Macronutrients: The Importance of Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates- And The Best Places To Find Them

By: Alexis and Mike

Before we delve into what macronutrients are and how we can optimize them, we first need to take a step back and think about what is actually happening when we as humans are eating. The best way to think about us eating is just like fueling a machine, similar to putting gas in a car so that it can move.  However the human body is infinitely more complicated than a simple car and there are also endless ways that we can “fuel” it. It is for this reason that we need to understand macronutrients so that we can best decide how to feed/fuel ourselves.

There are three main categories of macronutrients in the food that we eat:

Protein (4 calories/gram)

  • Protein allows our cells to repair and reproduce; It is essential for tissue repair and our immune system.

Carbohydrates (4 calories/gram)

  • Carbohydrates are the main fuel source that gives your body the energy to run. Choose carbs that are full of fiber.

Fat (9 calories/gram)

  • Fat is another energy source, and fuels your brain.

We all need three of these macronutrients, but the question is how much. The amount of each of the three macronutrients that you eat is typically called your split. Depending on your lifestyle and your body, the split can vary. Some people are much more active than others and need more carbohydrates in their daily diet. Also, different peoples bodies process the macronutrients differently and may need more or less of one of the three.

Remember: Listen to your body! Make small gradual changes so you can assess what your body needs easily.

Resource: You can calculate your macronutrients split on many online websites. Simply Google Macro Calculator.

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What are the best protein, fat, and carb sources? And what should I avoid?

Protein Sources:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Raw nuts
  • Protein powders
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables

Vegetables that have high quantities of protein:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Green pepper

Good Fats:  Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Healthy Fat Sources:

  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado
  • Coconut products
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty fish
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Flax Seeds

Carb Sources: 

  • Yams
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Quinoa

Foods to avoid:

  • Refined grains like white rice, white bread, and enriched pasta
  • Processed foods (like cookies, cakes, and chips)
  • White potatoes
  • Stick margarine
  • High-fat cuts of meat
  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk, cream)
  • Cheese
  • Packaged snack foods
  • Fried foods
  • Sweetened soft drinks
  • Added refined sugar
  • Artificial Sweeteners: (saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose)
  • Synthetic Dyes (Tartrazine, FD&C Red No. 40, and Blue No. 1)
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Imitation food
  • Refined oils (canola, vegetable, soybean, shortening)
  • Ingredients you wouldn’t cook with at home, or cannot pronounce
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4 thoughts on “Macronutrients: The Importance of Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates- And The Best Places To Find Them

  1. Reblogged this on A Girl Named Evan and commented:
    Saw this post and had to share — lots of amazing resource and tips here that I have been looking for for so long! Definitely going to start paying more attention to my macros in order to optimize my nutrients.

  2. Why do you consider whole-fat dairy products on the “foods to avoid.” I grew up on “low fat” everything, but changed to whole dairy b/c I have learned the naturally occurring fats in dairy are on the “good fats” list.

    • Hey Er, mainly because of the casein and the way dairy is processed. Many of today’s dairy products are highly processed foods. Aside from that I, along with many, avoid dairy also because most dairy products contain hormones that can disrupt our hormones; and dairy (mostly milk) also spikes our insulin levels. I do buy grass-fed butter but that’s about it- the dairy most consume is not what it is said to be. If you are buying high-quality full-fat products from pastured animals and tolerate it well; go for it. But many people don’t/can’t. Dairy products provoke an inflammatory response in the gut, which can adversely affect how you digest and absorb not just dairy products but all your food as well. The opinions on this subject do vary, but based on everything I have learned, this is what I follow- there’s a ton more you can read about it if you’re curious!

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