R2P 13.1 – Macro & Micronutrients:


paleo pyramid

We have discussed the benefits of the Paleo diet. In this blog we will explore micro and macronutrients. Followed by a look at the effects of fast food or junk food on the body – just to make it a bit easier for you to steer clear of the bad stuff!
Macro & Micronutrients:
FATS: An acceptable range for total fat intake is 20-35% energy from fat, with saturated and trans fats together providing no more than 10% of energy intake. Fat is a rich source of energy and is important for carrying fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and certain antioxidants. Fats also supply essential fatty acids for healthy skin and have a role in regulating body functions.

However, eating too much fat (particularly saturated fat) can be harmful and increase the risk of diseases such obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Most people should be encouraged to limit their fat intake but young children under five years should not be on fat-reduced diets as they have relatively high energy needs for their body size.

There are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated fats. Fats that are saturated tend to be more solid at room temperature and can be found in milk, cream, butter, hard cheese, meats, coconut oil, and palm oil.

Fats that are unsaturated tend to be liquid at room temperature, such as those found in vegetable oil. Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as oily fish (sardines and tuna), soyabean and walnuts.

Another type of unsaturated fat are trans fats. They are formed by the hydrogenation of vegetable oils during the manufacturing of some foods such as cakes, biscuits and other processed foods but are also found naturally in smaller amounts in ruminant animal foods. Trans fats tend to act like saturated fatty acids in that they can impact on health by adversely affecting cardiovascular disease risk.

It is advised that people replace trans fats in their diet with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids which help lower blood cholesterol levels. This can be achieved by eating less high fat processed foods and more fresh fruit and vegetables.

CARBOHYDRATES: Truth be told, there is actually just one basic role of carbohydrates in the human diet. And that is to: supply energy. The diet should ideally be made up of 45-60% carbs. It should always be kept in mind that carbohydrates or calories alone cannot adequately supply our energy needs, for we must have our carbohydrates in combination with other needs, such as proteins, water, vitamins, minerals, fats, etc. This means that a diet of refined sugar, refined rice, flour products and other “food fragments,” though it supplies calories, cannot satisfactorily comprise the bulk of anyone’s diet. A person on such a diet would suffer many problems, for the organism is not capable of living long or well on bare carbohydrates alone. They must be obtained in combination with the other essential food factors to be truly useful in the overall energy production and nutrition of the organism. Good sources of carbs are lots of vegetables and some fruit!!

PROTEIN: Protein is one of the building blocks of life and it’s consumption is essential for stimulating the growth of cells and helping to repair body tissue. Protein should make up 10-15% of your daily intake.

There are 20 different compounds we call amino acids. Different combinations of these make up all proteins. Depending on which amino acids link together, protein molecules can form enzymes, hormones, muscles, organs and many other tissues in the body.

The 20 compounds break down into two types of amino acids:

  • “non-essential” amino acids which can be made by the body.
  • “essential” amino acids which cannot be made by the body and must be absorbed from the food we eat. There are nine of these “essential” amino acids.

Any type of exercise or training you do will increase your bodys need for a high protein diet. A lack of quality protein will result in your body losing muscle tissue and tone, a reduction in the function of your immune system, a slower recovery rate and a lack of energy. If you are looking to build muscle and increase strength or even reduce body fat, whilst keeping definition and tone, a high protein diet from quality sources is of utmust importance. Meat, eggs and even vegetables are all sources of protein.


Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans and other organisms throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a range of physiological functions, but which the organism itself cannot produce. For people, they include dietary trace minerals in amounts generally less than 100 milligrams/day. The microminerals include at minerals such as iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. Micronutrients also include vitamins, which are organic compounds required as nutrients in tiny amounts by an organism.

Bad macro & micronutrients

Fast food

Fast food should make up a non-existant or at most minimal of a healthy, balanced diet. Fast foods and junk foods are high in fat, sodium and sugar, which can lead to obesity and a whole host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Bad nutrition is just another form of malnutrition. Like in countries with famine, malnutrition widely exists in the ‘West’. Instead of having no food, we simply eat the wrong foods. With Paleo, a good rule to abide by is ‘eat one ingredient foods only’. Next time you see a processed frozen food or junk food with an ingredients list, have a look at the amount of ingredients, and the amount of sugar in the product! Sugar has many other names or disguises, e.g.; maltodextrin, glucose syrup, dextrose…..and some products will feature all three!! Be warned!!
Side effects of bad nutrition:

Junk food can play havoc with energy levels: Junk food does not contain the nutrients your body requires in order to stay healthy. As a result, you may feel chronically fatigued and lack the energy you need to complete daily tasks. The high levels of sugar in junk food puts your metabolism under stress; when you eat refined sugar, your pancreas secretes high amounts of insulin to prevent a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels.

Sadly, junk food does not contain adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates, and so as a result your blood sugar levels will drop suddenly after eating, leaving you feeling grumpy, fatigued and craving sugar. Leaving you wanting to eat again, and quite possibly more of the same junk food you just ate!

Junk food contributes to poor performance and obesity: Junk food contains large amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats, and as this accumulates in your body, you will inevitably weight and could therefore become obese. The more weight you gain, the more you’ll be at risk for serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

The high levels of fat and sodium in junk food can cause high blood pressure or hypertension. Excessive dietary sodium can also have a negative effect on renal function, even leading to kidney disease.

In the short term, high levels of dietary fat lead to poor cognitive performance. You’ll feel tired and have trouble concentrating because your body might not be getting enough oxygen. So this is where healthy fats and exercise play a very important role!!

Junk food can damage your vital organs: The high levels of fat and sodium in junk food and fast food can contribute to heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels and contributing to arterial plaque build up. The high levels of trans fatty acids found in many junk foods and fast foods can lead to fatty liver deposits, which, over time, can cause liver dysfunction and disease.

Junk food and no exercise is a recipe for diabetes: Over time, the high levels of sugar and simple carbohydrates in junk food can lead to type 2 diabetes. This occurs because eating too much sugar puts your metabolism under stress; when you eat a lot of refined white sugar and simple carbohydrates, your body has to pump up insulin production to prevent a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels.

Because junk food doesn’t contain the protein or complex carbohydrates that your body needs to maintain consistent blood sugar levels, your blood sugar levels will drop suddenly soon after eating. You’ll crave sugar and likely end up eating more junk food.

Over time, this stress damages your body’s ability to use the insulin secreted by your pancreas.. A healthy diet can help maintain your body’s insulin sensitivity.

Even in the short term, eating too much junk food can make you feel really uncomfortable. It can lead to mood swings and constipation, and lower your energy levels so that you lack interest in the exercise you need to burn off those extra calories.
Junk food affects post WOD recovery:
If you do not have enough minerals in your diet e.g. magnesium, your body especially your muscles cannot function optimally. And so, in turn, it will not recover optimally. Make sure you are eating enough healthy foods. If you are not eating organic foods, you will most likely need to supplement your diet with a good multivitamin and multimineral. One really good option is BioCare One A Day Plus and is available in most good health shops.
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