Macronutrients (Macros) vs Micronutrients: What’s the Difference?

Apr 28, 2021

Understanding Macros

Macronutrients are the nutrients we need an abundance of every single day. They are categorized as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each of these play major roles in fuelling and constructing the human body. As we start to understand which foods fall under which category, it’s important to know the classification is based on the primary molecule in that food. For example, brazil nuts consist of protein and fat molecules but are classified as a fat source. This is because brazil nuts are primarily made of fats.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are made of carbon and water. Hence, the two parts of the word: carbo – and hydrate. Carbs are our main source of energy. They are stored in our muscles and organs as glycogen. In the form of fibre, carbohydrates help provide fuel for our microbiome too. They are found in vegetables, fruits, tubers, legumes, grains and sweeteners.

Whole Food sources: Banana, Grapes, Nectarines, Apples, Berries, Black Bean pasta, Lentil pasta, Quinoa, Parsnips, Carrots, Green zucchini, Yellow squash, Kale, Spinach, Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Rice, Rolled oats, White potato, Sweet potato

Best sources for pre & post workout: Rice, Rolled oats, White potato, Sweet potato

Proteins

Proteins are made of amino acids and are the building blocks for tissues, organs, nerves, muscles and more. There are over 50,000 different proteins in the human body! Protein does more than create tissue. It is also an essential component for enzymes, antibodies, haemoglobin and peptide hormones. It repairs broken down muscle fibres post exercise, makes sure you have the right cofactors for metabolic processes, and contributes to your adaptive immune system. Protein is the primary nutrient for animal meats, seafood, and some legumes.

Best sources: Chicken breasts, Chicken thighs, Ground turkey, Ground bison, Ground beef, 0% Greek yogurt, Shrimp, Sea scallops, Protein powder, Egg whites, Salmon, Steak, Whole eggs, Plant-based protein powder, Whey protein powder, protein snacks

Best sources pre & post workout: Plant-based protein powder, Whey protein powder, Chicken breasts, 99% Ground turkey, 0% Greek yogurt

Fats

Contrary to popular belief, dietary fat is not the villain it’s made out to be. Fat is essential for optimal health and performance. Fats are made up of fatty acid molecules. They play numerous important roles in the body: Energy source, cell building blocks for cells, hormones, and increase satiety. They regulate inflammation too!

There are three classifications of fats: Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

  • Saturated fats are highly stable, don’t go off easily, and are solid at room temperature. These are great to use for cooking!
  • Monounsaturated fats are relatively stable, don’t go off easily, and are liquid at room temperature.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are relatively unstable, go off easily, and always liquid. Never heat or use polyunsaturated fats in cooking!

Trans fats, on the other hand, are a by-product of the hydrogenation process. Hydrogenation is the man-made manipulation of unsaturated fats. These fats are toxic and interfere with the essential roles fatty acids play within a healthy body. Avoid vegetable oils, fried fats, canola oil, margarine, and vegetable shortening.

Best Sources Saturated: Duck fat, Pork fat, Ghee, Coconut oil
Best Sources Monounsaturated: Olive oil, Avocado oil, Cashew oil, Almond oil, Pecan oil
Best Sources Polyunsaturated: Flaxseed oil, Fish oil, Krill oil
Best sources pre & post workout: NONE. Keep these meals low in fats.

Why Counting Macros Can be Important

At CrossFit Revenant, we believe counting and tracking macronutrients is a powerful short-term tool that shows you what is in the food you eat and how well your metabolism responds to it. Since nutrition needs a bio-individual approach, tracking is a great way to understand what foods work well for you. Macro tracking also guides you to control portions whether you are looking to gain, maintain, or lose weight. It sets you up for success to kick start your goal and learn how to continue it in the long run. Our job as coach’s is to help you get started, learn tools to support your optimized health.

How Can I Find My Macros?

