Sunday, June 19, 2011

What does Primal/Paleo diet mean?

I didn't invent these terms and if you just google them you will find tons of information. So I decided to give you a quick intro into how I am eating, tell you the difference between primal and paleo and than leave you with links if you wanna read further into the topic.

The term primal comes from Mark Sisson. He wrote a book The Primal Blueprint which basically tells you how to go back to the way our ancestors lived. The basic rules are the following:

1) Eat a lot of meat, fish and eggs

Protein should be the base of your food pyramid. It is needed to repair as well as build new cells in your body. If you wanna build up muscle, which I'am sure all of us do, you need a lot of protein for that. The best sources for protein are meat, fish, seafood and eggs. You should try to eat a mixture of all of them during a normal week because they additionally have different amounts and kinds of vitamins and minerals. Try to get the grass-fed or wild caught versions because they accumulated less toxins and have a better omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio.

2) Eat a lot of veggies

Veggies should be the second thing on your list of stuff to eat in abundance. This will be your mean carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are needed as energy source by your brain and for some anaerobic excercises. Veggies are also your main source for vitamins. That's why you should try to eat a huge variety. One tip I can give you is, try to mix colors. Eat green, red, yellow and white veggies and you should be on a save side. Again, try to buy veggies which are free of pesticides and buy the ones which are in season. They have more nutrition than veggies which come from the other end of the world.

3) Eat healthy fats

This point will probably be the hardest to accept. But you have to learn that fats are your friends and not your enemies. Healthy fats will keep you satisfied with your food choices. But you have to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats. Animal fats or saturated fats are desperately needed by your body. What it doesn't need are tons of polyunsaturated fats or trans fats. To make it simple: Eat lard, olive oil, fish oil, coconut oil, walnut oil and avoide all oils from grains, soybeans and peanuts.

4) No grains

Ok, maybe this is the hardest to accept. Avoid grains as if they were poison because they literally are poison. Agriculture just started 10.000 years ago and our body didn't have enough time yet to evolve in a way that we can process grains optimally. If you eat a  piece of bread or some noodles you trigger a high insulin response in your blood stream. Insulin than helps to get glucose, which is the main component out of grain consumption, into your liver and muscles. When the storage space there is full glucose will be converted into fat and stored into fat cells. There it is, its not fat that makes you fat, its sugar. In addition all that glucose in your bloodstream leads to a lot of hormonal responses which promote inflammation. So by eating grains you get sick and fat. In conclusion that means, no rice, no bread, no potatoes, no noodles, no cereals an so on. I know it sounds hard but I assure you its doable and even enjoyable.

5) Enjoy in moderation 

In addition to these main rules there are some things one should enjoy in moderation. In my opinion its best to cut all of them out for a couple of weeks and then reintroduce them and see how you deal with them. All of them can be seen as staple food, so if you cannot moderate your intake, don't eat them. I'm talking here about fruits, nuts and dairy. They all have some good nutritional values but you should only eat small amounts of them. If you eat nuts stay away from peanuts and cashews because they promote inflammatory processes. Macamadias are the best to go for.
If you wanna enjoy your occasional piece of cheese, go for gras-feed raw cheese. And use cream instead of milk in your coffee.
Berries are the best to eat concerning fruits. Avoid fruits with a really high sugar content like mangos or pineapples.

I know this is completely different to everything you've learned from tv and newspapers, but I assure you, you will feel and perfom much better if you change your diet.

The term paleo is mainly connected to Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf. The basic eating rules are the same as in the primal diet. One major difference lies in the choice of meat. While the Paleo diet promotes lean meats the Primal Blueprint promotes fatty, grass-fed cuts. The Primal Blueprint allows for the occasional glas of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate while the Paleo Diet excluded alcohol in total. The last major difference is that the Primal Blueprint additionally gives rules on how to excercise and live in general, which we will cover in a different post.

I would say I rather live primal than paleo although the differences are kind of subtle and as long as your avoiding grains you should be fine. Give it a shot and if you need advice or help, don't hesitate to ask for it!

If you wanna go deeper into this topic I advise you to look on Mark Sissons or Robb Wolfs pages or order there book on amazon:

Marks Book:

Robb Wolfs book:

Robb Wolfs page:

Mark Sissons page:


  1. Are you active on PaleoHacks? i like it the most. Cause its the most clear thinking paleo resource. this all paleo gurus, beside mark are stuck in their mind. on people shift opinions and figure out news and antinews. So its the paleo way which works not just facts real experiences. Do you have experices with raw food or veganism?

  2. I do like PaleoHacks as well. It's a good site to discuss topics. Luckily I have no experience with raw food or veganism. I just always loved meat ;p

  3. This is a great overview; I'll send German-speakers to the Ger version when they ask me why I'm "doing this to myself"! The only thing I'd like to add is that there's a debate over whether meats/eggs should be the largest *volume* food, or the largest *calorie source*. Some people - controversially some say especially women - do better on more veg by volume. For normal people it's hard to calculate energy density anyway, so I just try to make sure at least half my plate is veggies.

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