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Where food hurts us | T nation

You know how important calories and macros are to health and performance, but what about all those little micronutrients that are rarely talked about? Do you have a lot of protein, an accurate nutrient timing and a sufficient amount of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats?

Possibly. It is possible. Actually, that's it. And the main bottom hole in the food landscape is this: literally, you can not cover your micronutrient needs with food alone.

Poor soil, bad food

I was guilty of telling people to absorb all micronutrients through their diet. And theoretically it should work that way. However, there are some legitimate problems in this regard.

The food to which we have access today is not as nutritionally robust as it was decades ago. When the USDA compared the nutritional values ​​of 1

950s fruit and vegetables with those of the late 1990s, they found significant decreases in protein, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B12 (1). It's also been postulated that there have been significant declines in zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, but since they have not even been studied in the 1950s, it's hard to tell how much they went down ,

High Intensive Agriculture Has Caused A lack of soil nutrients, meaning that plants are no longer as nutritious as they were generations ago. Combine this with new types of plants that are getting bigger, have better adaptability to climate, and are more resistant to pests in nutrient-poor soils.

What can an athlete do if he has a lack of micronutrients? And is it really that important to close your micronutrient gaps?

I'm sorry, but you're screwed down to cover all micronutrient bases, especially if you're a really heavy-duty athlete or lifter. And since you probably will NOT buy everything that is grass fed, wild caught, and cage free, in some areas you are almost certainly deficient in micronutrients, and probably more than you think.

Over a decade ago, the Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition examined seventy diets of active and sedentary people, and all diets did not even meet the low recommendations of the RDA (2).

Now consider the case of an athlete who is actually in a state of hypocaloric diet. He or she will eat fewer foods that already lack micronutrients. In fact, they double in the production of micronutrient deficiencies.

Imagine for a moment that you could get food from 1959 that is far more nutritious than the food you have access to today. Even if this were a viable option, you would still have to choose from a variety of foods to cover your base.

That would be very difficult for someone trying to lose fat and meet their macro needs while staying in a hypocaloric state. We go round and round.

The point is to rely on food to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies, is not really viable, and certainly will not be efficient. In short, this is an area where dietary supplement really does convince food. True story, boss.

Just take a multivitamin?

I honestly can not believe that people still take multivitamins. Can we use common sense here, without pointing out tens of millions of studies that show that multivitamins really do not provide health or performance benefits?

Do you really think that a horse pill will magically support all your micro-deficits? The separate intake of high-quality vitamins and minerals could be an answer. It would also require you to do blood tests to see where you are and then find out a lot to fix your specific deficiencies.

But who are we kidding? You will not do that. The next best and simplest approach is to assume that you are lacking the following nutrients. Most of us are.

  Dietary supplement

Vitamin D

Virtually everyone is lacking this hormone. Yes, I wrote "hormone" because by definition vitamin D is what it really is. And there are many reasons why the vast majority of people lack it. Most foods do not contain much of it, and everyone is afraid of the sun. Apparently they think that if you are away for more than a few nanoseconds, your skin will burst into a rug of melanoma.

That's really unfortunate because it's not true and secondly, your body needs sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. That's important because your body uses it to regulate your immune system and produce insulin.

Ideally, you will get both regular sun exposure (at least 15-20 minutes per day) and vitamin D through the diet, but even if you do, you will most likely need a supplement. At least 1000 IU every day (3.4), probably more in winter.


Note that this is not an adult anemia, but iron deficiency. [19659002] Iron is used for energy metabolism and oxygen transport and occurs mainly in red blood cells. There are two types of iron: heme iron, which occurs in animal proteins, and non-heme iron, which is found mainly in plants, but also in eggs, milk and other dairy products.

Women, vegetarians and endurance athletes should rather take care of it. Iron is consumed by prolonged and intense workouts due to excessive sweating and increased production of red blood cells.

Women may have more significant deficiencies than men because of the menstrual cycle. And iron deficiency in a woman can make her crazy. (More information here: The Missing Element in Female Fitness.)

Vegetarians may have difficulty eating enough iron as they eat no meat and the body absorbs less iron from plants than from animal protein. [19659002] Supplementation may be helpful, but there are no studies that suggest that the addition of iron will actually improve performance unless you have a serious deficiency. Why mention it? Because you are important to me. And because you are likely to lack if you meet the above criteria (female, vegan, endurance athlete, heavy lifter).

Nevertheless, iron is really a delicate son of a bitch because of absorption problems and the fact that taking too much can cause cirrhosis, heart failure and even diabetes. Do not take more than 45 mg. a day.


Magnesium is of enormous importance to the body. It promotes a deep and restful sleep, especially in conjunction with melatonin and zinc (5, 6). Sleep is your greatest weapon in terms of recovery from hard workouts. Lack of sleep also reduces fat oxidation, has a direct correlation with muscle retention and reduces possible dietary compliance (7). Bad sleep often causes cravings the next day.

Apart from that, magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body. So never get caught without an enzyme.

You will do it I would like to choose a magnesium chelate instead of other forms. For example, the oxide form is more difficult to digest and absorb where the chelates are more bioavailable. Of course you get some magnesium from the diet, but if you add 200-400 mg. One day, you should be fine.


You probably know that hormone replacement therapy has become big business for men. And there is a legitimate reason for that.

We live in a time when we are not the men who were our fathers, at least from a hormonal point of view. The testosterone level has been declining for decades. The Danes found similar results in that men born in the 1960s had on average 14 percent less testosterone than men from the 1920s.

Even stranger is that none of the researchers investigating this problem can pinpoint the cause, but most believe that this is environmental and likely to have a cumulative effect on poor nutrition, over-processed foods, work and life stress and a lack of physically demanding jobs.

However, there is no suggestion that we know zinc has a direct correlation with healthy testosterone production, and this zinc deficiency is quite common, although it can vary quite considerably from country to country (8, 9).

For my money, that's reason enough to supplement it with additional zinc, something on the order of 20-30 mg. a day.

Vitamin C and E

Vitamin C and E are antioxidants and play an important role in the fight against free radicals. This is important because you need both free radicals and antioxidants for healthy cell turnover and cell repair to reduce oxidative stress together.

You may or may not be missing these, but it is a great idea to include them. They improve immune system function and overall health (10).

Smart Supplementation

We live in a time when the foods we select are not as nutritious as we would like, and there is no real way to prevent you from choosing yours own build.

The best plan? Understand your true calorie intake to meet your needs (fat loss or muscle gain), how your macros should be distributed over that calorie intake, and then intelligently supplement them to make up for any deficiencies.

Including supplements like Superfood, Elitepro ™ Minerals, and ZMA® will cover almost all the basics here, but you'll also need to get some iron and Vitamin D to complete your Avengers team of micronutrients.

The first supplements to buy

Do not bother with multivitamins


  1. Davis DR1, Epp MD, Riordan HD, Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999, December 2004; 23 (6): 669-82. [19659055] Bill Misner, Food Alone may not provide enough micronutrients to prevent deficiency, 2006 Jun 5.
  2. Abrams GD, Effects of Vitamin D on Skeletal Muscle and Athletic Performance, 2018 Apr 15; 26 (8): 278-285.
  3. Dana Ogan, Vitamin D and the Athlete: Risks, Recommendations and Benefits, 2013 Jun; 5 (6): 1856-1868.
  4. Abbasi B, The Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Primary Insomnia in the Elderly: A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial, 2012, December; 17 (12): 1161-9.

    6 Rondanelli M, The effect of melatonin, magnesium and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facilities in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. (2011) doi: 10.1111.

  5. Arlet V. Nedeltcheva, Inadequate sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce obesity. (2011) doi: 10.1059 / 0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006. Effect of zinc and selenium supplementation on serum testosterone and plasma lactate in the cyclist after an exhausting workout. (2011) doi: 10.1007 / s12011-011-9138-2.
  6. Prasad AS, Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels in Healthy Adults, (1996), PMID: 8875519.
  7. Bendich A, Physiological Role of Antioxidants in the Immune System, (1993), doi: 10.3168 / jds. 0022-0302 (93) 77617-1.

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