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Keep in mind, our primal ancestors didn’t sit around logging their food and checking their FitBits.

Jourdan Brown

One of the most common questions I get asked, and perhaps the hardest to answer, is, “How many calories should I be eating?” There are many different and correct answers to this question depending on your goals and lifestyle. The first – and my personal favorite – is it doesn’t matter. While that isn’t 100% true, if you follow the primal diet (check out the food chart below), you really do not have to worry about calories. That’s because the primal diet eliminates sugars, grains, industrial and polyunsaturated oils, beans and legumes. Instead,  the primal menu focuses on protein (meat, fish, fowl, and eggs), vegetables, healthy fats (animal fat, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, avocados) and moderation foods (fruit, high-fat dairy, quinoa, sweet potatoes). Eating this way your body composition will change effortlessly, and stay that way. Now, for many people, this is the answer. They can obtain the physique they are looking for with the added health benefits by making these simple changes. Keep in mind, our primal ancestors didn’t sit around logging their food and checking their FitBits.

Unfortunately, this is not always enough. You can have trouble even when following the primal diet if you are not eating enough (check out my last blog post on that) or eating too much. If this is you or if you are someone who likes numbers and specifics, I recommend figuring out your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). This website will make your life super easy by calculating your TDEE for you… Once you enter your age, sex, weight, height, exercise level (be honest about this) and body fat (optional), you will receive a bunch of data. Your most important will be your maintenance calories, which will inform you of the calories you need to consume daily to stay at your current weight. If you scroll down a little, you will see Maintenance, Cutting, Bulking. If you choose cutting, you will be given the calories you need to consume to lose weight –  aka cut. You only need to consume 500 calories less than your maintenance calories to lose weight. Once you go lower than that you start to enter into that dangerous starvation territory and into a weight loss that is not sustainable. You will probably be shocked to find out how much you can eat and still lose weight. I am highly active, so my maintenance calories are 2,307 which makes my cutting calories 1807! 1807 guys! I can lose weight and eat all of that. No starving necessary!

If you are unaware how much you are eating, try logging your food on MyFitnessPal to find out how many calories you are currently consuming.

Now that you know how to eat a primal diet and know the calorie intake for maintenance and cutting, here are a few more tips to help you along the way.

  • I recommend eating every 2 1/2 – 3 hours to keep your metabolism active.
  • I also recommend a 12-hour fast every night. That means if you finished eating dinner at 6:30 pm you would wait until 6:30 am the following morning to eat. Going longer than that is fine, but you want to aim for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • And lastly, drink water and then drink some more water and then top it all off with more water.

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About the Author


Jourdan Brown

Jourdan Brown is a Certified Primal Health Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, and Personal Trainer. She also manages the Front Desk and the Cycling programs at Fitness Incentive.

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