Beginners Guide to Primal Living
The Primal Blueprint is a simple set of principles that guide a life more like our Primal ancestors. Evolution designed humans with lean, healthy bodies that operate off stored fat instead of carbohydrates. By making the shift from today's typical diet high in sugars and processed grains to a Primal lifestyle, you'll discover the body you were designed to have.
First, you'll need to understand what a Primal Lifestyle is in the first place:
Eat Lots of Plants, Animals, and Healthy Fats
Consume all the protein and vegetables you want. Additionally, healthy fats like avocados and animal fats are great.
However, there are some conventionally healthy foods that should be consumed in moderation when living a Primal lifestyle. Fruits are moderation foods because of the natural sugar they contain, and you should only be consuming organic butter and heavy cream.
Avoid Today's Highly Processed and Manufactured Foods
Today's processed carbohydrates like sugars, grains, and sweetened beverages all drive insulin production. Insulin production promotes body inflammation and fatigue.
Beans, dairy, and most industrial oils are also terrible for the natural chemistry of your body. Beans compromise digestion and immune function, and industrial oils promote oxidation and inflammation, setting the stage for heart disease and cancer.
Move Slowly & Frequently, Lift Heavy Things, and Sprint Occasionally
A Primal lifestyle is not just a nutritional foundation. It also has very simple fitness guidelines that promote lean muscle growth, fat consumption as energy, and overall health.
Get some low-level aerobic activity for 2-5 hours every week. Go for a hike, take an easy bike ride, just find a way to move around. Lift something heavy for 30-45 minutes, two or three times a week. Focus on movements that involve your whole body. Go ALL OUT one time every week. This could be running outside up a hill, or riding the stationary bike at the gym. Sprint 6-10 times with as much rest as needed between sprints.
BEGINNERS GUIDE TO PRIMAL LIVING
Back in the day, a lot of the food we have today wasn't available. Our ancestors couldn't grab a 7-11 hot dog, or crush a bag or Doritos. They were limited to not only the things that were alive and growing at that time, but they were also limited geographically and seasonally.
Our bodies are built not unlike our ancestors, and today's sugars and grains cause seriously crazy occurrences in our bodies that prevent us from being as healthy as we can possibly be. A Primal diet completely eliminates sugar with the exception of fruit, and reduces carbohydrate intake to vegetables, sweet potatoes, etc.
HOW TO HAVE ENERGY
Without a conventional intake high in processed carbohydrates, energy will begin to come from stored fat. This may be rough for a couple of days, but with a Primal diet high in proteins and healthy fats, your body should quickly adapt to it's natural processes. You will begin to see energy levels that rival or surpass what you had when you were eating sugars and grains.
The process is of your body operating off of fat is called ketogenesis, and it's gaining popularity outside of the Primal and Paleo circles. The internet can be a wonderful resource if you want more information on ketogenesis, and I'll be sure to post more in the future.
THE DEAL WITH DAIRY
No other mammal drinks milk beyond the infant stages when the mother provides the milk. Additionally, cheese was not around until the domestication of animals which was essentially the beginning of the end of our true Primal ancestors.
Lactose intolerant or not, most modern commercial dairy is jacked with hormones and other nasty shit that make it unhealthy for everyone. If you're going to allow dairy, be sure to go with organic butter and heavy cream.
DON'T THINK YOU CAN'T EAT LIKE CRAZY
There's no scheduled, portioned meals when living Primal. Instead, you eat when you're hungry, and you eat until you aren't - it's that simple. At a certain point, you'll find yourself intermittently fasting without even trying, and there are additional benefits to ketogenesis associated with fasting.
A typical day for me starts with a big glass of water, and after I workout, I'll have coffee and a couple eggs, omelet, etc. The next time I get hungry tends to be late afternoon, but a bag of Primal/Paleo jerky or some fruit sets me straight until dinner.
Dinner for me is a massive plate of steak and baked sweet potato, Primal chicken tenders and fries, or some other awesome Primal/Paleo recipe I create or find online. This is my biggest meal of the day, and I'm often looked at like a crazy person for the amount on my plate.
FAT WON'T MAKE YOU FAT
No more limiting your avocado or guacamole intake. No more trimming the delicious fat off you big juicy steak. A diet high in HEALTHY fats will simply stimulate the bodies natural ability to operate on fat.
If you need help figuring out good fat vs. bad fat, check out my preferred chart here.
OVERCOMING CRITICISMS TO A PRIMAL LIFESTYLE
**It's So Hard To Eat Primal In Today's World**
Just like anything else you want to do, it is necessary to have dedication and willpower to be successful. That being said, remember that you simply need to do the best you can with your situation. Going to a restaurant? Breakfast restaurants and steakhouses make easy choices to keep it as Primal as possible, and remember that there are almost always a more Primal choice - jerky, buns burgers, fruit, etc. Make the best decisions you can, and always keep it 85/15 at minimum!
**It's Too Expensive To Live Primal**
In terms of fitness, you don't need a gym membership or expensive equipment. Bodyweight exercises are great, especially for those who are just starting out with a fitness and nutrition plan. Read my Living Primal on a Budget post for more help!
Nutrition can absolutely get expensive if you focus too strongly on staying grass-fed, organic, etc. Remember that you can make your own recipes in bulk and save them for later to avoid the need for fast-food or microwavable meals.
I'll get grass-fed occasionally, but I mainly focus on lean cuts of grain fed beef. Grass fed chicken is not too expensive, and lean ground beef is a wonderful alternative to steak with tons of possible recipes.
**Cavemen Didn't Live as Long as We Do, So They Weren't That Healthy**
That is a fact, and you can't deny it. However, I would argue that if our Primal ancestors were given access to modern medicine while maintaining the same lifestyle, they would likely be healthier humans than we have today.
Personally I feel that anyone who makes this argument is just a bitch making excuses for something they're afraid of or intimidated by. Feel free to contact me if you disagree!
STILL NOT CONVINCED?
My wife was a tough one to convert to a Primal lifestyle. I tried to ease her into it, but I later found that the best way to do it is to commit for two weeks.
1. Throw Away Every Food In Your House That Isn't Primal
2. Buy Two Week's Worth Of Groceries. Recipe Resources Below.
3. Commit To Fourteen Days Of Living Primal - Clean Eating, Fitness, Enjoying Life!
Obviously I'm going to include myself here. I create a handful of recipes and post one new original recipe every week!
Run by Primal Blueprint founder Mark Sisson, it's a great resource for recipes and more on Primal living. Like in his book, it get's pretty scientific, but I'm hoping my blog helps to simplify it for people!
Awesome recipes, and they make the claim that they strive to bring you the most accurate information, in a format that’s easiest to comprehend and integrate into your own life.
My personal favorite, they offer a TON of free online resources with additional paid content. From company website: Our mission is to inspire peak performance through a combination of unique products and actionable information. Combining bleeding-edge science, earth-grown nutrients, and time-tested strategies from top athletes and medical professionals, we are dedicated to providing our customers with supplements, foods, and fitness equipment aimed at helping people achieve a new level of well-being we call Total Human Optimization.
While I am not very interested in conventional, asthetic bodybuilding, this website has some awesome resources for fitness no matter what your goals or interests are.