What Are Macronutrients and Micronutrients

April 19, 2021

What Are Macronutrients and Micronutrients

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Nia Rennix

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Your body requires two types of nutrients in order to stay healthy, macronutrients and micronutrients. Simply put, macronutrients include all the food categories that you must eat in large quantities while micronutrients are those foods that you need in trace amounts to maintain your health. In terms of importance, both categories are essential as a deficiency of any variety can lead to severe ailments and even death.

Dieticians and nutritionists often refer to macros and micros in your diet plan. They are actually referring to macronutrients and micronutrients. In this article, you will know the details about them, their functions, and the diseases that can result from the deficiencies.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients comprise of those nutrients that you typically get from the food items classified as staples. The word macro comes from the Greek word makros that means large. Your body cannot manufacture these nutrients on its own so you need to procure them through food. You need far greater quantities of macronutrients than micronutrients. Macronutrients help you with growth and gives you the energy to perform various kinds of physiological, physical, and mental work.

The three main categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All cultures across the world include these three components in their local diets. No matter how widely different the taste and ingredients are, the basic components are the same i.e., some variations of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids.

  1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates constitute of those food items that can be broken down into glucose that provides energy to your cells and helps you to do different kinds of activities. They usually come in two varieties.

  1. Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are the bad carbohydrates that most diets warn you to stay away from. Cakes, pastries, bread, etc. contain a lot of processed carbohydrates that can be easily digested and broken down into sugar. While these food items also give you energy, they do not bring along any vitamins, minerals, or fibers. These carbohydrates are most likely to lead to weight gain and obesity-related disorders.

  • Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are naturally occurring food items like grains, veggies, fruits, etc. Along with starch and sugar, they are also rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They take a long time to digest and give you a feeling of fullness and satiation for longer periods of time. These carbohydrates do not impact your health in a bad way and help you to remain active and energetic.

Whole grains, legumes, veggies, fruits, etc. are all sources of complex or good carbohydrates.

Daily requirement: Your daily recommended dose of carbohydrate will depend a lot on the amount of physical work you do. Someone leading a sedentary life will need much less carbohydrates than someone who performs hard manual labor for several hours in a day. However, in both cases, it is essential to choose nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates.

  • Proteins

Proteins act as the building blocks of your body and make up your muscles, bones, connective tissue, hair, nails, etc. They are composed of amino acids and make up various hormones, enzymes, and antibodies of the immune system. High-quality proteins are those that contain a large number of essential amino acids in substantial quantities.

Fish, eggs, and meat are excellent sources of animal protein. Legumes, nuts, and seeds are good sources of plant protein.

Daily requirement: You need to consume 1gm of protein for every kilogram of your body weight to meet your daily requirement of proteins. Always choose high-quality proteins. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, please combine proteins from different sources as most plant-based proteins lack a few amino acids.

  • Lipids (Fats)

Lipids or fats are essential for your health because they help to regulate metabolism, promote growth and regeneration of cells, maintain elasticity of cell membranes, circulate fat-soluble vitamins, provide insulation to body and improve blood flow. Like carbohydrates, fats are often unfairly criticized for their role in bringing upon various diseases in the human body. But fats too can be categorized into two classes.

  1. Saturated fats

Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen atoms and their fatty acid carbon chains do not contain any double bond. Your body does not require saturated fats as they provide cholesterol which your body can manufacture on its own. A little amount of saturated fat is ok to consume as they can help in speeding up metabolism and synthesizing certain hormones. But excess of it will lead to diseases of the heart. They are usually called bad fats.

Most animal fats, coconut oil, and butter are examples of saturated fats.

  • Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats contain at least one double bond in their fatty acid chain. Also, these fats are usually liquid at room temperature. They perform all the functions of lipids for your body and you need to get them through food sources as your body cannot manufacture them.

Olive oil, canola oil, nuts, chia seeds, avocados, fatty fish are all examples of healthy or unsaturated fats.

Daily requirement: About 30%-35% of your daily caloric intake should comprise of fats.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are those nutrients that you need to ingest in small quantities. The name comes from the Greek word mikros meaning small. These are also known as trace elements as very little amount of these nutrients can meet the daily demand of your body. However, this small amount is of utmost importance as it can potentially save you from various diseases that deficiency of the micronutrients can lead to. Since your body cannot manufacture these on its own you need to get them through food. Vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals are considered as micronutrients.

Vitamins

Vitamins are of two types, water-soluble and fat-soluble. Some examples of water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the B vitamins. Vitamin A, D, E, and K, on the other hand, are fat-soluble vitamins. All vitamins are organic in nature and hence they are highly susceptible to small changes in temperature. Cooking or wrong methods of storage can break down vitamins so you need to be properly informed to make sure that you are getting all your vitamins before they decompose.

