In this post I share with you the Fundamentals of Nutrition Optimization that will help you improve one of the top functions of your body.
Disclaimer: By no means I’m playing to be a Dietitian, Nutritionist, or Doctor. This post summarizes what I have learned based on personal experimentation.
After 3 months of focusing on optimizing my nutrition, this is a summary of what’s actionable and how you can start experimenting on your own.
First of all, let’s have a quick review at how the Digestive System works.
The Digestive Pipeline
The human Digestive System if a type of 4 stages pipeline:
- Ingestion: the taking in of food. Eating.
- Digestion: when the main 4 biomolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) are broken down physically and chemically into their smaller building blocks (monomers).
- Absorption: when those building blocks are absorbed via the small intestine and sent to all the different cells of the body.
- Elimination: elimination of anything that is a waste and cannot be absorbed for the body.
The Digestive System works as a Continuous Disintegration, Absorption, and Elimination pipeline.
Some of the main organs involved in the entire process are: mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, and the rectum
How to Optimize the Digestive Processes?
Baseline Proper Functioning
The first step to optimize anything is getting a baseline. Nutrition is not the exception.
In order to first test if your Digestive System is working appropriately, there are several tests that I’d suggest.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Test Panel
- This is a good place to start with a baseline of how your main digestive organs are working and also around different substances in your blood.
- Personally, I use Quest because I don’t need to go through a doctor.
- Suggested frequency: once or twice per year
- Blood and stool test.
- Measures: gut health, oral health, cellular & energy efficiency, biological age, inflammation response, brain & cognitive health, heart & metabolic health and Immune System health.
- Suggested frequency: every 3 months
- Note: The link above is an affiliate link with a $50 discount.
- Comprehensive stool test that detects parasites, bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. in the gut microbiome.
- You may need a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist to get a test.
- Suggested frequency: twice or three times a year
- DEXA Scan
- Originally a DEXA Scan focused on testing bone density. Nowadays it also provides information of your lean muscle and fat percentages. (The next level compared to the traditional body weight scales and or body fat calipers).
Use Nutrition Apps & Gadgets
Besides extensive and relatively expensive tests like the ones mentioned above, I highly suggest to use apps and gadgets like the following to help you optimizing your nutrition:
- Body Weight Scale, Measurement Tape and Phone Camera
- A scale and a measurement tape are the tools that I use every Sunday to check weight and biceps, legs, waist, and hips contours metrics. Why? Because by only measuring your weight you will not be able to track where in your body you lost or gained weight.
- Finally, weekly frontal and side photos in underwear are a must to get the Before and After of your optimization.
- Food Kitchen Scale
- Some people may consider this part neurotic. In my case, for specific periods of time, I measure how much I am consuming of different food ingredients because that way I’m getting more conscious of how “much” is really “too much” or “too little”.
- MyFitnessPal or LifeSum
- Apps like these are used to keep record of your food intake. I pair this up with the Kitchen Scale above.
- Plop or PCal
- Let’s be honest. The quality of your nutrition is not only measured by how you feel and your level of physical energy, but also for the quality of you waste .
- Apps like these ones help you track the stool and also compare it to the Bristol Stool Chart to help you find dietary patterns.
- Wearables like Oura Ring, FitBit or an Apple Watch
- Why tracking your activity and sleep? Because every single system in the human body is directly or indirectly interrelated! (Check our “From DevOps to HumanOps” for a quick explanation). So, any change in your nutrition will also affect those other areas unequivocally.
Experimentation: Use the “3 Levers of Nutrition”
- Caloric Restriction Lever. Restricting how many calories you consume
- Dietary Restriction Lever. Restricting specific elements within you food choices.
- Time Restriction Lever. Restricting fasting and eating time windows.
The General Rule is this: Always pull one lever. Often pull two. Occasionally pull all three.
So in order to perform any nutrition experiment, I’d suggests to play with the 3 Levers during a timeframe of at least 1-3 months. Remember that it takes a while for your body to adapt get used to new ways of eating, and therefore start noticing changes.
Some Principles & Tips
These are some of my personal Principles & Tips
- Don’t try anything that has the word DIE on it, like “DIEt”. Instead, try Protocols.
- There’s no “The Ultimate Protocol”. We’re all unique individuals with specific needs and demands.
- Continuous expansion and contraction. As long as you are aware that the natural behavior of your body is gaining and losing weight, you’ll eventually reach any goal around balanced weight, shape, or functioning that you want.
- Rules from In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan:
- Eat food – Focus on organic food. Avoid anything that your grandma wouldn’t be able to spell.
That was a quick summary of 3 months focused on Nutrition Optimization.
By no means this is the ultimate guide to hack your nutrition. Instead, this article’s intent is to shorten your research time towards optimizing your own nutrition.
Let me know what you think. Also how’s your current nutrition functioning? what would you like to change?. Eager to hear your comments.
Keep Learning. Keep Optimizing.
Note: Some of the links above are Affiliate Links.