Nutrition Basics: Macronutrients and Micronutrients
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In today’s Nutrition 101, discover what micronutrients and macronutrients are, and learn how to customize your diet to suit your individual needs and goals.
The basic template for a healthy diet is exemplified by the paleo diet: high in fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality meats. In the paleosphere, or in any diet, you can go high-carb/low-carb, high-fat/low-fat, high-protein/low-protein. These are “macronutrients,” and your ratios will vary depending on your body and your goals. What we want to focus on are getting in lots of nutrient-dense, low toxin, and anti-inflammatory foods. From there, we can play around with macronutrients.
In the 50’s and 60’s, fat was demonized because it packs a higher-calorie punch, and was measurable in blood cholesterol. We have since learned that not only is fat not bad for you- it’s actually very good for you! (So long as you are eating healthy fats).
Let’s look at the different hormonal effects of the different macronutrients.
Carbohydrates raise insulin more than any other macronutrient. So based on endocrinology, it is carbs that are driving fat gain. Insulin resistance is becoming increasingly common, and a large factor in the obesity epidemic.
Non-starchy carbs come mainly from vegetables. Non-starchy carbs are low in sugar, high in nutrition. Broccoli, kale, spinach, asparagus, carrots…
Starchy can be nutritious but are generally higher in carbohydrates. Sweet potato, yam, jicama, a starchy tuber, squash, etc.
Low sugar fruit
There are low-sugar, lower carb fruits. These include strawberries, raspberries, passion fruit, lemon, lime, & grapefruit.
High sugar fruits
Tropical fruits like papayas, mangoes, watermelon, bananas, and pineapple are higher in sugar and in carbs.
Why separate low and high sugar fruits? Fruit is primarily fructose. Sugar creates insulin resistance, and while fructose is milder, it can still create insulin resistance. So when dealing with fruit, or any sugary carbs, it’s important to take into consideration the glycemic index.
Protein primarily comes from two sources: animals and we have plants. Animal protein will include fat unless you’re going for super lean cuts. The carbs in animal protein (i.e. meat) are virtually zero.
Plant protein (not including low-carb plant-based protein powders) includes a lot more carbohydrates. Typically two-thirds to seventy-five percent of the bulk of that item will be carbohydrate. For example, rice and beans are about 15‑18 grams of protein to about 60-70 grams of carbohydrate.
So as you can see, animal protein is a superior source of protein. It’s much more protein-dense, and it is much higher in sulfur-based amino acids. Amino acids help run glutathione pathways, which is a natural antioxidant.
The Misunderstood Macro: Fat
The third macronutrient is fat, which can be broken up into subcategories. Mainly:
Monounsaturated fats: Good fat from avocados, olives, olive oil.
Polyunsaturated fats: There are better and worse types of polyunsaturated fats. Good sources include the omega-3s from fish. It’s best to avoid high omega-6 sources, like from corn and soy (foods you probably want to be avoiding anyways!).
Saturated fats: These had a bad rap, but are actually pretty excellent. Saturated fat primarily comes from animal sources, with the exception of coconut oil. Butter, tallow, bacon lard, as well as the fat you get when you eat meat and seafood. These are important to include in your diet!
Adjust Macronutrients According to Your Needs
Depending on your body composition, lifestyle, and goals, we can dial the carbs up and down. More carbs for those doing high-intensity workouts like CrossFit or triathlons. We can up the starchy and possibly the non-starchy if we have insulin resistance. If weight loss is the goal, we will go low carb, getting our carbohydrates just from green vegetables.
What should you eat?
There are three criteria the foods we eat need to meet:
If we’re eating foods that are driving 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 that is going to break our body down faster.
Next, the foods have to be nutrient-dense. This is very important. Outside of macronutrients, we have micronutrients–vitamins, minerals, water. We have to make sure the foods we’re eating are nutrient-dense.
You’ll notice that one of the food categories I did not talk about are grains, and that’s because grains are very nutrient-poor. And then when you actually factor in gut irritation, lectins, phytate, oxalic acids (which can actually steal nutrients you’ve gotten from other foods!), grains are even more nutrient-poor and very inflammatory.
