Grilled chicken breasts sit on a cutting board next to vegetables

Keeping Count: How the Macro Diet Works


Every food you eat contains its own blend of micronutrients and macronutrients. The former are nutrients you only need a small amount of, including vitamins and minerals, while the body requires large amounts of the latter. The macro diet focuses on consuming specific levels of the three types of macronutrients daily, and you can customize the levels of each to help you reach a variety of health goals.

The Elements of the Macro Diet

All foods contain at least one type of macronutrient, if not more. These macronutrients are necessary for a variety of bodily functions, so getting enough of each is essential for maintaining good health. The three macronutrients are:

  • Proteins. Useful for creating enzymes and building muscle and other tissues, there are four calories in every gram of protein you eat. Healthy examples include fish, chicken, eggs, and legumes.
  • Carbohydrates. A necessary ingredient for producing both immediate and stored energy, carbs have four calories in every gram. Healthy examples include fruits, whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
  • Fats. Fats help your body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. With nine calories per gram, fats have the highest calorie count of the three macronutrients. Healthy examples include olive oil, avocados, eggs, nuts, and fatty fish.

How the Macro Diet Works

A person on the macro diet has a daily calorie amount they divide into three categories: calories from proteins, calories from carbohydrates, and calories from fats. For example, a person might get 35% of their daily calories from proteins, 45% from carbs, and 20% from fats. Your health goals will determine how many calories you should eat from each category.

Determining the Right Macro Ratio

The first step in beginning the macro diet is determining the percentage of your daily calories each macronutrient will make up. Online calculators will quickly crunch the numbers for you from data about your height, weight, lifestyle, and goals. Before altering your diet, share your results with your doctor to see if the suggested plan is a healthy option for you, especially if you have a preexisting condition.

In many cases, discovering the right levels of macronutrients can take a while. You might find your current ratio set is difficult to stick to or you aren’t seeing the right results after several weeks. Sit down with your doctor to discuss why you aren’t pleased with your current diet and develop a new one together. Keep in mind that it’s possible to eat unhealthy foods that stay within your macro percentages, so choose nutrient-dense, natural options instead of simple carbs, unhealthy fats, and processed items.

Whether your goal is to eat a more balanced diet, lose weight, or build muscle, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician to find the healthiest way to do so. Our team can suggest positive changes that fit into your lifestyle and help you implement them to achieve better health.

Sources:
Healthline | How to Count Macros: A Step-By-Step Guide
Healthline | The Best Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss

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