“Perfection is impossible. However, striving for perfection is not. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts.” —John Wooden
Become a Fat-Burning Beast by eliminating processed carbohydrates from your diet to minimize your body’s insulin production. This means eliminating not only sugars and sweets but grain products, including wheat, rice, pasta, cereal, and corn
A diet that emphasizes meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, and colorful natural carbs, such as vegetables and fruits, is the primary way to improve your general health, control your weight, and minimize the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and other diet-influenced medical conditions.
Optimize Your Exercise Program by engaging in a blend of frequent, low-intensity energizing movement (walking, hiking, easy cardio); regular brief, intense strength-training sessions (I’ll detail the Primal Essential Movements in the Bonus Material at the end of the book); and occasional all-out sprints that help improve body composition and delay the aging process.
The 10 Primal Blueprint laws are: 1. Eat Plants and Animals 2. Avoid Poisonous Things 3. Move Frequently at a Slow Pace 4. Lift Heavy Things 5. Sprint Once in a While 6. Get Adequate Sleep 7. Play 8. Get Adequate Sunlight 9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes 10. Use Your Brain
Many anthropologists suggest that the human species reached its evolutionary pinnacle (in terms of average muscularity, bone density, and brain size) about 10,000 years ago. After that, we started to take it easy and get soft. Our physical decline was a natural consequence of a couple of things. First, we had already spent thousands of generations leveraging our increasingly proficient brain function to manipulate and tame the natural environment (with tools, weapons, fire, and shelter) to our advantage. The second factor was perhaps the most significant lifestyle change in the history of humanity: the gradual advent of agriculture.
Primal Blueprint Law #1: Eat Plants and Animals
Also notable about our ancestors’ diets was that they ate sporadically— mostly due to the lack of consistent availability of food (not a big issue in the developed world these days, eh?). Consequently, we became well adapted to store caloric energy (in the form of body fat, along with a little bit of muscle and liver glycogen) and burn it when dietary calories were scarce. You may be disturbed about possessing the genetic trait to store extra food calories efficiently as fat. However, by simply eating the right kinds of foods, you can leverage this bank account “savings and withdrawal” mechanism to your advantage—maintaining ideal body fat levels and stabilizing daily appetite and energy levels. Hint: it’s mostly about moderating the wildly excessive insulin production resulting from the Standard American Diet (SAD).
We humans thrive on eating a variety of natural foods that satisfy and nourish us, in times, amounts, and variations that fluctuate according to personal preference, environmental circumstances, activity levels, stress levels, and many other factors.
Primal Blueprint Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
The big offenders, including sugars and sodas, chemically-altered fats, and heavily processed, packaged, fried, and preserved foods, are obvious.
What’s more insidious as a dietary “poison” are cultivated grain foods (wheat, rice, corn, pasta, cereal, and derivative products such as bread, chips, crackers, muffins, pancakes, tortillas, waffles, etc.); cooking grains such as barley, millet, rye, and amaranth; and–to a slightly lesser extent–legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soy products). These global dietary staples are generally inappropriate for human consumption because our digestive systems (and our genes) have not had ample time to adapt to both the unfamiliar protein structure of grains and the excessive carbohydrate load of all forms of cultivated grains and legumes.
Ingesting grains (yep, even whole grains, as we’ll discuss in detail in Chapter 5), legumes, and other processed carbohydrates causes blood glucose levels to spike (both simple and complex carbs get converted into glucose—at differing rates—once they enter the body; we’ll use the accurate term blood glucose to convey what many call blood sugar). This spike is a shock to your primal genes, which are accustomed to natural, slower-burning foods. Your pancreas compensates for this excess of glucose in the bloodstream (a condition that is toxic and can quickly become life-threatening, as experienced by diabetics) by secreting excessive levels of insulin.
“The mobilization of stored body fat has been humans’ preferred energy source (and weight-control device) for a couple of million years. It’s as simple as this: you cannot reduce body fat on a diet that stimulates high levels of insulin production–period.”
Beyond the weight-loss frustrations, overstressing your insulin response system over years and decades can lead directly to devastating general system failure in the form of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease (thanks to vascular inflammation, peripheral oxidative damage, and other insulin-related troubles we will learn more about later), and diet-related cancers.
Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
What our genes truly crave is frequent movement at a slow, comfortable pace: walking, hiking, easy cycling, or other light aerobic activities with a heart rate range of 55 percent to no more than 75 percent of maximum.
Strive to accumulate two to five hours per week of low-level exercise.
If possible, make an effort to go barefoot frequently to develop natural balance, flexibility, and lower extremity strength.
Primal Blueprint Law #4: Lift Heavy Things
You can enjoy extraordinary benefits doing as little as two focused, intense 25-minute sessions per week, with minimal risk of overtraining or mental burnout.
Primal Blueprint Law #5: Sprint Once in a While
Once every 7-10 days, when energy and motivation levels are high, choose a simple, brief sprint workout and go all out! Novices can choose low-impact options (stationary bike), and work up to actual running sprints.
Primal Blueprint Law #6: Get Adequate Sleep
Go to sleep at the same time each night after a calm, deliberate wind down—no television, heavy exercise, big meals, or other high stimulation before bed. Your sleep requirements will vary according to lifestyle circumstances (early airplane flights, etc.) but establishing a solid foundation of excellent habits is essential.
Primal Blueprint Law #7: Play
Primal Blueprint Law #8: Get Adequate Sunlight
Primal Blueprint Law #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes
Primal Blueprint Law #10: Use Your Brain
Commit to some personal challenges, such as learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or taking an evening college class. Research indicates that risk of devastating mental conditions including depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s can be reduced by keeping your brain active as well as your body.
Law #1 – Eat Plants and Animals: Enjoy the natural, satisfying foods that fueled two million years of human evolution. Law #2 – Avoid Poisonous Things: Avoid processed foods (trans and partially-hydrogenated oils, sugars, grains – even whole grains, and legumes) that are foreign to our genes and make us fat and sick. Law #3 – Move Frequently at a Slow Pace: Enhance fat metabolism and avoid burnout by keeping active but taking it easy. Law #4 – Lift Heavy Things: Brief, intense sessions of functional, full-body movements support muscle development and delay aging. Law #5 – Sprint Once in a While: Occasional all-out sprints trigger optimal gene expression and beneficial hormone flow. Law #6 – Get Adequate Sleep: Avoid excessive artificial light and digital stimulation after dark to align your circadian rhythm with the sun and enjoy optimal immune, brain, and endocrine function.
Law #7 – Play: Balance the stress of modern life with some unstructured, physical fun! Both brief breaks and grand outings are essential to mental and physical well being. Law #8 – Get Adequate Sunlight: Don’t fear the sun! Adequate sun exposure helps synthesize vitamin D to ensure healthy cell function. Law #9 – Avoid Stupid Mistakes: Cultivate hypervigilance and risk management to avoid the stupid mistakes that bring “avoidable suffering” to modern humans. Law #10 – Use Your Brain: Engage in creative and stimulating activities to nurture your mental health and overall well-being.
Grok’s occasional brief exposure to cold water offers more than fun.2 He doesn’t know it, but this activity is considered a “positive natural stressor” that helps boost immune function and antioxidant defense, decreases inflammation and pain, and increases blood flow and lymphatic function, something particularly therapeutic for tired muscles.
“The idea on the medical horizon is that chronic inflammation is a root cause of degenerative disease. If physicians are trained to use “food as medicine” they may not need to rely on drugs and their distressing side-effects to treat the inflammatory process.” —Dr. Andrew Weil
The most important goal of eating like Grok is to minimize the wildly excessive insulin production caused by the Standard American Diet. Making this simple change will allow you to lose unwanted fat, maintain an ideal body composition for the rest of your life, and virtually eliminate the major disease risk factors that will kill more than half of all Americans.
Fat Burning Beast!: When you reduce your consumption of grains, sugars, and other simple carbohydrates in favor of plants and animals, your levels of insulin and glucagon will be in an ideal balance, enabling you to utilize fatty acids (from both food intake and stored fat) as your preferred fuel source. This helps regulate daily energy levels, even if you skip meals. In contrast, excess insulin production from a sugar burner diet requires that you eat every few hours to bump up blood glucose levels that have crashed.
Effortless Weight Management: Plants and animals are much more nutritionally dense than processed carbohydrate foods, which comprise a large percentage of calories in the Standard American Diet. Eat like Grok and you’ll meet your nutritional needs with fewer calories, and dramatically boost your antioxidant intake. Second, the protein and fat you will be eating have been shown by food scientists to provide deeper and longer lasting satisfaction levels—what they call satiety—than you get from a high-carb diet. Finally, when you consume fewer carbohydrates and, as a result, produce less insulin, your hunger and cravings (caused by insulin removing glucose from the bloodstream after high-carb meals or snacks) will subside, and you’ll intuitively moderate your caloric intake.
Vegetables and fruits are a central component of the Primal Blueprint eating strategy. Vegetables and fruits (which consist mainly of carbohydrates) are nutrient-dense yet calorically sparse, so that even generous portions of these foods will usually prompt minimal insulin production.
The Primal Blueprint is a life-style—with some important but extremely flexible eating guidelines. I prefer to apply the eating laws in conjunction with the other eight Primal Blueprint lifestyle laws for best results.
By averaging between 100 and 150 daily grams (certain extremely active folks may adjust this upward, which I’ll discuss later) of vegetable- or fruit-sourced carbs, and incidental carbs from nuts, seeds, and moderation foods such as high-fat dairy and dark chocolate, you can achieve optimally low levels of insulin, enjoy stable energy levels, and easily reduce excess body fat and keep it off. If you want to accelerate your fat loss for a period of time, lowering your average carb intake to 50 to 100 grams or less per day will allow you to easily drop an average of one to two pounds (one-half to one kilogram) of body fat per week.
Eighty percent of your ability to reduce excess body fat is determined by how you eat, with the other 20 percent depending on proper exercise, other healthy lifestyle habits, and genetic factors.
It’s as simple as this: if you have excess body fat, it’s directly reflective of the amount of insulin you produce from your diet combined with your familial genetic predisposition to store fat. In plain-speak, if you eat like crap and have bad (genetic) luck, you’ll get fat and sick and you’ll probably die early.
First, the Primal Blueprint is really about improving body composition, instead of just losing weight. This means a reduction in body fat percentage and an increase or maintenance of muscle or lean body mass.
By now you understand insulin’s role as a storage hormone, and that eating more carbs results in more insulin production. Insulin delivers nutrients to all cells, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on insulin’s role in delivering nutrients to liver, muscle, and fat cells. When the system works as designed by evolution, cell receptors use insulin as a key to unlock pores within the membrane of each cell. With the cell door open, nutrients can then be stored inside the cell. It’s an elegant way for cells to gather the nutrients they need and also to eliminate excess glucose from the bloodstream (remember, excess glucose is highly toxic) and store it as fuel for a later date.
When your liver and muscles become filled with glycogen, any glucose remaining in the bloodstream that isn’t used in “real time” by your brain or muscles (such as during an intense workout) gets converted into triglycerides in the liver and sent to fat cells for storage.
Ingesting a high-carbohydrate food or meal (sugary foods and beverages, desserts, processed grains, etc.) generates an immediate increase in blood glucose levels, which has the short-term effect of elevating your mood, energy level, and alertness. In a matter of minutes, however, your pancreas secretes a requisite amount of insulin to quickly remove glucose from the bloodstream before it becomes toxic. Depending on the type and amount of carbs you consumed and your degree of insulin sensitivity, this insulin rush can eventually cause your blood glucose levels to decline so much that your glucose-dependent brain soon becomes low on fuel. As a result, you may feel sluggish, foggy, and cranky and have trouble focusing. While this explains the familiar post-lunch afternoon blues, extensive data also suggest a strong link between attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and processed carbohydrate consumption/insulin production. The ingestion of lots of carbohydrates, followed by the secretion of lots of insulin causing low blood glucose levels, is perceived as a stressful event by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This homeostasis-monitoring part of your endocrine system triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing your adrenal glands to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol breaks down precious muscle tissue into amino acids, some of which are sent to the liver and converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis. The ensuing blood glucose rush gives you the boost your brain thinks you need—commonly at the expense of your muscle tissue!
Besides the unsettling energy swings and added stress, sugar also seriously hampers immune function as soon as it’s ingested.
“Serum cholesterol is not a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease.”
There is no correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. Framingham residents who ate the most cholesterol, saturated fat, and total calories actually weighed the least and were the most physically active.
A cheaper and more effective anti-inflammatory effect can be achieved by eating foods high in omega-3, taking fish oil supplements, or popping a small dose of aspirin daily.
In the case of statins, known side effects include muscle pain, weakness and numbness, chronic fatigue, tendon problems, cognitive problems, impotence, and blood glucose elevations.
CoQ10 is essential to healthy mitochondrial function (energy production) and defending your cells against free radical damage. Statin therapy is believed to lower CoQ10 levels by up to 50 percent. Ironically, CoQ10 plays a particularly important role in the healthy function of the cardiovascular system, and heart attack patients show depressed levels of CoQ10! Some researchers suggest that statins’ depletion of CoQ10 may nullify any potential benefits of statin therapy.
Metabolic Syndrome. If you have three or more of these markers, you are diagnosed as having the condition. Here are the five markers: 1. Elevated fasting blood glucose of 100 mg/dl or greater. 2. Blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or greater. 3. Waistline measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women. 4. HDL of less than 40 mg/dl for men and less than 50 mg/dl for women. 5. Triglycerides of 150 mg/dl or greater.
The ideal omega-6:omega-3 balance (O6:O3) is 1:1 or 2:1, ratios that Grok likely met with ease. Even 4:1 is okay today, but the typical modern eater has an O6:O3 ratio of 20:1, or even 50:1! It’s also interesting to note that imbalanced fatty acid intake can exacerbate the insulin resistance problem discussed earlier. Omega-6 fats (particularly arachidonic acid) suppress expression of the insulin receptor gene GLUT4 (promoting more fat storage), while omega-3 fats increase expression of GLUT4 (promoting insulin sensitivity and less fat storage).
Eliminating grains and sugars from your diet could be the number one most beneficial thing you ever do for your health!
0 to 50 grams per day: Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning Acceptable for occasional one- to two-day Intermittent Fasting efforts toward aggressive weight loss (or longer term, for medically supervised weight-loss programs for the obese and/or type 2 diabetics), provided adequate protein, fat, and supplements are consumed. Excellent catalyst for quick, relatively comfortable weight loss and not at all dangerous. (Grok relied heavily on fat metabolism and ketosis to account for the difficulty in obtaining appreciable amounts of carbs in daily life.) Not recommended as a long-term practice for most people due to likely deprivation of high-nutrient-value vegetables and fruits. 50 to 100 grams per day: Primal Sweet Spot for Effortless Weight Loss Minimizes insulin production and accelerates fat metabolism. By meeting average daily protein requirements, eating nutritious vegetables and fruits, 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 in the “sweet spot.” Delicious menu options that land in the sweet spot are detailed in Chapter 8. 100 to 150 grams per day: Primal Blueprint
Maintenance Range Allows for genetically optimal fat burning, muscle development, and effortless weight maintenance. Rationale supported by humans eating and evolving in this range or below for millions of years. Dietary emphasis on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and animal foods, with grains and processed sugars eliminated. A prior history of heavy carb intake may result in a brief period of discomfort during the transition to Primal Blueprint eating. Adequate consumption of satisfying foods (high-water-content fruits and vegetables, high-fat snacks like nuts and seeds, and meals emphasizing animal foods) helps protect against feeling deprived or depleted. 150 to 300 grams per day: Steady, Insidious Weight Gain Continuous insulin-stimulating effects prevent efficient fat metabolism and contribute to widespread health conditions. This zone is de facto recommendation of many popular diets and health authorities (including the USDA Food Pyramid!) despite clear danger of developing Metabolic Syndrome. Chronic exercisers, active, growing youth, and those with physically strenuous jobs may eat at this level for an extended period without gaining fat, but eventually fat storage and/or metabolic problems are highly probable. This “insidious” zone is easy to drift into, even by
Today we can tap into this same system and prompt our genes to speed up the process of fat loss when we cut carbs while still consuming adequate dietary protein.
Manufacturing glucose from protein requires its own source of energy, so liver cells happen to use fats (fatty acids, really) to fuel this conversion. When liver cells are involved in gluconeogenesis, they are unable to completely burn off those fats to the final end products of carbon dioxide and water. Consequently, they produce an energy-rich by-product known as a ketone (also called a ketone body). Ketones are safe, desirable, energy-efficient forms of fuel. They are quite literally the fourth fuel. In fact, when you become well adapted to burning fats on the Primal Blueprint, one of the side benefits is that you will also become keto-adapted. That means that over a few weeks of reducing carbs (and, hence, decreasing insulin) and increasing the relative amounts of healthy fats in your diet, you will send signals to your genes that result in an increased production (an up-regulation) of the metabolic “machinery” used to effectively burn ketones throughout your body.
Ketosis is the scientific name for a relative condition in the body where ketones start to accumulate in the bloodstream to a point beyond which they can all be picked up for energy.
Other people may be mistaking ketosis for ketoacidosis, a much different (and potentially deadly) condition that affects insulin-dependent diabetics and alcoholics.
As Dr. Andrew Weil said in describing the title of his book Eating Well for Optimum Health, “eating well” refers not only to choosing natural, nutritious foods, but also to enjoying the experience as one of the great pleasures of life.
Essentially, my goal is for you to become a modern forager with a keen sense of what you need to do (or not do) to thrive day in and day out. When you eat Primal Blueprint style, there is no city you can’t travel to, no restaurant you can’t negotiate with, no grocery store you can’t shop in, and no family holiday you can’t endure!
Our genetic ability to thrive on intermittent eating habits is an important concept to retain, because it unburdens you of having to eat every meal on a set schedule, to balance food groups (meat with starch, grains with protein, etc.), or to align your foods with time-of-day traditions (cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, etc.). Skipping meals, fasting briefly, and simply freeing yourself from an obsessive need to eat three squares or six small meals a day when the clock strikes a particular hour might actually benefit your body. Doing so will align you more closely with your historic genetic experience. Unburdened by the strict and ill-advised “rules” of Conventional Wisdom, eating becomes much simpler and more enjoyable.
On this topic, it’s interesting to note that your need to consume calories on a regular schedule will diminish substantially when blood glucose levels are moderated and you start burning fat and ketones more efficiently through low-insulin Primal Blueprint dietary choices. By contrast, if you eat the typical Western diet of 300 to 500 grams of carbohydrates per day (instead of the 100 to 150 from plant sources as suggested by the Primal Blueprint), you are going to experience significant blood glucose fluctuations and corresponding cravings for quick-energy, high-carbohydrate foods. This is perhaps the single quickest and most exciting revelation for converts to the Primal Blueprint eating style. By eliminating sugars, grains and legumes from your diet and emphasizing Primal foods, you will experience more consistent energy levels and a comfortably diminished appetite. You’ll become a fat burning beast!
“By eliminating sugars, grains and legumes from your diet and emphasizing Primal foods, you will experience more consistent energy levels and a comfortably diminished appetite.”
Because modern life is all about schedules, we often find it convenient and enjoyable to eat regular meals. This is fine. I’m simply suggesting you pay more attention to your hunger levels than the clock.
80 Percent Rule: Do the best you can, taking your transition step-by-step at a comfortable pace and relieving yourself from the pressure of perfection.
Five Favorite Meals Strategy: Pick your five favorite Primal Blueprint–approved meals and rotate them for the first three weeks of your transition to Primal Blueprint eating.
