September 30, 2011

The Primal Blueprint

The Primal BlueprintWhen it comes to eating, I have always tried my best to eat as healthy as possible. Almost two years ago a I switched to a natural food diet where I eliminated all the processed stuff and focused my diet on meat, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. It was a great transition and I felt better after making the switch.

However, I’ve taken it one step further since then and have removed all grains from my diet. Why would I do such a thing? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of reading regarding health and fitness lately and one of the books I read was The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. I’ve followed Mark’s blog for a few years now and have always considered giving his diet a try.

I also read Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories, which was a very interesting read about the science behind our diets. It digs deep into the studies that have been performed and challenges the conventional wisdom about what we should eat.

It turns out that a lot of the foods we think are bad (saturated fat, bacon, beef, etc.) are not actually bad for us. It’s the high amount of carbohydrates we typically consume that cause most of our health problems.

I’m always up for trying new things so I figured there was no risk in giving the Primal Blueprint a test to see how it works. I have been following the primal diet and workout schedule for roughly 3 months now and thought I would share my experience making the switch.

The Diet

Before I talk about the diet, here is the official primal food pyramid from the book. It demonstrates what foods should be consumed and in what quantities.

Primal Food Pyramid

With any diet, there is always a transition phase where your body needs to get used to the new way of eating. However, when I eliminated the grains from my diet I was surprised that I did not notice any major side effects. If anything, I actually felt like I had a bit more energy.

Instead of eating my usual bowl of oatmeal, which never filled me up or gave me energy, I started eating whole eggs and bacon cooked in butter. The first thing I noticed is that this meal tastes a hell of a lot better than the oatmeal. Plus it makes me feel full and gives me energy.

For lunch and dinner, I started eating a big ass salad with some chicken or grass-fed beef. I started eating far more vegetables than I used to and now like a lot of the vegetables I used to hate. I stick to one serving of fruit a day, which typically consists of either blackberries or blueberries. I also eat some coconut products such as coconut flakes and coconut milk.

When it comes to cooking, I now use either Ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, or bacon fat to cook with. I only use olive oil as a salad dressing as opposed to cooking with it like I used to. One thing I have noticed is that if you cook anything in bacon fat, it’s guaranteed to taste good.

The great thing about the primal diet is the amount of fat you get to eat. It is far more filling than carbohydrates and also taste a lot better. Honestly, who would eat oatmeal over bacon? Not this guy.

The Workouts

Along with the diet, the Primal Blueprint also has a workout schedule that is designed to get you in the best shape possible without overdoing it. Here’s the workout pyramid from the book:

Primal Workout Schedule

The thing I love about the workout schedule is that it does not promote chronic cardio. Instead, it gives you a brief overview of why you should avoid chronic cardio. Instead, it suggests lifting heavy things 2-3 times a week and doing sprints once every 7-10 days. It also suggests doing a lot of low level aerobic exercises, such as walking or hiking (two things I love doing).

For the past 3 months, I’ve been sticking to this schedule and have noticed a huge increase in my strength despite spending less time in the gym than I used to. I focus my lifting routine on doing a lot of bodyweight exercises like dips and pull-ups (with a weighted backpack). A typical lifting session consists of 4 sets of 4 different exercises.

Running sprints is also a very fun workout that only takes 15 minutes to complete yet I feel drained every time I do them. They also give me a runner’s high that last throughout the day.

The Results

After 3 months of following the Primal Blueprint, I can honestly say I feel like I am in the best shape of my life (even better than after P90X). I ran a 5K in 27 minutes despite being a terrible runner and not training for it. I can now do a ton of pushups and pull-ups and can run a mile two minutes faster than I could in high school.

Best of all, I managed to get my body fat down to the lowest it has ever been. Here’s a before and after picture to give you a general idea of the change that took place:

Before and After

I have tried many “cutting diets” in the past to lean myself out. I would constantly weigh all my food out on a kitchen scale and write down every calorie I consumed and still could not get past a certain body fat percentage.

With the primal diet, I ate as much food as I wanted and lost body fat without even trying. Heck, I actually lost too much body fat and am now trying a new bulking diet where I eat the typical primal diet foods but with a ton of whole milk added in (I’ll be writing a new post about my bulking attempt in the near future).

Overall, I highly recommend the Primal Blueprint. Not only is the book a great read, but the plan does work if you stick with it.

5 thoughts on “The Primal Blueprint

  1. Mike

    Thanks, I followed your link and read his take on bacon. Did you find that the weight loss or fat loss stopped at some point? The only negative I can find medically is the possibility of the thyroid slowing metabolism if one stays on a low carb diet too long. I have also seen similar diets that say to spike carb intake 1 or 2x a week to avoid the thyroid issues. How were you eating at an average meal and were you doing three meals a day?

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      I did not notice a stop in fat loss. I have a really fast metabolism so the biggest obstacle I’ve had is getting enough calories in so I don’t lose weight. In terms of eating schedule, I did not follow any specific pattern. I typically only eat 2 large meals a day, but if I find myself hungry I will snack or add in another meal. If I’m not hungry, I will skip a meal or put it off until later in the day.

      It’s definitely an interesting diet. Getting over the idea that eating a lot of fat is a good thing is tough. I’m still not entirely sure which diet I like the best.

  2. Joan

    Thanks of the overview! How much fat do you recommend to eat with respect to following the diet?Is there a percentage? I know Mark speaks of not counting calories but also says not to overdo. How do you know if you are overdoing if you don’t know what percent of fat,protein you should be eating? I get the carb curve for weight loss but I want to be sure I am not overdoing the fat for my husband who is trying to lose 30lb! Thanks for any input!



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