weight 105 – I still have curves and my doctor considers my weight healthly considering my bone structure – based on tests, my bone structure is extremely small but dense so there is currently no concern in regards to bonde deterioration or my weight – all other tests regarding my health are excellent so I think telling anyone what their healthy weight should be without having additional information such as skeletal size, bone density, family history, etc. is irresponsible at best.

        2. Sara, I agree with you. It was a knee-jerk comment, and I realize that people are different. However, you can’t deny that there is a dangerous double standard existing today. You say we shouldn’t make blanket statements and tell small-framed people that their weight is too low without taking in their individual stats, and I agree… However, most people seem to believe it’s their duty to tell larger-framed people that their weight is too high. Makes sense to you? My weight fluctuates between 135 and 140 (I’m 5’5″), and I’m as healthy as can be. I wish I had a coin for every time I’ve heard that a woman my size “needs to lose weight”.

        3. 105? Wow. I’m 5’5″ also and I fluctuate between 130 (current) and 140 (bad–metabolic disorder begins). I was 120 at 5’2″ or so. I really don’t want to drop below 130 because I feel like I’ll start losing muscle but my bodyfat percentage is too high.

          I’m trying out IF and minimizing fructose and trying more primal movements like squatting to see if I can improve my functional strength and get ‘cut’ at the same time. I found a HF day followed by 20 hr fast worked out but I was showing some signs of hypoglycemia. I’ll keep trying, but that aspect really bothers me. Perhaps I’m hyperinsulemic?

        4. You think 150lbs is a healthy weight for 5’5″. What quack told you that?

        5. 5 5 ( or 5 4 )is my height too and indeed is average UK height.
          I have always taken 112 as the lowest it is wise to be simply because that’s 18.5 BMI lowest safe BMI and because I find Victoria Beckhams not as sexy as glamour models who are more likely to be 112 to 126. My daughter, same height, is about 130, very fit runs marathons looks great. I am trying to get back to around that level but would be happy down to 112.
          However I live near lots of Chinese and Indian girls who often are well under 112 (112 in UK is called “8 stone”), It is not a shape I find asthetically pleasing but looks much better than over 140 pounds on most people.

      2. This is an interesting bit isn’t it? When it comes to someone’s weight and what we ‘should be’ all sorts of alarm bells go off don’t they? It’s all individual and we also have to take into consideration where we started and what our goals are. For me, the question is am I feeling better now than I used to? As long as that’s a great big Yes! then I’m sticking with this.

        I think if we go back to the real issue, the balance of carbs and protein. Danielle said “I dropped 30 lbs since just giving up all bad carbs, sugar, and meat and dairy.. and even with 150+ carbs and eating meat and dairy if i stay within a certain calorie range.. i will not gain weight” OK, well I just think carbs are carbs and I’m glad to see your eating meat again, but are you really going to give up cheese?? Really?

        1. Agreed, Kimala. Felling great and healthy is all that should matter. However, I feel a lot of people these days concentrate more on how they look than on how they feel. I have a woman in my gym class who looks extremely thin, and it’s obvious from the way she acts that she has no energy. She insists that she’s “perfectly healthy”. But I don’t think quitting halfway through a simple aerobics class because you can’t keep up (which is what she usually does) is in any way normal for a young 20-something woman. Many people are in denial these days, and damage their health for the sake of looks, that’s a fact.

        2. Here in Asia 105 is a normal weight, 99 is a normal weight too, height irrelevant, anything over 120lb is considered fat. 130lb is considered obese. Americans need to get real.

    3. The only way to get to that level of carbs daily is to ingest grains, that is why it is insidious. Try getting to 150 carbs in one day on broccoli, cauliflower and other non-starch vegetables, can’t be done (you would puke it all up before you get there.)

    4. Mark does emphasize that very active peoples can eat more carbs without gaining fat, because they use it all for glycogen in workouts. 🙂

    5. Er………. most people wanting to lose weight are not fitness buffs!
      Most people wanting to get healthier are not fitness buffs!
      Your average Joe needs to know that eating 150-300g of carb a day is the reason they put on a few pounds every year.

      Wish I had known that bit of info in my twenties when I was eating pasta and getting heavier every year.

      1. eating do not make you fat,eating to much of any food,yes even protein makes u fat,calories matter and always will athletes and me eat over 700 grams of carbs day and gain no weight the 2 biggest ideas of proof is the show the biggest losers,proves 100% cals in vs out…and gastric bypass,calories always will mater..

        1. it is physically impossible to eat too much protein that you would gain weight from it. Protein uses so many calories to be processed by the body and it’s very filling. Look up smarter science of slim on youtube (there are many vids in a series, it’s one of the more recent), this is explained how if you eat 300 calories of protein, 100 calories are burned just breaking down the protein to the amino acids which can be used by the body. After that point, if the body has extra amino acids it can’t use, it will convert them into glucose or glycogen (sorry I can’t remember which, but it IS one of them) and this process also requires quite a few calories – so end result is maybe HALF the original calories consumed are actually taken in by the body to contribute (but not really) to weight maintenance or gain or loss. And being protein which repairs muscle, etc, in the first conversion to amino acids, any of that weight gain would be muscle.

        2. HES 100% and I for get the exact # but to digest protein the body us like 4-6 cals,and carbs 2-4..this could be the funniest thing I ever seen..lol EAT MORE PROTEIN CALS THEN YOU NEED AND YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT,100% FACT

      2. These LC gurus have you all sucked in. It is about calories in, calories out and its not the carbs, unless you are from Mars.

        1. then why do so many people have SUCCESS going low carb? the proof is there

        2. Because LC causes a net reduction in calories. LC has never been research long enough to see what the long-term effects are. Weight loss is all there is about good health btw. Hope this helps…

        3. I understand fat loss isn’t the only thing in achieving good health, but when you balance hormones (helped by eating low carb) and repair tissue (with amino acids from protein), you are contributing to good health also. Grains also have the effect of preventing nutrient absorption, would you agree that we need to absorb nutrients for good health?

        4. Yes I would definitely agree but the mineral blocking effect of grains is overstated. LC is too risky without enough long-term research. The short-term benefits may be nice but 20-30 years later (if you live that long) you may have regrets. IOW, not enough data to support the LC lifestyle.

        5. Rob, I think several hundred thousand years of evolution and what we know about diet of our ancestors should count something towards “long term research”. Though we can’t know exactly what they ate, we do know what food they had available to them and high carb it certainly wasn’t. I think the problem is you’re assuming that everything we know about “what we should eat” was invented in the last 50 years since food companies started telling us what we can eat.

          And if you really want to talk about the long term effects of a lower carb diet, you can’t really ignore the very well understood long term effects of higher carb diet on increased incidence of diabetes and metabolic disorders, as well as higher risk of cancers developing.

          The question is, therefore, what is the right level and what are the right types of carbs to include. And the reality is that most people are taking in too much of the wrong types.

        6. I’ve done it. 30 lbs in about 3 months (actually less but I dont want you to worry about me). Ate all the protein and fat I wanted, and probably drank 600 cals a day in booze too. Sitting at 13% or so and thats a little low, but I can’t see myself going back.

  12. So, can someone give me an idea of what 50 to 100 grams of carbs looks like in terms of real food? When I think I’m going really low carb (i.e., only veggies and like one or two pieces of fruit per day) I still end up around 150 grams when I plug it into fit day. Is it ok to eat some meals that are purely protein and fat (e.g., chicken breast and almonds, eggs and avacado, simply steak)? Maybe I’m still too hung up on the zone/balance thing…But I always thought I had my bases covered with just fruits and veggies–no counting necessary. I’ve found I can’t get below 12% bf with this approach and am consistently more like 14%. So, to get lower bf I have to get sub 100 grams I’m assuming? Again, what would this look like in terms of real food?

    1. I used to be in the same boat as you Patrick. Primal diet was excellent for getting me down to about 14% bodyfat but I couldn’t really get below that. I cut out all fruit and that kept my carbs below 50 for the day. …but it backfired. I didn’t start shedding fat, instead I started losing strength in the gym in all my lifts.

      Personally I think it’s a mistake to think that the magic “carb number” is what’s preventing you from getting to those really low bodyfat numbers. What DID ultimately work for me, was not to try to cut any more carbs out of my daily diet. But to introduce intermittent fasting days to my week. A couple IF days a week and the FAT starts dropping off. (instead of the strength and muscle). It’s not easy, but it works. And it’s certainly what primal man would have done, albeit not intentionally! 😉

  13. Enrique, my advice for ideal health/fitness includes NOT doing so much cardio that you burn through 300 grams of carbs every day. If you are, you can probably maintain a given body fat level for years, but it’s a never ending treadmill of burning carb calories and then replacing carb calories. Yes, I did it for 20 years and regret it now (inflammation issues mostly). The above chart was meant to suggest that someone who is not an avid exerciser consuming that amount WILL steadily gain fat over the years.

    Sam, part of my rationale suggests that for the majority of the populace, a zero-to-50 gram diet is unrealistic and, furthermore, all bets were off when the available forms of meat, fish and healthy fats got contaminated in 21st Century farming methods and starting lacking all the micronutrients paleo meats had. Better to rely on some amount of veggies and fruits – at least most of the time.

  14. When you say “…protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per lean bodyweight formula)…” do you mean pounds of lean bodyweight or kg?

    Traditionally, I think Ive seen it has pounds, but that would be 195 grams of protein a day, that seems like a lot. Ive done the math, Im barely getting above 100g with two meals of meat, veggies and fat and a low-carb protein shake, and that combo leaves me stuffed and I dont even feel hungry until about 1, 2PM the next day.

  15. Brandon, I mean pounds. If you have 195 pounds of non-body fat lean, that’s your range. If your carbs are low (like 125, say) then your total calories from those two are only 900. If you get 120 grams of fat, you are at under 2,000 calories a day. That’s not much for a big guy.

  16. Mark –
    Your two-minute salad post was great and I’d welcome more diet hints like that.

    I’m a distance runner which I know makes living PB somewhat more difficult. I’d love to see some sample days that fit the 100gr net carb guideline much like you did in the fitday results post.

    I’ve experienced many benefits since switching to a high protein, and veggie diet. My runner friends can’t believe that I don’t live on bagels and pasta, but my race results have proven to me that Primal is the way to go. I do find that my increased aerobic efforts get my sweet tooth going, but I try to make my vices Primal-friendly (coconut milk with fruit, etc.) Anyway, great post and I second Patrick’s request for several samples of what a 100 gram carb day would look like.

  17. Heather – Congrats on your Primal successes and thanks for the comment. I’ll see if I can work in some sample menus early next week. Cheers!

    1. I started the P90X program a few weeks ago and really am enjoying it. Prior to that, I spent the last 5+ years doing a combination of cardio and weight training. I started this process losing ~35 pounds 5+ years ago and have maintained ever since by keeping to a fairly low carb diet plus the exercize. I have not, however, been able to get visible abs. That is one reason I have started P90X. I noticed the the P90X nurition plan promotes more carbs than I would have expected. And bases that on how hard the program works you, thereby needing some more carbs. For example, I purchased the recovery drink that you promote — and I like it. But, I noticed that it has 39 carbs. How do I reconcile that with the 50-100 carbs that you describe for weight loss?

      1. Jim, I am no longer involved with P90x (it is a great program, for sure). I designed the Recovery Drink to their specs, not to PB specs.

    2. Where does the 100 g recommendation come from? I read and enjoyed your book. Shouldn’t the number of carbohydrates consumed be based on the individuals lean body mass? I am 6’2″ and an “athletic” 245 pounds. I have tried the 100 g recommendation while crossfit ting 2-3 times per week and doing limited to no cardio. I have seen changes in my body composition but feel better and more energetic at 120-130g/day. When I limit to less than 100g I have serious muscle aches, brain fog, and irritability.

  18. Thanks for the informative post Mark. I’m still not fully decided on carbs. A lot of what you say on this blog makes sense but I need to do some more reading on it from different sources. However, this post has helped me a lot because it quantifies the level of carbs I would be shooting for if I went primal.

  19. I’m going to say, that you left quite a bit of range in that continuum. Plus you have to factor in a whole bunch more for a person before you can just assume they fall into a number category.

    “By meeting average daily protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight formula), eating nutritious vegetables and fruits (easy to stay in 50-100 gram range, even with generous servings), and staying satisfied with delicious high fat foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds), you can lose one to two pounds of body fat per week and then keep it off forever by eating in the maintenance range.”

    That quote alone tells me its more about protein than the carbohydrate amount. Seems another attempt to go after carbs, when in fact a good nutrient balance all around is the real key.

  20. Mark –

    Thanks for the descriptors of each of the ranges. It’s good to see the differences.

    About a year ago I switched to a Paleo/Primal diet. Keeping in the 75-100 grams of healthy carbs each day and 20lbs easily melted away. I’m back down to just a bit heavier than I was in my teens, but I know I’ve put on more muscle since then.

    Now, I digress from the Primal Lifestyle in that I’m an endurance athlete, because that’s what I enjoy. But I can attest that sticking to a Primal Diet, I was easily and comfortably able to complete a 40-mile run last September. And will be doing another this March.

    Please keep the great articles coming.

  21. How does the carb continuum change for a 25 year old male trying to gain muscle mass/healthy weight? It seems inaccurate to broadly categorize carb consumption in this manner?

    1. I agree, honestly what works best for you? If I do anything lower than 150 grams I get shakey. I am sure that is why Mark presents it within a broad spectrum- you gotta know your body. Question is how do you feel with a certain amount I like to keep track. Best way to figure it out, mine was all about maintaining energy levels and I needed to aim as maximum for 150g anything more bad anything less that 120 bad.

  22. How feasible is Primal consuming only fish and shrimp for meat with eggs and dairy for main protein sources?

    It would be great to see a sample menus!

    Thanks for all the information.

    1. Though I’m no nutritionist and this reply is over 2 years late maybe someone can benefit from it or maybe you’ll happen to see it.
      I think your protein sources are fine. Just try to get all of them without any preservatives or other junk. I spent about a year getting most of my protein from eggs, dairy, and nuts with bacon and other meat on occasion. For carbs I ate lots of berries and vegetables, a couple pieces of fruit every day (normally apples), and some grains, which was often in the form of huge bowls of sugary cereal.
      That diet combined with regular exercise (weights, calisthenics, climbing lots of trees, biking around 20km a day to travel to and from school, and generally staying outdoors and moving around a lot) I cut down my body fat drastically and put on a decent amount of muscle, especially in my legs and arms.
      During a period where I wasn’t eating as many carbs and was relying mostly on trail mix and massive omelettes with large amounts of cheese and butter for my calories is when I really lost a lot of fat and got a lot of muscle tone. I didn’t know it at the time but I was actually living fairly primal and I assumed my fat loss was from cutting out a lot of the carbs since I was still eating way more fat than I thought was conventional.
      Throughout the year I also got a lot of protein and carbs fairly regularly from Life protein bars and Amp Energy Balls, and lots of carbs from energy drinks and small pouches of “organic” candy, and though those products definitely kept me hyper-fuelled through school and summer days until I could get home and eat a real meal I think we’re all better off getting what we need from natural sources.

