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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Continue reading
If you’ve tried and didn’t follow the Paleo Diet because a) you weren’t doing CrossFit and b) you had so many rules, you might be intrigued by its hunter-gatherer cousin, the Primal Diet.
The Urdiet is based on the Primal Blueprint, a nutritional plan developed by Mark Sisson in 2009. Sisson, a former top athlete, was looking for a way to stay healthy after his days of competition were over (without enduring a ridiculous workout, however, according to the schedule).
He also focused on curing the chronic inflammation he experienced after years of rigorous training. Through his research, Sisson found that eating more like our ancient ancestors might be the key to a healthy and healthy lifestyle.
That meant avoiding sugar and other processed foods while focusing on quality products like protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Our ancient ancestors likely survived by eating foods they could hunt and collect ̵
The main focus of the primary diet is on high-quality whole foods that are only minimally processed (if at all) and (if possible) produced organically. The primitive diet encourages eating only those foods that our original ancestors may have had access to, including:
- raw and fermented dairy
Processed foods are out there (sorry, no burgers and fries in the wild), along with cereals (like wheat and corn) and low-fat dairy products.
The original diet is not The different from Paleo, but it’s certainly less rigid (we’re listening …).
Both the Paleo and the Urdiet are based on the idea that our modern eating habits, especially in Western cultures, are anything but good for us.
Both insist that if we simply avoided processed foods (yes, even the “healthy” processed foods) we wouldn’t have as many chronic diseases. And both claim that if we ate more than our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we would path healthier.
While Primal has some flexibility, Paleo is definitely stricter in its rules. Here are the biggest differences between the two plans:
Staple food for mumbling
In general, becoming primary means eating fewer carbohydrates (or at least fewer carbohydrates). With this diet, you completely eliminate foods like bread, pasta, cereal, baked goods, snacks, and other packaged foods.
The original diet focuses on minimally processed whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, protein, raw and fermented dairy products, and healthy fats.
Don’t worry – there’s room for some indulgence (though making a reservation with Carbone may not be an option). Alcohol is allowed, as is dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or higher).
The following is on the EAT list when you become primary:
- all fruits (especially berries!)
- all vegetables (with more focus on vegetables without starch)
- grass-fed meat
- wild caught fish
- Eggs (preferably cage-free / free-range)
- Nuts and raw nut butters
- Seeds and raw seed butters
- Olives and olive oil
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- raw, fermented full-fat milk products such as yogurt, raw cheese, raw milk and kefir (as well as full-fat milk products that are organic and free of hormones and antibiotics)
- natural sweeteners like raw honey and pure maple syrup
- coffee and tea
- tasteless seltzer
- Wild rice
- Andean millet
- Beans and legumes (originally a no-no, but now allowed in moderation if well tolerated)
Say goodbye to these foods
The original staple diet eliminated all processed foods, grains and legumes. But attitudes towards beans and legumes have changed since then and they are now recommended in moderation.
Everything that is delivered in a can or box or has a longer shelf life than us is also outside.
The following is on the DO NOT EAT list:
- refined vegetable oils like canola and soybeans
- Sugar (excluding the sugar naturally found in fruits, honey, and maple syrup)
What can you expect from this diet? Here are the deeds about good and bad, becoming original.
Whole food focus
With a focus on whole foods, the primary diet feeds you high quality, minimally processed foods rich in antioxidants. Indeed, like our ancestors, eating them can bring serious health benefits.
A small study from 2009 found that this type of food could help improve blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and triglycerides. However, this study only included nine people. A 2014 study of 70 postmenopausal women with obesity also found that a paleo-type diet improved cholesterol levels.
According to a 2015 study, this type of diet may also help regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
There’s no calorie counting, weighing, or measuring here, which means you don’t have to worry about grams of anything.
This diet is all about flexibility (and its guidelines change sometimes). The goal here is to live that 80/20 lifestyle. If you (and your diet) are up to date 80 percent of the time, the other 20 percent is reserved for some deliberate deviations from the plan.
The initial eating plan can be expensive and impractical, and the required foods may not be readily available for everyone. Foods like cereals, beans, and legumes are often inexpensive staples for people on a smaller grocery budget.
Lots of saturated fat
While some people might think saturated fat is A-OK, full-fat dairy is controversial and may not be a good option for everyone to eat regularly. Too much saturated fat can be bad news for your cholesterol and harmful to people with heart disease.
How Much Saturated Fat is Too Much?
The American Heart Association continues to recommend consuming less than 10 percent of your total daily calories from saturated fat. That is an average of 20 grams or less of saturated fat. If you are a primal diet fan, consuming saturated fats in moderation is a good idea.
While the diet has changed its attitude towards legumes since the original plan first appeared in 2009, those following the original recommendations may unnecessarily eliminate unnecessary nutrients like B vitamins and fiber.
Raw milk is the biggest warning sign here. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria that would otherwise have been killed by pasteurization.
Those looking to lose weight and keep it off will do well on the original plan.
The higher protein and fiber intake from high-quality animal protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds means that followers of the original diet feel satisfied with less food. The natural tendency to consume less means fewer calories and more potential weight loss.
People with type 2 diabetes may also find this type of eating beneficial. Again, the focus on high-quality protein and more fiber naturally lends itself to consuming fewer calories (and thus weight loss) and eating fewer starchy carbohydrates. Either change can help lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Really, but anyone looking to eat more whole foods can benefit from this plan. If you are currently eating a lot of processed and packaged foods, this is a great way to introduce higher quality foods.
A day of original dining
What could a day of eating on the primitive diet look like? Let’s look at what a typical menu might look like, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats:
Breakfast: Omelette with two eggs, cooked in 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and filled with spinach, mushrooms and onions. Top off with 1 to 2 tablespoons of shaved parmesan. Do you need more fuel? Add a side salad of tomatoes and cucumber.
Having lunch: Spaghetti squash Bolognese over wilted Swiss chard
Optional snack: Full-fat yogurt mixed with berries and some almond butter
Dinner: Roasted salmon with pesto and a side dish of roasted broccoli and roasted sweet potato fries
Optional dessert: If dessert is your thing, you can have a cup of berries or a square or two of 75 percent dark cocoa chocolate or a glass of red wine.
The original diet, similar to its predecessor Paleo, promotes eating more like our ancestors of hunters and gatherers.
By eating this way, you can cut out processed foods and eat more whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats.
In contrast to Paleo, the original diet is liquid and is intended to be a guide to a healthy life instead of a rigid set of rules.
Some potential downsides to the plan are its reliance on saturated fats (like full-fat dairy products) and the lack of some foods that contain beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The diet emphasizes fats well for you. However, if you have high cholesterol or any type of cardiovascular disease, be sure to speak to your doctor before trying the original diet as it contains some high fat foods.
It is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new diet to make sure this is the best plan for you. A registered nutritionist can help you tailor the diet to your specific needs and health conditions.