While the Paleo diet can be described as "The Caveman Diet," I've heard people refer to The Primal Blueprint as a more "Medieval Diet"- or as I like to think of it; The Game of Thrones diet.
Now we're cookin' with wildfire (Note: Cooking with wildfire is not recommended. Proceed at your own risk!).
Think like a sellsword traveling the King's Road, a man of The Night's Watch, or a member of the Dothraki Horde. 80% of your diet consists of lean meats that are high in protein, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tubers (like sweet potatoes), and nuts (but not peanuts!). You may have a very limited supply of bread, red wine, full fat dairy items, and yes, even deserts if you happen to make it to King's Landing with enough coin, but winter is coming and these delights come at a cost. Therefore they should only be about 20% of your diet.
The main thing to remember is no processed foods. If you indulge in something like a slice of cake or an ice cream sundae, that's your 20% for the whole day. Allotting yourself half a cup of milk daily for tea or coffee seems to be fine, or using a bit of vinegar to aid in your cooking, or the occasional 2 tbs of salad dressing. From what I've found in my research, it's most important to avoid grains as much as possible but again, if you want to make that treat your full 20% for the day and forgo milk in your coffee/tea or a slice of cheese with your fruit, then by all means, indulge away.
So we've covered "The Medieval." Let's talk about the Science.
Why no grains? Why nuts, but no peanuts? Hell, how can full fat items like milk and nuts, not to mention and high sugar items like dried fruit help you get healthy and lose weight.
The truth is, grains have gluten and it turns out that most people are so used to how it makes them feel that they don't even realize they have an intolerance. Removing it from your diet for a while and letting your body cleanse/adjust before ingesting small amounts again will help you find out how your body reacts to it. You may find your get stomach aches after eating grains because as they break down in your gut, it can cause inflammation that will disrupt the body's ability to break down food properly, clearly something that is not conducive to weight loss. These effects can also instigate issues with allergies, arthritis, asthma and many other more series medical issues such as Crohn's disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. When the affects are seen in the brain, gluten allergies can be linked to depression, anxiety, and other behavioral diseases like bipolar disorder or even schizophrenia.
As for peanuts, they are actually legumes (this category also includes some varieties of beans, lentils, garbanzos, peas, and soybeans). Eating plants is healthy, but what we consume when we eat legumes is actually the seed and it breaks down differently in your body because it contains lectins which can cause inflammation.
When it comes to fats, the body does require some fatty acids. It does not produce them on its own and therefor we do need to consume some fats, but we need to focus on the right kind and the right amounts. In a nutshell (pun intended!), you want to get your fat from the most chemically uncomplicated source so that it breaks down easily in the body causing the least inflammation and gut/digestion disruption in the breakdown. Thats why olive oil, raw cashews, lean meats, and some full fat cheese are limited on our menu, but not exterminated. What we want to focus on avoiding are trans-fats which have been chemically altered to increase shelf life they often include "hydrogenated" ingredients and will wreak havoc on the body.
Sugars? Same story. You want to limit yourself to natural sugars found in fruits, but obviously you want to avoid super saturated sugar items like dried fruit because you get a lot less bang for your buck.
In other words:
One thing that attracts me to the Primal Blueprint is that it refers to a whole way of life, not just the food you use to fuel yourself through it. It wants us to adopt the behaviors that kept our ancestors lean, fit, and energetic. These are the basic bullet points.
Keep moving, even at a slow pace. You don't have to do crazy amounts of cardio every day, but you should be adopting an active lifestyle where, like our ancestors, you move around a low aerobic pace for long periods of time. Take a scouting mission beyond the wall, traverse the Dothraki Sea, escort Jaime Lannister to Kings landing.
Strength training keeps you lean and your muscles compact. People did hard labor daily! Go smithing with Gendry, spar with The Mountain!
Speed is important. In the game of thrones, you win or you die. This is a dangerous world and sometimes you need to make an expedient escape from King's Landing to avoid throwing in your fate with Ned Stark or run from white walkers and wildings through deep snow. These aren't daily events, but they do happen and you should prepare yourself! Think like Petyr Baelish. Avoid trauma and always ally yourself with the winning side in any conflict. Be like Arya and become the water dancer! Slip through the shadows catching cats, and adjust to new circumstances as quickly as possible.
Get sleep! If you're following these guidelines, you'll need your rest in order to face a long day at the head of your Khalasar tomorrow. How else will you have the energy to cross the narrow sea and take back the Iron Throne?
Be adventurous and get outside. Learn something! A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone. Tyrion might be small, but he never gives up and he certainly enjoys his sardonic sense of humor when faced with even the grimmest of circumstances. Get out there and make the most of what you have! If you've always dreamed of pissing off the edge of the world, go to the wall and do it!
That's pretty much it when it comes to applying Project Reroll logic to the Primal Blueprint. If you have any suggestions or questions about the Primal Blueprint lifestyle, please feel free to discuss in the comments! I'm doing my best to learn everything I can to make my transition smooth.
Here are some other resources for information:
- I've found that writing on The Primal Blueprint can sometimes seem frustratingly vague as to the specifics of the 80/20 Paleo/Primal split. This article from Shade of Ashes is the best that I've found about actually putting the diet into practice. It didn't hurt that she basically opened the door to consuming every food I love at the Renaissance Faire!
- Mark's Daily Apple provides a great list of articles to read on The Primal Blueprint when it comes to adopting both the lifestyle and the diet changes.
- This article from Nerd Fitness was the first resource I read on Paleo and recently a guest writer, Darrin from TheGuyCanCook.com wrote a great article on using Game of Thrones as an inspiration for facing your fear of the kitchen and cooking up delicious, healthy food.
- For more information on the science of gluten breakdown, check out this article on Whole9Life.
- For more information on the science of peanut/lectin breakdown, check out this article on Whole9Life.
- Just for fun: I heard about this Game of Thrones inspired recipe book, which I now WANT.