Are you Deficient?
At the moment there are two main schools of thought when it comes to nutrition in the fitness industry.
On the one hand you have those who believe in simply eating whole foods. They focus on eliminating any processed foods and often dairy and gluten. Using this approach you tend not to focus on calories as an important factor and very rarely you focus on the macronutrient breakdown of what you eat i.e. how much carbohydrate, fat and protein you eat on a daily basis.
On the other hand you have those who have a flexible approach. On this type of diet you believe that the calories and macronutrients you consume are the sole guide for health and body composition and as long as you take in around 30g of fibre you are good.
In my view neither of these two approaches are optimal and the answer lies somewhere between the two for most people.
Over consumption of calories is the only thing we can say with certainty has caused a significant rise in the average body fat percentages of the population.
What about those who just eat by numbers though? Is 40 grams of carbs just 40 grams of carbs?
Lets say for instance you have a choice to eat 40 grams of carbs form broccoli or eat 40 grams of carbs from hazelnut chocolate spread. Will your reaction to the foods be the same?
Of course not, there are several reasons why this is the case including thermogenesis and deficiency.
In fact you could get 40g of carbs from about 80g of chocolate spread whereas you would need about 600g of broccoli to get 40g of carbs.
If ever you have tried to eat 600g of broccoli you will have noticed that is very difficult! (yes I have tried for those who are wondering)
It takes a lot of energy to digest foods which are high in fibre or protein.
It takes a lot of energy to digest meat for example and this is why you may hear the term “meat sweats”. This refers to thermogenesis where your body is literally burning up energy (calories) to digest your food.
If you were to consume most of your calories from foods, which cause thermogenesis, clearly there would be a big difference to those who consume a smaller amount of high calorie foods that do not cause thermogenesis.
In my opinion and in my approach there is a lot more to it than simply hitting the numbers. There are coaches who would recommend vitamin and fibre supplementation and consider it equal to a diet rich in varied nutrient dense food.
Maybe these guys have read some research that I have not but having been exposed to around 1,000 athletes over 20 years I still believe those with nutrient dense diets from real food tend to be more robust than those who supplement.
I wanted to share with you some of the common deficiencies in the Uk diet.
I would never suggest self-diagnosis of illness but by reading this you may be able to pick up some of the holes in your diet. This list is not exhaustive and I could have gone on to include deficiency in things like phosphorous and calcium. However, if you are consuming a wide array of the foods mentioned here you are unlikely to be deficient.
If in doubt seek out a specialist.
Deficiency: Night blindness; reduced hair growth in children; loss of appetite; dry, rough skin; lowered resistance to infection; dry eyes.
Sources; Alfalfa sprouts, Avocado, Banana, Honey, Broccoli, Cayenne pepper, Carrots Yellow orange fruit, Garlic, Squash, Broccoli, Green & Yellow Vegetables
Converted to Vitamin A in the body. The antioxidant properties of this nutrient may be a factor in reducing the risk of certain forms of cancer.
Sources; Egg Yolk, Milk, Exposure to sun enables the body to make its own Vitamin D., Cod liver Oil, Salmon, seeds, lemongrass, avocado, garlic, greens leafy
Deficiency: bone softening in adults; osteoporosis.
Sources; Butter, Brown Rice, Soybean Oil, Vegetable oils ,Nuts .
Helps form red blood cells, muscles and other tissues. Preserves fatty acids.
Deficiency: Rare, seen primarily in premature babies
Sources Green Vegetables, Liver, also made by intestinal bacteria.
Needed for normal blood clotting. Deficiency:
Defective blood coagulation.
Sources; Sunflower Seeds, Pork, whole and enriched Grains, dried Beans, dates, garlic, parsley, wild rice, watercress, wheatgrass
Aids carbohydrate metabolism, muscle coordination, proper nerve function, helps with stress, stabilizes appetite by improving digestion and by assimilating nutrients, provides energy, improves mental attitude , focus & concentration
Deficiency: Anxiety; depression; muscle cramps; loss of appetite.
Sources; Liver, Milk, Spinach, Mushrooms, apple , apricot, avocado, dates, figs, garlic, parsley, seeds
Needed for metabolism of all foods and the release of energy to cells. Essential to the functioning of Vitamin B6 and Niacin.
Helps maintain; Vision, Skin, nails , hair, helps to alleviate stress
Deficiency: Cracks and sores around the mouth and nose; visual problems.
Sources; Mushrooms, Tuna, Chicken, Beef, Peanuts, rice brown, wild, almonds, apricots, chamomile, figs, garlic, nuts
Needed for the production of many enzymes that convert food to energy. Helps maintain a healthy digestive system and nervous system.
Deficiency: Diarrhoea and mouth sores.
Abundant in animal tissues, whole grain cereals and legumes, almonds, avocado, broccoli, oats, oranges, peas, seeds, soybeans, walnuts.
Needed to manufacture adrenal hormones and chemicals that regulate nerve function. Produced in the body by the beneficial bacteria in the intestines
Unclear in humans.
Animal protein foods, Spinach,
Broccoli, Bananas, bell pepper, beetroot, melon, greens, lemon, nuts, peas, sprouts, green veggies
Involved in protein metabolism and absorption, carbohydrate metabolism, helps form red blood cells, promotes nerve and brain function. Helps maintain skin , teeth, muscles , nerves, antibodies and red blood cells.
Anaemia, irritability, skin disorders and in extreme cases convulsions.
Found almost exclusively in animal products, beans, garlic, nuts and seeds.
Helps form red blood cells. Aids growth, provides energy through better breakdown of carbs. Anecdotally linked with better concentration, memory , and balance.
Deficiency: Anaemia, nerve damage. (Rare- usually in strict vegans)
Citrus Fruits, Strawberries, Broccoli, Green Peppers
Helps to bind cells together and strengthen blood vessel wall. Helps maintain healthy gums. Aids in the absorption of iron.
Deficiency: Muscle weakness, bleeding gums; easy bruising.
Not eating enough calories may cause the following; low blood pressure, irregular periods, decreased strength, anaemia, joint pain, feeling cold as your thyroid output drops, lower energy, increased depression, trouble concentrating, heart rhythm problems, loss of coordination, hair loss, reduced immunity to illness and gall stones.
Hopefully by reading this you can appreciate that trying to simplify diets by cutting out large food groups or by considering diets to be purely about the numbers is less than optimal.
If you’d like to meet a Storm Trainer to discuss your diet feel free to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org