This is Why You Need ALL Macronutrients

The real story behind carbs, fats, and protein

Jake Lyda
Aug 9, 2017 · 5 min read

Food comes in all shapes and sizes

Over the years, it has become basic knowledge that our food is either made up by proteins, carbohydrates, or fats (or a combination of the three). With these macronutrients, we get the calories — or fuel — necessary to go about our day and have energy.

But what exactly do these three nutrients do? And why do we need all 3 if we want to lead healthy lives?

Here is a breakdown of our macros and what they do for our bodies, as well as how much of each we should be getting daily.


Protein

Proteins are amino acids joined by peptide bonds that are everywhere in your body. Skin, bone, muscle, hair…proteins make up your tissue. When you work your muscles and they tear, eating protein will build the muscle back stronger than before.

According to Harvard.edu and the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that “adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day (or 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight).”

That means, for a 180 pound individual — like me — you need a minimum of 72 grams of protein. A range of 50–100 grams of protein should suffice, even if you’re trying to build muscle (contrary to meatheads and gym bros).


Fats

These are lipids that are processed in your liver and balance your hormones. There are two important types of fats you should be getting every day: Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids (though you want to limit the latter).

Other fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, are not okay for your body due to how synthetic it is. Coming in at 9 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram for proteins and carbs), you do not need as many grams of fats as the other two. If you get 12% of your daily calories from fats (32 grams for a 2400 calorie diet), that’s plenty.


Carbohydrates

Your body turns carbs into glucose, and uses this sugar for energy. Simple carbs — fruits and veggies — give you a quick boost while complex carbs — starches and legumes — are wonderful sources of fiber.

Quality does matter when it comes to carbs. Don’t go for the potato chips or the sugary candy, which are terrible for you and not nutritious anyways. (Not to mention unbelievably addicting, as I have previously shown.)

Instead, think plant-based for getting the energy you need for the day. There is no set limit or minimum requirement for daily carbs (despite what diet fads claim).

Eat as much as you need; fill up your remaining calories after fats and proteins with delicious carbs!


So, if we were to create a plan, what would the split look like?

Using me as an example (180 pounds), if I were at maintenance, I would be eating around 2,700 calories.

  • 80g protein = 320 calories
  • 36g fat = 324 calories
  • 514g carbs = 2,056 calories

Crazy amount of carbs, right? What if I was trying to gain size? I would add 5–10% to my maintenance calories: Let’s go with an extra 270, making it 2,970.

  • 90g protein = 360 calories
  • 36g fat = 324 calories
  • 571g carbs = 2,284 calories

Jeez, even more carbs for more energy! What about if I want to lose weight? I would go with at most a 20% deficit: 2,160 calories it is!

  • 90g protein = 360 calories (extra protein helps you feel full in a deficit)
  • 36g fat = 324 calories
  • 369g carbs = 1,476 calories

Despite the cut, I would still eat over 350 grams of carbohydrates! If you like a little more protein or fat in your diet, you can fine-tune this strategy so that it caters to what your body craves. For me, I love me some protein, so I probably get closer to 100 grams of protein every day, while sacrificing some of my carbs.


ALL DIETS ARE BULLSHIT!

Low carb/high fat, low fat, keto…all of these “fad diets” believe in not just restricting calories, but reducing a specific macronutrient, usually to dangerous levels. While I am still a proponent of eating less calories than your body exerts for losing weight, I do NOT condone the school of thought that a certain macro is the reason for you being fat.

Carbs aren’t the reason you’re overweight; you overeating is the reason you’re overweight.

You need a healthy balance of all three. Proteins build muscle. Carbs give you the energy to work and lift. Fats keep your hormones balanced and your body regulated. Simple as that.

The biggest challenge is getting HIGH QUALITY, NUTRITIOUS FOODS in our daily diet. Being in America makes it tough, because everything is incredibly processed; saturated fats, refined sugars, high salt content, and pesticides all contribute to a piss-poor, nutrition-less diet that eventually results in diabetes, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and a f*ck-ton of deaths.

Be good to your body. Give it the fuel it deserves!

Sincerely,

Jake “The Vaga-Bod”


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Jake Lyda

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Jake Lyda

Adventures of a freelance writer and aspiring author

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org