Macronutrients are essential for a healthy, optimally functioning organism. Find out here what is behind the term and which macronutrient distribution is optimal for you.
How are macronutrients defined?
In nutritional science, macronutrients (or macros) are defined as essential nutrients that are used by the body to generate energy. They are considered the basic building blocks of nutrition and should always be incorporated into the diet, whether you want to gain healthy weight, maintain your weight, or lose weight. These nutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Whether digestion, cell division, or respiration: each of the three nutrients fulfills different functions. Together they form the foundation of all metabolic processes in the body.
Important: Proteins and fats are considered separately because they are considered essential macros. This means that your body cannot produce these nutrients itself and must get them in the form of food.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be produced by the body itself when needed by converting fats or proteins.
The normal macronutrient distribution
The recommended proportion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in your daily diet is known as the macronutrient distribution – and this can vary. It depends on whether you want to maintain your weight, lose weight, or build muscle.
In general, the normal guideline for a balanced diet designed to maintain your weight is a distribution of 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 15 to 25 percent protein, and 20 to 30 percent fat.
What constitutes a balanced diet?
A balanced diet or whole food diet should be as varied as possible. You don’t have to do without anything, but while you can eat your fill with some foods, you should only enjoy others in small amounts. For example, it is advisable to include as many fiber-rich grain products as possible, various types of vegetables and fruit, and regular low-fat milk or dairy products on the menu. You should eat fish once or twice a week. Eat meat, sausages, and eggs only in moderation. Frugality is also important with fat, sugar, and salt. In addition, an adequate supply of fluids – ideally with water and unsweetened tea – is essential for a balanced diet. You should drink at least one and a half liters of liquid throughout the day.
For bread, cereal flakes, rice, or pasta, opt for the appropriate whole grain products as often as possible. These contain more fiber, which ensures a longer-lasting feeling of satiety and a slower rise in blood sugar levels. Potatoes are also a tasty, filling, and nutrient-rich source of energy. Side dishes and sauces should contain as little cream, oil, and cheese as possible – for example, a tomato sauce with vegetables is better for pasta than a cheese and cream sauce. Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor without using too much salt.
For meat and meat products, 300 to 600 g per week is a guideline. If possible, choose high-quality meat with as little fat as possible. White meat from poultry is considered healthier than red meat from beef, pork, or lamb.
Eliminating fat, sugar, and salt completely from your diet does not make sense. You cannot do without fat because it is essential for life. You also cannot survive without salt, but this is already hidden in many foods and does not have to be taken in additionally.
After all, you need essential fatty acids for a balanced diet; some vitamins can only be absorbed by the body with the help of fat. Give preference to vegetable oils from oilseeds, such as sunflower seeds, over animal fats. Although sugar is an essential supplier of energy, there is nothing wrong with the occasional consumption of sweet foods. When it comes to salt, less is more – opt for products fortified with iodine and fluoride to ensure supplies of these essential nutrients.
Try to prepare your dishes as gently as possible by cooking them at rather low temperatures or only for a short time. Take time for your meals, especially at work. Take a break, sit quietly, and savor every bite.
It is best to supplement a balanced diet with sufficient exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight and feel completely at ease. If you don’t have time for sport, build exercise into your everyday life: Walk more often, take the stairs instead of the elevator and go for a walk more often. Sufficient time for relaxation is also a good addition to a balanced diet.
Macronutrient Allocations for Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. The easiest way to achieve this is to reduce the proportion of fats. The reason: fats have the highest energy density of all macros with 9 kcal per 1 g (compared to proteins and carbohydrates with 4 kcal per 1 g). If you reduce your fat intake, a calorie deficit is easily achievable.
With the low-carb diet, you reduce your carbohydrate intake significantly or completely in order to save calories. This makes sense because you can completely do without carbohydrate intake from food compared to fats or proteins.
You need these macronutrients to build muscle
In the course of a fitness diet, the protein content of your macronutrient distribution is increased. When eating before and after exercise, protein-rich foods are therefore increasingly on the menu. The reason: This macro is considered the main building block of muscle building. For more protein, reduce the carbohydrate content of your meals.