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  • Writer's picturevancevoetberg

Much More Than Macros and Calories

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

One of the primary reasons I started this blog was to counterpunch the standard orthodoxies that have built sports nutrition into what it is today. Just as with any doctrine that's widely accepted and practiced, humans have an obligation to continually question traditional precepts. I believe when skepticism is adopted, it will lead to the objective truth. This is my hope as I research the role of nutrition in sports performance. The words of Joseph Joubert abridges the kind of critical thinking the requisite for all facets of life, especially in the nutritional sciences.

"It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."

My intentions here are to merely question and debate the methodology of conventional sports nutrition considering that the prevailing viewpoints that dictate this field have gone unchallenged for decades.

The main aspect of conventional sports nutrition I find truly perplexing is the lack of quality control. What I mean is that standard nutritional protocols for athletes often highlight the quantity rather than the quality of food.

Nutritionalists love counting. Whether it's calories or macros or both, the standard fashion is to set up athletes with target numbers to hit each day. For example, a guideline for a competitive female CrossFit athlete is around 2,100 calories and her macros would be divided into something like 45% protein, 35% carbs, and 20% fat.

The pitfall of this approach is that it trivializes the complexity of human biochemistry and cell functioning 101.

When the body receives food, it doesn't receive it as just calories or macronutrients. For instance, when we eat an apple, the body doesn't just detect the carbohydrate molecules from the apple. As it happens, there are hundreds of constituents that make up an apple and each of the hundreds of compounds affect our physiology.

What I cannot overemphasize enough is that food is complex. Thus, when a diet is based on macronutrient counting alone, it makes allowance for micronutrient deficiency and undercuts the importance of food quality.

The same goes for calorie counting. A calorie a unit for energy that tells us nothing about the nutritional density of foods. An avocado and a Snickers bar both contain ~215 calories. Common sense tells us that they are not metabolically equal while the calorie counting approach tells us they are indistinguishable.

Some major deconstruction needs to happen in the house of sports nutrition and the first thing to go should be macro and calorie counting.

I will continue to catalogue my distrust in this protocol in future posts.

Today's takeaway is this: appreciate the intricacies of food!

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3 Yorum

16 Mar 2021

Love it, Vance! You're so well written. Looking forward to reading more!


15 Mar 2021

This is great. Thank you!


Janet' Frances Gabbert Corwin
Janet' Frances Gabbert Corwin
15 Mar 2021

Hi, Vance! Wow! Your knowledge of nutrition is astounding! Keep up the good work and keep sending me your blogs!

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