There is such an abundance of information at the tip of our fingers now providing guidance for nutrition. However, some of that information is not always backed by the best science and can provide misguidance for those looking to improve their health and wellness. Having a good understanding of what Micro vs Macro Nutrients your body needs and how your body utilize nutrients can provide the foundation needed to make good decisions on your own nutrition (and help decipher if that new fad diet truly have any value).
Micro vs Macro Nutrients – What Are They?
Nutrients are substances that are essential for growth and maintenance of life; this is what our body processes out of the things we consume to keep us alive. All nutrients fall into two categories: macronutrients vs micronutrients (also referred to macros and micros). As the names entail – macros are nutrients that the body needs in large amounts and provide the body with energy to fuel the physiological system, while micros are nutrients that are needed in smaller amounts to help is the production of enzymes, hormones, and proteins that regulate how are physiological systems are running. Both are essential to optimal health and wellness and a lack of either have both short- and long-term impacts on maintaining a healthy being.
Micro vs Macro Nutrients have specific roles in the body and have a recommended allowance of daily intake. It is essential to remember, however, these recommendations are only suggestions and vary from each individual lifestyle. Athletes may have different needs than a sedentary person, and runners may have different needs than someone who is an avid participator in functional fitness. It is also essential to remember that there is a difference between consuming good nutrients and bad nutrients. For example, although processed sugar is recognized as a carbohydrate in the body, it is not nutrient dense and should not be a main source of carbohydrates in one’s diet.
There are three categories all macronutrients fit under: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Carbohydrates help fuel high intensity exercise, provides a source of energy that spares protein to prevent loss of muscle mass, and fuels your central nervous system. Quality carbohydrates can be found in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.
- Proteins provide the means for tissue structure, cell plasma membranes, are utilized in metabolic, transport and hormone systems, regulate metabolism, and help create a neutral acid/base environment. Sources of protein include lean animal meats, nuts, whole grains, some vegetables, and seed.
- Fats provide an energy reserve for the body, protect vital organs, provide insulation, and help provide transport for fat soluble micronutrients. Food sources of fat include healthy oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Micronutrients can be broken down into three categories as well: water soluble vitamins, fat soluble vitamins, and minerals. These micros can be found naturally occurring in the food that provides macronutrients, as well as can be supplemented with synthesized vitamins and minerals such as a daily multivitamin.
- Water soluble vitamins include: vitamins B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 (Cobalamine), C (Ascorbic Acid), and folic acid
- Fat soluble vitamins include: vitamins A (Retinal), D, E, and K
- Minerals include: calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, and Zinc
Micros and macros are essential to keep your body running. Consuming food that is nutrient dense and understanding how these foods are broken down in your system will provide the foundations needed to understand diet recommendations and trends. Make sure you are conscious of what value the food you are eating is giving to your body and supplement those nutrients you may be lacking if needed.