The first blog in this series introduced you to some of my favourite models used in applied nutrition, the reason I’ve decided to follow these methods is to help you make safe and effective nutritional interventions without any risk to damaging your hormone responses.
The primary model explained was the nutritional pyramid. I started to educate you around the ideas and concepts of this model giving you some rationale of why I feel it’s one of the best approaches to make when it comes to making nutritional changes.
The previous blog worked on educating you in relation to the two base layers of the pyramid, calories and macronutrients, it also highlighted the importance of following this process rather than jumping to higher levels of the pyramid and potentially crashing and burning out.
In terms of macronutrients we spoke about the importance of protein intake, not to mention the myth’s and confusion based around different splits of fats and carbohydrates. Although I elaborated on my beliefs towards carbohydrates and why when looking to make changes to body composition it would be a better fuel source over fats, I didn’t give you much information on fats and why some individuals may prefer this macronutrient over carbohydrate’s.
Today’s blog will finish off this topic and then I will start to educate you on the importance of micronutrients.
I mentioned how the only research in relation to different benefits of fats over carbohydrates (or vice versa) was present in the world of sports performance, the conclusions of this make up the rationale towards my beliefs that after protein intake, as along as the calorie allowance is correct, more carbohydrates will give you a better looking appearance, not to mention will force you to train harder and increase strength gains and outcomes from your workouts.
Fats have been shown to have a great effect on fuelling endurance athletes over carbohydrates, and although it’s hard to believe, especially with the majority of athlete’s carb loading it has been validated from some very reliable papers.
Although, this isn’t as clean cut as you may expect, to be able to benefit from fat oxidation and able to use fat as your primary fuel source it has shown to take around 6 months of including fats within your diet plan. It is also popularly known that to be able to oxidise fats as a fuel source you must raise your body temperature and induce a sweat response, this is why once again, when using resistance training as the primary method of energy expenditure and weight loss, fats are probably not the most influential as your workouts may not always create a sweat response, unlike endurance training and other forms of conditioning.
Either way, like mentioned previously, both sources of energy can be utilized if you have a preference of one over the other as long as the calorie intake is correct. I guess if your client has a preference of one macronutrient over the other as a fuel source, your best approach would be to prescribe a training program that compliments the research mentioned above.
The third layer of the pyramid, in fact the middle layer, is focused on micronutrient intake. Although the majority of your vitamins and minerals come from your micronutrients, as the primary sources of micronutrients are fruit and vegetables, the reason they take priority after macronutrients is due to the very low amount of energy that they provide you with, not mention to reap the benefits from micronutrients you only need to enjoy them I a “micro” amount.
At the same time to neglect them because of this will of course mean your body can come deficient in certain vitamins and minerals leading to all kinds of havoc in relation to your health.
The best way to ensure you’re incorporating all kind of nutrients within your nutritional program is to have a colourful diet. Making sure you have plenty of green vegetables, red fruits, purple and orange foods on your plate will all provide you with almost every one of the 30 vitamins and minerals your body needs to continue to maintain good function of your brain, muscles, nerves, skin and even immunity too. Eat a rainbow is a common saying within this context hence it being the title of this blog.
Different micronutrients also come in different forms, vitamin B and C for example come in a water-soluble form, eggs, whole grains and spinach will provide you with these vitamins.
Other vitamins like A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble and can be stored for future use if needed, sweet potato, milk and soybeans can all provide you with this.
Microminerals and trace minerals are other forms of micronutrients, calcium and magnesium are forms of microminerals while iron and zinc are more trace minerals. For microminerals black beans, lentils and bananas are all good sources. For iron and zinc etc pecans, peanuts and cashews are great.
Iron, vitamin a, vitamin d, iodine, folate and zinc are the primary nutrients in which your micronutrients supply, and many humans are found to be deficient in some of these. Iron is mostly found to be deficient in children and females, it can lead to impaired motor function and cognitive development.
Vitamin A on the other hand can help improve someone’s eyesight and immune function, children can become blind when they don’t intake enough vitamin a and even death of measles and diarrhoea.
Vitamin D as I’m sure many of you are aware helps improve immune function and resists bacteria and viruses, not to mention is great for nerve function and beneficial when building healthy bones.
Iodine is commonly known to be beneficial for pregnancy and when helping infants grow, the only problem is that in food and beverage the iodine content is very low hence fortifying salt with iodine is commonly used to help increase it intake.
Folate, again relative to pregnancy, this micronutrient is key for women during conception not to mention during the fetal’s growth of the brain and spine. As another form of B9, folate, mostly in the form of folic acid reduces the incidence of neural tube defects and neonatal deaths.
Finally, Zinc, great for immunity and prevention of disease, not to mention pregnancy again, Zinc is found to be deficient in up to 30% of people in some regions of the world.
When deficient in these micronutrients’ supplements can be prescribed to help boost levels, kind of like a kick start but unless advised by your GP this is not the best way to go about things.
First and foremost, trying to increase the amount of foods which provides these nutrients should be your primary strategy, then as you’ll see in next week’s blog you can worry about supplements at a later date.