Low in Toxins
This is important, because even if you’re having some healthy broccoli- if it was grown with a bunch of pesticides, you’re eating all those toxins. Looking at quality is so important because you can eat the same macronutrient ratio, but if the foods you eat have carcinogenic pesticides, it can put stress on the body, stress on the liver, and disrupt your health.
Our macronutrient ratio can change depending on where we are in life, but getting high-quality food, rich in micronutrients, is something that should always remain a priority. If you’re doing that right, then the macros can be adjusted at any time. If you’re having trouble dialing in your macros or knowing which foods are best for you, schedule a consult today!
Paleo Alcohol: How to Consume Alcohol Safely!
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Is alcohol Paleo? Obviously not! My definition of Paleo is eating foods that are nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins (independent of macronutrients). The better question to ask is, is how we can experience a nice buzz while avoiding the dreaded hangover and blood-sugar swings.
My experience with alcohol is that it tends to be the gateway drug to junk food. Most of us have found ourselves, after a few drinks, prone to reaching for some extra sweets or even gluten-rich food, like pizza. Well, if you consume alcohol correctly, your cravings for sweets will be much more manageable.
With the holidays coming up, we will find ourselves at more parties and gatherings where alcohol is served. This goes without saying: you don’t have to consume alcohol to have fun, but many people will be put in social situations where a drink or two may be par for the course.
It also goes without saying, if you are an alcoholic, please abstain from alcohol completely.
So There’s the 80/20 Rule
If you are in relatively good health and on point in your diet and lifestyle 80% of the time, you have about 20% wiggle room to (responsibly!) cheat and indulge. I am a fan of this rule, but I still like to choose the best cheats possible. When it comes to cheating, there is a spectrum: indulge in cheats that may have a little added sugar (ideally not from high fructose corn syrup), healthy proteins, or healthy fats and cheats that contain nutrients (not empty calories) and are non-GMO. This will avoid throwing your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Healthier Treats vs. Unhealthier Treats
- Unsweetened (stevia) organic coconut ice cream is better than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that’s loaded with casein and sugar.
- A 90% organic dark-chocolate bar is far better than a Snickers bar.
- A sweet potato with butter and cinnamon is better than a pizza.
As you can see, it’s possible to indulge and not have to take on the deleterious side effects.
If you have an autoimmune condition or have issues with blood-sugar balance, adrenal fatigue, your gut, or thyroid imbalances, you may want to think about what percentage you cheat, and to what degree you cheat. With most of the previous conditions mentioned, blood-sugar stabilization tends to be an issue. One of the biggest stressors on the hormonal system is blood-sugar stability, so if your blood-sugar stability system is already stressed, adding refined sugar in the form of alcohol may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and prevents you from healing.
I have an autoimmune condition, so I very rarely let gluten touch my lips, but I will sometimes let myself indulge with a gluten-free pizza. Most of my cheats typically include the following:
- Sweet potato with grass-fed butter and cinnamon
- A green apple with almond butter
- High-quality dark chocolate, 80% or greater
- Hail Merry tart
Is the 80/20 Rule Right for You?
80/20 Rule: You feel good most of time, but you take relatively good care of yourself.
90/10 Rule: You are tired more often, experiences PMS, digestive issues, low libido, brain fog, hypothyroidism, and memory issues.
100% Rule: You currently have an autoimmune condition, poor energy, poor mood, frequent diarrhea, digestive disturbances, or are overweight.
Most Alcohol Contains a Few Compounds I Consider Toxic:
- Mycotoxins (fungus)
- Excessive sugar, especially when consuming multiple drinks
- Empty calories, containing 0 nutrients
- May contain gluten, especially if you consume beer
How to Mitigate the Damage of Alcohol and Utilize Paleo Alcohol Versions?
- Stabilize your blood sugar before you drink: I always consume protein and fat before I consume alcohol. Protein is primarily digested in the stomach, the same place alcohol is absorbed. Taking in some protein can slow down the absorption of alcohol (in a time-released fashion) into the bloodstream. This provides a magic carpet alcohol ride instead of the roller coaster version where alcohol sneaks up on you fast.
- Choose healthy versions of alcohol, and add extra components to the drink that aid in detoxification, prevent dehydration, and mitigate toxins in the body. I typically choose a clean vodka (potato based) or tequila.
- Consume Kombucha tea, which is high in various B vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotics. Coconut water is also high in various electrolytes, such as potassium. Combining these two together helps prevent dehydration and actually provides some nutritional value to the alcoholic beverage.
