Let’s get back to the basics of nutrition: macronutrients. Macronutrients, aka “macros,” are a fundamental part of how we understand what we eat. Unfortunately, the dieting and fitness community often misunderstands them. People love to talk about counting macros or products with the “perfect blend of macronutrients,” but what does all this mean? There are three types of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. We call them “macro” because they are nutrients with caloric values attached to them. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are vitamins and minerals. These do not have any calories. Read on for the scoop about each macronutrient: 


What is it? Protein is a chain of amino acids, with different sequences creating different types of proteins.  
What does it do? It makes new cells, repairs cells, facilitates reactions in our body, and builds muscle.
What are the types? 

  • Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body. Only animal sources and quinoa (technically a seed) fall in this category.
  • Incomplete proteins must be paired with other incomplete proteins to supply the body with all necessary essential amino acids. These are found in plant sources.

How many calories in a gram? 4 
Cool, but how much should I eat? The general recommendation for healthy adults is 0.8-1.0 grams/kilogram of body weight per day.* For example, a 150 pound adult would need 55-68 grams per day.

*This can also change with activity level. 


What is it? Carbohydrate is a neutral compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is commonly identified as sugar, starch, or cellulose.
What does it do? It provides energy for the body, much in the same way that gas fuels a car.
What are the types? 

  • Simple carbohydrates include refined grains and sugars. These carbohydrates are easy to break down, resulting in quicker blood sugar spikes and crashes. (Think: that feeling one hour after you finished all your Halloween candy)
  • Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes. They are more difficult to break down, resulting in more sustained energy. 

How many calories in a gram? 4
Cool, but how much should I eat? The general recommendation is to get 45-65% of your calories from carbs. Someone eating 2,000 calories per day would need about 225-325 grams of carbs per day. However, if you’re not a fan of math, a good way to estimate is to fill 1/4 of your plate with whole grains/starches. Check out our many tests that can drill down on your nutrition!