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Beyond Tracking Macros: Minding Your Micronutrients

Does it matter where you get your carbs, protein and fats from?

 

If you track your macronutrients, you may have wondered this or seen the debates online over whether “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) or a strict meal plan was superior for achieving physique results.

 

If recall, in the IIFYM era fitness influencers would talk about eating a daily Snickers Bar, creating elaborate high protein “macro friendly” recipes or fitting Halo Top ice cream in to their macro targets. All attaining or maintaining their physique goals. This was the ant meal plan era. A stark contrast from the days of people eating chicken, rice and broccoli, 0 fun food or all out cheat meals, to achieve their goals.

 

This is where, once again, social media and pop culture took a concept and ran a little wild.

 

Tracking macros instead of adhering to a strict meal plan became popular and something more Coaches started programming for clients because of the flexibility and sustainability it offered.

 

 It removed this idea of good and bad foods and helped when, for example, someone ran out of potatoes they could sub an English muffin and still hit their carb target for that meal. For an event a Client had as a Summer BBQ- they now had the flexibility thought tracking macros to have a burger, adjusting the rest of the days food selections to hit total daily macronutrient requirements. All out-cheat days became less appealing because a client was able to have some dark chocolate a couple of times a week instead of depriving themselves 24/7.


Micros Matter


Back to “If it Fits Your Macros:” There is a balance to be found between the extremes of a daily snickers and an occasional burger. And it isn’t 50/50. 

 

Why? Because micronutrients matter. Ultimately the foods you habitually “fit” into your daily macronutrient targets have an impact on your health and physique long term.

Defining nutrition by calories and macronutrients alone leaves a lot unsaid, and in our experience doesn’t show you the value of food, or the value of fueling your body.

 

Nutrient quality does matter for your performance, digestion, hormones, mental health… and in turn, your physique! We are firm believer that a healthy body is a responsive body when it comes to any and all physique goals, and nutrition is a huge foundational element of health.

 

But what about “if it fits your macros” and flexibility?

 

This is where choices long term and in each phase matter. In a fat loss phase when your thyroid is already down regulating and iceberg lettuce , protein pizza and $15 jars of protein nut butter are being used to hit your macro targets, we may be missing out.

 

Your needs nutrients like zinc, selenium and A and B vitamins for your thyroid to function optimally. If we hit it with a double whammy of a calorie deficit and a micronutrient deficit, we won’t have as good an outcome physique and performance wise. 


When it comes to gut health, we know food variety is one key for a healthy gut microbiome.

 

Many women who come to us looking to balance their hormones and support fertility come from a background of under eating. They may be focusing on high volume, lower calorie foods like egg whites, cauliflower rice and rice cakes and are unknowingly depriving their bodies of key nutrients to support ovulation and their HPO axis as a whole.


This is where we encourage stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and try including some potatoes instead of the cauliflower rice to hit their carb and fiber goals. Or try some whole eggs or red meat instead of always using nut butter for fats.

 

I get it. I used to refuse to eat whole eggs because " the cholesterol and fats!!" And then I learned about choline (one of many amazing micronutrients in a whole egg) in eggs, and how choline was key for brain and nervous system functioning. Yet another micronutrient one can be missing out on by focusing just on the calories and macros.

 

Nutrition Nuances


Learning the value of food beyond calories and macronutrients can be huge in all health journeys, and especially in overcoming some fears many of us hold around higher calorie, or calorie dense foods.


Similarly to how strict meal plans create ideas around “good” and “bad” foods, focusing in on macros and calories alone simplifies nutrition to a point where could miss out on choices that serve your health and performance goals.

 

Getting Practical


So how do we start getting more micronutrients in our day? How do we know if we need more?

 

Well, we’d tell you most of us need more.

 

It’s just hard to get enough micros if you don’t put some effort into it. And even then, you may need to supplement. Especially when we consider training, poor gut health, current deficiencies and the goals of the individual, supplements can and do have a place. We always like to focus on food first and then suggest additions based off a Client’s needs.

 

A great way to find holes in your micronutrients is to plug in a few days of eating into Cronometer. This website allows you to looks at many micronutrients as well as macronutrients, getting a more comprehensive look at your nutrition, identifying which vitamins and minerals you need more of in your diet.



 

Look for swaps in your current habitual choices, or additions you can make! Add flax or chia seeds on top of greek yogurt . Try ground beef instead of ground turkey.


If you always have cream of rice, nut butter and protein powder for breakfast, perhaps you can try eggs, egg whites and potatoes. This swap is neither good nor bad, but one does offer a little more micronutrients. In the context of a post workout meal where we do want faster digesting carb sources and protein, the former may reign a superior choice. Context matters! Understanding the value of food beyond “macros,” helps you see that.

 

Eating more micros doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive either. The frozen section is a great, cheaper place for fruit and veggies. Shopping the sales or going to a Farmer’s Market and buying what’s in season are also ways to save money and naturally get some good variety. Make the best decisions for you and your budget!

 



We hope this gets you thinking bigger picture about your nutrition. If you are seeking personalized guidance, contact us below to learn more about our Coaching and Consultation options.




 

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