Macro Meals: How Balanced Diet is Vital for Your Health

A well balanced diet provides energy you need to keep active throughout the day, nutrients you need for growth and repair, as well as help to prevent diet-related issues such as type II diabetes or obesity.

9 min read


Macro Meals: How Balanced Diet is Vital for Your Health

A well balanced diet provides energy you need to keep active throughout the day, nutrients you need for growth and repair, as well as help to prevent diet-related issues such as type II diabetes or obesity.

When it comes to weight-loss, manipulating calories is common practice. You know that you should have 2,000-2,500 calories a day via the CDC. However, to create long term sustained weight loss you need to focus on the cornerstone of your diet–macronutrients. If you’re not familiar with the term “counting your macros”, it simply means understanding how much protein, carbohydrates and fats work for you in your daily diet. “Each macronutrient plays a role in keeping your body full and satisfied, which helps to prevent overeating, reduces cravings and enables you to lose weight.”

This article will present the breakdown of all three macronutrients with a meal plan at the end.



In general, the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) we eat are broken down through the digestive process into smaller compounds such as amino acids, glucose and fatty acids. These digested and absorbed compounds then travel through our blood stream to interact with our cells. These compounds offer assistance in many ways, such as:

  1. Providing energy that’s later released into the body
  2. To provide raw minerals to create structures for our tissues and organs
  3. To create enzyme building blocks in our bodies
  4. To stimulate and release hormones

There is no one best diet. One reason is that not everyone responds the same way to the digestion and absorption of particular foods. Because of the various and important role nutrition plays in our body, the food we eat can fundamentally change how our bodies work.

You really are what you eat!


Macro Nutrients


These chemical compounds are what fuels and give our bodies energy.



Carbohydrates are broken into three chemical structures based on their level of complexity: monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

You can look at saccharides like a link in a chain. Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrates since they contain one sugar group. You may be familiar with two monosaccharides– glucose and fructose. Glucose is found in foods and blood, and is the major source of energy for humans. Fructose is a very sweet monosaccharide. It is found naturally in fruits, but also in other sweeteners such as honey and more importantly high fructose corn syrups and table sugars.

The next is disaccharides, which come from the bond of lactose and sucrose. Last, and most complex, is the polysaccharide, which consists of two monosaccharides bonded together like fiber and starch.


Digestion, Absorption, Transport and Metabolism

Our bodies can’t break down polysaccharides. We have to break them down into monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose) and eventually release them. Once food is chewed in the mouth it travels along through the stomach, the small intestine and the liver. Once the glucose we need is released it can be used in the tissues, brain or blood.


Glycemic Index

When carbohydrates are eaten, your digestive system breaks them down into simple sugars which are then released into the bloodstream. Foods are rated by how quickly these sugars are released and how fast they increase your blood sugar levels. When digesting fifty grams of carbohydrates its relative measure is calculated at a value of 100. This is known as the glycemic index.

The less processed food is the more complex the carbohydrate becomes, making it slower to digest, lowering the glycemic index. Higher glycemic foods such as sugar, candy, breakfast cereal and bagels raise your insulin.

You would use this scale only if you suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It gives a scale of how food is absorbed into your body. It does not provide the breakdown of multiple foods if eaten at once.


What’s On Your Plate

When choosing your carbohydrate there are a few things to take into consideration:

  1. You want to choose a slow digestive, high fiber carbohydrates (fruits and roots vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes)
  2. For athletes or people looking to gain weight you can choose faster-digestive, lower fiber carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. While you may steer clear of eating simple carbohydrates during other parts of the day, consuming fast digesting carbs within one hour after a workout can help replenish depleted glycogen stores in your muscles. Examples are gatorade, white rice, and baked potatoes.

When looking at a nutrition label there are a few things you want to know when it comes to carbohydrates. Look for three grams or more on the label, recommended amount per serving 25-35 grams.

When making a plate, the best measurement if you’re a beginner learning about nutrition is to place a fist full of carbohydrates.

Healthy carbs have added nutritional value, not just empty calories. Foods containing healthy carbs that are part of a healthy diet include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Corn
  • Berries
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Popcorn




Proteins are found throughout the body–in the muscle, bone, skin and hair. The smallest unit of a protein is the amino acid. Amino acids are made up of 4 links in a chain that form peptides or peptide chains. These peptide chains make up the primary protein structure. Because we don’t store amino acids, our bodies make them in two different ways: either from scratch, or by modifying others. Nine amino acids—histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine—known as the essential amino acids, must come from food.


What’s on Your Plate

The National Academy of Medicine recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.

