This macro calculator provides macronutrient intake recommendations based on The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To calculate, provide your age, sex, height, weight, activity level, and goal, then let the calculator estimate your daily number of Calories needed as well as recommend an appropriate macronutrient amount. Also, it allows you to use a daily food energy amount you obtained elsewhere (such as the amount recommended by a doctor). Just click the "Food energy" tab to use this option. This calculator is intended for adults between the ages of 18 and 80 years old.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients, often referred to simply as "macros," are the nutrients that the body needs most: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Consuming macronutrients from food provides the body with the components it needs to function.
Proteins affect many key functions of the body. They are used for creating new proteins, repairing tissue and muscle, providing structure, maintaining pH balance, and regulating enzyme and hormone production. The amount of protein needed by the body is highly dependent on your weight, how much exercise you get, and more. As a general recommendation, proteins should comprise 10-35% of your daily calorie intake. Additionally, a minimum of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight of protein is recommended on a daily basis. Below are some foods that contain healthy sources of protein:
- Whole grains
Consuming fat is necessary because there are essential fats present in foods that the body needs, but cannot make on its own. Fat is a component of cell walls, can serve as a source of energy, and also insulates and protects your organs. They also help to transport vitamins such as vitamins K, E, D, and A, and also promote the absorption of these vitamins. As a general recommendation, fats should comprise 20-35% of a person's daily calorie intake. Below are some foods that contain healthy sources of fat:
- Olives and olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy. They provide the body with instant energy when performing high intensity activities, allowing the body to retain muscle mass by not consuming proteins for energy. Carbohydrates (specifically fiber) also affect digestion by promoting healthy bowel movements, and contribute to feelings of fullness after eating. As a general recommendation, carbohydrates should comprise 45-65% of a person's daily calorie intake. Additionally, it is recommended that at least 130 grams of carbohydrates be consumed per day to provide the brain with sufficient glucose. Below are some foods that contain healthy sources of carbohydrates:
- Unprocessed whole grains
Importance of nutrient quality
In the previous section, healthier macronutrient options were listed. This is because it is possible to get the macronutrients we need from both healthy and unhealthy sources. Ideally, we would only consume macronutrients from healthier sources.
In the case of carbohydrates, unhealthy sources such as white bread, pastries, soda, and highly processed foods can cause spikes in blood sugar that can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, healthier sources of carbohydrates can help us feel full for longer while also promoting digestion.
There are also better and worse sources of protein. Processed meats contain large amounts of protein, but also typically contain saturated fats and high amounts of sodium, both of which are unhealthy. In contrast, protein from healthier sources such as plants can also provide fiber and other important micronutrients in addition to protein. Plant sources are not the only good sources of protein however, and it is possible to get good protein from leaner animal sources such as fish and poultry.
Like carbohydrates and proteins, there are good sources of fat and bad sources of fat, as well as different types of fat. The healthiest types of fat are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are contained in various foods such as oils, nuts, avocados, and more. Saturated fat is largely unhealthy, but can be consumed in small (7-10% of your diet) amounts. Saturated fats are associated with negatively impacting cholesterol and increasing inflammation. Unfortunately, many foods we enjoy contain large amounts of saturated fat, such as beef, pork, lamb, processed meats, butter, processed baked goods, and more. Thus, while we do not need to entirely remove these from our diet, it is important to regulate the amount that we consume. The last type of fat, trans fat, should be avoided whenever possible as it does not provide any benefit; it increases the amount of bad cholesterol in your body while lowering the amount of good cholesterol. Many processed foods contain trans fats, so it is important to examine nutrition labels to avoid eating foods with trans fats whenever possible.
Other nutrients needed by the human body
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are referred to as macronutrients because they comprise the majority of what the body needs to function. However, they are not the only nutrients necessary. The other type of nutrients that the body requires are micronutrients. Although the body requires micronutrients in significantly lesser amounts, they are still very important. Some examples of micronutrients include:
- Folic acid
- Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12
- Vitamins A, D, E, and K
Micronutrients are plentiful in foods such as fruits and vegetables, and most macronutrient foods also contain different micronutrients. Since it is significantly more difficult to track your micronutrient than macronutrient intake, it is better to consume a large variety of macronutrients rather than worry about trying to consume all the necessary micronutrients. As long as you consume a large variety of healthy macronutrients, they are likely to contain all the micronutrients that your body needs need.