If you’re interested in optimal nutrition, you probably don’t want to aim for just the recommended nutrient intake, which is the minimum required to hopefully prevent diseases of deficiency.
Instead, you want to strive for the Optimal Nutrient Intakes that align with greater satiety and vitality to ensure you live a long and vibrant life, right?
In this article, we’ll discuss the recommended nutrient intake and showcase the Optimal Nutrient Intakes, which are our stretch targets to empower you to optimise your nutrition to crush your cravings and move beyond merely surviving to thrive.
- Recommended Nutrient Intakes vs Optimal Nutrient Intakes
- Crush Your Cravings More Efficiently with Optimal Nutrition
- Determining Optimal vs Recommended Nutrient Intakes
- The Importance of Targeting Optimal Nutrient Intakes for Nutritional Excellence
- Levelling Up from the Recommended Nutrient Intakes to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes
- Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Optimal Nutrient Intakes
- FAQs: Optimal vs Recommended Nutrient Intake
Recommended Nutrient Intakes vs Optimal Nutrient Intakes
In our previous article, we learned how the minimum recommended nutrient intakes are eerily similar to the Bliss Point nutrient intakes that align with eating the most. In contrast, the Optimal Nutrient Intakes are stretch targets, achievable with food, which align with greater satiety and vitality.
To get straight to the point, the table below shows our Optimal Nutrient Intakes along with the Dietary Reference Intake or Adequate Intakes for the minerals, vitamins and amino acids (per 2000 calories).
|nutrient||DRI or AI||ONI||units|
Vitamins & Omega 3
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Protein & Amino Acids
Crush Your Cravings More Efficiently with Optimal Nutrition
Your appetite is constantly working to find the balance of nutrients you need from your food.
At one extreme, foods that contain negligible nutrients taste bland, so we eat less of them (e.g. flour, sugar or fat by itself). Meanwhile, nutrient-dense foods that pack in more nutrients per calorie have a much stronger taste. Your body knows it doesn’t need much of these foods to get enough of the nutrients it contains. So, we eat less when our food is packed with more nutrients.
As you may be aware, food manufacturers design products to hit our Bliss Point for sugar, fat and salt, adding just enough to ensure we eat and buy more of their foods. However, our data analysis has revealed a Bliss Point for all essential nutrients. These Bliss Point nutrient intakes align with maximum calorie intake and are eerily similar to the official minimal nutrient intakes.
To help you avoid the Bliss Points, the Optimal Nutrient Intakes provide a stretch target for each essential nutrient you can work towards. The Optimal Nutrient Intakes empower you to satisfy your cravings with less energy.
The Optimal Nutrient Intakes are not a limit, where more is bad, but rather a point of diminishing returns where you’re wasting your effort getting more of that nutrient. Setting a stretch target for all the essential nutrients enables you to focus on your priority nutrients and balance your diet at the micronutrient level.
Determining Optimal vs Recommended Nutrient Intakes
The best way to explain how we determined the Optimal Nutrient Intakes is to start with protein.
Protein Bliss Point
The chart below shows the relationship between protein % and energy consumed based on 838,686 days of data from free-living people. Note how we see a Bliss Point at around 12.5% protein, where we eat the most.
If we get less than the Bliss Point intake for protein, we will likely eat less and may lose weight, but we’ll also increase our risk of being malnourished and sarcopenic. We’ll also crave food with more protein and hence eat more until we get the protein we need.
So, for greater efficiency and increased satiety, we want to pack in the protein we need with fewer calories. This involves prioritising protein while dialling back energy from fat and carbohydrates.
Protein Optimal Nutrient Intake
Towards the right of the chart above, you can see that we’ve set the Optimal Nutrient Intake for protein at 40%. Optimisers who hit the Optimal Nutrient Intake for protein eat 34% fewer calories than those at the Bliss Point.
There’s nothing wrong with eating more than 40% protein, but it’s hard to do. Once you get 40% of your energy from protein, you’d be better off focusing on your priority minerals and vitamins rather than dialling your protein % even higher.
Vitamin and Minerals
While protein is the dominant factor in the satiety equation, our data analysis has shown a similar satiety response for all the essential nutrients. For some nutrients (like vitamin B5 and K1, shown in the charts below), the satiety response tapers off at higher intakes, suggesting that our body does not crave any more of that nutrient. It may also be that supplements and fortified foods that provide very high levels of these nutrients don’t increase satiety further. In these cases, we have set the Optimal Nutrient Intake at the point that, based on the satiety response curves, there is no additional satiety benefit from more of that nutrient.
The nutrient balance ratios have also been considered in setting the Optimal Nutrient Intake targets. The Optimal Nutrient Intakes are also no more than three times the bliss point or the 85th percentile intake of our Optimisers for that nutrient, so the Optimal Nutrient Intakes are achievable with food without the need for supplementation.