For example:

  • 140 pound person should eat 50 grams of protein each day
  • 200 pound person should eat 70 grams of protein each day

The average person eating a standard Western diet is probably not protein deficient. You should include complete proteins that will help with rebuilding and repairing. A complete protein includes all twenty plus types of amino acids. Others are incomplete, lacking one or more of the nine essential amino acids, which our bodies can’t make from scratch or from other amino acids. Animal-based foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy foods) tend to be good sources of complete protein, while plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds) often lack one or more essential amino acids. Plant based eaters should eat enough energy to meet their needs. You should eat a wide range of fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.

When making a plate, remember this portion size for proteins: Deck of cards/Palm of your hand= 3 oz Chicken= about 25g Protein

  • Power Proteins
  • Salmon/tuna
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken/turkey breast
  • Grass fed lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Cod fish
  • Shrimp




The simplest unit of fat is called the fatty acid. The fatty acid is made of simple hydrocarbon chains. When the hydrogen atoms bond with the hydrocarbon chain this is known as saturation. The more hydrogen bonded, the more saturated the fat is.


What’s on Your Plate

There are good fats and bad fats. Good fats give something back. Examples are Omegas (3 & 6). Omegas are essential, meaning you must get them from the diet. Diets deficient in Omega-3 with too much Omega 6 lead to increased inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids (good omegas) are found in–cold water fish, fish oil, flaxseed oil, ground flax, avocado and nuts.

Bad fats are your high saturated fats. Found in full dairy products, butters, packaged foods, fried foods etc.

When looking at your plate or cooking you should have a thumb full of fats.



You want your approach to be real food first to get the nutrition you need. However, not everyone can get the protein that they need. If you are a student, athlete, plant based or find it hard to make good protein choices you can benefit from supplements. Supplementing protein through powders will include whey, casein, milk protein blends, plant based proteins (pea, hemp, rice etc.). Other supplements include BCAA’s (amino acid build), glutamine, magnesium and lysine.


How to Start Meal Planning

The best way you can manage your daily diet is meal prepping. Meal prepping helps you plan out your meals for the week and budget your shopping list. Benefits of meal prepping include:

  • Less likely to eat take out
  • Save time by going to the grocery store once a week
  • Budget your grocery bill
  • More control over the foods you eat

As a general rule, experts advise a macronutrient breakdown of 20%-30% fat (saturated fat less than 10%), 30% protein and 40%-50% carbohydrates.

The biggest thing to understand is the nutrition label. When looking at a label, pay attention to how much protein and sugars are in the product. Many brands are labeled as healthy but have hidden sugars in them. The grams of protein should always be higher than the sugars. For example, if you’re looking at a greek yogurt and it says 15 grams of protein but 21 grams of sugar and another brand says 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar go with the ladder. The food products you buy should have 8 grams of sugar or less.

When prepping your meals a good practice is to cut all your vegetables first and freeze them. Wash off your greens and refrigerate them. Make your dressings and sauces. Cook your grains and rice. Put everything in containers or glass for easy preparation.


Sample Meal Plan

This is an example: please adhere to your health plan based on doctor recommendations.

 Start with total calories: 1750
Breakdown how many macros you need for the day 131g P | 175g Carbs| 58g Fat | 25g Fiber

Two Eggs Turkey Bacon and Wheat Toast

19g P | 34 g Carbs | 17g Fat


Choboni Greek Yogurt

16g P| 6g Carbs| 0g Fat


Spinach Salad with grilled chicken and nut mix

25g P| 17g Carbs| 13g Fat

Snack Luna Protein Bar 12 g P| 18 g Carbs| 6 g Fat
Dinner Grilled Steak Tacos 44 g P| 54 g Carbs| 27g Fat
Snack Protein Shake or Lower calorie dessert

**Take into account workouts and water intake throughout the day**

You will learn to adjust your meals if you go over or under your macros.


1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. “MyPlate Plan.”, 2022, Accessed 5 April, 2023
2. “Know Your Macros—Why Macronutrients Are Key to Healthy Eating.” Cedars-Sinai, Accessed 5 April, 2023
3. Berardi, John, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition Inc, 2013. Accessed 5 April, 2023
4. Alexander, Heather. “What Are Macronutrients?” MD Anderson Cancer Center, Accessed 5 April, 2023
©2015EquinoxHoldings,Inc.Proprietary Confidential. Accessed 5 April, 2023


Macro Meals Infographic

Macro Meals Infographic


Author logo

D’Annette Stephens is the brand owner of D.TerminedFitness, LLC, a Fitness and Consulting entity. She is a certified ISSA personal trainer, NASM sports performance and nutrition coach, philanthropist, and public speaker. D’Annette is pursuing her Masters degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning at Long Island University-Brooklyn.

She is an advocate for education and representation in the Fitness and Sports Performance industries. She specializes in athletic performance enhancement, functional movement, long-term sustained weight loss and sports nutrition


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