Macro-nutrients are the main nutrients our bodies need to function. They are protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each one has their own job. Protein fuels muscles and helps them repair themselves (for example after strength training). Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. And fat helps us feel full, gives us energy and fights diseases.
You need each macronutrient so diets that cut out fats and carbs will only leave you unhealthier than before you started. One thing I’ve noticed when talking to people about low-carb diets is that they confuse carbs with grains. Carbs are in much more than grains. An apple has carbs, so do peas and quinoa. I think low-grain diets are fine, as long as you’re getting your carbs from other (healthier) sources.
What’s the right ratio? How much of each macro-nutrient do I need?
That really depends on what you want to achieve. You should use different ratios if you want to lose weight, build muscle or just maintain your health. You can find a lot of information online, but of course it’s best to check with your doctor or a health coach (like me! 🙂 ) before adapting your diet.
The general guidelines for macro-nutrient distribution are:
- Protein: 10-35% of calories
- Carbohydrate: 45-65% of calories
- Fat: 20-35% of calories
If you have set up a personal macro-nutrient ratio with your doctor or coach, but don’t feel like manually calculating your percentage of macro-nutrients, I recommend using MyFitnessPal. It’s both a website and a free app and it does all the hard work for you. You just need to make sure to log everything you eat and drink. You can even log exercise and connect it to many activity trackers.