Chapter Summary 1. Primal Blueprint Foods: 1. Primal Blueprint Foods: Eat nutritious plants and animal products (the meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit that have driven human evolution for two million years) and avoid processed foods (sugars, grains) to create a metabolically efficient, nutrient-dense diet. Benefits of Primal Blueprint eating include enhanced cellular function, improved immune and antioxidant function, optimal development and repair of muscle tissue, enhanced fat metabolism and weight management, a reduction in disease risk factors, and a stabilization of daily appetite and energy levels. While Primal eating is low-carb in comparison to the Standard American Diet, it advocates abundant consumption of nutritious carbs such as all vegetables and certain fruits. 2. Insulin is the Master Hormone: Perhaps the most important health benefit of eating Primally is moderating the wildly excessive insulin production of the Standard American Diet. Eighty percent of your ability to achieve body composition success is determined by your diet. When you moderate insulin production, you access and burn stored body fat for energy, preserve or building muscle, and minimize disease risk factors. When the delicate insulin balance is abused by consuming too many carbs for too long, havoc ensues: cells become insulin resistant, excess glucose is present in the bloodstream, more fat is stored, and it becomes increasingly difficult to mobilize that fat for an energy source. This sets the stage for the development of serious conditions such as Metabolic Syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Synthesis of important hormones, including thyroid hormones, testosterone, and human growth hormone are also hindered by excessive insulin production, creating an accelerated “aging” effect that has more to do with your breakfast choices than chronology. While the long-term effects of excess insulin production are dire, there are also serious immediate drawbacks to consuming high-carb snacks or meals. The sugar high/insulin release/stress response cycle causes problems with fatigue, mental focus, mood swings, and jitters, resulting burnout. 3. Cholesterol: Cholesterol is critical to healthy cell structure and numerous metabolic functions. Conventional Wisdom’s lipid hypothesis of heart disease is a flawed and narrow perspective on the actual chain of events and risk factors that contribute to heart disease. The lipid hypothesis has been refuted in recent years by the Framingham Heart Study and many other respected studies and experts. The true risk factors are best characterized by the common health condition of Metabolic Syndrome. In many cases, only small, dense LDL causes problems in the arteries, and only when triglycerides are high and systemic inflammation is present. These risk factors are typically a consequence of excessive insulin production, a poor omega-6:omega-3 ratio, and poor exercise habits (either sedentary or too stressful). Furthermore, sufficient levels of HDL, generated by healthy eating and exercise habits, can often mitigate any potential threats from small, dense LDL. Conversely, the primary function of statin drugs–lowering cholesterol levels–does not directly address these risk factors. Statin’s purported anti-inflammatory benefits can be easily achieved through diet, exercise, and supplementation, saving the expense and harmful side effects of…
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out of balance in the modern diet. Efforts should be made to minimize omega-6 intake and bump up omega-3 intake. This helps keep the inflammation response under control and protects against serious disease conditions resulting from uncontrolled inflammation. 5. Macronutrients: Understand the “context of calories” beyond the “calories in, calories out” concept of weight loss maixm. Obtain between 0.7 and one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight (range based on activity level) per day to ensure healthy metabolic function and preserve lean muscle mass. Limit carbohydrate intake to an average of 100 to 150 grams per day (or 50 to 100 grams per day if you seek accelerated fat loss), which will happen automatically when you enjoy plenty of vegetables and fruits and avoid grains, sugars, legumes and other processed carbs. The Carbohydrate Curve summarizes how various levels of carbs impact your health and weight management success. With protein and carb intake dialed, fat becomes your main caloric energy variable. Deeply satisfying high-fat foods are a great source of energy and unlikely to make you fat when you moderate insulin production. Conventional Wisdom’s prejudice against fat comes from mistakenly…
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6. Eating Well: Enjoy your meals without deprivation, restriction, emotional stress, or other negativity. Choose your favorite foods from the broad list of Primal Blueprint–approved choices and don’t obsess about calories, nutrient ratios, regimented mealtimes, or food combinations. Eat until you feel satisfied instead of habitually stuffing yourself until you are full. Realize that your genes evolved to easily handle sporadic eating habits without energy lulls or metabolic slowdowns and can do so after 21 days of reprogramming to become a fat and keto burning beast! 7. Transitioning to the Primal Blueprint: When adjusting to the Primal Blueprint eating style, discover desirable substitutes (you can rotate them over and over if you like) to avoid feelings of deprivation from discarding old meal choices. Have plenty of Primal Blueprint foods available for snacks and meals so you don’t suffer or feel depleted. Follow the 80 Percent Rule by being compliant 80 percent of the time…
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If you are trying to memorize the most important, life-changing sound bites from the Primal Blueprint, here’s another one: animals (meat, fish, fowl, and eggs) and plants (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs and spices) should represent the entire composition of your diet. While vegetables, fruits, and herbs and spices don’t provide a ton of calories, they should represent your main source of healthy carbohydrates and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and thousands of other phytonutrients). Animal foods are calorically dense, stimulate minimal insulin production, offer the best forms of healthy protein and fat, and should represent the bulk of your caloric intake. In Grok’s time, the bulk of calories in the human diet (estimates range from 45 to 85 percent, depending on geography) came from eating a variety of animal life, including insects, grubs, amphibians, birds, eggs, fish and shellfish, small mammals, and some larger mammals. In general, those living closer to the equator consumed more plants and less animal food, while those at colder latitudes with fewer plant options consumed more meat.
Brightly colored vegetables and fruits supply high levels of antioxidants that are critical to good health. The flavonoids, carotenoids, and myriad other important phytonutrients found in these foods can serve as a
powerful first line of defense against oxidative damage from aging, stress, and inflammation. Moreover, antioxidants and other phytonutrients appear to contain cancer-fighting properties, support immune function, aid in digestion, and help preserve muscle mass, a critical longevity component for those of advanced age.
For a quick primer, red plants (pomegranates, cherries, watermelon) have been shown to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer as well as some tumors. Green fruit and vegetables (avocados, limes, bell peppers, zucchini) are high in carotenoids that have a powerful antiaging effect and are especially helpful for vision. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (bananas, papayas, carrots, butternut squash, pineapple) offer beta-carotene for immune support as well as bromelain, which has been shown to aid in digestion, joint health, and the reduction of inflammatory conditions. Cruciferous (“cross”-shaped, with a branch and leaves) vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, turnips, bok choy, horseradish, and cauliflower, have demonstrated specific anticancer, antiaging, and antimicrobial properties. Nuts and seeds provide high levels of beneficial unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants (e.g., vitamin E and selenium), and a host of essential nutrients (e.g., manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron, chromium, phosphorous, and folate).
today’s mass-produced feedlot animals, which typically contain hormones (to grow them bigger quickly and therefore increase profits), pesticides (ingested from their own inferior food sources; vegetarian advocates claim that 80 to 90 percent of your total dietary pesticide exposure comes from eating meat, although that’s disputed by the EPA), and antibiotics (to prevent widespread illness resulting from consuming immune-suppressing feed and living in filthy, cramped feed-lots and coops). Hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics: these three stooges can really mess up your efforts to eat healthfully.
A 2006 study by the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that regular consumption of fish helps dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and that the benefits (particularly the omega-3 content) outweigh the potential risks of ingesting toxins from polluted waters.
The healthiest sources of fish are small, oily cold water fish, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mackerel.
Use discretion and look for wild Alaskan salmon, even if your budget requires that you choose less expensive frozen fish at times. You can also look for farmed coho salmon as a healthy, budget-friendly alternative, especially from fresh water tanks. Avoid Atlantic farmed salmon (ask your waiter; sorry, it’s probably Atlantic) due to concerns about industrial and environmental contamination and inferior nutritional value.
