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Mary Lahr Schier

Macros Made Easy

Macronutrients are the building blocks of a healthy diet. Here’s what you need to know.

The term “macronutrients” might sound a bit technical, but the meaning is quite simple — they’re the nutrients our bodies need every day.

Breaking it down a bit further, macros (as they’re often called) are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Unlike micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, we need large quantities of macros to keep our bodies humming along.

The USDA recommends people consume 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fats, and 10% to 35% from protein. Here’s a breakdown of what that can mean on your plate:


Portion size: Your cupped hand.

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Rice, whole grain
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Oats


Portion size: Your palm.

  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • White fish
  • Ahi tuna
  • Lean ground beef


Portion size: Your thumb.

  • Whole food oils (olive, coconut, etc.)
  • Avocado
  • Egg yolks
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters

Macro-friendly recipes

These Greek salad  recipe can help keep your macro ratios in balance — and maybe even keep you and your guests coming back for second helpings.

You also can use this free online calculator to understand your own macronutrient and calorie needs.

Mary Lahr Schier is an Eagan, Minnesota-based freelance writer.