When I work with our members, I start with their goals first. We then get the member to have an Evolt 360 Scan which we have at Revenant Wangara, what is an Evolt 360 Scan you might ask?  The Evolt 360 Body Composition Analyzer, what we call the Intelligent Body Scanner, is a simple-to-use 60-second scan that provides detailed data about a body through more than 40 measurements. It works simply by passing a safe electrical current through the feet and hands.

The resistance to flow of the current determines the difference between muscle mass, fat mass, water and mineral — a measurement far beyond the one-size-fits-all generic BMI. All readings are specific to the individual, allowing us to better design a health and wellness program specific to you. With all of these measurements we can accurately determine what your daily calorie intake is specific to your body and your goals weather it be Muscle Gain, Fat Loss or Overall Better Health.

How Can I Apply Macros to When I’m Buying Food at The Grocery Store?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Before heading to the store, make a list of 2-3 lean protein sources, 2-3 fatty protein sources, 3-6 different coloured vegetables, 2 starch sources, nuts, seeds, cooking oils, and your favourite snacks. Nutrition labels on the back of meat packages, goods, and produce give the breakdown of macronutrients per serving. You can simply utilize these labels to determine weekly food needs. It may take a little trial and error at first but that’s part of the process!

Start with whole food (non processed) sources by sticking to the outside edge of the store and then head down the aisles. But please try and stay away from highly processed foods with long expiry dates. Think FRESH produce, single ingredient.

The Difference Between Micro and Macro Nutrients Explained

The food we eat contains both macro and micronutrients. But one might wonder about what micronutrients are and how they differ from macronutrients.

What Are Micronutrients?

Just like macronutrients, micronutrients can affect your mental and physical health. Micronutrients are essential for the body to function optimally, but in smaller amounts. This is why micronutrients are measured in milligrams instead of grams.

Micronutrients typically come in the form of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, B, C and D, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and so on.

Although we consume micronutrients in limited quantities, they are part of a healthy diet and have a major impact on our overall health. However, our bodies do not produce micronutrients in the amounts we need, so consuming foods rich in micronutrients is key. When micronutrients are imbalanced or inadequate, we become susceptible to deficiencies and diseases like allergies, food intolerances and anaemia.

What Is the Difference Between Micronutrients and Macronutrients?

The primary difference between macronutrients and micronutrients  is that the human body needs macronutrients in much larger amounts, whereas it requires much smaller amounts of micronutrients.

Another difference between the two lies in their nutrient sources. Micronutrients are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, eggs, fermented foods and green leafy vegetables. Macronutrients are abundant in cereals, fish, legumes, meat, nuts, oilseeds, potatoes and other starchy foods.

Macro & Micro Nutrient FAQs

Is water a micro or macro nutrient?

There is no consensus regarding water being a micro or macro nutrient, although the body does need substantial amounts of water to function. Water is necessary for the proper absorption of macronutrients and some micronutrients. In and of itself, water does not provide any nutritional value, although it may naturally contain micronutrients like calcium and salts.

Are vitamins micro or macro nutrients?

Like minerals, vitamins are classified as micronutrients. There are many types of vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K. Certain food sources like fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, dairy and nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Which macronutrients are recommended for weight loss?

Instead of focusing on which macronutrients for weight loss you should consume more of, we recommend counting macros based on your body composition, individual fitness goals, activity level and caloric needs.

What will happen if I become deficient in macronutrients?

Macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats are necessary to human health. If you have a severe deficiency in any macronutrient, your energy levels may decrease and your ability to ward off disease and survive can get compromised.

How do I know if I am suffering from a nutrient deficiency?

Most of the time, nutrient deficiency involves micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. If you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, you may notice the following signs:

  • Vitamin A: Deteriorating vision, especially at night
  • Vitamin B12: Burning sensation in the feet or tongue, balance problems, constipation, dry skin and mild cognitive impairment
  • Vitamin C: Red, swollen, bleeding gums, slow-healing wounds, frequent colds and sores
  • Vitamin D: Aching bones
  • Calcium: Irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, fractures, face and mouth twitching
  • Iron: Severe hair loss, fatigue and unexplained weight gain or loss

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