Why macronutrients might matter more than calories

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - It's on every fitness app out there - log your food to monitor your calories, macro and micronutrients.

But what are they?

The building blocks of your diet are protein, carbohydrates and fat. Altogether, they're called macronutrients.

Combine them with micronutrients: vitamins A, B, C and D, and minerals like calcium, iron & zinc and you have a well-balanced diet.

Dietitian Catherine Kruppa with Advice for Eating said counting calories can lead to weight loss, but if you're eating meals full of diet drinks or 100-calorie packaged foods, it doesn't mean you're healthy.

In order to get a well-rounded diet that will keep processed carbohydrates, sugar and sodium to a minimum and hit all your macro and micronutrient goals, she recommends eating more whole foods.

Whole foods are as close to the original form as possible like fruits and vegetables.

For example, if you're logging the micros and macros and find you're consistently eating too much sugar but not enough potassium, swap your sweets for cantaloupe, bananas or raisins.

"You definitely need to eat whole foods to get all of your potassium in," Kruppa said. "That's a great example of how to get all of the micronutrients I need, I've got to eat whole foods. That you're not going to find that in something that's packaged."

A diet consisting of a lot of prepackaged foods can lead to vitamin deficiencies, illness and a lack of fiber.

Even if manufacturers add them into the foods, most scientists say it's not a good replacement for the real thing, which comes from real fruits, nuts, grains, seeds and plants.

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