As you probably know, I’ve been working with Brad Kearns for the past dozen years to promote the Primal Blueprint lifestyle and crank out books, online courses, and even that great binge of PrimalCon retreats from 2010-2014. After we finished books like the updated and expanded Primal Blueprint 4th edition, The Keto Reset Diet, and Keto For Life, we had a sense there was nothing more to say about healthy eating and supportive lifestyle practices. Alas, as the ancestral health movement and the science and user experiences continue to grow and refine, there always seems to be more to say! Even the most devoted primal enthusiasts have room to optimize, and all of us who have taken personal responsibility for our health have more potential to influence and role model for family and friends.
Two Meals A Day seems like a true breakthrough because it transcends niche dietary strategies like primal, paleo, keto and even plant-based to expand the focus beyond food choices and macros to simply eating less frequently and allowing stored body fat to become your primary source of energy. The program is simple, sustainable, stress-free, and appealing to anyone regardless of dietary preferences. The timing is great because market research reveals that “intermittent fasting” has surpassed the red hot “keto” as the top search term, and for good reason. You see, a revolution is afoot in the world of diet and metabolism. Emerging science is validating some shocking insights that will once and for all topple the long-standing conventional stupidity of the calories in-calories out model, and the resultant decades of epic fail that has been the mainstream approach to weight loss. As we roll into 2021, a confluence of great work from science leaders like Robb Wolf (author of Wired To Eat), Dr. Satchin Panda (author of The Circadian Code and promoter of the Time Restricted Feeding concept), Dr. Herman Pontzer (author of Burn and promoter of the Total Energy Expenditure theory) and Dr. Jason Fung (author of The Obesity Code, which cites dozens of studies revealing the folly of calories in-calories out), and Dr. Tommy Wood (“eat more healthy food!”) is pointing us in an empowering new direction.
We now have an excellent understanding on how the body really works and can finally chart an accurate direction to achieve and maintain ideal body composition and escape from the epidemic disease patterns driven by carbohydrate dependency. Here are some bullet points to summarize the emerging science:
Calories in-calories out is a myth. Fat loss is about hormone optimization, mainly through avoiding the epidemic disease pattern of hyperinsulinemia.
When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Too many meals and snacks—even when choosing the healthiest foods or following ketogenic macros—will compromise fat reduction goals.
Fasting is the centerpiece of a healthy dietary strategy. Immune function, inflammation control, internal antioxidant production, cognitive function, and cell repair (autophagy1 and apoptosis2are all optimized when you are in a fasted state.
Eating fewer calories and burning more workout calories will not result in fat loss. (50,000 women in the eight-year Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Trial3 proved this!)
Eating more calories and exercising less will not result in significant fat gain. The body finds was to increase caloric expenditure (See The Obesity Code for details.) Diet-induced thermogenesis4 is especially relevant with protein, where around 25 percent of protein calories you consume are allocated to their digestion.
Humans have an upper limit on average daily caloric expenditure. When we try exceed it, the body finds ways to compensate. As Nourish Balance Thrive principal Chris Kelly says, “reproduction, growth, repair and locomotion are a zero sum game. Overload one [e.g., overtraining] and you will compromise the others [e.g., immune function or muscle protein synthesis]”
If all of these pillars of modern dietary strategy are shattered, what do we see when the smoke clears? We enter an empowering new paradigm that is of course aligned with the fractal eating patterns and nutrient-dense food choices of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Here is a bullet point summary of the secrets to losing excess body fat and keeping it off, avoiding the global pandemic of metabolic disease (and, ahem, increased vulnerability to other pandemics), and living a long, healthy, happy life:
Hormone optimization: Produce an optimally minimal amount of insulin over a lifetime, mainly through making good food choices and engaging in a popular new fad I’ve coined, intermittent eating.
