Let’s all get on the same page about what it means to be a nutritarian!
Sounds like a pretty good idea, right, since this site is all about helping people become (and stay) nutritarian.
There are plenty of reasons why you’re interested in this lifestyle. Some of the most important being to overcome any health issues, protect against disease and reach your ideal weight.
That means if you’re here right now you’re all about living as long as you can with the best possible quality of life!
Hands-down this lifestyle is going to meet your goals.
It’s going to enrich your life and, for many, it’s going to feel like the very first time you’re truly living.
If you’ve struggled with food addiction and binge eating, practicing this lifestyle is going to repair your disordered eating. I’ve experienced the power of this lifestyle to do these things in my own life (and my family’s) and I’ve been at this now for over 4 years because I love how it makes me feel.
So, let’s really take the time right now to define what being nutritarian is.
Cause getting on the same page is going to help you understand what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to get there. And knowing that is going to help you use this site most effectively to reach your goals!
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- a nutritarian overview (get your free printable here!)
- how the nutritarian plan works: nutrient density & crowding out
- what is the nutritarian plan (get another free printable here!)
Your Nutritarian Overview
Let’s start with the basic tenants of the nutritarian lifestyle.
Go ahead and print this out and hang it on your fridge now: Nutritarian Diet Overview Printable
Later on we’ll cover the different types of plans you can chose to use but, for now, let’s just define the overall goals of eating nutritarian.
Very simply, a nutritarian diet means a diet high in the nutrients humans need for maximizing their health.
- adequate nutrient density
- hormonally favorable
- avoiding things that are carcinogenic or toxic
When you meet these 3 principles your body is running optimally. You’re protected from obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Yeah, that’s a hell of a lot of state-of-mind right there, don’t you think? Not having to worry about developing these deadly diseases that are ravaging our country.
Not to mention reaching and maintaining your ideal weight–so you can be active, happy, and engaged in your life and with the people you love!
So, exactly how do you get there? What do you have to do daily to meet these three principles?
You meet the nutritarian principles when you:
- eat plant-based–emphasizing raw fruits and vegetables, greens, beans, mushrooms, onions, berries and raw nuts & seeds (high-nutrient foods)
- avoid processed foods and animal products (hormonally unfavorable)
- cook without oil (major caloric load with very low nutrients)
- keep added salt to less than 400mg a day (salt deadens your tastebuds and contributes to food addiction)
- stop snacking between meals (keeps you in the catabolic state of your digestion cycle allowing your cells the ability to clean and repair DNA damage)
And that’s everything in a nutshell! Exactly what you need to do to repair your body and achieve health excellence.
By practicing these 5 actions daily you can cure diet-related diseases, lose weight and protect yourself from cancer.
Now, within this overview there’s a few different approaches, and we’ll get into those when we discuss the nutritarian plan a bit later.
But first, let’s learn exactly how this lifestyle works to optimize your body:
- concentrating on nutrients instead of calories
- crowding out and minimizing the bad stuff
So, let’s delve in a little deeper…
Eat Nutrient-Dense & Forget About Calories (Forever!)
Dr. Furhman’s basic nutritarian principle is to eat according to the nutrient-density of your food–not the calories. That means no counting calories. Ever. Again.
Just hang a note on the door to your brain that says: Calories don’t live here anymore.
And it’s not just calories that you need to forget about. Concerning yourself with carbs, fat and protein and in which proportions they should be consumed, is not what being a nutritarian is about.
Carbs, fat and protein are the macronutrients that provide our bodies with calories. They classify the one of three places that your calories come from. But nutritarians aren’t worried about that either.
Nutritarians are focused on eating foods with the highest micronutrients–the vitamins, minerals, fibers and phytochemicals in our food.
Haven’t heard of “phytochemicals” yet? That’s because you can’t find them in pizza, burgers and chicken wings…
Phytochemicals are complex chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. And they are badass! They fight aging, free radicals and advanced glycation end products (a fancy term for inflammation, cell damage and premature cell death–I know, scary stuff).
Science has identified 36 vitamins and minerals but there are hundreds of phytochemicals most of which have yet to be discovered. Phytochemicals literally unlock our genetic and immune system’s disease-fighting potential.
“Every strawberry has about 700 different nutrients in it, not just 36. Every piece of broccoli has about 1000 different nutrients in them. And those phytochemicals are not optional, the human body needs these things for a normal functioning of the immune system. Just to be normal, you need hundreds and hundreds of different phytochemicals from an assortment of natural plant foods.” The End of Dieting, How to Prevent Disease by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (7:49 to 8:08).
And that’s how you heal your body and its systems by adopting a nutritarian lifestyle.
Your goal is to eat the foods that are most favorable to your body and its long-term survival. You assess how favorable a food is by how nutrient-dense it is for the calories (or energy) it provides.
Nutrient-Density: How do your favorite health foods stack up?
Dr. Fuhrman made a hand-dandy scoring system (you can see above and print it out here) called the ANDI scoring system. This shows you how nutrient-dense foods are and helps guide you to eat more of the high-scoring foods.
Let’s try an example: edamame and onions vs. feta cheese and chicken breast.
No surprises here folks, edamame (score: 98) and onions (score: 109) are more nutrient-dense than feta cheese (score: 20) and chicken breast (score: 24).
So what does this mean?
It just means that you need to eat more veggies (high-scoring foods) and less meat and dairy (low-scoring foods).