Tilapia from domestic farms have impressive nutritional profiles and minimal toxin risks. Farmed trout from the United States or Canada is nutritionally comparable with wild trout, with minimal contaminant concerns, making it another sensible choice. Farmed shellfish are okay because they don’t eat artificial foods and have similar living circumstances as wild shellfish – i.e., they are attached to a fixed object. However, make a strong effort to eat fresh over frozen shellfish.
Be sure to obtain local, pasture-raised, or organic chicken eggs, which contain up to 20 times more omega-3s than factory-produced, grain-fed chicken eggs.
localharvest.org and perform a zip code search.
Make a special effort to include these regularly in your meals: 1. Avocado 2. Beets 3. Broccoli 4. Brussels sprouts 5. Carrots 6. Cauliflower 7. Eggplant 8. Garlic 9. Kale 10. Onion 11. Red bell pepper 12. Spinach 13. Yellow squash
Macadamia nuts earn a distinction above other nuts and seeds because of their superior nutritional value. They are predominantly monounsaturated fat (84 percent–more than any other nut or seed), which is less likely to be stored as fat, and helps raise HDL and lower LDL. They have the most favorable O6:O3 ratio of any nut (actually with minimal amounts of both). Macadamias contain all of the essential amino acids, various forms of healthy fiber, high levels of vitamins, minerals, and plant nutrients, and only trace amounts of carbohydrate. The flavenoids and tocopherols in macadamia nuts offer excellent antioxidant properties. They have a rich and satisfying taste, making them a great snack. Macadamia nut butter is hard to find, but worth the effort and additional expense. Check out ArtisanaFoods.com for 100-percent raw, organic macadamia/cashew nut butter, and many other nut butters and natural products that are delicious.
Dark Chocolate: Any lingering sweet tooth issues relating to your transition to Primal eating can be assuaged with a couple of squares of dark chocolate (look for 75 percent or greater cocoa content).
Fish: Canned tuna or sardines (yes, packed in oil) can easily replace a full meal for nutrient intake and satiety.
Fresh Berries: Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries—all are Grok-like, nutritious, and very satisfying. Add
Excessive fructose consumption is also linked to fatigue, insulin resistance, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Mark’s Top 10 Favorite Fruits Naturally, everything on this list assumes a locally grown, pesticide-free or organic variety. Consult the three previous sections to ensure your pesticide risk is minimized and you otherwise choose the most nutritious fruit possible—and avoid problematic fruits. These are in my personal rank order, but again, anything on this list is great. 1. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and nearly all other berries 2. Avocados 3. Cherries 4. Apples 5. Peaches 6. Pears 7. Figs 8. Grapefruit 9. Kiwis 10. Apricots
The best dairy choices are raw, fermented, unpasteurized, unsweetened, and high-fat options such as ghee, butter, full cream, aged cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese,
Greek-style full fat yogurt, half and half, kefir, and raw whole milk. Stick to pasture-raised/grass-fed, or organic dairy products to avoid the hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics common in commercial dairy products. Eliminate fruit-sweetened yogurt, frozen desserts, and other high-carb dairy offerings. Stay completely away from regular pasteurized, homogenized, two-percent and skim milk.
Rather, consider taking extra probiotics under times of great stress, when you have been sick or are taking (or have just taken) a course of antibiotics, when you are traveling (particularly to foreign countries, where unfamiliar bacteria—even good stuff from good foods—can overwhelm your digestive system), or when you detect any sign of compromised immune function (the digestive system is critical to immune function). The reversal of fortune from a few days
While grains have indeed enjoyed massive global popularity for the last 7,000 years, they are simply not very healthy for human consumption.
Dr. Jared Diamond, evolutionary biologist, physiologist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning professor of geography at UCLA, and author of Guns, Germs and Steel, goes so far as to say that agriculture was “the worst mistake in the history of the human race” and that “we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.”
If, instead, you were to have a Primal Blueprint breakfast consisting of a delicious cheese-and-vegetable omelet with some bacon, you would enjoy a moderated insulin response, leading to balanced energy levels for the hours after your meal instead of a sugar high and insulin crash. Furthermore, with blood glucose levels balanced, you would be able to access and burn stored body fat for energy until your next insulin-balanced meal.
Researchers now believe that as many as a third of us are probably gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive. That third of us (and I would suspect many more on a subclinical level) “react” to gluten with a perceptible inflammatory response.
The single most important requirement to improve your fat metabolism and succeed with long-term weight management is to reduce the total amount of insulin you produce. High insulin levels promote fat storage and disease. Moderated insulin levels (typical of Primal Blueprint eating) stimulate fat burning and good health. It’s that simple.
Other Foods to Avoid Grains…Oh, Did I Already Mention Them? Wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, millet, rye, breakfast cereals, pastas, breads, pancakes, rolls, crackers, and the like. Buoyed by Conventional Wisdom, I consumed grains with reckless abandon as a major percentage of my dietary calories for some forty years.
At the very least, it’s worth conducting a 21-day test to determine your sensitivity—and get a glimpse of your potential upside—from eliminating grains from your diet. Chances are, even if you are at a decent launching point now, you will experience a noticeable stabilization of daily energy levels, improved immune function, and a reduction in minor digestive distress.
Alfalfa, beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soy products are classified as legumes. While legumes can serve as a decent source of protein, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, they also provide significant levels of carbohydrate and those pesky antinutrient lectins.
Artificial sweeteners are to be strictly avoided also, not only due to the health risks of ingesting chemically processed agents, but because they trick the brain into thinking you have just consumed a very sweet food or drink. As a result, your confused hormone response system stimulates an inappropriate insulin release, and the “high-low, high-low” cycle begins. Some research suggests that your brain will seek even more “replacement” calories in reaction to being tricked with a sweet food that provides no caloric energy.
All forms of natural and processed sugars and sweeteners have a deleterious effect on your insulin system and general health. The less you eat sweeteners of any kind (yes, even the somewhat less objectionable stevia), the less you will crave them. Try cutting way back on sweets and sodas for even a couple of days and notice how your life improves immensely. See if you can maintain it for 21 days
“If I can’t kill it, find it, or gather it, I don’t eat it. Makes it real easy to eat well!
‘I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.’”
At the bare minimum, you can get extremely healthy and fit on two hours a week of walking around, one abbreviated strength workout a week lasting 10-15 minutes, one full-length strength workout a week lasting around 30 minutes, and a sprint session every 7 to 10 days lasting 15-20 minutes (only a few minutes of that is hard effort). That’s less than three hours out of the 168 at our disposal each week.
Sprint once in a while when you are super motivated and energized. Take a walk around the block or hike up to the radio tower on Sunday morning if you feel the urge, or stay home and read the newspaper in bed if you’re dragging and just don’t feel like working out.
The more lean muscle you maintain throughout life, the better your organs will function, up to an obvious point of diminishing returns; e.g., a bodybuilder has heaps of excess muscle that serve little or no functional purpose and requires a lot of caloric energy to sustain. Optimal organ function correlates with maximum longevity and excellent health.
