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The BiOptimizers Pyramid of Nutritional Decisions

Most people who have had goals involving losing weight, building muscle mass, or getting healthier have at least considered dieting. Many fitness and health “experts” tout a certain diet as being the “healthiest.”

Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
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Sometimes, doctors or nutritionists even medically recommend people go on diets. Yet, the longer people diet, the fatter and unhealthier they tend to get. One of the reasons is that they are not following the right diet for themselves.

With so many diet trends and fads promoted all over the internet, it can be so difficult to know what to eat and what kind of food lifestyle to follow. However, we at BiOptimizers believe we’ve found the absolute best diet: and it’s the diet personalized to YOUR needs, wants, and unique biological blueprint.

In this article, we will cover:

  • Why most diets fail long-term
  • Why the “ideal diet” is a food lifestyle that completely meets your needs, wants, and preferences – physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  • The 9 Nutritional Factors that make up the Pyramid of Nutritional Decisions

The Problem With “Diets”

This year, American dieters spend over 2.8 BILLION dollars on diets and diet products, mostly with the goal to lose weight. Yet the US is one of the primary hotspots of the global obesity epidemic, with 2 out of 3 people classified as overweight or obese, and 1 out of 3 as obese. This means that even after all of the money spent, the weight loss products tried, and the diet plans followed, people are still not getting any healthier. 

One researcher compared dieting to the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was tasked with rolling a large boulder up a hill only to see it would fall back down. Many dieters endure a similar plight, faithfully following diet after diet only to see their scale numbers shoot upward again. Often, their health gets worse in the process too.

Not only are prolonged dieting and yoyo dieting ineffective, they can also be highly detrimental to your physical and mental health. Especially among younger adults, dieting can cause disordered eating and negative body image. Furthermore, sticking to a cookie-cutter diet plan means you may not be getting enough nutrients for your body to optimally function. 

At what point can we finally say that one-size-fits-all diets just DON’T WORK? We believe there has to be a better way to eat for better health, weight, and performance. 

What Is The “Perfect Diet?”

There are some essential components that should be a part of every diet plan or food lifestyle. These include:

  • Healthy doses of micro and macronutrients for your health goals.
  • Low levels of inflammatory or damaging substances, such as processed foods, artificial colors/flavors, trans fats, etc.
  • Lots of “whole” foods – fruits, vegetables, meats from good sources, whole or raw dairy products, nuts, seeds…basically anything that GROWS!

Within these parameters, everything should be personalized for YOU. This includes exact amounts of macro/micronutrients, what kind of foods you eat, and when you eat them No specific diet plan or program can tell you exactly what to eat as well as your body can. 

On top of that, food has always been cultural, emotional, spiritual, and celebratory. Your genetics and microbiome also determine your best nutrition plan. Therefore, we believe that constructing your ideal diet has to take these factors into account, which leads to the BiOptimizers 9-tiered Pyramid of Nutritional Decision.

The Pyramid of Nutritional Decisions 

So how can you know exactly what it is your body needs? At some point, it becomes intuitive and you will notice cravings for certain foods and types of nutrients. But until you get to that point of deep food intuition, you can follow the Pyramid of Nutritional Decisions. 

This is unlike any other “food pyramid” that you’ve seen. Rather than trying to dictate what kinds of foods you eat and how much, this pyramid gets you to think about all the key components that affect your mental, spiritual, and physical health in regards to food. 

Each of the levels of the pyramid is important in its own right, but the levels toward the bottom make up the cornerstone of your nutritional health. 

Let’s take a deep dive into this pyramid and unlock the keys to a sustainable, nutritious lifestyle.

Nutritional Decision Factor #1:  Spiritual And Cultural Beliefs

Whatever particular diet or food lifestyle you ultimately choose for your day-to-day nutritional needs, you definitely want choices that coincide with your spiritual and cultural values. Not taking these into account can cause you to have a very negative image of the food you eat. 

From a spiritual standpoint, some people feel the need to avoid certain foods, usually animal products. One of our core founders, Wade Lightheart, found that he benefited immensely from a plant-based diet, in part because he felt more aligned spiritually as a result. 

