There are three macronutrients that supply us with calories or energy and have their own unique roles and functions in the body. For this reason, we require these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop, repair and feel good!
Each macronutrient is almost always found in every item of food, whether that’s a healthy snack bar (like an RX Bar made with all natural ingredients) or a raw vegetable; the only difference is how the macronutrients are balanced.
For example, the nutritional composition of an avocado is generally made up of 75% “good” fats, 20% carbohydrates and 5% protein; therefore, this would be considered a fat-rich food. On the other hand, a banana consists of 95% carbohydrates, with only small amounts of protein and fat, making them considered a carbohydrate-rich food.
The trick is to understand how each macronutrient plays a different role in the body and tailor your diet accordingly!
The basics of CARBS, FATS, & PROTEIN
Carbohydrates are either in a form of sugar (like fruit), starch (like potatoes) or fiber (bran bran bran). These are all made up of small chains of sugar that get broken down into glucose – a simple sugar/energy source in living organisms that is a component of many carbohydrates. This is often used as the body’s quick energy source.
—> common foods rich in carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, helping with fat-soluble vitamin (ADE, & K) absorption, developing and maintaining the brain and central nervous system, protecting the body’s organs and providing essential fatty acids. The different types of fat include unsaturated fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (that help reduce blood pressure), saturated fats (increase low density lipoproteins in the blood), and trans fat (associated with heart disease).
—> common foods rich in fats: avocados, oils, nuts, butter, fatty fish.
Protein is essential for repairing and regenerating body tissues and cells along with promoting healthy immune system function and manufacturing hormones. This wouldn’t be possible without amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. In total there are 20 types of amino acids, 9 of which are ‘essential’. What does essential mean? Well, our body is not able to generate these amino acids, therefore, we need to get them through our diet. These essential amino acids are found best in certain foods like animal products, soy products, and quinoa.
—> common foods rich in protein: lean meats, beans, yogurt (greek!), protein powders.
Average USDA Recommended Daily Amounts of each Macro:
(% kcal intake)
(% kcal intake)
(% kcal intake)
(Based on current Recommended Daily amounts (RDA) of the USDA)
How do I know what amount that even is?
- Take the average amount of calories you eat in a day (recommended calories per day for male/females are listed above as well)
- Multiply the amount of calories by the percentage of protein/carbs/fat you should be having
- Divide by the number of calories per gram the macronutrient holds
- There are 4 calories per gram in Protein
- There are 4 calories per gram in Carbohydrates
- There are 9 calories per gram in Fat
Example: (Finding how much Protein a Female should have on average per day)
- Eats 1800 calories per day on average
- Low/Middle/High calorie calculations for protein
- 1800 calories x .1 = 180 calories (lower end)
- 1800 calories x .2 = 360 calories (middle range)
- 1800 calories x .35 = 630 calories (higher end)
- Low/Middle/High gram calculations for protein
- 180/4 = 45 g
- 360/4 = 90 g
- 630/4 = 157.5g
- 45-157.5g of Protein are recommended for this female, however eating on the medium/high range of that would be most beneficial
So, here’s the thing…
In the nutrition world there is never one answer. There is not one bubble everyone fits in or one answer that works. Nutrition is about balance in YOUR life and balance in YOUR body. Recommendations are just that; they are general ideals to work off of. Not enough food is never the right answer, and too much isn’t either. Talk to your body; see how it responds to different ways of eating. Eat more protein than carbs, eat more fat than carbs, or eat an equal ratio; try things out. There is no way to figure out what works best for your body without stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. YOU have the ability to change your health outcomes for the better.