Nutrient Density

Your body craves nutrients!!

One of the greatest misconceptions of the paleo diet is that it is heavy on meat and with little else added. In fact, the inspiration for the paleo diet comes from being motivated to eat foods based on their provenance and freshness.

Saying that, animal foods are the most nutrient dense foods available. Butter, egg yolks, meat, fish and organ meats from grass fed, outdoor bred, sunshine rich animals are great sources of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Other excellent sources of great quality nutrients are natural organic vegetables and fruits. A sweet potato, for example, contains carbohydrates, fibre, beta-carotene, vitamins B6, C, and E, potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron. A slice of white bread, on the other hand, saps nutrients (see the Guide to Gluten download below) instead of providing life giving vitamins and minerals.

Seasonality: Following the Seasons

As well as being aware of where your food has come from and its nutrient density, it helps to know what foods are at their best at any given time the year. Use a food season chart to vary your diet throughout the year and get the maximum nutrition and freshness from your diet. 21st century life is like perpetual summertime- long days, short nights, high stress, unlimited food, and cravings for carbohydrate foods leading to constantly elevated insulin levels. All of which, when all year round, culminates as metabolic distortion, fat gain and feelings of discomfort with one’s body.

It’s a cycle that see’s us regularly reaching for stimulants (sugar/caffeine) during the day and for depressants (alcohol/sleeping aids) in the evening. A socially acceptable drug addict to put it bluntly, controlling our mood with uppers and downers.

We try and tackle the issues with common interventions, all of which seem to include adding more stress in the way of excessive physical exertion rather than dealing with the real issue, of getting us back to align with our optimal gene expression for following the seasons to control our movement, nutrition, stress and sleep.

Do you fit into Category 1 or 2?

Cat. 1- You have the ideal body composition and a healthy lean mass.

Try to follow/cycle the following 4 seasons. Essentially, as an athlete we should be timing the season to align with the summer and autumn months and be ready to change the style of training to recover and transform vitality through the winter and spring.

Cat. 2- You have fat to lose.

Attempt to mimic wintertime until you have reached your target weight. The sleep and stress side of this equation is really critical. A lot of our cravings for carbohydrate foods are driven by sleep depravity and chronic stress & inflammation- it may be that you need to fix your sleep or your stress to fix your body.

If you have a lot of fat to lose it may be prudent to have a winter season, cycle out through a short spring, summer and autumn and then back to another extended winter season, the reason being, each season has essential qualities for our long term health and the cycling away from winter will protect against plateau’s in fat loss and keep your gut healthy – read on to find out the properties of each season and ask yourself, when was the last time you took in an alternative season to summer??

At Tribal, we have some unique, ancestrally inspired ideas about each season and what they mean to your health and wellbeing:

  • Spring: Pre-Season. New beginnings, like a fun winter.
  • Summer: In-Season. Activity up for mating season, you better fuel this.
  • Autumn: Post-Season. Digestive cleanse and fat storage in preperation for winter.
  • Winter: Off-Season. Food scarcity, hard work finding food and a metabolic reset.

There are times when we need to break this seasonal approach: here are my thoughts.

If you are unwell, run down or resting during a de-load week (3-5 days) or with injury.

During any healing period: Rest and take pressure from your digestive system. Stick to the feeding window detailed in the Winter protocol from above. Have your daily Tribal Alkaliser to maximise nutrient intake. Also, hydrate adequately with water and salt.

Cheat Days

Even upon a cheat day- still avoid the foods that you are reactive to. If you have a problem with sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, alcohol or soy, ensure you cheat with alternative foods. Your next few days will  

Moving into Fat Adaption

Upon deciding to align with our ancestors and seeking a healthier relationship with food- the key period for cleaning up and becoming more efficient is 30 days. Every elimination of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, and dairy should last for at least 30 days to feel the real benefits. Only after 30 days should you consider a reintroduction of the foods you feel you may be sensitive to to measure your response.

Following a period of greater carbohydrate ingestion or binging on alcohol or processed foods, the speed of your return to homeostasis and fat utilisation varies depending upon your health, level of inflammation and insulin sensitivity, but, generally, following a cheat day of increased carbohydrate- it can take anywhere between 12-72hrs to get back to fat adaption and stabilise blood sugars.

How much should I eat?

Let your appetite decide. Unlike processed foods that delay feelings of satiation, quality foods let your body know when you’ve had enough. (Issues with constant eating are often down to consuming the wrong foods.)

The paleo approach to eating is not obsessed with calories or quantities. It’s about focusing on the quality, provenance and nutrient density of the foods you choose.

Similarly, there’s no need to follow a rigid diet. Your needs will vary with the seasons, your training load and your taste. Sometimes you’ll eat meat, sometimes you’ll go vegetarian, sometimes you’ll eat fruit, at other times you won’t. Be relaxed about your food choices and again, focus on the quality of what you consume.

Eating great food plentifully will allow you to build the energy and strength to train, perform and recover properly.

Download: Guide To Gluten

Download: Guide To Eating Seasonably