Macronutrients and micronutrients seem to be the new buzz words floating around the health space on social media, so today we’re hearing from expert Jacob Schepis a Melbourne based Personal Trainer and Nutritionist to learn exactly what these terms mean and how we can use these dietary variables to help improve the results of our fitness and goals of fat loss, health and vitality.
The foods we eat are what sustain and develop our body and these can be divided into two basic nutrient groups, macronutrients and micronutrients.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients are simply nutrients can be obtained through our food that must be consumed in ‘macro’ aka large amounts and contain calories that contribute to our total daily energy intake. Macronutrients and the calories they contain are what help manage weight and prevent the risk of disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, issues with cardiovascular health that all come from having excess body fat ((BMI >25).
See chart below:
|Macronutrients||Calories per gram||Function in the body||Target Daily Intake|
|Protein||4||Tissue Repair||1.5-1.8g per kilo of body weight|
|Carbohydrates||4||Primary Fuel Source||2-3g per kilo of body weight|
|Fats||9||Joint & Hormone Health||0.7-1g per kilo of body weight|
|Fiber||2.7||Cleanse & Gut Health||15g per 1000 calories|
Now managing your weight by macronutrient intake it isn’t as simple as just calories IN versus calories OUT, because not all calories are created equally. As you can see from the above table they all have different roles and the body processes them differently. We need to fuel our body with appropriate amounts of each macronutrient to ensure we can enhance our health, fitness and body composition.
How to reach you macronutrient needs:
To reach your macronutrient targets the majority of our diet should consist primarily of unrefined, nutrient rich foods.
- Protein: Poultry, fish, cheese, milk, meat, soy, legumes, protein powder.
- Carbohydrates & fiber: Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Broccoli, Rice, Pasta, Apple, Banana, Kiwi, Strawberries, Honey.
- Fat: Nuts, butter, seeds, oils, avocados, oily fish.
For more examples as well as an outline of showing how to build your plate to include each of the macronutrients, see this post by Jes Cox nutritionist.
What are micronutrients?
Nutrients are classified into two groups – macro and micro. Micronutrients are required in much smaller amounts than macronutrients and are otherwise known as vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients are essential in ‘micro’, trace amounts for health, normal growth and development and need to be obtained through our diet as the body cannot synthesize these nutrients itself.
The below table explains some of the micronutrients, their roles and examples of which foods you can obtain your vitamins and minerals.
|Vitamins & Minerals||Role & Function||Food Examples|
|Vitamin A||Cell Production & Vision||Cantaloupe tomatoes, cabbage, Lettuce, pumpkin|
|Vitamin C||Collagen & growth and repair||Oranges, Banana, mango, grapefruits,|
|Vitamin D||Calcium absorption & bone growth||Salmon, Beef, Fatty Fish|
|Vitamin K||Blood Clotting||Fruits, Cereal, Green Leafy Vegetables|
|B Complex||Metabolism of macronutrients||Milk, Egg Yolk, Kidney & Heart.|
|Iodine||Thyroid health||Cranberry, Yoghurt, Potatoes, Cheese|
|Folic Acid||Red Blood Cells & DNR/RNA synthesis||Grapefruit, Avocado, Lentils, Brussel Sprouts|
|Manganese||Bone formation, energy production and macronutrient metabolisation.||Spinach, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes|
|Magnesium||Heart function, glucose conversion, metabolise calcium and vitamin.||Nuts, Banana, Dark Chocolate,|
|Zinc||Immune system health||Seafood, Meat & beans|
|Copper||Red blood cell formation||Dark leafy greens|
|Calcium||Bone health||Milk, cheese and fortified foods.|
|Iron||Production of red blood cells and lymphocytes||Red meat, eggs green leafy vegetables.|
These are just a few of the important micronutrients we need to find through our diet.
How to reach your micronutrient requirements
It’s simple – eat a variety of fresh produce as part of a balance diet and aim to consume at least:
- 4-5 servings of different vegetables per day
- 1-2 pieces of fruit
Don’t be restrictive or you’ll likely miss micronutrients
Keep your diet varied, balancing a number of food sources to ensure your diet is inclusive, not exclusive. The more restrictive your diet is, the greater the likelihood of missing out on the benefits of key micronutrients listed above. For example, if you avoid red meat because you think it is ‘fattening’ chances are you may develop a deficiency in iron. If you have medically been diagnosed with a deficiency (usually determined by a blood test and assessment by a GP) you must take a supplement to ensure your body is getting appropriate amounts of these micronutrients.
So which should you focus on more – macronutrients or micronutrients?
Well here’s the summary:
- Macronutrient consumption determines our calorie intake. Calorie intake is what enables us to manage weight, which prevents disease. Macronutrients are also crucial to enhancing our performance and fitness.
- Micronutrients are key for health.
- We must always prioritise our macronutrient intake because it provides calories which enable you to carry out tasks like moving, thinking, converting food to energy, growing and repairing yourself. If we eat appropriate amounts of each macronutrient, we will inherently take care of our health and weight. Once we have this in check, we can ensure we are meeting our micronutrient needs (usually vitamins and minerals) by eating a varied diet, full of colour and moderation.
About the author – Jacob Schepis
Jacob Schepis is the owner & director of JPS Health & Fitness, where he has helped thousands of individuals improve their strength, body composition and well being through evidence based resistance training and nutrition. Taking a scientific based approach to training and Jacob combines this with his experience in the industry for over 8 years to become one of Melbourne’s most sought out trainers. His role has extended fate beyond working with his beloved clients, to now mentoring aspiring personal trainers, holding workshops and seminars, and writing for the nations personal training governing body, Physical Activity Australia. His motto is simple, whatever the mind can conceive, can be achieved.
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