Macronutrients and Micronutrients – What’s in Your Food.
The Deal About Macronutrients and Micronutrients
We are bombarded with various complicated diets and training protocols. We are convinced that the only way to grow, lose or get faster are by taking various concoctions. First though is knowing, understanding and for a consistent period of time, application of the basics of training and food are where you need to be to get where you want to go (If you haven’t read my previous post the benefits of a nutritional program that’s a good place to start). Things really are not, nor need to be so damn complicated. I am going to take you back to something that you must first know and understand so you can better grasp on what the diets are all about right now if you choose to try them. I also aim to help you understand what makes up your food as you find your fit. Why this “not flashy oooooh super new and exciting” post? Because during conversation, within the past week I have been asked by three different people (macronutrients and micronutrients what) what I am talking about when I say macronutrients and micronutrients. It is okay if you want to try new diets but without the actual meal plan given, can you pick up and do it on your own? That is why knowing the basics is so important. You need to be empowered with the knowledge to figure some things out on your own because meal plans are not always going to be there or go the way you want them to. Real life happens 😉 I keep getting reminded that on a much greater scale, what many of you need more of is basics education and empowerment and less complexity and flash.
Macro means large, big. Nutrient can be defined as substances that give nourishment that is essential for growth and maintenance of life. This basically means that these are the substances we need in “large” amounts in our diets. I use the term “large” loosely as it can be taken out of context and presumptions of oversized portions being given the ok can be made 😉
The macronutrients of our diets are the fats, proteins and carbohydrates that make up food. These can be further broken down into smaller and smaller divisions, but I think that is done a bit too much in our society and people get too confused and complicated too soon. Some macronutrients deliver more micronutrients and are better options. Some great examples of these macronutrients are:
Carbohydrates– rice, sweet potatoes, berries, apples, quinoa, broccoli, kale, squash, watermelon, peas, beets, oatmeal, whole grain bread, bananas, spinach and on it goes. Veggies, Fruits and Whole grains.
Proteins (the whole protein versions providing all of the amino acids)- eggs, fish, chicken, tofu/tempeh/edamame, whey protein, Greek yogurt, low fat cheese (I love Allegro), cottage cheese, extra lean beef, bison
Fats – coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil and flax seeds/meal, hemp seed oil and hemp seeds, butter, walnuts, almonds, rapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds
I also consider water to be a MAJOR macronutrient because you can go much longer without food than you can water and therefore it is far beyond essential in macro amounts for us to live!
Micro means little, small, lesser. These are the nutrients that are still essential to life, but that are parts of the whole above IN (and sometimes supplemented IF needed) our macronutrients. If we don’t eat enough food to fuel our bodies, minds and activities, if we are on a temporary calorically restricted diet, are an athlete, have a medical condition, or are not eating an overall varied diet, we may need these in those supplemental forms as directed 😉 The micronutrients act as catalysts in our bodies for many functions (energy, movement, mental function, breathing etc) as well as provide necessary structural components so to speak.
The micronutrients are for the most part things like vitamins and minerals. This can be further broken down, but again let’s not complicate until you actually need to worry about that mmmkay?
Vitamins – Fat soluble – These are typically found in fatty foods. They need fat to be absorbed and our bodies can have a harder time breaking these down and eliminating what we may not need, they don’t dissolve in water and get excreted “easily”. Fat soluble vitamins are A,D,E and K.
Water soluble – These are typically found in things like whole grains, veggies and fruits. They dissolve in watery substances and are easier to breakdown, use and/or excrete as needed. These are the B vitamins and C.
Minerals (can be further broken down to a more complex level than this but that’s not our goal here)– These are your calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
The cool thing and the not-so-cool thing about food and US in general, is that things are far more complex than the basics, than the surface. The cool part about that is just how much we all have to learn and discover, how diverse we are, how truly complex we and the substances we eat affect us. The not-so-cool thing about it is that we get too caught up in the complexities and forget to just enjoy and to be happy and healthy.
What makes up our foods on a basic level are the macro and micro nutrients but what we eat is food. While treats and extras are absolutely ok, if you just remember on the grand scheme of things to keep things simple and not try to break down everything you eat, you will enjoy yourself more and things will start to fall into place.
p.s. sometimes I forget things I want to say or sometimes there are just more questions from you, if so please hit me up and I will be more than happy to help you find your answer 🙂
Melissa Traynor ACSM-HFS, CISSN