“What is the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients?’ This is an all-too common question in the fitness sphere and today you’ll learn what the major differences are. You will also learn what each does for you and why you should even care.
Each form of nutrition you consume whether it be vitamins, minerals, trace elements, carbohydrates, proteins or fats are extremely important. Your overall health is directly influenced by what you eat – and this is no secret.
Your health cannot be at its peak if you are chronically neglecting any aspect of your diet. But what is the difference between vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbs and how do they affect your health?
Let’s break each one down and discuss what the roles of each are.
Why Do We Need Macronutrients in our Diet?
There are 3 macronutrients: Protein, Fat, and Carbs.
Each one of these provides your body with the nutrition it needs for muscle growth, endocrine functioning (hormones) and energy. All of these things are important, and neglecting any single nutrient is a bad idea in my opinion.
The fan-favorite, however, amongst fitness enthusiasts is unarguably protein. Everyone seems to be obsessed with this one nutrient but what about fats and carbs?
Macros vs. Calories: What’s the Difference?
Well, a calorie is a unit of energy and each macro has calories.
Every macronutrient is comprised of a certain number of calories. Protein gets 4 calories per gram, same with carbs and 9 calories per gram of fat.
Macros and calories can’t really be separated because calories are made from macros and each macro has calories.
Protein: The Most Important Macro?
Without getting too scientific, protein essentially is going to be responsible for a few things. One of the most important things is muscle growth, but there’s more to it than that.
Protein serves as the building-block for protein synthesis and muscle growth. Precisely how much protein one needs has been heavily debated, but nowadays the consensus is about 0.8 – 1.0g per pound of lean body weight.
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Whether you are on a diet or in a lean-bulking phase, protein will serve its purpose nicely when you stick to the recommended amount. You’ll ensure you either don’t lose much muscle in the case of dieting, or that you can build adequate muscle in the case of [lean] bulking.
In terms of dieting and fat loss, a little bit more protein can be beneficial to prevent muscle loss. As your body is already in a caloric deficit to lose weight, going too low on protein can have a negative effect on muscle retention.
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It’s therefore recommended to eat about 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight during the course of your cut to ensure you keep your strength and muscle.
These are 4 of the most common forms of protein, some of which you may have even heard of. Some of them are popular in various supplements you might be familiar with.
- Glutamate (glutamic acid)
While you don’t really need to be too concerned about all of the tiny details regarding protein, getting it from various sources is ideal. It’s always good to have a well-balanced nutrition profile in the long run for good overall health.
If you find it difficult to get your required protein, check out any of these awesome protein powders from Amazon to get you all set up. I know it can be a bit of a challenge if you’re having a hard time eating 150-175g of protein per day.
Fat Keeps Your Hormones Functioning
Fat is a macronutrient found in various types of foods including meats, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds and oils and contains the most amount of calories per gram. It’s also just about as important as the other two macronutrients when it comes to weight loss and muscle growth.
There are 3 main reasons this is the case in my opinion which I think might interest you.
When it comes to cooking, there is no better way to make your food taste good than by adding fat into the mix. You can add butter, oil, cream or any other type of fat to make your food unreal. Things like cheese, fatty meats and steak are some of the most satisfying foods to eat which can also be included.
Eating fat-deprived meals will make it less likely for you to adhere to your diet because you’ll be bored and miserable. Adherence to your diet is the #1 determining factor whether you will stick to it or not, and not enjoying what you eat is not a good start.
Enjoying your foods and what you eat is an absolute necessity if you want to ensure long-term adherence to your weight loss plan.
It’s true – fat contains 9 calories per gram. This will mean that the more fat you cook with the more calorie-dense your meals become.
Fat is also the #1 reason it’s really difficult to accurately gauge the calories you eat at a restaurant. A mistake of 20 grams can be an extra 180 calories. Therefore, be liberal with your fat but don’t overdo it. Remember that the more fat you eat, the more you’ll have to find calories from your proteins and carbs.
It’s not a good idea to go too low on fat because your food will taste bland and it can actually screw up your hormones.
That’s never a good thing!
Most people skip the fat because they think it’s unhealthy but that’s nonsense. If you get your fats from unprocessed sources and ensure you don’t eat too many calories, you should be eating fats!
Carbohydrates Give You Energy
One of the most important macros and, sadly, one of the most hated-on is the good old carbohydrate. Used for centuries by our ancestors as primary fuel sources, it has recently become subject of fierce rejection.
People have rejected carbs and have sworn them off to be evil and super-fattening.
That is complete nonsense!
Carbs are your body’s primary source of energy. Without the clean types of carbs, you would feel very funny, weak and frail for a while until your body became used to converting protein into energy instead.
As we know, staying healthy and in good shape especially as we age is of the highest importance. That means using an exercise program to stay in shape. Without getting enough carbohydrates in your diet, you would barely have the energy – if at all – to complete your exercise.
You become moody, oddly hungry with cravings and you will feel deprived in some way.
RELATED POST: Is a Low-Carb Diet Good for Weight Loss?
Remember we talked about adherence to your diet above? Well, carbs do that for you. If you include carbs and fats, your meals come to life and you’ll love dieting… especially when done with intermittent fasting.
That pretty much summarises what the 3 macronutrients do for your body. It’s not as easy to explain when it comes to vitamins and minerals, but we’ll discuss that below.
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Why Do We Need Micronutrients?
It pretty much goes without saying that all of the vitamins and minerals found in whole foods are vital to your body’s every function. Without them we just simply couldn’t live.
Micronutrients are found in everything. But the more unprocessed your food is, the better. I’ll go over some of the best sources of micronutrients below.
Examples of Nutrient Dense Foods:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Meats (including fatty meats and lean meats)
- Fish and seafood
- Breads, pastas
- Rice including Basmati and Jasmine
- Sweet Potatoes
- Nuts, seeds and grains
Although I’ve listed a lot of processed foods here, you don’t have to shy away from them. Contrary to popular belief, you can eat processed foods that are still nutritionally dense.
If you’re taking in a variety of the above foods, you can almost be certain that you are getting all the nutrition you need. In order to maintain optimal health, it’s always a good idea to eat mostly foods that are unprocessed and come from animals or from the ground.
Whether for disease prevention, cell repair, digestion, hair growth, fingernail growth – micronutrients supply your body with the tools necessary to get the job done. It is therefore vital to eat a nutritious diet in order to prevent bad things from happening.
This is where some people, me included, slip up on our diets.
It’s not too difficult to get the right amount of protein, fats and carbs into your diet to make your muscles grow and make you lose weight. That’s the easy part. Neglecting micronutrients in favour of getting all your macros is common practice.
I am definitely guilty of this! It’s really difficult to get an exact number of important micronutrients everyday, so balancing out your meal and including wise food choices is a good idea.
Are Macronutrients More Important Than Micronutrients?
When it comes to building muscle, yes this is true. Only with the right ratio of macronutrients will you achieve adequate muscle development and fat loss.
No matter how “healthy” you eat, without the right amount of carbs, proteins and fats you cannot build the physique you want. Don’t be fooled, however – as discussed above, micronutrients play an important role as well.
We would actually even say that if you’re not planning on building muscle, micronutrients would be more important for you. This also would be the case if you don’t mind accidentally gaining or losing weight by not tracking your diet.
The main takeaway here is that if you do care about your body composition, macronutrients and micronutrients play an important role. Without micros you’ll be unhealthy and malnourished, and without macros you simply cannot build a good body!