A guide to setting your own nutrient targets

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 03 Feb, 2017


We have 6 dietary guides – the Well Balanced guide is the one we recommend for most people, as this is based on the guidelines for a healthy balanced diet. We also have Lower Carb, Higher Protein, Lower Fat and Less Sugar guides for those wanting to focus on a specific nutrient.

As well as these pre-set guides based on our recommendations for specific nutrients, we also offer a 'Set My Own' guide. This gives a little more flexibility for those who need it. I'm going to discuss who this option is best for and how it works!

Who is it for?

1. People given specific advice by their doctor – if you have a medical condition or a need to follow a particular diet, you may have been given levels of specific nutrients to aim for – saturated fat or carbohydrates for example. The Set My Own guide gives you the option to enter an amount – either as grams or as a percentage of your calorie allowance, so you can keep a close eye on it.

2. Those following specific exercise training plans – if you have been set a nutrition plan by your personal trainer, they may suggest specific amounts of carbohydrates and protein to eat for example. The Set My Own guide lets you follow your own plan.

3. Smaller or older people who find they need to eat fewer than 1,400 calories – the lowest allowance Nutracheck sets is 1,400 calories, based on the advice of our medical expert Dr Ian Campbell. However, we appreciate that some members may find it necessary to lower their calorie intake a little in order to reach their goal – for example if you are petite, or are finding it harder to lose weight with age, or have restricted mobility and can't exercise. The Set My Own guide allows you to reduce your calorie allowance to 1,200 if you wish.

What it offers

The Set My Own guide offers greater flexibility to those who need it and allows you to select nutrient goals which we wouldn't necessarily set for everyone.

While this guide does give wider ranges, we do have upper and lower limits on all nutrients to ensure the levels selected still remain within healthy ranges. Allowing someone to select 0% fat for example wouldn't be very helpful of us, as we do need some fat in our diet!

Calories – while we allow a reduction on our standard minimum of 1,400 to be set, we don't allow less than 1,200 to be selected. This is the absolute minimum intake we recommend anyone to have for a significant length of time. Eating less than this can lead to deficiencies in your diet – everyone needs a certain amount of food each day to provide sufficient energy and variety of nutrients for their body's normal functioning. As well as this minimum, we set a maximum of 3,500 calories for women and 4,500 calories for men – as more than this shouldn't be necessary for most people (unless an elite athlete).

Protein – The official recommended protein intake is 0.75g/kg of body weight. This provides enough for our body to fulfil its daily functions. So this is set as our minimum figure for everyone, based on the weight in their profile.

There isn't an 'official' maximum recommended intake for protein, but research has shown that above 1.8g/kg has very little additional benefit for someone trying to gain muscle mass. As well as this, eating protein in excess can put strain on our liver and kidneys, so it should be avoided.

For these reasons we have set the maximum safe protein intake as 1.8g/kg for each person. This level is adequate for someone who trains regularly with the aim of gaining muscle, and is more than enough for the general population.

In summary, the Set My Own guide is a useful option for individuals who have quite specific requirements. If your goal is simply to lose weight and eat a healthy balanced diet, we recommend following the Well Balanced guide – or one of the other set guides if these suit your personal preferences better.

Where to find the 'Set My Own' guide

In the App...

1) Tap 'Diary' in the menu bar then tap the icon top right of screen. Scroll down and tap 'Set My Own'.

2) You can either tap the grams figure for each nutrient figure to set your own, or tap on the % of kcals figure and change that. When done, make sure you scroll down and tap the 'Apply Changes' button to save your targets.

On the website...

1) Go to your Food Diary page and click on the 'Settings' link above your diary.

2) Next select 'Choose a nutrition guide to follow', then 'Set My Own'.

3) Click on either the grams or percentage figure for each nutrient to enter your own value. When done, make sure you scroll down and press 'Apply Changes' to save your targets.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.