Nutrient-Dense Meals and Recipes

Over the past five years, we’ve calculated and analysed numerous datasets to determine the most critical food components for feeling satiated and energised. 

Not only have we taken this information to create our Macros and Micros Masterclasses, but we’ve also used it to compile the most comprehensive lists of nutrient-dense meals and recipes available. 

This article will show you how to access our secret database of nutrient-dense meals for free!!! 

These are the same NutriBooster recipes embedded in our Nutrient Optimiser software that thousands of Optimisers have used to dial in their micronutrients in our Micros Masterclass

But First… What Is Nutrient Density? 

Nutrient density is simply the sum of all the essential micronutrients, or the vitamins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids, per calorie in a food or meal. 

Because nutrient density is positively correlated with satiety, prioritising nutrient-dense foods and meals ensures you have all the raw materials you need to crush your cravings, control your appetite, and thrive!

Why Should You Prioritise Nutrient-Dense Meals?

Many people like to think in terms of the amount of a single micronutrient in a gram of food.  For example, ‘how much vitamin A is in 100 g of liver?’ 

But nutrients usually don’t come alone—unless they come in a pill!  If you follow this overly-simplistic single-nutrient approach, you’ll likely exceed your daily calorie budget and just hit the minimum micronutrient intakes each day.  This is far from optimal, especially if you don’t want to gain weight or you want to lose it! 

Alternatively, you might think you can fork over your hard-earned cash for expensive supplements in hopes that they’ll give you the same benefit as the micronutrients found in whole foods (hint: they don’t).  Supplements and fortification often just give people a false sense of security, thinking that they have bought some ‘nutritional insurance’ so they don’t have to change what they eat. 

Our nutrient-dense meals empower you to pack more of all the essential vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids into one plate without guesswork.  Not only is this convenient for you, but even adding just a few of these nutrient-dense meals and recipes ensures you get all your priority nutrients while staying under your energy budget. 

Because nutrient-dense meals provide you with more nutrients that support satiety, you will satisfy your cravings and increase satiety so you can eat less without exerting unsustainable restriction and willpower.

What Meals Are Nutrient-Dense?

Nutrient-dense meals contain more of all the essential micronutrients your body requires per calorie. 

Generally, the most nutrient-dense meals combine protein, fibre, and some energy from carbs and fat

Higher-protein foods—especially from animal sources like meat, poultry, dairy, and fish—provide the essential amino acids that are critical for satiety.  In addition, foods containing protein also tend to supply a handful of vital vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, like B vitamins, zinc, and omega-3s.

Low-energy-density foods like fibrous carbohydrates supply some of the harder-to-find nutrients that are tough to get from animal foods alone.  These complementary foods ensure your micronutrient profile is complete.

Fats provide a source of slow-burning energy that keeps blood sugars more stable.  They also help you absorb fat-soluble nutrients and even contain some of them.

Lastly, non-fibrous carbs are a great source of fast fuel, which is perfect for intense exercise.  They also provide some vitamins and minerals.

Together, these food components combine to make the most nutrient-dense meals.  Instead of just focusing on a single food that contains one or two vitamins or minerals, recipes like our NutriBoosters provide the entire profile of micronutrients you require to thrive.

How Did We Create This Collection of Nutrient-Dense Meals?

For the past five years, we’ve been collecting and creating a massive database of recipes to find the most nutritious ones in the world. 

When we found a recipe that looked OK, we analysed it in Cronometer and added it to our mega-spreadsheet to see how it stacked up. 

We’ve also been running our Macros Masterclass and Micros Masterclass for three years.  Our NutriBooster Recipes Facebook group has been super active, with many people sharing their favourite recipe creations.  Over time, we’ve compiled even more nutrient-dense creations from Optimisers. 

Eventually, we partnered with the fantastic recipe creator and photographer Saskia Lesser to perfect our nutrient-dense recipe database and put together our series of NutriBooster recipe books.      

On our quest, we’ve analysed more than four thousand recipes, progressively added new favourites, and culled the ones that no longer made the cut.

How Do You Make a Nutrient-Dense Meal?

As we mentioned earlier, most nutrient-dense meals do not require complicated long lists of hard-to-find ingredients.  Similarly, most of them do not require more than thirty minutes in the kitchen.  The key to nutrient-dense meals is to combe a spectrum of nutrient-dense foods that fill in each other’s nutrient gaps!

Nutrient Density vs Carbs vs Fat

The chart below shows our current list of six-hundred NutriBooster recipes in terms of carbs vs fat vs nutrient density.   

  • If you know you have blood glucose issues, or if your blood sugars rise by more than 30 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) after meals, you will want to choose lower-carb recipes towards the left. 
  • If your blood sugars are great and you need more carbs to fuel explosive activity, you’ll want to choose the recipes towards the right. 
  • But if you want to maximise satiety and nutrient density, you will want to choose the green recipes in the bottom left corner.  These recipes contain more protein, fibre, and all the essential micronutrients to keep you feeling full so you can eat less.  

