- The three main macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats—all three play a crucial role in balanced nutrition.
- While we need a spectrum of macronutrients and micronutrients to support our health, we typically need macronutrients in larger amounts.
The name kind of says it all: Macronutrients are the nutritional compounds that we need the most of. Like micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals), macronutrients help support pretty much everything your body does—we just need more of them to meet our daily needs.
Each type of macronutrient plays a uniquely vital role in your body’s daily functions—our energy-yielding metabolism in particular. You might already know that the three main macronutrients, or macros, are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (1). But how do each of these macronutrients lend support in the body?
The carbs that you eat each day are broken down to supply your body with glucose and other monosaccharides. Glucose is important because it can be metabolized into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a type of cellular energy. This energy can help fuel exercise and support brain function, as well as power cellular processes like nerve impulses and muscle contraction.
Carbohydrates should represent 45% to 65% of your daily caloric intake, depending on how active you are (2). The more active you are, the more carbs you need to fuel your movement. Healthy sources of carbs include: (3)
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice
- Whole fruits, including oranges and bananas
- Beans and other legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas