The Diet Quality Score: Your Ultimate Measure of a Balanced Diet

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!


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 that is filled.  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 Dietary Reference Intakes for many micronutrients, others are 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 how this works, 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 with no supplements.   


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 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 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 create a method to differentiate between people who can 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 the 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 benefit by focusing 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 health 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.

We have now updated the Nutrient Optimiser platform using the Optimal Nutrient Intake Score. The new and greatly improved Nutrient Optimiser Free Report will allow you to upload your Cronometer data to find your current ONI score, which nutrients you need to focus on and which foods and meals contain them.

Masterclass results

We recently used the ONI score in the first roll-out of the Nutritional Optimisation Masterclass which commenced in January 2020.

The chart below shows the micronutrient fingerprint chart from Camilla who achieved the highest Optimal Nutrient Intake of 95.3%.

After already losing of 65 kg over the past two years, by focusing on maximising her nutrient density, Camilla was able to drop a further 7 kg or 15 lbs in during the six-week masterclass!

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), you have a pretty good chance of doing well in the long term.  By optimising your diet, you will give yourself the best chance of maximising 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 fast track 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 have to consume to get those nutrients.

But 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 will be able to continually optimise your diet.  

To see get your nutrient fingerprint and to find out 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.).

Sadly. this approach to nutrition 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 can 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.