Macronutrients and micronutrients – Nutrition basics

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By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Today’s talk is going be on Nutrition 101.  We’re going to go over what macronutrients and micronutrients are. We’re going to show how to customize a diet according to you what your needs, goals, and desires are. So first things first, when we're dialing our diet, there’s got to be a couple of things that are in common across any way of eating.  We want our diet to be macronutrient agnostic.  In the paleosphere,  you can go high-carb, low-carb, high-fat, low-fat, high-protein, low-protein.  We just want to make sure we fulfill these 3 criteria: nutrient-dense, low toxin, and anti-inflammatory.  That’s really important. If we’re nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, low toxin, we’re good to go.  We can dial up carbs high or low based upon our metabolism.

In-Depth Look at Macronutrients

We have protein, we have fat, and we have carbohydrate.  You can see we have four calories in protein, 4 calories in carbs, 9 calories in fat.  And what's happened is in the 50's and 60's, fat was one of these macronutrients that was demonized because the higher amount of calories in there and one of the first thing we could measure in the blood was cholesterol.  So it just made sense. Let’s demonize fat because we can actually see some of it in the blood and we know it has more calories.  But what we come to find is that the hormonal effects of each one of these macronutrients is far different.

We have protein and we have more of a hormonal effect of glucagon.  We have fats and we have a more hormonal effect of peptide YY and ketones, which are appetite suppressant.  And then carbohydrate, we have more insulin.  So it would tend to be the carbohydrates based on endocrinology that are driving fat gain. Because it’s the insulin  opening the cell up.  It’s taking a lot of the extra sugar that can't be stored in the cell.  And it’s shuttling it to the liver and pumping it out as palmitic acid, which is a saturated fat. And again, we can literally get fat by having too much carbohydrate. And that tend to be what’s driving most of the obesity epidemic.

Click here to know more about macronutrients and micronutrients through a functional medicine doctor consult.


The Protein Analysis

When we have proteins, it primarily comes from two sources.  We have animal and we have plant. It’s really important to break it down this way.  The reason why is animal proteins tend to be very high in protein, also some fat in there.  If we’re doing lean chicken breast, lower.  But there’s going to be some fat in there and it’s also going to be very low in carbohydrate.

Now when we go to plant proteins, unless we're doing like a plant, like a pea protein powder or a rice protein powder or a hemp protein powder, outside of that example, you're going to have a lot more carbohydrate. Typically two-thirds to seventy-five percent of the bulk of that item will be carbohydrate.  For example, we have rice and beans.  About 15‑18 grams of protein to about 60-70 grams of carbohydrate.  So you can see if we’re eating whole foods, not powders, if we’re eating real foods, you get a whole bunch of carbohydrates. That is when you do it plant-wise or vegetarian-wise versus the small amount of protein. Some of the benefit that we get with animal protein are good essential fatty acids, vitamin A, D, E, K, EPA, DHEA fat and cholesterol, which is the hormone building blocks.

In my opinition, animal protein is going to be the best. It’s going to be the most complete and it’s going to be higher in sulfur-based amino acids. Amino acids are going to help run glutathione pathways, which is a natural antioxidant.  So animal proteins are always going to be superior.

The Categories of Fats

Now we deal with fats.  Fats come in a couple different varieties.  To keep it simple, we’re going to have:

Mono-unsaturated fats. That’s going to be like your avocado.  Pretty good fat.

Poly and saturated fats.  These are going to be like our fish oil.  So fish oil, salmon, tuna–good fats.  And also our omega 3’s, too.

Saturated fats. They’re going to be primarily animal sources with the exception of coconut oil.  Coconut’s a saturated fat.  We’re going to have butter in there.  We’re going to have a lot of the fat in beef, chicken, fish.  There’s going to be some saturated fat in there as well, stearic acid as well.

The Carbohydrate Classifications

Non- starchy

Non-starchy are our vegetable carbs. Non-starchy carbs, low in sugar, high nutrition.  These are your broccoli, kale, spinach, asparagus, and carrots.


Starchy can be high nutrition.  But it can also be higher in carbohydrates.  Sweet potato, yam, jicama, starchy tuber, squash, etc.  Some break down the sugar faster or slower but again, relatively speaking, much higher in carbohydrate but still relatively high in nutrition as well.

Low sugar fruit

We have low sugar which are going to berry, strawberries, raspberries passion fruit, lemon, lime, grapefruit.

High sugar fruits

These are going to be our tropical fruits.  They are going to be your papayas, mangoes, watermelon, bananas and pineapple.

Glycmic Index

The reason why I classified as high sugar is because a lot of times we use the glycemic index. Because fruit is primarily fructose. Fructose does not have a very high glycemic index, but it can still create insulin resistance.  So I want to make sure that we're taking into account the sugar part of it because fructose is a sugar.  It may not have a higher glycemic index, so I want to classify as low sugar and high sugar.


Adjust Macronutrients According to Your Needs

Depending on where we’re at here, we can dial these up or down.  We can be macronutrient agnostic, essentially. So we can dial the carbs up higher for our CrossFitter or if we’re doing triathlons.  We can up the starchy and we can up maybe the non-starchy or if we have insulin resistance. Also, we can go on low on everything here, except the non-starchy. Maybe we just go up on the vegetables.  So we can dial things up or down depending on where our metabolism is at.

What should you eat?

There’s also one filter that we have to apply to it.  We have to answer yes to these three questions.  These are my essential questions that all patients have to answer yes to.


The food needs to be anti-inflammatory.  So if we’re eating foods that are driving inflammation, excessive inflammation, it's going to: cause our body to break down excessively fast, create pain and put stress on our adrenal glands. Those are not good since it's going to break our body down faster.


Next it has to be nutrient-dense.  This is very important. Outside of macronutrients, we have micronutrients–vitamins, minerals, water.  So we have to make sure the foods we’re eating are nutrient-dense.  Again, you can see here, one of the things I did not talk about are grains because grains are very nutrient-poor. And then when you actually factor in gut irritation, the lectins, the phytate, the oxalic acids which actually can chelate but it can hug and pull more nutrients out, it’s actually even more nutrient-poor and its very inflammatory. That's why grains don't fit in. It’s got gliadin in it, gluten essentially, and wheat germ agglutinin, other lectins.

Low in Toxins

Now the low in toxins is important because let’s say we’re having good old fashioned broccoli but it’s got a whole bunch of pesticides in it, that’s not good.  So that doesn’t fit the low toxins.   Having a template that looks at quality is so important because you can have the same exact macronutrients. But if you throw in a whole bunch of carcinogenic pesticides, it can put stress on the body, stress on the liver, and disrupt your health.

Get a Customized Diet Template

We want to make sure we look at things from a perspective of is it anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, and low in toxins.  But we can also adjust the macronutrients according to what your body's needs are.

So for instance, if you’re a CrossFitter, we may jack up the carbohydrates high.  We may keep the proteins and the fats relatively high as well.  We may keep the carbs over 200.  If you have insulin resistance or diabetes, well, guess what?  We're only going to be getting non-starchy carbohydrates in for our carb sources and we're going to be very high in fats and then moderate to low in proteins.

So I can dial that up and down according to what my patient’s needs are.  We just have to make sure the following template is in place.  We don't really want to look at calories.  The only time I look at calories is when people are actually not eating enough and that can happen sometimes.  When you’re in a stressed-out state, it’s very common to not really have much of an appetite because the blood’s going to the extremities and are going away from the core.


So again, we have our calories, not that big a deal. But again the hormones are important and also making sure we have the right categories down. Then we can adjust the macronutrients according to what your body's needs are.

So again, this is a foundation if you have other chronic health challenges or issues, this is the starting point and if you want to reach out to me and get a hold of me for more in depth issues, feel free and click on screen or click below. Subscribe so you can get more of my great free information.

Get a customized diet template for a healthier body by clicking this link!

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