Food avoidance is not the only way to align your spiritual beliefs to the food you eat. Many people who still eat foods like meat prioritize acquiring it from sustainable sources in a way that promotes environmental health. Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, the food that you eat can and should align with your beliefs. 

From a cultural point of view, we know that humans are highly social creatures, and every culture worldwide has some tradition surrounding eating and eating together. People who follow restrictive diets can find themselves at odds with cultural and social expectations. 

Of course, you need to eat the foods that are right for your body. But sometimes, the “healthiest” food choices aren’t always what everyone else is eating. Feeling boxed in by either cultural expectations or the guidelines of a certain diet can lead to disordered eating and a negative view of yourself or your food.

We want to empower you to find the balance between honoring your spirituality, physical body, and community. But if the spiritual and cultural dietary rules don’t agree 100% with your physical need, there are supplements and technologies that can help you transcend that. Part of taking into account spirituality and culture is intricately tied up in Foundational Key #2 of the Nutritional Decisions Pyramid. 

Nutritional Decision Factor #2:  Emotional and Psychological Needs 

After addressing spiritual and cultural needs, your emotional and psychological needs are the next rungs on the ladder towards self-efficacy in your nutritional decisions. Food has a powerful effect on the mind (positive or negative). 

For example, picture yourself eating a whole foods diet composed of well-rounded meals with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. If you keep eating these nutritionally dense foods, you will continue to crave them because your body will thrive when you consume them. 

But the opposite can also happen. To call out a notable example, sugary foods can become incredibly addictive. Sugar activates the same parts of our brains that drugs like heroin do. This means when you eat foods high in sugar, you are getting a neurochemical response equivalent to shooting up with heroin. 

Additionally, if we take an even deeper look, we find that food plays a game with our brains that goes beyond mere physiological and neurochemical reactions. We build our identities around certain foods growing up. 

What are some foods you consider “comfort foods?” Why do you think of them that way, and what memories do you associate with those foods? You are more likely to return to these foods over and over again because you have a strong emotional tie to them. Eating them can alleviate intense feelings like loneliness and sadness because they evoke positive memories. 

We also associate feelings of safety with food. Some people can struggle with feeling safe with food, such as those battling disordered eating tendencies. These individuals could find highly restrictive dieting patterns and intense calorie deficit diets to be discouraging and ultimately detrimental to their health. 

Seeing how food can play around with both your neurochemistry and your emotions can allow you to take control of your nutritional decisions. It is always important to keep in mind how you relate to food, whether positively or negatively. You can then build our nutrition decisional pyramid from there. 

Nutritional Decision Factor #3: Direction and Goals

As you build your “Me Diet,” focusing on what you want to achieve is a core component of your success. When envisioning your direction, consider the 5 Epic Biological Quests:

  • Aesthetics:
  1. Building lean muscle 
  2. Burning excess body fat
  • Performance: 
  1. Maximizing your athletic performance
  2. Optimizing your mental performance
  • Health:  Maximizing Your BioSpan:
  1. Maximizing your lifespan & healthspan

The 5 Diet Optimizers

Once you’ve established the foundations of your nutritional pyramid, you can start zoning in on 5 key diet optimizers. We’re going to break them down one by one for you. First up is:

Nutritional Decision Factor #4:  Calories And Macros

Every person has different calorie and macro needs. The nutritional goals you set for yourself can also influence these. 

Regarding calories and weight loss, if you want to lose weight, you’ll want to consider creating a caloric deficit. For gaining weight, you’ll want a calorie surplus. Finally, for maintaining weight, you want to get the ideal calories that sustain your body day in and day out. Weight maintenance often becomes the goal once you’ve gotten to your desired place of BiOptimization. 

When looking at macros, you’ll want to zone in on protein. Protein is the foundational macro that builds up and maintains virtually every biological process in our bodies. As a bare minimum, most people need anywhere from 0.45-1.1 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you’re in a caloric deficit, training hard, or working to gain muscles, your needs may be higher. 

In our target client population who are seeking to optimize any of the 3 sides of their BiOptimization triangle, we’ve found a higher protein intake to be better. This is because muscle mass helps improve aesthetics, performance, and healthspan. Also, you need amino acids for optimal cognitive performance. So, we often recommend starting with 2.2 g/kg/day or 1 g/lb of bodyweight per day. 