For more details, see:
- Optimal Amino Acid Intakes for Satiety and Weight Loss (According to 313,836 days of Data)
- Unlocking the Secrets of Minerals: The Hidden Power Behind Our Hunger and Cravings
- The Role of Vitamins in Satiety and Weight Management
The Importance of Targeting Optimal Nutrient Intakes for Nutritional Excellence
There are several benefits of levelling up to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.
Our satiety algorithm, which we use in the Macros Masterclass, guides Optimisers to pack in more nutrients that most people crave (i.e. protein, calcium, potassium, iron and sodium). However, we’ve also found that people with different dietary approaches have unique satiety factors. So, targeting the Optimal Nutrient Intakes from your food, as we do in the Micros Masterclass, ensures that you fill all your nutrient gaps and give your body all the nutrients you may be craving.
Nutritional Safety Factor
The official nutrient intakes have been set to prevent deficiency in most people most of the time, at least in the short term. However, if your goal is optimal health, performance and vitality, you probably don’t want to target the minimum.
When I used to design bridges, we’d apply robust safety factors to elements, like the foundations, where we didn’t have a lot of data. You probably wouldn’t want to drive your truck over a bridge designed to the bare minimum to get by, would you?
Similarly, targeting the Optimal Nutrient Intakes gives you a larger safety factor to ensure you’re giving your body everything it needs to thrive, not just survive in the short term.
Copying Successful People
We all like to follow influencers who look how we want to look and perform how we want to. The Optimal Nutrient Intakes empower us to quantitatively pinpoint the nutrient intakes that align with greater satiety and eating less for thousands of people.
This insight allows us to skip the dietary dogma and confusion and eat in a way that allows us to get the amount of essential nutrients that align with greater satiety, regardless of your dietary preference.
Nutrient Triage Theory
Professor Bruce Ames’ Triage Theory of nutrition and longevity has been at the heart of our vision for Optimising Nutrition from the outset.
Based on a plethora of research, Ames’ nutrient triage theory states that when our body doesn’t get enough of all the micronutrients we require, it can only focus on short-term survival. With limited resources, all the functions required to live a long and vibrant life are put on hold.
Our bodies divert the limited resources to execute the bare essentials, and the repair processes required to prevent chronic diseases in the long term, like cancer, autoimmunity, and Alzheimer’s, get put ‘on the back burner’. By efficiently giving your body the resources it needs to thrive, you are empowered to live a long and vibrant life, where weight loss and looking great are side effects.
Levelling Up from the Recommended Nutrient Intakes to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes
To effectively target these optimal levels, monitoring your daily nutrient intake becomes essential. This will help ensure that you are consistently meeting or progressing towards these optimal nutrient levels in your everyday diet.
The Optimal Nutrient Intakes are a key component of our Micros Masterclass. Once Optimisers can meet the default minimum intakes for most of the nutrients in Cronometer, they are ready to level up their nutrition game and strive towards optimal.
The screenshots below show how the Optimal Nutrient Intake targets look in Cronometer if you consume 2000 calories per day and target the full-strength Optimal Nutrient Intakes.
Personalising the Optimal Nutrient Intakes
It’s important to note that the Optimal Nutrient Intakes shown in the tables above are nutrients per 2000 calories. So, unless you’re eating 2000 calories per day, you’ll need to factor them up or down based on your calorie intake.
The other thing to note is that the Optimal Nutrient Intake targets are stretch targets. In the spirit of incrementally levelling your nutrition, you don’t want to jump from the Cronometer default minimums to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes overnight.
To help Optimisers do this in our Micros Masterclass, we’ve created a spreadsheet to calculate their personalised nutrient targets to help them progressively move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.
Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Optimal Nutrient Intakes
Aiming for Optimal Nutrient Intakes instead of just meeting the recommended nutrient intakes can be a game-changer for those seeking to enhance their health and vitality.
By setting these stretch targets, individuals can potentially experience greater satiety, improved nutritional safety margins, and an overall boost in well-being.
The Optimal Nutrient Intakes encourage a more nutrient-dense diet tailored to individual caloric needs, which may help manage appetite and weight and support long-term health outcomes. While the recommended nutrient intakes can serve as a baseline for avoiding deficiencies, Optimal Nutrient Inakes represents a proactive approach to nutrition that focuses on the thriving of the body and mind.
A commitment to achieving optimal nutrient intakes also involves being mindful of your daily nutrient intake. This conscious approach to daily nutrition is pivotal in transforming your health and vitality.
FAQs: Optimal vs Recommended Nutrient Intake
If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve addressed several common questions that arise when talking about the Optimal Nutrient Intakes vs the recommended (minimum) nutrient intakes.
How Were the Official Nutrient Intakes Determined?
