If you’ve heard about micro and macronutrients, but you’re not sure exactly what they are and what they do, here’s the lowdown:
Simply put, macronutrients are the major nutrient groups that your body needs – protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They’re the main nutrients you need to survive. Cutting out any one macronutrient can put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies and illness.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, are needed in much smaller amounts, such as vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.
These are foods your body turns into glucose to use for energy. There are two types of carbs – simple carbs (like sugar and refined flour) and complex carbs (fruits and vegetables.)
What makes a food a simple or complex carb? It depends on how quickly your body digests it.
Complex carbs are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels remain stable you feel fuller longer.
Simple carbs are sugars. Your body processes and digest all sugars in the same way. Eating too many simple carbs can contribute to weight gain. They can also increase your risk of developing metabolic syndrome – a group of health issues that include heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Limiting sugar is essential to keeping your blood sugar levels in the healthy range.
Proteins are the macronutrients found in food (as meat, milk, eggs, and beans) that are made up of many amino acids joined together. They are a necessary part of your diet and are essential for normal cell structure and function.
Every cell in the human body contains protein. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women. The five main functions of protein are:
- Building Tissues and Muscles
- Hormone Production
- Immune Function
There are several types of dietary fats, and some are more beneficial than others. You need fat in your diet for protection, warmth, and energy. Fats protect the skeleton and the nerves and make it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.
There are two main types of fats – saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fat is solid at room temperature. It’s found in butter, lard, full-fat milk and yogurt, full-fat cheese, and high-fat meat.
Unsaturated fat tends to be liquid at room temperature. It’s found in vegetable oils, fish, and nuts.
Unsaturated fats are considered the “good” oils or fats, such as olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, and nuts and nut butters (not peanuts – which are not actually nuts.) You can also get good oil from fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Always ask for wild caught fish, as farmed fish can be high in mercury.
Avoid trans fats. They are the product of a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is partially hydrogenated oils. Read your food labels carefully. A vegetable oil may look like an unsaturated fat, but if it’s been processed it could now be a trans fat.
How many macronutrients should I eat?
Since every person’s body is unique, it requires different nutrition. There is no one answer to this question. Your need for macro nutrients depends on your health goals and how your body responds to certain foods.
The best way to discover what your body needs in terms of nutrients is to get tested by a qualified Nutrition Response Testing® practitioner and get a clinically designed, personalized nutrition program to address your individual needs.