One of the biggest draws for counting macronutrients as a sustainable approach to nutrition is the freedom and flexibility it provides. Everybody wants to eat the food that they actually enjoy, right?
But there’s a problem that can crop up when there’s too much focus on what can fit and not enough on what should or still needs to be included in order to maximize health, wellness, and the ability to achieve the desired result. That’s where micronutrients really shine. We can take an approach we know will work well in the long term and elevate it further.
Why are Micronutrients Important?
Micronutrients, or "micros" for short, are the essential vitamins and minerals required for the growth and development of your body. Don’t let the name ‘micro’ fool you, though! They play an essential role in your nutrition and are just as important as macros in making sure your body operates optimally.
Here are just some of the ways they benefit your system:
- Macros need micros to utilize and facilitate energy production
- Micronutrients such as Vitamin C fuel your immune system and keep you healthy. This is especially true during and after intense physical activity.
- Protein may help repair, grow, and strengthen your muscles, but micros like magnesium, potassium, and calcium play the primary role in actual muscle function. They are also electrolytes that are used by your cells to carry electric charges to facilitate chemical reactions that impact hydration and fluid balance.
- Calcium, another micronutrient, is essential to promoting healthy bone formation and overall bodily health.
- Vitamin B and minerals, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc, support healthy muscle and metabolic function.
So now you might be saying, “Alright—well, it sounds like micronutrients are a pretty important part of the equation when it comes to optimizing my nutrition, but how am I supposed to work them into my routine? Do I need to count them as well?”
We’re glad you asked! Calculating your daily micros would take more time than you are likely willing to spend. Furthermore, it’s not necessary! By simply following some basic guidelines, you can rest assured that you’re likely ticking all of the boxes you need to each day.
Top 3 Tips for Nailing Your Daily Micros
1. Hit Your Fiber Goal
We recommend clients aim for 10-15g of fiber per 1000 calories consumed a day. This serves two purposes. First, it helps to keep your digestive system ticking over. Second, foods that are high in fiber also contain the vast majority of the micronutrients you need each day. By eating fiber-rich foods, you’re ensuring that you’re getting a big dose of your daily micronutrients!
2. Swap Packaged For Produce
Processed, packaged foods have very little micronutrient value unless they have been fortified. Fresh produce, on the other hand, has plenty! When you’re planning your meals, work to include as many whole-food sources as possible. As a quick reference, whole foods generally don’t need an ingredient list!
3. Eat the Rainbow
When choosing fruit or vegetables, do your best to mix in as many colors as possible. This will ensure a wide variety of micronutrients from multiple sources.
Focus on these micronutrient-rich foods next time you hit the grocery store.
Fruits and vegetables
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
Nuts, grains, and seeds
- Dried pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Brown rice
Legumes and beans
- White beans
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Lima beans
We love to see people choosing the right foods to fuel their ambitions. If you have a meal you are particularly proud of, share it with us on social media @workingagainstgravity and learn more about working with a WAG coach here.