  23. Very interesting stuff. I probably weigh in at about 100g a day considering I eat mainly protein/fat/veggies with 2-4 pieces of fruit maximum, so not counting fiber my daily carbs probably come in at about 150g on higher days and 75g on the lower days…..

  24. It would be good to see some sort of table or at least rough calculation on carb intake vs. activity. I can live pretty comfortably on < 50g/day if the most strenuous thing I do all day is walk a mile…if I’m doing repeated max-effort sprints (as in my preferred sport, ice hockey) I’m not sure 100g is enough to avoid degraded performance.

  25. That sounds about right. I carb cycle: most days in 50-100 and a few days in 100-150 range. Feels great, works nicely, and doesn’t limit you as much. I could eat in primal maintenance level for ever easily.

  26. I love it!
    This is in stark contrast with conventional wisdom related to endurance athletes that suggests that one should eat between 7-10 grams of carb each day for every kilo of bodyweight.
    That would mean that I should ingest up to 850 grams of carb during serious training. Every day!
    And according to most nutritionists in Sweden (half of them working towards athletes are paid by grain producers..)this would be my best choice for improving fitness and maximizing endurance.
    For me, neither of this black or white and even though being a stickler for ingesting quality protein and fats; I still eat some bread, quinoa and the occasional pasta dish.
    And if I get enough Coke to drink during a race or a really long and hard session; I can go forever! There´s isn´t a bonk in the world that can get to me while on the caffeinated sugar.
    But again, that´s a case of “training low and racing high” which is a healthy way to train, live and maximizing fatburning and endurance.

  27. Thanks for the simply stated yet powerful information Mark ! Any modifications of the suggestions in application to an otherwise healthy yet somewhat overweight 8 year old ?

  28. Great list. I like to tell people to eat carbs based on their workout intensity, like using carbs as a turbo boost. Those who are leaner and workout harder tend to easily use carbs for muscle glycogen replenishment while those more overweight and doing lower intensity work should go with less carb intake. I also like carb timing, to use higher intakes in the pwo window and lower amounts otherwise. If I do a high carb day, then I make sure to keep the fat lower to not lead to excessive calorie intake as well. All in all…it’s fun to play with all this and see how the body responds on a personal level. We should all play around and learn from it.

  29. I would say your take on this is spot on… my only complaint is that your carb ranges seem to assume a young, fit, active male.

    Few people who needed to lose weight in the first place are going to maintain weight loss eating 100-150 carbs per day (unless the cals are rigidly controlled).
    Few people who need to lose weight are going to see “effortless” loss at 50-100 per day (that is without cal / hunger restricting)

    I imagine a man in his 20s or 30s who has no significant obesity might find that true, however.

    As for me, 50 carbs is where I do best all the time. To control blood sugar, insanity, and weight, that’s where I should be. I often creep up to higher levels but anything more than 100 is intolerable.
    Then again I’ve numerous issues carb related (pcos/hypoglycemia/obesity/mental health). I’m controlling these pretty well by following the diet (no longer PCOS, stable sugar, thin, brain doing pretty well most of the time) but my carb restriction must be a lot more extreme than it has to be for others.

  30. I came here from Michael Eades blog and have to say my metabolism pretty much agrees with your numbers.

    I have suffered from Reactive Hypoglycemia for about 50 years and what was obviously “diabetic dyslipidemia” for 30, and was only progressing gradually and insidiously towards diabetes UNTIL the dietician got a hold of me and pushed my carb input up from 150 – 300 range. Also the reduction in fat seems to have been key in causing me to put on weight for the first time ever in my skinny life.

    50 – 100g carbs is my “sweet spot” where my blood glucose and lipids have pretty much normalised, the weight went away again and many of my “mental” and physical symptoms resolved. Below that and I don’t have the latitude to adjust my BG manually when required.

    The most curious thing (or is it?) is that in the absence of the high BG and high trigs (and high insulin resistance and insulin levels) I convert those naughty saturated fats into HDL rather than LDL.

    IMNSHO all those “Healthy Whole Grains” had turned me into a heart attack on legs, I should have been eating lard instead. The rest of my diet hasn’t changed much, plenty of protein especially fish and hordes of vegetables and salad but in the presence of too many carbs and insufficient fat they weren’t helping very much.

    The Harvard Pyramid

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/index.html

    would be a major step forward over the official one

  31. ItsTheWooo, I know your site and have seen your posts here and on other like-mided sites, so I am aware of your situation. You probably have a better handle on this (and the information) than 99% of people. I see where you are coming from on the assumptions. Maybe we’ll add a caveat regarding that. Keep up your own good work.

    Trinkwasser, not curious at all regarding sat fat and HDL. Several studies bear that out. Looks like you have it dialed in pretty well. From here you can choose where you want to be at any time and know what the effects will be. That’s true personal power!

  32. “I second Patrick’s request for several samples of what a 100 gram carb day would look like.”

    Patrick and Heather work it out yourself. All you need is a food scale. Its best you did it yourself with the foods you like to eat.

  33. Trinkwasser, not curious at all regarding sat fat and HDL. Several studies bear that out. Looks like you have it dialed in pretty well. From here you can choose where you want to be at any time and know what the effects will be. That’s true personal power!

    Would have been good if The Authorities had told me this instead of the opposite. 🙁

    Been looking round your blog (so many blogs, so little time) and will probably point a cousin here. She is slim and exceedingly fit (marathons, triathlons, swimming, running etc.) yet already in her thirties she is showing distinct symptoms of the familial insulin resistance. I’m trying to persuade her to reduce her carbs but as a vegetarian conditioned into the benefits of Healthy Whole Grains I’m in need of allies to get through to her! (Her skinny fit and active father is only now starting to go down the same path in his sixties which I have been travelling since childhood.)

    We need to find ways to NOT express these genes and so far carb control/reduction is the winning strategy

  34. Well, i personaly just found out that I have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. When i first found out I thought it just has something to do with my female things, but as my doctor was explaining it affects my whole body. Basically my insulin does not work correctly, kind of like a diabetic. So i’ve been instruction to go on a special meal plan consisted of low glycemic foods. I immediately went home and cleaned out the cupboards and four grocery bags later I realized how carbogydrate-layden my cupboards were!! Along with my diet and medication hopefully i can get back to normal, but I am not understanding that even things that you think might be ok to eat aren’t really. Whole wheat is always better and as my doctor says, you can’t go wrong with food that spoils!

  35. Brandy,
    if you removed all grain for a while that will definitely help with your PCOS. I feel low glycemic doesn’t go far enough. What meds are you on – metformin?

  36. Hi Mark and thanks for a good site!

    On the “how many carbs do you need”, I see no real problem in staying at 30-50 carbs even while eating a fair amount of veggies. (Provided you avoid the carb-heavy stuff) Assuming an average of 5g / 100g of carb content, there is no problem squeezing in 500 grammes or so of veggies into your diet without leaving ketosis, a sizeable amount.

    As for fruits, what micronutrients are we really talking here? They are rich in vitamin C, but apart from that their energy/weight composition is about the same as Coke (of course, it’s harder to ingest the same amount of fruit, but still…).

  37. Oh, I should add that sadly our veggies have also been “industrialized”. That’s why I pop a multivitamin/micronutrient pill each day together with the Omega-3 supplements. Sad, but true.

  38. I have been keeping my carbs just under 150 grams per day, and calories at close to 2500 or less per day, since Jan 1st 2009 and I have lost 10lbs in the last 3 weeks, so you can lose weight, especially if you are as overweight as me, (6’5, 499 lbs). As I progress I will adjust it accordingly.

  39. Something that is almost always overlooked in these stories and articles and is also overlooked in the above article, is the issue of the person’s size, for instance a 6’5″ guy wanting to maintain a 220 lb weight can eat more carbs than say someone who is 5’10” and wants to maintain weighing 165.

  40. Steve B, that’s why we give you a range. If you are way bigger or way smaller, you can also go outside that range a bit

  41. Yeah, in a way I felt like I was being told I could not lose weight on 150 carbs or less per day above, but being how obese I am, I can lose this way for a long time. I am 33 yrs old by the way. A co-worker in his late 50s found out he had type 2 diabetes and he went on a plan of 150 carbs per day or less and he went from weighing about 260 to about 180 in about 8 months on his 5’10” inch frame by eating that way. Inspired by his success I am now succeeding at it too. This is the longest I have succeeded on an restricted eating plan in years.

  42. Mark,

    I consume a lot of carbs- averaging 250-300 grams per day, about 150 grams of fat and about 70 grams of protein average day. Weight 68 Kilos at 6 feet.

    Almost all my carbs comes from carrots ( i eat raw carrots about a kilo for lunch at times), bananas, sweet potatoes, oranges, apples. I do have digestion issues if i eat too much wheat or grains. a slice of bread sometimes is ok. my question is..are grains real issue or carbs in general?

  43. Amit, Depends. How old are you? Do you exercise a lot? What is your body comp or body fat? Grains are definitely a big part of all this, but excess carbs from other sources are still a potential problem. If not now, then maybe iinto the future. OTOH, you may be a lucky one who lives comfortably on the higher end of the carb curve.

  44. Mark,

    is there a protein curve? or can we basically eat protein ad infinitum (slight exag. there, but provided we eat it with fat, fruits and veggies)

    1. Your comment seems rather random. And many fats are not only healthy, but essential.

  45. For the last 2 weeks I have not eaten refined sugar, white flour etc, but my carbs do creep up, the average is 130-180g per day.

    is this OK? I hate attached todays nutrition here: http://i299.photobucket.com/albums/mm301/xanderd/nutrition07-05-09.jpg

    I walk for 1-2 hours per day, sprint once per week and lift heavy weights for 1 hour 3x per week.

    I am thinking that since the carbs come from lentils which i consider a ‘healthy’ food that this is ok…although wonder how absolute the ‘100g per day of carbs’ rule is.

    any thoughts?

  46. ps. I want to gain at least 3kg of muscle and find it very difficult to gain weight in the past – easily lose it if my calories drop below 2500kcal/day

  47. Alex, you are on the right plan. If you want to build muscle, your body has to “need” the extra muscle. The only way that happens is for you to work out more intensely (not more time) so signals arer sent to your genes to add strength and size to muscle. Your calories are probably OK now, even a little high. I would cut back on the lentils a bit. I don’t know your body fat, but I wouold suggest that to gain muscle from here, you might want to reduce your walking a bit for a few weeks and see what happens. Ultimately, you may find that the body you have now is the ideal one for the amount of work you do…unless you increase the load on it.

  48. Mark,
    I have lost 15 lbs since about mid-Feb going from 167 lbs to 152 lbs by doing fairly high intensity cardio, circuit weights 2-3xs weekly with some yoga and pilates thrown in. My plans are to lose another 10 lbs the same way. Since about mid-April, I have kept my carbs to 100-150g per day and try hard to eat 1200 -1500 calories a day. The trouble I’m having is getting enough protein because I am lactose an soy intolerant and I just can’t tolerate meat 3xs daily. I tend to compensate with nuts (good?), peanut butter and boiled eggs. I think this might be leading to high levels of selenium on my fitday chart. Can you recommend a few non-meat sources of protein excluding dairy and soy?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Tracy

  49. Tracy, good work so far. All I can add for non-meat protein is chicken and fish (of course) and then find a good protein powder and have a soothie once a day. You should be fine getting 100-120 grams protein total each day.

  50. Mark,

    I appreciate the time you take to reply us 🙂

    I am currently around 18% body fat – according to a cheap electronic device. I am 185cm tall and weight 72.5 kg. I aim to reduce body fat a few points and also to bring my overall body weight up to at least 75kg.

    It’s interesting that you say my calories are maybe slightly too high – on fitday it says I burn about 3100 per day just through my metabolism, walking and lifting 3x per week.

    Regarding intensity – I always used to work chest/triceps, back/biceps and legs/shoulders with 3×10 reps. Now I have changed my plan since 2 weeks ago:

    I now do the whole body and use a 5 second up / 5 second down cadence for much higher time under tension, and I usually do 5 sets of 5. This means I do about 20% less weight than before, 5 less reps in total, but double the total time under tension. If you have any thoughts on how effective this is at stimulatng muscle mass gain I’d love to know 🙂

  51. I have been losing weight after reading (my age 50)the “Protien Powder” I started in Nov-08 and now in May have lost 55 lb (280-225) I keep between 0-30 grams of carbs a day and i work two jobs 16 hour days. I take a host of supplements and protien powder drinks along with meat protien and low carb wraps (3-grams-per wrap) and have salad at least once a day. I work out on average 3 days two- three hour workouts. I feel great and dont miss the carbs. i will congtinue this way for at least 30 more lbs (loss) and will bring up carb intake to 50-carbs to loose additional 15-25 lb to bring my weight down to a healthy 175 LB. My question is i read in a nutriontion book for dummies that a healthy carb intake level is 130 carbs for brain and heart function and anthing lower will be harmful. Can i maintain a helthy lifestyle at 175 lbs on 100 carbs a day with an increasae of power- lifting? Thanks i enjoyed your blog and the added responces were very informative.

  52. Harry, congrats on your great progress. There is no nutritional requirement for carbs in the human diet. The body makes up to 200 grams a day from the protein and fat you consume. So, yes, you can maintain a totally healthy lifestyle and even increase powerlifting on 100 grams carbs/day. There’s no reason to do two-to- three-hour workouts, though.

  53. Hi mark

    what’s your view on a south beach type diet? Is the induction phase a good kick off?

    1. South beach has it’s good points. Induction phase is best. I think they allow way too many carbs, grains, etc later on.

      1. The South Beach Diet would be good if they didn’t have so many artificial, strange foods in the plan.

        Low fat foods, fake eggs. why not just eat real food?

        The one really good thing about it is the recipes from South Beach Florida. The seviche is particularly good and illustrates the point that food that is healthy can be extremely delicious and satisfying which I think is the key to success with any diet plan.

        1. I lost weight in the Induction phase of SBD, but as soon as I re-introduced whole grains, all the “healthy” ones – brown rice, whole wheat, barley etc. – I started gaining weight, so I’m back to Phase 1 + fruits + a small amount of grains. I would ultimately like to go fully Primal.