Eat ancestrally: Choose nutrient-dense ancestral foods and superfoods (Check out Brad’s new Carnivore Scores Chart for a tiered ranking of the most nutritious foods on earth) that are highly nourishing and satiating. This is the natural and only reliable way to optimize appetite and caloric intake.
Move frequently: Increasing all forms of general everyday movement ensures that stored body fat remains your preferred source of energy. Inactivity compromises fat burning and promotes carbohydrate cravings.
Lift heavy things and sprint once in a while: These Primal Blueprint laws turbocharge fat burning and help increase or maintain adequate lean muscle mass.
Prioritize sleep: Insufficient sleep compromises fat burning and promotes carbohydrate dependency. Good sleep makes you a good fat burner.
Form an empowering mindset: There is an entire chapter in Two Meals A Day about mindset, because self-limiting beliefs and behavior patterns can sabotage your best laid plans for success. Any dietary or lifestyle transformation has to start with believing in yourself, and then taking consistent, habitual actions to realize your dreams.
Eliminate the Big Three: Refined sugars, grains and industrial seed oils are the proximate causes of the global metabolic disease epidemic. Strive for a strict 21-day elimination period of the Big Threeso you can escape carbohydrate dependency and start to upregulate your fat burning genes
Avoid chronic cardio: Repeat after me – burning more calories makes you consume more calories and become lazier and less metabolically active throughout the day. Chronic cardio will also destroy your health and your heart.
Avoid calorie restriction: Your body will engage in assorted compensatory mechanisms to preserve energy when you restrict calories; you’ll have lower energy levels in general, and likely downregulate important thyroid, adrenal and sex hormone functions. Dr. Tommy Wood counsels fitness enthusiasts to, “eat as much nutritious food as you want until you start adding a bit of fat, then dial it back.” Robb Wolf offers an epic sound bite on the topic: “If you want to perform better and live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein.”
Avoid hyper-palatable processed foods: Sugar and fat are never found together in nature. Combining the two to create a delicious treat hijacks the reward neuro-circuitry in your brain, compelling you to eat more and more. Ever heard of ice cream, cheesecake, buttered popcorn, chips and guacamole, pizza, milk chocolate, fast food burgers, fries and shakes, and all manner of processed crap (HoHo’s, Ding Dong’s, Twinkie’s, Big Baller Brands, Ring-a-Lings, etc.)? If you insist on indulging, a high fat, low sugar treat is recommended. If you choose to have a sugary treat now and then, do some microworkouts right afterward to mute the insulin response!
Avoid snacking: This surprisingly destructive habit halts the burning of body fat immediately and prompts an insulin spike—yes, even if you eat a high protein or high fat snack. Enjoy meals where you consume nutritious food to your heart’s content, and give your body a break in between to optimize fat burning and stabilize appetite hormones.
Yes, I have just slammed you with a whirlwind of life changing, paradigm shifting information. Maybe you’re deep into this primal game and much of this is refresher course, or maybe your head is spinning and you need further guidance to unwind the brainwashing of conventional stupidity. Whatever level you’re at, I think you’ll find Two Meals A Day an informative and inspiring read. I think you’ll be particularly interested in the mindset chapter. It’s become clear to me in recent years that we have plenty of information at our fingertips, but we still struggle with the execution and/or enjoying ourselves along the way. I’m all about living awesome, and we have to make this a centerpiece of our quest to live primally in the modern world.
Here is a quick overview of what you’ll find in the book. With our partners at Grand Central Publishing, we’ve put together an attractive package of pre-order bonuses you can take advantage of on the book’s website.
Introduction: Laying the foundation of: eat less frequently, and eating the right foods. Overview of nailing the essentials in the coming chapters – ditch refined carbs and oils, emphasize ancestral foods, embrace intermittent eating, reduce meal frequency and snacking, form an empowering mindset, get lifestyle dialed. Embracing a new paradigm away from conventional stupidity. Presentation of several FDCS (flawed & dated conventional stupidity) with corresponding ENT (empowering new truths.) How we got into this mess, (flawed science, manipulative marketing), and understanding the evolutionary rationale.
