There are many articles that make reference to macronutrients and micronutrients. Registered dieticians also refer to macro and micronutrients when planning out a diet.

Today’s article will give an understanding of what these terms mean, which types of foods fall into these two categories, and approximately how much is needed daily.

Macronutrients

Macro originates from the Greek word “makros” which means large.

The human body needs macronutrients in fairly large amounts. Adequate amounts of macronutrients keep a person healthy and provide sufficient energy for daily requirements.

Macronutrients are present in three food categories:

  • Carbohydrates – grains (rice being the Asian all-time favourite, followed by noodles), pasta, bread, fruits and vegetables. These foods provide ~4 calories per gram.
  • Proteins – found in meats, eggs, dairy, beans, soya (tofu) and fish. These types of foods provide ~4 calories per gram.
  • Fats – such as oily fish, nuts and dairy. Avocados are also a good source of healthy fats, but they are expensive. This group of foods provide ~9 calories per gram.

Surprisingly, alcohol is also a macronutrient, as it has 7 calories per gram! Alcohol is often left out of diets as it has very little nutritional value.

Due to the fairly large dietary amounts required, nutritionists usually measure macronutrients out in grams, e.g., 100 grams of chicken, 50 grams of rice, etc.

Micronutrients

Micro also originates from a Greek word called “mikros” which means small. So, micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities, but they also play important roles in bodily functions.

Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful in vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B-12, B-6, C and E
  • Zinc

Due to the small quantities required, micronutrients are mostly measured in milligrams or even micrograms. However dieticians don’t recommend a micronutrient diet, as the small quantities are too difficult to measure and track.

Most foods have macronutrients as well as micronutrients present.

Daily macronutrient and micronutrient balance

The American Dietary Guidelines standard which is a widely used guideline, breaks down the recommended daily macronutrient requirements as follows:-

  • 45 – 65 percent of calories from Carbohydrates
  • 10 – 35 percent of calories from Protein
  • 20 – 35 percent of calories from Fat

An individual or dietician will have to work around these percentages to ensure the individual is getting sufficient macronutrients on a daily basis.

The percentages will need to be adjusted to suit individuals suffering from diabetes (less carbohydrates), or athletes/bodybuilders who want to build up muscle (more protein).

There are several macro based diets such as the paleo and keto diets. Such diets may help an individual in reaching his or her goals, such as:

  • building up body mass (muscle).
  • losing weight.
  • maintaining blood sugar levels, etc.

Again, it is recommended to work with a registered dietician to determine a good and safe ratio of macros specifically for your health goals. Basically, a good diet does not restrict or limit certain foods, it should fit the foods into the macro percentages.

Talk to a registered dietician

If you are unsure how to draw up a diet for yourself, consult a registered dietician. A registered dietician works with your doctor to ensure you are given a specific diet suited to meet any current health conditions you may have.

In conclusion: Both macronutrients and micronutrients are present in your daily diet. Follow the recommended percentages to ensure your body gets sufficient amounts of macro and micronutrients to stay healthy. For specific goals like weight loss or muscle gain, dietary adjustments have to be made to meet the goals.

The information provided in this article should in no way be taken as medical advice. It is important to consult your doctor or qualified dietician if you want to plan a diet, more so if you are on medication for a current medical condition.

By Aaron
5th October 2020 22:30

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