If you are on any sort of social media or ever read articles about nutrition you’ve probably heard the terms macros and micros being thrown around. People in the fitness industry, for instance, may give you an example of their diet and show you their macro breakdown. Or maybe you’ve seen a blog post on how you can still have a cheat meal and fit it into your weekly macros. Have you ever been asked if you’re micro deficient? And honestly what does all of this even mean? We’re about to get a bit sciency here, but science can be fun!
dog in chemistry clothes swirling green liquid in beaker.

Nutrition can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. So lets take a moment to break down some of these basics. When we discuss nutrients we are referring to all the juicy goodness your body needs to function. This is a combination of macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. When it comes to nutrients its really important to understand that while we all need this same combination of nutrients, the exact amount of nutrients each individual needs varies dramatically.

Macronutrients refer to fat, protein, and carbohydrates. As the name indicates (macro) our bodies need these in a larger amount (think grams rather than milligrams). Macronutrients are literally what give our bodies the energy to move and breathe and think! Macronutrients provide us with calories. Calories equal energy– there’s A LOT more that goes into this, but this is the general idea.

Micronutrients we need in much smaller amounts. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Ever wondered about the difference between vitamins and minerals? Vitamins are made of organic matter (they contain carbon) and minerals are made of inorganic material (the do not contain carbon). For minerals think back to the periodic table- iron, zinc, magnesium and so on. If you answered “no” to that question above… now you just have more answers to trivia night! 

So how do we know how many macronutrients and micronutrients to get? This is a great question and where things get a little bit more complicated. Every person is so different it’s extremely difficult to give general advice here. Over time the suggestions over how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates (macronutrients) to eat has changed. We now live in an era where fat rules as the supreme macro and poor little carbohydrate is… well mostly the villain. In the 90’s however, fat was considered the villain. Things change over time. 

Calculating micronutrients isn’t that much easier to be honest. We do have general recommendations and guidelines, which are known as Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s). The problem is that most often these recommendations are only the minimum amount needed to prevent deficiency. Not necessarily optimum health. And despite the fact that we now enrich our foods with micronutrients, the vast majority of people are deficient (or in a surplus) of one or more vitamin or mineral. Having an imbalance of micronutrients can affect the body in many ways including sleep. This is where working with a professional can really help.

Working with a trained nutritionist or dietician is a great way to determine if you are getting all of your macronutrient and micronutrients. Professionals will assess your diet and lifestyle, look at your blood work to determine if any deficiencies are present. There is a huge range of signs and symptoms that may indicate your micro or macro levels are out of whack. These can include low energy levels, brittle hair and nails, and trouble sleeping. One of the best ways to optimize your health is to determine how and what you should be eating. Ready to figure out what your specific macro and micro nutrient break down should be? Sign up for a consultation with me!