What Is a Macro and Should I Be Counting Them?

July 16, 2019

What are macros?

Macronutrients, or macros, are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—the building blocks for your diet. People who are trying to eat a healthier diet can calculate their ideal macro combination based on their goals and activity level. “You might need to adjust your levels based on how your body reacts. Some apps will provide a set amount but that might not work for everyone,” says Heather Brown, registered dietitian with Kettering Health Network. “Don’t be afraid to adjust the levels in the app until you find the right macro percentages for you and your lifestyle.”

Why should I count them?

Monitoring your intake of macronutrients like carbs, proteins, and fats helps you to eat healthier. Ensuring you eat enough protein will allow you to protect your muscle mass or help build lean muscle. If your macros come from healthy sources, it can also help improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and control diabetes. “If you focus on healthy sources for your macros, like leaner meats for your protein and whole grains instead of refined carbs, your calorie count will naturally be lower. Many people can lose weight by counting macros and utilizing healthy sources to meet their macro goals,” says Heather.

What should I eat while counting macros?

“Lean protein, healthy grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats are very important when monitoring your macro intake. You want to ensure your sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are still coming from healthy choices,” says Heather. For protein, stick to lean meats like chicken, lean beef, fish, and turkey. Carbohydrates should come from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and your fats should come from healthy fats like avocado, naturally fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. “If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should research different plant-based protein sources to ensure you’re not missing your daily protein goal,” says Heather.

Make sure you incorporate variety in your diet. “Some people can get stuck in a rut and eat only chicken and vegetables for every meal, but you want to make sure you’re including a variety of foods,” says Heather. “Try experimenting with different vegetables, fruits, and meats. Variety will prevent boredom and ensure you’re getting a balance of nutrients.”

To find recipes created by Kettering Health Network registered dietitians, visit ketteringhealth.org/diabetes