Are You Hitting Your Macros and Micros?
Thanks to social media, we are bombarded with top tips for healthy living. But have you noticed they always seem to focus on macronutrients? You will regularly see posts around “hitting your macros!” But less attention is paid to those micronutrients or micros. Although we need them in smaller amounts, we still need them. So are you hitting both your macros and micros?
Let’s take a look at them in a little more detail and we’ll share some top tips to ensure you are getting them in your diet.
What Are Macros?
Macros are macronutrients and these are the three nutrients we need in larger amounts to function. They are:
Simple carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which can be used by the brain and red blood cells, along with other cells in the body. Complex carbohydrates aren’t broken down as quickly so there is a slower release of energy. In addition, complex carbs generally contain fibre which is important for gut health – it aids motility and keeps everything running as it should. Fibre also provides food for the healthy bacteria found in our gut which influences nearly every system in our body! Including our immune function, muscle health and mood!
Fat too can be used as energy, but it also provides transport for our fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Fat also maintains our cell structure – so it keeps all of our cells healthy, especially our brain cells.
Protein is the building blocks of the body. When we eat a type of protein, our digestive system breaks it down and then our liver rearranges its component parts into new proteins to be used around the body. Proteins are found in our muscles, skin, immune cells and more! Which is why signs of low protein include frequently getting sick, muscle loss and dull/dry skin!
We tend to fall into two camps when it comes to eating well. There are those of us who know we aren’t great but keep trying and those of us who think we have it nailed.
But, recent survey responses collated in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggest that most of us aren’t great at all.
– All age groups from 4-65 years old, and 65 years and older demonstrated a folate concentration below the threshold, indicating risk of anaemia.
– Whilst higher in children, Vitamin D status is below the threshold for all age groups.
Additional data highlights that in the UK we are regularly running low on:
– Vitamin A,
– Folic Acid,
It appears that females are particularly vulnerable to micronutrient shortfalls, along with the young (in their 20’s).
A point to note is that hormonal contraceptives also contribute to nutritional deficiencies in females.
Micronutrients are our vitamins and minerals. Although they are needed in micro amounts in the body, they are still needed.
They perform hundreds of roles in the body, from helping wounds to heal, to supporting immune function and helping us feel the way we do!
Think back to the days of Scurvy – old-time sailors learned that living months without fresh fruit or vegetables caused bleeding gums and listlessness. This was due to vitamin C deficiency.
In many developing countries, blindness is an issue due to Vitamin A deficiency.
A case of Vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets, which is when bones become soft and weak.
Of perhaps more relevant heading into the winter, Vitamin D deficiency is associated with more severe cold and flu symptoms and severity.
Beta-carotene (which can be converted to Vitamin A) has also been seen as protective in cases of flu.
In a world where we seem focussed on getting our macros in, perhaps it’s time to consider how we get our micros in too!
Rather than looking at what we need to remove from our diets, like ‘no carbs before Marbs’, maybe we need to start thinking about how many nutrient dense foods we can include?
Great sources of vitamins and minerals include:
It can be a bit of a minefield when it comes to nutrition, so when planning your meals try to do the following:
1 palm = protein serving,
1 fist = serving of veggies,
1 cupped hand = carbohydrate serving,
1 thumb = serving of fat
Thanks for reading,