Macronutrients are big picture nutrition categories, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Micronutrients are smaller nutritional categories, such as individual vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, and vitamin B-6. You may have heard the phrase “counting macros” at some point.
The beginning of each word gives you a little clue into what they may mean. “Macro” comes from the Greek word makros, which means large.
Nutritionally speaking, macros are usually measured in grams, such as grams of fat or proteins. Many macros-based diets classify macronutrients in three ways:
- Carbohydrates: found in foods such as breads, pastas, and fruits that provide 4 calories per gram
- Fats: found in foods such as oils, nuts, and meats that provide 9 calories per gram
- Protein: found in foods such as eggs, fish, and tofu that provide 4 calories per gram
Micros are much smaller measured values in terms of nutrition. “Micro” comes from the Greek word mikros, which means small. You measure most micronutrients in milligrams or even micrograms.
There are lots of micronutrients in the foods you eat, especially fruits and vegetables that are plentiful in vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient examples include, but aren’t limited to:
- vitamin B-6
- vitamin B-12
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
Most macronutrient foods contain different micronutrients. However, most people wouldn’t use a micronutrient approach to dieting because it would be difficult to measure and track.