By: Lauren Fleri
As athletes, we strive to push ourselves past any obstacle that comes our way to reach our fitness goals. In order to achieve these goals, we can not only put our effort into our workouts. It is imperative that we understand, as athletes, that our body will only be as amazing as the material it has to work with: What we do inside the gym is just as important as what we do out. If you want to reach peak physical performance, the material (food) that we fuel our body with must be in line with the goals we hope to achieve.
Macro counting has become increasingly popular in the past few years among the CrossFit community, but what does it entail and why should it matter to you?
Counting macronutrients as opposed to counting calories can be a much more effective means to losing weight and increasing overall energy. Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats are the three macronutrients that our body needs in order to function properly. While counting macronutrients you can be sure that you are eating enough of the structural and energy giving components of our foods (not just calories). This can help to reach your goal of maintaining muscle mass and having a healthy physiology.
The science of counting macronutrients is based on calculating how much energy your body requires to maintain itself. From those calories, you would then establish the required grams of proteins, carbs and fats you would need to eat per day. A simple macro calculator found online could help you in figuring out those numbers, or an online coach can be helpful too.
The one downside to counting macros is that people can focus so much on hitting their required numbers that they forget about food quality. It is possible to hit your numbers of carbohydrates in doughnuts alone but is that helping you reach your goal that you set in the gym for yourself? Although processed foods tend to have more macronutrients than natural foods and can help you reach your numbers faster this is at the expense of our micronutrients. Since the food that we eat affects how our bodies perform, athletes need to understand the importance of micronutrients in their diet.
Micronutrients are comprised of vitamins and minerals. While only needed in small amounts, they play a huge role in our overall health and well being. Micronutrients are vital to the proper functioning of all of your body’s systems from bone growth to brain function. Keeping a variety in your diet, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds are all ways to ensure that you are getting needed nutrients. To put it simply: The more colorful your diet, the better.
Eating a variety of foods, focusing on food quality and keeping a balance of your carbohydrates, fats, and proteins will ensure that you meet your micronutrient goals. When dialed in with both, you will certainly be closer to crushing your fitness goals!