Macronutrients & Micronutrients
Big words! Yes, these words might come across as intimidating to someone who is new to learning about nutrition and food as fuel, but do not worry, we have got you covered.
Macronutrients or more commonly referred to as 'macros' are simply your big food groups:
- Carbohydrates (inc. sugars)
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals (sodium, zinc, vitamin A, C, B etc.)
Let's talk about Macros first:
What you really need to know, apart from doing a deep dive into chemistry which no one wants, is here: WE NEED ALL OF THESE TO SURVIVE!
Carbohydrates: These are necessary for survival and your brain thrives on them, not to mention all of your other organs! Do not be afraid of carbs. A good starting point for your macro breakdown as a percentage is 30:30:40. In this ratio 30%of your daily macros should be some form of carbohydrate. Try to limit your sugars within these carbs and opt for whole grains, vegetables and legumes (which are made up of carbs and protein).
Fats: Fats get a bad wrap and we need to set things straight. Our body needs fat to survive, we need fat to function, our brains need fat in order to think. This doesn't mean eating deep fried food every day, but it does mean getting to know which fats are better for you. Salmon is rich in fat, so is avocado and nuts and olive oil or butter. The key is to ensure you are getting your 30% a day and in the most pure form you can. Remember there will usually be an overlap in each food you eat as to its macro makeup. Using a tracker like my fitness pal is a great way to keep track of your macros without driving yourself insane with mathematical calculations. Another thing to note is that you never 'lose fat' in-fact, your fat cells just shrink when you 'lose fat' so what ever is there will be there forever, just in a different shape or size. Bear this in mind, but never be afraid of fats!
Protein: Again, protein is another misunderstood and often abused macro. Yes, getting adequate protein is important but same goes for the above macros too. A little more protein 40% as opposed to 30% of the above mentioned macros is beneficial for a few reasons.Firstly, it aids with muscle growth and recovery, secondly our bodies thrive off protein to fuel us in combination with other macros. Secondly it plays a vital role in all other body tissue building and repair like our bones, skin and organs. Without sufficient protein our hormones become unbalanced and enzymes lack.
Protein has also been linked to helping healthy ageing combined with regular exercise. It does this by reducing the rate of muscle, bone and strength degeneration over time. Most importantly, every individuals protein needs just like other macro nutrients are specific to their needs, activity level and any other pre-existing conditions.
Micronutrients: are the smaller components that are included within our food. These are just as important to get adequate amounts of and a great way to keep on top of your vitamin and mineral levels is to eat the rainbow. If you find you are not consuming enough of the required vitamins and minerals, supplements are a good option, but always speak to a medical professional or have a blood test prior to taking these as a precaution.
Follow this link for some great suggestions as to which foods hold which vitamins and minerals.