nutrient dense superfoods for maintenance

These foods will help you maximise nutrient density and sustain health with adequate energy for weight maintenance.

“A nourishing, balanced diet that provides all the required nutrients in the right proportions is the key to minimising appetite and eliminating hunger at minimal caloric intake.”

Paul Jaminet

2016-07-06 (11)

The downside of the most nutrient dense foods is that they have such a low energy density that it can be hard to maintain your body weight.   The chart below shows that these foods still rank at #4 of the 13 approaches analysed in terms of nutrient density despite containing a little more fat!

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These foods still have a fairly low energy density (#4 of 13), but not as much as the more aggressive weight loss approach.  The addition of some nuts and dairy brings means it will be easier to maintain body weight and satiety, especially if you are active.

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The chart below shows that the nutrients provided by these foods is well above the average of all the foods in the USDA database.

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The tables below show the

vegetables and spices

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
endive 14 23% 1 17 2.7
coriander 14 30% 2 23 2.6
chicory greens 13 23% 2 23 2.5
asparagus 15 50% 3 22 2.4
brown mushrooms 17 73% 5 22 2.3
escarole 11 24% 1 19 2.2
spinach 14 49% 4 23 2.2
watercress 16 65% 2 11 2.2
alfalfa 10 19% 1 23 2.2
basil 13 47% 3 23 2.1
beet greens 11 35% 2 22 2.0
portabella mushrooms 13 55% 5 29 2.0
zucchini 11 40% 2 17 2.0
arugula 11 45% 3 25 1.9
chard 12 51% 3 19 1.9
white mushroom 14 65% 5 22 1.9
mustard greens 10 36% 3 27 1.9
parsley 11 48% 5 36 1.8
lettuce 11 50% 2 15 1.8
paprika 8 27% 26 282 1.8
shiitake mushroom 12 58% 7 39 1.8
Chinese cabbage 11 54% 2 12 1.7
okra 11 50% 3 22 1.7
dandelion greens 11 54% 7 45 1.7
broccoli 10 50% 5 35 1.6
curry powder 6 13% 14 325 1.6
summer squash 9 45% 2 19 1.6
yeast extract spread 11 59% 27 185 1.6
banana pepper 8 36% 3 27 1.6
pickles 8 39% 1 12 1.5
cucumber 8 39% 1 12 1.5
celery 9 50% 3 18 1.5
collards 7 37% 4 33 1.4
chives 8 48% 4 30 1.4
cauliflower 8 50% 4 25 1.4
turnip greens 7 44% 4 29 1.3
sage 5 26% 26 315 1.3
cloves 6 35% 35 274 1.3
artichokes 7 49% 7 47 1.2
thyme 5 34% 31 276 1.2
eggplant 5 35% 3 25 1.2
mustard seed 4 27% 37 508 1.2
seaweed (wakame) 10 79% 11 45 1.2
jalapeno peppers 5 37% 3 27 1.1
sauerkraut 5 39% 2 19 1.1
cabbage 7 55% 4 23 1.1
marjoram 4 31% 27 271 1.1
radishes 5 43% 2 16 1.1
chayote 5 40% 3 24 1.1
bamboo shoots 7 60% 5 27 1.1
radicchio 8 67% 4 23 1.1
red peppers 5 40% 3 31 1.1
dill 7 59% 8 43 1.1
edamame 5 41% 13 121 1.0
seaweed (kelp) 9 77% 10 43 1.0
poppy seeds 2 17% 23 525 1.0
caraway seed 3 27% 28 333 1.0
turnips 6 51% 3 21 1.0
snap beans 6 58% 3 15 0.9