You should shoot for a bare minimum of two hours and hopefully up to five hours of low-intensity aerobic movement per week, knowing that even five-minute work breaks or 15-minute strolls through the neighborhood with your dog contribute meaningfully to your genetic requirements for frequent movement.
If you can manage a single long hike on the weekend and a few short walks or cardio machine sessions during the week, you will dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease (in comparison to being sedentary), support optimal metabolism, better control your weight, and, in conjunction with the other two types of workouts, achieve broad athletic competency that characterizes Primal Blueprint Fitness.
recommend a new formula (from University of Colorado) as follows: 208 minus (0.7 times age) = Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. For example, Ken Korg at 40 has an estimated max heart rate of 180 beats per minute [208 – 28 (.7 × 40 = 28)]. Ken’s low-level aerobic workouts should thus be conducted in a heart rate range of 99 beats per minute (180 max × 55 percent) to 135 beats per minute (180 max × 75 percent). Fifty-five percent reflects the bare minimum exertion level to legitimately consider your effort “exercise.”
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of slowing down the pace of your cardio workouts to improve your health and fitness.
I suggest you shoot for an average bare minimum of one comprehensive 30-minute session and an abbreviated session of 10-15 minutes per week.
Cycling: Strive for a rhythmic cadence in a range of 80 to 100 revolutions per minute. Most recreational cyclists pedal at far too low a cadence, putting excessive strain on the muscles instead of balancing the cardiovascular and muscular load with an efficient cadence. Focus on applying circular force to the pedals rather than just stomping down. I highly recommend a clip-in pedaling system to achieve a proper circular stroke. Maintain a level pelvis at all times. Do not rock your pelvis from side to side in an effort to impart more force. Keep your upper body virtually still, with arms, chest, neck, and head relaxed and supple.
This carbohydrate sweet spot is between 50 and 100 grams per day for most people. Where you land in this range depends on your size, age, sex, and metabolism. Consume more carbs than that (up to 150 grams a day) and you’ll maintain body composition quite easily without adding fat, but you’ll have to work a little harder to burn it off. On the other hand, it’s certainly healthy to take in less than 50 grams per day of carbs once in a while (as we said, you could actually live on zero carbs for quite a long time), but the idea is to stay just on the fringe of ketosis.
As you continue to eat in the sweet spot (or dip into the maintenance zone on certain days, no biggie), your eating habits will send signals to your genes to up-regulate fat burning processes and down-regulate fat storage processes. You’ll become both fat-adapted and keto-adapted, able to derive energy minute-to-minute from your stored body fat. By eating in the sweet spot, you can expect to drop 1-2 pounds (one-half to one kilogram) of excess body fat per week.
Please make an extra effort to have appropriate snacks available at all times. These include vegetables and certain fruits, and foods high in protein and/or fat (hard-boiled eggs, jerky, macadamia nuts, olives, sardines).
Limiting your average carb intake to 50 to 100 grams per day will effectively moderate your insulin production and optimize your fat-burning process. At this level of carbohydrate intake, your body will be stimulated to burn more stored fats and manufacture a little extra glucose in the liver through gluconeogenesis. In this case, however, dietary protein will provide the substrate for gluconeogenesis instead of your precious muscle tissue.
If all you do is get rid of sugars, desserts, soft drinks, pasta, bread, cereals, and beans, (and starchy tubers such as potatoes—especially if you eat them and their derivatives frequently—for the time being) you won’t even have to track the remaining carbs.
While the “eating fat is okay for weight loss” idea might seem contradictory at first glance, it is valid; without insulin, eating fat will not make you fat! If you don’t produce insulin, your body has no way to store the excess calories as body fat. Note however that if I give you an inch and you take a mile— pounding high-fat foods all day “as directed by Mark Sisson”—you will not succeed in losing fat either. As you build up momentum with more and more weeks of eating low insulin-producing meals, notice how your genes become reprogrammed to not require regular high-carbohydrate feeding sessions to stay awake and functional. Your appetite will “self-regulate” to a point at which you eat when you are hungry and become comfortable eating only as much as you need to feel satisfied. As your old, ravenous “eat-every-three-hours” sugar-burner hunger gives way to the new “energy-all-the-time” fat-burning furnace you have created, capitalize on your progress now and then by skipping meals—noticing that you can actually crank away all morning without eating an All-American breakfast. In fact, your new breakfast might now be the 500 calories of fat you are currently sitting on or that’s hanging over your belt (no offense) ready to be burned off as energy. Proceed with your dietary transition at a pace most comfortable to you, and realize that this is the essence of Primal living: rejecting a dependence on dietary carbs as facilitated by the Standard American Diet and reclaiming your Homo sapiens genetic factory setting as a fat burning beast!
There’s no better proof that regardless of how many calories you burn, consuming excessive processed carbohydrates ultimately inhibits your ability to access and burn stored body fat efficiently around the clock. Instead, all that arduous training results in an increased appetite, again thanks to insulin-driven sugar cravings from poor food choices combined with, or as a consequence of, overly stressful workouts.
The bottom line is that you will not lose fat effectively with exercise-driven weight-loss efforts unless you moderate insulin production.
When you exercise a muscle to short-term exhaustion at 12 reps or deliver a max effort for 10 pull-ups, you’d be surprised what your body can do two minutes later if you repeat the effort. If you think you’ve pushed it to the limit at your typical 25-minute intense workout, take a five-minute water break and then go back out there for another eight minutes of high intensity.
Pushing a fatigued body through exercise will only lead to depletion, burnout, and undesirable sugar cravings.
If you find yourself struggling to meet your weight loss goals, I strongly recommend using an online food calculator to know exactly where you stand instead of guessing. I find the mere act of having to write down everything I eat for one or two days increases my awareness of dietary habits and provides an effective check and balance against idle grazing or overeating when awareness is low. Chart everything you eat for a few days and then enter the results at PaleoTrack.com or FitDay.com to get a truly accurate indication of where your carb intake is.
To succeed long-term with changing your body composition, you must have the time, energy, and patience to devote great attention and care to the topic. Rushing through meals or reaching for sweet foods when you are stressed is not aligned with the simple lifestyle of the Primal Blueprint.
Start your day tomorrow with a Primal Omelet and notice how your inclination to snack in the hours afterward is eliminated. Keep the momentum going with a Primal Salad for lunch, followed by a meat and vegetable dinner, and you’ll see how these (and many other) Primal Blueprint–approved meals leverage one another to get you off the carb/insulin/stress response/sugar craving
Primal Approved – At a Glance
Beverages: Water (in moderation according to thirst), unsweetened tea.
Coconut Products: Butter, flakes, flour, milk, and oil offer healthful medium-chain fats; great substitute for dairy, PUFA and wheat flour.
Coffee: Enjoy in moderation (cream and minimal sweetener okay), don’t use as energy crutch.
Dairy: Raw, fermented, high-fat and organic products are preferred (cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, kefir, whole milk, yogurt). in moderation.
Eggs: Local, pasture-raised, or certified organic for high omega-3 content.
Fats and Oils: Coconut, dark-roasted sesame, first press, extra-virgin, domestically-grown olive, hi-oleic sunflower/safflower, marine (supplements), palm, and high omega-3 oils (borage, cod liver, krill, salmon, sunflower seed). Refrigerate and use quickly. Animal fats (chicken fat, lard, tallow), butter and coconut oil are best for cooking.
Fish: Wild-caught from remote, pollution-free waters. Small, oily, cold water fish best (anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines). Certain farmed fish are approved (domestic coho salmon, trout, and shellfish).
Fruit: Locally-grown (or wild), organic, in-season preferred. Berries are premier choice. Go strictly organic with soft, edible skins. Moderate intake with higher glycemic/lower antioxidant values, and dried fruit. Wash thoroughly.
Herbs and Spices: High-antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, flavor- enhancing.
Indulgences: Dark chocolate ((75%-plus cocoa content), and red wine are best choices. Be sensible and moderate!
Macadamia Nuts: High monounsaturated, favorable O6:O3 ratio.
Meat&Fowl: Local, pasture-raised, or UDSA-certified organic critical. If you must eat conventional meat, choose the leanest possible cuts and trim excess fat to minimize toxin exposure. Other Nuts, seeds and their derivative butters: Cold-processed, organic if available. Refrigerate and use quickly.
Snacks: Berries, canned tuna or sardines, celery with cream cheese or macadamia nut butter, cottage cheese with nut or fruit topping, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, nuts, olives, seeds, trail mix and other high-fat and/or high-protein, low-carb primal foods.
Supplemental Carbs: Heavy calorie burners without excess body fat looking to restock muscle glycogen can enjoy sweet potatoes and yams (instead of white or brown potatoes), quinoa, and wild rice (instead of brown or white rice).
Supplements: Multivitamin/mineral/antioxidant formula, omega-3 fish oil capsules, probiotics, protein powder, and vitamin D are great modern hacks.
Vegetables: Locally grown, organic, in-season preferred. Go strictly organic for large surface area (leafy greens) and soft, edible skins. Wash thoroughly.
Low-Level Cardio: 2-5 hours (or more) per week of walking, hiking or other low level cardio at 55-75 percent of max heart rate.
Schedule: Vary workout type, frequency, intensity, and duration, always aligned with energy levels. Be spontaneous, intuitive, and playful!
Shoes: Gradually introduce some “barefoot” time for low-risk activities to strengthen feet and simulate natural range of motion. Choose shoes with minimalist design (Vibram FiveFingers, Nike Free) to prevent cuts and other injuries. Ease into it!
Sprinting: All-out efforts lasting 8-20 seconds, every 7-10 days when fully energized. Regular, less strenuous “wind sprint” sessions for conditioning.
Strength Training: Brief, intense sessions of 30 minutes or less. Full-body, functional exercises that promote broad athletic competency.
Stretching: Minimal, full-body, functional stretches to transition from active to inactive: Grok Hang and Grok Squat.
Medical: Rx drugs for acute conditions; aggressive lifestyle modifications before drugs!
Order additional blood tests (CRP, Lp2A, A1C, fasting blood insulin) to assess disease risks.
Play: Change attitude – it’s not just for kids! Enjoy daily, outdoor physical fun! Enhances work productivity and stress management.
Sleep: Minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark, consistent bed and wake times, calm transitions into and out of sleep. Awaken naturally without alarm. Nap when necessary.
Stupid Mistakes: Cultivate hyper-vigilance and risk management skills, avoid multitasking and overly stressful or regimented lifestyle practices. Focus on peak performance!
Sunlight: Fear not the mighty orb! Expose large skin surface areas as long and often as possible without burning.
Use Your Brain: Engage in fun, creative intellectual pursuits to stay sharp and enthusiastic for all of life’s challenges.
Primal Avoid At A Glance
Diet Baking Ingredients: Corn meal, starch, and syrup; other starches and syrups; flours; powders (gluten, maltodextrin, milk); sweeteners (dextrose, fructose, lactose, malitol, xylitol); yeast.
Beverages: Bottled, fresh-squeezed, or refrigerated juices (Odwalla, OJ, Ocean Spray, etc.); “energy drinks” (Red Bull, Rock Star, Monster, etc.); almond, rice, soy and other flavored “milks”; powdered drink mixes (chai, coffee, or hot chocolate flavored); soft drinks and diet soft drinks; sports performance drinks (Gatorade, Vitamin Water); sweetened cocktails (daiquiri, eggnog, margarita); sweetened teas (Snapple, Arizona).
Coffee: Avoid excessive use, or as energy crutch in place of adequate sleep and healthy lifestyle habits.
Condiments/Cooking Items: Honey mustard; jams and jellies; ketchup; mayonnaise and lite mayonnaise spreads; low-fat salad dressing; and anything containing high-fructose corn syrup; other products made with sugary sweeteners and/or PUFA oils.
Dairy: Limit or avoid conventional and GMO milk products due to hormone, pesticide, antibiotic, allergenic and immune-suppressing agents. Avoid ice cream, non-fat/low-fat milk, processed (American) cheese and cheese spreads, and sweetened low-fat/non-fat/frozen yogurt.
Eggs: Limit mass produced eggs (fed with grains, hormones, pesticides and antibiotics). Find local, pastured eggs at farmer’s market!
Fast Food: Avoid chemically treated, deep fried, insulin-stimulating, devoid of nutritional value fare: French fries, onion rings, deep fried foods, burgers, hot dogs, chimichangas, chalupas, chorizos, and the rest of the industrialized fare we are inundated with daily.
Fish: Avoid most fish from farms (especially imports), polluted waters, objectionable catch methods, or from top of food chain (shark, sword, etc. – concentrated contaminants).
Fruit: Limit or avoid GMO, remote grown, or conventionally grown with soft, edible skins. Stick with local, in-season, high-antioxidant fruit (berries, stone fruits), especially if you are trying to reduce body fat. Grains: Avoid cereal, corn, pasta, rice, and wheat; bread and flour products (baguettes, crackers, croissants, Danishes, donuts, graham crackers, muffins, pizza, pretzels, rolls, saltine crackers, swirls, tortillas, Triscuits, Wheat Thins; breakfast foods (Cream of Wheat, dried cereal, French toast, granola, grits, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles); chips (corn, potato, tortilla); cooking grains (amaranth, barley, bulgur, couscous, millet, rye); pretzels; puffed snacks (Cheetos, Goldfish, Pirates Booty, popcorn, rice cakes), and all other baked or processed processed high-carb foods. Even avoid whole grains due to higher levels of objectionable phytates, lectins and gluten.
Indulgences: Avoid high carbohydrate (sugar or flour based), heavily processed treats: cookies, cake, pie, brownies, candy, candy bars, ice cream, donuts, popsicles and other frozen desserts.
Legumes: Alfalfa, beans, peanuts, peanut butter, peas, lentils, soybeans, and tofu. Less objectionable than grains, but still contain anti-nutrients. Consider them supplemental carbs – unnecessary and possibly counterproductive to health and weight management.
