Essential Macronutrients and Foods for Optimal Health and Nutrition
Essential Macronutrients and Foods for Optimal Health and Nutrition

If you are a fitness or wellness enthusiast, you must have come across the term ‘macronutrients’ or ‘macros’ more often than not. So, what are macronutrients? These are the nutrients that are essential for healthy functioning of your body, and your body cannot function properly. They consist of three nutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, that act as a fuel for your body. The three macros provide energy to your body in the form of calories, and act as building blocks to facilitate immunity, cellular growth and overall repair.

Comparison Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients

As the names suggest, macronutrients are required in ‘macro’ amounts and micronutrients are required in ‘micro’ amounts for your body’s proper functioning. Even though there is a difference in the required amounts, both are equally important. Macros consist of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, whereas micros consist of essential vitamins and minerals. Both macronutrients and micronutrients are important for a healthy and balanced diet.

Different Types of Macronutrients

There are a number of reasons why you should balance out your daily diet with adequate amounts of macros. At the time of digestion, the three macros are broken down into smaller compounds that are essential for different bodily functions.

Now that you have learned macronutrients definition, understanding the importance of different macros is crucial for maintenance of a healthy and well balanced diet. Additionally, it is important to learn about various food sources as well as recommended amounts of intake to incorporate in your meals. Everything in this aspect that you should know about the three macronutrient is as follows:

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the nutrients that supply energy to your body’s tissues, enabling it to stay active throughout the day. They help with the preservation of muscle mass in your body and aid the functioning of your central nervous system that includes your brain.

Majority of carbohydrates, except dietary fibre, consumed through your diet are processed into sugar molecules called glucose. Some of the functions that carbs play in your body include:

  • Energy boost
  • Storage of energy
  • Maintenance of healthy digestive system
  • Gut satiety

Food Sources: Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, dairy products, sweet potatoes, and so on

Recommended Intake Amounts: Depending on your age, activity levels, gender, underlying diseases or health conditions, and other such factors, you should consume around 225-335 grams of carbohydrates as part of a 2000 calorie diet.

2. Proteins

From providing energy to maintaining muscle mass, protein helps regulate multiple functions in your body. Different amino acids constitute protein in our body, that is also known as the building block of cells.

The proteins consumed by you are processed into amino acids. Nine out of twenty amino acids required by your body are essential, and should be obtained through the food you consume. Some of the functions that these amino acids play in your include:

  • Build and repair of muscles and tissues
  • pH balance maintenance
  • Structuring of hair, skin, nails, organs, and cell membranes
  • Production of enzymes and hormones

Food Sources: Soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy products, whole grains, etc.

Recommended Intake Amounts: Ideally, the consumption of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is considered to be the recommended amount for daily intake.

3. Fats

Contrary to the popular and uninformed belief, fats are an important nutrient for your body that provides you with essential fatty acids. You should focus on getting more of the healthy unsaturated fatty acids as compared to the unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.

The fats present in the foods you consume are processed into glycerol and fatty acids. Functions performed by fats in your body include:

  • Insulation and protection of organs
  • Energy storage
  • Transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Maintenance of cell membrane health

Foods Sources: Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.), Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados, olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and so on. 

Recommended Intake Amounts: About 83-125 grams in a 1500 calorie diet should consist of healthy forms of fats.

Maintaining the Right Balance of Macronutrients

Including the three macronutrients examples discussed above in your diet alone is not sufficient. What you should actually focus on is the right amounts as well as the right ratio of the same. Keep these in mind while planning out your meals:

  • About 45-65% of your total caloric intake should be from carbohydrates
  • Focus on getting 10-35% of your daily caloric intake through protein
  • 20-35% of your total daily calories should come from healthy fats 


Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all crucial parts of a balanced diet. Consider your individual needs as well as goals when deciding upon the ratio and amounts of these nutrients. You can also consider connecting with your healthcare provider in order to get the right guidance for the same.

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