The Whole View, Episode 475: Can I Be Nutrivore If I Don’t Eat Organ Meat?

Welcome to episode 475 of The Whole View! This week, Stacy and Dr. Sarah dive into the science behind a nutrient-dense diet to decide if you can still be Nutrivore if you don’t eat organ meat. Dr. Sarah shares her most recent work in Nutrivore and announces the November launch of her new website,!

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The Whole View, Episode 475: Can I Be Nutrivore If I Don’t Eat Organ Meat?

Welcome back to episode 475! (0:28)

Stacy reminds listeners that her mantra of not letting perfection be the enemy of the good applies to this topic more than ever.

Listener Question:

Hey ladies thank you for the amazing podcast, glad I found you! I have been following the AIP since January, sort-of. I found that I focused solely on what NOT to eat, rather than paying attention to what TO eat on the AIP, being that I felt my diet ahead of starting the AIP was already pretty healthy. Catching up on past episodes, realized I had completely missed the fact that following the AIP is intended to be focused on ADDING in foods.

I went back to my yes/no list and discovered I was sorely lacking in one area, organ meats.  I can not get my head around consuming these. So my question is can I benefit from the AIP without them? Are there other ways to get the same benefits of organ meat through uping other YES foods? Sorry if you have already covered this, I am slowing working through past shows. Thanks again for all you do! – Kelly


What Is Nutrivore?

Stacy and Dr. Sarah did a deep dive in Intro To Nutrivore(9:55)

A nutrivorous diet is one in which the goal is to fully meet the body’s physiologic needs for essential and nonessential nutrients from the foods we eat, also called nutrient sufficiency, but without consuming excess energy (i.e., staying within daily caloric requirements). 

By including not only the full cadre of essential nutrients but also fiber, phytonutrients, nonessential and conditionally-essential amino acids (like glutamine and arginine), nonessential health-promoting fatty acids (like DHA, EPA andCLA), and nonessential vitaminlike compounds into the nutrition calculus, we are ensuring both nutrient synergy as well as prioritizing the full complement of nutrients our bodies need to thrive.

Being a nutrivore is about the overall quality of the whole diet and not about a list of yes-foods and no-foods. 

Even though eliminating empty-calorie foods helps to achieve nutrient sufficiency without overeating, no food is strictly verboten. 

In this way, being a nutrivore is a diet modifier rather than a diet itself—a nutrivorous approach can be layered atop other dietary structures and priorities in order to meet an individual’s specific health needs and goals.

The most straightforward way to ensure that our diet is abounding in nutrients is to choose nutrient-dense superfoods more often. 

That means that the more we can fill our plates with vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms and choose fish, shellfish, or organ meat for our proteins, seasoning liberally with herbs and spices, and use superfoods like nuts and seeds as condiments, the higher the nutritive quality of our overall diet, which makes room for some lower nutrient-density foods without sacrificing the goal of achieving nutrient sufficiency!

For the Vegan Phase episode, check here!


Sarah’s Nutrient Profiling Work:

Dr. Sarah is building a new website! will be launching this November! (15:05)

She’s building this website outside of any dietary dogma because she sees Nutrivore as the natural extension of her science-grounded approach.

One that will allow her to both level-up the depth of her resources for her long-time readers who love her deep science dives but also meet people where they are and embrace the idea that even a small first step is worth celebrating. 

Her vision for is extremely ambitious: A detailed educational resource devoid of dietary dogma and purely based on scientific studies and nutrient profiling to quantify nutrient density to help people achieve dietary nutrient sufficiency (a.k.a. Nutrivore) through informed day-to-day choices.

She’s working on a huge collection of super in-depth articles for launch. Still, the aspect of Nutrivore that she’s most proud of is the nutrient profiling method she developed, which she thinks can help us answer Kelly’s question!

Nutrivore Score 

  1. Sarah’s initial plan was to comb through the research and choose one of the dozen or so existing nutrient density scores to use. 

However, she found nearly every nutrient profiling study ever published (which took me about two months!). She reached a disappointing conclusion: Every nutrient density score that had been developed thus far was flawed. 

One example is scored that utilizes just a few select nutrients in the calculations to best align with the USDA dietary guidelines. 

The rationale is that some nutrients are more strongly correlated with health outcomes than others. Still, it ignores the fact that these “important” nutrients are typically the ones we’re most deficient in, rather than any special property of the nutrient itself.  

The biggest problem with this approach is the idea of retrofitting to guidelines not crafted with nutrient density or sufficiency in mind! This is backward! We should be aligning dietary guidelines with insight from nutrient profiling, not the other way around!

So, Dr. Sarah did the only logical thing she could do- she spent the next six months developing her nutrient profiling method called the Nutrivore Score!  

To date, she’s calculated the Nutrivore Score for nearly 300 foods. 

Combining the insight, she gleaned from her gut microbiome research with nutrient profiling via the Nutrivore Score has led her to see many foods in a new light. Therefore, it is time to use nutrient density as a basic principle to a positive approach to dietary guidance. 