After ensuring you are getting enough protein and the right kinds of protein, you can shift your focus to optimizing your fat and carbohydrate intake. These requirements will vary based on preference, genetics, goals, and the level of strenuous activity you undertake each day. 

Fats are the building blocks for several essential molecules in the body, including hormones and cell membranes. Contrary to popular nutritional belief, sticking to a low-fat diet is not necessarily better for health. Some people may find they do better with higher fat content in their diet, while others reach their goals by sticking to a low fat diet. 

Carb intake requirements depend on how much energy you expend as well as preferences. People who expend a lot of energy through physical exertion may find they need more carbohydrates. However, others may find that lower carb or even ketogenic diets can maximize mental and physical performance. Finding your own carbohydrate “niche” requirements is a big step in optimizing your macros for your individual needs. 

Check out this article to explore different methods to hit your daily nutrition goals, including macro goals. 

Nutritional Decision Factor #5:  Nutrigenomics

The second of the 5 diet optimizers is your unique nutrigenomic makeup. Scientists used to believe that genetics are completely set in stone, but we now know that we can turn genes “on” or “off” based on environmental factors. Your traits and even the symptoms of different diseases can vary based on what you put in your body. Check out this article for more on the role of the environment on your epigenetic makeup. 

The food we eat can both directly and indirectly affect genetic readouts. Conversely, our genetic makeup can affect how our bodies absorb certain nutrients and your nutritional needs. 

For example, according to the Dutch Famine study, if your mother went through a famine during pregnancy, you’re more likely to store excess calories as fat or develop insulin resistance. This happens mostly through epigenetics and is how your body attempts to keep you safe.

As an example, the MTHFR and DHFR gene variants can affect how the body processes nutrients, especially folate. People with weak MTHFR and DHFR variants may do better with methyl folate supplements rather than folic acid. 

Undergoing genetic testing is the best way to know what your body needs based on your specific nutrigenomic makeup. However, given that you have 20,000 genes and millions of SNPs, the information can be overwhelming. If you do test your genes, it’s important to consult a nutrigenomic-trained nutritionist or genetic counselor so they can help you work with your “bad genes” and unlock the “good genes.”

Nutritional Decision Factor #6: Gut Microbiome

While your own human body has 22,000 genes that make up your genome, you also have an additional 3.3 billion genes from microbes in your body The food you eat directly affects your gut microbiome. 

Eating the right foods can create an environment where the “good” bacteria and other microbes can thrive, and inhibits the harmful pathogens that would otherwise take over. Additionally, foods high in sugar and fat, and low in polyphenol and fibers can feed unhealthy bacteria in your gut. Limiting these gives your gut the best chance to set you up for success in your health goals.  

Your gut flora also determines your food preference and even personal insulin and blood sugar response to certain foods.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to test your gut flora with a test such as UBiome to learn what they like to eat.

Nutritional Decision Factor #7:  Supplements

While in a perfect world you would get all the nutrients you need from food, our agricultural system is, unfortunately, far from perfect. Soil nutrient deficiencies result in those same nutrient deficiencies showing up in food. 

Thankfully, high-quality supplements can pick up the slack. Additionally, as mentioned in Factor #5, some people have trouble metabolizing different substances to activate the nutrients they need. Supplementation can effectively counter nutrient deficiencies from certain genetic variants. 

Supplements can be especially helpful if you want to expand all three sides of your BiOptimization triangle to achieve superhuman health. When taking your health from “normal to superhuman,” consider the following health boosters:

  • Bioworkers, such as enzymes and probiotics, can optimize your digestion and the tens of thousands of molecular processes in the body 
  • Optimizers, such as hormone boosters, can help you level out key hormones
  • Maximizers, such as nootropics, can boost your brain function 
  • Activators, such as substances that activate the mitochondria and AMPK activators like Innoslim

Do keep in mind that supplements do not replace a healthy diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, it is important to know how to stack supplements properly, and to know how much you need. Taking too many or the wrong kinds of supplements can actually be extremely detrimental to your health and wallet.  

Nutritional Decision Factor #8:  Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Intolerances

Food allergies and sensitivities are different inflammatory reactions to food that can cause unpleasant reactions, discomfort, and even severe symptoms.  Many people nowadays are not aware that they have food allergies or sensitivities.

Food allergies are typically severe and involve IgE antibodies, in response to certain foods.  They can range from mild to dangerous, with life-threatening reactions occurring in those with the most severe allergic responses.  Food allergy symptoms can involve rashes or hives, wheezing or airway closure, edema or swelling, and even anaphylactic symptoms.

Food sensitivities may not be directly tied to an antibody response and reactions may be delayed for days. Food sensitivity reactions can show up as digestive symptoms, skin problems, respiratory mucus, joint pain, brain fog, and even fertility problems. 

Identifying food allergies and sensitivities is incredibly important for optimizing your health. Some of the more well-known types of allergy tests include IgE blood tests and skin tests.  

However, food sensitivities are a bit harder to detect, so an elimination diet is the gold standard as there is no evidence that IgG tests are accurate.

Another issue people can encounter is food intolerance. A food intolerance usually occurs due to a lock of proper enzymes for processing a certain food. For example, people who are lactose intolerant do not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose into usable molecules for creating cellular energy. 

An elimination diet involves temporarily eliminating most or all potentially inflammatory foods from your diet.  Then, you can reintroduce these foods one at a time to track certain reactions to food. To learn more about food sensitivities and how they are related to poor gut health, check out this article

Nutritional Decision Factor #9:  The BiOptimization Lifestyle

Lifestyle, the last nutritional decision factor, tops off the pyramid and really brings together all the other factors. Most importantly, lifestyle ensures sustainability, meaning no more yo-yo dieting and no more of an “on-again/off-again” approach to health. Once you make all the nutritional decision factors a part of your lifestyle, you lock in your trajectory towards optimized health for life. 

To feel totally in control of their nutritional decisions, individuals need to consider how their lifestyle will impact their diet. You want to find a way to implement nutritional decisions and changes in a format that will work synergistically with your lifestyle. 

For example, some people will adopt a moderate diet approach where they try to focus on eating whole foods without restricting themselves too much. This style of eating may be necessary for people who are regularly on the go and have less time to consider or prepare the food they are eating.

Others may find a more restrictive diet approach keeps them more focused on their goals, and their lifestyle allows them to invest the time, money, and energy towards getting the meals they need to meet their goals.

Above all, just start where you are. If that means you only eat plants, or go all in on protein, or just do your best to make nutritional decisions day by day, it’s okay. The best food plan to follow is the one that is good for you and that you know you will stick with. 

Bringing it All Together 

Following a cookie-cutter diet plan can result in dissatisfaction with yourself and the food you eat, and can also cause long-term physical and mental health consequences. As a result, you need to take the reins of your diet and customize it completely to your biological and psychological needs, as well as your preferences. 

The 9 Factors of Nutritional Decisions can serve as your guide as you strive to become a BiOptimized superhuman. When setting up your pyramid, you can answer some key questions to see where you are and where you want to go with each of the factors. 

What To Consider With The 9 Factors Of Nutritional Decisions

The 9 Factors kick off with the 2 Foundational Keys of Sustainability:

  1.  Spiritual and Cultural Beliefs – what spiritual and cultural beliefs do you wish to honor through the food you eat?
  2.  Emotional and Psychological Needs – what style of eating or types of foods will help you feel safe and secure with your nutritional decisions?

You then cement the trajectory of your nutritional journey by locking in the next factor:

  1. Direction – what is your long-term “Wellness Vision” and what are your goals to get there?

Once you’ve established your beliefs, needs, and direction, you can start locking in the 5 Diet Optimizers:

  1. Calories and macros – how many calories do you need and in what macro percentages? 
  2. Nutrigenomics – what in your genome can I further optimize to increase your digestive and overall health?
  3. Gut microbiome – what can you do to support the trillion microorganisms that make up your microbiome?
  4.  Supplements – where do you need extra nutritional support and which supplements can provide that?
  5. Food allergies and sensitivities – what foods do you need to be careful with or avoid to best protect your body?

And it all comes together with the last factor:

  1.  Lifestyle – how can making positive nutritional decisions become a part of your identity, locking in your optimized nutrition for life? 

All these factors together will set you on a course to discover your superhuman self. We salute you as you embark on this epic quest.

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