There’s a lot of data here—too much to show on your phone screen!  To see the full details of this chart, you can access the interactive version here.  However, we suggest doing this on a computer rather than your phone because there is so much data.  To see details, you can mouse over the dots. 

To find this recipe, you can Google search ‘Optimising Nutrition’ and the recipe name.  For example, ‘Optimising Nutrition Popeye Bowl’. 

Go on, try it now! 

Cool, huh? 

Note: You should be able to find most of these recipes via Google.  However, links to some recipes are only available via the secret list of 100+ recipes in each of the NutriBooster recipe books

Nutrients vs Energy

While dialling in your energy intake from carbs vs fat can be helpful, in the end it comes down to getting the nutrients you need without excess energy. 

The following chart shows the NutriBooster recipes in terms of nutrients versus energy.  We frequently refer to non-fibre carbohydrates and fat together as ‘energy’.  

You can access the interactive version of this chart here.  To maximise your micronutrients, you want to choose more green recipes towards the right.  

Again, to find the recipe, search for ‘Optimising Nutrition’ plus the recipe name in Google. 

Let us know in the comments below how you go!  Which NutriBooster recipe is your favourite?

What Are the Most Nutritious Meals? 

If you’re still reading and haven’t yet gotten lost searching for our recipes on Google, we’ll preview some of our favourite nutrient-dense NutriBooster recipes.  To see the full recipes and the macronutrient and micronutrient breakdown of each, follow the relative links below! 

As you can see, nutrient-dense meals are colourful and relatively simple.  They also taste great because they contain the nutrients your body has been searching for! 

While nutrition sales and marketing have us believing we should rely on rare superfoods like açai, goji, and other exotic fruits, nutrient-dense recipes don’t tend to contain many hard-to-find ingredients. 

The secret to creating nutrient-dense meals is combining fresh, whole ingredients in the right quantities to ensure you get enough of all of your essential micronutrients.  

The Downside of Nutrient-Dense Meals

Over the years, we realised that not everyone wants to eat the most nutrient-dense meals all the time.  Our nutrient-dense recipes are incredibly satiating, which is excellent for quick and effective weight loss.  But once you reach your goal weight, you will need more energy from carbs and fat. 

  • Many of our recipes incorporate some form of seafood because it’s so nutritious.  However, some people don’t enjoy it or can’t get it where they live, so we created our Meat collection of NutriBoosters
  • Others who prefer eating plant-based for ethical and personal reasons may enjoy our Plantsbook with the most nutrient-dense plant-based recipes available!  
  • And this isn’t even all of our recipe books!

Before we knew it, we created an extensive array of NutriBooster recipe books tailored for almost any goal!

The chart below shows where each NutriBooster recipe book sits on the carbs-vs-fat spectrum.  Again, you can check out the interactive Tableau version here for more details.    

The following chart shows how each recipe book ranks on the nutrients-vs-energy landscape.  For the full interactive version of the chart below, click here

The table below lists each NutriBooster recipe book’s average macronutrient split, respective protein:energy (P:E) ratio, and Nutrient Density (ND) Score. 

BookProteinFatNet CarbFibreP:E RatioND
Maximum Nutrient Density51%30%14%4%2.191.4%
Dairy-Free51%31%13%5%2.291.0%
Egg-Free52%30%14%5%2.190.0%
Egg & Dairy Free51%31%13%5%2.189.8%
Pescatarian51%31%14%5%2.089.6%
Fat Loss60%24%12%4%3.088.2%
Meat Based50%36%11%4%2.085.8%
Low Oxalate50%35%11%4%2.182.9%
Bodybuilders32%36%25%6%0.982.4%
Immunity38%25%26%10%1.480.6%
Blood Sugar & Fat Loss37%53%5%4%1.478.8%
Vegetarian32%32%28%8%0.976.1%
High-Protein:Energy68%22%7%4%4.375.0%
Low-Carb Vegetarian32%44%18%6%0.974.5%
Maintenance24%38%31%7%0.674.0%
Lacto Vegetarian28%29%35%8%0.771.2%
Athletes & Bulking21%30%40%9%0.569.1%
Low FODMAP39%45%11%4%1.669.0%
Cancer (Weight Loss)33%33%24%10%1.268.3%
Low Histamine36%45%13%6%1.468.3%
Autoimmune 35%42%17%6%1.467.6%
Low-Carb & Blood Sugar25%66%5%4%0.866.5%
Low-Fat30%15%46%9%0.865.0%
Cancer (Maintenance)28%35%27%10%0.864.9%
Plant-Based21%35%35%9%0.464.5%
Nutritional Keto19%71%5%5%0.657.0%
Therapeutic Keto12%79%5%4%0.343.8%
Cancer (Fat Gain)10%65%18%7%0.240.5%

If you click on the book’s name in the left-hand column in the table above, you will see each book’s micronutrient fingerprint.  This shows how much of the Optimal Nutrient Intakes (ONIs) each recipe book contains, on average.  As you will see, each dietary approach has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of micronutrients and macronutrients

As the fingerprint chart below shows, the Maximum Nutrient Density NutriBooster book hits the Optimal Nutrient Intakes for nearly all the essential micronutrients! 

