We get a lot of questions about Primal/Paleo and I wanted to start this section to answer a lot of them and guide people to sources to begin their own journey. I started reading about Primal from a purely fitness perspective several years ago. The "diet" was recommended to me from several Crossfit buddies back in Dayton. Since then, I discovered an overwhelming amount of cases of people who cured or greatly improved their health related to digestive/IBS problems. That's when the light went on for me that there was huge potential to help out my Ulcerative Colitis (UC) symptoms.
Let's start with some basics:
What is Primal? I will first refer you to a free source of information from Mark Sisson's blog called www.marksdailyapple.com. He is the author of The Primal Blueprint.
Start here on his "Start Here": Link
If you want to buy the book (which I recommend), check Amazon for the 2nd edition in paperback. It's filled with additional information, inspirational stories of people that have made the switch to Primal, and it's cheaper!
If you are still a little unsure, the MDA blog is FILLED with information. Almost overwhelmingly so. I recommend you follow these first few links below (you'll see this in the right side of his blog).
Ok, I'm interested, what should I read next?
Primal 101: Link
There are lots of articles to get through on this page. Read them ALL. And most likely you'll be linked within the posts to other areas that interest you. Read those too! You can really spend some quality time reading some good information from this page.
A guide to the Primal Blueprint: Link
This is basically the outline of this book. I'm going to be focusing on the eating, but there are other aspects to consider. I'll let you read up on those.
What do you eat?
Pretty much like this. Link. There's some VERY important concepts in that post. I won't sit here and convince you to believe in them, but if you don't, then there's no real shot to continue down the Primal path. If you're looking for more information on those concepts, do a Google search for "Paleo", which is a little more mainstream term. Primal and Paleo are similar but there are some differences: Link. Author Gary Taubes recently came out with the book Why We Get Fat. I have not read it yet, but I already drink the primal "kool-aid". The book comes highly recommended to me so check it out!
Back to the food...we enjoy eating lots of meat and veggies, seafood, bacon and eggs, salads, whole milk (on occasion), butter, full fat greek yogurt, avocados, nuts, dark chocolate, red wine, cooking oils (olive oil, coconut oil and bacon grease) and a long list of other whole, real foods. Refer to our cookbook tab, favorite link section for food blogs, and our posts to see what we're up to in the kitchen.
Do you eat bread? I don't think I could give up bread and pasta.
Here was my old routine...breakfast: cereal or oatmeal, lunch: sandwich and a granola bar, dinner: pasta (a few nights per week). Sound familiar? I used to buy the fancy whole grain bread which I thought was a healthy choice or whole wheat pasta for the same reason. I was wrong! Grains are bad and you don't need them! Read about it here and here. (if you read all the links in Primal 101 you probably already know this stuff). The day I stopped eating grains was like a light switch in my gut. I felt immediately better within a few days. I had no idea the harm I was causing. If there is one thing to change, this would be a HUGE first step. I feel better now then when I did pre-UC symptoms. Go to your library and read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis (it looks like he has a blog, which I haven't read). He's smarter than me, so believe him if you're doubting this Primal stuff.
I'm ready to give this a shot, what should I expect?
Read some MDA advice here or here. The biggest thing is that you are switching the fuel source for your body from fast burning carbs, sugars and processed foods over to (good) fats and whole foods. Until your body recognizes that it's going to be getting this new fuel source on a regular basis, it will be going through an adjustment period.
MDA has regularly offered the 30-day Primal challenge. I guess our transformation wasn't exactly abrubt and we've been learning as we go. But, this 30-day thing sounds like a great way to kick things off in the right direction immediately. Also, I think the 30-day window gets you passed any carb/sugar hangover and you'll be ready to move on!
I would like to lose a little weight, will going Primal help me?
You bet! Primal is more than just eating so hopefully you've already read up on all the primal "laws". Whatever your goals are...weight loss or maintenance...eating primally can help you achieve them. Take a look at the Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve. Link This is not a depravation diet. Look below the curve at the primal food pyramid. The bottom half (the big part) of the pyramid is filled with foods that will keep you satisfied and full. Depending on your goals, you'll have to find your sweet spot regulating the amount of carbs you are eating. Not sure what the nutritional profile of the food you're eating? There's lots of tools on the internet to help you calculate values. Here is an example I've used before. Link
While you're on the post with Carb Curve, keep reading down about the fitness aspect of the primal lifestyle. If you haven't already, it's time to read up on what makes for "good" exercise. You'll be surprised that endless miles on the treadmill isn't the way to go! Go back to the Primal 101 links and make sure and hit the fitness primer links!
Ok, so now what is your eating routine?
We won't lie to you and say eating Primal is easy. It is definitely more work and requires additional planning to pull off. We aren't producing any meals or food from a box or a bag that's been sitting on our shelf. We make everything that we eat. Check out our blog posts...bacon and eggs in the morning or some primal pancakes on the weekend. Leftover meat or a batch of chicken thighs we cooked up on Sunday with a small salad and greek yogurt with a few berries for lunch during the week. And for dinner we feast on every type and cut of meat we can find matched with some type of veggie side. It's all great food!
You eat bacon and eggs everyday? You're cholesterol is going to be through the roof!
I hear this a lot. And I recently got my blood work done. I will happily send you the results if you want them. My cholesterol is not high and in fact my numbers are excellent! There's no doubt if it is your goal to become healthier by a measure of your blood work numbers, then this is the way!
Do you guys ever cheat?
Yes, and probably more than we should. MDA preaches the 80/20 principal. Link Basically if you can do this 80% of the time, you'll stick with it and far and away reap the benefits. We probably fit in this principal guideline pretty well. Some weekends we'll completely splurge and by Sunday we will be feeling it. Or you'll notice the miniature bakery that's found in my kitchen on occasion. My weakness is a freshly made chocolate chip cookie. Angela can't resist Jeni's ice cream. We drink beer with our friends. We're not crazy strict by any stretch but this is definitely the sole source of the majority of our diet. And it works for us!
I don't believe you, what else can I read?
There's lots of books out there to check out. I have not read a lot of them since we've found our routine that achieves our goals. You might check out any of the books by Gary Taubes. Anything from Drs. Eades. The Dr. Davis book. Search around for other Paleo sites as well (keeping in mind the differences). I'm by far no expert so let me know what you find out! The search function on MDA works great if you need something specific answered. There is also a forum available too. And I bet you'll find plenty of skeptics out there. Maybe you're one of them! That's fine, I can't believe this will work for everyone, but there's a good chance it can work for you!
Who else does this?
All these people!!! Link
Now go eat some BACON!!!