Macronutrients vs Micronutrients: What’s the Difference?

Today I want to discuss the difference between macro- and micronutrients. I know that it’s easy to get the two confused, so I’m hoping a quick post will help clear it up for anyone who is interested! Both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential for human health, but what are their individual roles within the body?

What are Macronutrients?

person holding sliced vegetable
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on

Macronutrients are basically just large molecules, aka macromolecules. The three main macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Macronutrients are a major component of the food we eat. Though fat, carbohydrates, and protein each have their own unique functions, the one they share is providing energy to the body. This energy is provided through calories. Carbs and protein provide 4 calories per gram and fat, which is more calorie dense, provides 9 calories per gram. If we don’t get enough macronutrients through the diet, our body doesn’t have the energy required to function.

What are Micronutrients?

food on white background
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Micronutrients are also molecules, some of which are just single elements. In contrast to macronutrients, we consume micronutrients in much smaller quantities. But they are still a crucial part of our diet. These molecules include all vitamins and minerals. Certain micronutrients are considered essential because the body is not able to produce them internally. Therefore, we have to consume them through our diet. Non-essential micronutrients are those that we don’t technically need to consume through food sources because the body can synthesize them on its own. Micronutrients do not provide calories like macronutrients, but they play crucial roles in multiple bodily processes, including metabolism, bone maintenance, brain signaling, and so much more. If we don’t consume enough of each essential micronutrient, specific body processes are not able to occur and serious detriment can occur to the body.

Macronutrients tend to get a lot more attention than micronutrients. We obsess over calories in versus calories out, yet we ignore the importance of all of the crucial micronutrients. Calories are not the only things to consider with regards to nutrition. Fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient dense foods are pretty negligible as far as calories and macronutrients. But they provide the bulk of the micronutrients in our diet. So be sure you’re getting both macro- and micronutrients in your diet! A balanced diet is the key to getting all of the nutrients your body needs.



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