Macronutrients Are Not Everything

Hybrid Performance Method
September 9, 2019
Categories

Words ~500

Read time: 2-3 minutes

Key points

  • It’s possible to achieve weight loss using Macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) as the only constraint
  • A diet that produces weight loss is not by definition healthy. Micronutrients are also essential for health. An unhealthy diet calorie-restricted diet can still produce weight loss
  • Focus on consuming a variety of food sources to make nutrition no more complicated than it needs to be

Macronutrients are amazing. They each hold different amounts of calories per gram, they transfer chemical energy through multiple pathways and they even affect different hormones and bodily functions when we ingest them. There is an overwhelming amount of science supporting the idea that the macronutrient composition of a diet has a strong relationship with the body’s composition, especially during dieting phases. (1,2,3) These findings are one of the many reasons why macro tracking, IIFYM, and the flexible dieting approach is so popular among dieters and athletes.

Macronutrients are not the only things that keep our bodies going, let us not forget about the extremely important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, zoo-nutrients, other micronutrients, and even fiber. These micronutrients, however small in the amount we ingest, each play crucial roles living a long, healthy life. Imbalances or deficiencies of any of these important vitamins, minerals or any other micronutrients when severe enough, could have detrimental effects on health and whatever your macro counting goals are. Depending on the specific breakdown of your food sources or if you follow something like a vegetarian or vegan diet nutrient bioavailability not be sufficient enough to keep your micronutrient levels within the recommended guidelines. (4,5,6,7)

Often, I hear individuals who track their macros fixate on macro breakdowns of food as if the source doesn’t matter but it certainly does. This way of dieting is similar to the IIFYM or “If It Fits Your Macros” style of dieting where as long as the food fits your macros, nothing else matters. If you want to get lean or stay lean, you can get away with simply fixating on macros and not caring about the quality of the food source. There have been some experiments showing that the calorie or macronutrient source does not directly affect body composition, even as extreme as people losing large amounts of weight while strictly eating McDonald’s and nothing else, which I would definitely not recommend. Don’t fall for the misconception that a successful period of weight loss means a person must have a healthy diet because that diet may not be balanced even with controlled macros. 

So, what is the solution here? Do you need to start counting my macronutrients and all the vitamins, minerals and micronutrients? No, that would be extremely complicated, challenging and unnecessary. If you eat a balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods you will likely never deal with any severe enough micronutrient imbalances or deficiencies that would ever compromise your health

This is why it is so important to expose yourself to a variety of nutrient-dense foods and put emphasis on the quality of your macronutrient sources. At Hybrid Nutrition, we preach and implement with our clients the ‘80/20 rule’, where we recommend enjoying a diet where 80% of your food sources are from unprocessed whole foods and 20% from processed foods. We follow and implement this guideline to help support a more sustainable but balanced diet full of sufficient micronutrients while letting you enjoy some of your favorite foods and treats in moderation.

1.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4892287/

2.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22178004

3.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1858694

4.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793275/

5.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25369926

6.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14988640

7.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16942519

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