Counting Macros vs Micros: Which Are Most Important for Your Gains

In my recent article on a discussion of the pros and cons of the If It Fit Your Macros movement, it was discussed in depth the profound nutritive difference that can be had in two macro nutritionally identical food choices.

The purpose of this article will be to drill down further into not just calorie counting and macro tracking, but rather, how to make smarter food choices to enhance our daily nutrient intake of both vitamins and minerals to see which will result in the greatest gains-tracking macros versus micros!

A Current Snapshot of the Average Trainee’s Diet:

Carbs. Fats. Protein.

This is all you must concern yourself with to gain some serious tissue, or get shredded, according to a 5 minute visit to your favourite Bodybuilding forum.

So armed with your new diet plan from your 5 minute forum visit, ‘@SHREDLORD1993’ heads to the local supermarket, walking straight past the fresh produce, straight past the kombucha, past the raw nuts, past the fresh leafy vegetables, past the sauerkraut.

He begins filling his basket with the staples the pros said he needs:

  • Rice-White, or if feeling like clean eating, brown.
  • Chicken Breast
  • Eggs-as cheap and nasty as can be found, which battery caged varietals is inevitably.

 Meal prep commences and your daily 5 meals are portioned out from these 3 foods in bulk quantity.

Weeks go by, your scale weight increases but you start getting bad skin, your digestion is less than ideal. You are bloated, lethargic. You feel terrible, but you’re getting heavier brah!

Your old training niggles are flaring up more and more. You are starting to question is this sport is for you!

Freeze frame.

Let’s look closer at why this approach to this sport isn’t for you, or in fact, for anyone, and how this approach to nutrition will leave you a bloated mess who is more likely to have Scurvy than a well developed Serratus!

The Missing Link:

 Given training intensity, sleep and supplementation is on point, it is safe to assume that a lot of progress is being missed out on by the general lifting population due to lack of attention to the finer detail. The small print of the nutritional world. And it’s easy to see why. It is far easier to track 100 grams of carbohydrates than 30 micrograms of Vit B12, or the amount of protein in a 300g chicken breast than the amount of Riboflavin in a grapefruit.

But Why Does It Matter?

Almost every single metabolic process in your body is catalysed, regulated or dependent upon Vitamins, Minerals, Phytonutrients and co-factors to occur. Whether that is building muscle, losing fat or just breathing, every chain reaction requires the missing links in your diet to be carried out.

A diet devoid of micronutrient dense food choices in the pursuit of macros will eventually leave you sick, tired and without a chance to build an inspiring physique.

An example to facilitate this point in the case of vitamins can be demonstrated by the function of the  Thyroid.

For the Thyroid to produce T4 then it be converted to T3 and T2 at the nuclear receptor sites of cells, the following vitamins are required:

-Vit B2                   -Vit A                     -Vit C

-Vit B6                   -Vit K                    -Magnesium

-Vit B12                 -Tyrosine             -Zinc

-Iodine                 -Vit D                    -Selenium

 

Now imagine how many of these vitamins and minerals are NOT present in the prior described ‘Bro Diet’ and therefore how much harder your body must function to facilitate our production of cellular energy/metabolic function.

Very quickly, in a very basic example, it becomes very easy to see why we start having issues when our diet is only in the pursuit of macros over the micros. If you do not have adequate vitamins, minerals and overall nutrient content of that which you consume, put simply, many biochemical processes will struggle to occur optimally.

A chronic lack of nutrients may lead to a sluggish thyroid function, gut health issues, hormonal imbalances and a range of nutrient deficiencies. Many of these predicaments can lead to symptoms that will impair not just progress in the gym, but overall health and well being.

The Solution-Micros Meet Macros:

Now we have established that to pursue one approach to dieting is at the detriment of the other, we must find the middle ground that will allow you to maximise your training progress without you having to buy shares in your local organic produce store!

To this end, let us demonstrate an example of a diet which will hit the macros for your average 3000 calorie bodybuilding style diet, with both macro and micro nutrient dense foods.

For this example, let’s use the 40% Protein (250-300g), 40% Carbs (250-300g) and 20% Fat (70g) as the macros.

 

 

Meal Number

Food Type

Macros

Meal 1-Breakfast

2 scoops WPI

55gProtein

 

100g Oats

56g Carbs, 9.5g Fat, 14.5g Protein

 

125g Blueberries

12g Carbs

 

250ml Vegetable Juice (beetroot,carrot,ginger,turmeric)

15g Carbs

 

 

 

Meal 2-Late Morning

250g Chicken Breast

50g Protein

 

300g Sweet Potato

60 g Carbohydrates

 

1 handfull spinach leaves, 6 cherry tomatoes

 

 

Apple Cider Vinegarette for dressing

 

 

 

 

Snack

75g Almonds

37g fat, 16.5g carbs, 16g Protein

 

 

 

Meal 3-Pre workout meal

250 g Rump Steak

57g Protein, 5g fat

 

300g Sweet Potato

60 g Carbohydrates

 

250ml Vegetable Juice (beetroot,carrot,ginger,turmeric)

15g Carbs

 

 

 

TRAINING

Intra-30g Dextrose, 10g BCAAs

30g Carbs

 

 

 

Post Workout

2 scoops WPI

55gProtein

 

30g Dextrose

30g Carbs

 

250ml Fruit Juice (1 apple, 1 orange, 1 banana)

50g carbs

 

 

 

Dinner

250g Salmon

50g Protein

 

1 handful Spinach leaves

32g Fats

 

1 bunch asparagus

15g Fibrous carbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Target macros

Actaul Macros

 Protein

250-300g

298g

 Carbohydrates

250-300g

328g

 Fats

70g

74g

 

 

 

 

 

 


Take Home:

A diet based purely on supplying your body with macronutrients with no regard for micronutrients will always result in less than optimal results, and in a chronic scenario, even health implications if severe.

To this end, to maximise your progress you must ensure an abundance of calorie AND nutrient dense food choices with a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, grains, nuts and seeds to hit both your macro and micro goals.

As you can see from the above example meal plan, this doesn’t have to be much additional effort for a lot of return. It was largely a regular bodybuilding meal plan, tweaked to swap out rices, breads, pastas etc for sweet potato as the main carb source and some additional fruit and veggies thrown in on the side.

These are easy additions to make and increases massively your over all nutrient intake for the day.

So before smashing down your next bland meal of Chicken and rice, throw in some fruit or veg and see if you don’t feel the world better for it!


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