Meat & Fowl: Limit or avoid commercially grown, grain-fed ranch animals (with concentrated hormones, pesticides and antibiotics). Limit or avoid pre-packaged processed products (breakfast sausage, dinner roasts, lunch meats); smoked, cured, or nitrate or nitrite-treated meats (bologna, ham, hot dogs, jerky, pepperoni, salami).
Oils: Avoid trans and partially-hydrogenated, all PUFA (canola, etc.) buttery spreads and sprays; margarine, vegetable shortening, and deep fried foods.
Processed Foods: Energy bars; fruit bars and rolls; granola bars; protein bars; frozen breakfast, dinner, and dessert products; and packaged, grain/sugar-laden snack products. If it’s in a box, package, or wrapper, think twice!
Sweets: Brownies; candy; candy bars; cake; chocolate syrup; cookies; donuts; ice cream; milk chocolate; milk chocolate chips; pie; sugar/sweeteners (agave, artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, HFCS, honey, molasses, powdered sugar, raw sugar, table sugar); sugar/chocolate coated nuts and trails mixes; popsicles and other frozen desserts; syrups; and other packaged/processed sweets and treats. The less you consume, the less you’ll want!
Supplements: Avoid cheap, bulk-produced supplements with additives, fillers, binders, lubricants, extruding agents, and other synthetic chemicals.
Vegetables: Limit or avoid GMO, remote grown, or conventionally grown with large surface areas or edible skins (leafy greens, peppers).
Exercise Chronic Cardio: Avoid a consistent schedule of sustained cardio workouts at medium-to-difficult intensity (above 75 percent of max heart rate).
Schedule: Avoid consistent application of stress with insufficient rest (compromises health, energy, and motivation levels). Consistency is not key when it comes to fitness!
Stretching: Avoid static, isolated muscle group stretches of “cold” muscles in favor of simple, brief, dynamic stretches.
Medical/Lifestyle Medical: Limit or avoid prescription medication for lifestyle-related health problems. Reframe “fix it” mentality into a “prevention” mentality.
Sleep: Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Avoid excessive evening digital stimulation, morning alarms after insufficient sleep, or fighting off a much-needed nap with caffeine.
Stupid Mistakes: Avoid multi-tasking, zoning out, or trusting that the world will keep you safe. Don’t blame others for your stupid mistakes.
Giving up diet soda: Artificial sweeteners confuse the brain’s appetite center, triggering sugar cravings and even insulin surges. Try flavoring carbonated water with a generous squeeze of lemon and a bit of salt to get your carbonation fix.
Giving up grains: Face it–grains are bland-tasting. It’s the stuff you put on grains that makes them taste good! Reframe your perspective about what you really need, and reject rigid SAD traditions. Eggs for dinner? Steak for breakfast? Knock yourself out!
Supplements: The best categories to supplement a healthy diet in stressful modern life are: Multivitamin/antioxidant, omega-3 fish oil, probiotic, high-protein meal replacement, and vitamin D for the sunlight-challenged.
Summary 1. Make Primal eating simple and convenient by establishing some go-to breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals, and favorite snacks. Cycle through your five favorites as you build momentum going Primal. Keep Primal-approved snacks always around!
Summary 1. Keep offensive foods out of your home and stay away from junk food establishments.
2. If you must indulge, do so with a clear conscience and total focus on the pleasure and satisfaction it provides. With taboos eliminated, you may realize that it’s not really worth it, and that Primal-approved substitutes can provide similar satisfaction.
Summary: 1. Keep it simple with the PEM: pushups, pull-ups, squat and plank. Use the progression exercises appropriate for your fitness level to achieve an appropriate number of reps.
2. Strive to conduct one full-length PEM (2-3 sets of max reps for each PEM) and one abbreviated PEM (one set, max reps for each PEM) per week.
Summary: 1. Sprint once every 7-10 days when 100 percent rested and motivated. 2. To prepare for the strenuous nature of sprinting, conduct lower intensity “strides” or “wind sprints” and choose low or no-impact options. 3. Refer to the forthcoming Sprint Workouts Suggestions for details.
Summary 1. Multitasking is literally impossible for the human brain. Concentrate on a single task at a time to increase productivity and reduce stress.
2. Cultivate hypervigilance and risk management skills by taking nothing for granted. Respecting the importance of even mundane tasks will hone your focusing skills and minimize mental stress from attempts to multitask.
Summary 1. Find creative intellectual pursuits to balance the daily grind: music, language, crosswords, Sudoku, model airplanes, fantasy sports leagues, or whatever else interests you.
2. Find ways to stimulate and challenge your brain throughout the day: adding up numbers in your head or remembering names of acquaintances.
Begin your strength training sessions with a 2-5 minute warm-up of low intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, stationary cycling or other cardio machine at 55-75 percent of maximum heart rate). You should break a light sweat, indicating elevated body temperature and breathing rate. Conclude each workout with a 2-5 minute cool down to allow sufficient time to return your breathing rate to normal.
Males – Primal Essential Movement mastery • 50 Pushups • 12 Pull-ups (overhand grip) • 50 Squats (thighs parallel to ground) • Plank: 2 minutes holding the Forearm/Feet Plank position
Females – Essential Movement mastery • 20 Pushups • 5 Pull-ups (overhand grip) • 50 Squats (thighs parallel to ground) • Plank: 2 minutes holding Forearm/Feet Plank position
Take a five to ten pound medicine ball (depending on your own bodyweight and strength level) to an ample sized athletic field. After a five-minute light jog, grab the ball and throw it down the field. Sprint after it, pick it up and throw it again, completing repeat trips up and down the field. Discover numerous variations on the throw – overhead like a soccer throw-in, underhand like an old school free-throw, sideways one-armed like a discus thrower, sideways two-armed like a hammer thrower, roll like a bowling ball (one or two handed) or face backwards and throw over your head two-handed (watch out for little kids at soccer practice with the latter).
Be extremely careful about keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position every time you throw. Your legs and core muscle groups will provide the most leverage and receive the most training effect from the throws. Your spine and neck should always be in a straight line (angle to the ground might vary from perpendicular to forty five degrees depending on your throwing style) – don’t curve your back or neck fore-aft nor side to side. Make sure that the force of your effort is absorbed by your legs and core muscles.
Begin with gentle throws that will give you a form check. As you fatigue after a few lengths of the field, you will have to be especially diligent about maintaining proper body position for your throws. When you notice that your ability to maintain correct form becomes compromised due to fatigue, it is time to stop the workout; the same goes if you experience any acute pain
If you are still conflicted, the best thing to do is try ditching grains and sugars for 21 days and see how your body reacts. Or, if you have been struggling with weight management, check out the Success Stories link at Marks-DailyApple.com to get a sense of the transformation people are experiencing when they go Primal—often on the heels of years of frustration of trying to play the game by Conventional Wisdom.
Primal Blueprint Suggested Reading: marksdailyapple.com/the-book/references/suggested-reading/