Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients

Have you ever heard someone use the term micronutrients and think to yourself what the heck, I thought they were tracking macronutrients? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve had people ask me what the difference is, and I realized there may some confusion between the two, as they are both frequently used in the health/fitness/nutrition worlds. Although they may sound very similar, they are actually quite different, which is the reason I wanted to write this short, but informative blog post.

Macronutrients are defined as the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods. These are the ones that most of us are familiar with–proteins, carbohydrates, and fats–that people who “track macros” ensure they hit a certain daily gram of each of the three. On the other hand, micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health. These include minerals such as fluoride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc. as well as vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E and K, and the B-complex vitamins. Micronutrients are called so because they are only needed in small, miniscule amounts. However, their absence can be detrimental due to the important part that micronutrients play in our bodies.

If macros are the structure, micros are the support that enable our bodies to produce enzymes, hormones, and other essential substances. The quantity and quality of both types of nutrients vary greatly depending on the types of food you eat. For example, processed foods tend to have more macronutrients at the expense of micronutrients. Likewise you’ve probably seen or heard people refer to their salad or plate of veggies as “health” or “#micros” because fruits and vegetables have loads of micronutrients in them. However, while people track macros, micros are not something you need to stress out over with regards to tracking them. As long as you are filling your diet with mostly whole foods, plenty of fruits and veggies, and a good balance of foods, you should be good to go with your micros. In some cases, such as a deficiency, disease, or other physical/medical issues, there may be a reason to keep an eye on a certain vitamin or mineral; however, your medical professional would be in charge of this–nothing for you to worry about figuring out.

A balanced diet should contain a mix of all the macronutrients as well as adding in your micronutrients for the healthiest you possible. How or where you get each type of nutrient from is up to you, your lifestyle, food preferences, etc. A list of good sources of the different macro and micronutrients can be found here.

 

 

Why is Eating Healthy Hard?

As I was going through my site today, I re-read my “about me” page (haven’t done that in a while) and I saw that I wanted my blog to be a place for encouragement when being healthy gets hard. And I do, I really do because I think that is one reason people give up this lifestyle so quickly–it’s hard. But nothing worth having comes easy and honestly once you get set in your routine, in living the lifestyle the way it works for you, it gets easier. With that said, there are still times when eating healthy is difficult and I realized that I hadn’t posted many blogs regarding that topic, and I wanted to change that, so…here it is!

I’m going to give my viewpoint on when/why it’s hard, as well as my opinion of why I think many people fail at eating healthy. This will also include my tips for incorporating healthy eating into your lifestyle–to a point where it is generally pretty fluid and easy. I hope you get answers, advice, help, and encouragement from this post. Encouragement to know that it is hard, so don’t be upset if you fail; but it is worth it, so get back up and keeping work harder.

Even for someone who eats healthy on a regular basis, there are times it gets difficult and I must make the active choice to eat healthy. There are  times I’m rushed and busy, times when excuses would be easy, times when I–to put it simply–just don’t want to. Whatever your reason/excuse may be, I get that there are numerous times when it would be easy to throw in the towel. It’s hard because it’s not the easy way out such as fast-food, processed foods or just picking something up quick. It’s hard because it takes time and thinking to plan out your meals, meal prep, bring your food, etc. It’s hard because not many other people do it, so you’ll stand out. But all of these excuses are the exact reasons you should do it! Take care of yourself by feeding your body with nutritious foods, feel the increased energy and overall better-feeling you will have. It may be difficult, but it’s worth it!

Now, with that said, I 100% understand it being difficult. So please, please, please do not get discouraged, upset, mad, etc. at yourself if you fail, or aren’t perfect in eating healthy. There are times you forget to prepare and have to grab something quick, or those office treats you want to enjoy, or memories to be made–that’s why it is all about balance. But make sure to find that balance, and don’t just have that throw-in-the-towel mentality. Yes it’s important to respond to your body’s cravings, but don’t overindulge. Make active choices to enjoy yourself, but don’t say I already ate bad, screw it I’m going to eat like crap the whole day, week, month, etc. Quite honestly, when you start eating healthier, and your body gets used to it, you start cravings “unhealthy or processed foods” less. Once you get in this healthy eating habit, it becomes your lifestyle and blends right in with everything else you do on a daily basis. When it gets hard, think of how amazing it’ll feel when you reach your goal, when you feel energized and healthy, when you reach your goal weight, when you are living a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Think of that as opposed to the immediate satisfaction you would get, but that would soon coming crashing down.

