The following is from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. It is a great resource and guide to utilize if you are engaging in the Alliance Nutrtiion Challenge based on Mark’s 21 Day Reset.
The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, revised and updated in 2016.
Recommended Macronutrient Intake Levels: The Primal Blueprint recommends a highly varied diet based mainly on personal preference within the guidelines of the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid above. Animal foods (meat, fish, fowl, and eggs) comprise the bulk of dietary calories. Vegetables are recommended in abundance, comprising the bulk of emphasis on your plate. Healthy fats (macadamia nuts, coconut products, avocado, olives/olive oil) are another featured category. Moderation categories include other nuts, seeds, and nut butters, seasonal fruits, high-fat dairy products, and supplemental carbs in the form of starchy tubers, quinoa, and wild rice for high-calorie burners.
Following the Primal eating strategy should default you into an optimal intake of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to support health, peak performance, longevity, and effortless maintenance of ideal body composition. This includes plenty of room for daily and seasonal variation of macronutrient and total caloric intake. Those new to Primal eating or interested in a methodical approach to shedding excess body fat may wish to accurately calculate macronutrient intake from time to time, using an online resource like FitDay.com to determine whether their macronutrient ratios are at the desired levels.
Using an online macronutrient calculator entails first writing down all food and drink consumed for at least a couple days and perhaps up to a week and recording the amounts, weights, or volumes with as much accuracy as possible. Measuring cups, a teaspoon/tablespoon tool, and an ounces scale are recommended. Recorded data can then be input into an online calculator to reveal the total calories, the breakdown for each macronutrient in convenient pie chart form, and even the breakdown of each individual food or meal consumed. Particularly with the goal of moderating carbohydrate intake per Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve guidelines, it can be quite illuminating to see just how grams of dietary carbohydrate accumulate over the course of a day. Following are the Primal Blueprint recommendations for protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake.
Protein: Start your macronutrient intake calculations with protein requirements, since adequate protein intake is critical for healthy metabolic function and the preservation of lean muscle mass. The Primal Blueprint recommends obtaining an average daily intake of around .5 grams of protein per pound (1.1 grams per kilo) of lean body mass. The original Primal Blueprint position was to fall in line with the widely-touted recommended range of .5 grams (1.1 grams/kilo) to meet basic needs, up to .7 grams per pound of lean mass (1.66 grams/kilo) for the moderately active, up to one gram per pound of lean mass (2.2 grams per kilo) for active exercisers. Mounting research now suggests that we might be overestimating our protein requirements to our detriment. Dr. Ron Rosedale, a leading voice in the concerns about excess protein, suggests that .5 grams of protein per pound of lean mass is plenty for everyone. He believes that even high-protein-demand people (the highly active, growing teens, and pregnant women) need only to add 5-10 grams per day to that calculation to ensure optimal protein intake.
Lean body mass can be calculated by subtracting your fat weight from your total weight. You can multiply your body fat percentage (measured in a variety of ways) by your total bodyweight to determine your fat weight. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds and has a reading of 10 percent body fat has 15 pounds of fat and 135 pounds of lean mass. Hence, they would calculate their protein requirement to be 135 pounds x .5 grams = 67.5 grams per day, perhaps 75 if highly active.
Carbohydrate: Carbohydrate intake should align with the recommendations presented on the Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve, which will be presented in detail in module 4. For lifelong health, weight management, and disease protection, no more than an average of 150 grams or less per day should be consumed. When grains, sugary foods and beverages, and other processed foods are eliminated from the diet, it’s easy to default into this range. One hundred and fifty grams per day represents an abundant intake of vegetables, and a sensible intake of fresh, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, and even the sensible indulgence of dark chocolate. Those wishing to reduce excess body fat should limit carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day or less in order to stimulate the burning of excess body fat for energy. This average can be easily achieved through Intermittent Fasting, strict attention to avoiding grains and sugars, and a reduced intake of fruits and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc.) during weight loss efforts.
Fat: With recommended protein and carbohydrate intake falling into relatively narrow ranges, it follows that fat becomes the predominant macronutrient in the diet and the main variable in obtaining dietary satisfaction. Recommended fat intake is generally not an absolute number (unless specific calculations are performed to lose a certain amount of body fat over a certain time period), but instead should align with obtaining dietary satisfaction at every meal. Although high-fat foods are calorically dense, they have a high satiety factor and do not stimulate an insulin response. By eating what amounts to a high-fat diet in comparison to the SAD, one can stabilize appetite and energy levels, and shed excess body fat without having to face the traditional struggles of deprivation and restriction.
Pursuant to a goal of reducing a specified amount of excess body fat over a specified time period, one can estimate the number of calories burned per day and prepare a fat intake calculation that will achieve that goal. Detailed examples are provided for a hypothetical male and female in Chapter 8 of the Primal Blueprint book. Briefly, the steps are as follows:
1. Estimate daily caloric expenditure using the Harris Benedict Equation. This is a formula that accounts for your basal metabolic rate (based on age, sex, and size) along with your average daily activity level to estimate how many calories you burn in a day. In the following example, our subject burns an estimated 2,500 calories per day.
2. Calculate desired pounds of fat reduction in 21 days, multiply by 3,500 calories = total fat loss in calories. Divide total by 21 = average caloric deficit per day and total intake per day to achieve fat loss goal.
Desired fat loss = 4 pounds
3,500 calories per pound = 14,000 calories total deficit
14,000 / 21 days = 666 calorie intake deficit per day, to be derived from stored body fat
2,500 estimated daily expenditure – 666 desired deficit = 1,834 (daily caloric intake to achieve fat loss goal)
3. Calculate carbohydrate and protein caloric intake per day
E.g. 140 pounds of lean mass, active person = 70 g/day x 4 calories/gram = 280 protein calories per day
75 grams of carb intake per day for weight loss x 4 calories/gram = 300 carbohydrate calories per day
Total protein and carbohydrate intake per day: 580 calories
4. Subtract daily caloric intake goal (1,834) from protein/carb total (580) to determine allowable fat calories per day to achieve weight loss goal
E.g. 1,834 – 580 = 1,254 fat calories per day
1,254/9 = 139 grams of fat per day
5. Goal macronutrient intake to lose 4 pounds of fat in 21 days
Protein: 70 g or 280 calories
Carbohydrates: 75 g or 300 calories
Fat: 139 g or 1,254 calories
Since it can be tedious and stressful trying to align with such calculations while enjoying your life and eating delicious primal foods, the Primal Blueprint recommends performing a macronutrient dietary analysis only occasionally instead of obsessively. Generating a report detailing a typical day of eating reveals where one’s habit patterns land, and where adjustments can be made if necessary. In the case of falling short with fat loss goals, macronutrient analysis can be very helpful in pinpointing ways to improve the rate of progress.
For example, many primal enthusiasts successfully ditch grains and sugars and take a liking to primal-approved foods to the extent that most or all of their necessary fat calories are provided from dietary fat. It is perfectly healthy to obtain all caloric requirements from food, and moderating insulin production will prevent the accumulation of additional body fat (since fat cannot be stored without insulin). However, those wishing to reduce excess body fat must create that familiar caloric deficit between expended calories and ingested calories, so that additional energy requirements will be pulled from storage areas on the body. The beauty of the Primal Health Coach approach to weight loss is that this deficit is achieved naturally through the optimization of appetite and metabolic hormones such as insulin and leptin.