seafood

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
fish roe 11 47% 18 143 1.9
crab 13 71% 14 83 1.8
salmon 11 52% 20 156 1.7
caviar 9 33% 23 264 1.7
oyster 12 59% 14 102 1.7
trout 9 45% 18 168 1.6
anchovy 9 44% 22 210 1.6
lobster 12 71% 15 89 1.6
halibut 12 66% 17 111 1.6
crayfish 11 67% 13 82 1.5
sturgeon 9 49% 16 135 1.5
mackerel 4 14% 10 305 1.4
sardine 7 37% 19 208 1.4
cod 11 71% 48 290 1.4
flounder 9 57% 12 86 1.3
pollock 10 69% 18 111 1.3
rockfish 9 66% 17 109 1.2
herring 5 36% 19 217 1.2
perch 8 62% 14 96 1.2
shrimp 9 69% 19 119 1.1
haddock 9 71% 19 116 1.1
cisco 4 29% 13 177 1.1
whiting 7 66% 18 116 1.0
octopus 8 71% 28 164 0.9
tuna 6 52% 23 184 0.9

animal products

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
lamb kidney 11 52% 15 112 1.8
lamb liver 10 48% 20 168 1.7
turkey liver 10 47% 21 189 1.7
chicken liver 9 50% 20 172 1.6
beef brains 6 22% 8 151 1.5
ham (lean only) 10 59% 17 113 1.5
veal liver 8 55% 26 192 1.3
beef kidney 8 52% 20 157 1.3
beef liver 9 59% 25 175 1.3
chicken breast 8 60% 22 148 1.1
turkey heart 6 47% 20 174 1.1
lamb brains 4 27% 10 154 1.1
turkey ham 6 45% 14 124 1.1
pork chop 7 57% 23 172 1.1
pork liver 7 59% 23 165 1.1
beef heart 5 41% 16 165 1.0
chicken liver pate 4 34% 17 201 1.0
ground turkey 3 30% 19 258 1.0
roast pork 5 41% 20 199 1.0
turkey drumstick 6 52% 21 158 1.0
turkey meat 6 52% 21 158 1.0
turkey (skinless) 4 40% 16 170 1.0
ground pork 6 54% 25 185 0.9
pork shoulder 6 56% 22 162 0.9
pork loin 4 41% 19 193 0.9
pork ribs 4 39% 21 216 0.9
roast ham 4 41% 18 178 0.9
ham 2 29% 11 149 0.9
leg ham 5 56% 22 165 0.8
lamb sweetbread 4 43% 15 144 0.8
lamb heart 4 48% 19 161 0.8
lean beef 6 61% 23 149 0.8
pork 4 44% 22 209 0.8
chicken (leg with skin) 3 42% 18 184 0.8

dairy and egg

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
egg yolk 6 18% 12 275 1.6
whole egg 6 30% 10 143 1.4
whey powder 10 95% 82 339 0.8
kefir 6 64% 7 41 0.7
cheddar cheese -2 20% 20 410 0.4
feta cheese -2 22% 15 264 0.4
Swiss cheese -2 22% 22 393 0.4
mozzarella -1 34% 26 304 0.4
gruyere cheese -2 22% 23 413 0.4
limburger cheese -2 19% 15 327 0.4
blue cheese -2 21% 19 353 0.4
sour cream -3 13% 6 198 0.4
camembert -2 21% 16 300 0.4
cream -4 6% 5 340 0.3

legumes, nuts and seeds

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
sunflower seeds 4 15% 22 546 1.3
brazil nuts 1 9% 16 659 1.0
flax seed 1 11% 16 534 1.0
pumpkin seeds 1 19% 29 559 0.9
almond butter -0 16% 26 614 0.7
almonds -0 15% 25 607 0.7
walnuts -1 13% 22 619 0.7
sesame seeds -1 10% 17 631 0.7

other dietary approaches

The table below contains links to separate blog posts and printable .pdfs detailing optimal foods for a range of dietary approaches (sorted from most to least nutrient dense) that may be of interest depending on your situation and goals.   You can print them out to stick to your fridge or take on your next shopping expedition for some inspiration.

dietary approach printable .pdf
weight loss (insulin sensitive) download
autoimmune (nutrient dense) download
alkaline foods download
nutrient dense bulking download
nutrient dense (maintenance) download
weight loss (insulin resistant) download
autoimmune (diabetes friendly) download
zero carb download
diabetes and nutritional ketosis download
vegan (nutrient dense) download
vegan (diabetic friendly) download
therapeutic ketosis download
avoid download

If you’re not sure which approach is right for you and whether you are insulin resistant, this survey may help identify the optimal dietary approach for you.

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post last updated April 2017

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