Nutrient Bliss Points: The Perfect Amount that Leads to Food Addiction

Imagine biting into a perfectly seasoned potato chip, feeling an irresistible urge to grab another.

This isn’t by chance—it’s science.  In the 1970s, a food scientist named Howard (Howie) Moskowitz discovered the secret formula that makes us crave more: the bliss points for sugar, salt, and fat.  These precise combinations revolutionized the processed food industry, creating products that are nearly impossible to resist.

But what if I told you that these bliss points extend beyond just sugar, salt, and fat?  What if our cravings are also driven by the perfect levels of every essential nutrient?

Welcome to the world of nutrient bliss points, where the right amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients can significantly influence our eating habits.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • The concept of bliss points and their impact on food addiction.
  • How processed food manufacturers use these points to maximize consumption.
  • The science behind bliss points for sodium, macronutrients, and micronutrients.
  • Practical strategies to reduce your intake of hyperpalatable foods and regain control over your diet.

Join us as we uncover the hidden mechanisms that drive our cravings and learn how to navigate a world engineered for maximum consumption.

How to Design the Perfect Food (to Maximise Profit)

In the 1970s, Howard (Howie) Moskowitz revolutionised the processed food industry by identifying the perfect bliss points for sugar, salt and fat. 

By quantifying these bliss points with mathematical precision, he weaponised the arms race to create the most hyperpalatable, profitable and addictive foods.  Fifty years later, all food manufacturers understand how to hit all these bliss points simultaneously.

What is the Bliss Point? 

The bliss point in food is the perfect concentration of a nutrient in a food that maximises its palatability. 

These bliss points intakes for the essential nutrients represent the minimum your body craves that aligns with maximum food intake.  

Bliss Point for Sodium

To illustrate how the bliss point works, the chart below shows the amount we eat using varying concentrations of sodium.  In the middle of the chart, we have a bliss point for sodium at 3.1 g/2000 calories, which aligns with the maximum food intake. 

  • When our food contains less sodium, it tastes bland, and we crave saltier foods. 
  • But once we exceed this amount, our food tastes ‘too salty,’ so we eat less. 
sodium bliss point chart

Bliss Point for Macronutrients

The chart below shows the bliss points for each macronutrient together. 

macronutrient bliss points

Notice the peak of each curve indicating that we eat more when our food contains the perfect combination of macronutrients that our bodies crave, i.e.: 

  • 12.5% protein, 
  • 38% fat and,
  • 48% carbohydrates.

Creating foods to profit from and how much we will eat of them is not just about sugar, fat, and salt.   Our analysis has shown that all the micronutrients, to differing degrees, influence our cravings and, hence, how much we will eat of a particular food.

Like filling a hybrid car with gas and electricity simultaneously, foods containing the perfect blend of carbs and fat enable us to fill the glucose and fat fuel tanks in our body more rapidly, giving us a bigger dopamine hit. 

This is great in a world of scarcity where survival relies on building enough fat to survive the impending winter, but not so good in our modern world, where food is cheap and abundant. 

You can think of this as nature’s optimal fat gain setting that leads us to eat and store the most to survive an impending winter.  But today, these foods are available 24/7/365 and are designed to be impossible to resist.  

Our Learned Appetite for Micronutrients

Your appetite is like a nutrient-seeking missile that searches for foods containing your priority nutrients, whether you realise it consciously or not. 

While we don’t have a strong conscious taste for minerals the way we do protein, fat, salt and sugar, it appears we may have a learned appetite for the nutritional value of our food.  

Through repeated exposure, our bodies learn how much food they need to get the required nutrients, and we get a reinforcing dopamine hit after consuming these foods.

Minerals Bliss Points

The table below shows the bliss points for each of the minerals (per 2000 calories).  For more details, see The Role of Minerals in Cravings, Hunger, Satiety and Health.

mineralBliss PointDRI or AIunit
calcium6501000mg
copper0.90.9mg
iron1118mg
magnesium200420mg
manganese2.32.3mg
phosphorus1100700mg
potassium18003400mg
selenium9555mcg
sodium31001500mg
zinc811mg

Vitamin Bliss Points

The table below shows the bliss point for each vitamin that aligns with the maximum energy intake (per 2000 calories).  For more details, see The Role of Vitamins in Satiety and Weight Management.

vitaminBliss PointDRI or AIunits
thiamine (B1)1.31.2mg
riboflavin (B2)1.41.3mg
niacin (B3)1816mg
vitamin B53.95.0mg
vitamin B61.51.3mg
vitamin B123.62.4mcg
choline450550mg
folate380400mcg
vitamin A400900mcg
vitamin C5590mg
vitamin E715mg
vitamin K155120mcg

Are the DRIs and AIs enough?