  54. Hi Mark. First of all .. What a fantastic site you have. I’ve cut my carbs right back from way over 300g a day to between 50-120g a day for three weeks now. My weight started at 292 pounds and now just after three weeks i am down to 267, a loss of 25 pounds !! The first two weeks the weight just fell of due probably to water loss. This last week i have not lost much at all, just a few ounces. Will this be a slow process to lose weight Mark ?

    1. Paul, great work so far. Off to a good start. Understand that after the initial shock to your body, most people can settle into a comfortable 1-2 pounds per week of FAT lost indefinitely – or until you hit a desirable body composition. For you, staying well under 100 grams total carbs per day will be key for a while. Walk as much as you can and do a few weight sessions each week. The concept of “slow process” mean nothing if you can change your body composition for the rest of your life in a way that is basically painless and requires little in the way of sacrifice (other than eliminating sugars). Keep us posted!!

  55. I don’t think Mark ever answered the question regarding “net” carbs, but I’ve taken a look at his fitday and the way he writes about it, and he’s *including* fiber in the total number.

    Which, of course, makes it a LOT harder to hit that 100 mark. I can easily hit 150g total with about 100 net by eating normal healthy primal-like foods, but to get the total number below 100 I actually have to make decisions like, “tomatoes or cucumbers?” or “eggs or avocado?”. OR, I must strike out the little “add-ups” like a Viactiv calcium chew or that “2 bites of sandwich” that I would normally, being a foodie with friends who let me taste… despite the fact that those are very enjoyable on a day to day basis.

    Sorry, long comment to deliver a short answer.

  56. I take in 50-100 g per day and I have found through experimenting that is where I need to stay! It’s funny how some people are so different with their cab allowances. I blow up if I take in more than 120 for too long.

  57. Sorry for my ignorance and my bad english, Then, if i eat 100gr of carbs or less i will not win weight NO MATTER how many calories i eat? Just curious, Thanks

    1. Hey Hector, I think it depends on the person – for me if I keep it around 50g or so I can eat a heroic amount of calories and not pack on the pounds. Some people are less sensitive and can go up to 150g or so. I like having the wiggle-room with the carbs just in case I end up under-estimating…

      The great thing is – with all the fat and protein you get that ‘satisfied’ feeling much quicker than with carb-y nutritionally-empty foods. So even on days where I think I’m eating massive calories, its nothing like what “massive calories” would look like for a high-carb “conventional” meal.

  58. I am a nutritionist – and I love this carbohydrate curve – it is spot on in my experience. I am an RN who discovered the zone diet some 12 years ago, did some uni papers a couple of years ago to get to degree level in human nutrition, discovered they still push the whole grains a lot – though the carb / protein ratios are being explored in some of the papers. I’m still not convinced about grains. I’ve gone way more paleo, virtually no carbs now since starting crossfit 2 months ago. I can say definitively that the very best diet for me now is primal with a ratio of 1:1 carbs and protein and some good fats, (not too much though). I am 110 lbs and 5′ 2″ almost 50, I have arund 80 – 100 gms of both carbs and protein a day. I supplement with a range similar to Marks multi, plus omega 3, vitamin D and probiotics.
    I’m never felt better. As a result of these cahnges, right now I am at pretty much ideal weight, but still want to see my abs (working on it!) All the things I suffered prior to diet, exercise and supplements have gone – cravings, PMS, severe menstrual pain, low energy, excess weight, reactive hypoglycemia, pre- menopausal symptoms, constipation. Also gone swollen knees (auto-immune, vit D and omega 3 helped here). ALL gone.

    I for one will help spread the word through my work.

    1. That’s great Julianne. I had severe chronic fatigue and buy eating lots of healthy fats and limiting carbs I too have seen a great improvement in my health.

      If I eat a few too many chips or something it starts going downhill pretty quick. I am getting certified as a nutritional counselor so I can share this vital information more effectively.
      We are here as a testimonial that this way of eating really works!

  59. One question I have is on fiber. If I eat 30-40 grams of fiber a day (which is where I have been the last few days) do I subtract that from the carbs that I have eaten. For example, I ate 175 grams of carbs yesterday. Do I subtract the 34 grams of fiber and apply it to my chart above? So am I really in the 141 gram range, or on the 175 gram range?

  60. I need to stay below 40 because I’m T2 diabetic and my BG is still int he 120s even with metformin 500 XR twice daily!
    I think I need to cut them even lower until I lose my fat at least. I need to lose 150 lbs still.

  61. If you say all carbs get turned into sugar whats makes the carbs from berries and fruit any different than grains, if two people get 1500 calories from primal and one gets 500 from grains the other 500 from berries do you think their will be an body composition changes? I don’t.
    Mark I doubt you will answer this or even consent to the posts existence.

    1. Bob, if I responded to every comment here, I would never have time to work (to pay for this “free” site). Most of the time my knowledgeable readers do very well answering questions in the comment section without my input. Also, in most cases, we’ve covered the topic ad infinitum over the past three years and 3,000,000 words. This post is just a snapshot. That’s why I wrote the book.

      All carbs do turn to “sugar” as you put it. But…the 500 calories from grains will also contain gluten, phytates, lectins and other antinutrients in addition to the glucose load. You can get 500 calories of pasta, bread or cereal in a fairly small amount of food. Conversely, 500 calories of berries is a significant bulk of food (it would take over six cups of blueberries)…and even if you did eat it all, you’d get antioxidants, polyphenols and other beneficial phytonutrients along with some low-glycemic fructose. It’s not always just about the carbs.

  62. Great site here! Anyone care to take a stab at how many “net” carbs I should eat daily? I’m female, 5’5 1/2, 231 pounds, 38 yrs old, just joined a gym where I’m walking 1 hour, 3-4 times a week building up to 5-6 times a week. I’m on Benicar for high blood pressure. Doc said I can get off the med if I loose 40-50 lbs. I’ve done Sugar Busters in the past and lost 18 pounds in 6 weeks so I know my body responds well to lower & better carbs. I hope it’s okay to ask this here. If not, sorry in advance.

  63. Hey Irene,

    If you decide the MDA approach is the way to go, I would wager heavily that next 4th of July you will love “the new you.” Please do give yourself this gift that you so deserve ! Best wishes with your health and wellness.

    Eddie

  64. As a Type 2 diabetic of 24-years, I found that I needed to keep my daily carb level at 50 or less. By doing so, I have been able to get off all my diabetes meds (Byetta, Metformin & Levemir). I was in fair control before I started this in January of this year (2009), but I expect to have the glucose numbers of a young healthy person soon.

  65. Hi David,

    That’s great! You’re are making real progress. Proving that taking control of your own health really works.

    I suggest a few things that should really make your efforts take off. If you make sure not to eat too much protein, you will also help control your blood sugar because 1/2 of all protein can be converted to glucose. I know this because I help my husband with this. Also, make sure that your fat intake is around 80% of your daily totals. Why? Because this will really lower your blood sugar and it’s how sugars were controlled before insulin was developed. There is a doctor in Europe who helps people who are so sick that they are facing amputation and he brings them back from the dead doing this. His name is Dr. Jan Kwasniewski, M.D. He is a Polish Doctor who created The Optimal Diet. Just make sure the fats are healthy. See my fat page for this.

    1. Thanks, Louise,

      One day last week I converted my diet into calories by macronutrient and, that day, my diet was about 70% fat. I’m sure it was inaccurate but was probably in the ballpark. I do eat coconut oil and will be interested in seeing my lipid panel at the end of this month. Hopefully the numbers will back up the good things I’ve read, and not the dire predictions of the cardiologists I’ve mentioned it to. I also eat almonds and, tomorrow, I am driving to pick up 1/2 of a grass fed cow – the farmer is about 1.5 hours away. I have read The Optimal Diet. I don’t think the total amount of protein in my diet has changed much, perhaps a little. Thanks again for your tips.

  66. Thanks so much for this information! I was looking all over for a daily carb intake listing, and this was perfect! I now now that I’ve been maintaining pretty well in the Primal Blueprint Maintenance Range. 🙂

  67. HEY READ THIS!!!!

    i’ve gone through the charts and the USDA recommends i eat 130 g carbs a day, which actually hits inside your maintenance range. i’m currently doing about 50-60 g carbs a day, and i would say that is best for me, but still… what exactly is the problem with the USDA guidelines, as is? who cares about the USDA, anyway? booo, i say!

    1. The USDA wants you to base your diet on grains and 45-65% carbs

  68. Just started the book and was wondering about the “whole grain issue” as it relates to having Oatmeal every morning…. which I do. Some diets close to the Primal concept like the Zone think Oatmeal is a “good carb” and an exception to “the rule”….. What say anyone else on this?

    1. Hey Tom,
      oatmeal is technically gluten free, though most manufacturers do it on lines where other gluten products are processed so if you aren’t buying gluten free oatmeal…it still has gluten in it.
      Also, oatmeal has avenin protein in it, which appears to have similar effects to gluten. I would just stay away from grains as much as possible, all of them…including rice, corn, quinoa, etc.
      it still is a carb, so choose wisely what you choose for the day!

        1. grain, kernel, seed…it is the part of the plant that it needs to reproduce itself and should not be eaten because it contains toxins.
          Coffee and cocoa, soy, peanuts fall under that category, too. So do nuts.

          But, MDA allows Chocolate, coffee and nuts in small amounts.

  69. Hi all, Im on a doctor restricted diet and doing well 18 pds down last month. Im 152lbs ‘5ft 5″ so im going on vacation and its imperitive to my diet that i dont gain more then 2 lbs. from what i gathered from this site is if i stay around 50 carbs i should be able to maintain my current weight? thanks for any input. michelle

  70. Sam
    you’re very wrong with your analysis as there’s no way to determine wether humans ate animal or plan sources from bone scans.

    That being said the norm was not ketosis but fat metabolism (which involved ketones anyway, no matter if you eat lot of carbs) at rest and carb metabolism during spurts of energy. As Jared Diamond noted the majority of hunter-gatherer societies that live in condition almost identical to the one paleo humans ate, are very organized in gathering and they’re in hunting and they always have a supplies of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables. All the primitives Jared interviewed said they thought leaves were the healthiest curative foods and that no human could do without them.

    I read a book about the traditional Innuit culture and they not only ate berries and Nikkaru (the veggie-based stomach contant of caribou) but they also made huge efforts to make sure they have plant matter to eat other than meat.

  71. Glucose is not a poison.
    It seems to me that the concept that every carb turns into “sugar” (well, glucose) is used as a way to suggest that eating whatever carb is like eating white sugar.

    But the point about glucose is not what glucose does per se but whether we allow the body to make good use of it.

    According Dr. Jan Kwasniewski there’s no point in forcing the body to convert proteins into glucose and it’s therefore better to eat as many carb as much glucose is needed to fuel the brain.

    This is perfectly in tune with Mark figures.

    So we’re supposed to get enough carbs to fuel our brain and certain bursts of intense activity and to get energy at rest, at night and between meals from fat metabolism.

    So glucose per se is harmless and usefull. In fact not only every carb becomes “sugar” but also at least 50% of protein, when a very low carb diet is followed, are turned into sugar.

    So eventually everything turns into sugar. The point though is whether you’re using that sugar to fuel needed process, or wether that sugar is in excess and is going to be stored.

    Sugar is a quick-burning fuel that can’t be stored in any big amount.
    Hence by its very nature it is supposed to fuel short-term intense activity.

    Fat on the other hand is a slow-burning fuel that can be stored without limit and even thin people have enough fat to survive for 30 days without eating.
    Hence by its very nature it is supposed to fuel us at rest, between meals, at night.

    The problem with poor high-carb eating is that people switched the two metabolism, training their body to expect sugar to fuel everything including at rest. That’s why people are suffering from low-blood sugar, hypoglycemia at night, mood swings and tiredness after a meal; because their body is accostumed to burn sugar exclusively but the body quickly runs out of it burning also the glucose that should be needed for the brain.

    If we just train the body to burn fat at rest and between meals again, we won’t need an ultra low carb diets or revolting no carb diets and won’t even need to call sugar (aka glucose) a poison.

    1. How do you train the body to use fat as a fuel source other than not over eating carbs?

      You don’t even need to train the body to use fat. It just will in the abscence of “sugar”.

      Why people think that 100-150 grams of carbs is “low-carb” is beyond me. It is kinda hard to even reach 150 grams if you are not eating food with added sugar.

      1. I should have said “retrain”
        Anyway you re-retrain the body to burn mostly fat by stopping eating more carbs than you can use.

        Since the brain alone burns around 90 grams of carbohydrate and glycolitic enzyme are upregulated and angry for sugar immediately after a bout of intense activity, 100-150 grams of carbs is a good amount to fuel those processes that are better suited for carbs and letting the body burn fat at rest, preventing the sugar crash many people experience nowadays.

        Eating nuts, veggies and fruits you can easily reach those numbers without problems. In fact dieters in the first stages of Atkins complain of how hard is to maintain their carb low enough even eating just veggies. They quickly add up.

        1. Sounds pretty logic to mee. Good stuff, made me think that ketosis may not be that good? Maybe more ideal to stay just out of it?

  72. I believe in the long-term health benefits of low-carb eating. That said, I’ve always been ‘slender’ (NOT skinny, I hate that word!) and have to work to maintain my weight. I’m a very active 5’4 and 117lbs. How does a person like me keep my weight with meat, vegs, nuts and fruit? I always end up losing. Any suggestions welcome.

  73. All wild mammals have a dietary consumption of 3-5g of protein per day. This is obtained by either direct consumption in carnivores or gut fermentation in herbivores.

    On a natural grass diet cattle They obtain nearly all their energy in the form of amino acids and volatile fatty acids via gut fermentation. Cattle despite being strict vegetarians gain about 25% of their energy from protein and 75% from fat. They get virtually no energy from carbohydrate. Grass fed cattle have a body fat content of <1%.

    I have 20 years experience as a food scientist.

  74. Only your red blood cells, retina and a tiny part of your brain require glucose – no more than 60g per day. Many cells such as those in the heart muscle and the cells lining the gut can only use fat for energy.

  75. I am having a hard time locating a good plan to follow and this one seems simple enough for me. My problem is though do I just watch how many carbs i take in or do I need to watch how many calories as well? I was planning to take in 1200 calories plus only 50 carbs But i’m finding its going to be hard making meal plans for this. What is your advice?

    1. Lisa, if you cut the carbs to 50, the calories should take care of themselves. Try sketching out a few meal plans of what you might like on fitday.com and see how they work out calorie-wise

    2. Lisa, I’ve been working on 55 carbs/day for the last 6 wks and never consider the calories. If you concentrate on getting your protein for each meal (eggs, chicken and fish are my main go to’s), then the rest of the meal comes together. Just remember, 4oz of protein and 15 carbs per meal with a snack or two. It really does start to make sense after the first couple of weeks and ‘meals’ aren’t hard to plan once you ‘see’ the amounts. The Dr.’s Eads have some recipes in their book to help if you want to look it up.

