Sometimes, you just want to know the what, and less of the why.
This short post shares our stack-ranked #BeYourBest Nutritional Principles that guide us as a family, and as a wellness and self-optimisation brand.
In our experience over the last few years, we (as a family) personally perform, feel, think and look our best when following these Nutritional Principles.
They emanate from years of scientific, nutritional and evolutionary research across 50+ nutritional books, 1000’s of nerdy nutritional podcasts, formal nutritional education, tons of papers, and 100’s of interviews on the AdapNation Podcast with nutritional thought leaders.
Of course, we all reserve the right to adapt our guiding dietary principles in light of convincing science or our bodies asking for something different to feel optimal. For now though, this framework is working a treat! 👌🏻
1 Centre on Quality Animal-Based Nutrition
Most, if not all, essential nutrition for optimal human health can be derived from a well constructed nose-to-tail animal-based diet. Complete amino acid profiles and most bioavailable protein sources. Metabolic, cellular, hormonal and joint benefits from having stable and non-processed saturated fats and collagen. Unmatched nutrient density when compared to foods from the plant kingdom. Little to no antagonistic compounds. This list goes on…
Animal-based foods provide us with the building blocks for our brains, muscles and tissues, as well as a favoured and more stable energy source in the form of saturated fats.
We prioritise Beef, Eggs, Raw and/or Goat Dairy, Liver (pate), Salmon, Lamb, Pork, Anchovies, Prawns and a little Chicken. Nose-to-tail and collagenous cuts is a priority – including Ox Cheek, Ox Tail, Ribeye, Poultry Liver, Bone Broth etc.
We do our best to source locally where we have confidence in the farming practices, animal welfare, and that the animal are being fed their native diets. For our milk, we opt for non-homogenised and usually non-pasteurised.
2 Avoid Seed Oils & Commercial Soy
As a hard and fast rule, we do not knowingly eat foods that are cooked in or prepared in Seed Oils. We do not cook with seed oils at home – instead we use Beef Dripping and Butter, with the occasional use of Olive and Coconut Oil.
By Seed Oils, we’re talking about ‘Vegetable Oils’ – the major cooking oils used today. They include Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed/Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil and Safflower Oil. We also don’t use Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil, Palm Oil etc. Margarine is a no go.
These seed oils are unstable PUFA’s (Polyunsaturated Fats) that are easily oxidised in light, heat or air. Oxidised and rancid oils are playing a huge role in our modern diseased and chronically inflamed states including Metabolic Disease, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Obesity.
Commercial Soy is not a food, yet is added to many processed and plant-based alternatives. It comes with a significant amount of problems including hormonal dis-regulation, gastrointestinal issues, thyroid issues, and memory disruption.
3 90% Whole Foods, Prepared at Home
Ultra Processed Food (UPF) – i.e. the majority of what we find in the middle aisles of the supermarket, is a very recent phenomenon in human history, and is evolutionary inconsistent to what we have thrived on as a species. In a blink of an eye evolutionarily, we’ve gone from whole foods to factory produced ‘foods’ laden with many foreign and synthetic chemicals.
The argument is convincing scientifically, logically and instinctively – we should be eating whole foods the super majority of the time, where we are in control of how they are prepared, cooked and/or processed with minimal additive and non-food ingredients.
So, we buy whole animal and plant-based foods and do almost all of the processing (i.e. cooking) within our kitchen. That said, we do buy quality condiments versus making them from scratch, and allow a processed dessert to feature in the weekend. Of course, minimally manipulated things like tea, coffee, and dark chocolate feature too.
4 Minimise Processed Carbs
By virtue of point 3, we get in minimal amount of processed carbs. That said, it’s worth pointing out separately, as the proliferation of these addictive foods containing flours, corn and sugars are significant contributors of our obesity and insulin resistance epidemic.
When we do buy packaged foods, we try our best to avoid foods containing corn, grain-based flours and specifically gluten. As wheat and other grain flours are used almost universally across processed foods due to its texture, cheapness, filler properties and shelf stability, we have to make the odd concession to our rule – for convenience purposes.
As all carbs convert to glucose (blood sugar), we manage our overall carb consumption to 10-15% of our total calories. Added sugar adds no nutritional value, and the sheer volume within a standard western diet significantly contributes to blood sugar dis-regulation and the eventual issues with insulin and Diabetes.
5 Eat Less Frequently
By following 1-4 above, the insatiable need to snack and eat frequently diminishes. Each meal is more deeply satisfying due to the density of nutrition, including human appropriate proteins and fats. As a big foodie, it’s bordering on miraculous to witness a lack of cravings for your next meal!
We eat a maximum of three times a day with no snacking in between. Most frequently we’re down to two meals a day. And when we’ve got a weekend nourishing family feast lined up, we’ll pass on earlier meals and eat just once (OMAD – One Meal A Day).
Having periods of time where your body is fasted is metabolically healthy and evolutionarily consistent. Compressing your nutrition into a 16:8 Intermittent Fasting window or similar makes sense for weight management and wellness reasons. I regularly slot in a 1-3 day fast as part of any effort to cut excess bodyfat after a lean bulking phase.
Ultimately, the body benefits from periods of caloric and nutritional restriction – both between meals, and during deliberate efforts to reset your weight and metabolism.