In contrast, the recipes in the Therapeutic Keto book will not provide you with the same amount of nutrients per calorie.  Although we tried to maximise nutrient density, fats and high-fat foods are not exceptionally nutrient-dense

What’s In Our NutriBooster Recipe Books? 

Each book contains 33 recipes plus additional links to 100+ secret recipes that align with the goal you have chosen.  When you purchase one of the books, you will receive:

  • an e-book with the most nutritious meals optimised for your goal that you can take with you anywhere on your phone or tablet;
  • a secret index of links to 100+ of the most nutrient-dense recipes optimised for your goal on our website so you will never run out of nutritious ideas to try;  
  • a full micronutrient breakdown of each recipe showing the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids it provides;
  • access to all recipes pre-logged in Cronometerfor your convenience; and 
  • a list of the most popular nutrient-dense foods that align with your goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about our NutriBooster recipe books, a summary for each is in the table below.  To purchase, simply click on the link on the left.  

GoalAppropriate For
Fat LossDesigned for rapid fat loss, these recipes provide more micronutrients to minimise cravings, plenty of protein to optimise satiety and prevent muscle loss, and less energy from carbs and dietary fat to lower blood glucose.  This allows you to restrict calories and use body fat for fuel. 
Maximum Nutrient DensityThese are the most nutrient-dense recipes we have that pack all the micronutrients you need into your calorie budget. 
Low-Carb & Blood SugarThis book is designed for someone looking to stabilise blood sugars and maintain weight while prioritising nutrients on a low-carb diet.  Ideal for someone with diabetes or anyone who enjoys low-carb.
Blood Sugar & Fat LossThis book is designed for someone with elevated blood sugars and body fat to lose who is looking to optimise their nutrient density. 
BodybuildersWe designed this book for someone looking to gain muscle without increasing body fat excessively.  These recipes provide plenty of micronutrients with adequate energy to support your workouts, but not to the point that you end up ‘dirty bulking’. 
High Protein:Energy This book was designed with a high protein:energy ratio for aggressive fat loss.  These recipes are ideal for an aggressive short-term Protein-Sparing Modified Fast-style diet.
Nutritional KetoWe designed this book for someone who enjoys keto and wants to optimise their nutrient density but does not require therapeutic ketone levels.
Therapeutic KetoThis book was designed for people who require therapeutic ketone levels for specific conditions, like epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.
Plant-BasedThe most nutrient-dense, plant-based recipes available!
VegetarianThese are the most nutrient-dense vegetarian meals available!
Low-Carb VegetarianThese are the most nutrient-dense, low-carb vegetarian meals that also stabilise blood sugars.   
Lacto-VegetarianThese are the most nutrient-dense, lacto-vegetarian (i.e., no meat, seafood or eggs) recipes available. 
MaintenanceThis book was designed to optimise your nutrient intake so you can maintain your weight and live a healthy and energised life.  
PescatarianThese are the most nutrient-dense pescatarian recipes (i.e., vegetarian plus seafood).
Egg-FreeThe most nutrient-dense meals without eggs.  
Dairy-FreeThe most nutrient-dense meals without dairy.  
Egg & Dairy-FreeThese are the most nutrient-dense meals without eggs or dairy.
Athletes & BulkingWe designed these recipes to provide the energy required to support your activity, growth, and recovery without sacrificing essential nutrients. 
Meat-BasedThese are the most nutrient-dense meals that contain meat (i.e., beef, pork, chicken, etc.).  
ImmunityWe designed these recipes around immune-boosting nutrients like iron, selenium, zinc, potassium, vitamin A, C, and D
Cancer (Weight Loss & Nutrient Density)This book was designed to provide less glutamic acid and methionine for someone with cancer while maximising nutrient density and satiety to promote fat loss.
Cancer (Weight Maintenance)These recipes were designed for someone with cancer trying to maintain a healthy weight that requires less glutamic acid and methionine.
Cancer (Weight Gain)These recipes were designed to provide plenty of energy for someone with cancer that requires less glutamic acid and methionine while providing plenty of energy to support weight gain after or during cancer treatment.
SmoothiesThe most nutritious smoothies for quick and easy meals on the go!
Low OxalateLow-oxalate NutriBooster recipes that maximise nutrient density while minimising oxalates.
Low FODMAPWe designed these recipes to maximise nutrient density and satiety while avoiding high-FODMAP foods.
Low HistamineThis book was designed to maximise nutrient density as much as possible while minimising histamine-containing ingredients.  
Low FatIdeal for people who prefer a low-fat diet or need to refill their glycogen stores quickly when blood sugars are low or after a workout.  

If you’re a part of our Optimising Nutrition Community, you can also check out a sample of each recipe book here.

More

Leave a Comment