With all that we know about the human body, nutrition is probably the one topic that continues to confuse people to no end. There is just so much to know about how we metabolize and utilize the energy we derive from food. Thankfully, we have leading experts who work hard to research the ways to optimize our diet. Now, when it comes to body composition, it has been argued that food choices have largely no impact as long as certain criteria are met. Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain fat. Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you will lose fat. Make sure you have enough high quality protein and get adequate fiber in your diet and you seem to have a solid foundation for your body composition goals. And so it seems that you can still look good naked regardless of whether you put micronutrient dense foods in your body. But what if your goals extend beyond just the aesthetic realm? How might this simple approach fare when it comes to performing at our best? Looking at things on a deeper level reveals some truths about why simple macros may not be enough to get the job done.


Energy Metabolism

When it comes down to it, everything we do is fueled by ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). This simple molecule provides the requisite energy for all processes in the human body. Whether it be from glucose or fatty acids (which come from the carbs and fats we eat), all energy substrates eventually break down into ATP at the cellular level. Sounds great. So as long as we eat our carbs and fats then we should be good to go right? Not so fast. Although we may rely on those macronutrients to provide us with ATP, the process of producing that ATP is quite complicated.

A long list of vitamins and minerals are involved in energy metabolism. The B vitamins are perhaps the biggest players regarding this topic. Whether it be carbohydrate metabolism from B1, regulation of amino acid metabolism from B6 and B12, or helping to build the structure of critical energy transport molecules via B2 and B3, the importance of these vitamins cannot be overstated [1]. Going even deeper, we find that minerals such as zinc, manganese, and copper serve as cofactors and building blocks for the vitamins mentioned above, as well as other crucial components in the energy production pathways [3].

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