6 Know and be Guided by Your TDEE
Calories matter. It’s harder to overeat and put on excessive fat following these principles, and this nutrient-dense format will divert most nutrition to our muscle and organs. However, you can absolutely still blow it. You can overeat, and doing so regularly will bring on the extra body fat stores.
So, we know our TDEE, both as a weekly average and approximate values on training and non-training days. Calculating your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) involves the use of an online calculator, and then triangulating that with any wearable fitness data you have, and of course observing how your bodies weight responds to said calorie targets.
By knowing how many calories I burn across intense and easy going days, I can then configure my meals to match those calories for weight maintenance. Once you get into a regular rhythm of go-to meals, you can pull away from tracking and go by satiation.
When I want to lose weight, I drop the number of meals or portion sizes (or both). When I want to gain muscle and therefore gain weight, I Lean Bulk by increasing portion sizes to get me to a 5-10% daily calorie surplus.
7 Complement with Veg
This one goes against the grain like no other! It’s counter culture. It flies in the face of our generational wisdom on having lots and lots of fruit and veg. The truth is, we’ve over inflated the essential value of fruit and veg, and ignored the deleterious effects when you have too much plant compounds and/or fibre.
There is no essential carbohydrates. Plants come with many anti-nutrients as their defence mechanism from predators – i.e. they don’t want their babies from being eaten. Fibrous plants can cause lots of bloat, gas and digestive distress. Fruits and veg are seasonal, yet we eat them all year round by shipping them around the globe. Fats, proteins and certain nutrients from plants are insufficient, less complete and not in the most bioavailable form when compared to animal products.
For these reasons, we actively listen to our gut. We choose vegetables that provide the texture and diversity we need for our senses, but offer the least downside in terms of personal discomfort, bloat or gas. We avoid veggies that are high in certain anti-nutrients, such as Oxalates, Phytoestrogens or Lectins, and we prepare our veggies to neutralise said anti-nutrients whilst also liberating the nutrients within.
Vegetables complement the Animal-Based nutrition on the plate, and not the other way round.
8 Smart Supplementation
With 1-7 being followed, especially number 1, there will be minimal need for supplementation. The body will be bathing in a steady stream of all the bioavailable forms of nutrients it needs to optimally perform. However, our modern lifestyles do create a few deficits that need careful management…
As we no longer consume the blood of animals to any degree, combined with the demonisation of salt, and drinking treated water, we need to salt our foods. We salt our foods during cooking and on the plate to taste. We listen to what our bodies need. I also add extra salt into water in the morning and before a workout to hydrate and fully support my muscular performance.
Due to the lack of sunlight for many of us as we live a mostly indoor life, we are not synthesising enough Vitamin D through our skin. This is exacerbated in the winter months. Small amounts of Vitamin D is available through animal-based foods, but it doesn’t compensate for the lack of being outdoors. So, we supplement daily with Vitamin D.
Modern lifestyles are incredible, but is also more toxic and inflammatory to our bodies than ever before. Air pollution, non-native EMF radiation, plastics and heavy metals in our food and water and chronic low level mental stress. For this reason, we need more restorative Magnesium to combat the damage and inflammation. Daily magnesium supplementation and epsom salt baths feature in our household.
9 Fruit as Occasional Dessert
When is fruit ripe and available locally for picking where you live? In the UK, this is in the summer, and typically for a month or two. Fruit in the animal kingdom and historically is used in summer to fatten us up, in preparation for cold winters when food availability is lower.
For that reason, we align our fruit intake to what is seasonally available where we live. Fruit intake of berries and some other fruits will feature as a dessert in our summer months, with minimal fruit intake at other times of the year.
We don’t process our fruits. The combination of the fruit sugars with the flesh and fibrous part of the whole fruit help moderate the blood glucose response and control over eating. When you have fruit juice its pure sugar, which does more harm than good.
How this ends up playing out
This diet is incredibly nourishing, anti inflammatory, satiating and thoroughly enjoyable.
Yes, there are many modern foods that are minimised or mostly avoided, but nature does cook up incredible taste and nutrition without the addition of manmade food stuffs.
Once you transition, processed food simply lacks the appeal. Sure, a doughnut is still tasty, but the drive to consume one drops to the floor once you eat for enjoyable nourishment versus empty satisfaction.
To give you a sense of how it plays out for me, Steve, here’s a typical midweek breakdown:
- Average Macro Split: 30% Protein, 58% Fat, 12% Carbs (not targets – just happens)
- Animal vs Plant by calories: 90% Animal vs 10% Plant
- Typical Plant-Based: Mushrooms, Rice, Potatoes, Lemon, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Greek Salad. Broccoli and Carrots feature on the weekend
- Typical Animal-Based: Fatty Beef, Eggs, Liver (Pate), Raw/Goat Full Fat Dairy, Salmon, Prawns and Anchovies. Lamb, Pork, and nose-to-tail roasts on the weekend
- Typical Meal Frequency: Morning Protein-Fat Coffee, Carb-less Small Lunch and Big Dinner with some Starchy Veg and Mushrooms
Hope this helps! Now, go enjoy the taste of Thriving and Wellness!
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