By Hayley Christensen | Sports Dietitian | May-2017
In the fitness industry, we spend a lot of time focusing on macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) in attempt to best improve exercise performance or body composition. People religiously count calories, protein, carbs and fat and in doing so, often micronutrient are forgotten and overlooked.
I’ve seen time and time again the following scenario…
“I’ve got my macro targets, so this means I can eat whatever rubbish I want (as long as it fits my macros) and still get results”
You’ll get results, yes. But will they be the best results you could possibly achieve? Reflect and think about this a bit deeply. Would you really perform the best you could possibly perform? Would you really get the best body composition you could possibly see? Would you really feel the best you could possible feel? Would you really be the healthiest you could possibly be? The answer is NO. Unquestioningly (in my mind) NO. Yet you still have questions. Like, “Why are diets that focus wholly on macros (e.g. IIFYM) so successful?” The scientist in me knows that macronutrients are just one piece in the puzzle that will contribute to the overall picture (but not the whole picture), so they produce some results (but not the best results). Then the realist in me thinks that they’re flouted as ‘great diets’ because people want to eat the likes of Poptarts for breakfast (as long as it fits your macros of course), so they rationalise it away and convince themselves (and others!!) that it’s the best diet out there to get the best results. If it was simple as just macros, then we’d be able to survive and function to high performance on olive oil (fat), table sugar (carbohydrate), protein powder (protein), yet logic dictates this is not quite the whole story. So let me tell you a story about my old friends, micronutrients...
DON’T FORGET YOUR MICROS!
Micronutrients, also known as vitamins and minerals have a multitude of functions throughout the body including acting as catalysts in a wide variety of reactions, as well as signaling molecules for cellular functioning and DNA modulation. Vitamins and minerals are involved in every single metabolic process and reaction throughout the body such as antioxidant function, cell detoxification, hormone regulation, gene expression, fat catabolism (breakdown), muscle protein synthesis, energy production, brain neurotransmission, movement and vision just to name a few! In layman’s terms, macronutrients are the fuel and micronutrients are the oil that makes the high performance human machinery run efficiently. Without sufficient or optimal fuel and oil, the machine wont function at its designed and optimal potential.
That said however, metabolism is adaptive and thus very complex. We know that most metabolic reactions need a variety of different vitamins and minerals in the right concentrations, in the right chemical form, in the right combination and at the right time to work in synchronization to catalyze a metabolic process. The point is, trying to hit your micronutrient targets mostly through a supplement just doesn’t quite do it, metabolically speaking. However, nature really gets it. It provides this great stuff, namely fruits and vegetables (give em a go!) that have vitamins and minerals balanced, in the right organic form (for digestion and metabolism) and in the right combination for a variety of metabolic reactions. Pretty cool right?! So forget calorie counting your colourful vegetables and instead consume them to unlimited quantities. These micronutrient-rich food sources provide very few calories and the high micronutrient concentrations help boost metabolism (and all the processes I spoke of) so you get back more calories through metabolic efficiency then what you actually intake! Because seriously, we don’t have an obesity pandemic because we’ve eaten too many colourful vegetables like cucumber, broccoli, cabbage... see where I'm going with this? Still not convinced? Book a nutrition consultation or nutrition seminar with me and let me talk your ear off for hours about it.
I'll end on the following saying...
"You are what you eat, so don't be cheap, easy or fake"