Food isn’t just a pleasure or a luxury, it’s a necessity required for us to survive and for our bodies to function efficiently. When people think of food however, they tend not to focus on the energy and nutrition side of things, and more on how the food tastes. The human body is a highly complex creation, and in order for it to work as it should, it not only needs energy, it also needs nutrients. Calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients are all essential for optimal health and well-being. Here’s a look at the key differences between each one, and why each of the three is considered so vital.
Calories – To begin with, we’re going to take a look at calories. When most people try to lose weight, they focus on calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. It is basically the total amount of energy required in order to increase the temperature of water by just one degree. Calories in terms of nutrition, are known as Kcals, or Kilocalories. Calories are what provide your body with the energy needed to perform various physiological processes to sustain itself. Each person has different caloric needs, though guidelines dictate that women should aim to consume 2000 calories per day, whereas a man should aim to consume 2500 calories per day. The larger you are and the more physically active you are, the more calories you require.
Macronutrients – Macronutrients, or macros, as they are sometimes called, are now very much in fashion in the world of health and fitness. Rather than just tacking calories in order to lose weight, people are now instead tracking their macros. Macronutrients are again nutrients required to provide your body with energy. However, they come from three sources. They are: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Macro means ‘large’ because of the fact that all of these nutrients are needed in big quantities. Each macro contains and provides calories needed to carry out essential processes in the body. One gram of protein provides 4 calories, one gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories, and one gram of fat provides 9 calories. We need macros for different things. Protein for example, is vital for cellular health and function, as well as muscle growth. Carbohydrates are used readily as energy, and fats can also be used as energy, as well as for fuel for our cells. In a nutshell, we require a healthy balance of three macros each day.
Micronutrients – Micronutrients are also very important for our health and well-being, yet people often overlook just how vital they are. Micronutrients are not needed in large quantities, hence the name micro-nutrients (micro means small). They are however, still needed, and they are just as important as your macros. Typically, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Your body needs 28 micronutrients to survive, and while there are far more vitamins and minerals than 28, they aren’t considered essential, though that doesn’t mean that they aren’t beneficial. if you are deficient in certain micronutrients such as calcium for example, your body will look for calcium elsewhere, and may take it from your bones. This would weaken the bones and put you at risk of brittle bone disease and/or osteoporosis. Vitamin deficiencies can result in conditions such as anaemia and scurvy. Micronutrients are found in supplement form and in a number of fresh and healthy foods.