- Use the juice of half a lime. Lime juice is highly alkalizing and also helps with insulin sensitivity. Remember, alcohol is sugar, so it’s important we do everything possible to decrease our insulin spikes. Insulin spikes will lead to hypoglycemia, and hypoglycemia will add more stress to the adrenal glands and also cause additional sweet cravings.
- Adding in sparkling mineral water provides extra minerals and also adds carbonation to the alcohol, which helps with alcohol absorption. The better you absorb alcohol, the fewer alcoholic drinks you need to consume. This is a win-win deal!
My Favorite Paleo Alcohol Drinks:
Nor-Cal Margarita (Thanks Robb Wolf)
What you need:
- 1–2 shots of tequila
- 1/2 a lime squeezed
- Carbonated water (I use sparkling mineral water)
- Liquid stevia if you need extra sweetness
- On the rocks
Dr J’s Moscow Mule
What you need:
- Ginger kombucha 5–8 ounces
- 1/2 a lime squeezed
- 1–2 ounces of coconut water
- Liquid stevia if you need extra sweetness
- On the rocks
The Take-Home Message!
Following a Paleo diet is not about being perfect. Yet many people that go Paleo notice remarkable improvements in how they look, feel, and perform. When some people cheat or move away from that style of eating, the side effects are bearable, and many are able to return back to their Paleo diet with no issues. Some people are more sensitive, and cheating with inflammatory foods and beverages may set them back for days—it’s essentially their kryptonite!
There’s always a risk-reward analysis that has to be done, and it’s always good to do a mental check to see if the few hours of fun and indulgence are worth the few days of pain. Again, it’s different for everyone, and it depends on where you are on your health journey. My suggestion is to figure out where you lie in that spectrum, and if you are more sensitive, try some of the suggestions that I made above.
If you don’t listen to your body’s whispers, you will have to endure its cries!
Healthy Meal Tips – How to Create a Healthy Meal
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Keeping in mind that what we eat should be nutrient-dense, toxin-free and high-quality is what this video is about. Gain beneficial information regarding the three macronutrients which are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Know more about the different types of carbohydrates that we need depending on our activity level. Learn how to set up your own quality, nutrient-dense and toxin-free meal with the variety of foods discussed here.
Every single meal should have a combination of three macronutrients – proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We are just taking fully into account that quality is really important. A lot of people just talk about macronutrients like proteins, fats and carbs and do not emphasize the quality of nutrients that are very important. So, obviously organic, chemical-free pesticide-free, free-range, GMO-free. All these things are really important present in macronutrients.
The big thing is I’m going to emphasize macronutrients that also don’t have a lot of toxins in them. A lot of toxins are just phytates, oxalates, various fibrin compounds. Things that trip an inhibitor. Our enzyme-blocking inhibitor compounds can also affect digestion and your ability to breakdown and utilize B proteins and nutrients for food. And next is we also want to make sure that food are anti-inflammatory.
Three Prostaglandin / Eicosanoid Pathway
- Prostaglandin 1 (anti-inflammatory)
- Prostaglandin 2/ Arachidonic Acid (pro-inflammatory)
- Prostaglandin 3 (anti-inflammatory)
I’m going to be talking about various proteins and fats that are going to stimulate the anti-inflammatory 1 and 3 pathways vs. the refined vegetable oils, GMO vegetable oils to stimulate the prostaglandin 2 pathway.
PROTEINS AND FATS
We’re going to have protein, fats typically come together when you eat at lunch or eating protein powders or once you’re eating rabbit protein. They have rabbit starvation up in the in the wintery areas because the rabbits are so lean. They develop rabbit starvation of this protein hydro excess with no fats, and you actually need fatty acid to be able to help absorb proteins and amino acids so you can develop rabbit starvation without enough fat. But typically, in mother nature, you’re going to have protein, fat together. I’m a big fan of at least making half your meal, put half your plate with protein and fat.
If you are very active or if you’re a wall closer to the equator, you may be able to use more carbohydrate for fuel. So you actually see yourself in 3 quarters to 16% carbohydrates. But if you’re relatively leaner, you’re not exercising too much, and you’re living a pretty good lifestyle, typically about half protein, half fat. And that can change based on your activity levels, your kinetics, whether you have an autoimmune condition or not.