Intriguingly, the bliss point is eerily similar to the DRI or AI for many of these nutrients.  The DRIs and AIs generally represent the minimum of each nutrient required to function and maximise growth and fat storage.  If we treat the DRIs and AIs as a target, we set ourselves up to minimise satiety and maximise how much we’ll need to eat. 

Although our cravings for vitamins may be more subtle than our cravings for protein, targeting the DRIs may leave us craving more food to get the vitamins our bodies crave. 

How to Avoid Food Addiction and Overeating

This understanding of the nutrient bliss points is critical to the design of our satiety score

We are often warned to avoid empty calories, but we don’t tend to overeat nutrient-poor foods (e.g. rice, flour, sugar or oil) by themselves.  At the other end of the spectrum, nutrient-dense foods (e.g. spinach, liver, sardines, etc) have a strong taste.  They quickly trigger sensory-specific satiety because they contain a high concentration of nutrients well beyond the bliss point. 

Meanwhile, the foods with the lowest satiety scores we overeat strike a balance between these extremes.  They seduce our appetite but never really satisfy it. 

To find foods that promote greater satiety and those to avoid to prevent addiction and overeating, see Ditch the Fads: This Interactive Tool Reveals the Perfect Foods for YOU.

Fortification:  A Double-Edged Sword?

To account for the lack of naturally occurring nutrients, ultra-processed foods are often fortified with synthetic vitamins.  In addition to artificial flavours and colourings, these synthetic supplements may make these foods taste much more appealing than the meat and seafood that naturally contain these nutrients. 

How Can I Reduce My Consumption of Bliss Point Foods?  

1.    Avoid Processed Foods

Avoiding packaged foods with a blend of sugar, refined starch, and seed oils is a great place to start.  Also, any packaged food listing artificial flavours, colours, and fortification is a dead giveaway that that food was engineered to hit your bliss points and make you eat more. 

2.    Avoid Fat and Carb Combo Foods

Natural foods provide energy primarily from fat or carbohydrates, not both simultaneously.   So, if you’re trying to eat less to lose weight, try to minimise adding fat to carbs to create delicious recipes (e.g. fried rice, pasta carbonara or baked goods that contain butter and flour).  

3.    Prioritise Protein  

Protein is the dominant player in the satiety equation, so ensure you get protein at every meal.  This will leave you more satiated and less prone to snacking on less optimal foods between meals.  In our Macros Masterclass, we guide our Optimisers to dial their protein % by prioritising protein and incrementally dialling back fat.

If you’re currently consuming an average of 15% protein, you could work up to 20% protein.  Most people don’t need to make it to our Optimal Nutrient Intake of 40% protein to see sustainable weight loss results. 

4.    Increase Nutrient Density

Once you’ve laid the foundation with adequate protein, you can focus on getting more of each of the micronutrients per calorie. 

In our Micros Masterclass, we guide Optimisers to work towards our Optimal Nutrient Intake (numbers exceeding the DRI/AI) for each mineral and vitamin to augment their satiety further and give their body everything it needs more efficiently. 

Appendix: Bliss Point Charts and High Nutrient Foods

If you’re currently getting less than the bliss point intake for a particular nutrient, you need to prioritise foods that contain more of that nutrient.  For those eager to learn more, we’ve also included the bliss point charts and infographic showing foods that contain more of each nutrient.  You can find more details for each nutrient and printable food lists in the resources section of our Optimising Nutrition Community.   

Protein

Minerals

Potassium

Sodium

Calcium 

Iron

Selenium

Magnesium

Zinc

Manganese

Vitamins

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B2

Niacin (B3)

Vitamin B5

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin K1

Folate

Vitamin A

More

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