Macro vs Micro nutrition is always a confusing word for us. The term “nutrient density” has been used to refer to different things, but in the context of food, it is typically about how many nutrients are found per calorie or weight.
The idea behind this definition is that a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio means you can get more nutrition with less caloric intake.
One of the most common mistakes that people make is thinking that all calories are created equal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are two types of nutrients, micro, and macro.
Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals, while macros include carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain it for health reasons – a calorie isn’t just a calorie!
1. What are micro and macro nutrients?
We need both types of nutrients but in different amounts. The word “macro” means big or large, while “micronutrient” refers to smaller or minute nutrients.
Nuts, seeds and legumes are examples of foods that contain high protein content, while leafy greens such as spinach are rich in iron and magnesium. Whole grains are full of vitamins B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin) and minerals like iron, magnesium and selenium.
A balanced diet of both macro- and micronutrients helps the body function well at a cellular level as it is intended to.
Eating foods rich in specific macro nutrients like protein or fiber is necessary for muscle growth; for example, taking certain vitamins C and E supplements can protect your cells from free radical damage.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) refers to the quantity of each nutrient that you should take every day, depending on your age and gender.
2. Why do we need both types of nutrients?
All living organisms require energy for survival, but the human body is designed to obtain this energy from a mix of protein, fats and carbohydrates – not any one single food source alone.
There are different theories as to why our bodies evolved to use three food groups instead of just one, or two, or four; however, there is no evidence that focusing on more than three separate sources affects our health negatively in any way.
Micro-nutrients help prevent certain diseases such as heart disease and cancer caused by free radical damage in the body which occurs when macronutrients like fat are broken down during digestion into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into blood vessels through the gut.
Macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats also help the body grow, build tissues in cells, maintain cell membranes and protect against harmful microbes that could cause infection. Protein is especially important for rebuilding damaged muscle tissue, so athletes eating high-protein diets are most often leaner than sedentary people or those who do not exercise.
3. How to get more macro and micro nutrients in your diet?
A balanced diet consists of various foods you enjoy that are obtained from different food groups every day. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts contain macronutrients.
Also, micronutrients such as vitamins A, C E, and minerals like calcium, iron, or magnesium foods, which help you meet your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
- A healthy diet is low in salt, trans fats from processed packaged foods and saturated fats found in animal sources such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
- Foods containing lots of cholesterol ike egg yolks or hamburger patties, should be eaten infrequently due to their high-fat content which can raise blood cholesterol levels over time.
- Choose lean cuts of meat more often than red meats and try to avoid processed cheeses since they are higher in fat compared with natural hard cheeses such as cheddar or parmesan.
- Replace fatty snacks like chips with fruits like bananas or apples when possible;
- whole wheat crackers made without trans fats instead of potato chips;
- skim milk yogurt instead of whole milk;
- or roasted peanuts instead of regular nuts which are usually deep-fried in unhealthy oils.
- Try to eat more fish since they are low in fat, but high in omega 3 fatty acids that protect against heart disease and diabetes.
4. Consuming macro and micronutrients for healthy weight loss
The human body requires approximately 1800 calories daily to function normally, but the amount can vary depending on age, gender, fitness level as well as how much physical activity you do every day.
Your body burns up calories during exercise. So if you want to lose weight, consider increasing your daily intake from fruits and vegetables by about 100 grams.
While reducing your intake of saturated fats like butter, fatty cuts of beef or pork sausage 10% and opting for chicken, turkey or fish instead.
5. How to avoid health complications from consuming too much macronutrients?
Fat is essential in a balanced diet.
Because without it, you cannot absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K through your gut, which are necessary for healthy skin and bone growth and immune function.
If you consume more calories than what the body needs every day, these excess nutrients are stored as fat in adipose tissue cells under the skin.
Otherwise, they are excreted from the body during normal digestion or urination.
Without enough sleep, your levels of glucagon rise which tells the liver to turn excess glucose into fat in order to store it until needed by other parts of the body.
6. How to consume the right amount of macro and micro nutrients for optimum health?
The human body needs approximately 1800 calories daily depending on your age, weight and physical activity level.
Moderate exercise such as a 30-minute walk every day can help you maintain energy levels. While consuming foods containing macronutrients like carbohydrates which are less likely to be stored as fat than proteins or fats.
Your cells store excess carbs as glycogen. But if the body is deprived of food, it begins breaking down its own muscle tissue into amino acids which can cause loss of bone density over time.
However, by exercising regularly, you’ll reduce the risk of muscle loss since muscles burn more calories than fat tissues when they contract during physical activity.
You should also avoid foods that are high in saturated fats like sausages, beef burgers and dairy products made from whole milk.
Since these types of foods can increase your bad cholesterol levels while lowering the good HDL cholesterol which protects against heart attack caused by plaque buildup on artery walls.
Suppose you are overweight for more than five years or have a family history of diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
In that case, you should pay attention to your eating habits.
Health Canada recommends that adults age 19 and older consume approximately seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily as well as at least six ounces each of grains like bread, pasta or rice; meat and alternatives like tofu or beans; fat-free/low-fat yogurt and cheese; eggs; fish; nuts and oils every day to meet their nutritional needs.
7. Sources of macronutrients in the diet
While most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose during digestion which raises your blood sugar level.
Causing energy highs and lows over time. Complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index than simple carbs like white or brown rice. Which causes sharp spikes in insulin levels.
Leaving you ready to crash for hours afterward. Refined grains such as breads, pastries, and most breakfast cereals are stripped of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
They quickly raise blood sugar levels only to cause sudden drops of energy shortly after eating them. Since these types of foods contain starch instead of whole grain.
If you want sustained energy, try eating unprocessed foods instead, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are beneficial for your heart, mind, and body.
Fats will not make you gain weight because they contain zero calories but they also contain no nutrients either.
In fact, if you consume too many fatty foods over a long period of time, you can wind up overweight or obese since fat is more calorically dense than carbohydrates and proteins.
If you eat saturated fats instead of unsaturated ones like fish oils or olive oil high in polyunsaturated fats, you (decrease) your risk of disease-related death.
Since the body converts excess carbs into fat cells as well as increasing bad cholesterol levels. It causes plaque to build up on artery walls while decreasing good cholesterol levels that protect against heart attack or stroke.
However, getting enough fat not only helps to keep your skin healthy but also supports healthy hair and brain function.
In fact, the human body needs about 20-35 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. Which you can get from foods like salmon, sardines and walnuts.
Protein is a major building block of muscle tissue along with bone, ligament and tendons so it keeps you strong.
However if you don’t exercise regularly or have chronic health problems like uncontrolled diabetes.
Or eating more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein will cause your body to lose calcium from your bone tissues. Which weaken them leaving a person more vulnerable to fractures.
Nevertheless, a high protein diet does help some adults maintain their weight. Since it assists muscles with retaining their mass while burning off excess fat cells.
By eating enough high-quality protein (at least two servings of meat or beans per day), every adult will meet their RDA. Which is based on an average 2,000 calorie diet containing 10 to 35 percent calories from proteins.
However, if you are active and over the age of 50 years you should eat more than what’s recommended for your daily caloric intake. Since these individuals burn less energy in a 24 hour period than younger adults.
With the rise of obesity and chronic diseases, it’s critical to understand what you’re putting in your body.
The simplest way to do this is by understanding which nutrients are good for us and which ones aren’t.
Knowing macro(protein) vs micro nutrients (vitamins), will help you make healthier decisions about how much food or drink should be consumed at a time.
This article has given some great examples of how different foods affect our overall health when we consume them. Stay tuned and Feel free to leave your thoughts on this article below.