A Quick Guide to Understanding Macronutrients

The term macro has been used by the majority of people at some point. It is frequently mentioned, much more so when the subject is healthy eating or weight loss. You may have heard it referenced in relation to macro calculation or tracking, but what are macros?

A macronutrient is a nutrient that has a large number of calories. Your body requires higher amounts of these nutrients to function effectively, as macro refers to enormous. Additionally, each of these nutrients provides energy in the form of calories or kcals to your body. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the three macronutrients or macros for short. They are the three primary nutrient sources in your diet. 

  • Carbohydrates have a calorific value of 4 kilocalories per gram.
  • Each gram of protein contains 4 kcal.
  • 9 kcal per gram are contained in fats (this is roughly double the amount found in the other two macros)

Along with providing energy, each of these macronutrients plays a critical role in your body's correct functioning.


All carbs are eventually converted to glucose, the body's primary source of energy. Indeed, several organs, such as the brain, require glucose to function correctly. Gluconeogenesis is a process by which your body can synthesize glucose from proteins when it is required. Apart from providing energy, carbohydrates aid in the synthesis of particular amino acids (protein building blocks) and promote regular bowel movements. Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that your gastrointestinal tract cannot break down. As a result, while this nutrient does not provide energy, it does aid in the elimination of waste and maintains the health of your intestinal tract. 

Thermogenic Rule: For every 100 calories of carbohydrates consumed, your body will expend between 5 and 15 calories digesting them.

Where to find it: Starchy veggies, whole grains, and potatoes. Carbohydrates are also found in trace amounts in nuts, seeds, and dairy products.

How much to eat: Carbohydrates should account for 45–65 percent of your daily calories.


Protein enables your body to grow, construct, and repair tissues, as well as maintain lean body mass (your muscle mass). Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are classified into two types: non-essential and essential. Non-essential amino acids do not need to be consumed in the diet because your body can synthesize them. Essential amino acids must be obtained through nutrition. Essential amino acids can be used alone or converted into a non-essential amino acid in specific instances. 

Thermogenic Rule: For every 100 calories of protein consumed, your body will expend between 25 and 35 calories digesting it.

Where to find it: While animal protein sources (meat and fish) are the most obvious, dairy products are also an option. Nuts, lentils, beans, and grains such as quinoa are all vegetarian sources of protein. Notably, there are nine necessary amino acids that make up a complete protein, and very few plant-based sources contain all nine.

How much protein to consume: Between 10% and 35% of your daily calories should come from protein.


Another macronutrient that many people overlook, healthy fats are not responsible for weight gain. Indeed, fat is critical for our bodies because it is the most concentrated source of energy. Additionally, it aids in the maintenance of cell membranes and improves our bodies' ability to absorb certain micronutrients. Saturated and unsaturated fats are both types of fat. Unsaturated fats are the ideal type to focus on.

Thermogenic Rule: For every 100 calories of fat consumed, your body will expend 0-5 calories in the process of digestion.

Where to find it: Fat is found in a variety of foods, including oil, fish, meat, dairy products, and nuts.

How much to eat: Fat should account for between 20% and 35% of your daily calories. Understanding how your food is broken down into macronutrients will assist you in strategizing your weight reduction and maintenance diets. While you're at it, using a tool like MyFitnessPal to track your food intake and display the macronutrient breakdown of everything you record may be beneficial.


Even though the individual components of this list are generally considered to be healthy, different combinations can aid you in achieving specific goals or managing specific illness states. Considering that each individual may thrive at a different proportion, what works for one individual may not work for another.

At the end of the day no matter what percentages you choose making sure your kcals are appropriate is always where you need to start. Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain, or even gain there is a kcal range that will help you succeed.

Questions and Answers

  • How do I understand my macros?

Understanding your macros involves knowing the right balance of macronutrients that your body needs to function optimally. You can calculate your macros based on your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. Tracking your food intake using a food diary or a nutrition tracking app can also help you understand your macros.
  • What are the 7 types of macronutrients?

There are only three macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These three macronutrients provide energy in the form of calories and are essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing.
  • What should your macros be to lose weight?

The ideal macronutrient ratio for weight loss can vary depending on several factors, including age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. However, a general guideline for a weight loss diet is to consume 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat.
  • How do I know how many macronutrients to eat?

The number of macronutrients you should eat depends on your individual goals and needs. Calculating your daily calorie needs using an online calculator or consulting with a registered dietitian can help you determine the appropriate macronutrient ratio for your goals. Tracking your food intake using a nutrition tracking app can also help you stay on track with your macronutrient goals.


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