What Are Macro and Micro-Nutrients?

Nutrients are substances that your body needs to function, grow, and repair. They are divided into two major groups: macronutrients and micronutrients. You need both groups in balanced amounts to stay healthy.

What are macronutrients?


Macronutrients (macros) are nutrients that your body needs in large amounts in order to make energy. Macronutrients include three different classes of nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats

Besides providing energy, macronutrients support many functions in the body. Protein, for example, helps build tissue, make hormones, and regulate acid-base balance. Of the three macros, only proteins and fats are essential. Water is also a macronutrient even though it does not provide energy. That's because you need it in large amounts.

Learn more about keto macros and ratios in this article.

What are micronutrients?


Micronutrients are nutrients you need in smaller amounts. They include 16 essential minerals and 13 vitamins.

Micronutrients play many different roles in the body. One of their most important roles is assisting in energy making by being part of enzymes – proteins that regulate chemical reactions in the body. Micronutrients also help regulate fluid balance, make bone tissue, conduct nerve impulses, and scavenge free radicals, among countless other things.

Examples of vitamins include vitamin C, vitamin A, B complex vitamins, and choline. Examples of minerals include calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, potassium, and selenium.

The difference between macro and micro-nutrients

The main difference between macronutrients and micronutrients is that the former provide energy, while the latter do not. For example, your body uses carbohydrates to make the ATP molecule, which is the energy currency of your cells. If you eat too much of a certain macronutrient, your body will store any excess as body fat – that's not the case with micronutrients.

Another major difference between macronutrients and micronutrients is in their minimal required amounts. You need to eat a lot of macronutrients on a daily basis, but not as many micronutrients. For example, on keto, you need to eat around 150g of fat (a macronutrient) and only around 1g of calcium (a micronutrient) to support health and functioning.

You can calculate your exact keto macro requirements using our keto calculator.

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