CLASSES OF NUTRIENTS
As CrossFit athletes, we have all heard of at least three terms relating to nutrition: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. These are our macronutrients. They are a fundamental piece of the pie, when it comes to being optimally nourished. However, they only make up a fraction of the nutrients we need in order to function as a human being.
Let’s take a step back and define just what nutrients are. Nutrients are the chemical substances in food that are necessary to sustain life. They are responsible for energy, structure and function in our bodies. All together, we have three categories of nutrients: water, macronutrients (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates), and micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals). What differentiates macronutrients from micronutrients is simply the amount that our bodies require of them.
Macronutrients are used primarily as building blocks for body and as fuel for energy production. Micronutrients work as cofactors (think “spark plugs”) for physiological function and also as structural building blocks.
If our goals include being fit for life, it’s in our best interest to take into account all of these nutrients, as each one plays a vital role in our overall health. As you can see in the chart, micronutrients and water are equally as important as macronutrients, and if we focus on just one of these categories, we are missing more than half of the nutrients that we need!
We will be delving deeper into each of these nutrients individually in weeks to come, learning what their functions are, where we can get them, and why this is all relevant to help us eat, move and live the way we were designed to.