80% of your body composition is derived by your diet. So, to an extent, you can achieve most of your weight-loss goal by just eating the right foods. At its core, the Primal Blueprint is a low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. You don’t have to track calories in an online journal, you don’t have to worry about going on the elliptical for 45 minutes every day and as long as you keep your daily carb intake under 100 grams, you can eat as much as you want whenever you want – as long you’re eating Primal approved foods – and you will lose weight. It will take a while though. It took me almost a year to lose 20 pounds. But the best part of that weight loss journey is that I never felt deprived, hungry/hangry and I ate delicious foods throughout.
The Primal Blueprint diet is probably best described as an ancestral diet. It resembles almost identically to the diet our paleo ancestors consumed over 10,000 years ago. Some may have heard of the Paleo Diet or “caveman diet”. The Primal Blueprint incorporates almost everything about the Paleo Diet but with some modifications.
The Paleo Diet consists of only foods our Paleolithic ancestors would have come across. So basically, this is just plants and animals. Grains, refined sugar & fats, and dairy are nowhere to be seen in the Paleo Diet. Grains didn’t make their way into the human diet until about 10,000 years ago and dairy post infancy wasn’t consumed at all. Dairy consumption is the one key difference between the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint.
So, plants and animals is pretty broad and limiting at the same time. The omission of grains eliminates much of the food we are accustomed to eating today. Grains include wheat, bulgar, farro, oats, rye, etc, plus all their processed products – bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, cereals, oatmeal etc. Sugars include standard table sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), agave syrup. Canola, peanut and corn oils are examples of processed fats.
It is a daunting effort to eliminate grains and processed sugars & fats from your diet. I know from experience. I grew up on the typical standard American diet for most of my life. I love pasta, pizza and bread. As a teenager, I would be able to finish off an entire box of cereal on a Saturday morning before noon. A row of Oreos was not match for me either.
I heard about the Paleo diet years ago and shied away from it because it said no grains. I dismissed it as a fad diet but didn’t know the rational behind this restriction. But, after reading about the Primal Blueprint and completing the Primal Health Coach certification, I learned about how much harm these foods do to our body. Since this is a high level description of the Primal Blueprint diet, I won’t go into detail about this in this post. I plan to write more about this in the future. But feel free to contact me if you have questions in the meantime.
So, now that we’ve eliminated pretty much all of the foods in your pantry, what’s left? Well, its plants (fruits & vegetables) and animals. Plants and animals are the pretty much the only things, along with some seeds and nuts (peanuts are not actually nuts btw, and while we’re at it, corn is really a grain), our Paleo ancestors ate up until about 10,000 years ago. So, for literally millions of years, humans never ingested grains or processed sugars or fats. They ate seasonal fruits and vegetables (not the kiwi flown into Boise, ID from Chile in the middle of February) and animals which thrived on their natural diets.
Now, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, I’m not too strict on the seasonality of what I’m about to eat. Red bell peppers are good for you no matter what time of year it is. So, don’t pass on those just because there’s snow on the ground. If you can afford it, always go for the organic produce.
For animals and animal products, it is important to eat only animals that were raised on their natural diets. For beef, this means cows raised on a pasture eating grass. Not the commercially raised cattle raised on grains, hormones and antibiotics. Look for beef with the label “100% Grass Fed”. Yeah, I know red meat is considered bad for you, but if you stick with 100% Grass Fed beef, you’re actually consuming a decent helping of healthy Omega 3 fats which you won’t find in conventionally raised feed lot cows. Chickens naturally love to eat bugs, worms, seeds and green plants. Not corn. For poultry and eggs, look for “Pasture Raised”. This means the chickens were not cooped up indoors and were able to roam around a pasture eating their natural diets. Trust me, once you’ve tried an egg from a pasture raised chicken, you’ll never go back to the $1.29-a-dozen eggs at the super market.
I try to buy my meat and eggs at the farmers’ market. Fortunately the farmer I usually deal with sets up at my local market year round.
The Primal Blueprint is naturally low-carb. Which means there’s not much sugar at all. But natural sweeteners such as honey and real maple syrup (sorry Aunt Jemima) are allowed.
Now here comes the part where you must put aside all the conventional wisdom that’s been engrained into your mind for all your life. The Primal Blueprint embraces the “F” word. Yep, fat. Now, it has to be quality fat. This includes olive, coconut and avocado oils, and animal fats from animals raised on their natural diets. This includes butter, lard and tallow. Not allowed are the fats advertised as healthy such as canola, peanut and corn oils. Also gone is margarine. These processed oils are known to promote inflammation and oxidation in our bodies. Natural fats such as butter and lard are what our bodies, through millions of years of evolution, naturally require and thrive on. You will find that if you incorporate more of the Primal approved fats in your diet you won’t feel hungry as much and can go without snacking or even skip a meal here and there. I am at the point where I can skip breakfast and make it all the way to noon for my first meal without it feeling like a struggle. Cutting out processed carbs is key to achieve this, however.
Trust me, it takes some major adjustments, both mentally and physically, to transition to the Primal Blueprint. I over-over-simplified it here in this post because there is a lot to cover. I plan to publish more posts to go into more detail on particular topics. I was skeptical at first, but the almost immediate benefit, after about a two week adjustment, was my energy. After eliminating grains and process sugar from my diet, my energy skyrocketed. That was enough to keep me motivated and fully embrace the Primal Blueprint lifestyle.