Once upon a time, all dieters cared about were calories. But as nutritional knowledge grew, people – thankfully – started paying more attention to the composition of their meals, instead of their total caloric intake. By now, you must know that eating 100 calories of vegetables will be much ‘healthier’ in comparison to eating, let’s say, 100 calories of chocolate cake. Why, though?
In this article, find out what micronutrients and macronutrients are so that you can make wiser food choices.
As implied by its name, macronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in large amounts for proper functioning; they are what constitute the calories you eat and are primarily responsible for generating the energy you need.
What types of macronutrients are there, exactly?
Macronutrients can be broken down into the following categories:
- Carbohydrates are found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Their primary function is to supply your body with energy.
- Proteins are present in meat, dairy, eggs, tofu, and legumes. In addition to helping your body repair and build muscles, skin, and organs, protein also aids in hormonal production.
- Fats are found in foods like olive oil, seeds, avocados, and nuts; they are typically stored in your body and used as a backup fuel. They also help protect and insulate your organs and bones.
Accordingly, micronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in minuscule amounts – think of these as the ‘magic wands’ that help your body digest the various macronutrients, and stay healthy. You need to obtain your micronutrients from the food you eat because, for the most part, your body is unable to produce vitamins and minerals.
What types of micronutrients are there, exactly?
They typically fall into the following categories:
- Water-soluble vitamins – These vitamins dissolve in water, are not easily stored in your body, and get flushed out with urine when you consume them in excess. Here are three examples of water-soluble vitamins, along with some of their functions:
- Vitamin B1 helps convert nutrients into energy.
- Biotin plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose.
- Folic acid aids in proper cell division.
- Fat-soluble vitamins – These vitamins are best absorbed when consumed with a source of fat; they’re typically stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use.
- Macrominerals – Your body needs, and stores, reasonably large amounts of these essential minerals.
- Trace minerals – No less critical to your body’s functioning than macrominerals, trace minerals are just needed in smaller amounts.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you’re providing your body with the necessary amounts of macro- and micronutrients is to eat a variety of foods. You should also try to steer clear of high-fat processed foods – these are typically low on micronutrients.