Minerals

Minerals are inorganic substances that your body requires and they are stable elements that do not transform as easily as vitamins. Zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, etc. are all examples of essential minerals that your body requires.

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure that you are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat colorful foods to include a wide range of nutrients in your diet.

Some of the micronutrient-dense food items are fatty fish, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, eggs, broccoli, berries, leafy vegetables, colorful fruits, and veggies.

Functions of the nutrients

Both macronutrients and micronutrients help your body to thrive and you to remain in perfect health. The important functions of the nutrients are listed below for your reference.

Functions of macronutrients

The most important functions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are:

  1. To supply and store energy
  2. To build and repair various tissues
  3. To build and sustain genetic material (DNA and RNA)
  4. To maintain body temperature
  5. To build various co-enzymes, enzymes, hormones, and neurochemicals
  6. To promote cellular health, growth, and signaling
  7. To maintain gut health
  8. To provide insulation and protection to various organs
  9. To maintain healthy immunity and fertility
  10. To prevent pathogenesis and blood clotting

Functions of micronutrients

Micronutrients also perform many important functions for your body.

Vitamins:

  1. They help in protein synthesis and cell division
  2. They help to release energy from food for your use
  3. They are essential to keep your eyes and skin in ideal health
  4. They also preserve your digestive tract, lungs, bones, and other vital organs
  5. They maintain the immune system and guard you against diseases
  6. They build collagen that heals wounds and supports blood vessels

Minerals:

  1. They help in circulation of oxygen to different parts of your body
  2. They help to maintain water balance
  3. They stabilize the proteins that your body synthesizes
  4. They maintain your ability to taste and smell

Diseases related to incorrect intake of nutrients

Deficient as well as excess intake of macronutrients and micronutrients can cause various diseases.

Less than sufficient intake of macronutrients can cause diseases like malnutrition, marasmus, Kwashiorkor, etc.

Excess intake of macronutrients can cause cardiovascular diseases, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, etc.

Less than sufficient intake of micronutrients can cause diseases like Xeropthalmia, night blindness, Beriberi, stomatitis, Pellagra, scurvy, Anemia, Goiter, etc.

Excess intake of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals like calcium can cause liver damage and kidney damage respectively.

Conclusion

Macronutrients and micronutrients are a part of everybody’s life but it is important to be informed about exactly what they do to your body and why they are so important for your well-being. Leaving out a single type of nutrient can bring about fatal consequences for your health. That is why it is so important to pay more attention to what you eat. Eating balanced and nutrient-dense meals can help you to stay in the pink of health. So, do not neglect your diet, following a planned diet is the best way to protect yourself against diseases and malnutrition.

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Keto Diet Plan: Here Are 3 Full Days of Recipes

The Keto diet is one of the best available options if you’re trying to lose weight safely and quickly. This diet allows you to eat delicious meats, healthy fats, and vegetables—all targeted to help you burn the extra fat on your body by putting you into ketosis! Fascinating, right? To understand how the Keto Diet works, you need to learn about macros responsible for fueling our body.

Macros refer to three essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats). These are considered the three essential macronutrients that we consume to get energy. Usually, a typical meal consists of 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 20% fat or lipid.

The Keto Diet suggests that you reduce carbohydrates and make your diet heavier in protein and fats. When you decide to go on a Keto Diet, your meals generally consist of 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. If the body gets less than 20 grams of carbohydrate each day, it goes into ketosis, a metabolic process that burns stored fat to produce ketone bodies that supply the energy required to run your body. Thus, if you plan your meals meticulously and keep the carbohydrate consumption extremely low, you can expect to lose weight quickly.

Here is a 3-Day Keto-Compliant Meal Plan

The upside of this diet is that the meals are not bland and are reasonably easy to prepare.

Keto Diet Day 1

Breakfast: Keto Pancakes and Stir-fried Broccoli

Break two eggs in a bowl and add 1/2 tablespoon of almond flour. Next, throw in 2 ounces of cream cheese and a pinch of salt to taste. Whisk the mixture until you get a smooth combination of pouring consistency. Heat butter in a pan and fry the pancakes one by one.

Cut a small head of broccoli into florets and wash them under running water—heat olive oil in a pan and throw in some chopped garlic. Once you get a pleasant aroma, add the broccoli florets and stir fry them for a minute or two. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt, and your breakfast is ready.

Note: If you prefer your pancakes a little sweeter, you can add a pinch of cinnamon or vanilla instead of salt in the pancake mixture and pair the cooked pancakes with fresh strawberries.

Snack: Assorted Nuts

You can have a handful of mixed nuts to prevent sudden hunger pains. Almondscashews, and pistachios are all keto-compliant nuts. You can dry roast them lightly to enhance the taste.

