Food as Fuel: Learning About Macros to Help You Build Better Meals

Apr 27, 2023

 by Liz Rodriguez

I absolutely promise this blog will NOT be about carb cycling, intermittent fasting, keto or the Paleo diet. What I WILL be talking about are the different macronutrients and how to build those into your meals to function better as a human.

The approach towards food tends to be about less. Less meals, less snacking, less fat.  I want you to throw that idea away and instead focus on WHAT and WHY you should be eating different types of foods. It helps to build the approach of food as fuel and not a deterrent.  We need to eat every day. And having solid nutrition leads to your body working more optimally. Not eating well is the opposite. Let’s dive into the main macronutrients that we all need….


So what does protein do for us?  Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of our body.  They build and repair muscles and bones to make hormones and enzymes. Pretty cool right?  Getting enough protein can ensure you have more energy throughout the day, you sleep better, and you maintain or gain muscle and bone. And a side note; muscle grows OUT of bone. So if you want strong bones, that means you need to have muscle and continue to work towards keeping that muscle to maintain strong bones.  Not getting enough protein over time can lead to weaker bones and lack of muscle which can lead to higher body fat and less energy.  From the outside looking in, your machine of a body will just not run as well.

A good rule of thumb is to ensure you have a serving of protein at each meal.  That could mean a protein shake or egg whites/tofu at breakfast, lean meat or lentils at lunch, and fish or beans at dinner.  


I love talking about fiber.  It’s seriously so important in our diet and unfortunately close to 97% of Americans don’t get the recommended 25-30 grams per day in their diets.  So what does fiber do?  First let’s break it into two categories; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers help to slow digestion, regulate blood sugar and build your gut health.  Think beans and lentils, sweet potatoes and seeds.  Insoluble fiber adds bulk to our diet and keeps us more regular. Think vegetables you need to cut with a knife, skinned and seeded fruits and whole grains.

Fiber and carbohydrates go hand in hand. I tend to lead with the fiber list because it helps people to prioritize what kinds of carbs to get into their diet.  Eating a few servings of fruits and vegetables and a serving of beans or legumes each day will likely get you to your fiber goal without you having to worry about counting carbs.  And many times I found with my nutrition clients, once they started eating more fiber in their diet it helped to curb their sugar and pasta cravings.


Fat in our diet ensures we are getting essential fatty acids in which our body cannot produce on its own.  Fat also ensures we can absorb Vitamins A, D, E and K which we need the help of fats to be absorbed properly.  Fat gives us energy, protects our organs, supports cell growth and even keeps our cholesterol and blood pressure under control.  Not getting enough can lead to decreased energy, a weaker immune system and vitamin deficiencies.  So what are some great fat sources to add to your diet?  Healthy oils, such as olive and sunflower, raw nuts, avocados, and fish.  A good source of fat goes a long way, so as you add a serving to each meal, use the rule of thumb. A thumb sized amount (or roughly a tablespoon) is perfect for oils, while a handful of raw nuts or a quarter avocado also works. 


Now that we have explored your main macronutrients, you can begin to build meals around some of the foods mentioned above.  An easy way to build a great meal is to include a source of protein, 2 sources of fiber and a source of fat at each meal.   This could be egg whites with spinach and a piece of whole wheat toast with some avocado.  Or a lunch bowl with a few vegetables, quinoa or farro with some canned tuna on top.  Or at dinner making a piece of grilled chicken or tofu with roasted vegetables with olive oil and a sweet potato.  Simply approach each meal as a plug in of each macronutrient category and voila!  You are on your way to giving your body more of what it needs.

I hope this helped to break down some essentials to get into your daily meals and open up the possibilities of what you SHOULD be eating versus what to cut out. If you are looking for more information on how to go about making changes in your nutrition, simply click HERE to set up a free call.