Nutrition 101 Part 2
Micronutrients & Nutrient Density
New and popular diets amongst the fitness community include "IIFYM" (if it fits your macros) or flexible dieting, counting macros... whatever you want to call it... which all revolve around meeting a daily macronutrient intake. These diets only care about hitting your macros (proteins, carbs, and fats) and it doesn't matter how. No wonder it has become so popular. Sure there are some benefits and yea it might work for some but that doesn't make it the ideal way to go about nutrition- at least not if you are at all concerned about your health. If you are smart about it and keep a healthy balance then go ahead, but most of the people doing this are misinformed. They think it is about how many poptarts they can squeeze into their macros each day and that nutrition ends at the macro view. Not all calories are created equally- some are nutrient rich or dense while some are nutrient poor.
Nutrient Density = more nutrients for less calories.
Energy dense= more calories with less nutrients.
We want the food that gives more bang for your buck- costing you less in calories. I'm not arguing that you can never eat a nutrient poor junk food but you want to make sure the majority of your diet consists of clean whole foods. Your body is a very complex machine it is very important to fuel it properly.
Now introducing MICRONUTRIENTS! These little guys are the trace elements found in food, herbs, & spices that contain important vitamins and minerals to nourish the body. For example, a sweet potato is high in carbohydrates as well as fiber (macro) and is dense in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin A & C, (micros). Compared to a white potato, sweet potatoes have less carbs/more fiber and less overall calories with a better nutritional profile making it a low GI food. Check out the full battle here. If you eat a clean diet filled with a variety of whole foods and organic spices and herbs you will get plenty of the micro's your body desires. Due to modern day farming methods conventional products lose a lot of their nutritional value so it is important to obtain these nutrients from organic produce and pasture raised/grass fed meats. Some produce are more important to buy organically than others.
Most Americans consume nutrient poor foods that fill their body with empty calories in high amounts. After a prolonged period of eating this way it can lead to disease and dysfunction in the body because the body is starving for nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are crucial for metabolism and chemical reactions in our body to function properly. People do not realize that all functions in our body are carried out with the help of vitamins and enzymes. You can not process the calories you consume without them, which is why nature has combined them all together. When we try to out smart mother nature and develop our own food like products in a lab we create a food that is hard for our bodies to digest- leaving us starving for nutrients and probably still hungry.
What About Supplementing With Vitamins? The average american will eat their fast food cheeseburger, fries, and diet coke then go home and take their daily multi vitamin. --Totally not our fault, this is what our government tells us to do. Doctors and commercials we see and hear all day are telling us to supplement with our daily multi, even coming in gummy form to make sure everyone takes one. Truth is supplementing with vitamins is a waste of effort and money. We generally piss them right out- SO you are actually pissing out your hard earned money.. You also have to watch what type of vitamin you take, they have have differences. Most people don't take the time to research or even read the amount of a vitamin they are taking. This is a problem with the synthetic types which can be potentially dangerous and the vitamins that come in isolated forms. Extracting a vitamin from its whole form gives you pieces of the whole. This is screwing with nature's intentions. Foods in their whole form come with all the pieces of the "puzzle" such as specific vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that all work synergistically to aid in proper digestion and absorption. If you only take a piece of the puzzle the body utilizes less. Vitamins are much better absorbed naturally through organic food sources.
How to choose nutrient dense food:
The ANDI Guide is a great place to start to check out the nutritional profile of your favorite foods and what other foods you can add in!