      1. Quick note: ratio of protein/carb vary for each person of course.

  76. Bingo… weight loss or not, NO ONE really needs more than 100g of carbs per day. You also need to be aware of the TYPE of carbs.

    Some people respond well to the new age carbs such as wheat and potatoes and some respond better to the Paleo lifestyle (sh*t only cavemen were able to eat… such as meat, berries, fruits etc.)

    Not everyone in this day an age is evolved enough to efficiently handle white bread. *barf*

  77. I have another question, I have seen in a couple of diets that they have a cheat day. Like one day a week eating sweets or things wont ruin your whole diet. Is this true? Can they same be done on a low carb diet?

  78. Hello. I have a question about the societal structures and this nutritional information: how long can we continue to eat at the top of the food chain on a regular basis (meat)? Food is going to become much more scarce, with meat being the most expensive because of its high energy-input ratio. I’m not a vegetarian, but I am curious if this is an issue anyone here has thought about.

    Of course, around this same time, food in general will be less available, so I assume that like Cuba when peak oil hit them, the average citizen lost 20 lbs. The good news, was that farmers and grow-it-yourself movements grew, and the average citizen ate a lot healthier than before.

    I am also against agribiz.

    Just speculating about high meat diets, the cost of those food choices, and what we will do when meat is too expensive for the average citizen to eat several servings a day of it.

  79. Mark
    I found your book on Amazon and back tracked to find your website. Your Book
    Primal Blueprint is in print only Any
    chance via Amazon you will offer it in digital form? Amazon now has free software for download.. Kindle for the PC
    making digital accessible to anyone with a IPhone, netbook or coomputer. Digital is my way of going green and saving the paper/trees … I hope you will consider Digital format

  80. I am a 34 year old female 5’4″ I have tried to loose the last 10 pounds that I am holding on to, just can’t seem to get rid of it. I do p90X and go to the gym I am 130lbs but want to be 120 I do have alot of muscle, but don’t want to look bulkey. How can i get rid of this and feel lighter?

  81. You may be working out too much.

    Have you cut calories (have you read the Primal Blueprint?) Have you tried IF’ing? Have you incorporated sprinting into your routine? Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit to lose those last few.

  82. just ordered the book Primal blueprint very excited about it, what is IF’ing I do go on the treadmill, stair climber, bike and i go up a level every min maybe i am platoing I will try to sprinting however can i do it on a tredmill? I count all my calories and weigh my food I thought I should have so much protien and so many carbs in one day i usually have 1550 calories one day 1369 one day and 1118 another day and some days i only have protien shakes. I eat low green veggies I am very stricked with my diet. will protien make me fat or bigger muscle wise?

  83. mark, im trying to find where i fit in on the carb curve. i have seen a lot about increasing carb intake for endurance athletes. i am assuming endurance athlete means runner or long distance cardio of some kind. i am an mma fighter, so i wouldnt put myself in that same category, but i was wondering if my carb requirements would also be higher. i tend to lose weight and even lean muscle mass when i eat mostly veggies for my carbs. what would you recommend so i dont wither away to nothing! haha. do you have anything in the book about trying to increase mass and strength on primal diet? or am i doomed to be skinny since i burn so many calories working out every day?

  84. Hey Mark,

    Even since I lowered my carbs my calories are through the roof. Before watching the carbs I used to eat about 1700 a day, with carbs in the insane 200+ range. Now I’m trying to keep them under 100, which I’ve successfully done for the past week. However, I was shocked to do some tracking and realize that I’ve been consuming 2000+ calories a day. I eat about the same things you eat, omelette for breakfast, salad for lunch, meat and veggies for dinner with a snack of nuts, fruit or yogurt in between. The thing is, I don’t feel I’ve been eating too much at all. If anything, I feel like I don’t eat enough, but I’m afraid to up my caloric intake. Am I just being silly?

    1. Maria, I wouldn’t say it’s “silly” to feel that way. It’s a normal fear when you first start eating Primally. I would say to eat what you need to from Primal foods to feel satisfied at your meals. Then have a Primal snack to take the edge off if you get really hungry (like those nuts). In a few weeks, you’ll notice that your appetite will subside and it will be easy to “fill up” on fewer calories. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that you will gain weight (fat) as long as you keep the carbs under 100.

      1. My carbs are in the 80s right now, so I’m good. Don’t want to go too low. I’ve noticed a difference in my appetite patterns already, even though it’s only been a week. There’s zero appetite right after I wake up. This sometimes happened before Primal, but now I tend to go much longer before I eat my first meal. Once I eat, I’m satisfied for a good 5 or 6 hours, which never happened before. I just don’t think about food as much, and when I do eat, it’s more enjoyable and I’m more focused on it.

        Thanks for the answers, Mark. You’re an inspiration! 🙂

        1. I’ve found the same thing to be true of myself. I would eat dinner around 9pm and wouldn’t feel hungry until noon – but moreover, I didn’t feel “hungy” as I used to know it. No stomach roaring, just a calm “hmm.. maybe I should eat something.”

          The longer I stay away from carbs, the more I realize that “hunger” is just a symptom of a high carb diet. I think that’s why it’s so much harder to maintain other diets – the hunger pains are artificially induced by the carbs we eat.

          I’ve also been fixated on the fact that we are not alone.. we have over 500 different kinds of bacteria in our intestines, and they outnumber the cells in our bodies by a factor of 10 to 1. I rarely see anyone say how diet cultivates different bacteria populations – I have to imagine that on a low carb diet, some starve out while others begin to flourish. On the wikipedia entry for gut flora, it says some bacteria can influence us into storing fat, and if they take the bacteria from fat rats and put it into thin rats, those rats get fatter, too.

          I’ve also tried eliminating lectin containing foods. Peanuts, soy, wheat – grains in general – as their natural defenses against being eaten cause small holes in our intestinal lining that lets in bacteria – some studies are suggesting that this can cause chronic illness like MS.

          Yesterday I ate a vending machine blue berry muffin. It pretty much made me ill for about 5 hours, which makes me wonder if I do have glutton sensitivity and the lack of it in my diet has lowered my defenses to it.

          I’ve found that one cure for such snacking (besides the pain) is to take a bite of whatever it is you think you want to snack on.. and chew it until your saliva starts to break down the sugars and starches.. and you start tasting the chemical preservatives that the sugar and salt were hiding.. it’s really not so appetizing after that.

          Lastly, in the December 2009 issue of National Geographic, was a great article about a tribe in Africa that still lived a pretty Groky lifestyle, living in clans of about 30 people (about as many as can be fed on one kill). They worked up to six hours a day collecting and preparing food and spent the rest of the time on relaxing and social matters. If they wanted meat, they hunted for it.
          He joins them on a hunt for a baboon – very dangerous critters. They throw it on the fire. Everyone basically shuns the lean meat, going for the fat and internal organs.. bashing open the bones for the marrow. And the leader boils the brains (a very high fat source) in the skull and offers the reporter some. It’s a nutritious treat.

          My mom lived 12 years with the Eskimos in Alaska – she was married to one. Dried fish, seal oil, whale blubber, caribou, salmon, gull eggs, bear, and moose were all on the menu. In the winter, dried fish would be mashed in the seal oil. In the spring they would take fresh fern fronds and soak them in oil to preserve them for later consumption.

          Those Groks did have a harsh lifestyle -they would trek for miles through the snow on a high fat, mid protein diet. They have to be sharp and alert at all times. When it comes to polar bears, it’s about 50/50 on who’s eating who – “depends on who spots the other first” she said. “Especially if you’re both hunting seals and you’re too focused on a blow hole in the ice.”

  85. I’m about 5’8 and 155 pounds after being on low carb for eight months. I’m still very low carb, rarely approaching 50grams a day if that. Usually much less.

    I do have treat days about two to three times a month now (after loosing the weight) where I totally carb up. Will eat an entire pizza, then go back to my low carb easily. As long as I don’t spread the carbs out over days, the cravings are not strong after a carb up.

    I’ve wolfed down entire pizzas with garlic bread, relished it, but then with the bloating and gas, and carb coma….it gets easier to avoid them next time.

    Again this is usually done on purpose, and is set as a special day, and if you take it for what it is, it’s fine.

    BUT…it’s true, after each time it sticks in your head how terrible carbs make me feel. they sit in you like a weight, and I don’t mean in the stomach…but in the digestive system. Feels terrible! And the vile endless gas from them….sorry TMI!

    It actually get’s easier not to cheat, as each bought with carbs shows you just how awful they can be.

    1. Back when I had gall stones, it was the same thing with fat. Instant pain for any transgression – if I ate fats, I’d be curled up in pain. I almost feel like it’s getting to the point to where I’m getting physically punished for eating grainy carbs. But, I’m not so upset about it.

      Who wouldn’t like a 800 lb gorilla to knock them around every time they tried to eat a donut? :p

  86. If you need guinea pigs for the endurance athlete book, let me know, I’m training to do Ironman for charity.

    Help with nutrition, which is my weak point, would be fabulous! 🙂

  87. Sorry if I’ve put this on the wrong page (I’m new)! But I’ve just been diagnozed with an underactive thyroid and prescribed 50mg of Levothyroxine a day. Is it safe for me to go on a low carb diet in an effort to alleviate my problem for myself? As soon as I mention low carb to the Doctor she just get’s mad and tells me not to be silly. But I was wondering ?????? (I’m 59)

    1. If you have underactive thyroid and really want to feel your best, not just better, check out a couple places:
      http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com and http://www.realthyroidhelp.com They have a running list of docs that are worthy of the title-and don’t laugh or call you ‘silly’ for asking a valid question.

      I went from not being able to stand for more than a couple minutes at a time due to a racing heart and low blood pressure on levothyroxine to running 3-5 miles a day on dessicated thyroid.

      Natural is better-it gives you all the stuff to maintain bone structure (IE calcitonin) plus the active form of thyroid hormone (T3), plus T1, 2 and 4.

      It’s sort of like the difference between margerine and butter.

      And, at 59 there’s a good chance that supplementing sex hormones (bioidentical testosterone) would help you as well. Type II diabetes is linked to low testosterone in men. (http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&page_id=4041&query=type%20II%20diabetes%20low%20testosterone&hiword=DIABET%20DIABETE%20DIABETESA%20DIABETESIS%20DIABETIC%20II%20TESTOSTERONEA%20TESTOSTERONES%20TYPEA%20TYPED%20TYPEI%20TYPEIN%20TYPES%20diabetes%20low%20testosterone%20type for links to the research-bottom of the page)

  88. Help please!…I am trying to follow as paleo diet as possible, but the amount of carbs is causing problem. The guide says about 100g per day? and after trying to make a salad for lunch (lettuce/spinach, cherry toms, tiny bit of shredded carrot, along with protein & fat) I was pretty much over 100g on my carbs! It was a small salad too! Am misunderstanding something? or are we really meant to have only 100g/per day? Spread over a few meals thats like having a single lettuce leaf per meal!? Any help would be great. Thanks in advance

    1. Phil, it’s by the grams of carbohydrates that are IN the food, not the actual weight of the food itself in grams. Most veggies are 905 water by weight. Go to fitday.com and enter everything you put into your salad. You’ll be hard pressed to exceed 50 grams of carbs.

  89. How did you work out the 100g carb?
    Did you weigh each piece of vegie and then work out how much carb is contained in each piece?

    1. Of course, I was weighing the food, but after using fit-day and working out the actual carb content it made sense! Thanks!

  90. I came across this site by accident (I was searching for new recipes). My first thought was, “Yeah, just what we need… Another absurd fad diet to sell to the young, the gullible and the desperate.”

    If what you claim about carbs and grains is true, then please explain how I was able to effortlessly lose 25 lbs and keep it off for over 5 years by sticking to a diet of lean meats, veggies, whole grains, a little fruit and a little dairy, plus a moderate workout routine. “150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain” – well then, I must be an alien! Because 70% of my diet is carbs (easily 200-250g if not more a day), yet I haven’t noticed any weight gain in years. I’m hardly starving, in fact, I eat very well. My weight is healthy, and my health is picture perfect. My sister in law is Chinese, she and her family eat tons of rice and noodles every single day, yet they are all extremely healthy – in fact her grandmother is a rather healthy, energetic lady who recently celebrated her 96th birthday. Explain that. Or the fact that the longest living, healthiest people on the planet are Okinawans (who eat grains but very little meat).

    1. Amanda,

      I spent many years being slim eating a very high carb diet; it depends on the individual.

      however, I have now been eating low carb for 10 months and have never felt better, in terms of energy, fat loss, muscle gain, happiness.

      the studies published in peer reviewed journals point to the scientific evidence of low carb, as do evolution itself.

      At the end of the day, think of it like an experiemnt you can do on your body; I too was skeptical but I tried this and never looked back. please try this; its too important to dismiss without even trying (for at least 2-3 weeks)

      1. Thanks for your reply, and I do apologize if I came across sounding a bit rude in my previous comment.

        The reason I felt indignant is that I have actually tried a low-carb diet. I’ve tried just about everything back when I was overweight – low carb, vegetarian, low-fat, you name it. I was on low-carb for about 3 months. I noticed no difference in how I felt, apart from the fact that by the end every time I saw steak, I wanted to hurl. LOL. The diet just seemed boring and bland and did not help me to lose much weight. It wasn’t until I started on a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and good fats that the weight began to come off, and I began to feel like a million bucks.

        Which, I guess, proves what you said in your first sentence: it depends on the individual. If low-carb does it for you, go with it. I don’t think the evolution angle makes sense though – primitive people ate what they could find, not what they knew was good for them. 😉

        1. Amanda,

          don’t forget that in paleolithic times people couldn’t ‘find’ bread, special K, fries etc as they didn’t exist.

          When you tried low carb last time, did you also increase your fat intake? low carb and low fat is a recipe for disaster. You need plenty of fats such as animal fat, eggs, avocado, nuts, olive oil, butter, cream, lard etc. (But not vegetable oil.)

          Its useful to use fitday.com to track what you are eating; it may be surprising, for example some people end up eating very low calories as they don’t get enough fat hence they feel low on energy.

          Also, low carb is not about just eating steak; i did low carb as a vegetarian for 10 months, although now I’ve switched to meat. Maybe you felt a psychological downer as you found the diet boring? We can all help you to find recipes you like if you post in the forum.

          Examples of what I eat are:
          -greek yogurt with flaked almonds or flax seeds
          -prawn and avocado salad
          -breakfast of fried eggs, fried tomato with fried cheese, fried bacon (all fried in coconut oil)
          -cod florentine
          -various curries such as okra, egg and sweet potato or prawn
          -homemade nut bars

          I actually keep a list of web links of good primal recipes, many from this site.

