Nutrition Quickie: Macronutrients and Micronutrients

So some have asked me what the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients are.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients, also know as macros, are your big three. The three things that you need in your diet to survive.

1)carbohydrates

2)fat

3)protein

There are general recommendations for regular population but also recommendations for athletes as well.

For carbohydrates, it is recommended that the general population gets between 45-65% of their calorie intake from carbohydrates, or 3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For athletes it’s is increased depending on how much is done in a day. Those who exercise more than 1 hour per day it is 4-5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For athletes or people who do a lot of high intensity training it is recommended between 8-12 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

For protein, it’s recommended for the general population. 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day or 10-35% of total daily calories. Endurance athletes need 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Strength athletes need 1.6-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

For fat, there’s a general recommendation that is the same for general population and athletes alike. It is 20-35% of total daily calories, and less than 10% of that is to be from saturated fats in your total daily calories.

Micronutrients

Unlike macronutrients, large amounts of micronutrients are not needed and if too large on some can be harmful to the health. They are also found in food sources so don’t generally need to be substituted with supplements unless directed by a doctor to do so. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals in the body. But even though they are needed in smaller amounts it doesn’t mean they are less important. They are essential to health and vitality because of the roles they play in bodily functions. They play a role on how the body receives the macronutrients for energy and they help transport oxygen throughout the blood to the muscles.

These micronutrients can be obtained through a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains , fat-free dairy, and lean meats. Multivitamins are fine to take as a supplement under direction of a doctor but should not be taken as a replacement to a healthy diet. There are some vitamins and minerals that can not be substituted by multivitamins though and need to be obtained by food.

The next few charts are references to the major functions of vitamins and minerals on the body and good food sources for each.

More information on vitamins and minerals can be found on the USDA’s website. Also more information on macronutrient dietary recommendations can also be found on the USDA’s website.

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