Primal 101

Before I get angry emails saying that I am generalizing, I will be. This is because there are thousands of different approaches to a well-formulated primal/paleo diet. If you look at the modern example of tribes from the paleolithic era, their diets range from the Eskimo (or the Inuit) who ate mainly meat and little to no veggies, to the Kitavans who ate mostly veggies and tubers.

To dive into that point a little further. The Inuit people would live off a diet that was mainly meat and water, which makes sense considering you cannot tend to a garden to such cold climates. On a very rare occasion, they may consume a small amount of kelp, or a few blueberries (not enough to be statistically relevant.) They would eat 4-8 pounds or meat, and growing kids ate more [1]. In stark contrast, the Kitava, “are traditional farmers. Their dietary staples are tubers (yam, sweet potato, and taro), fruit, fish, and coconut.[2]” With these two drastically different modern examples you can just imagine how varied a paleo diet will be, this is why I will be only giving a general idea of what Primal (Paleo, Ancestral, Caveman, Eating Wild, or whatever ever name you to call it) is.

In its most understood form, it excludes grains, legumes, and dairy. Paleo and low-carb are not mutually exclusive, but there is a lot of overlap. My favorite part about paleo is the universal focus on food quality, much like our ancestors would.

The goal is to eat grass-fed animals, raw dairy (with primal), fermented foods, seasonal and/or organic produce and limited nuts. My caveat is to buy the best quality you can afford, after all, grain fed meat is better than a whopper meal.

So let’s break down the eating guidelines a little more. Much like with all of the diets the goal is to eat real, food mostly healthy fats, meats, fish, eggs, veggies, nuts, seeds, and some fruit. You can check out My Food Philosophy for a full list of the okay foods for primal, my eating style is a mix of primal, and keto the only thing that may be a no-go for some people is the dairy. You can also add other veggies than the ones I mentioned since I listed the ones my family and I go to. If you have to buy a package be sure that it is made with very few ingredients that you know, or no ingredients listed because fresh produce and meat do not require an ingredient list.

Here is a more detailed list of commonly excluded items:

  • Highly processed food (ie: McD’s, fruit juice)
  • All added sugar (with raw local honey as an exception)
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy (Primal folks allow raw dairy, and most Paleo allow butter/ghee and limited cream, unless allergic)
  • Grains (ie: whole grains, oats, rice, quinoa, or other gluten-free grains and so on.)
  • Legumes (peanuts, pinto beans, lima beans, black beans and so on)
  • Soy (fermented being the only exception)
  • White Potatoes

If you want a more in-depth look at the primal diet, check out The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. He runs Mark’s Daily Apple, it is a site dedicated to learning how to live primally in the modern life there is a huge backlog of content.

Get “The Primal Blueprint” Here

Much like with keto, it is important to see what works for you. If a little cheese or rice now and then does not cause you to feel sluggish then you can try adding a little in here and there, but that will change person to person, it will even change as you heal yourself. You are an ever-changing being, which is a good thing because it means that you can fix metabolic or body problems with the right combination of food, mindset, and movement. I talk a little more about this in the Putting It All Together section. I’ll see you there.


[1] Studies on the Metabolism of Eskimos.

[2] What Can We Learn From the Kitavans.