This is the third part in a five-part series covering the weight loss pyramid. I started at the base with calories. Next, I broke down macros. This post will cover micronutrients, or micros, and hydration. Calories and macronutrients are usually the stars of the show when losing weight, but hidden behind them are micros. If you’re not feeling well, not getting enough sleep and/or have bright green urine, micronutrients might be the issue.
First of all, micronutrients are chemical substances required in trace amounts for living organisms to function. Micros are known by most people as vitamins and minerals. Some examples include: Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamin D. There are tons more, but these are some of the most commonly discussed.
Issues with your micros and hydration intake are much harder to pinpoint than calories and macros but fairly easy to solve when you realize what is going on. The solution is to add something to your diet, usually in the form of more fruits and vegetables or a multivitamin.
This post can be simplified into two statements: eat your fruits and veggies and drink more water. I’ll go into both a bit deeper.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
I talk a lot about being flexible and fitting the foods and certain macro splits you like into your diet. However, the staple of a healthy diet are fruits and vegetables. Sure, you can have that fried chicken, but a side of sautéed vegetables goes pretty well with that. No? Fine. At least try to get some veggies in another meal. My recommendation is to try to get vegetables in every meal you have and at least one type of fruit per day. If you are able to do this, congrats, you get a gold star – and you shouldn’t have any micro deficiencies.
Another option is to take a multivitamin. I don’t. I like to think I get enough micros naturally from my diet. Furthermore, there are doubts that your body is even able to completely absorb the nutrients from a multivitamin. However, for those who don’t regularly eat a ton of veggies, it might be better than nothing. There’s only one way to find out. Try it out and see how you feel. I always like to do mini science experiments on myself. I’m currently trying out a new supplement that a lot of people recommend to take especially during the winter months. Can you guess what it is?
Even if you are deficient in a certain micronutrient, it’s pretty hard to pinpoint which one and if it actually is the cause of your problems. Most likely, these problems are from external sources like stress at work, the cold weather or that green urine (Why are you still reading this? Go to a doctor!).
Knowing whether you’re hydrated or not is much easier to determine. The easiest way to find out is by the color of your urine: You want it to lean towards being more clear than yellow. You know what to do if it’s any other color, right? Being properly hydrated makes everything better. Your brain functions better, your body responds better and you feel better. The human body is composed of mostly water, so it makes sense that you should be constantly hydrating.
The recommended amount of water daily intake is around two liters. For an active person, it should be more. An easy way to remember how much water you should be drinking a day, and to gauge how much you’ve drunk throughout the day, is to use the same water bottle every day. I have one that holds a liter, and I try to drink at least four full bottles throughout the day.
Knowing how much you have to drink is one thing, but actually doing it is another. That’s why I also created some games or rules that I implement every day to ensure I’m drinking enough. One is that every time I get up from my desk at work, I have to take a sip. There are even apps that can remind you to drink up. Simple motivators like these make it a lot easier to stay hydrated and make a huge difference in the quality of your health.
Do you have any favorite fruits and vegetables? Do you have any particular micro you want to learn more about? Have any tips to stay hydrated? Share them in the comments below!
In the next post I’ll talk about the fourth layer of the pyramid: meal and nutrient timing. Here is where the details will get pretty specific and the effects on your health are more minute – but they still have a place in your fitness plan.