Nutrition & The Big Picture – Micro and Macro-Nutrients

Ever heard the expression of putting the icing on the cake? Course you have – make what you have or are doing, BRILLIANT!

The problem is, when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition the things we use to put the icing on cake aren’t appropriate.

Figuratively speaking, we haven’t even baked the cake…. and we’re trying to put icing on it…?

Am I high? No. Have i lost it? Nope! It’s just a great idiom.

What I mean is, we’re all generally looking for the secret sauce or small action we can do to propel our nutrition to the next level, when actually we seriously need to address the underlying issues going on before hand.

Supplements – this is the absolute 5% game changer that if you’re doing everything right in terms of calorie intake for recovery or weight loss, and getting the right micronutrients to help our body recover, than only as the very last piece of the puzzle will supplements truly help our goal…

You’re smashing expensive Multivitamins in the hope of giving you better health when you’re not even consuming an appropriate volume of fruit and veg for natural micronutrient intake.

Multivitamins aren’t going to do shit if you’re not giving your body the fundamental tools to actually use them, break them down or metabolise these things in the first place. You’re actually only producing really expensive piss. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, but only as a supplement. You can’t polish a poo, so to speak.

This is the 5% people care too much about, and the bigger picture would be addressing the more underlying issues at hand…

Where do micro & macro-nutrients come into this?

In the first issue of this series (found here) we discussed sustainable dieting and proper calorie intake to fuel our goals. This is the FUNDAMENTAL thing we need to address.

You’re not going to lose weight if you’re eating more calories than you burn.

You’re not going to gain weight if we’re eating less calories than you burn.

It’s that simple.

Micro and macronutrients are then things we should consider next on the list. Check out this hierarchy of priorities in nutrition.

The pyramid represents the major focus we should put on the chunkier parts. The most influential factor to our goals is 100% the calories and energy balance we have/consume. When we have that absolutely bob on, then can we start looking at more advanced techniques to accelerate our goals or see better success.

Take this as an example, if you consistently ate 2500 calories a day average (you know this by tracking) and you’re losing weight very slowly over time, roughly a pound a month you can tell this may be a deficit level of calories for you. 2500 calories is 2500 calories, no matter what food source you get them from (protein, carbs or fat). If you ate 2500 calories from fat in a day, you still consume the same amount of calories as 2500 calories from protein.

The only difference is the food quality and/or volume as fat, for instance, is more calorie dense than protein or carbs.

We could then optimise our weight loss endeavours further by looking at our individual macro nutrient breakdown.

You’ll probably feel lethargic if you’re just eating carbs all day for 2500 calories. 2500/4 = 625g carbs a day. as there’s 4 calories in a gram of carbs.

Obviously this is extreme but you get the picture, we can optimise the spread of the macros that works best for us. For instance, fat makes me very full so, from trial and error and coaching, I know I can have roughly 120g a day and be ok. Protein I respond very well to so I have about 180g protein a day and then carbs is my favoured bodily fuel source so I have 350g a day…

For me, this is a total of 3200 calories, and it’ll be different to what you need for your goals (i’m emphasising muscle gain). But it’s a much more optimum way for me to consume 3200 calories for my goals. Instead of getting it all from carbs or fat, we have a good spread based on what my body seems to respond to hunger and energy production with. I feel SO energetic on a carb fueled workout and a fatty & protein breakfast, so you can understand the difference this can make when we look at individual macros instead of just eating 3200 calories a day.

We’re not changing the calories at all. We still eat the same, but our body 100% processes an optimum amount for our individual body. I feel like shit on too much carbs so there is always a perfect place.

Don’t focus on the unnecessary first

Obviously this all falls flat on our face if our energy balance is off for our goals.

If we’re trying to lose weight, it’s silly to look at trying to hit a certain amount of protein, or carbs or fat if you’re not even sure what calorie level you need to consume to lose weight…

It’s definitely silly to decide you need to hit strict macro numbers out of the blue and eat in a surplus as you have no idea, before you even look at whether it’s the right calorie level for your goal.

It’s also silly to look at removing a macro group (no-carb) from our diet if we’re trying to gain weight.

Assess the energy balance first. Then when you’re nailing this focus on what you can do to further help you.

It is difficult to understand what carbs, protein or fat you should eat in stage two, but really when you start listening to your body and being consistent every day, you start to learn how your body responds to certain meals or macros.

But if you’re focussing on the wrong thing without addressing your over- or under-consumption you’re never going to ‘macro’ your way to your goal.

Sorry, but it’s true.

The same goes for micronutrients too.

 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are the 3rd rung of the pyramid.

This refers to whether you’re focussing on trying to optimise your food consumption in terms of getting the right micronutrients.

These micronutrients are common vitamins and minerals vital to our function growth and repair.

Vitamin A, E, K, Vitamin B (and B1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, loads of em’), Vitamin C.

And minerals such as Iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium, manganese (yup 🙂 ) and many more.

If you’re focussing on trying to get the most optimum levels of vitamin K found in spinach, kale, cabbage, sprouts and MANY leafy greens but you’re not eating the required calories to even process such vitamins efficiently or at all, then it’s an unnecessary focus.

Here’s some trivia too. The first three vitamins, A, E and K are all ‘Fat Soluble’, meaning these need to be consumed with fat in order to absorb into our bloodstream acting as a carrier. So if you’re not even eating any fat with these vitamins then you’re not going to absorb these efficiently.

Hence why this is the 3rd rung of the ladder.

Our overall calorie consumption and then macro consumption dictates our ability to process many micronutrients. So if you’re worried about getting the right amount of vitamin C in your diet, the best way to do this is to just eat a lot of varied fruit and veg. Naturally our consumption of vitamin C will increase if it’s varied. Vitamin C supplements are to supplement your already decent diet…

We won’t, however, be able to process these efficiently without sufficient calories in the first place.

You’ll see much more success nailing your energy balance and macro nutrient intake from a variety of food sources to aid micronutrient intake. Only then need we be worried that we’re not getting enough vitamin K from our kale smoothie, or that we’re not getting enough iron from red meat sources.

The underlying theme?

There’s one recurring theme across everything in nutrition.

We tend to tick every single box of the pyramid if we look at getting a large variety of whole food sources in our daily intake.

Consuming a large, varying range of colourful fruit and veg day to day (red, yellow green, purple, orange) will tick off the vitamins and minerals we consume generally, but also reaching to whole food sources more such as whole grains, nuts and seeds and nut butters, lean proteins and yes, even starchy foods like potatoes and rice will tick off our natural macro and micronutrient intake well enough before we even need to give it thought. If it rots, it’s good for us. If it doesn’t go off, limit that shit in your body.

The issue is we think there’s a magic pill to our diet, one small change we can create to give big results.

Sadly there’s no easy fix.

You need to get switched on to your daily calorie consumption and whether it’s hindering or helping your goal. This is the number one most influencial factor to our goals. No supplement will make us lose fat, it’s what you put in your mouth.

You’re probably eating too much or too little, it’s that simple. And you’re looking at a quick fix without addressing the underlying issue of not eating the right amount for your goals.

You need to realise you need to put the work in and actually address the initial calories in the first place.

You won’t juice diet yourself to a healthy body if you’re consuming too little.

And you’re definitely not going to produce quality goals if you’re dirty bulking your way to muscle with a five guys regularly.

Eat a large variety of whole, colourful food from MANY sources and address if the current amount you’re consuming daily is driving or hindering your goal.

Then can you justifiably give a shit about your macro nutrient intake and even micro nutrient and supplements.

THAT’S the bigger picture…

Until next time,

Dan


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