My #1 tip for overcoming the difficulty of eating healthy is the number one reason people find it so hard/fail. That is: enjoy the food you are eating. People think healthy eating and immediately bland chicken, rice, and veggies comes to mind. (I’m not wrong, am I?) But healthy foods and fueling your body doesn’t have to be boring, bland, tasteless, restrictive, etc. That is one of the MOST common misconceptions people have. You can use seasonings and sauces, use healthy fats such as olive or coconut oil to add in flavor, make homemade fries/pizza instead of going out for them. There are countless healthy recipes all over the internet, making it super easy to eat healthy foods that taste good and that you enjoy.

Many times eating healthy becomes so hard because people try to make it complicated. They try to make it black-and-white thinking when in reality, it’s all about balance,finding what you enjoy and what makes your body feel good, and sticking with it. Bake some delicious spaghetti squash, make these easy breakfast swap-outs, get inspired by easy meal-prep ideas. The options are endless out there! Don’t get discouraged by how daunting healthy eating can be, you CAN do it. Instead view it as an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and create the best version of you/your body that you can. Find delicious tasting healthy foods/recipes and stick with them. It’s all about finding what works for you!

 

 

Top 5 Tips for Tracking Macros

As many of you probably know, I currently track macros (and have been for about 7-8 months now). I started after my first visit with a sports nutritionist and have continued on ever since. While some days I give myself a break from it (it can get tough at stressful/busy times), I ultimately want to continue doing so because 1) it helps me reach my goals 2) it gives me consistency and 3) I can track my progress. For more of the truth behind macros, check out this post.

Now for you, whether or not you count macros I want to provide you with a list of my top 5 tips for tracking that you can then use and customize to fit your needs, lifestyle, goals, etc. These are just my opinion of the most important ones, the tips that really will help you start counting and continue doing so in a way that best fits your life. So without further ado here is tip #1….

#1: Read the nutrition labels

If you’re going to be tracking what you eat, then you probably should know what’s actually going into your bodies to make up those macro numbers. Not only that but it’s important to realize how a food is going to affect your macros and eating for the day. Maybe you didn’t realize a food was so high in fat-now would be a good time to see if it could realistically fit into your macros for the day or what kinds of switches you may need to make. For example, I only buy fat-free yogurt because I would rather spend my fats on other things such as nut butters, oils, avocado, etc. However, when my fats got higher, I tended to buy fattier meats such as 93/7 ground turkey (rather than 99/1) in order to better fit my macros in for the day.

#2: Get a Scale

First and foremost let me just say that a scale is not 100% necessary, but it is a big step in guaranteeing as much as accuracy as possible–which can be very important in most cases of tracking macros. This is especially crucial in the beginning, when you’re first getting started with weighing, measuring, counting, etc. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, there are some things I can decently eyeball (such as avocado, veggies, or cheese) when I have to (i.e. eating out or in a rush), but even now I aim to use my scale as much as possible to ensure that I am accurate in my food tracking.

#3: Plan/Prepare Ahead

This tip can be especially helpful to those with very busy lives like myself. I know some people that put their food into their trackers as they go, but for me, it is much easier to ensure that I hit my macros and don’t stress at the end of the day, if I plan my meals out the night before. Also, going off this tip is to find a way to track your macros whether that be through an app, excel, paper, etc. I suggest using myFitnessPal (MFP) app, but there are other options as well. To plan, I just add everything that I am going to eat the next day into MFP and then if need be I can easily rearrange or add/take away foods to hit my macros rather than stuffing random foods in or going over at the end of the day. Preparing your meals also helps so that you can have meals and snacks prepared to bring do that you know you have foods to keep you on track instead of worrying about finding something macro-friendly while out and about. (**But if on occasion you have to get something out and it isn’t perfect, don’t stress!)

