What Is the Right Balance of Macronutrients?
Any proper diet consists not just of eating the right foods, but eating the right amounts of them. It is just as important to balance what you eat as it is to eat foods that are healthy for you. You can eat all the nuts and fruits you want and still not get a healthy diet.
So we’re going to look at macronutrients here, which are an essential part of any diet. These are nutrients that give you energy and offer more calories than any other kinds of nutrients. You can probably already guess what that entails, but to lay it out for you, macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and protein.
Which Foods Classify As Macronutrients?
Before you can figure out the kind of effect macronutrients have on your body and how much of them is right for your diet, you first need to understand which foods fall into the macronutrient category.
Carbohydrates- Carbs can come from many different foods, and there are actually two different varieties of carbs. These are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbs would include food such as soda, parts of fruits, many desserts and other foods high in sugar. Simple carbohydrates offer up only one sugar molecule.
Complex carbohydrates are those foods that have more than two sugar molecules. So potatoes (which are mostly sugar), certain types of rice and other foods we generally think of as healthy would fall into this category.
Now many diet plans will advise that you steer clear of certain types of carbs, but that’s only if you are looking to drastically lose some weight. Everyone actually needs both kinds of carbs in their diet to have the energy they need and to live healthy lives.
Protein- You get protein from beans, meats, fish and soy. These are the staples of a balanced diet, and most people end up getting enough of them to be just fine. But if you are trying out different diets, you may be forfeiting this most essential of nutrient categories.
Fat- Now if you are on any kind of diet, you probably look at fat as something to be avoided. But in reality, you need at least a little fat to survive. Some of the fat you eat is turned directly into usable energy. And some fats are worse for you than others. You can find healthy fats in butter and other dairy products as well in oils and certain fruits, like avocados.
How Much Should You Have?
Now that we’ve looked at where you can get macronutrients from, we will consider how much is enough. But you need to keep in mind that not everyone needs the same amount of protein, carbs or fat. Your lifestyle, body type, gender, age, metabolism and size all factor in to what amounts of macronutrients are the most beneficial for you. We can’t simply say that so many grams of macronutrients are required for every person to live healthy.
Instead, we have to offer percentages. These are based on research from the USDA and the studies they have performed. Let’s start with carbohydrates.
The USDA recommends that you make carbohydrates around 50 % of your daily caloric intake. The numbers vary from 45-65 percent, but if you make them about half of your daily calories, then you will be right about where you need to be. Now each kind of nutrient has a different calorie count per gram, so you will need to look at the numbers to know what you are getting each day.
For protein, USDA says you need anywhere from 10-35 percent of your daily caloric intake to come from this macronutrient. You will need more if you have an active lifestyle and less if you tend to be more sedentary. Of course, if you want to become more active, just increase your protein intake.
For fats, you only 20-35 percent of your calories to come from there. Once again, the more energy you need to get through your daily routine, the more fat you will need.
So if you feel like you are too fat or too skinny, look at your macronutrient intake and see if it is at the right levels. And don’t forget to consult with a licensed dietician before embarking on a diet plan.