Why It’s Important to Eat the Right Percentage of Carbs, Fats and Protein
November 01, 2017
There are hundreds of thousands of foods in the world, and for almost all of them, the majority of their calories come from only three nutrients: carbs, fats, and protein.Scientists refer to these three ultra-important nutrients as macronutrients, or macros for short. Each of them has calories, meaning they give you energy when you eat them. And every day, the calories you eat come from a certain ratio (or breakdown) of carbs, fats, and protein.The best way to describe how calories and macronutrients work together is to compare them to fueling a car: eating the right number of calories ensures that you get the right amount of fuel, while eating the right ratio of macronutrients ensures that you get the right kinds of fuel.You’ve probably heard of people cutting carbs or eating more protein and fat, usually in the context of dieting and losing weight. But there are important reasons beyond weight to eat a certain ratio of carbs, fats, and protein.
1. Everyone has different macronutrient needs.
A host of factors can affect the amount of carbs, fats, and protein you need: the levels of certain markers in your blood, your genes, activity level, body metrics (e.g., height and weight), your life stage, medical conditions, and even certain medications.When you eat a mix of macronutrients that’s right for you, your body functions best. This can be seen through your health numbers, like your cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose. If certain numbers become elevated, you can make a positive change by adjusting the percentage of macronutrients you eat.Maintaining good health numbers is also important because it can reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.In addition to affecting your health numbers, eating too much or too little of each nutrient can affect how you feel. For instance, frequent energy crashes and hunger pangs could be brought on by eating too many carbs and not enough protein.
2. Not everyone can be flexible with the amount of fat and carbs they eat.
Some people can thrive on a higher-fat diet, while others, such as those with elevated cholesterol, could benefit from scaling back on fats. How can two people respond so differently to the same nutrient? It could be related to their genetics. Numerous genes can affect how people handle fat and regulate the level of fat in their blood. For example, certain variants of the APO gene have been shown to be associated with a higher-than-normal triglyceride level (a fat that floats in the blood). But genetics is complex—having that variant doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have high triglycerides. This is because individual gene variants don’t always have an effect on how you handle fat. Other genes and lifestyle factors (like how much you exercise) can also have a big impact. Similarly, having a family history of high cholesterol is another sign that you may benefit from monitoring your fat intake.The same applies to higher-carb diets: some people have no problem being flexible with their carb intake, while others may benefit from sticking to a more specific percentage, due to a combination of lifestyle, blood markers, genetics, and other factors.
You know how they say your metabolism slows down as you get older? What that really means is your body may burn calories more slowly and break down foods differently. So even though you felt great noshing on French fries and pizza in your early 20s, the same way of eating could bring on high cholesterol and feelings of sluggishness in your 30s.
5. It’ll help you focus your effort in the right places.
Understanding your ideal macronutrient breakdown also tells you where to focus your efforts. Let’s say you know (based on your health numbers) that your body processes a higher-carb diet with ease, but you don’t have the same luck with a high-fat diet. That tells you that an extra helping of potatoes isn’t something to worry about, but maybe you should be mindful of how much butter you add.
We married our passion for food with science of you to bring you the world's most complete personalized nutrition solution. As the antidote to the one-size-fits-all diet world, Habit helps you discover how to eat right for your own biology. We're here to help you feed the best version of you.