Optimal - The Blog

August 10, 2023

ODX Did You Know: Micro & Macronutrients are a Both a Big Deal

It’s important to understand nutrition basics in order to make healthy food choices and strive for a balanced diet that includes lots of whole unprocessed plant-based foods, high-quality protein and fat, and an abundance of micronutrients and antioxidants.


Balance Your Macronutrients

  • Carbohydrates: at least 100-130 grams/day, 40-50% of total calories
  • Protein: 8-1.5 grams/kg, 20-30% of total calories
  • Fat: 20-30% of total calories
  • Water at least 30 mL/kg of body weight (~ ½ ounce per pound) and replace any losses
  • Some individuals may need to modify their macronutrient intake, e.g., medically-indicated restriction of carbohydrate, protein, or fat.

Carbohydrate provides us with fuel for now and for later.

  • 4 calories per gram.
  • You need ~130 grams per day for your brain and red blood cells and even more to fuel exercise and daily activities.
  • Intake may need to be modified in certain conditions.
  • Healthy sources come from plant-based foods, including whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole fruit, especially berries.
  • Minimize concentrated sweets or “simple” carbohydrates such as soda, most candy, and many commercial baked goods such as cookies, pie, and cake.
  • Dark chocolate (~50-60% cocoa) can be a healthy treat, especially mixed with nuts, seeds, coconut, greens powder, protein sources, etc.

Protein provides the building blocks for many important compounds in the body.

  • Can provide 4 calories per gram, but you don’t want to have to break it down for energy. Consume enough carbohydrates to “spare” your protein from being used for energy.
  • High-quality protein comes from what “walks, flies, or swims” (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, fish, seafood) and byproducts such as milk (cow, goat, sheep), cheese, and eggs.
  • Animal-based products should come from wild or organically-grown sources versus commercially conventionally raised animals.
  • Minimize processed meats with excess additives, salt, and fat.
  • Choose smaller wild-caught fish high in omega-3s but low in mercury, including sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, and tuna (limit tuna to 1-2 times per week).
  • Plant-based foods also provide some protein, including legumes, nuts, seeds, organic tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
  • Aim for 0.8-1.5 grams/kg of body weight per day (~½- ¾ an ounce per pound of body weight) and modify according to needs.

Fat provides a concentrated source of fuel as well as building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, nerves, and brain tissue.

  • Provides 9 calories per gram.
  • Healthy sources include omega-3s from cold-water fish, olives and olive oil, avocadoes, nuts and nut oils, nut butters, seeds including flax and chia, and organic grass-fed butter.
  • Choose unprocessed cold-pressed oils.
  • Minimize excess animal fat (especially non-organic), trans fat, and deep-fried foods.

Water is the most important macronutrient though it doesn’t provide calories.

  • You can only go a few days without water.
  • Water is needed for lubrication, transportation, detoxification, temperature regulation, and metabolic functions.
  • Drink purified water with minerals added back in and consume adequate minerals in the diet.
  • Alkalize by adding lemon or lime juice.
  • You need at least 30 mL/kg of body weight (~½ ounce per pound) and replace any losses that occur from sweat or gastrointestinal issues.


Vitamins are tiny molecules that assist in many functions in the body.

  • Include fat-soluble (A, D, E, K) and water-soluble (Bs and C)
  • Help turn food into energy
  • Act as antioxidants, protect DNA, support metabolism, and support the breakdown of harmful chemicals, drugs, and hormones
  • Are sensitive to heat, light, and processing

Minerals are also essential to many functions in the body.

  • Include calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, chromium, iodine, etc.
  • Alter electrical current and generate nerve impulses
  • Support metabolism, detoxification, electrolytes, and acid-base balance
  • Are indestructible molecules but can be lost when boiling foods. Baking or sauteing helps retain minerals.

Phytonutrients are found exclusively in plants, in fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, and spices.

  • Many phytonutrients are associated with the bright colors in fruits and vegetables but are also found in white vegetables, including onions, garlic, parsnips, cauliflower, etc.
  • Phytonutrients are found in cooking herbs and spices such as basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, turmeric, etc.
  • Phytonutrients act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and support metabolism, detoxification, and the immune system.

Micronutrient Insufficiency

  • Can lead to metabolic dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative stress, energy deficits, tissue damage, and chronic disease.
  • Physical signs of nutrient insufficiency include weak, brittle, or spotted nails, cracks in the corners of the mouth, red swollen tongue, dry skin, pinpoint hemorrhages under the skin, bleeding gums, hair loss, vision changes, muscle loss, etc.

Stages of Micronutrient Insufficiency:

Stage 1  Blood and tissue levels decrease
Stage 2  Urinary excretion of metabolites decreases, see general biochemical adaptation
Stage 3    Early physical signs of insufficiency appear, including fatigue, malaise, appetite loss, and insomnia.
Stage 4  Metabolic, functional, and morphological disturbances, reversible impairment of cellular function, and pronounced physiological changes occur
Stage 5   Clinical signs of deficiency and irreversible tissue damage occur.

Optimal Takeaways

  • Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water. You need these in relatively large amounts.
  • Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. You need these in relatively small amounts.
  • Macronutrient and micronutrient intake should be balanced.
  • Ensure adequate hydration with purified mineral water and increase intake as needed to balance any deficits from sweating or gastrointestinal loss.
  • Look for telltale physical signs of nutrient insufficiency, including changes in the skin, hair, nails, and mood.
  • Supplement as needed if intake is decreased or if requirements are increased.
  • Consider supplementing as needed with a balanced multivitamin/mineral formula, greens powder, omega-3 fatty acids, protein powder, and fermented probiotic foods, or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Want to Learn More?

CLICK HERE to learn more about who may need a Micronutrient Metabolic Tune Up, and HERE for more on Nutrition Screening.

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