Although I don’t disagree with a macronutrient approach to nutrition, I do feel a responsibility to put the world to rights when it comes to the importance of other things besides macronutrients! (I hope that makes sense).
If you have been following my blog, you will have recently read the series I wrote on protein, carbohydrates and fat – the importance of them, why we need them and how much we should be eating. However, I have yet to touch on other vital nutritional facts that it’s important you know about. (If your goal is to be the healthiest, leanest, strongest possible version of you.)
If you haven’t already read my macronutrient series, please make sure you read them first (linked above), before reading on…
I have recently come across women who are struggling with their ‘macros’ – having been given some numbers from a coach and left to just get on with it. Not only does this slightly infuriate me because of it’s unethical and lack of educational approach to coaching, it also has me worrying about the physical and mental wellbeing of these women (and probably men too)!
It is not enough to simply ‘hit your macros’ every day – that is, eat whatever you like so long as you hit a certain calorie, protein, fat and carbohydrate goal. This approach is based on just eating to numbers and neglects food quality and the importance of micronutrients and variety. Lack of variety is another problem I see with the above approach – it’s quite easy to get stuck in a rut once you find foods that match your targets. Eat the same thing every day and you’ll be fine, right? Hmmm, not really.
Micronutrients are, quite simply, the essential vitamins and minerals that we need as human beings to function optimally. We need to focus on getting adequate micronutrients into our diet because of the importance they play in well being, health, development, regulation of metabolism, energy pathways, bone density, immune function, blood circulation and coagulation, cell renewal and even fertility! Not to mention recovery from intense exercise.
So how do we get all of the vitamins and minerals we need? It’s probably the simplest thing you can possibly do – eat real food, and plenty of variety.
Here’s my advice to you if you want to make sure you are getting adequate daily intake of your essential micronutrients:
> Eat a diet containing 90% whole foods (meat, poultry, game meat, organ meat, fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds and whole grains)
> Get 20-30 different varieties of fruits and vegetables into your diet every week.
> Eat a wide variety of colours – especially deep, dark, rich colours like purples, dark reds and dark greens.
> Aim for 7-10 portions of fruit, veg and herbs a day (2 being fruit)
> Don’t get stuck in a rut with your food. Variety is the key. Try not to eat the same things day in, day out, week in, week out. Even if it’s just changing your vegetables up every week – it all counts.
Easy ways to increase the volume and variety of fruits and vegetables (vitamins and minerals) into your daily diet:
> Blend them. Why not make a delicious smoothie that contains 3-4 portions of veg in one go? I like ½ an apple, handful of kale, handful of spinach, a cube of raw ginger root, half a lime and a pinch of fresh mint leaves blitzed with ice cold water in my Nutribullet.
> Make soup! You can easily get 4-5 different varieties of vegetables in a soup. Sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, parsnip and ginger is one of my all time favourites, and with winter approaching – this will be perfect for heating you up too!
> Plan ahead. Make a meal plan for the week and make sure you are including enough variety. Then make a shopping list that matches your plan and you’ve nailed it!
For loads of deliciously micronutrient dense recipe ideas, why not check out the Cut the Crap – No Bullshit Cookery collection? Over 75 recipes packed full of goodness, with ingredients you can get from the local supermarket.
Eat well, eat varied, feel fucking fabulous.