Diet. Diet is the Greek word meaning lifestyle. Block eating isn’t just about a quick fix, it’s about creating a lifestyle change to start the path to a better you. Every athlete who steps foot into the box can benefit from understand and counting macros and even understanding your micronutrients. Micronutrients are just as vital to your overall health and wellbeing as macronutrients. In a nutshell, micronutrients can be understood as the vitamins and minerals that the body absorbs from your diet.
Your body does not produce micronutrients naturally. In fact, I can guarantee that most of you actually supplement your daily diet with micronutrients. I know what you’re thinking, supplements can only mean black market testosterone stacks and all things to make you fail surprise drug tests during competitive sport. However, did you know that if you take a multivitamin every morning you are supplementing? That’s right my friends, supplementing is giving the body nutrients that it might be missing out on from your regular diet. Let me clarify a little here… When your diet consists of processed foods, refined sugars, and everything that is manufactured in a food factory, you are most likely not getting the nutrients that you need. When foods and drinks such as regular or diet sodas, bottled fruit juices, and any food that you find in the aisles of your grocery store are a majority of your diet and nutrition, then you are missing out on vital nutrients that your body needs in order to function properly.
There are 3 micronutrients that I believe are important to overall health and aid in not only daily life, but in your athletic lifestyle too. The first would be magnesium… which is what exactly? Magnesium, simply put is an electrolyte. Minerals can act as electrolytes. They regulate flow in and out of cells important for muscle contraction, fluid balance and nerve impulses in your blood and other bodily fluids that allow you to be functioning human beings. They affect the electrical activity that your body performs including your heart beating, your muscles functioning, water retention (hydration), or anything else to keep you as a living, breathing human being. Deficiency in magnesium can be seen in signs such as muscle cramps, sleep disturbances, impaired memory, ADHD, anxiety or depression, and of course strong chocolate cravings
The majority of the American population is walking around magnesium deficient. When our everyday diets consume of sugary substances we end up using more magnesium to process these sugar molecules. Here’s an example: research has proven that it takes 54 molecules of magnesium to process one molecule of sugar. There are 10 packets of sugar in a can of regular soda, and 10 packets of chemical sweetener in a diet soda. Before I continue with this thought process, I MUST note, that they body views sugar as sugar. It doesn’t matter if it’s chemical sweetener, honey, table sugar, or all organic agave nectar. Once it’s in your body it all gets processed the same: as sugar. I digress… in one packet of sugar, or chemical sweetener, there are over 100,000 molecules of sugar substance. To simplify let’s stick with 100,000. If you have 100,000 molecules of sugar in a packet of sugar it takes 540,000 molecules of magnesium to process it. If there are 10 packets of sugar or chemical sweetener in one can of soda can you imagine how many molecules it would take to break down 10 packets of sugar or chemical sweetener? The number is in the millions! That’s absolutely insane! And if it takes that many millions of molecules of magnesium to process all the sugar your body has consumed from a soda, what kind of basic electrical function is being hindered in your body? Brain development, muscle function, you name it! Can you see how a diet based on sugar and refined foods can absolutely destroy the body? To continue with that thought, how are you replacing the magnesium that’s depleted in the process? The best way to give your body the magnesium it needs is to have a diet consisting of vitamin rich foods. Dark, leafy, green vegetables are best. My absolute favorite is broccoli. I eat broccoli with everything: broccoli with scrambled eggs, broccoli in protein shakes (yes, I do and it is so good!), and broccoli with grilled chicken or beef. However, spinach, avocados, bananas, and dark chocolate (in moderation) are also great sources for magnesium.
The next micronutrient most people are lacking is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin… aka it’s a fat fighter! Vitamin D also promotes calcium absorption in the stomach, aids in bone growth, helps reduce inflammation, and in general promotes a healthy immune system. Without Vitamin D common signs of deficiency can be seen in osteoporosis, depression, a cause for obesity and gut issues (inflammatory bowel disease). So how can you get more Vitamin D in your diet? GO. OUT. SIDE! Research has proven that 80%-90% of all Vitamin D absorption in the body has come directly from natural UV rays. However, most of the American population is used to sitting in an office under artificial light several hours a day. Several hours turn into several days, and then several weeks, and weeks turn into months and months turn into years all the while Vitamin D is lacking from your diet. Yes, there are other ways to get Vitamin D into your body. Most dairy products are a great platform; however, if you’re following a paleo lifestyle, they aren’t the best. Dark, leafy green vegetables are another great source for Vitamin D. Again, my go-to is the love of my life, broccoli; however, grass fed beef from Yonderway, egg yolks, and fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are also great ways to get more Vitamin D into your diet and are Paleo friendly.
The last micronutrient is going to be Omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for promoting brain power, fighting inflammation and stiffness in joints, and reduce your triglyceride (blood fat) levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in prenatal vitamins that most pregnant women take. Did you know that it’s often recommended for women to continue taking their prenatal vitamins postpartum? Did you also know that it is certainly OKAY for men to take prenatal vitamins as well? Omega 3’s are also found common in fish oils, and by eating fish, nuts, and again, dark, leafy green vegetables. Mmm… broccoli! Side note, when eating nuts, you should be mindful in the amount you do consume. Although good for Omega 3’s, they are also high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation in our joints. When balancing Omega 6 fatty acids to Omega 3 fatty acids, the ratio should be 1:1. The modern standard American diets are way out of whack and you tend to have a ratio of Omega 6: Omega 3 at 16:1 all the way up to 20:1. Yikes!
So how does this fit in with supplementing…? Because the American lifestyle is mostly that of convenience, our diets tend to, again, be full of sugar. Most find it difficult to create a meal plan, go to the grocery store and stick only to the perimeters, or simply cook for themselves; so supplements were created in order to help aid those who are deficient in what they need. There are many great supplement companies out there, one of the best being Pure Pharma. These supplements are created with high quality, all natural vitamins, oils, and fats. One way to tell, especially with Omega 3 supplements, would be simply to use your senses. Do your supplements smell rancid or fishy? Do your supplements taste sour or like they came straight from the ocean? Of all my time spent as a Kitchen Manager in restaurants butchering fish, I can tell you with no doubt that great, fresh fish will NEVER smell like fish. Your Omega 3’s shouldn’t either. In all honesty, your fresh fish and supplements should have a buttery flavor and smell. Both should also be kept in the refrigerator to keep their integrity.
I am a big believer in supplementing. I get it, your lifestyle doesn’t allow much time for meal prepping and weighing and measuring. I used to be there. As a Kitchen Manager for a prestigious scratch kitchen I would get to work anywhere between 6:45-7:00am every morning and I wouldn’t leave work until 5:30-6:00pm every evening. There’s not much sun exposure when standing in a hot kitchen, and not many healthy options when your work in a restaurant and are constantly on the go. Most foods are stripped of vital nutrients in order to “taste good” to the general masses. Without a doubt I was highly deficient in all 3 micronutrients until I made a lifestyle change and began block eating. As a highly magnesium deficient individual, I drank anywhere between 3-5 sodas a day. My moods were like riding a roller coaster and went up and down all the time. My stress levels were through the roof, and it constantly felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Stomach ulcers were present, and extreme anxiety didn’t even begin to describe my condition. Now, do I supplement with Pure Pharma supplements? Absolutely. Pure Pharma, no matter what research you look at, is always at the top of the list as one of the best. Because I am a picky eater and my go-to is broccoli, I have to make sure that my diet is still well rounded and I am getting everything I need. Since I started supplementing, in addition to block eating, I have noticed a balance in my overall health. While everyone around me has gotten sick with colds, and viruses, and bugs, I have stood strong in my broccoli-supplemented defense. I have also lost roughly 25 pounds in 4 weeks, and feel I have an overall better attitude, outlook, and health. No more stomach ulcers! I can swear to you, once you make the lifestyle change, you won’t want to go back. I can help you get there.