Sports Nutrition  – Is it the macros or the micros? 

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We live in a fitness world of protein, carbs, fats, supplements, training, cardio, fat loss, muscle gain, progression, the big stuff. But what if all the big stuff isn’t the big stuff. What if you are missing some of the small stuff, which might just be the answer you are looking for? 

In health and fitness and playing the sport we love, rugby (well I play anyway), habit is key; if you can’t change a habit and make it long term what’s the point? A diet should be a change of tact that is long lasting, sustainable, otherwise we yo-yo back again. 

Yes we all go on short and drastic protocols from time to time (this should always be done with the correct mindset, knowing that it’s short term and has a clear and purposeful outcome), but the majority of changes should be for the long haul, to find balance and consistency that leads you to a long and productive playing career, while sculpting the body of that International sports player you admire. In my eyes there are some gems that you need to consider from this point forward to take your health, physique, and performance to the next level (or someone elese). 

So let’s consider the big stuff, but focus on sweating the small stuff… 

Protein: I’m not going to tell you it’s important, you know that. It’s the one thing science agrees on; consistent protein intake leads to better changes in body composition. But could the type of protein make a big difference? Protein has a level of anabolism depending on its Leucine content, what is regarded as the anabolic amino acid. While protein is protein, not all protein is created equal. Chicken for example has twice the leucine content as pork. So when optimizing body composition focus your attention on high leucine protein sources; chicken, eggs, cod, haddock, beef, lamb and whey protein. All other protein sources are lower in leucine. Want to get geeky? You need 0.05g of Leucine per kilo of body weight to maximally stimulate anabolism every approx. 4 hours, so do some math’s and get the scales out to measure that chicken breast and start eating your protein feedings as such every 4 hours. 

Fats: Again you know it’s essential, and if you don’t let me remind you that every cell in your body has an outer coating of fat, called the bilipid membrane. Aside from this every hormone in your body is manufactured from fat as pre-cursor compounds, so again, essential stuff. Due to this rancid and harmful fats are very important to minimise. Try avoid any trans fats in processed food and when cooking at home use butter, coconut oil, refined yellow olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil or free range animal fat, these fats all have the highest ‘smoke points’, meaning they are safe to cook with at high temperatures. The less rancid fat in your diet means healthier cells, and seeing as you are a collection of a trillions of cells I would say that is pretty important. Cook with these fats alongside eating whole natural foods that contain fats, such as oily fish, animal protein from high quality sources, avocados, nuts, seeds, and whole dairy and you’re onto a winner. 

Carbohydrates: The last of the macronutrients, the fuel of the body. Now why fuel is important, the types of fuel are equally as important. It’s very easy to have a high carbohydrate intake, they are the foods that most enjoy eating and it’s easy to overeat them. Plant based nutrition is on the rise and rightly so. This isn’t to say go vegan, this is to say most of our carb sources want to come from whole sources of plants where possible, why? Because that’s where the most nutrition is, vegetables are packed with micronutrients, pre-biotics, fiber, flavonoids, I could go on. The more of this the better, so a focus and shift towards getting as much plant-based nutrition will only ever be a good thing for anyone, vegan or not. Pack your meals with fruits and vegetables and feel and see the benefits in a matter of weeks. 

So while the roles of ‘macros’ are important, the micro macro stuff is equally as important. Focus on both for a winning combination with yourself or any client you might work with. 

About the author –  

Ben Coomber is a nutritionist (BSc, CISSN), educator, speaker and writer. Ben has the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’ and is easily found on social media @bencoomber  

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