The Complete Guide to Following Your Custom Diet

Disclaimer: Our new custom diet feature allows you to set the percentage of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) in your diet. We always recommend consulting with a physician before beginning a new diet.

In light of our newest custom diet feature, we decided to give you a complete guide to following common high and low nutrient diets (i.e. high protein, low fat), whether you’re using Nutrino or not.

People throw around the words ‘low fat,’ ‘high protein’ and other diets with a general understanding that we all know what it means. And for the most part, it’s pretty intuitive. But when it comes down to it, there are actual standards for diets like these. This guide is designed to explain these diets, give you some food and recipe recommendations, and show you how to set these diets in Nutrino: low fat, high protein, low sodium, high fiber, and caloric restriction.

Custom Diet Info

Low Fat

Obviously watching the amount of fat you eat is important. This is nothing new. However, some of you may choose (for weight or medical or a variety of other reasons) to follow a lower fat diet than the average American. If this is you, your diet should get less than 10% of your calories from fat [1].

A low fat diet should contain a lot of fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meat, and seafood. Limit your intake or avoid red meat, eggs and dairy, and fried foods.

While you may not be able to chow down on a donut or eat a basket of fried chicken for lunch, you can still enjoy some tasty snacks. The American Cancer Society, for example, suggests low fat popcorn or baked tortilla chips with salsa.

For other delicious low fat recipes, try this healthy turkey and sweet potato hash from Eat Yourself Skinny or a baked falafel salad bowl from A Couple Cooks.

Set your Nutrino custom diet to 10% fat or less, and get endless amounts of low fat recipes.

High Protein

High protein diets are one of the more controversial. There is a lot of controversy surrounding a link between high protein diets and kidney issues. A 2013 study on the effects of high protein diets on kidney function found that they could not conclusively determine the long term effects of protein on the kidney [2]. Most experts agree that if you already have kidney problems, high protein diets can cause further damage. Some experts believe that high protein diets are perfectly fine for those without any kidney problems [3].

High protein diets can also be dangerous because they often include a lot of red meat or full fat dairy products [4]. Diets high in red meat and full fait dairy may put you at greater risk for heart disease [4].

Basically, high protein diets are controversial. We’re going to be very transparent about that. They aren’t for everyone, and there isn’t enough evidence for us to definitively declare to you “go for it!” or “don’t you dare!” Instead, Nutrino always recommends consulting with a physician before beginning a new diet, particularly if you plan on implementing a high protein diet.

If you are following a high protein diet, and have discussed it with your physician, set your custom diet in Nutrino so that you are receiving about 1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight or about .8 grams per pound of body weight.

For some healthy, high protein recipes, try this stir fry from Popsugar, or this tofu with Thai coconut peanut sauce from Vegangela.

Low Sodium

A study from the CDC says that 90% of Americans consume too much sodium [5]. According to the American Heart Association [6], most Americans are getting about double the daily sodium they need. The AHA continues to explain that consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can in turn lead to stroke, heart disease, and a variety of other health issues.

There are a few debates on the ideal intake of salt. The AHA, for example, recommends a daily dose of 1,500 mg of sodium [6]. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. They also recommend less than 1,500 mg of sodium for those who have diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, or are 51 years or older [7].

Depending on your personal health, you can choose to follow a low sodium diet by consuming less than 2,300 mg or 1,500 mg of sodium [7].

Some general rules of thumb for a low sodium diet: avoid processed foods. They are almost always high in salt. When you’re cooking, use other spices instead of table salt. One tsp of table salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Pepper and garlic are good alternatives. Instead of bottled salad dressings and mixes, use oil and vinegar and sprinkle with some ground pepper. Read food labels carefully [7]. The American Heart Association has a great infographic with some easy ways to make your diet a little less salty.

Sodium Girl has lots of recipes and ideas on how to make your diet a little less salty. Try her blistered bean and nectarine salad.

When setting your custom diet in Nutrino, set your sodium levels to get personalized, low sodium recipe recommendations.

High Fiber

There are so many great things about fiber [8]. It’s good for your digestive tract, may reduce risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Fiber also fills you up. The Fullness Factor is an impressively accurate formula that predicts how different foods will fill you up. The formula takes into account dietary fiber levels, as well as calories, protein and fat in certain foods to predict how full each food will make you. You can read about the exact formula here and see its pretty accurate results.

For a high fiber diet, you should be consuming about 30-35 grams of fiber per day [8].

When you start a high-fiber diet, increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are great sources of fiber. Legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils are also fiber-rich foods. Read food labels carefully to find out how much fiber is in your food.

If you’re on the high-fiber track, try the black bean and sweet potato chilli recipe from Salt and Wind, or the avocado pesto pasta from An American in Ireland.

Caloric Restriction

It’s possible to restrict your calories, but still get all the nutrition you need. In fact, we already wrote about it here, but I’ll summarize it for you. A 1987 project at The Universtiy of Arizona had eight astronomers live in a biosphere, growing their own food and living in complete isolation from the rest of the world. While they had a wonderful variety of nutritious food, they couldn’t grow enough of it. Roy Walford, the medical doctor and researcher in the group, regularly tested the health of the crew members. They were constantly hungry and lost 16% of their pre-entry body weight within the first year. However, Dr. Walford’s tests revealed that the crew’s health seemed to be getting better: their blood cholesterol and pressure dropped, the immune system was enhanced. They lost weight, but the low-caloric diet seemed to slow down their aging process.

Dr. Walford spent the rest of his life practicing caloric restriction and conducted many studies on the subject. Together with many other research groups, it was shown that following a diet that restricts caloric intake while including the necessary nutrients slows the aging process and increases lifespan.

Based on this research, it seems as though caloric restriction can have beneficial health results. However, because counting calories and caloric restriction can be relatively controversial, we recommend you consult with your physician before restricting your calories.

If you’re using Nutrino to restrict the amount of calories you are taking in, leave the other nutrients at their default percentage. This way you can get healthy meal recommendations and stay within your calorie range.

We want to hear from you.

Is there a diet that you’re following that Nutrino doesn’t yet support? Let us know. The custom diet feature was created because of feedback from you – our users. So let us know what you think, and feel free to suggest a new feature for us to start working on.

Download Nutrino and get started on your custom diet.


[1] “low-fat diet.” Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary. 2012. Farlex 3 Nov. 2015

[2] Juraschek, Stephen P., et al. “Effect of a high-protein diet on kidney function in healthy adults: results from the OmniHeart trial.” American Journal of Kidney Diseases 61.4 (2013): 547-554.

[3] Martin, William F, Lawrence E Armstrong, and Nancy R Rodriguez. “Dietary Protein Intake and Renal Function.” Nutrition & Metabolism 2 (2005): 25. PMC. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

[4] Zeratsky, RD, Katherine. “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.” High-protein Diets: Are They Safe? Mayo Clinic, 26 Mar. 2015. Web.
[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. “Trends in the prevalence of excess dietary sodium intake-United States, 2003-2010.” MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 62.50 (2013): 1021.
[6] “Reducing Sodium in a Salty World.” American Heart Association. 29 Apr. 2014. Web.
[7] McGuire, Shelley. “US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, January 2011.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 2.3 (2011): 293-294.
[8] Lattimer, James M., and Mark D. Haub. “Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health.” Nutrients 2.12 (2010): 1266–1289. PMC. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
[9] Tips, Food Prep, and Healthy Eating. “High-Fiber Diet.”