Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Balancing Macronutrients For A Healthy Lifestyle

When discussing your dietary needs, there are Micronutrients which are things like vitamins and minerals, sodium, etc.  Then there are Macronutrients.  This group consists of carbohydrates, fats and protein.  In order for your body to function properly it is important to balance your Macronutrients.

First, you need to know that carbohydrates and proteins each carry 4 calories per gram, and fats are 9 calories per gram.  This is important to know when figuring your percentages of daily calories.

In a previous post I wrote a lot about the importance of carbohydrates in your diet.  I said that you should get 45-65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates for things like fueling your energy and good brain function.  If you'd like to read that post, click here.  I won't rehash that post, and I'll just leave it at that...45-65% of your daily calories should come from carboyhdrates.

Additionally, you need protein.  Protein is important because it does things like tissue repair, preserves lean muscle mass, source of energy when carbs are not available, immune function and more.  According to an article by McKinley Health Center (University of Illinois), your daily diet should consist of 10%-35% of your daily calories in proteins.  If you do the math, someone with a 1800 calorie per day diet should be eating between 45g and 157.5g of proteins per day.  That is a very big range.  If you look at a chart produced by the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, an "Adequate Intake" for most women is 46g per day, and the AI for most men is 56g per day.  However, if you are doing exercise, your requirements for protein would be higher.  I am a 41 year old female, and I do light to moderate exercising a few days a week (when I'm being good ;) and my nutritionist advises me to eat at least 60g of protein per day.  If you work out at a gym, you may get a gung ho trainer who insists you have to have the full 35% of daily calories in protein to repair and build your muscle as you are working out.  I am not going to say that's wrong.  I am just going to say that sometimes they are a little over zealous in the recommendation to eat protein and eliminate carbs.  But I know some of you are on very high protein and very low carb diets.  If that's what is working for you, your doctor or nutritionist recommends it and you can maintain it for the long term, then keep at it.  (If the math confuses you, here is the formula... Total daily calories (times) x% and then that number divided by 4.)

Then there are fats.  There are good fats and bad fats, but let's talk first about fats in general.  Fats come from things like butter, oils, seeds and nuts, poultry, meat, fish, and dairy.  The recommended daily allowance of fats for most adults (men and women) is 20%-35% of your daily calories.  (That would be Total daily calories (times) x% and then that number divided by 9.)  According to the American Heart Association you should have no more than 7% of your daily calories be from saturated fats!  Trans fats should be less than 1% of your daily calories.  And most of your daily fats should be poly- and monounsaturated and should come from things like vegetable oils, fish, nuts, seeds and plants like avocados.

All of this sounds like it would be very difficult to keep track of.  But if you read my post called "The Most Valuable Weight Management Tool Available" then you will know that I am a BIG advocate of  This website is free and will easily tell you in a simple little pie chart under your daily food log what your percentages of macronutients are.  Then there is a little table that breaks the numbers down for you and even separates out the types of fats and their percentages.  It couldn't be easier, and, in my humble opinion, leaves no excuse to not keep track of these types of things for a balanced daily diet for a healthy lifestyle.  Here is a pic of one of my daily charts/graphs so you can see what it looks like (and you can click for a larger view).
(My carbs were a little higher than my target 180g this day. ssshhhhh...don't tell my nutritionist! :)

The last thing is:  How much fiber should I be getting a day?  Well, in an article by The Mayo Clinic, they break it down very simply.  Men up to age 50 should get 38g per day.  Over age 50 they should get 30g a day in fiber.  Women up to the age of 50 should be getting 25g per day, and those over 50 should get at least 21g a day in fiber.  Why is fiber important?  The obvious one is that it helps maintain good function of the bowels.  It also does things like lower cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and it could help with weight loss.  You can get your soluble fiber (dissolves in water) in things like oats, apples, peas, beans, barley and more.  Insoluble fiber can be found in things like whole wheat flour, nuts, and vegetables.

The point is, your diet is not just how much protein you eat, or how many carbs you eat, or how many calories you eat, or how many points you have.  A balance of macronutrients is essential for proper body function, and should be considered and calculated when trying to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

I hope this information has been helpful for you.  Please remember...I am not a professional.  I simply do a lot of research, and you can also find a ton of information on this topic simply by Googling "macronutrients".  I recommend looking at the source of information, though, to make sure you are getting it from a reputable place for the most accurate information.  Hopefully the links I have provided here will give you a good start if you'd like to do more of your own research.

I hope I didn't completely bore you with this.  It is important information, though.  If you'd like to leave a comment, please do!  Or, you can always contact me directly at

Happy days!


  1. My dear are giving me so much information!! I did get some Skinny Cow Dulce de Leche low fat ice cream and it was great! Hubby even said it was good.. I liked the small container with just the right amt in them! I have the strawberry cheese cake in the freezer for our treat next week! Again, thanks for all the info!

  2. robbie, i do hope you are finding the information i am putting together helpful. i may not be a professional, but i've done a lot to educate myself through reading and also my dr and nutritionist, so i'm hoping that the basic things i am putting out there will help at least a few start on a healthy track for themselves with some knowledge of what they are doing. isn't the skinny cow single servings great??? i've never tried the dulce de leche. what type of flavor is that? i really love the strawberry cheesecake. it is VERY rich and creamy. yumyumyum! :) thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave me a comment.


I have deleted the email address I print at the bottom of every post because I was getting too much inappropriate spam. If you'd like to contact me, email me at:

j u s t h a p p y b e i n g m e (at) l i v e . c o m

Thank you!