By understanding the nutrients per calorie offered by individual foods via the Nutrivore Score, in addition to the recognition that certain nutrients are exclusive to specific food groups, we can achieve nutrient sufficiency by choosing a variety of nutrient-dense superfoods as well as the highest Nutrivore Score options from the various foundational food groups.


What Do Organ Meats Offer Us?

Organ meat is among the most compelling foods nutritionally available to us, with an average Nutrivore Score of 1986. (50:00)

The only foods more nutritionally dense per calorie are:

  • Crucifers 3591
  • leafy greens 3479
  • Mushrooms 2990
  • fresh herbs 3143
  • tea and coffee 4751

BUT these are all low-calorie foods. For example, you’ll average 25 calories per serving for crucifers, leafy greens, and mushrooms.

Organ meats offer way more nutrients per serving — the highest of any food. You’ll average 120 calories per serving. So, per serving, you’re getting about 2-3 times more nutrients than even the most nutrient-dense veggies.

Plus, organ meat is an excellent source (20% DV or more per 100-gram serving) of:

  • Protein 40%
  • Iron 38%
  • Phosphorous 19%
  • Zinc 30%
  • Selenium 113%
  • Vitamin A 235%
  • B1 26%
  • B2 135%
  • B3 55%
  • B5 80%
  • B6 31%
  • B7 202%
  • B9 42%
  • B12 1022%
  • CoQ10 33%

Not to mention, organ meet is a good source (10 to 20%) of Omega-3s, Taurine, Creatine, Carnosine, Carnitine, Anserine, and CLA (if grass-fed).

Why They Are Important

Anserine: A dipeptide with antioxidant capacity that can effectively relieve stress and fatigue, ease anxiety, promote post-partum lactation, improve physical capacity and exercise performance, reduce hyperglycemia and hypertension, enhance immunity, prevent aging-associated neurological (e.g., cognitive and memory) dysfunction and inflammation, and accelerate wound healing. 

Carnosine: A dipeptide that helps slow aging in cells, particularly by protecting against oxidation and DNA damage and slowing the advanced glycation end-product (AGE) formation rate. It appears to protect against the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque. 

Creatine: A non-proteinogenic amino acid that helps supply energy to cells, especially muscle cells. It may help increase muscle strength, boost functional performance, and reduce DNA mutation.

Taurine: A non-proteinogenic amino sulfonic acid that supports neurological development, serves as a major component of bile, and plays a role in water and mineral regulation within the blood. It also plays a role in cardiovascular function and the development of skeletal muscle. 

Carnitine: An ammonia-based compound, carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria to be oxidized for energy production while also helping to remove metabolic waste products out of the mitochondria. Also, it participates in removing products of metabolism from cells. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and improve cardiovascular health.

CoQ10: CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor in the electron transport chain for ATP production. It may help treat or prevent heart and blood vessel conditions, diabetes, gum disease, muscular dystrophy, chronic fatigue syndrome, and breast cancer.

CLA: ): A family of naturally occurring trans fatty acids that exhibit various benefits, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Unfortunately, supplemental CLA is not something that appears to be beneficial (and could be detrimental), and the evidence overwhelmingly points to food-based CLA being optimal!

Closest Food Group Nutritionally: Shellfish

Shellfish’s average Nutrivore Score is 1061 (next highest animal food), and they contain many of the same nutrients as organ meat but at a lower level per calorie. (1:00:10)

Only a few are higher: zinc, manganese, omega-3s. Also, fish is next closest, with an average Nutrivore score of 713.

Offal (Average %DV) Shellfish (Average %DV) Fish (Average %DV)
Protein 40 22 50
Iron 38 11 7
Phosphorous 19 19 23
Zinc 30 46 6
Manganese 6 28 4
Selenium 113 88 76
Vitamin A 235 5 11
B1 26 5 12
B2 135 13 18
B3 55 13 46
B5 80 9 18
B6 31 7 27
B7 202 8 28
B9 42 1 3
B12 1022 412 291
Choline 9 1 3
Omega 3s 12 164 370
CoQ10 33 9 39
Taurine 4 19 6

Shellfish also contains arnesine, carnitine, carnosine, creatine. I don’t have enough data to compare levels at this time.


Final Thoughts

Yes, you can be nutrivore without eating organ meat! However, it will necessitate eating quite a bit of fish and shellfish to make up for it. (1:10:30)

The best way to know if you’re meeting your nutrition targets is to track. But there are ways to cheat!

Stacy and Dr. Sarah love Paleovalley Organ Complex!

You can also revisit Episode 347: How to eat Nose to Tail for more tips.

Grinding frozen liver on a box grater and adding it to ground beef is a great way to consume organ meat without knowing you’re eating organ meat. You can also blend it into gravy to hide it from yourself. 

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Thanks so much for listened and we will see you next week!

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