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collection of healthy foods depicting different macronutrients in the diet

How to Use Macronutrients in Your Diet

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   02/14/22

Nutrition  

We all need macronutrients to stay healthy. But what are they and how can you use a macronutrient diet? The amount of macronutrients you get in your diet is important but so is the source of those macros.

In this article, we'll explain the difference between micronutrients and macronutrients and how to build a healthy diet.

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans don't get enough nutrients from their diet.

What Are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the main nutrients your body needs to stay alive. For your body to function and maintain body structure and systems, it requires macronutrients.

These macronutrients are in your food and are primarily:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates

Your body uses these nutrients in large amounts to get energy and function optimally. Sometimes people include water and fiber in the list of macronutrients. 

All healthy diets contain a balance of macronutrients.

What's The Difference Between Micronutrients And Macronutrients?

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and are required in smaller quantities than macronutrients.

You don't get much energy from micronutrients but they are very important for your health. If you miss out on some vitamins and minerals in your diet, it could cause a deficiency and may lead to health problems in the long run.

For your body to stay healthy and function optimally, you need the right combination of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Why Do We Need Macronutrients?

It's not only energy that your body gets when you consume macronutrients. You also need them for:

  • Your metabolic function 
  • Hormones
  • Tissue building
  • Balancing your body's Ph

Each macronutrient has a different function in the body, here's what you use them for:

Carbohydrates

Carbs are the bulk of most people's daily calories: 45-60 percent of most people's daily intake is carbs. We need carbohydrates for energy which is either used immediately or stored as glycogen. 

Protein

Protein is essential for you to build new cells and tissues. It is the building block of muscles, bones, ligaments, organs, and blood plasma. Protein is also necessary for your immune system, metabolic system, and hormonal functions.

Around 10-30 percent of your daily calories should be from protein. The amount of protein you should consume depends on your age, weight, and health goals. If you want to build muscle, you need to eat more protein.

Fats

We need fats to insulate and protect our organs. Fat is also stored as energy that we can use when we need it. Fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin K can only be absorbed by the body if we have enough fat.

Only 10-35 percent of your calories should come from fats, with the focus on healthier, unsaturated fat. You should be aware that fats have the highest calories of all the macronutrients with nine calories per gram.

If you overconsume fats, you will put on weight.

How Many Macronutrients Do We Need?

The amount of macronutrients you require depends on a variety of factors.

If you aren't sure about the number of macros you should eat, talk with your doctor to get a diet plan specific to you.

There are some averages you can check when figuring out how many macros you should consume each day.

First, use a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories you need in a day. This calculation will be made based on your age, height, and level of daily activity.

Based on your goals, decide the percentages of each macronutrient you want to consume in a day. For example, if you want to maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the day and lose some weight, you may choose:

  • 40 percent of your calories from carbs
  • 40 percent from protein
  • 20 percent from fat

If you exercise more and aren't looking to lose weight, you may do better with a plan that incorporates more carbs.

Tracking Your Macros

If you want to make sure you're eating the right number of calories to achieve your goals, you'll need to track your macros. You can do this by using an app or food tracker. 

You enter the foods you've eaten and it calculates how much of it was carbs, proteins, and fats. It's an easy way to visualize your food intake and make sure you're getting the nutrients you need in the correct balance.

Want to track your macros yourself? You can divide the total number of calories you eat in a day by the percentage you want to get from that macro.

For example, say your goal is 2000 calories a day, and you want 35% of your calories from carbs, then you can eat 700 calories of carbs.

To figure out how many grams this is, divide the number of calories per gram by 4 (the number of calories in each gram of carbohydrate).

  • 700 divided by 4 is 175

You shouldn't eat more than 175 grams of carbs a day if you want to get 35% of your macros from carbs.

How To Build A Macronutrient Diet

When you measure your macros, you should also be thinking about where you are getting them.

Yes, meat is high in protein but it's also high in fat. You should get your macros from healthy, balanced sources. Here are some ideas for you to build a diet plan that considers macros. 

The healthiest source of carbohydrates are: 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans
  • Wholegrains

The healthiest source of proteins are:

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

The healthiest source of fats are:

  • Olive oils
  • Avocados
  • Nuts

If you would like inspiration for some recipes that cover healthy macros, check out these easy-to-make whole-food recipes.

Track Your Macros To Stay On Track

Every diet is a macronutrient diet because macronutrients are the nutritive components we need to stay alive!

However, if you want to pay closer attention to the macros you are consuming and where you get them from, the easiest way is to track them. There are many tools out there to help you stay on track.

For help with building a sustainable, balanced lifestyle take a look at our wellness course.


headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018
Author

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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