Macro and Micronutrients: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

by | Sep 8, 2021 | Food, Nutrition | 0 comments


In a lot of marketing regarding nutrition coaching and weight management, it is common to see the terms “tracking macros” or a focus in general on macronutrients. So as consumers, it can appear that the key to nutrition and “being healthy” is about focusing on the macronutrients in your diet. But, I want you to know that that isn’t necessarily the case, and if we focus on macro tracking, we are missing a more significant piece of the health puzzle!

What are macro and micronutrients, and what’s the difference between the two?


Macronutrients are the main components of food that provide us with energy: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Within carbohydrates, we have simple carbohydrates or sugars and complex carbohydrates like starches, and these are the most accessible forms of energy for our bodies to use. Proteins provide amino acids, and fats provide monounsaturated, saturated, polyunsaturated fatty acid chains.    

Micronutrients refer to specific nutrients within each of the macronutrients. So, it means looking at the smaller ingredients that make up these larger parts of the carbs, fats and proteins in our diets. Micronutrients are vitamins. Fifty-three micronutrients are essential for our diets, which means our bodies do not make them. Therefore we must get these nutrients from our food. Now, if we decide to eat a diet void of these 53 micronutrients, what do you think will happen?

Why is it important to consider these kinds of nutrients in our diets? 


It is essential to consider micronutrients in our diets because if we focus on the breakdown of carbs, fats and proteins, without acknowledging the nutrient density of the foods we eat, we can experience nutrient deficiencies. For example, if you are tracking your carbs at 50g a day which is on the lower end because, let’s say you’re hoping to lose weight, and all you’re eating is one piece of white bread for your carb intake, you’re feeding yourself carbohydrates that are void of nutrients. That white bread gets processed as a simple sugar because it is refined. While that white flour used for the white bread has had vitamins and minerals added back, because this is a requirement in Canada that our flours are fortified, these are synthetic and not natural to the flour and may not get adequately absorbed in our bodies. Now, going back to the bread itself, it will spike your blood sugar, spike your insulin. If this is a regular part of your diet that you’re relying on for your carbohydrates, you won’t be taking in a variety of micronutrients into your diet. Now, keep in mind that this white bread example is an extreme example I’m giving to paint the picture for you. But the critical factor here is that we want to ensure we consume foods that are not void of natural micronutrients or focus our diet on eating one kind of macronutrient. 

Is one more important than the other?

I think they are both very important, but macronutrients get too much of a focus, and the quality of the macronutrients is not considered enough. And the quality of these macronutrients involves considering what micronutrients they provide to our diets. A healthy diet has a good balance of macronutrients AND includes a variety of micronutrients within those macronutrients. Long story short, they are both critical.

How can we ensure that we are getting a good balance of micronutrients in our diets?

One of the easiest and most important ways to get a good balance of micronutrients is to eat a diet full of nutrient-dense whole foods. Visually, one of the easiest ways to do this is to eat the rainbow. This also means that you’ll be eating a variety of foods and not just the usual favourites. Challenge yourself to eat foods that you don’t typically eat, such as rutabaga or more zucchini. If you’re unsure how to prepare these new foods, hit up Google for some recipe ideas! 

What are examples of highly nutrient-dense foods?


Some great examples of nutrient-dense foods are avocados, bananas, broccoli, choosing brown rice over white rice, nuts and seeds, which are a great source of fibre, protein, and essential fatty acids like omega 3’s and 6’s, dark leafy greens, which give us a variety of b-vitamins and minerals and sprouts such as broccoli, alfalfa, radish whose nutrients are more bioavailable (the nutrients are more accessible and absorbable in your body during digestion) than their full-grown siblings. Lemons, limes and oranges, and other citrus fruits contain bioflavonoids, vitamin C, and quercetin, which are great for seasonal allergies and reduce your histamine response. Our food is powerful, and we should look to eating a variety of foods and get curious about the food we’re eating to ensure we are reaching our full potential of all 53 essential nutrients.

Are supplements a beneficial way to get micronutrients?


Supplements are a great way to get a variety of micronutrients, but the quality of your supplements is essential. Supplements are a great way to enhance your nutrient intake, and they’re fantastic for therapeutic purposes. However, they cannot make up for a poor diet. Consistently eating nourishing foods is the best way to take care of your body, and using supplements as a supplementary addition to your good diet is vital.

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Hello there, I´m Megan

This is my little corner of the internet where I share all things about healthy living. I believe in sharing really simple, effective advice to help you improve your health & reach your goals. Combining my certification & experience, I want to help you develop a plan to reach your goals.



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