          So in conclusion; it does depend very much on the individual, but I firmly believe that as everyone’s biology is the same, the evidence pints to low carb for all. If you have a ‘need’ for carbs it may be due to your habits/environment, e.g. doing long distance running / psychological need for comfort food, habit etc.

    2. Okinawans eat rice which is LOW in fiber and has little anti-nutrients.
      They also have a diet high in fish which is lots of omega 3.
      High omega 6 is what drives cancer, inflammation and degenerative disease.
      They also don’t eat packaged, processed foods laden with chemicals that inhibit who knows what important body functions and triggers people to eat more, (e.g. MSG). Okinawans take in complete amino acid profiles, compared to Westerners who consume packaged foods that contain in-complete amino acids and have added lab produced sugars.
      Okinawans eat their native,primal foods which are minimally cooked and as mother nature intended. I don’t see them chowing down on a ‘healthy’ burrito made out of wheat flour void of any nutrients, filled with high fiber beans, added un-fermented soy oil and brown rice WITH bran, and over cooked grainfed-feedlot hamburger meat, totalled with preservatives, do they?

  91. Hi! You folks seem very well informed. I need help. I am 40 yrs. old, 6ft1 and weigh in at 440lbs. My waist is size 60,if that is any help on a visual. Should/could I use the Primal Blueprint for myself? I am otherwise very healthy with no heart/respiratory history. My main exercise is swimming. I feel like I only have a short time to turn myself around before it becomes impossible due to age. If anyone else out there is also morbidly obese andhas had success with this, please respond. Thanks

    1. Hi Andy,
      I’m not morbidly obese but I noticed your comment and wanted to respond all the same. First, may I suggest signing up with the forum and posting this comment there as you’re a bit more likely to garner a response (I only noticed this comment because it was the most recently posted). Second, do what you’re doing and go through Primal 101 links. I would also go through the recipes and if you think of something you’re interested in more info on, try a search. I use the search function pretty frequently. All of this will get your brain thinking about eating primally and that planning will help when you stay focused when you start going primal.
      Finally, go for it! Don’t worry about how much you eat, just try to eat the right foods until you’re full. Stick with it and if you fall of the wagon, get back on. I like to keep a food diary as I learn the carb count of foods I eat, but whatever works for you. If you get derailed or unmotivated, go back to the forum. If I were you I’d probably start limiting carbs without worrying about the amount you eat, then start moving slowly and often. After these become habits look at increasing the quality of your food more and moving more as you gain energy.
      Good luck!

  92. Hi Mark,

    You mention adding 100g of carbs per hour of training per day. I’m still trying to figure this one out.
    I do cardio at low intensity, staying below 75% of my max HR. I will usually do up to 5 hrs of running and cycling per week.
    With this said, I am trying to go Primal and do away with eating so much rice and pastas. How would a low carb diet (100-150g) affect my performance? and should I consider ingesting 100g of carbs over the 150g on my running/cyclng days?
    I have read your book, and I couldn’t find much information on this topic. The reference to Dr. Maffetone’s method is useful though.
    Don’t know if this will help answer my question, but I’m 24, male, 5’8″ and 145lbs.

    1. Danielht, I should have said “per extra hour of hard training (beyond a 45-minute daily average base level).” If you are truly staying below 75% max HR, it’s possible you don’t need any supplemental carbs at all (beyond your 150g/day).

  93. Mark, I am disturbed by the habit of discussing carbs without distinguishing between starches, sugars, and greens/fruits. I am also bothered by the failure of most “experts” to separate wild salmon from the Frankensalmon raised in pens, which accounts for 95% of what we eat. I like your saturated fats blog entry.

  94. Is there a general guideline for what percentage of calories should be coming from fat? I can’t find one.

  95. Signy,

    I eat between 50% and 70% fat on a given day. However, if you take care of the carbs, the fat should take care of itself. What I mean is:

    Your appetite will guide you, and since if you dont eat carbs you have to eat either protein or fat, you will get the right amount.

    Your body will find its own stasis; you dont have to count coliories so just eat as much as you want, or even as much as you can, and youl be fine; your metabolism, appetite and energy expenditure will regulate themselves to match. As Taubes explains in his book, its not about calories in versus calories out, just watch that you dont suffer ill health which means you are eating too few calories (starvation diet), in which case add some more fat.

  96. A friend sent me an epigenetics article from this site, and I happened to see the “low carb” link in the margin. Admittedly, I am not familiar with this site, generally, or with Primal/Paleo dieting, specifically, but I am, nevertheless, a disciple of a higher protein and higher healthy fats/lower carb lifestyle. It works! Period.

    I have lived and seen the successful results of adhering to such a plan, and unfortunately, have also experienced and am currently seeing what happens when one returns to a higher carb diet.

    I don’t have all of the facts yet, but I intend to research “calorie shifting” or something along those lines whereby I’ll consume protein and healthy fats with no/ultra-low glycemic carbs regularly allowing myself planned distinct intervals for “treats” (foods that may not be as protein/healthy fat – rich as my more stringent “reigmen”), so that I’m able to desgin a plan that gives me optimal health and virtually guarantees my success in adhering to it for the long term. That’s the key for me – something that I know I am able to maintain for life. I think it’s really important to know yourself – what has worked/failed in the past and why. For example, I KNOW unequivocally that I am not a “low fat” dieter, or a liquid shakes person.

  97. hi, I’ve just started atkins again and been having 25-30 carbs which going to work up 5 carbs a week. However, I’ve been eating 1200-1400 calories and want to slowly move up to like 1500-1800 since thats the norm range and I just started yesterday to move to 1378 well highest so far and my weight is doing very well. The nutritionist told me from the atkins site to move up by adding 100 calories a day. I don’t need to lose weight just maintain, is this ok? and then she say work on carb amount until i get calories to a high point then move up 5 carbs till hit the part that works for me and doesn’t cause weight gain.

    would this be correct?

  98. Gary Taubes did some research that suggests that the only way to store fat is to produce insulin ( from eating carbs ) and that without insulin, your fat cells will not absorb fats.

    Summary and link to his presentation on it.
    http://www.westonaprice.org/The-Quality-of-Calories-By-Gary-Taubes.html

    That said, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon have put some of their research up on their site as well regarding high fat diets.

    http://www.eatfatlosefat.com/research.php

    This chart shows that men eating a diet consisting of 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs helps them lose weight. Mostly because fat made people feel satiated and they self regulated without any kind of appetite suppressant.

    Mark has mentioned before (in interviews) that he gets 60% of his calories from fat.

    And here Dr Jay Wortman discusses his challenges with diabetes, heart conditions, and carbohydrates as a native american – and the trials he conducted with his tribes to help them lose weight.

    http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/about/

    Dr. Worthman & Taubes would both tell you that you do not need ANY carbs in your diet.

    Neither of them go into any great detail on why people undergoing ketosis have bad breath – and what it means: too much synthesis of proteins for energy – need to decrease protein intake and increase fat intake.

    Arg.. At one point I found a source saying that if you are undergoing ketosis but your breath is bad, you’re doing it wrong an the acetates that you’re creating are going to damage your liver (hence the need to get more energy from fat than protein) but I can’t find the source now.

    I’m sticking with the whole “Eat Meat and Veggies” approach that Mark suggests.

  99. I wondered if a fitness program like Insanity meets the “Grok” exercise criterion?

  100. Hi there,

    My goal is improve my physique as a Bikini model. I need to weight about 105-110 by mid July (photoshoot) and currently I am 129 pounds at 5’2.

    I do cardio every morning before breakfast for 45 min then weight train and a bit more cardio in the mid-afternoon, 5 days a week.

    What would be your suggestion for my diet and training regimen? I feel like all I do is cardio!!!!!! What calorie range and macronutrient % would you place me at….

    Your diet seems alot better then anything else I’ve read!

    1. If you want to lose 20 pounds or 15% of your bodyweight in only 8-10 weeks, you have set a huge challenge for yourself.
      Cardio ex is aerobic, and that leaves lots of imflammation to recover from. I am sure Mark would agree. You don’t give your age, so barring any medical issues, I suggest you start a weight lifting program, and not on any machines. Free weights. And get as far away from sugars,starches, and anything sweet tasting. The big lesson is that you can’t always control the outcome to your satisfaction, so learn to live with who you are. Don’t eat if you aren’t hungry; fast occasionally; exercise randomly and with varied intensity (Mark Twight used to do “depletion days,” for instance); and do what makes you feel good. I guy I worked construction with said that if he couldn’t pronounce it (the ingredients) he wouldn’t eat it. So skip processed food. If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat it. If it tastes sweet, spit it out. Get the equiv of 2000IU of V D3 a day, along with calcium and magnesium. Gett away from the treadmill. And stop reading for a while.

  101. skip the cardio sessions!

    focus on diet – cut out grains (bread, pasta, rice, pastry etc), white potatoes and anything processed like cakes.

    Eat lots of meat, fish, nuts, veg, some fruit and dairy, sat fat like coconut oil and butter.

    the ratios will take care of themselves.

    For exercise – frequent slow pace and infrequent maximum effort. i.e. walk every day, sprint once per week. throw in some weight training sessions for no more than 1 hour 2-3 times per week. and youre laughing.

    The ratioes will take care of themselves

  102. I don’t get how the carb curve can be used without talking about calories also?
    I know you guys say that calories will manage themselves and your body will settle with what it needs. But since I started PB about 3 weeks ago I have eaten BIG. I have been more hungry (WHEN I eat – not in between meals). But when I eat I eat big. It doesn’t concern me that much – since I also believe that my body will tell me what it needs if I listen good. But to look at the carb curve here and automatically say “I’m in that area – good I’m loosing weight” doesn’t quite seem that straight forward to me?

    1. George,
      two questions…are you avoiding starches/sugars/sugar substitutes?
      Are you feeling more energetic?

      1. Hi Tony,

        Yes I’m avoiding starches/sugars/substitutes..

        I feel a bit more energetic overall (not through the roof kind of). But I feel MUCH more stable in my energy. I feel like I can choose to eat when I want – which is a very funky feeling. Between meals I’m not hungry and when I get hungry I can choose to eat or not. If I don’t eat the hunger goes away /in the background and I keep my energy level. That’s very new to me and quite interesting. I did my first IF the other day, 24 hours. I worked out quite hard in the fasted state and I felt great with very good energy level all through the fast. I’m definitely gonna experiment more with IF..

        1. Hi George,
          You are getting some great results rather quickly, so enjoy your freedom from feeling you must eat at certain times of day. The IF part is flexible also, meaning that some days 16 hours is enough to give your body time to repair itself. You can also eat the amount of food you skipped if you spread it over the next two days or so. An interesting study was done on daytime fasting during Ramadan. Michael Eades has the study info… http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/

          keep up the great work!!

  103. I have to agree with George here – I eat big on PB too and I am concerned about calories now as I went on PB 1 month ago and gained 2 lbs.! My goal in starting PB was not weight loss but to improve my energy levels, improve my skin and decrease my mood swings. While PB was a success because I feel and look better, I didn’t expect to gain weight. While the weight is minimal, it is a bit upsetting as I really miss my pasta, bread, sandwiches and desserts I use to enjoy so much. I find I eat more on PB because I am trying to break these cravings. I question if perhaps 1-piece of wholegrain toast might be better than a big handful of nuts I eat as the toast has less calories. Not fair to gain weight eating so healthy.

    1. Hi Susan, could be that you gained some muscle mass in those 2 lbs?
      There’s a quite interesting study with a group of relatively lean people that goes through a study where they double their calorie intake each day for one month. The video is here (I’ve linked to the results which is video number 6 out of 7)=

  104. Hi, i am about 100 pounds overweight and i can say that i am not a huge eater.. just figured out i am a HUGE carb eater!!! I have gained about 10 pounds a year for 10 years and always thought i WAS watching what i eat! My question is that i definitely lose weight when i watch my carbs, but it seems they have to be quite a bit below 50 a day. i also have pancreatitus so i have to go low fat too. I am following a low fat, low carb 1,500 cal. a day diet and the weight is coming off SOOO slow! Any advice? I am getting frustrated and bored on this fairly restrictive diet. THANKS!

    1. what does your Dr say? acute or chronic? gallstones or other imflammation? on meds now?

      1. Tony,
        It is chronic pancreatitis, being that i have 3 serious attacks and a few minor but i can control it with diet.. and sometimes i have to go 3 or 4 days and eat NOTHING to make the pain go away. My Dr. says just eat low fat and 1,500-2,000 cals and told me to eat MORE carbs..BUT I GAINED weight doing this. I tried Atkins and that threw me into an attack after 4 weeks…BUT i did lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks eating very low carbs. My Dr. is VERY against high protein for me because of the pancreas issue. It seems I have to watch all three things..cals, carbs and fat to lose weight but my menu is so boring and it is so hard to stick to. I usually end up eating extra carbs and then blamo! Weight gain. I am totally for the primal diet. I really believe in it. My husband naturally has eaten the primal diet all his life by accident because that is just what he likes. He is in tip top shape and eats as much as he wants, when he wants. He doesn’t have the crazy ups and downs that i do and his weight has been between 165-170 for 20 years with no effort!! I want to do it too! Can you suggest anything? Is there a way to eat primally and not effect my pancreas?
        THANKS!!!

        1. Marie, hope you are not too frustrated. My suggestions are out the window when a medical condition such as yours exists. I don’t know if you are seeing a specialist or a family doctor, but if it were me, I would find one who specializes in pancreatic issues. Most MDs I know spend less time on nutrition than on pharmacology, so they tend to go by the book.

        2. Hi, So I have an update on my slight change up on this plan and it is working for me.(I have pancreas issues).
          I found that if i eat chicken breast and fish at least once a day it helps to keep my fAT content down but also low carb. I watch the red meat and pork(but still do eat).I do not over endulge in the fatter items but really have big helpings of the low carb. I have lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks and the bloating is gone!So far, no pain. Yessss pRIMAL DIET!

  105. I am a 30 year old female. I weigh 186, 5″9, & have around 27-28% bmi. I read The Primal Blueprint & based on my understanding of the calorie calculations I should be eating around 1600 to lose 8 pounds a month. I have been doing Paleo & Zone combined the past 7 months. I like to know what I am eating so I journal everything. I put my calorie intake into zone blocks of 19-8-30 (P-C-F)…can you tell me if I am correct. I don’t want to screw this part up & end up gaining weight. I have about 135 pounds of lean muscle so I did 19 blks of Protein which is 133 g…8 blks of Carbs is 72g…& 30 blks of fat is 90g all total to 1630 calories. I do crossfit 3 times a week & cycle trails & the road on my off days for fun. Any info you can give me would be helpful…Thanks!

