You get out of your body what you put in!
While it’s important to have a workout plan tailored to your goals, a nutrient rich diet will ensure you reach those goals and sustain a healthy lifestyle so results can be maintained.
The best place to begin is by dissecting the term ‘nutrients’ to uncover their true identity.
Our bodies have the amazing ability to break foods down into their chemical parts. Hence why the quality of the foods we eat is so important. Nutrients can be divided into two parts- micronutrients and macronutrients. While they’re both part of the same team, they play very different roles and without the combined power of both, our bodies would struggle to kick many goals!
What’s the difference between micronutrients and macronutrients?
Our bodies need a large amount of macronutrients, and a smaller amount of micronutrients to perform at their best. Macronutrients are the energy-giving components of the food we eat, providing the body with calories that are converted to energy. Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in food that nourish our body and create the good stuff that allows growth and development.
Let’s take a closer look at both!
Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We need them in relatively large amounts (grams), depending on how much energy we exert throughout the day. Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for our body and promote healthy function of many of our body’s systems. They’re especially important for those doing high-intensity exercise. Proteins fill our bodies with enzymes, hormones and anti-bodies, and maintain an acid-base balance. As for fats, they’re often given a bad wrap. The word ‘fat’ in the weight loss world is shunned, however good fats, go a long way. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help to maintain healthy heart and brain function, and allows the body to absorb disease-fighting nutrients.
Macronutrients are found in most of the food we eat, however our bodies value the quality of these macronutrients very highly. Try and incorporate complex-carbohydrates, complete proteins high in amino acids and unsaturated fats into your diet.
What to eat:
- Whole wheat bread
- Brown rice
- Starchy vegetables e.g. Sweet potato, pumpkin
- Black beans
- Lean red meat, chicken & fish
- Lentils, chickpeas & kidney beans
- Peanut butter
- Broccoli & Brussels sprouts
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate
Micronutrients not only play a crucial role in improving our health, but can also stimulate muscle growth. While our bodies only need them in miniscule amounts (milligrams or micrograms), it’s important we don’t overlook their power! Micronutrients consist of minerals (zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium & potassium), water-soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, C & folic acid), fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) and water. We could talk for hours about the benefits of micronutrients. They range from producing cell growth, promoting healthy hair, skin, teeth & bones, producing hormones and building a strong immune system. A diet deficient in any of the micronutrients can have a very negative impact on how we feel from day to day.
What to eat:
- Dairy products, green vegetables & almonds
- Lean red meat, poultry, spinach, beans
- Dark leafy greens, nuts & seeds, brown rice, lentils, fish
- Bananas, spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges, squash
- Lean red meat, seafood, chicken, cashews, chickpeas
- Citrus fruits
- Lean meat & fish
- Fermented foods
- Nuts & seeds
- Vegetable oils
- Leafy green vegetables
A balanced diet filled with right amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients will not only positively contribute to your training or weight loss goals, but will ensure your body functions in the best way possible.
Reward your body with the right nutrients and it will reward you in return!