The Skinny On Macronutrients and Micronutrients

macronutrients and micronutrients

If you’ve ever heard people throw around the term “macros” thrown around at the gym, but were unsure what it meant, then this article is for you. You’re not alone. Even those who are doling out advice on how to manage macro and micro nutrients are often trading misinformation and half-truths. We cleared up some confusion surrounding these dietary categories by turning to the most trustworthy sources. Here’s what you need to know about macronutrients and micronutrients.


  • This macronutrient is essential to a balanced diet because it is the source of glucose, a compound our bodies convert into energy. The best sources are whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • New research has found that cutting carbs is not necessary to lose weight. In fact, cutting carbs could even be harmful because carbs stimulate our production of serotonin. By limiting our intake we effectively eliminate our body’s ability to regulate serotonin and our appetite.
  • There are three main types of carbs:
    • Sugar: the simplest form. It hits fast and disappears faster, causing the infamous “sugar crash.”  
    • Starch: a complex form consisting of many bonded sugar molecules.
    • Fiber: also complex, this form is made of polysaccharides like cellulose and lignin.


  • Protein consists of a combination of amino acids. However not all protein sources are created equal: animal sources will usually provide all our required amino acids, but other sources such as nuts, vegetables, and fruit will lack at least one of these acids.
    • A warning that is especially applicable to vegetarians and vegans: you need to vary the sources of protein in your diet in order to consume all the amino acids our bodies need to function properly.
    • A warning to meat eaters: an excessive consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, has been associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in a recent study. This is by no means a call to cut out red meat from your diet, but simply a call to moderation and ensuring that you eat high quality protein.
  • According to Harvard, people should eat 8 grams of protein per 20 lbs of body weight daily. That means a 150 lb individual should consume 60 grams.


  • There are three main kinds of fats: unsaturated, trans, and saturated.
  • Here is the breakdown of these three:  
    • Unsaturated fats come in two varieties- mono- and polyunsaturated- both of which are healthy for our bodies because they lower the risk for disease.
      • Some sources for these fats include peanut oil, avocado, fish, and nuts.
      • The most well known form of unsaturated fats are the Omega 3’s which help to prevent stroke and heart disease.
    • Saturated fats are best in moderation. Though a recent study concluded that they are not associated with heart disease, it is best to keep these down to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake.
      • Saturated fats are found in ice cream, butter, red meat.
    • Trans fat is the one that gives fats a bad reputation. Consuming these kinds of fats is known to increase the risk of disease as a result of the hydrogenated oil used in processing. Trans fat increases LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels as well as causing inflammation.
    • Fact: with every 2% of your caloric intake dedicated to trans fat, you increase your risk of heart disease by 23%.


  • Minerals support your body’s development and growth. They come in two categories: macro and microminerals. You acquire this micronutrient based on the foods you consume. For instance, drinking milk as a source of calcium, or eating a banana for potassium.
  • Macrominerals are the kind that our body requires in sizeable quantities such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. These macrominerals play roles in things such as  bone health, muscle contraction, and the flexibility/rigidity of blood vessels. Microminerals, or trace minerals, such as iron and copper bolster your blood, immune system, and the generation of cells in the body.


  • There are 13 vitamins and each one of them serves a purpose in our bodies. From supporting the immune system and skeletal tissue (vitamin A), to facilitating the absorption of minerals like iron and calcium (vitamins C and D), vitamins propel the human body towards its optimal state.
  • Here are some food sources for 6 major vitamins:
    • A: sweet potato, carrot, spinach, kale and other leafy greens
    • B6: fish, chickpea, beef liver, and poultry
    • B12: clams, beef liver, salmon, and tuna
    • C: sweet red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, cantaloupe, and Brussels sprouts
    • D: salmon, swordfish, and sunlight (you can’t eat it but it’s free!)
    • K: kale, spinach, collard greens, turnips, mustard greens

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