What Are Macronutrients? | Everyday Health

There are three key macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and, plain and simple, you need each to function. Here’s the lowdown on what each does in your body.


Fortunately, fat is no longer the shunned macronutrient. “One of the three key macronutrients, fat supplies energy — or calories — is part of many of our body’s cells, and supports our many metabolic functions like growth and the transport of nutrients,” explains Palumbo.

Whether it’s olive oil or wild-caught salmon, chances are you’ve heard doctors or dietitians singing fat’s praises lately. “Our bodies need essential fatty acids that compose the fats and oils we are familiar with,” says Palumbo.

The type of fat you choose in your diet matters. Ideally you’ll want to skip or limit the “bad fats” like saturated fats and trans fats, according to the American Heart Association, which can raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol in your body (saturated fats are found in foods like bacon and sausage, while trans fats are sometimes found in processed foods).

Instead, choose mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which can improve your cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic, and may lower your odds of heart disease and stroke. You can get monounsaturated fats in olive oil and avocado oil, and many nuts, the Mayo Clinic notes, while fish and flaxseed contain polyunsaturated fats.

Getting enough fat in your diet shouldn’t be so hard to do. “The vast majority of foods contain at least a little bit of fat — and of course, the healthiest sources come from plants,” says Palumbo. “Plant-based fats and oils are derived from grains, vegetables, nuts and legumes,” Palumbo adds.

How Much Fat Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women ages 31 to 50 should aim for 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fat. That means if a woman is eating 1,800 calories per day, she should shoot for 360 to 630 calories from fat.

If someone is tallying their macros by counting grams (g), they would want 40 to 70 g of fat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, fat has 9 calories per gram.

Also, if you are eating lots of healthy fats, you may…

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