You’ve heard that saying, “You are what you eat,” right? Well here I am once again saying, “Maybe, but not really true.”
YOU AREN’T REALLY WHAT YOU EAT; YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB. HERE’S WHAT I MEAN…
Your body is a complex system, made up of cells, tissues, and organs. If this complex system is running well, then you probably are absorbing most of the nutrients- macro & micro- from the food you eat. Now here’s the thing… most of our complex body systems are not running optimally due to stress: over-exercising, under-eating (or eating too much of the less nutrient-dense things), and/or under-recovering (lack of consistent, high quality sleep).
When your body is not given the environment to thrive, it can’t thrive. That means your body probably isn’t getting the benefit from the foods you’re feeding it… if you are feeding it those high-quality foods in the first place. So how exactly do you ensure your body is absorbing the nutrients you’re giving it? Focus your attention on ensuring you’re getting enough of the Macro and Micros, along with everyone’s favorite thing to neglect: recovery.
There are actually 4 Macronutrients that make up the human body- Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, and WATER. These 4 work synergistically to ensure your complex system is continuously building muscle other tissues, maintaining homeostasis, and regulating hormone production. From a cellular level all the way up to your organs, these 4 Macronutrients keep your body moving, grooving & shaking. So how do you balance them all? My favorite answer- it depends. Everyone’s body is unique, and the energy needs are different depending on activity levels, exercise modality, stress, and predisposition to specific health conditions. A good place to start is ensuring at least .8-1.2 g/kg of bodyweight. This is slightly lower than you might have come across in the athletic world- that’s okay, and is important for you to remember this is merely recommendation. If your goal is to build or maintain muscle, your protein needs are higher than this (roughly .8-1g/lb of bodyweight). Carbohydrates and Fat vary more based on your goals and needs, but to ensure you eat enough healthy fat to support your brain & organs, you’re looking at at least 30% of your total calories to be Fat, and the remaining to be Carbohydrates (roughly 30-40% total calories).
The breakdown (quantity) is not the only important factor to consider when looking at total calories. Quality matters, too! The quality of these Macronutrients is what we consider our Micronutrients.
There are several Micronutrients that we look at when measuring the quality of our intake. These are the vitamins and minerals that make up the animal and plant sources of our food. These Micros help our bodies retain muscle, fight off infections, digest our food properly, and think clearly (just to name a few of the important ones!). Micronutrients are not produced in the body, so they need to be supplemented through our food (first and foremost) and supplements (only if necessary). The main vitamins we need to perform at our best can be broken into fat soluble (absorbed in fat- A, D, E, K) and water soluble (absorbed in water- B & C) vitamins. There are major (macro) minerals our bodies need to get from outside the body- Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphor- and minor (micro)- Zinc, Boron, Iron, Iodine, & Copper. Just like Macro and Micronutrients, Macrominerals are needed in larger quantities in the body than Microminerals, however unlike our Macronutrients, these are not produced by the body so it’s integral we are getting them from our food first and foremost.
SO HOW CAN WE ENSURE OUR DIET IS FULL OF THESE AMAZING MACRO AND MICRONUTRIENTS?
The answer is simpler than you might think. There are no fancy supplements needed, no crazy juice cleanses or detoxes to purchase.
Just eating a variety of high quality whole & unprocessed foods will get you there. Easier said than done, otherwise everyone would do it!