How Macros Work

How Macros Work

If you've ever delved into nutrition or food planning, you've probably come across the term "macronutrients" or "macros." This essential nutrient plays an important role in our overall health and wellness. But what are they, and how do they work? In this blog, we explore the ins and outs of macronutrients, how to determine your personal macro needs, the best macro ratio for weight loss, and tips for using them properly.


compilation of carbs, proteins and fats

How Do Macronutrients Work?

Macronutrients, often referred to simply as "macros," are the nutrients our bodies need in large amounts to function properly. They include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each type of macronutrient plays a unique role in our health:


1. Carbohydrates: These are the body’s primary source of energy. It is broken down into glucose, which fuels our brains and muscles. Carbs are found in grains, fruits, vegetables, fruits and other foods. There are two types of carbs: simple (sugar) and complex (starch and fiber). Complex carbs are generally healthier because they provide sustainable energy and contain fiber.


2. Proteins: Essential for building and repairing tissues, proteins are made up of amino acids. It is essential for muscle growth, immune function, and enzyme and hormone production. Sources include meat, dairy, nuts and berries.


3. Fats: Although often misunderstood, fats are important for storing energy, protecting organs, and absorbing nutrients. They also play a role in hormone production. Healthy fats come from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.


Each macronutrient provides a specific amount of energy: carbohydrates and proteins each provide 4 calories per gram, while fats provide 9 calories per gram. Understanding how these nutrients work helps us make informed dietary choices that support our health and fitness goals.


Stephanie Ayala holding 2 different types of Rice Cakes

How Do I Figure Out My Macros?

 here are a few basic steps to figure out your macro needs:

  1. Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR): This is how many calories your body needs to maintain basic functions like breathing and eating at rest Many online calculators can be based on your age, gender , your weight and height to calculate your BMR.
  2. Determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE): TDEE is the number of calories you burn in a day including both activity and physical activity. To determine your TDEE, add an activity factor that reflects your lifestyle (sedentary, somewhat active, moderately active, very active) to your BMR.
  3. Set goals: Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, or maintain your current weight? Your goals will influence your daily caloric intake. Generally, weight loss requires a caloric deficit, while gaining muscle mass usually requires a calorie surplus.
  4. Divide your calories into macros: Standard macro ratios can vary, but a common starting point is a 40/30/30 ratio: 40% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. Adjust this percentage based on your personal needs and preferences.
  5. Adjust and monitor: Monitor your diet and adjust your macros as needed. Using fitness apps can help you track your daily macro intake and make the necessary adjustments to reach your goals.


Stephanie Ayala McHugh eating Sushi in a restaurant

What is the Best Macro Ratio for Weight Loss?

When it comes to weight loss, the ideal amount can vary based on individual factors such as metabolism, activity levels and personal preferences but the most common and effective formula for weight loss is 40/30/30 split:

40% Carbohydrates: While a low-carb diet is popular for weight loss, moderate carb intake ensures you have enough energy for exercise and daily activities time focusing on complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables and fruits.


30% Protein: Eating more protein can help preserve muscle mass during weight loss and help keep you full, making you feel fuller longer. Good sources include lean meat, fish, eggs, and plant-based proteins like beans and tofu.


30% Fat: Healthy fats are important for hormone production and overall health. Include things like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil in your diet.


It’s important to note that these dimensions can be adjusted based on your individual needs. For example, some people may respond better to a high protein diet or a low carb approach.


The key is to find a balance that works for you and results in consistent and healthy weight loss. In addition to quantity, the overall quality of the food you choose is important. Choose whole, raw foods, and pay close attention to portion sizes. Combining a balanced weight management and nutrition mindset with regular exercise will enhance your weight loss efforts.


photos of a meal plan, glass of water and healthy food

How Do You Use Macros Properly?


Using macros properly involves more than just hitting specific numbers each day. Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your macronutrient intake:

  1. Plan Your Meals: Plan your meals and snacks around your macro goals. This can help ensure you get the right balance of carbs, proteins, and fats throughout the day.

  2. Track Your Intake: Use a food diary or an app to track your daily macro intake. This helps you stay accountable and make adjustments as needed.

  3. Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Choose foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber in addition to meeting your macro needs. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats should make up the bulk of your diet.

  4. Stay Flexible: While it's important to aim for your macro targets, don't stress over hitting them perfectly every day. Focus on consistency over perfection.

  5. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how different foods and macro ratios make you feel. Everyone's body responds differently, so adjust your macros based on your energy levels, hunger, and overall well-being.

  6. Hydrate: Proper hydration is crucial for overall health and can also impact how your body processes macros. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

  7. Balance Macronutrient Timing: Distribute your macro intake evenly throughout the day to maintain steady energy levels. For example, include protein in every meal to support muscle repair and satiety.

  8. Seek Professional Advice: If you're unsure about how to set your macros or need personalized guidance, consider consulting a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

By following these tips and staying mindful of your macro intake, you can optimize your diet to support your health and fitness goals effectively.



Understanding and managing your macronutrients can seem complex, but it's a powerful tool for achieving your health and fitness goals. By learning how macronutrients work, determining your personal macro needs, finding the best macro ratio for weight loss, and using macros properly, you can create a balanced, nutritious diet that supports your overall well-being. Remember, the key to success with macros is consistency, flexibility, and a focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods. Start by making small, manageable changes, and you'll soon see the benefits of a well-balanced diet.

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