  106. Wow, lots of info on this page…im intrigued about the various carb categories.

    Might be time to invest. Cheers

  107. I find that carb guideline to pretty much be on track for me. Only when I was a competitive Muay Thai boxer could I get away with unlimited carbs. But that was 4 hours of hard training a day.

    Now that I live a more normal lifestyle, I simply eliminate grains and most starches and belly fat seems to take care of itself.

  108. Really interesting post!

    Glad to see endurance sport is covered as most low carb artivles I’ve read just don’t mention medium-intensity long-duration execise.

    I do a fair amount of cycling and wondered how lower carb and cycling (Notorious for energy drinks, gels all sorts of carb imaginable!) would go together.

    Nice one Mark.

  109. Hey folks. I’m going primal again, and reviewing Mark’s Primal Blueprint 101. I’m about 5’11”, 195 pounds, and every time I calculate my body fat it’s between 21% and 23%, putting my lean mass at around 150 pounds.

    Reading this “carbohydrate continuum” has me a little concerned. It seems like every time I go primal, I am simply not hungry. I’m eating strictly meats and veggies and can only manage to eat 1200-1500 calories a day. My work is standing/walking/lifting, not overly strenuous, but active, and yet I only feel hungry enough to eat that many calories. I guess I should be getting 2500-3000 calories a day so around 1000 calories a day is coming from fat. (And this is down from carb/alcohol fueled days of 4000-5000 calories a day)…

    Even when I did intermittent fasting last summer, with weight lifting at the end of the fast, I could only stuff myself with around 1300 calories a day.

    Should I be worried? Keep going with it and see if my appetite increases once I reach a lower body fat %?

  110. Arlo,

    Your appetite should increase when you lower your body fat percentage. The reason I say this is because my appetite increased greatly when I lowered my body fat percentage to around 10%.

    I seemed like I just couldn’t get enough food. Eating every 3 hours!

    Arlo, don’t worry you will be just fine. Keep doing what you are doing until you reach your desired body fat percentage.

    1. Thanks, yeah. I mean, I like the idea of following my body’s cues, rather than forcing it to eat when it’s obviously doing okay on it’s own. In fact, as I alluded, that caloric energy has to come from somewhere, so despite the fact that I’ve tortured my body all these years, it does seem to have an okay capacity for jumping into fat-burning mode!

      Thanks again!

  111. Hi Mark & Co,

    I’m wondering if someone can give me a word of advice. I’m a 36 y.o. female, 5’5″, 136-138 lbs (it fluctuates), and I cannot get to my goal of 125 lbs no matter what I do. Ever since ditching carbs about 6 months ago, I feel a lot better, stronger, more energized, and overall healthier (THANK YOU, Mark and the Primal diet!). I no longer obsess over food, and eat very little comparing to what I used to eat. I exercise 3 times a week for an hour, aerobics + strength training, in addition to a lot of walking. Got a clean bill of health from the doc, too.

    So yeah… This is about aesthetics more than health, sue me. 😉 There is resistant fat around my lower stomach and thighs that doesn’t go away. I’m a size 10, and I just look chubby, and I want to look lean… Not interested in being overly skinny, but dropping a size or two would be great. I have done everything, including IF (20 hrs is the most I can do or I pass out), and the flab simply refuses to budge. My typical diet is such: lunch around 12 pm (I’m never hungry for breakfast): 2 eggs, 2 oz steak or sausage, 1/2 tomato and 1/4 avocado. A small snack around 4 pm: 1/2 Fage total yogurt with 1/2 cup mixed berries. And a dinner around 7 pm: either a salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish) with 2 oz grilled chicken and homemade dressing, or a plate of grilled chicken, or fish, or steak with sautéed veggies like cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini… Everything that’s cooked is only cooked in extra virgin olive oil. Most is organic. I may have a snack on a dozen almonds throughout the day, or a slice of low-carb cheese. Two cups of coffee with cream and sugar are a must, LOL! (Apart from the 2 spoonfuls in the coffee I don’t consume sugar). And I also like a glass of red wine with dinner (I’ve tried cutting it, as well as the coffee sugar… no result).

    According to FitDay, I eat on average 1200-1300 cals a day, and burn over 2000 a day. I’m not sure if you can see it, but here’s the link to today: http://www.fitday.com/fitness/Home.html?_a_Date=1279324800. I burn more than I take in, shouldn’t I be losing that flab? What am I doing wrong? Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

  112. First right off of the bat you should be eating breakfast everyday. Never skip out on breakfast. This first meal will really jump start your metabolism early in the morning.

    How often do you change your workouts? You may have possibly each a plateau in your workouts, which can hold you back from reaching your ideal weight. Try to change your workout routines every week to prevent this problem. You are on the right track.

    I think if you do these 2 things you should be able to reach your goal weight of 125 pounds. I went through this myself and it helped me reach my goal weight.

    1. Hi Patrick, and thanks so much for the input!

      Here’s a question: what if I gag (literally GAG) at the idea of food in the first 3-4 hours after waking up? It just doesn’t seem to make any sense to force food down my throat when it’s the last thing I want.

      I change my workouts here and there. Last week I did Latin dancing, which was new. This week I’m planning kickboxing. I change it up because if I don’t, it gets stale and I lose motivation.

      Do you think skipping breakfast is sending me into starvation mode, or should I change my workouts more?

      Thanks!

      1. When I eat a higher fat diet, low carb diet.. I don’t get hungry until noon anyway.. it just doesn’t happen. Not only that, I don’t experience “hunger” as a ravenous gnawing feeling that I thought was normal, and I bet 99% or more of people on the SAD diet do, as well.

  113. Re: Flabby Mom –

    1. Ditch the sugar, fruit (including tomatoes – *sigh*) and starchy veggies. Stay at or below 30 carbs/day. If you must have sweet coffee, learn to like stevia. And drink less coffee.

    2. Eat breakfast.

    3. Keep a food log.

    4. Drink LOTS of water.

    5. Read “The Six-Week Cure for the Middle-aged Middle” by the good Dr.’s Eades for a great discussion of the trials of visceral belly fat, and a great plan to rid yourself of same, including paying attention to your hormones.

    6. Read the rest of their books (ProteinPower.com), and “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by the also very smart Gary Taubes for the background science underpining the low carb regimin, if you haven’t already. You may see your way more clearly.

    7. Read “The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution” to update your workouts.

    8. Get a glucose meter and test fasting, plus one and two hour post meal blood sugar levels. That will help you pinpoint what foods are problematic for you. (On a personal note, berries and dairy are what did me in…)

    9. Note that you have a smaller body to feed, but don’t restrict to the point that you slow your metabolism.

    10. Some of your problem (if subcutaneous) may just be the consequence of being a mom, and may not shift short of liposuction. Decide how much that really matters to you, or if you can view it as a badge of courage.

    You’ve done well – now keep on trucking for a better life. Remember, what really counts is how you are feeling, how well you function, and what your labs say.

    1. Some of your advice is dead wrong. Breakfast is not always recommended. You don’t need a glucose meter if you give up starches and sugars. And substitutes. If it tastes sweet, spit it out. Sugar substitutes trick the body into overeating. Intermittent fasting is the way to burn off that last bit of fat.

      1. Hey Tony, a question…

        How many hours of IF would you think do the trick? I have done 20 so far, anything more and I get dizzy and close to passing out. Any tips? Thanks!

        1. Hi Mom, if you IF, try it 2x a week for from 12-18 hours each either by skipping supper or skipping breakfast. There are some good research papers that show IF is more important than calories. I’ll put a link up if you’d like to read through a couple. 20 hours isnt necessary if you get too weak. It’s fun to experiment, though. Keep it up!!

    2. Thanks for the tips, Carnivore!

      I actually do like Stevia. 🙂 I put it in my yogurt sometimes. I guess I should just put it into everything. I was just wary of doing that because in one of his articles, Mark wrote that you’re better off with sugar than unnatural sweeteners.

      Being a mom does have a lot to do with it, I had a hard birth, and my hipbones moved 2 inches apart… Oh well.

  114. Flabby Mom,

    I think that you also have to follow the make up of what you are used too. If you are not used to eating breakfast, make sure that you get your nutrients though out the day is fine.

    It’s all about knowing your body and what you are missing! Make sure that you are paying attention to your body. This is what most people neglect.

    1. Sounds like a sound advice. Thanks again! 🙂

  115. Gracias por esta informacion saludos desde Mexico,he estado viviendo primal alrededor de 4 meses despues de tratar con verios sistemas como Body for LIfe;P90x etc etc.Y todos tienen un truco o informacion falsa hasta que por fin encontre su sitio y resulto ser honesto y efectivo cambie los carbohidratos altos por la cantidad exacta que requiero dejando la avena y arroz y la pasta ahora como frutas y nueces varduras y no siento hambre con proteina y grasa saludable.Cambie el entrenamiento tipo fisicoculturista al tipo Primal mas enfocado al crossfit resultados he bajado 28lbs de peso baje la cintura de 95cm hasta 81cm he bajado mi Bodyfat de 23% al 12% y lo mejor me siento fuerte sano contento duermo mejor mas rapido y con mayor potencia soy otro com si tuviera 23 años actualmente tengo 39 años.Gracias tengo fotos de antes y despues por si a alguien le sirve de inspiracion.Gracias mr. Mark

    1. Hola Arturo, me da gusto escuchar que has mejorado tu salud. Yo llevo 7 meses con este estilo de vida y me siento muy bien. Quisiera saber si existe alguna otra pagina web como esta pero en español. -Gracias

  116. how do I know how many carbs to eat while training for a half marathon? What are the rules for endurance exercise?

    any help appreciated

  117. how do i know how many carbs to eat while training for a half marathon? My body fat is 28%, I am in my late 40’s, and new runner.

    Interested in fueling my training, yet losing fat.

    any help appreciated!

  118. Mark –

    I’ve been using IsaGenix meal-replacement shake when I’m on the go and don’t really have time to make a salad or whatever. Today I saw it had 26 grams of carbs per serving…do you think that’s too much? What’s your feeling on meal-replacement shakes in general? I’m a celiac so I obviously chose that one in particular because it’s gluten free.

    1. @Mary, I use meal replacements at times myself. If done right, they can fill the gaps between real-food meals pretty well. I do think 26 grams of carbs (and mostly sugar at that) is a bit much.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I really didn’t like the taste anyway – on to search for a better alternative. Too bad you can’t make a meal replacement shake that tastes like a ribeye…

  119. Hello guys my name is Beverly and I am extremely overweight I was wondering what would be the right amount of carbs for me me? should I be at the
    0-50 grams/day – Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning or 100-150 grams/day – Primal Blueprint Maintenance Range the thing is I’m 22 I stand in at 5ft4 and as of today I weigh 258 I used to weigh 280 but that has been going on incredibly slow for me. can I get someone’s advice on this? I’m not trying to look for a quick fix but I done extremely well on low carb diets rather than the high carb ones. and I’m hopeful that I can get down to my goal of weighing in at 140. I’m really interested in eating the primal way and I seen the recipes and they look real good and healthy!

    1. Hi Beverly,
      my suggestion is to cut all starches and sugars (and sugar substitutes) out completely. It will take some effort because you are probably addicted to carbs in this class, but the results will be well worth it.
      I would NOT worry about total calorie intake for a year or so. If you eat lean meats, nuts, some fruit and greens you can eat all you want. The first week is the toughest, after that, it should get easier.
      I also am against so-called cheat days. If something is bad for you, meaning if it is what you have been eating to get to over 200 pounds, then that food isn’t your friend and you must avoid it.
      Good luck, you will be surprised and pleased with the results, but remember, no one can do it for you!!!

      Tony

  120. Hi Beverly,
    My advice is to go for 20 grams a day for a week or two and 1500 calories a day (track them on http://www.fitday.com) and chart your weight daily. You should see a change. If that does not work you may have to go to 1200 calories a day, but DO NOT go under 1000!!!. And Yes, CALORIES MATTER to individual cases. Good luck:)

  121. I’ve been following the primal blueprint for about 5 months now.

    Was in good shape when I started, but I really am now since I started.

    Only problem is, I feel and look too thin, in my opinion.

    I’m 6’4 and around 170 or so. When I started at the end of April I was about 180-185. I feel like I’m already eating like a madman (Primally of course) But I’d like to put on a little mass.

    I sprint once a week, walk 3 miles 3 or 4 times a week. Do weighted pullups & pushups (about 30lb extra) and squats (85lbs/3 sets of 10 – All the weight I have at home) two or three times a week.

    Am I not taking in enough calories?

    Have been hovering around 170 for about 4 months. I’m in great shape, good definition, just feel too skinny.

  122. I’ve never really tried to limit my carb intake. I usually just try to count my calories without counting which type of calories they are. I’ll have to give this a try.

  123. i think that illustrates the idea that those ranges represent daily averages and are subject to variables like age, current height and weight and particularly training volume. you just have to keep your calories in a glendale self storage to conserve it.

  124. I’ve mostly cut out carbs from my diet about a year ago. It really makes a great difference.

  125. I have started cleaning homes on the side and I burn about 900 calories a day. I am on a low carb diet I consume any where between 20 to 40 carbs a day. I just started cleaning and It looks like I will be burning about 400 to 900 calories a day. How many calories a day should I burn along with my low carb lifestyle in order to boost my weight loss? with what Ive shared with you do you have a guess of about how much weight I could lose per week just by what ive been doing?

  126. When my husband and I first went on the low-carb diet years ago we lost a lot of weight easily. But over the years we have been putting the weight back on slowly. Is it possible that your body gets used to this lifestyle and then it is more difficult to stay in shape? Is there anything that can be done about it?
    We started on low carbs in the 1980s and we immediately lost weight and our health improved so much that we never went back to the high carb lifestyle because we knew it just was not healthy.

    1. Some will compare Paleo to Atkins, which even saying that makes me cringe.. However, without getting into the differences to much, Low carb diets like Atkins will work BUT only for a very short term and not meant to be a “Life” diet. As to why you may be in your current situation.

      https://www.marksdailyapple.com/fat-phobia/

      Are you incorporating exercise? Have you replaced bad fats with good fats? Are you Paleo or just Low-carb? there is a difference! Yes it will take your body some time to metabolize to the new Paleo Low-carb lifestyle. It is more than just going Low carb, Give Paleo 30 days… NO Grains, Legumes, Rice, Wheat, Oats, and Dairy. Like Substitute Tamari (wheat-gluten free brand of Soy sauce) for regular Soy sauce. You must exercise, move or die. Another good read is “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. Don’t skip any chapters, read it all, you will be amazed.

      1. Thank you. I will read the book you recommend. As to the exercise, we go on long walks when the weather is good. As to the fats, we never do the bad fats. Thank you again for your reply

  127. Apologies if I missed this somewhere – but does this count for fruits / milk as well? Lactose and fructose are carbohydrates, after all …

    Thank you for the great post!

