We have surely all heard about the recommended daily macro-nutrient breakdown–that is, how much of our daily diet should consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Still, let’s do a quick recap refresher for those of us that haven’t heard about it lately. The USDA Food Guide (which is based on a standard 2000-calorie per day meal plan) suggests that our daily diet consists of 30% protein, 15% fat, and 55% carbohydrates. That’s all well and good, but what happens when we actually have to put those guidelines to use? We sure don’t know what 50 grams of protein looks like off the top of our head, and we’re guessing you don’t either. Don’t worry, help is on the way.
The simplest way to get a grip on your own, personalized macro-nutrient & daily food intake is to use an online calculator, like this one. After putting in your daily energy consumption (how many calories you aim to eat in a day), you are given the exact amount (in grams) of proteins, fats, and carbs that you should take in to achieve a healthy and balanced diet.
We did a test trial and entered 1,750 calories per day. The calc’s suggestion? Eat 65 grams of protein, 58 grams of fat, and 265 grams of carbs every day. So…what does that mean?
Let’s start with the basics: a large egg contains 6 grams of protein. Therefore, we would need to eat about 6 eggs to fulfill our recommended protein total for the day (again, that’s based on a 1,750-calorie meal plan). Six eggs may sound like a lot, but when you think about it, most people eat a couple of eggs for breakfast, as well as meat or fish at lunch and/or dinner. And what about that healthy post-workout protein shake you pick up after the gym? A single scoop of whey protein powder often boasts around 25 grams of protein, more than one third of one’s daily recommended protein. And what about edamame? Just one cup of the soy beans will provide 30 grams of protein, nearly half of what we need for the whole day. The bottom line: we actually eat more protein than we need. A few eggs in the morning, a cup of yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack, and a fist-sized serving of meat at dinner may be all you really need. Don’t like eggs. Check out these Egg Free Snacks
An appropriate serving of nuts–one of the healthiest fats around when in eaten in moderation–generally weighs in at about 1/4 cup. A quarter cup of whole almonds consists of almost 18 grams of fat, nearly a third of one’s daily fat consumption if following a 1,750-calorie per day diet. How do our other fave fats measure up? A whole avocado packs 29 grams of fat, and a mere tablespoon of olive oil provides 14 grams of fat. A couple tablespoons of almond butter with your morning toast, a half-avocado in your salad at lunch, and a tablespoon of olive oil to cook your veggies at dinnertime is really all it takes. That Double SmokeShack burger at Shake Shack? It nearly consists of a whole day’s worth of fat, with a whopping 56 grams. Sorry, Shack-devotees.
How do we gauge the largest fraction of our daily diet, then? Here’s some insight: a single slice of whole wheat bread contains around 30 grams of carbs. But–shocker–bread (and cookies and cakes and rice) aren’t the only carbs out there: fruits and veggies count as carbs, too! A large apple, for example, will provide another 30 grams of carbs. How much is too much when it comes to carbs, then? Two slices of toast at breakfast with a banana, a cup of brown rice and veggies at lunch, a sweet potato at dinner, and fruit sprinkled with granola for dessert should be just about right. Did you notice how there are no chocolate chip cookies in sight and you’re still meeting your carb goal? We sure did.
Are you consuming too much of these macro-nutrients per day?
All images via Thinkstock