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The Optimal Nutrient Score

Ever wished someone would create a single score to measure quality, ensure you are getting the essential nutrients you need (rather than just avoiding “bad foods”) and help you manage satiety so you don’t need to worry so much about food quantity?

I give you the Optimal Nutrient Score!

Overview

This article defines how we can use the Optimal Nutrient Intakes (ONIs) to create the Optimal Nutrition Score

This is the final part of this series detailing our analysis of forty thousand days of food logging data from more than a thousand people.  

The Past:  The Nutrient Optimiser Score 

Up until now, we have used the Nutrient Optimiser Score to rank and compare different groups of foods based on the nutrients they provide as well as to rank the diets of Optimisers on the Nutrient Optimiser Leaderboard.  

The Nutrient Optimiser Score allows us to compare apples and oranges (or anything else) based on the nutrients that a food, meal or way of eating provide on a calorie for calorie basis.  

The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows how the Nutrient Optimiser Score is calculated.  The horizontal axis is the proportion of the Recommended Daily Intakes for each of the essential nutrients per 2000 calories. 

The Nutrient Optimiser Score is simply the area to the left of the 300% line.  In the example above, 90% of the area to the left of the red dotted line is filled, so we get a score of 90%.  

The problem with this approach is that the DRIs are debatable and often context-specific.  While there is deficiency data for the Daily Recommended Intakes for many micronutrients, others are simply based on population averages from people eating a typical western diet.   

The other problem with this way of scoring is that, as we found in the Nutrient Density Challenge, it is not that hard to get a score of 100% which leaves no further room for improvement or differentiation between the people towards the top of the Nutrient Optimiser Leaderboard.   

Nutrient Density Challenge Winners

To demonstrate, we have included some of the nutrient profiles of the winners of the first Nutrient Optimiser Nutrient Density Challenge.  David, Angela and Susana all did incredibly well in terms of their nutrient density, fat loss and health improvements.  

Note:  We have verified that these scores were achieved with whole foods (no supplements).   

David 

David made some significant progress optimising his diet and his health in just four weeks:  

  • Weight loss = 10.8 lbs or 4.9 kg.
  • Body Fat = 2.2% reduction
  • Waist = 1.5 inches lost
  • Fasting blood sugar reduction = 55 mg/dL!

David’s Nutrient Optimiser Score was 100%, meaning that he was able to get more than 300% of the DRI per 2000 calories for all of the essential nutrients.  

Angela 

Angela has been using Nutrient Optimiser since the first weight loss challenge in January 2019 and made some great progress with her vibrant and creative meals.

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Angela was also able to score 100%.  

Susana 

Susana engineered her diet to maximise nutrient density and also made some great progress during the challenge.  

She also achieved a score of 100%!  

Enter Optimal Nutrient Intakes 

So, to improve on the Nutrient Optimiser Score we figured we needed to a method to differentiate between people who are able to dial in their nutrient density.  Simply using three times the DRI is not enough.   

Also, because some of the DRIs are based on population averages, we don’t have a lot of confidence that they are that meaningful.  Instead, with the Optimal Nutrient Intakes set based on the intake of each nutrient that maximises satiety for Optimisers, we can use the ONIs to redefine the scoring system to create a much more useful scoring mechanism.   

The chart below shows average Optimal Nutrition Score (52%) for the average of the forty thousand days of food logging from Optimisers.  

  • At the bottom of the chart, we see that most people are getting plenty of phosphorus, vitamin A, sodium and vitamin B5.  
  • At the top of the chart, we can see that most people would do well to focus on getting more vitamin D, B1, B12, K and omega 3.  
  • Focusing on these harder to get nutrients towards the top of the chart enables people to balance and optimise their diet at a micronutrient level.  

The chart below shows that we get a wide distribution of scores using this method.  If you are looking for healthy maintenance you should aim for a score of at least 50%. If your goal is to lose weight and consume fewer calories then a score of greater than 60% will ensure you get the nutrients you need to thrive even if you are consuming less energy.

What if I have particular symptoms or conditions?

The ONIs are designed to maximise satiety and reduce cravings due to deficiencies.  If you focus on the nutrients you are getting less of (i.e. the ones towards the top of your nutrient fingerprint chart), we think you have a good chance of doing well in the long term.  By optimising your diet you will give yourself the best chance of optimising your long term health.

However, if you know you have specific symptoms or conditions, then Nutrient Optimiser will help you focus on the foods and meals that contain these nutrients as a priority to help you shortcut your healing process.  

Will levelling up your nutrient density help you lose weight?

Yes.  It will.

The other advantage of this method of defining nutrient density is that it aligns directly with satiety.  

As shown in the chart below, a higher ONI score corresponds with a 40% lower calorie intake than a lower score.  Improving your diet quality will help you control your appetite with less focus on calorie counting and food quantity.   

Over the long term, most people find their appetite ensures they get the nutrients they need, no matter how much energy they need to consume. When we focus on foods that contain more of the nutrients we are not getting our appetite stands down and we are satisfied with fewer calories.

By focusing on foods and meals that contain more of the nutrients towards the top of the nutrient fingerprint chart, you are able to continually optimise your diet.  

To see get your nutrient fingerprint and to see where you sit on the Nutrient Optimiser Leaderboard all you need to do is log your diet for a few days in Cronometer and upload it to the Nutrient Optimiser Free Report

Nutrition should be about nutrients!

Rather than providing what your body needs, “healthy food” is more often than not defined by what various people believe we should avoid (i.e. calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, carbs, fat, plants, animals, dairy, oxalates, anti-nutrients, etc.). This approach often arrives at some nonsensical results!

This sets up an unhealthy tension between your conscious mind that is trying to limit your intake while your subconscious reptilian instinct is fighting to get the nutrients it requires to thrive.

However, when we give our body what it needs (i.e. adequate nutrients and energy), our appetite stands down.  You are able to regain a “healthy relationship with food” and get on with enjoying the rest of your life without the need to be overly food focused.  When you focus on the foods and meals that contain the nutrients that you’re not getting enough of everything else tends to fall into place.

Where do I start?

After four years of digging into the theory, we’ve created some exciting tools to help you optimise your nutrition:

The End!

This brings us to the end of this series looking at nutrient intakes for optimal health and satiety. We have a ton of other exciting articles and topics in the pipeline that we can’t wait to share. In the meantime, you can check out the others in this series that set the foundation for the Optimal Nutrition Score.

To kickstart your journey towards optimal get your free program and one of 70+ food lists personalised just for you!  

Marty Kendall
 

  • thrivetester says:

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