On average, Optimisers consume more than twice as much protein, more fat, more fibre and a lot less carbs than the average American.
However, one of the common warnings against a low-carb diet is a lack of nutrients.
But is this a valid concern?
Which nutrients will you miss if you cut sugar and grains and prioritise protein?
I recently downloaded 159,499 days of NHANES nutrient data to see how it stacks up against data from people using Nutrient Optimiser.
As you’ll see, our Optimiers are getting two and a half times more minerals and vitamins. It seems a lower-carb diet can be more nutritious, especially when we focus on protein and essential nutrients.
For this nutrient density analysis, I compared the NHANES data (1999 to 2020) with data from people using Nutrient Optimiser.
The NHANES Data
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a major program of studies of the National Centre for Health Statistics (part of the CDC).
NHANES began in the 1960s to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. Since 1999 they have been running a program of dietary interviews to ascertain nutritional intake.
Meanwhile, the Optimiser data is from the three and a half thousand people who have used Nutrient Optimiser in our Macros Masterclass or Micros Masterclass over the past five years as well as those who have taken our 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge to identify the nutritional gaps in their current diet.
The table below compares the macronutrient profiles of the two datasets. Overall, the macros of the average American align with the Dietary Guidelines.
|Net Carbs (%)||48||17|
In our Macros Masterclass, we don’t prescribe a macro split. Instead, the focus is dialling back excess energy from fat and/or carbohydrates while getting adequate protein. Meanwhile, in the Micros Masterclass, Optimisers focus on getting more of their priority nutrients without excess energy.
The table below compares the nutrient intakes of the two groups.
- Optimisers consume much less sugar, less PUFA and a little less vitamin B1 and sodium than the average American, however
- Optimisers are getting two and a half times more of the essential nutrients on average.
|Poly Fat (%)||6%||7%|
|Vitamin B1 |
|Mono Fat (%)||14%||12%|
|Vitamin B2 |
|Saturated Fat |
|Vitamin B6 |
|Vitamin E |
|Vitamin C |
|Vitamin B12 |
|Vitamin K |
|Vitamin A |
The chart below shows the intake of Optimisers (orange) and the NHANES participants (blue) relative to the Dietary Reference Intakes for each nutrient.
- The average American struggles to get enough of the nutrients shown towards the top of this chart, like vitamins E, K and A, iron, calcium, magnesium and folate.
- Meanwhile, the average Optimiser doesn’t meet the DRI for Vitamin E, iron and calcium.
- Optimisers get less Vitamin B1 and sodium than the lower carb NHANES data. The higher B1 intake in the NHANES data is likely due to the fortification of bread and cereals. Optimisers get significantly more of all the other essential nutrients.
- A common concern about low-carb diets is that they do not provide adequate nutrients or fibre. However, this does not have to be the case.
- A lower-carb diet doesn’t have to mean you get less nutrients. On the contrary, if you prioritise adequate protein and keep an eye on nutrient density, you’ll probably end up with more essential nutrients.
If you want to dial up the nutrient density and decrease the energy density,
- check out our list of nutrient-dense food,
- download the sample of our Maximum Nutrient Density NutriBooster recipe book, and
- download our Maximum Nutrient Density Meal Plan.
To identify your priority nutrients, you can take our 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and check out the food lists tailored for each nutrient here. If you really want to get serious and take your nutrition to the highest level, you can join our Micros Masterclass, which guides you through the process of filling your nutrient gaps with Nutrient Optimiser and our 1400+ NutriBooster recipes.