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Macronutrients – Understanding the Role of Foods in the Body


What is a macronutrient? Dictionary.com gives us a nice, simple answer:

Nutrition. any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat…


Macronutrient pie chart illustrating the ratio of fat, carbohydrate and fat to consume for weight lossThere ya have it. There are three main macronutrients, namely protein, carbohydrate and fat. Anything you eat as a food that gives you nourishment will be composed of one or more of these three macronutrients. Hamburger meat for instance is composed of the macronutrients of protein and fat. Whereas gummi bears are composed of only one macronutrient, that being carbohydrate, as sugars are simple carbohydrates. Nuts are an example of a food that contains all three macronutrients. These three macronutrients have specific functions and are utilized by your body in different ways.


Protein = Muscle building blocks. Muscle tissue is composed of protein.

Protein is important in order for us to build and maintain muscle. There are certain intake amounts that are necessary for you to maintain your muscle tissue or to build more.

  • What is the ideal weight you are shooting for or trying to maintain?
    • Daily intake – Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight
      • e.g. You want to be 190 lbs or want to maintain 190 lbs – try to eat 190 grams of protein per day. Break that up  evenly across 4 to 6 meals throughout the day.
    • Bulking up faster – Eat closer to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of desired body weight
      • e.g. You want to reach 190 lbs  – try to eat 285 grams of protein per day. Once again, break that up  evenly across 4 to 6 meals throughout the day. Carbohydrates and fat are just as important for bulking up. Ratio of these is touched upon later.


CARBOHYDRATES = Fuel for your muscle building factories. Every factory needs fuel!

  • Replenishes cells and provides energy for body to repair and grow
  • After Workout – Most important time to eat a lot of carbohydrates
    • Carbs stimulate insulin release. Insulin is a growth factor and lets your cells gobble up energy to grow.
  • Too much carbohydrates gets stored in the liver as glycogen. Glycogen is stored energy for later. If you have already maxed out your glycogen stores then your body actually takes those extra carbohydrates and stores them as fat.


FAT = Energy dense molecule –  fat contains more energy per gram than carbs or proteins

  • Fat is good – Just try to eat good fats
    • Avocados, Nuts, Coconut oil, Virgin Olive Oil, etc
      • Avocados actually help your body utilize the food you eat ( the ones you eat along with the avocado ) more efficiently (stores less as fat).
  • Fats aid the body in creating muscle.
  • Cholesterol – Often accompanies fatty meals – Good
    • Cholesterol is the raw ingredient for all your hormones including testosterone!
    • People on statins ( e.g. Lipitor / Cholesterol lowering medication) often complain of no energy, decreased libido and sometimes impotence. No cholesterol, no testosterone!
    • Eat WHOLE eggs (not just whites) – The cholesterol in them is good for you

Ratio of Macronutrients for Weight and Fitness Goals

Depending on your fitness and physique goals you may eat a different ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrate. What exactly does this mean? This is in terms of calories. It means that if the ratio of the protein to fat to carbohydrate was supposed to be 35 % protein, 15 % fat and 50 % carbohydrate then you would get 35 % of your calories from protein sources, 15 % from fat and 50 % from carbohydrate.

Check out a great article explaining this concept and topic further, Ask the Ripped Dude: Is There a Magical Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss? from Bodybuilding.com.

About Doctor Scott Health

Dr. Scott McLeod, PharmD is an independent researcher, health advocate and author living in Santa Barbara, CA. For more information about Scott and Doctor Scott Health please visit the 'About' section, here.

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