What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are chemicals that provide the body with energy for living. All foods fall into 3 macronutrients:
We need all three macronutrients in large amounts to sustain life.
Digestion breaks each macronutrient down into their basic building blocks. Once broken down, they can be absorbed and used for repairing, building, and maintaining your body.
What’s the Right Amount for Me?
Everyone has different macronutrient needs, but the general range for macros are:
- FATS – 25-60% OF CALORIES
- PROTEIN – 22-40% OF CALORIES
- CARBOHYDRATES – 19-35% OF CALORIES
This may see like a large range, but your macro ratios will vary based on activity level, goals, digestive health, age, etc. But as a general rule of thumb, whatever combination you eat should be able to keep you satisfied for at least 4-5 hours.
Macronutrients also contain micronutrients and trace minerals. We want to measure what we eat with macros and the nutrients they contain instead of just counting calories, which is just a unit of measurement and a marketing tool.
Here’s a short video of Dr. Jason Fung, nephrologist and author of The Obesity Code, explaining a summarized version of the calorie deception.
And for those who want a more in-depth explanation, here’s another Dr. Fung video explaining why counting calories is ineffective.
But what if I’m still hungry?
Hunger (including the want for dessert, “top off”, or craving) less than 4 hours can indicate a blood sugar regulation or other hormonal imbalance.
If you’re having trouble reaching the 4-5 hour mark, try:
- Increasing your healthy fats: think chicken thighs vs. breast, nut butters, oils like coconut oil/avocado oil/extra virgin olive oil (be mindful not to heat olive oil as it has a low smoke point of 250* F), eggs with their yolks, avocado, and full-fat grass-fed dairy (if tolerated).
- Replacing refined carbohydrates with more complex carbohydrates.
- Adding more bulky vegetables like broccoli, okra, carrots, beets, etc.
- You can also increase your protein, but too much protein will break down into sugar causing a sugar overload situation.
If you’ve tried those things and are still have trouble reaching the 4-5 hour mark, this can also indicate a nutrient absorption issue, meaning you’re eating the food, but your body can’t get to it and use it. It may be helpful to work with a nutrition specialist, like a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, who can assess what’s going on and identify where improvements can be made.
Adjusting your macros is a normal process that will change throughout your life to fit your body’s needs.
When deciding what food to prepare and how to prepare it, consider balance, quality, sourcing, preparation techniques, and diversity of colors, flavors, and textures—all of which add to the nutrient density of a food.
In each meal, include at least one food from each macronutrient category to promote digestion.
There are some easy-to-use tools that can help you figure out a good starting point and keep tract of the your macros. While they can’t replace expert advice, they’re great at helping you learn the macro ratios in the food you eat and your meals.
The Most Important Thing
As mentioned before, a good indicator that you’re getting the right macros for your body is feeling satisfied for at least 4 hours in between meals.
But the most important thing you can do is add more whole foods and consume less processed foods in your overall diet. Whole foods provide your body with more bioavailable nutrients, more good fiber for your gut microbiome, and create less burden for your liver to process.
Need help meal prepping? Check out the best method I’ve found here.
Want to make better food choices?
Hi, I’m Melissa!
I’m a holistic nutritionist dedicated to helping people make better food choices easy so they can find + meet the right health goals for their bodies and feel like themselves again.