Balancing Macros: Combining Protein, Carbs and Fats for Optimal Nutrition

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

Nutrition greatly affects your health. Your diet influences long-term health such as nourishing a child to develop normally into a healthy adult, or by supporting a healthy pregnancy without any complications, or by assisting mature adults entering their later years with health and grace.

There are so many “diets” available today, and there is great confusion as to which one is better.

A healthy diet is simply an eating pattern that provides adequacy, balance, variety, moderation and calorie-control with indispensable nutrients that allow the body to function properly and support longevity.

Nutrients are components of food. They provide energy, serve as building material, help maintain or repair body parts and support growth. The nutrients that must be supplied through our diet are known as essential nutrients since the body does not have the ability to make them.

Nutrients are divided into six categories: vitamins, minerals, water and the energy-yielding ones such as carbohydrates, protein and fat.

When there is a deficiency of a particular nutrient, in the instance of eliminating an entire food group or avoiding foods due to an allergy or sensitivity, the body may suffer, a disease process may start or an entire system (i.e. immune system) may be compromised.

That is why it is so important to have balance at each meal/snack daily to ensure that the body has access to these nutrients.

Practical tips:

  • Your plate should contain a protein-rich food, along with healthy fats and superior quality carbohydrate.
  • Aim at including plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables, grains (encompassing about ¾ of your plate) — while ¼ of your plate should be either animal or plant protein (legumes, nuts or seeds).
  • Instead of high-sugar desserts and drinks, better options are fruits, dairy products and 100% fruit juices.
  • Choose lean protein instead of high-fat or processed meats.

Food sources of energy-yielding nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates: grains, dairy products, fruits, starchy vegetables, sugar, honey, soda and juice.

Note: superior quality carbohydrates include fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

  • Protein: meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and dairy products.
  • Fats: animal products (except for honey), nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, legumes, dairy products, oils and butter.