Chapter 1: Clean Up Your Act
Detailed list of foods/products to eliminate in each Big Three category: grains, sweetened beverages, dairy, industrial oils, baking ingredients, condiments, fast foods, processed foods.
Chapter 2: Intermittent Eating, The Fast-est Way To Health
Fasting is the central focus, not nitpicking food choices and macronutrient profiles. Autophagy, antiflammatory, immune, mitochondrial, and disease protection benefits of fasting. Beware of trying TMAD before you have metabolic flexibility (= gluconeogenesis, stress hormone bath). Female considerations for fasting. TMAD transcends the diet wars. Time Restricted Feeding/digestive circadian rhythm.
Chapter 3: Emphasize Nutrient-Dense Ancestral Foods (And Superfoods)
Details about how to make the best choices (and things to avoid) in ancestral categories of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, high fat dairy, and high cacao dark chocolate. Make an effort to emphasize nutrient-dense superfoods, many of which are sorely lacking in modern diet. Superfoods include: fresh local organic produce, organ meats, bone broth, pastured eggs, oily, cold water fish, fermented foods, high cacao dark chocolate.
Chapter 4: Form An Empowering Mindset
First, obtain the necessary knowledge base/understanding what to do. Then, operate from a position of compassion and gratitude. Importance of/commitment to journaling. Identify flawed subconscious programming and learn how to overcome it. Believe in yourself and the process, get inspired! Implement plan of action and learn how to form habits (importance, mindfulness, repetition, endurance.)
Chapter 5: Follow A Fat Burning Lifestyle
Create optimal sleep environment and evening routine. Get rest, recovery, and down time in hectic daily life – discipline screen use, experience nature, nap when necessary. Increase general everyday movement (JFW, tons of workday breaks, workplace variation, formal movement practices). Conduct comfortable cardio workouts, and brief, intense strength, sprint, and microworkouts. Emphasize recovery in your workout patterns.
Chapter 6: Putting Two Meals A Day Into Play
Different strategies such as making gradual progress with no backslides; eating break-fast WHEN; a morning-evening meal pattern; and perhaps best of all, implementing an intuitive strategy.
Chapter 7: Advanced Strategies For Fat Reduction
A progression of fasted workouts, with the variables of duration of fast before, type of workout, and duration of fast after. Other strategies include extended fasting, sprinting, and exposure to cold. These practices can help you break through plateaus and further improve your metabolic flexibility.
The Twelve-Day Turbocharge
You’ll put everything together with a challenging 12-day experience featuring action items and corresponding journal exercises in each of five areas: Food, Fasting, Fitness, Mindset, and Lifestyle. This experience will allow you to custom design a sustainable long-term lifestyle strategy featuring your favorite foods, workouts and daily patterns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kitchen sink comin’ at ya! We’ll cover topics like:
How do I know I’m ready for fasting?
I enjoy snacking. I feel like it gives me an energy boost and a break from my stressful workday. Can I continue?
If it’s not about calories in, calories out, what is the secret to shedding excess body fat?
Does working out make any kind of contribution to my body-composition goals?
What is the best way to lose excess body fat without causing compensation-theory rebounds?
Is low carb just for endurance athletes, or can strength and power athletes benefit, too?
How do I know whether my insulin production is okay or excessive?
How can fruit be worse than other carbs when it has so many nutritional benefits?
Enjoy over forty delicious and convenient recipes in a variety of categories that boost dietary nutrient density and make your meals a celebration.
Pre-Order Bonus Items
When you pre-order a copy from your favorite retailer, you can return to the book’s website to claim a bunch of cool bonus items: A $10 coupon to use at PrimalKitchen.com, a detailed audio summary of the entire book, and a Sneak Peek PDF with choice excerpts and recipes.
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.