What does a nutrient dense diet really mean?
A Nutrient Dense Diet simply means eating nutrient dense whole foods.
Nutrients are the substances in food that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and the growth of your body. They provide the basic building blocks we need to build our cells, tissues, organs, and systems and help create the enzymes and hormones we need to function properly.
Macronutrients, the building blocks of your body, provide the Calories or energy your body needs to move, think, digest, rebuild, and heal. Basic what your body needs to function daily.
Made up from Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that your body also needs.
Protein + Carbohydrates + Fat = Calories
It is critical to consume enough protein each day. Guidelines suggest .8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kg of lean body weight (19 – 40% of total calories) although this is highly bio individual and should be tailored to your physiological needs, goals, activity, satiety levels and digestion status.
Excellent sources of protein include:
Seafood – Wild caught fish and seafood, eating seafood lower on the food chain like sardines and anchovies help avoid the bioaccumulation of heavy metals.
Meat – Organic, 100% grass fed, pasture raised ruminant animals ie beef, pork, lamb, bison, goat
Poultry & Eggs – Organic, 100% pasture raise chicken, duck, turkey, quail and their eggs
Dairy – Organic, raw, full fat, 100% grass fed or pasture raised milk products including cream, milk, cheese, yoghurt (if tolerated)
Nuts, Seeds & Legumes – Organic nuts and seeds ie cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamias, pistachios, pepita seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds (if tolerated)
Examples: Chicken 27g per 100g
Beef 26g per 100g
Lamb 25g per 100g
Tuna 25g per 100g
Eggs 13g for 2 eggs
Sardines 17g per tin drained
Salmon 25g per 100g
Prawns 25g per 100g
Fish white 26g per 100g
Chia seeds 16.5g per 100g
Pumpkin seeds 14g per 100g
Cashews 18g per 100g
Cow’s Milk 3g per 100ml
Coconut Cream 3.6g
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products that provide energy for your body and brain. Carb intake is dependant on your activity level, insulin sensitivity and digestive status suggested between 10 and 40% of total calories. It is encouraged that you avoid carbohydrates from processed foods and choose brightly coloured vegetables and fruits.
Fat is vital to keeping your cells healthy with a recommended range of 25 – 60% of total calories. That’s because fat helps make up the protective coverings that surround every cell in your body. Two layers of fat called the lipid bilayer control what enters and leaves the cell and give it structure. Fat also builds sex hormones in the body like testosterone and estrogen. When you don’t eat enough fat, your hormones can get out of whack. When women get too thin, for example, they sometimes stop getting their period — fat produces estrogen which keeps you fertile.
Fat also releases leptin, a hormone that stops you from overeating by telling your brain when you’ve eaten enough to satisfy your energy needs.
Healthy sources of Fat include;
Omega-3s (Polyunsaturated): Wild-caught fish & oils (e.g. mackerel, salmon, cod, herring, sardines & anchovies), egg yolks and walnuts.
Omega-6s (Polyunsaturated): Organic, unprocessed nuts & seeds (e.g. pistachios, pumpkin & sunflower), and cold pressed oils from blackcurrant, evening primrose, sunflower, sesame & flaxseed.
Omega-9s (Polyunsaturated): Organic olives, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts, and
cold-pressed oils from each.
Saturated: Organic virgin coconut oil and fats from pasture-raised animals (e.g. beef, pigs,
lamb, bison, buffalo, elk, goat, etc.).
So what should be my macro ratios?
Protein Carbohydrates Fat
20 – 40% 10 – 40% 20 – 60%
Protein in grams per day = .8 x weight in kgs or Protein in grams per day = 1.2 x weight in kgs
64g = .8 x 80 or 96g = 1.2 x 80
1g Protein = 4 Calories 1g Carbohydrate = 4 Calories 1g Fat = 9 Calories
( 64 x 4 ) or ( 96 x 4 ) = 256 - 384 calories from protein
What should my daily calorie intake be?
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the daily energy expenditure your body needs to exist. The minimum number of calories your body needs to function daily. The easiest way to calculate this is using one of the many online apps. Most of the food tracking apps will automatically calculate this for you.
I like https://www.mydr.com.au/tools/basal-energy-calculator & https://manytools.org/handy/bmr-calculator/
In case you want to manually calculate, the formula is:
For Men BMR = ( 10 x weight in kgs ) + ( 6.25 x height in cm ) - ( 5 x age in years ) + 5
For Women BMR = ( 10 x weight in kgs ) + ( 6.25 x height in cms ) - ( 5 x age in years) - 161
This formula is then multiplied by the daily activity rate of your body.
Sedentary 1.2 Light 1.375 Moderate 1.55 Very Active 1.725
A woman, 44 yo, 166cm tall and weighs 80kg who has light activity level, looking to lose weight
= ( 10 x weight in kgs ) + ( 6.25 x height in cms ) – (5 x age in years ) – 161
= ( 10 x 80) + (6.25 x 166) – (5 x 44 ) – 161
= 800 + 1037.5 – 220 – 161
= 1456.5 x 1.375
= 2002.6875 total Calories required for this body to function daily
If weight loss is the goal, this body should consume 20% less than these calories ( - 400.5375 )
If weight gain is the goal, this body should consume 20% more than these calories ( + 400.5375 )
Calorie intake for this body should be 1602.15 daily
With 64g – 96g Protein making up 256 – 384 calories or approx. 20%
Assuming 30% calories are from Carbohydrates, 480 which is 120g
And 50% calories from Fat, 804 which is 90g
Macro ratios 20:30:50 Protein 64g – 96g Carbohydrates 120g Fat 90g