#4: Find foods that work for you

This one is killer! I used to always try new foods and add random foods in each week and then stress about hitting my macros each time. Instead find the foods that works for your lifestyle, your preferences, your body, and your macros and stick to them! This does NOT mean you have to eat the same old boring chicken, rice and veggies for every meal like some people think–you can still enjoy foods, eating what you like and switching things up. But, it is much easier when you stick to the foods that you know are easy to fit into your macros and then change stuff up once your macros decrease, increase or change. For example, I love oatmeal and sweet potatoes, but when my carbs got very high, I had to eat less of these. Otherwise my fiber would be in the 45-55g range–which was way too high and was causing me issues! I still incorporate sweet potatoes and oatmeal into my diet; however, I use less amounts and instead eat more white rice, cream of rice, white bagels/english muffins, etc.

#5: Be patient

Patience is key! You cannot track macros for 2 days and expect instant results–like anything in life! It may take a few weeks of experimenting, trying different splits out, until you find what works best for your body, your activity level, your lifestyle, and your goals–the answer isn’t always easily found! But don’t get discouraged because over time you will find what works for you and it will be smooth sailing (for the most part) from there. Be determined to reach your goals, be patient, and be consistent–and I promise you macros will work for you just like they do for everybody!

Good vs. Bad Food

Let me just start this off with there is NO. SUCH. THING. I just feel like I had to get that out there first to all readers whether you clicked on this because you were interested in learning more, you think there are good and bad foods, or you thought to yourself what does this *&#$ know,  I’mma prove her wrong. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you did. I have a very important message–one that is very personal to me and my experiences–that I want to share with everyone. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts that I’m going to attempt to neatly pack together so stick with me, you won’t be disappointed you did.

As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m actually eating a giant salad–what most people in the health/fitness industry would call health and #micros. Me included. There is no doubt that salads full of veggies have plenty of micronutrients as well as many healthy ingredients. But that does not mean that it is a “good” food nor that you are better than someone eating pizza, a “bad” food. During my ED, this was mentally a big obstacle I struggled facing and living. I would feel superior for eating “clean foods” and look down upon those who didn’t. I would see someone who was skinnier than me eating a burger and fries, or a slice of pie, and think ugh they eat whatever they want (“aka bad”) and still look like that, why can’t I. I’m not kidding–they were horrible thoughts (so was wanting to be as skinny as possible) and they were centered around thinking there was such thing as good and bad food.

Food is food, made up of different amounts of calories and macronutrients. And while yes some foods/meals/ingredients have more nutrition or health or benefit than others, food itself cannot make you fat or cause you to lose weight or be good/bad. Amounts and quantity does this. You could eat nothing but fruits and veggies all day, go over your caloric expenditure for the day and still gain weight (and vice versa with eating nothing but junk food but eating less and losing weight). Specific foods do not cause this therefore they have done nothing to get the label of “good” and “bad”. This is entirely something come up with by society, the diet culture/industry, etc. and it’s wrong! It leads to disordered thoughts, restriction, and overall an unhealthy and unbalanced  lifestyle. Heck this thinking even led me to staying away from white rice and white potatoes for THE longest time (even though I love white rice) because some idiot in society had deemed it “bad” or less than brown rice and sweet potatoes. It’s not bad; it has less fiber, it’s different, but it’s not bad, good, better or worse.

So now that we have established that, let’s see why people think this way. Mostly it’s because people who lost weight cut out all carbs and ate nothing but boring salads all day so we think we should follow that. Especially because that one guy ate pizza and cookies and gained weight, so we must stay away from those foods, they’re BAD. Well let me tell you the person lose the weight because cutting carbs cuts water weight and b) salads and healthier foods tend to have less calories therefore allowing person to lose weight. And the person who ate junk, ate too much of it. Again it’s the amount not the actual foods. Of course there are foods that are more or less nutritious, but that doesn’t correlate to good and bad. Everything in moderation is okay. Make sure you hear me loud and clear and understand: MODERATION IS KEY!!! Get the good vs. bad food thinking out of your mind and focus on finding a balance that is sustainable.

So here’s my suggestion when it comes to this thinking. Whether it be an 80/20, 70/30, 90/10…use this balance. Fill most of your diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, rice, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. AKA foods that have more healthy ingredients, benefits, and overall may be healthier for you.  But still find room for those items that are less nutritious too. Maybe that’s ice cream or a burger for you. For me, for the most part, it’s sugary cereal in my dessert bowls, Halo Top ice cream, and granola/granola bars; occasionally it’ll be pizza, froyo, burgers, etc. But no matter what I eat, it is not good nor is it bad. It’s food, it’s fueling my body and it’s making me happy.