Lunch: Stir-fried Chicken and Veggies

Add one pound of minced chicken breast to heated oil in a pan. Chop some cabbages, peppers, and tomatoes and add them after 5 minutes. Keep tossing and add ginger and garlic paste after five more minutes. Turn off the heat and shred a little bit of cheese on top of the mixture. 

Dinner: Broccoli-Mushroom Salad with Diced Chicken

Cut one small broccoli and some button mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Dice a quarter pound of chicken breast into cubes. Heat olive oil in a wok and toss in the chicken slices first. Once they are lightly fried, neatly move them to a bowl and add a dollop of butter to the pan. Cook the broccoli and the mushrooms for 1 minute and then add the cooked chicken. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic and toss for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle oregano generously. Your dinner is ready.

Keto Diet Day 2

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Turkey Bacon, and Grilled Brussel Sprouts

Break two large eggs, add a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk into a smooth solution. Chop half an onion and one tomato into small pieces and add them to the eggs. Heat a little butter in a pan, pour in the egg mixture and scramble with a spatula. When the eggs are half done, you can shred in some cheese for extra taste.

Grill two slices of turkey bacon.

Arrange some Brussels sprouts on a skewer and coat them with chopped garlic, crushed ginger, and olive oil. Grill each side for 5 minutes to a light golden color. Now, your delicious breakfast is ready!

Snack: Veggie Sticks Dipped in Peanut Butter

Cut carrots and celery into 3-inch sticks. Dip them in peanut butter for a quick and tasty snack.

Lunch: Collard Shrimp Wrap

Take a giant collard leaf and blanch it in salted water for 30 seconds. Coat 1 pound of shrimp with sea salt and pepper. Cut one tomato and one green bell pepper into small cubes. Heat oil and toss the tomatoes and the bell peppers first. After a minute, add the shrimp and toss everything for 1 minute. Add one spoonful of butter and some chopped garlic cloves and cook for another minute. Turn off the flame, and your filling is ready. Place it neatly within the collard, leave and roll it into a nice, savory wrap.

Dinner: Pork Chops

Sear bone-in pork chops on both sides for around 4 minutes in heated olive oil. Take butter in a bowl and mix it with rosemary and chopped garlic. Place the chops on a baking tray brushed with butter mixture and cook for 12-15 minutes at 375°F. Once done, drizzle more butter on the chops and enjoy your dinner.

Keto Diet Day 3

Breakfast: Fruit Smoothie and Smoked Sausages

If you prefer a predominantly sweet breakfast, you can go for a fruit smoothie that tastes excellent, filling, and has few carbohydrates. Add frozen strawberries, frozen raspberries, and frozen blackberries in a blender. Add almond or coconut milk to get a rich and creamy taste. Blend them. You can sprinkle some bits of almond and grated coconut on top to enhance the flavor.

Have two turkey sausages on the side for an even more satisfying breakfast.

Snack: Egg Muffins (Makes two servings)

Crack and whisk one egg. Add 3-5 chopped mushrooms to it. Crush a clove of garlic and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Mix well and pour into two muffin molds. You can add cheese or tomatoes as well for variety.

Lunch: Classic Egg Salad With A Twist

Take two hard-boiled eggs and crush them to form bite-sized pieces. Dice onion and avocado into small pieces. Next, wash a handful of cherry tomatoes. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. You can squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it, and your egg salad will be ready to eat.

Or, you can prepare a proper dressing by mixing two tablespoons of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and a dash of olive oil. Gradually, fold the sauce into the egg mixture and end by sprinkling a little bit of kosher salt.

Dinner: Meatballs and Side Salad

Take 1/2 pound of ground beef and add chopped garlic, ginger, shredded mozzarella, and one egg. Mix well and form into five balls. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs to a rich golden color for around 10 minutes. Move the meatballs to a plate and add one chopped onion to the skillet and fry until golden brown. Add two chopped tomatoes and keep cooking until a sauce-like consistency is obtained. Throw in garlic paste and coconut milk and the broth will turn creamy. Add the meatballs and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, and your dinner is ready.

So, take a deep breath and jump onto the Keto bandwagon. Starting is the hard part. Once you get started, the journey is smooth sailing! And, the weight loss and extra energy are fantastic!

Do you wish you had an EBook that included the tastiest Keto-friendly bread recipes?

Are you looking for additional support with your meal plans? Are you interested in learning what a 2-week meal plan on TRW would look like?

Do you wish you had an EBook that included the tastiest Keto- friendly bread recipes?

Are you looking for additional support with your meal plans? Are you interested in learning what a 2-week meal plan on TRW would look like?