    1. My take on it is fruit and milk in moderation. For me, 1-3 servings of fruit are okay, and dried fruit especially limited to maybe just a handful for a snack once ever other day, since the sugar content is more concentrated. Milk on the other hand, especially most dairy products derived from cow’s milk I try to avoid. Some cheeses I can eat without tummy issues, like goat’s cheeses, feta cheese and mozzarella. If I need milk for something like a recipe or part of a fruit bowl I use almond milk as a substitute. Good one too!

  128. Quick question: I have been following less than 20 NET Carb Diet for 3 months now, lost 20 pounds, 15 of that in the first 3 weeks. I attempt to stay under 4 grams of sugar per day. I exercise regularly. I started eating Atkins and EAS products in the beginning, but then came off of those products to eat my normal Vegetarian foods, staying under 20 NET carbs per day. Some days I don’t even eat 10 NET carbs. Am I eating too low? Any suggestions for a Vegetarian to lose weight on the low NET carbs? Thank you!

    1. Eat one fatty piece of animal flesh everyday. That’s the easiest way.
      Other than that, make sure you get enough fats from nuts, seeds, oils, butter, avocados.
      I think you ‘mean grams of carbs minus grams of fiber’ when you say “NET carbs”, right? If so, you should be losing weight without a problem…

  129. Okay, so I’m just starting to research this, and am completely confused….

    I’m 5ft9 and 163pounds. I’m trying to shed 20pounds. I am a pretty chunky build. Lately I have increased my protein to try to reduce weight, but have been sneaking a few too many carbs on the sly. I am trying to commit to a plan before my wedding in 5 months time.

    I have had a bit of a read of the PB diet, and it sounds like something that would work for me. WHat I am concerned about is how much I am allowed at my size. Can you tell me how many carbs and how much protein I need to consume to achieve weightloss. On my calculations, even the protein amount seems small.

    This is a whole new world to me. I am really amazed at the level of knowledge. Yikes!!! So much to learn. You all seem to have attained amazing results from the PB diet.

    THanks,
    Sera

    1. PB changed my life, and I would definitely recommend it, but only if you’re prepared for a lifestyle change. Because PB is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not something you do for a couple of months to lose some weight in time for a big event, then go back to your old ways. It changes your entire body composition. For me, it even changed my taste buds, I have completely lost all craving for grains, and sugar actually tastes disgusting now.

      I keep my carbs between 50 and 100 a day. No grains, no sugar (except 1/2 tsp in my coffee every morning), some fruit, very little dairy, a glass of wine here and there. Lots of meat, vegetables and good fats every day. Cardio once or twice a week, weight lifting whenever I can. That’s it, that’s all the wisdom. I was 155 at 5’5″ last year, I’m 130 now, and I feel healthier than I’ve ever been in my life.

      Best of luck!

  130. Found your website today.Would this lifestyle work for a T2D,allergies to fresh fruit,some nuts,soy & a celiac as well!Atkins worked for me long ago,as well as liquid diets lasting about a year.Need to lose 100 pds and over 40.I’m a mess! Help!

  131. I just finished reading Primal Blueprint and have been following its eating recommendations for about a week. I’m trying this mainly for my concern regarding blood sugar levels. I think I may have missed something.

    I’m relatively lean (5′ 10″, 165# and 10% body fat) and should be eating in the maintenance range of 100-150g carbohydrates. However, eating only fruits and veggies as my source of carbs (even stuffing myself) is only getting me between 70 and 90g. I don’t see how you can possibly get to that maintenance range.

    Also, my overall calorie intake is way too low. My measured RMR has my requirement at 2200 cals/day. Now that I’ve cut out my more traditional carb sources which used to be 40% of my calories, I’m only getting around 1600 cals/day. I’m in the right range for protein, so I’m not sure where to go from here.

    1. @Paul, First figure gross carbs, not net. That should get you to 120-150 if you are eating a few of the denser veggies (broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc) a salad and a few pieces of fruit. As the book says, once you figure your protein and then decide your carb range, you fill the rest of your calorie needs with fats. Butter or olive oil on your veggies is a great way to help accomplish both tasks above.

      1. Mark, thanks for such a quick reply during the holiday; it’s appreciated. I’m currently using a website called DailyBurn to track everything. Most resources only list one value for carbohydrates. Maybe the difference between gross and net carbs is what I’m missing. If most sites track only net, I’m not sure how to calculate gross.

        1. You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material.

  132. You’ll have your hands full if you want to get the USDA to act. They are in the pocket of the grain-growers and there’s a revolving door between “government service” in the agencies that inform congress, which makes the various laws, and the agriculture business as is true with every other segment of the US economy. Government doesn’t listen to the people but the people must suffer because government is in the pockets of their puppetmasters who pull their strings. Think not? Think again.
    Why do doctors not tell their patients that grains and starches aren’t healthy, that they cause disease and death? Because healthy patients don’t visit doctors, and they don’t need pharmaceuticals either. And if they don’t eat grains and starches, there goes half (or more) of the US economy.

  133. Hi, nice and informative comments! Very basic question: To arrive at the net amount of carbs do I need to deduct only fiber? Should sugar alcohol also be deducted? I use a nutrition tracker called OnTarget Nutrition and it tracks my macro-nutrients and many micro-nutrients but not sure if I’m really eating the optimal amount of carbs. Although, personally, my “optimal” is a lot because I have a high desire for carbs!:)

  134. Hi, I started eating primally a week ago. Prior to this, my grains included only oats and brown rice (2 serving/day). Now my carbs have been from vegetables and 1-2 fruits/day. I was hoping to get down to 50 g/day easily to go into Ketosis but found this to be a lot more difficult that I thought. I have been eating 5 times a day with carbs between 85-110g or so but most of the time I feel hungry or even starving! Is this a feeling that anyone else has experienced and does it go away when your body adjusts?

    Also, can anyone who is able to keep carb intake at 50-75 g/day please share a sample menu with me? Thanks so much.

  135. Cat – if you’re hungry, are you eating enough fats? It can be really hard when you’re starting out to get used to the amount of fats you need to eat to counteract the fact that you’re coming off a large amount of carbs. Around 60-75% of your caloric intake should be from fat, which might be roughly 110gms fat, it depends. Don’t fear the fat, as long as you’re getting it from nice Primal sources (type “definitive guide fats” into the search bar up on the right-hand side and read the first 2 posts that come up.)

    There is an adjustment period for a lot of people – I found mine was a couple of weeks. And I’d say don’t worry too much about ketosis for the first few weeks, focus on eating right and feeling full, then when your body’s adjusted, you could take the carbs down. And don’t be afraid to troubleshoot by using the search function here at MDA! I’ve found it a real lifesaver – if I’m having any issues, I just throw in a few search terms and see what comes up. Education is key 🙂

  136. Hi Nessie,

    Thank you for your reply!! On a typical day, what do you usually eat to fulfill the fat requirements? I have been also doing a ton of reading over the articles and reader suggestions. Thanks also for your suggestions, it is reassuring to know it can take a little time to adjust!

    By chance, do you have any good recipes for a cheat treat such as chocolate coconut flour cake or something you would recommend? Also, how often do you have a sweet potato/butternut squash and do you ever do carb refeeds for a meal or a day? Thanks again! 🙂

  137. I’m at a stand still and dont know where to turn. I am about 30-35 lbs over weight. my triglycerides are a little over 400 so doc says lower your sugars and carbs. ummm sorry dont really know what that means so I started using calorie counter app and its amazing but I still dont know how many of anything can I have like in grams (sugars,protein,carbs) etc. right now I am averaging about 1150 calories per day which is where I want to be or less because I dont do anything but sit. what can I do to find out where I should be is there a website or can you just make me up a menu to follow lol

    1. Consistently depriving yourself of food is never a good way to lose weight (nor is to healthy). Neither is being inactive. Up your calories and build some muscle – that’s what fuels metabolism. I too was at a standstill a few months ago. I was eating 1200 calories and under, but I was also doing intense cardio 3-4 times a week on top of that, and my weight would not budge. Now I do cardio only once a week, and work out with weight every other day. I’ve stopped counting my calories and eat Primal foods as much as I want, whenever I want – and POOF, ten pounds gone.

  138. Dodgy sources (generally)
    – Make excessive claims to certainty
    – Use personal attacks
    – Make appeals primarily based on emotion
    – Distort or dismiss unfavorable data
    – Suppress contradictory views and facts
    – Appeal to prejudices and innuendo
    – Devalue critical thinking
    – Transform words to suit aims
    – Present information out of context
    – Minimize and / or maximize problems

  139. Hi, thanks for the ballpark figures. I’ve been looking for this kind of stuff for some time already.

  140. I know you’r on the right track with carbs for weight lose, maintenance and over the top carb intake.A theory of mine is the liver must work overtime to store the excess carbs and it does a great job storing them as fat any where it can making the liver slugish and not operating at it.s full potential,we all know the high levels of carb in every thing we love to eat, and our life style in the winter and holiday season really sends our system into ( death by carb)shock.

  141. works for ME!! I am dropping at a steady rate of 2 lbs per week… had 60 to go, 28 gone since Thanksgiving 2010, 32 to go

  142. Hi Mark!

    Returning to carbs. I eat so less carbs it is possible but even if you don eat grains you can get a huge amount of carbs…as eating apples, oranges and so on…my questions is regarding what should I count and how much should I count?
    In your book you tell us 50 to 100 grams of carbs minimizes insulin production and ramps up fat metabolism.
    Great but if you eat less or none grains but unsted a lot of veggies and fruits your carbs go upp again…101 or 106 how can I interpret that?
    Regards,
    Juan

  143. Hi, I was wondering if I exercise (burning 500-600 calories a day) will 100-150g of carbs suffice or will I need more? I plan on eating 1500-1800 calories a day.

    Thanks! I am a 20 years old, weigh 153 and I am 5′ 6″. I recently gained 20 pounds from (you guessed it binge eating on carbs!) and would like to lose about 15 pounds of fat.

    1. Mia forget about calories. Count your carbs insted of counting calories. Try this site “livestrong.com” and registret there then go to “myplate” under your name (up in the corner, right). Sorry for my english 🙂 Anyway that will help you a lot, it does for me.
      /Juan

  144. Mia,

    It would be a good idea to keep your carb intake in the 50 to 100g range. This will help you lose those 20 pounds quicker. If you are able to burn 500 to 600 calories a day….you are going to lose it fast.

    Mia just make sure that you are changing your workouts on a daily basis. This will keep your body from getting used to the exercises.

    Make sure that you write down your goals and don’t look back.

    Best wishes!

  145. Hi Mark,

    I just started the Paleo diet 2 days ago and I’ve come across Primal in my research and they seem to be the same. What are the differences?

    Also, I am starting this diet pretty strictly for at least the first month to shed some pounds (I want to lose about 15-20 but no more) and I’m worried that when I reintroduced bad carbs that I will just put the weight back on. I’m not planning on eating like crap after the first month, just trying to be realistic in that I am not giving up pizza for the rest of my life. How can I maintain the weight once I get there but still stray from the diet occasionally? Is it the quality of carbs that will help me maintain?

  146. I follow a 80% primal diet for the past year and feel great! I’ve been experimenting with carb levels and I just can’t seem to get it below 100-150. I eat TONS of veggies, very little fruit (I have a fructose sensitivity) and some yams but not many. My daily fiber intake is around 30-40gs. I’ve a very active 31 year old woman who participates in some non primal activities such as endurance mountain sports/ trail running and ski touring. I just wanted to know if the 100-150g/carbs was too many for a woman who is 110-112 lbs 5’5″ and has around a 1500-1600cal diet ( I know we don’t count but this is my intake). Any thoughts?

  147. Megan-too many carbs for what? You’re height and weight are enviable. If you feel good and the carbs are not processed foods, what’s the problem?
    Cancer loves sugar so stay away from crap, otherwise it seems to me you have a little leeway in your carb intake. Wish I did.
    It’s all individual.

  148. are simple carbs after workouts good for muscle recovery or will they turn into fat? If they are ok to consume after weight lifting, how many grams should you have?

  149. so, are these carbs effective net carbs or combine with fiber carbs? for example, is the daily recomindation of maintaining weight at 50-100 carbs effective 50-100 carbs or should 25% of those carbs be fiber intake?

  150. When you refer to diabetes, you never clarify if it type 1 or type 2. My son was diagnosed at age 7 (now 10)with type 1 diabetes- his pancreas has completely shut done. He is interested in eating Primal but I am not sure how this would work as we match insulin injections with carbs. Not even our endocrinologist has heard of Primal or Paleo so he was not helpful.
    Do you have any ideas?

    1. Also, check back for Friday’s Success Story post. It’s about a guy with type 1 diabetes who has had tremendous results going Primal (and convincing his doc that it works,too).

  151. Hey Loop-sorry to hear about your son.

    You need a new doctor. Period. If he/she doesn’t understand how insulin works they shouldn’t have a medical license!
    Read the Dr. Eades’ blog http://www.proteinpower.com.

    Good luck.

  152. Hi there,

    So….I came accross Quinoa the other day and am wondering if you guys ever eat it. Apparently a seed,not a grain and is reasonably high in protein. Haven’t tasted it yet. It could be awful, but wondering if anyone has used it?

    1. I bought some for my family since I have had it mixed in with cereals; kids and husband thought it tasted “bitter.” It has a consistency like cous cous or bulghar wheat. Get a small quantity (food coop?) and try it rather than getting a bulk size and finding you now have enough for the next 10 years!

  153. Hello
    I am on a major healthy living change , not only for myself which i need to loose 60 pounds but mostly to prevent my 8 yr in battling this wrong unhealthy crave I had started.
    But I get so confused on what to eat or if I am eating enough or right?
    I eat around 1100 cal a day , 25 grams of fat , 100 grams carbs but try to make those slow release carbs 60 grams of protien a day
    I regulary excerise 6 days a week 10 x’s a week , all sorts zumba class 3 times, aqua aerobics 1 x’s , and cardi equipment cross trainer so forth 6 times 45 min. walk my daughter 2 miles to school 5 days a week.
    I am loosing weight around 3-5 lbs a week so not disappointed with that
    The evening I find hard as I am hungry.
    some say i should be eating more some say not enough i get so confused.
    would appreciate any advise if I am on the right path.

    1. I’ll tell you what I was told when I first came here: “take a zumba vacation”. All high-impact cardio does is make you hungry for more carbs. You should also eat more good fats. 1100 calories? Sounds way too low to me. I used to eat 1200 and do cardio 5 days a week, and I couldn’t drop a pound. I started eating 2000 cals with 60%+ fat in my diet and cardio once a week, and the weight came right off. Now I don’t even count calories.

