An issue that I see often in the fitness and health industry is the constant obsession about calories and macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats). Questions like “how many calories are you on?” “What are your daily macros?” are unfortunately a norm on social media or throughout gym communities. At the beginning of my coaching career, I also used to prioritise macronutrients and calories over micronutrients. What I have learnt over the years is that there is obviously a place for knowing your calories; dependant upon your goals, but we are overlooking the importance of the uptake of vitamins and minerals that we absorb from the foods that we eat in our diet.
Another problem that I find in the fitness industry is that people’s main priority is driven towards how they look. How we look seems to be more important to the large majority, compared to how we actually feel. Being sub 10% body fat is a more common goal these days than improving cognition and overall general health. Social media is, of course to blame for a lot of misinformation regarding health and fitness. It’s also very easy to compare yourself to other people on instagram and even copy methods that some influencers are promoting that may not be impacting your health in a positive way.
When I look back on myself, as a young Personal Trainer my main niche was to help people achieve a certain physique. My mindset was that a lean, strong looking body was the most important thing for health. I can now assure you that it is not the most important thing. As I have trialled and tested on myself over the years I know that you can dramatically improve your health, performance and body shape by fuelling your body with nutrient dense foods. A lean and strong looking physique is nothing if you feel like crap in every other way.
Regardless of what your goals are, we should prioritise nutrient dense foods. These are the foods that a packed full of vitamins and minerals. The foods that not only help us to look better but fuel performance, cognition, vitality, emotional stability, mood, physical and mental health.
There are 13 essential vitamins. Vitamin A, C, D, E, K and the B Vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate. Minerals include; calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, suffer, iodine, iron, zinc, copper, fluoride, selenium, chromium and cobalt.
Selecting foods that are high in these nutrients is the best way to optimise your health, body shape and performance. That being said, the foods have to be bioavailable. Bioavailability is the ability of that nutrient to have an active effect within the body. Not all foods are created equal and nutrient absorption also plays a big role.
Here’s a list of nutrient-dense bioavailable foods that you should include in your diet:
- Whole eggs
- Red meat
- Organ meats or an organ supplement
- Leafy greens
- Fruits (berries, avocados, melon, apples, pears, bananas, etc)
- Raw milk
- Greek yoghurt
- Raw cheese
- Fermented foods
These foods listed above may be controversial to what you are told in the media but they are packed full of vitamins and minerals. If you focused on only consuming these foods in your diet for a few weeks/months you’ll see you have more energy, improved quality of your sleep, better mood, better body shape, increased performance and productivity. If you don’t believe me, give it a go and report back to me.
Don’t be overfed and undernourished!