We have a couple of different kinds of carbohydrates. We actually have starchy carbohydrates. This would come in the form of white potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, tubers, bananas, etc. We also have non-starchy carbohydrate.
I’m a big fan of non-starchy varieties because it tend to be higher in nutrition. But they don’t have all the sugar that you may get with the starchy carbohydrate. This tend to be a really good place to get all the nutrients, all these anti-cancer compounds in the non-starchy variety.
Now again, if you’re more active, you may need some of the starchy carbohydrates. So this is kind of dependent upon your activity level, as well as your genetic predispositions and also you know, assuming that you are healthy. If you’re diabetic, you have metabolic syndrome, if your waist is greater than 40 inches for male or greater than 35 inches for female, you may want to think about really keeping those starchy carbohydrates down, if not out of your diet completely.
This can be pineapple, this can be banana, papayas, dates, mangoes, maybe more of your tropical fruits. Now people- but, of all the more tropical environment, they may have the genetic ethnic and biochemical individuality to process those carbohydrates at a higher level. Now if you got more wintery environment, you haven’t had those type of fruits. So you maybe a little bit more sensitive to it, you may not be able to eat as much.
Low glycemic may be your berries, maybe your apples, like your green apple. Things like that, usually below above 40 glycemic index are going to be your berries or apples, maybe more of your Granny’s Smith apples and such. It kind of gives you a good idea of what your low glycemic fruit maybe.
So myself, I typically try to consume more non-starchy and more low glycemic fruit. If I’m more active, then I will do a little bit more starch, at least more of these sweet potatoes. And again, out of the starchy ones, the sweet potatoes are actually lower on glycemic index than your white potatoes.
So just kind of keep that in mind. And typically all of my carbohydrates are still gluten-free. So I typically try to consume gluten-free carbohydrates just because we’re trying to keep up with the fact that our goal’s anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, low in toxins, and gluten-free. These are all gluten-free here.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR HEALTHY MEAL
So proteins, fats, carbohydrates- from there, you can create your meal.
If you’re looking at proteins, it could be fish, it could be turkey, it could be grass-fed meat, it could be lamb, a good quality steak or beef. When we look at our fats, typically protein and fats are connected. So we’re looking at beef, and maybe a 76% grass-fed beef and maybe a dark turkey leg or chicken thigh, or the chicken breast- we’ll leave the skin on. If it is a leaner meat like a chicken breast, maybe we put a scoop of coconut oil in there; or we cut out the half to a whole avocado and put it on there. We can also have a handful of nuts or almond to get that extra fat. And again, we can obviously cook with fat, too.
Good healthy fats, maybe coconut oil or ghee. If you’re autoimmune, you may want to avoid the grass-fed butter or use something like ghee without the P casein protein in there. Also nuts, it could be good quality bacon fat and duck towel, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil which are pretty good fats. It could be olive oil. Using olive oil as the salad dressing. That kind of gives you an idea of proteins and fats.
Our starchy carbs are going to be our sweet potato, our yams, berries, tubers, squashes, white potato.
Non-starchy ones are going to be our spinach, its’ going to be our salad mix, our broccoli, our kale, our asparagus, our cauliflower, and spinach, etc.
Our high glycemic fruits of foods are going to be obviously, our white potatoes are going to be our high glycemic index. Obviously, sugar in general. We are keeping this list gluten-free here, just in case.
Low glycemic are going to be our berries, our passion fruit and our Granny’s Smith apples, our grapefruit, as well as our lemons and limes.
So I hope this video is really helpful. From here, you should be able to create an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, low toxin meal. Start pushing your body into anti-inflammatory state, which is essentially your body building up faster than you’re breaking down.
So if you’ve hormonal issue, or digestive problem, if you’re in chronic pain, if you have fatigue, or depression or a mood issue, this is going to be the kind of diet template-wise, maybe a couple of tweaks regarding macronutrients. This is the kind of diet you want to be on health, bring yourself back out well.
For more information about myself, feel free to visit the information bar below. If you need a consultation regarding what tweaks you can make to your diet or what lab test, feel free to reach out and I will be able to help you out.
Macronutrients and micronutrients – Nutrition basics
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.
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 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.
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.