      1. A Zumba vacation ” probably is why i am hungry tonight. I get confused what do you consider to be good FATS. I never had a weight problem before as i walked 16 miles a day delivering mail and eat everything and anything i wanted. I left work 1.5 yrs ago and put on 60 LBs.

        I am 45 years old so weight isnt coming off as easy as it did when i was 20. But neither are the eyes as good either.
        I have cut out butters and changed all my sauces , mayo to low fat , all my meats are extra lean. I am loosing weight but like I said I am hungry in the evenings . I get confused on low fat good fats , bad fats , low carbs , good carbs , bad carbs so many people say so many different things on what a person should eat how do you find what is best for you.
        example of my food taday
        had 3 egg white ,1 egg yok scrambled -1 whole white toast for breakfast.
        a ham , lettuce tommote , cum wholemeal wrap for lunch, chicken breat , green beans , mushrooms , corn, brus sprouts , pepers for dinner
        celery & peanut butter sticks for snake.
        I like the food I am eating so that isnt the problem.

        I down loaded the cook books but to me they seem so high in fat and calories maybe i need to change my thinking?

        thanks for the comment as any imput helps.

        1. “Conventional wisdom” is a bunch of lies, and low-carb and low-fat together is a recipe for disaster. I was very skeptical about going Primal in the beginning myself. I did not believe I could give up grains and sugars, and did not understand how eating butter and bacon would make me lose weight… My food today has been 3 eggs (with yolks) and 4 strips of bacon fried in bacon fat, an avocado, a tomato, 3 oz steak, 1 full fat Greek yogurt, a mixed greens salad with homemade blue-cheese dressing, and 2 cups of coffee with cream. I’ve been eating this way for almost a year. I’m 36 with two kids, and I feel healthier (and am thinner) than I’ve ever been. I didn’t even get sick this winter (and I always did before). Needless to say, I’m a believer… From what I’ve heard some people have even been able to cure lifelong illnesses like IBS – just go over to the forums and read the success stories there. The reason Primal lifestyle works is because our bodies are designed for it.

          Here’s the basic approach to primal foods: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-primal-eating-plan/ Also there are loads of guides here, why grains are bad, why calories are not all the same, which fats are good and which are bad, etc… Just keep in mind that this isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It may not be for everyone but try it, you never know. Good luck!

  154. What kind of advice would you give to someone who isn’t interested in losing weight or body fat?

    I’m on the low end of the BMI scale, hovering around 18.5 give or take a pound or two up or down. To lose actual fat on my body would be pretty dangerous right now since I’m muscular w/ low bf to begin with.

    I’ve never had a problem with fruit, and I don’t eat much either way… but a lot of the posts here seem to be directed at people who want to lose x amount of lbs, so the idea of lowering my carbs and putting myself into a ketogenic state doesn’t sound quite right for me! am I misunderstanding or…?

  155. Low carb rules. No cravings and every meal is enjoyed. No more itty bitty plates of pasta with a spoonful of sauce, dry bread, and then an hour on the treadmill to burn it off. Puleeze. I eat hundreds of grams of saturated fat and my cholesterol is overall normal, bad cholesterol is normal, good cholesterol is high, and triglycerides are low. Explain that low fat diets! Lol. You want to eat sheety salads, terribly small portions, battle hunger, and spend your free time in a gym….please do…..I have a life to live!

  156. Not convinced. I’ve had much better results cutting PUFAs than cutting carbs. Glucose is the natural fuel of cellular respiration. I think there are too many examples of healthy(er), thin starch eaters (see most of Asia) to suggest that it is necessarily unhealthy.

    Steady Insidious weight gain?? Doubt it. In fact, that is empirically false. You are barking up the wrong tree man.

  157. I have been on a low carb diet for 3 months. I am talking 20-30 grams per day. I lost 5 lbs really fast. Nothing since then. I do not understand why thousands of people do well on low carb and I am not. I have 75 lbs to lose. I am at a loss on what to do now.

  158. The 5 pounds was probably water weight.
    Low carb only works as a calorie restriction technique. There is no other magic to it. The truth is that blood sugar levels go up almost as much from protein as they do from carbohydrates since your body metabolizes proteins into sugars. There has never been a rigorously controlled calorie restriction study that did not produce body fat loss results in all subjects regardless of the macronutrient ratios.

    That said Paleo and Primal diets are good choices because they emphasize low density, nutritious foods that will make you feel full and healthy.

  159. i am doing the excersice daily at least one to one and half hours in the jim ,30 minutes aerobic and rest in jim to maintain my body.please let me know how many Kcal need for daily routine as well as how many grams of protien need to maintain protien level in body and to build muscles.My weight is 90 kg and height is 175 cm age is 40

  160. I have recently, from Jan. to March, shed 70 of the 245lbs I weighed. The way I did it, was exactly what this explains. I ate no more than 100g of carbs per day. I ate more proteins and then fats. I am very active, but never exercised. I have tried the diet and exercise plans before, would lose to my goal weight in 3 months, then by the sixth month, which is where I am at now, would have put half of the weight back on. This time, I learned portion control as well as carb control. The weight maintanence has never been easier. I do believe carb control is very important, but I do think one should learn portion control as well. This will help against gaining the weight back.

  161. Unfortunately you are right and wrong. You do lose weight restricting carbs, but man are you going to kill your kidneys and likely miss nutrients (check your diet on cronomete man, just check it). If you removed your addictions to fat (aka no one actually craves protein you know) and get your intake down to 10% fat calores by % of total intake, you could eat all the carbs you want, even bad ones, and LOSE weight, assuming you don’t overeat, which you cannot do on fresh whole carbs diet. Now if you ate whole root starches and whole fruits instead of whole grains, even better as you’re diet will be net alkaline without having to eat a ton of rabbit food, unless you want to, but its not necessary. What you guys are afraid of is what you should be refined carbs, but whole carbs > protein/fat anyday, ask any real doctor. Awaiting you’re aggressive response. (Aggression is a sign of fat addiction, must have it like cigarettes).

  162. I’ve been in the 50-100 grams per day range for the last week and lost 8 lbs. It is great, I need less sleep and have more energy. The government doesn’t care that it’s guidelines keep everyone fat and happy. Maybe it plays in to their plan to create dependence on gov. sponsored health care.

  163. As a teacher, it makes me sick to teach my students the Food Pyramid, when I don’t believe its relevance to health. It’s important to get the message out there. The lunches we provide for our students are so unhealthy. Everything is made elsewhere and is loaded with unhealthy carbs. We need reform :)!

  164. Thanks Mark.

    I lost 27lbs of fat in part because of this website. 12% body fat… thanks buddy.

  165. Is there a website or particular resource anyone can recommend to count/track our carbs? If I’m not eating pre-labeled food how do I really know how many carbs I am eating? I need a reliable resource. Thanks!!!

  166. I am a 63 yr old, 208 lb, male. Past 24 days have stayed away from all breads, potatoes, and sugar. Have lost 14 lbs. Would like to continue until I have lost total of 40 lbs. Then would like to continue that except on weekends. Does this sound healthy to continue it? Thanks.

  167. I wanted to try doing the 50-100 a day.
    but my question is, is this net carbs or just the total carbs per serving??
    thanks in advance

  168. I have another question…
    if you cut your carbs down to 100 or below wont you automatically be cutting your calories down also??
    sorry for stupid questions im kinda confused and new to this

    1. 2 answers –

      1. Mark uses total carbs, Mike Eades (Protein Power) uses net carbs (total carbs – fiber). I personally find the later easier, but others like the other way better. You wind up making the same choices, which will ultimately depend on your individual genetics and their response to said carbs.

      2. Maybe – dietary carb calories usually get replaced with dietary fat, and since fat (as well as protein) is so satiating, you usually do overall wind up eating less than before. But, if your insulin level falls sufficiently in response, you can make up any shortfall by burning your own fat as needed, which is the mechanism you can exploit for weight loss by cutting back the fat and, within limits, protein you eat, without hunger. In other words, you get to do metabolically what “normal”, fit people get to do without thinking – that is, what we were apparently designed to do.

  169. Hi Mark,

    I have a question.

    I am a heavier guy, quite muscular, a powerlifter, and my caloric requirements are about 4,000kcals a day. I suppose I need to eat more carbs than you recommend to reach my caloric requirements. What do you think?

    Or should I just increase my fats and protein? Though you can only eat *so much* protein…

  170. Hi there,
    I am a vegetarian, wanna-be vegan (I typically don’t buy dairy, but do at times eat it when out and about).
    I have some stubborn belly fat so I considered trying to lower carb-intake. I have a REALLY hard time keeping daily carbs below 150 since rice and beans are practically a religion for me. I’ve looked around this great site and found some tips on what to eat (e.g. Shirataki noodles). But does anyone have any new diet or non-diet suggestions (e.g. awesome, low0impact cardio workouts) for losing the belly fat? I do high-intensity interval training, that seems to have helped somewhat. Oh, I’m also a super-busy graduate student without much time for elaborate food prep. Cheers!

    1. Hi Kitty! You may not like this suggestion, but I’d rethink being a vegetarian. Many folks that eat paleo/primal are former vegetarians; you’d certainly be in good company! I find that I’m far healthier and my body compisition is far better since dropping grains and legumes and eating wild & pastured animal products. If you are a vegetarian for your health, keep looking around here and on similar sites; you may decide that it’s time to try something different. Even to reintroducing eggs (from happy chickens) & shellfish while cutting the agricultural products could really help you out!

      1. Thanks for the reply, Jules. I thought I might be living in a dream world trying to be a low-carb, vegan. There’s so much info out there and I guess I still need to sift through it. I start to open my mind to animal protein and then I see something like this great documentary called Forks Over Knives http://forksoverknives.com/ . They don’t come out & suggest being vegan or vegetarian, but they do advocate a “plant-based diet” and show very compelling scientific, historical, global evidence linking meat consumption to cancer and a whole host of other diseases. Would love to know what you & everyone in this very informed, intelligent community thinks of this documentary.

        1. Hi, Kitty –

          Before you make up your mind about your approach, let me suggest you read “Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It” – Gary Taubes’ new book explaining the science behind the low-carb approach to health. It’s a distillation and selective expansion of his previous work, “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. Both are clear, compelling, and convincing. The citations alone, as starting points for further research (if you are interested, are worth the price of admission.

          What you will learn is that not only does low-carb work better than any other approach for most, but that it is pretty much impossible to be a vegetarian, never mind vegan, and be effectively low-carb at the same time. You would demonstrably be fighting your own biochemistry at every step.

          I will also point you to ProteinPower.com – I’ve been following their program for years, and I’m much healthier for it.

          If you want my take on the ethics of carnivory, just ask – I’d be happy to share.

    2. Kitty,

      I too am a vegetarian and have been for 8 or 9 years. I tell people who say I should stop being a vegetarian that I am one and will always be one — deal with it.

      My reasons are not moral nor health based. I simply find meat disgusting. The fact that meat is absolutely not good for your body can be seen when you come off it for an extended period of time then try to eat some. You will get sick. You body rejects it like a smoker who’s been “off the habit” for some time and tries to go back. It tries to “cough it out.”

      Someone will post after this one to say they were vegetarian and went back to meat and it didn’t make them sick, but you can be assured that it is highly unlikely they were truly full-time vegetarians then. My experience is that a high percentage of people who claim to be or have been vegetarian are/were NOT true vegetarians, which to me means zero meat 24/7 for years. No cheat-meat in between. No fish and call yourself vegetarian.

      The fact is, you can easily follow the advice here and still be a vegetarian. I do every single day. Google low-carb recipes for ideas. Plug numbers into fitday.com, move things around until you find a meal combo you like.

      1. Thanks for this info. I am a zero-meat, no fish “true” vegetarian, except I recently started taking a cod liver fish oil supplement because I need to study all the time hard-core and I read that this is a far more readily absorbed source than flax (which I also take). I guess I am no longer a vegetarian? 🙁 I still won’t, and don’t think I ever will eat meat or fish again. I don’t think that meat is disgusting, but I do kind of trip out when I look down at my own flesh and know that there’s this muscle and fat in there and that I used to eat animal flesh like that and don’t anymore…

        I have tried to keep the carbs down but usually stay within the 100-150 range. I think that high intensity interval training has made a difference with the belly fat.

      2. I was vegan, yes vegan, for a year and a half. Zero animal products went in to my mouth. My hair starting falling out and my doo turned white and I lost all energy. Then I found spotted a nice giant red juicy steak at a grocery store brought it, broiled it, ate the whole thing and never got sick. Haven’t went back since.

  171. I’m interested that Mark says the optimal zone for weight loss is 50-100 and NOT to be in keto – whereas Atkins says that you should be in keto most of the time when you are trying to lose weight and the average person needs to stay as low as 60 or so for maintenance. Why does Atkins seem convinced a lower carb level is needed if it is not? Is it maybe because the Primal approach expects more dedication to exercise? Or aere there some other elements in Primal vs. Atkins which help weight loss without the carbs being as low?

    1. Just a bit of a clarification on PB vs Atkins carb counts. From what I’ve gathered on the MDA site, Mark counts ALL carbs, not NET carbs, thus if you add the fiber count back in to the Atkins number, especially if you’re doing lots of salads and greeen veggies, it will be higher. And of course folks need to remember that the 20grams or less is for 2 weeks of induction only, you add to that slowly to find your own personal level of carbs for ongoing weight loss.

  172. I keep my carbs low umder100 high protein guessing about1.5-2 gr per lb of body weight. Resistance training 4-5 times per week little to no cardio. Having problems leaning out lately. I did take about 1mnth off from training. Do I need to just b patient or what? I’m 46 yes old 6 feet 197 n 15-18% bf would like to get to 8-9% my work schedule has changed n I’m less active but I thought that would help. Should I try some natural test booster? Perhaps cortisol is high? Very confused!

  173. is it unhealthy to eat 0-50grams of carbs a day?why? and what if I do it one week at at a time? like 0-50 the first week then 50-100 then back to 0-50? very curious. and also I am doing the p90x workout routine. please reply thanks

  174. Ketosis is NOT ideal for diabetics. Granted it makes you lose weight quickly, but as a type 1 diabetic it can make you very sick and could kill you. I have been to hospital with ketoacidosis and I can tell you it is no fun. However, for type 2 diabetics, who are controlling their diabetes with diet and exercise alone, it may help initially, but it isn’t healthy long term. So before you use the term “diabetics” I suggest you research the disease a bit more closely, and learn to differentiate between the types.

  175. Maybe this has been answered in the comments or elsewhere, but is it 150 total carbs or net?

  176. Is consuming most of your carbs (100-150) grams in breakfast okay or still dangerous if you are trying to lose weight? I want to overcome a plateau I’ve hit after my initial weight-loss of 35 lbs. I have gained around 5 lbs back. I have been counting calories but have only rec