Edamame and onions supply you with more micronutrients and for less calories. Feta cheese and chicken breast provide you with some protein but little else in terms of life-lengthening free-radical fighting power.
You can only get those kinds of goodies from plants!
Turn Up the Food Volume
It’s time to eat up. Like, a lot.
Because portion-control is for the birds!
Cutting down portions doesn’t work in the long-term anyway when you’re eating low-nutrient foods (like the Standard American Diet). Your body is literally starving for those hundreds of phytochemicals it needs to run efficiently.
We’ve established that nutritarians seek out the most micronutrients they can and forget about counting calories. The next major facet of the nutritarian lifestyle is to eat foods that take up a lot of space in the stomach.
These high-volume foods make you feel full and occupy your stomach’s stretch receptors. And guess what? They also happen to be high in nutrients and low in calories. We’re talking raw and cooked veggies, greens, and fresh fruits.
See those three stomachs up there? They demonstrate how food volume works.
“You can only gain weight if you use concentrated calories, mostly animal products, oils, processed carbohydrates, to fit enough calories in the stomach, because the stomach only holds a liter of food. And you can’t put more than 400 or 500 calories at a time into the stomach if you’re eating natural foods. It fills it up too easily. It’s impossible to become overweight cause you can’t get enough calories into the human body if you’re eating natural foods. To become overweight, like all Americans did, they’ve had to have eaten foods whose calories have been artificially concentrated.” The End of Dieting, How to Prevent Disease by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (39:53 to 40:23).
Dr. Fuhrman calls it “crowding out.”
By focusing on eating all those raw fruits and veggies, greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, raw seeds and raw nuts, you just aren’t going to have enough room left for those detrimental processed foods and animal products.
If you fill up on nutrient-rich, high-volume foods, you crowd out your ability to eat those high-calorie foods you’re used to.
This crowding-out principle is what allows you to lose serious weight while you eat more food.
What is the Nutritarian Plan?
So, there’s more than one plan.
Yup, I know it kinda sucks. Just like everything else in life, there’s a spectrum of nutritarian plans.
That’s why some nutritarians are vegans while others have 2 or 3 servings of animal products (like eggs and fish) weekly. Or some have two salads a day while others only have one. Some nutritarians have small amounts of oil and salt while others abstain.
Don’t worry too much about these distinctions now because my next post in this series is going to break down each nutritarian plan for you in detail.
For now we’re going to concentrate on the two ends of the spectrum:
- the basic nutritarian guidelines
- the aggressive weight-loss 6-week plan
Basic Nutritarian Guidelines
These are the minimum standards to accurately call yourself a nutritarian.
Outlined on pp. 153-157 of The End of Dieting, these basic guidelines are about adding high-nutrient foods into your existing diet.
You can print out this plan here: The Basic Nutritarian Guidelines
They don’t focus on restricting and outlining what you can’t have, they just get you into the habit of filling up on micronutrient-dense plant foods first.
The Basic Nutritarian Guidelines are:
1. eat more salad (at least 1 salad as your main course, daily)
2. eat beans daily (at least 1/2 cup)
3. eat one large serving of steamed green veggies daily
4. eat at least 1 ounce of nuts & seeds daily
5. eat mushrooms and onions everyday
6. eat three fresh fruits daily
When to Use the Basic Nutritarian Guidelines:
You should use this plan when you don’t want to be as restrictive as the Aggressive Weight-Loss standards.
If you don’t have any health concerns like pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, this is a great plan to use to gradually transition into nutritarian living.
If you’ve been vegan or whole-food plant-based, this is a great way to get yourself into the habit of eat nutrient-dense.
Aggressive Weight-Loss 6-Week Plan
This is the strictest form of nutritarianism as outlined on p. 216 of Eat to Live.
You can print out the plan right here: Agressive Weight-Loss Nutritarian Plan
This aggressive plan is the most restrictive but also the fastest way to lose weight and gain health excellence.
My nutritairan recipes follow these stricter guidelines, and this is the plan I used to lose just over 21 pounds in 6 weeks!
The aggressive weight-loss plan adds in these restrictions:
- no eating between meals
- using no more than 400 mg salt daily
- no oil
- no animal products (meat & dairy)
- eating 1 pound of cooked veggies and 1 pound of raw veggies daily
When to Use This Plan
You should use this plan when you’re very serious about losing weight or reversing a food-related health problem.
If you’re not ready to make a 100% commitment to doing this plan then I suggest you start with the basic guidelines instead.
The aggressive plan works by stacking day after day of targeted action till your body has fought through the initial withdrawal symptoms. Your body is flooded with phytonutrients and has undergone a lot of detoxing.
You will lose most of your weight in Week 1 and Week 6, that’s why your 100% commitment is needed to get to that second surge of weight-loss.
No matter which end of the spectrum you decide to start with, you’re a nutritarian!
As a community it’s important for us to be inclusive and encouraging but also understand the differences among us. It’s only through understanding and having a vocabulary for our different nutritarian approaches that we can support each other and encourage others to join us!
So, let’s take a sec to recap exactly what we mean (as a minimum standard) when we talk about being a nutritarian.
This is what all of us try to do, regardless of which plan we follow.
- seek out nutrient-dense calories
- eat primarily plant-based with lots of veggies, fruits, beans, seeds & nuts
- crowd out low-nutrient foods with concentrated calories
If you’re just starting out on your nutritarian journey make sure to head over to the START HERE page for your nutritarian quick-start and a tour of the resources I have ready for you on this site!
Did you’ve find this to be a helpful resource for you? Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
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