Discovering your ideal ratio of macronutrients can help you enhance wellness and health. Learn the role of each macronutrient and why they matter.
Simply put, macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins and fats, provide our bodies with energy and keep us healthy. Discovering your personal ideal ratio of macronutrients can help you maintain a healthy weight, enhance wellness and support activity. Learn the role of each macronutrient as well as when and why macros matter.
Let’s start with the basics. “Macro” is short for macronutrients. We need macronutrients in large quantities, compared to micronutrients which are required in small amounts. Macros include carbohydrates, proteins and fats which all provide our body with energy in the form of calories (1). They all support our daily function and encourage certain goals, yet each has its own benefit. Our bodies need a combination of all three in order to thrive.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and the preferred source of fuel for our brain. After we eat them, carbs get broken down into glucose, which then goes into our bloodstream and gets delivered to our cells to provide energy. They are also important for workouts because they repair and rebuild muscle. Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, providing us with energy.
It’s a common misconception that eating carbs will make you fat. But it comes down to the type you’re eating and how much you’re having. Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body and can come from natural sources such as dairy or fruit. When simple carbs are processed, such as with sugar, candy or soda, they can be unhealthy when eaten too often. Complex carbs, such as whole grains or beans, are very healthy for us, improving our digestion and giving us long lasting energy (2). Learn more here: The Truth About Carbs.
Protein is needed to help our body grow, build and repair muscle and tissue as well as make new cells. It’s also important for keeping our immune system strong and protecting us from disease. When it comes to focusing on healthier types, make sure to include lots of plant-based protein sources and focus on less processed versions of meat, such as organic chicken versus deli meats. Similar to carbohydrates, protein contains four calories per gram.
Protein tends to get all the attention when it comes to working out and building muscle, but just like anything, too much is not always better. Our muscles can absorb about 25 to 35 grams of high-quality protein during a meal, but the rest gets stored as excess energy or fat (3).
Dietary fat helps our body store energy, absorb fat soluble vitamins, make hormones and maintain our cell structure. The healthy types of fat, such as from fish and plant-based foods like avocado and nuts, are essential for our body and brain function (4). Fats contain nine calories per gram.
Fat tends to get a bad reputation because it's the highest when it comes to calories per gram. The processed types, such as in fast food, and saturated can be unhealthy for our hearts. Learn more about which type to focus on here: Dietary Fats: Which Ones To Choose.
A general recommendation from the USDA is to aim for: 45-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat (5). However, there are many other ratios, depending on goals. For weight loss, aiming for 45% protein, 35% fat, and 25% carbs may work for you. While a macro ratio of 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat may be better for bodybuilding. To dive deeper into the world of macros, check out our article here: The Magic Of Counting Macros.
It’s important to include each macronutrient in your daily eating, but finding the exact balance that’s right for you and your goals can be a bit tricky. We need each of these to be healthy but specific combinations can help us achieve certain goals or recover from disease states or medical conditions. Ultimately it’s all about finding the amounts that work best for you and your lifestyle. In order to find the amount that works best for you, try downloading an app such as Lifesum.
All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.