You may have heard your health-conscious friends talk about “counting macros” or the macronutrients in the foods they eat.
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But what exactly are they doing and how does counting macros, or macronutrients, help you lead a healthy life? And what’s the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients?
Think of macronutrients as the lead actors in the production of your body and micronutrients as the supporting cast. Each is vital to a successful performance.
Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, explains exactly what macronutrients and micronutrients are and why they’re so important to your health.
What are macronutrients?
As the main nutrients found in food, macronutrients maintain your body’s structure and functioning. You typically need a large amount of macronutrients to keep your body working properly. But don’t stress: macronutrients come from proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which give your body energy in the form of calories.
Macros are typically measured in grams (g) and can be a useful way to track what you’re consuming.
“Someone might want to count their macronutrients to be sure they’re meeting their needs and not overconsuming or under consuming certain nutrients,” says Zumpano.
Overall, counting macros is a way to focus on the variety of foods you’re eating — and how much of each — instead of counting calories.
Even certain diets like the keto diet and the paleo diet use a macronutrient approach.
Examples of macronutrients
During digestion, foods that tend to fall into one of the three macronutrients are broken down to be used for different functions. Macronutrients include:
Carbohydrates. As the main source of energy, carbs break down into glucose and aid digestion and fullness. Carbs include bread, rice, pasta, grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, milk and yogurt. They provide 4 calories per gram.Fat. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol and…