The Downlow of Macros

By: Jody Jensen Huerta, III-A Health Coach

March is National Nutrition Month. This is an opportunity to learn about making good food choices and developing healthy eating habits. In this post, we will focus on ‘macros!’

What are macros?

Macros is short for macronutrients. There are three main categories of macronutrients found in the food we eat: 1) proteins, 2) carbohydrates, and 3) fats. You can find the percentage of these macros on food labels, by searching online, or by using a mobile fitness/nutrition app.


Proteins are the building blocks of cells, tissues, and organs. They are essential for the growth, maintenance, and repair of the body. Protein is important for building and repairing tissues, enzymatic reactions, immune function, and the transportation of oxygen and nutrients across cell membranes. Protein foods include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds) sources. We all need protein to survive and be healthy.

Health Tip: Select lean proteins such as fish, poultry, nuts, and beans as much as possible. The American Heart Association suggests limiting red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb, to about one to two servings per week.


Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. Carbohydrates include fiber, starches, and sugars. Healthy sources include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It is important to choose good quality carbs from healthy sources because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are necessary for optimal health. In addition, they have a high fiber content, which aids in digestion and reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Complex carbs found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, take more time to break down, which keeps you feeling satiated longer. People who eat diets rich in fiber have shown a decrease in heart disease and diabetes. Avoid processed carbs such as white bread and rice, sugary cereals, cakes, cookies, pastries, and donuts. These foods are void of nutrients and often are high in calories.

Health Tip: Strive for at least 5 servings a day. Go for color and variety like dark green, red, orange, or yellow for the broadest range of nutrients. Eat the rainbow.


Fats are also a source of energy and are essential for various bodily functions. Sources include animal fats, oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. But you must choose your fats wisely! Plant oils, fish, and nuts are the healthiest choices. These are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are considered to lower disease risk. Consuming these healthy heart fats can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Avoid or limit unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats that can increase the risk of certain diseases. Saturated fats are found in animal fats, coconut oil, palm oil, and many commercially processed foods.

Health Tip: Experiment with olive and avocado oil when cooking. Avocado oil is more suitable for high-temperature cooking while olive oil is recommended for low to medium temperature cooking.
Per the ‘2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’, the general recommended macronutrient distribution is as follows:

  • Protein: 10-35% of total daily calories
  • Carbohydrates: 45-65 % of total daily calories
  • Fats: 20-35% of total daily calories


Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this would be approximately 200-700 calories from protein (50-175 grams, each gram of protein has 4 calories), 900-1,300 calories from carbohydrates (225-325 grams, each gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories), 400-700 calories from fats (44-77 grams, each gram of fat has 9 calories).

These percentages are general ranges and individuals may need adjustments based on age, gender, activity level, health status, and specific health goals. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietician who can consider your individual needs and health status.

Following are some healthy eating tips and recommendations for optimal nutrition:

  • Put together a weekly meal plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
  • Try a new healthy recipe when possible. Variety is the spice of life.
  • Always have ingredients for 1-2 easy, healthy meals when short on time. We all have those busy days.
  • Make a grocery list of all ingredients and items needed before you go to the store.
  • Never go to the grocery store hungry.
  • Create a grocery store game plan. Map it out to get everything you need for the week.
  • Focus on simple whole foods closest to their natural state.
  • Choose options for meals, beverages, and snacks that have limited added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
  • Place healthy food at eye level in the refrigerator and pantry, and less healthy food behind, above, or below the healthier options. Place a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter.
  • Keep what you want to eat more of – visible. Keep what you want to eat less of – invisible.


Research shows that people have more control when they cook and eat at home. Because of this, people tend to eat more nutritious food, consume more fruits and vegetables, consume more whole grains, eat less processed and ultra-processed food, eat smaller portion sizes, consume fewer calories, can more easily maintain a healthy weight, and tend to spend less money.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” -Hippocrates

Interested in learning more or making changes to your nutrition and need help? Use these available III-A resources and benefits:


Health Coaching: Email [email protected] or call 208-938-5632

Dietitian Visits: Work with a BCI in-network Registered Dietitian at no cost/unlimited visits. Contact the benefits line to help find a provider near you: 208-938-8199.

Wondr Health: Virtual nutrition/weight management program, sign-up anytime: