Macro’s to Micro’s: Nutrient Needs


When discussing micronutrients and macronutrients in regards to both athletes as well as sedentary individuals and their role in disease prevention we must first outline what micronutrients and macronutrients are. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, while micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and trace elements (Micronutrients and micronutrients, n.d.). We also cannot forget to touch on water requirements. These are all necessary in order to promote growth and development and regulate body processes.

In regards to micronutrients and athletes, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, B carotene, and selenium are all found to be of concern and lacking. Athletes who often restrict energy intake or have severe weight loss practices, eliminate one or more of the food groups from their diet, or who consume unbalanced and low micronutrient- dense diets are at the greatest risk for poor micronutrient intake. A wide variety of athletes can fall into this category such as gymnasts, body builders, and even endurance athletes like runners. It is recommended that this population of athlete take a daily multivitamin as well as a mineral supplement (Rodriguez, DiMarco, & Langley, 2010). However, if the athlete is eating a well balanced diet a supplement is not needed (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2010). It is important to note that “…use of vitamin and mineral supplements does not improve performance in individuals consuming nutritionally adequate diets” (Rodriguez, DiMarco, & Langley, 2010).

Calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E are micronutrients that are lacking and of concern in the average sedentary adult (Chapter 2: Adequate nutrients within calorie needs, 2008). “Many Americans consume more calories than they need without meeting recommended intakes for a number of nutrients. This circumstance means that most people need to choose meals and snacks that are high in nutrients but low to moderate in energy content; that is, meeting nutrient recommendations must go hand in hand with keeping calories under control” (Chapter 2: Adequate nutrients within calorie needs, 2008). It is recommended that the average adult consume a well balanced diet in order to obtain optimal micronutrient intake by consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol (Chapter 2: Adequate nutrients within calorie needs, 2008).

When discussing macronutrients and athletes, it is recommended that athletes consume a diet composed of a wide variety of foods in order to cover their energy expenditures. 60-70% of daily intake should come from carbohydrates, 12-15% should come from protein, and the remainder from fats (Williams, 1995). “The higher carbohydrate intakes, however, are only recommended during preparation for, and immediate recovery from, heavy training and competition. Adopting nutritional strategies to increase muscle and liver glycogen stores before, during and after exercise can improve performance. The protein requirements of most athletes are fulfilled when their daily intake is between 1.2 and 1.7 g per kg body mass. This amount of protein is provided by a diet which covers the athlete’s daily energy expenditure. Although fat metabolism contributes to energy production during exercise, and the amount increases with endurance training, there is no evidence to suggest that athletes should increase their fat intake as a means of improving their performance” (Williams, 1995).

The recommendation of macronutrients in the average sedentary adult are: 45-65% carbohydrates, 20-35% fat, and 10-35% protein. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) “…is the range associated with reduced risk for chronic diseases, while providing essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. People whose diet is outside the AMDR have the potential of increasing their risk of developing a disease of nutritional deficiency. A diet that is balanced in its macronutrient distribution is recommended for lasting weight loss because unbalanced nutrient profiles may increase the risk of adverse health consequences” (The Weight Watchers Research Department, 2011).

Water intake for athletes varies based on the duration and intensity exercise as well as the environmental factors like temperature and humidity. An athlete as well as the average everyday gym goer should hydrate before (2-3 cups of water w/in 2 hours of your workout), during (a cup of water every 15 minutes), and after (2-3 cups for each pound lost during exercise) exercise (Quinn, 2014). Another good tip is to weigh yourself before and after exercise in order to ensure you are hydrating enough post workout. Individuals who are training regularly as well as the average individual needs between one half and one whole ounce of water (or other fluids) for each pound of body weight per day (Quinn, 2014; Shaw, 2009). In order to determine a baseline range for water intake, we can make use of the following formula:

Low end of range= Body weight (lbs) x 0.5 = (ounces of fluid/day)
High end of range=Body weight (lbs) x 1 = (ounces of fluid/day) (Quinn, 2014)

Water is vital. Water transports nutrients to the body as well as it helps to remove harmful toxins from the body, it serves as a lubricant in digestion, and it helps to regulate body temperature (The importance of water and your health, n.d.).

In the end, we have covered micronutrient as well as macronutrient and water intake for athletes as well as the average sedentary individual. This post is highly informative and it outlines exactly what I would recommend to an athlete as well as average client. I believe that by eating a well balanced diet that spans the food groups that we can meet the recommended daily intake with no issues. It is one of my pet peeves being asked by the clerks at GNC or another supplement store if I plan to take a multi-vitamin with the supplement I am purchasing (before children I used to be a thermogenic guru), I believe that we can get everything we need from a healthy diet. 


Works Cited 

 Chapter 2: Adequate nutrients within calorie needs. (2008, July 9). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Office of Disease and Health Promotion:

Jeukendrup, A., & Gleeson, M. (2010). Recommendation’s for micronutrient intake in athletes. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Human Kinetics:—2nd-Edition

Micronutrients and micronutrients. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from UNICEF:

Quinn, E. (2014, June 3). How much water should you drink? Retrieved November 19, 2014, from About Health:

Rodriguez, N., DiMarco, N., & Langley, S. (2010, March 1). Nutrition and athletic performance . Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Medscape Multispecialty:

Shaw, G. (2009, July 7). Water and your diet: Staying slim and regular with H2O. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from WebMD:

The importance of water and your health. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Free Drinking Water:

The Weight Watchers Research Department. (2011, April 15). Macronutrient recommendations. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Weight Watchers:

Williams, C. (1995). Macronutrients and performance. Journal of Sports Sciences , 1-10.

Macro’s to Micro’s: Nutrient Needs