Nutrient Optimiser Pro Tips
We were amazed to see how passionate people got about optimising their micronutrients during the Nutrient Optimiser Challenge!
The Nutrient Optimiser Facebook Group lit up with people ‘chasing green’ in Cronometer as they tried to hit all their micronutrients targets and vying for the top place on the Nutrient Optimiser Leaderboard.
Optimising nutrition had become a game, and people were addicted! And beyond being a fun problem to solve, it had positive benefits in the real world with improved energy, increased satiety and viola and rapid fat loss!
We want to help people succeed in the game of life. But we understand that people have limited time for boring chores on their to-do list (even if it is good for them).
If we can make the process of optimising nutrition a fun challenge and an intriguing problem to be solved, Nutrient Optimiser has a much better chance of becoming addictive (in a good way). Optimisers will win in the long run by implementing positive habits.
This article unpacks the key factors and habits that we observe that enable someone to achieve success with the minimum effective dose of effort.
Do you need to track your food?
Most people don’t enjoy logging their food. Always fighting against your appetite and biological instincts isn’t much fun.
Most of the time, tracking food with apps like MyFitnessPal is done with a focus on controlling calorie intake.
For good reason, many people consider continually fighting against their body’s urge to eat to be an unhealthy neurosis.
When this period of external restriction ends, and they let their appetite take control again, they inevitably end up ‘falling off the wagon’.
Rather than merely controlling the quantity of energy you consume, Nutrient Optimiser has been designed to help users optimise their dietary habits by guiding them to fill the micronutrient gaps and improve the quality of their diet (with less emphasis on quantity).
While supplementation of a narrow range of isolated nutrients tends to be of limited benefit, wonderful things happen when people get their micronutrients from the food they eat.
While it can be useful to help dial in their macronutrient intake (carbs, fat and protein), the primary purpose of tracking food in context of the Nutrient Optimiser is to enable Optimisers to manage the quality of their diet to make incremental improvements that will lead to long term behaviour change.
When they are able to focus on ‘good food’ there is little room for the ‘bad foods’. People naturally tend to eat as much as they feel need to. They lose fat and gain muscle to become healthier, more energetic and more resilient versions of themselves.
When you’re addicted to feeling good, and eating well has become a habit, you are much less susceptible to the cravings and temptations of ‘bad food’.
Cronometer score vs Nutrient Optimiser score – quantity vs quality
Some people get confused about the difference between the Cronometer targets (shown below) and the Nutrient Optimiser score. It’s essential to understand how these are different but important ways to measure diet quality.
The Cronometer nutrient targets tell you how many of the nutrient scores you achieved the DRI on. If you didn’t get 100%, you could eat more to hit your targets (though this may not help if your goal is weight loss).
While useful in a way, the Cronometer score is not a measure of food quality or nutrient density. The Cronometer target effectively penalises you for eating fewer calories and rewards you for eating more.
Meanwhile, the Nutrient Optimiser Score is a measure of the QUALITY of your diet. It is normalised to nutrients per 2000 calories, so it doesn’t matter how much or how little you eat, it still measures the quality of your diet. If you are focusing on quality, then the quantity generally looks after itself.
We realised pretty early on that this was going to get competitive, with people vying for the top places on the Nutrient Optimiser Leaderboard. So we made it virtually impossible to get a full score of 100%.
The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows the nutritional profile for a range of food normalised to 2000 calories per day. Ninety per cent of the area to the left of the dotted red line is filled, so your Nutrient Optimiser Score would be 90% (see this article for more details on how the Nutrient Optimiser Score is calculated).
There’s nothing magical about achieving 300% of your recommended daily intake from the food you eat other than it’s tough to do and differentiates between people with excellent nutrition.
The Nutrient Optimiser Score doesn’t give you more points if you’re getting massive amounts of some nutrients way beyond your requirement. It doesn’t really matter if you’re getting ten times the recommended minimum intake of vitamin K1, vitamin A or B12.
Looking at the score in this way helps you stay focused on the nutrients that you’re getting less of towards the top. Chasing the harder to find nutrients with the food you are eating becomes a game that ultimately leads to a continuous improvement of your diet quality and building positive habits around food.
How long does it take to improve Nutrient Density?
One of the learnings from the challenge was that we need to educate people around the concepts of nutrient density and satiety. However, given that many people were thrown in the deep end, it was amazing to see so many people learn the process and skills and rapidly improve their nutrient score.
The chart below shows the average nutrient density score vs time for users who recorded their food intake through the challenge. After two or three weeks, users were able to make significant improvements in their nutrient score.
How often should I log my food?
The chart below shows the relationship between the number of times people recorded their food and their average Nutrient Optimiser score in the final week of the challenge. People who logged their food more regularly were able to improve the quality of their diet progressively and ended up with a better final Nutrient Optimiser score.
Participants were asked to reflect on their energy levels each day. This data is used to ensure that daily energy intake is not dropping too low and to prevent excessive slowing of the metabolism due to a lower energy intake.
Ensuring people are feeling energetic enables us to verify that their non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is not decreasing due too much due to excessive levels of restriction. We’d much rather see people losing weight because they feel more energetic because the flood of nutrients had enabled an increase in energy production in the mitochondria.
The chart below shows the daily average of users’ energy levels. In spite of a significant weight loss, the energy levels of the participants improved as they continued to fine-tune the quality of their diet.
Nutrient density vs reported energy
We also saw a nice correlation between the Nutrient Optimiser Score and reported energy levels. Improvements in diet quality seem to align with higher energy levels.
How often should you weigh yourself?
Frequent weighing can be a mental challenge for many people as they try to make sense of the day to day fluctuations. However, regular feedback can be valuable to ensure users remain disciplined and stay focused.
A small short-term fluctuation can be less of a physiological impact than finding that the scales have gone against you after bit weighing yourself for a more extended period. Overall, people that weigh themselves more regularly lost the most weight.
Final nutrient density score vs weight loss
This last chart shows the relationship between users’ average Nutrient Optimiser Score in the final week of the challenge and their overall weight loss.
It was amazing to see that once users started to balance their diet at a micronutrient level with whole food, many people find they are satiated, and their appetite plummets and weight loss seems to follow naturally!
A higher final Nutrient Optimiser Score tended to align with more significant weight loss.
- It typically takes people around three weeks to overhaul their diet and improve their Nutrient Optimiser Score (which is a measure of the quality of nutrient density or diet quality).
- People reported significantly improved energy levels within a couple of weeks of starting the challenge.
- Reported energy levels seem to align with diet quality.
- People who develop the habits of weighing themselves and tracking their food more often tended to perform better in terms of weight loss.
- While daily food tracking and weighing may not be necessary for the long term, these habits appear to be invaluable in the short term to develop new skills and habits to ensure that goals are achieved.
- People with the highest Nutrient Optimiser Score tended to lose more weight.
We have taken the learnings from these challenges and refined our systems to develop optimised food lists, a Nutritional Optimisation Program, Nutritional Optimisation Masterclass and nutrient-dense recipes to help you achieve success as quickly and simply as possible.
Our 6 Week Nutritional Optimisation Masterclass starts 4 January 2020. If you’d like to learn how to optimise your macro and micronutrients to form some lasting habits that will help you thrive through the rest of 2020 and beyond sign up here!
Check out the following articles for more detail: