Macronutrients and Micronutrients

It is very important to think about the correct nutrients when we are fuelling our bodies whilst exercising. Having an imbalance of nutrients can not only effect performance but also our health in the long run. 

When talking to members around the studio, it is often found a lot of us don't really know exactly what we should be fuelling our bodies with so that we can work to our peak performance. Throughout this page will be a breakdown of each nutrient, explaining what they do, the food groups they include and the amount you should be consuming.

Please note: everyones nutrients are different according to their height, weight, age and level/type of exercise, so if you are unsure then please pop down to the studio and asked to be weighed. We are always happy to help with your needs.

So what are nutrients?

When we consider the nutritional needs of the body in order to survive and function, we can broadly divide or define the diet into macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Macronutrients are those nutrients that the body needs in large amounts. These provide the body with energy (calories).

Micronutrients are those nutrients that the body needs in smaller amounts ( eg vitamins and minerals)

Macronutrients

The three macronutrients all have their own specific roles and functions in the body, and all supply us with calories or energy. For this reason, the body requires these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop and continually thrive. 

Carbohydrates

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Carbohydrates are the main energy source for the body and are made up of chains of small units of sugar that the digestive system can break down relatively easily, and ultimately enter the body as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body, being the preferred and quickest source of energy for the body’s cells, as well as the brain. 

Role in the Body

  1. Fuel during high intensity exercise
  2. Spares protein (to preserve muscle mass during exercisee)
  3. Fuel for the Central Nervous System (your brain!)

Recommended Allowance

  1. Sedentary Individuals: 40-50% of your total daily calories should be carbohydrates
  2. Exercises Regularly: 60% of your total daily calories should be carbohydrates
  3. Athletes or persons involved in heavy training: 70% of your total daily calories should be carbohydrates (3.5-4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight)

NOTE: 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 Calories

Food Sources

  1. Grains (choose mostly whole grains for added benefits)
  2. Dairy (choose low-fat or non-fat most often)
  3. Fruit (choose whole fruits more often than fruit juices)
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Protein

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Proteins and protein-based foods contain amino acids that are the building blocks of protein, as well as protein structures in the body – e.g. cells and tissue structures, hormones and enzymes. 

Role in the Body

  1. Tissue structure (part of organ tissues, muscle, hair, skin, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments and blood plasma)
  2. Part of cell plasma membranes
  3. Involved in metabolic, transport, and hormone systems
  4. Make up enzymes that regulate metabolism
  5. Invovled in acid/base balance to maintain a neutral environment in our bodies

Recommended Daily Allowance

  1. Sedentary Individuals: 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  2. Recreationally Active: 0.45-0.68 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  3. Competitive Athlete: 0.54-0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  4. Teenage Athlete: 0.82-0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  5. Body Builder: 0.64-0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  6. When restricting Calories: 0364-0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  7. Maximum amount of protein the body can utilize: 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight

NOTE: 1 gram of protein = 4 Calories

Food Sources

  1. Legumes (beans)
  2. Lentils
  3. Soy products, such as tofu
  4. Peanuts and nuts
  5. Whole grains (quinoa, oats, brown rice)
  6. Seeds
  7. Meat alternative products
  8. Some vegetables
  9. Animal sources

Fats

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Fat is a wonderful part of the diet, as aside from the expected “essential” roles and functions it plays in brain development and function, cellular production, cell regeneration and overall cell functioning.

Another major function of fat in the body is protection, and insulation. Fat helps keep us warm in the winter, and maintain a comfortable body temperature. It is also vital for cushioning and to protect the body’s organs. Lastly, fat plays a vital role in the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins (i.e. vitamins A, D, E, and K)

Role in the Body

  1. Energy reserve
  2. Protects vital organs
  3. Insulation
  4. Transport fat soluble vitamins

Recommended Allowance

  1. 20-35% of your total daily calories should come from fat

    Less than 10% of total daily calories should come from Saturated Fat (coconut and plam kernal oil, shortening, butter, cream cheese, full fat dairy products)

NOTE: 1 gram of fat = 9 Calories

Food Sources

  1. Oils
  2. Nuts
  3. Seeds
  4. Meat, fish, dairy
  5. Micronutrients

Micronutrients

Micronutrients (micro = small) are required in much smaller quantities than macronutrients, but this doesn’t mean they are any less important. All micronutrients (from vitamins A, the B complex, C, D, E, to K, along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, to name but a few) are vital for normal energy metabolism, cellular function, and physical and mental wellbeing. 

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Vitamin B1: Thiamin

Function

  1. needed to release energy

Food Sources

  1. Whole grains
  2. Dried beans
  3. Peas
  4. Peanuts
  5. Animal proteins

Vitamin B2: Riboflavin

Function

  1. Needed to build and maintain body tissues

Food Sources

  1. Whole grains
  2. Green and yellow vegetables
  3. Animal proteins

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine

Function

  1. Helps the development of the nervous system
  2. Involved in the production of blood
  3. Helps break down protein and glucose to produce energy for the body

Food Sources

  1. Potatoes
  2. Chickpeas
  3. Yeast
  4. Nuts
  5. Bulgur
  6. Fish
  7. Rice
  8. Bananas

Vitamin B12: Cobalamine

Function

  1. Promotes proper growth and development of the nervous system

Food Sources

  1. Fortified cereals
  2. Nutritional yeast
  3. Algae
  4. Animal products

Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid

Function

  1. Helps form growth hormones
  2. Needed to build strong gums, teeth, and bones
  3. Antioxidant

Food Source

  1. Citrus fruits
  2. Cabbage
  3. Berries
  4. Peppers

Folic Acid

Function

  1. Helps build DNA and protein
  2. Helps maintain intestinal tract
  3. Aids in bone growth
  4. Prevents nervous system birth defects

Food Sources

  1. Dark green leafy vegetables
  2. Yeast
  3. Wheat germ

Vitamin A: Retinal

Function

  1. Vision
  2. Healthy skin
  3. Healthy hair

Food Sources

  1. Animal products
  2. Body can make vitamin A from vegetables that have carotene
    1. Carrots
    2. Sweet potatoes
    3. Other red-orange vegetables

Vitamin D

Function

  1. Promotes strong teeth and bones
  2. Prevents rickets

Food Sources

  1. Mushrooms
  2. Dairy Milk & Fortified Non-Dairy Milk
  3. Fortified cereals
  4. Cod liver oil
  5. Tuna
  6. Salmon
  7. Egg yolks
  8. Produced by the body when exposed to sunlight

Vitamin E

Function

  1. Prevents damage to cell membranes
  2. Protects vitamin A
  3. Aids in blood production

Food Sources

  1. Seeds and Nuts
  2. Vegetable oil

Vitamin K

Function

  1. Aids in blood clotting

Food Sources

  1. Green leafy vegetables
  2. Produced by bacteria in the large intestine

Calcium

Function

  1. Maintains teeth and bones
  2. Helps blood clot
  3. Helps nerves and muscles function

Food Sources

  1. Dairy Milk & Fortified Non-Dairy Milks
  2. Dark green vegetables
  3. Sardines
  4. Clams
  5. Oysters
  6. Legumes
  7. Almonds

Potassium

Function

  1. Regulates water balance in cells
  2. Helps nerves function
  3. Important for heart rhythm

Food Sources

  1. Oranges
  2. Bananas
  3. Cereal
  4. Potatoes
  5. Dried beans

Sodium

Function

  1. Regulates water balance
  2. Stimulates nerves

Food Sources

  1. Table salt
  2. Bread
  3. Almost everything

Iron

Function

  1. Forms blood cells
  2. Transports oxygen throughout the body

Food SourceS

  1. Dark green vegetables
  2. Whole-grain cereals
  3. Whole grains, such as brown rice & quinoa
  4. Legumes
  5. Lentils
  6. Nuts
  7. Seeds
  8. Dried fruits
  9. Animal proteins

Zinc

Function

  1. Aids in transport of carbon dioxide
  2. Aids in healing wounds
  3. Forms enzymes

Food Sources

  1. Whole grains
  2. Dairy Milk & Fortified Non-Dairy Milks
  3. Legumes

Water

Functions

  1. Moistens tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes, and nose
  2. Protects body organs and tissues
  3. Helps prevent constipation
  4. Helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body
  5. Regulates body temperature
  6. Lubricates joints
  7. Lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
  8. Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells