In a previous post I delved into the whole IIFYM world and it’s explanation. A brief recap here: You’ve heard of counting calories, where you track your food intake in order to eat a certain number of calories a day. Counting macros follows a similar concept. “Macros” is short for macro-nutrients, which are required in large amounts by the body for growth. The three macros– carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein, are present in varied foods, and contain calories. Macro counting involves eating a specific number of carbs, fats and protein a day. When calculated correctly, counting macros directly influences your body composition.
Micronutrients therefore are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health. These are found in all fruits and vegetables.
This is why it is essential that YOU make sure that your body is getting not only the right amount of macros, but also the right about of micro-nutrients. To do so, make sure your plate contains the sum of all 4. Quantity and quality of these nutrients vary greatly, depending on not only what types of food you eat, but also the quality of those foods.
However, what’s so important to note, is that when food enters your body, it simply digests it and utilises the nutrients. Your body sees food for its individual components – carbs, fat, protein and micro-nutrients. If our bodies can’t tell whether food is healthy or unhealthy, you’re thinking, fab, I can eat burgers and chocolate every day? Hell no!! Refined foods tend to have more macronutrients than natural foods and contain barely any of these essential nutrients. This is because processing food strips the foods of many of the vitamins and minerals and gives the food a longer shelf life. So cereal grains, breads, candy and sweets, dairy products, much of fast foods and other processed foods give you tons of calories without much micronutrient content. This is why it is so important to fill your diet with lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and meat.
Refined foods also have less fibre, and are therefore less likely to fill you up. Fibre is present in fruits and vegetables and not only does it give you that full feeling after a meal, it’s essential for gut health. To give an example of the importance of fibre, compare a whole banana, and 10 jellybeans. Both of these have the exact same amount of carbs (present as sugar), and your body processes them exactly the same way. However the banana not only contains more micro-nutrients, but also more fibre, and is going to fill you up a lot more than just 10 jellybeans while providing your body the energy it needs to function properly.
We cannot be certain what plant food contains the most micronutrients over another as the level largely depends on the mineral content of the soil each individual plant has grown in. There are a wide-variety of micronutrients, with everything from Vitamin A, B, C through to K, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc being vital for the body. But to ensure you’re getting as many of these into your diet you should try to eat as varied as possible, incorporating various different ‘colours’ into each meal made up from Fruits and Vegetables and eat a varied diet not just sticking to the same Carb, Protein, Fat and Micro-Nutrient source all the time.