The U.S. government established nutrient intake targets in the 1940s to ensure World War II soldiers obtained a minimum amount of each essential micronutrient in their rations to evade diseases associated with deficiency. In other words, these nutrient targets were to keep soldiers alive. Shockingly, they haven’t been updated much in the eight decades since.
Signs and Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient deficiencies can manifest in various ways depending on which essential vitamins or minerals are lacking in one’s diet. Common signs include fatigue, pale skin, hair loss, and brittle nails.
Some individuals may experience muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the limbs, poor concentration, and frequent illnesses due to a weakened immune system. Visual disturbances, delayed wound healing, and mood changes are also indicative.
What is Optimal Nutrition?
Optimal nutrition is the balanced intake of essential nutrients that promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases. It emphasises quality nutrients tailored to individual needs, ensuring the body functions at its peak.
What are the Benefits of Optimal Nutrition?
Optimal nutrition is the foundation for a vibrant and healthy life. It provides the body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function at its peak.
Benefits of optimal nutrition include:
- increased energy levels,
- enhanced mental clarity,
- stronger immune function,
- reduced risk of chronic diseases,
- improved mood, and
- better weight management.
Is There One Optimal Diet?
Eating is highly personal and cultural. There is no single optimal diet for everyone. However, we all need nutrients. The Optimal Nutrient Intakes allows anyone to solve the puzzle of nutrition using the foods available to them in a culturally relevant way that aligns with their beliefs and preferences.
What Foods Should I Avoid for Optimal Nutrition?
For optimal nutrition, minimise your intake of processed foods, sugary beverages and foods with added sugars, refined flours and industrial seed oils. Ultra-processed foods that contain these as primary ingredients tend to be nutrient-poor, so reducing them is the first step in optimising your nutrition.
How Can I Know if I’m Getting Enough Nutrients?
Tracking your daily nutrient intake can provide insight into whether you’re meeting the recommended or optimal nutrient intakes and identify areas for improvement. The best way to understand if you’re getting enough of all the essential micronutrients and meeting your recommended nutrient intake is to track your food for a few days in Cronometer.
In your daily diary in the web version of Cronometer, you can scroll down to see your micronutrient dashboard. In the app version, you can click on Home in the bottom left corner of the screen and then report to see your average nutrient intake for the past week.
Full green bars indicate you’re meeting the minimum (Bliss Point) intake for those nutrients, while shorter grey bars mean you have more work to do on those nutrients.
Remember, the default targets in Cronometer are usually similar to the Bliss Points, which align with maximum energy intake. So, to increase your satiety and level your nutrition, you must move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.
What are the Best Sources of Each Nutrient?
We have created several resources to help Optimisers meet their recommended nutrient intake and move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.
How To Get Adequate Protein
If you’re currently getting less than 12.5% protein, you can use our high-protein foods to get more protein per serving to get the protein your body is craving.
How to Move Towards Optimal Protein Intake
However, if you’re already getting more than 12.5% protein and want to increase your satiety game, check out our protein-rich foods that provide more protein per calorie to help you increase your protein %.
Nutrient Dense Foods List
If you’re starting, check out our nutrient-dense food lists to help you pack more essential nutrients into your calorie budget.
High Nutrient Foods
Once you start zeroing in on specific priority nutrients, you can use our food lists tailored to specific nutrients.
For example, let’s say you want more calcium in your diet because you’re currently not exceeding the bliss point (minimum). In that case, you’ll prioritise foods from the top of the high-calcium food list that provides more calcium per serving.
Nutrient Rich Foods
However, once you’re getting more than the minimum and want to pack in more calcium per calorie, you could use calcium-rich foods that contain more calcium per calorie.
The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World
Rather than trying to follow an off-the-shelf meal plan, most people have the most long-term success when they evolve their diet into a nutrition-packed masterpiece. But if you want to see what a week of nutrient-dense eating could look like, download our free Healthiest Meal Plan in the World here.
Your NutriBooster Recipes: Power Packs for Your Nutritional Game
But most of us don’t just eat individual foods; we combine them to make meals. We created our suite of 35 NutriBooster recipe books to help Optimisers with different goals and preferences get the micronutrients they need from tasty recipes. These are ideal for people who don’t want to track their food and want to know what to eat to get the necessary nutrients. To kickstart your nutrition game, you can download samples of each book here.
Starting Your Gamified Nutrition Quest: Free 7-Day Tracking Challenge
If you’re curious and want to see how your personalised nutrition stacks up, we’d love you to take our free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge. After a few days, Nutrient Optimiser will reveal your nutrient score, identify which foods from your current diet are more and less optimal for you, and provide food and meal suggestions to align closer to your micronutrient goals.
Once you’re ready to level up your nutrition game, we’d love you to try our Micros Masterclass. Over four weeks, we’ll show you how to plug the gaps in your diet and gamify your nutrition to take it to the next level. We’ll show you the ropes of effective meal planning.