You’ve probably been told more times than you care to admit how to optimize your macronutrient ratio. You’ve tried the different calculations and percentages. You’ve tried eating at different times. You’ve tried with supplements and without supplements.
But no matter what you do, you still can’t seem to find the macronutrient ratio that works for you. Maybe what you need to do is to focus on going “micro” instead.
Why You Need to Think Beyond Your Macronutrient Ratio
For the few that don’t know, your macronutrient ratio is the ratio of macronutrients in your diet – protein, carbs, and fat. If you’ve ever tried to break down your calories daily to the correct percentages between the “big 3” or ensure that you consumed the correct number of grams of protein and/or carbs in relation to your bodyweight, then you were addressing macronutrients.
Where you run into a problem is when you’re getting your macronutrient ratio on point, yet still don’t have good energy, your body fat is higher than it should be, and/or your performance is still suffering. This usually happens because though your macronutrients are in line, you’re not getting the right micronutrients.
According to a study by Shenkin in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, micronutrients are needed to maintain and optimize all the body’s processes. This includes metabolism, muscle repair, growth, functions of the CNS, bone density, and more. Even if you’re getting the proper amounts of macronutrients, if they don’t contain the right vitamins and minerals (i.e. – micronutrients), then your diet will still be deficient.
Which Micronutrients are the Most Important?
Though there are 13 different vitamins and several minerals the body needs, one panel of experts broke down a list of the five most important micronutrient areas to be concerned about:
- vitamin A – important for vision, reproduction/growth, and a healthy immune system; found in carrots, spinach, broccoli, milk, liver, eggs, and fish.
- folic acid – group of B vitamins necessary for metabolizing amino acids, formulating red blood cells, and the production of proteins; found in eggs, asparagus, and dark leafy green vegetables.
- iodine – vital for brain development and cognitive functions; found in fish and seaweed, often added to salt.
- iron – directly responsible for carrying oxygen through the body via hemoglobin, anemia can develop if an iron deficiency pervades for too long; found in lentils, red meat, and fish.
- zinc – important for children to be able to build a resistance to infectious diseases, aids in healing of wounds, cognitive and gonadal functions; found in liver, eggs, nuts, and seafood.
How to “Get it All” in Your Diet
Micronutrients and your macronutrient ratio shouldn’t be looked at in an “either/or” sense. Rather, try to use one to satisfy the other. When picking out what foods you’ll eat to get your protein, carbs, and fats, try to “eat the rainbow”. This means you have foods in your diet of many different colors. Doing this usually ensures that you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
By ensuring you have all manner of fruits and vegetables in your diet, you’ll get most of the vitamins and minerals you need by default. Then ensure that eggs and fish are both protein sources you pull from regularly, and you should have everything above covered.
Keep it Natural
When possible, limit your diet to natural, “real” foods. This means eating as little as possible that was made by man. Any time you eat something man-made, you run the risk of the food not having the adequate amounts of either macro or micronutrients it should have. And since man-made food often has to have a shelf life, you’ll be ingesting preservatives and other unnatural substances that could end up proving harmful to your health.
By taking a “natural” approach by varying your protein, fruits, and vegetables, you’ll be eating in a much overall healthier fashion. You’ll have your macronutrient ratio on point, won’t have to wonder if you’re accidentally ingesting toxins with man-made foods, and you’ll have all the micronutrients you need to keep your body running optimally.