Macronutrients vs Micronutrients: What Endurance Athletes Need To Know

Food provides a range of different nutrients. Some nutrients provide energy, while others are essential for growth and maintenance of the body. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are macronutrients that we need to eat in relatively large amounts in the diet as they provide our bodies with energy and also the building blocks for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients which are only needed in small amounts, but are essential to keep us healthy. 

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. The prefix makro is from the Greek, and means big or large, used because macronutrients are required in large amounts. There are three broad classes of macro-nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. The prefix makro is from the Greek, and means big or large, used because macronutrients are required in large amounts. There are three broad classes of macro-nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Purpose of Macronutrients 

The main function of macronutrients is to provide energy, counted as calories. While each of the macronutrients provides calories, the amount provided by each varies. Carbohydrates provides four calories per gram, proteins also four, while fats provides nine. Macronutrients also have specific roles in maintaining the body and contribute to the taste, texture and appearance of foods, which helps to make the diet more varied and enjoyable.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients, as opposed to macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), are comprised of vitamins and minerals which are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism, growth and physical well‐being.

Purpose of Micronutrients

Micronutrients play an important role in energy production, hemoglobin synthesis, maintenance of bone health, adequate immune function, and protection of body against oxidative damage. They assist with synthesis and repair of muscle tissue during recovery from exercise and injury. Exercise stresses many of the metabolic pathways where micronutrients are required, and exercise training may result in muscle biochemical adaptations that increase micronutrient needs. Routine exercise may also increase the turnover and loss of these micronutrients from the body. As a result, greater intakes of micronutrients may be required to cover increased needs for building, repair, and maintenance of lean body mass in athletes.

Benefits of Adding a Daily Micronutrients System

Endurance athletes of all levels have seen the benefits of adding a daily micronutrient system into their training regimen.  Triathletes, runners and obstacle course champions have stayed healthier and recovered faster by supplementing micronutrients.