What in the World are Macronutrients?

One of the first questions I hear from friends and clients looking to lose weight and eat healthy is, “What is a macronutrient? I hear about them all the time, but I don’t know what they are or how to incorporate them into my diet.”

The information below is straight out of my ebook (coming soon!), but I feel it’s important to share with you today so let’s break this word down:

Macro = Large     Nutrient = a substance that provides essential nourishment for the growth and health of life.

Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates are the 3 main macronutrients and each one provides its own energy.

  • Proteins = 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram.
  • Fats = 9 calories per gram.

Note: Alcohol also provides energy at 7 calories per gram, but it’s not needed for survival so it’s not considered a macronutrient.


Knowing the energy of each macronutrient can help you calculate the number of calories in any food. For example: If you were looking at the Nutrition Label for steak and saw that it had 20 grams of protein, 0 carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat you could calculate the total calories as such:

  • 20 grams protein x 4 = 80 calories
  • 4 grams fat x 9 = 36 calories
  • Total calories = 116 calories

OK - now that you’ve got the basics down - how much should you eat?

According to the USDA - a healthy balance of macronutrients should look like this:

  •  10-35% of daily calories = protein (Some examples: meats, fish, poultry, legumes, cheese)
  • 45-65% of daily calories = carbohydrates (Some examples: fruits, vegetables, whole grains)
  • 20-35% of daily calories = fat (Some examples: oils, avocado, nuts, poultry)

There are different suggested calorie intakes depending on age, height, activity level, gender and whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Once you determine your daily caloric needs - use the percentages above to determine how many calories of each macronutrient you should eat daily.

Note: Although macronutrients are very important - let’s not forget about micronutrients and water too! Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and water (1/2 your body weight in ounces daily) are also vital to our survival and health.





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