Get a free printable macro food list! Or, if you’re looking for a macro friendly grocery list you can print out right now, this is it!
Looking for more nutrition education? My 12-week nutrition course is the best way to learn how to set your macros and calories for weight loss and other fitness goals.
Hi there. I’m Chantal. Welcome to my site!
I should start off by mentioning that I’m a NASM certified personal trainer and nutrition coach.
Nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness are very important to me. 🙂
I’ll spare you much of the backstory in this post, but if you want to read more about me, here’s a good place to start.
You should just know that I am someone who has struggled with food choices and my weight plenty over the years. It led me to want to know more about the right foods for myself and the specific needs of my clients.
I have gone out of my way to learn about a healthy diet but still sometimes struggle with knowing what to eat for my goals.
That’s why I created this macro cheat sheet to share with you all.
Anyhow, here’s what you’ll find in this post:
- Beginner explanation of macros
- Why prioritizing protein is so important plus how to set your macros
- Keto diet and other diet FAQ
- Tips for success when it comes to nutrition and weight loss
- Printable macro food list – both in a grocery list form and a printable macro food chart for reference purposes
- A simple, bulleted macro food list for those who just need a quick reference
Let’s do this!
What Are Macros? Why Would I Want a Food List With Macros?
Macronutrients describe the three food groups that your body requires in large quantities.
There are three critical macronutrients, and your body needs a good amount of them each day. There is no way to get by without each one.
(Even people who eat low-carb like on Keto or Paleo still eat carbs in the form of fruits, veggies, and starches!)
The three macronutrients are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
While your body needs a whole bunch of other things to function properly (like vitamins and minerals, which are known as micronutrients), it needs these three things every single day to function on a basic level.
All three macronutrients serve more than one function, but each is known for doing a few specific things.
Fats are known for supporting the brain and cellular activity. They are critical for the absorption of vitamins, too. In addition, they serve as a secondary energy source when carbohydrate intake is low.
Proteins are known for their muscle-building capabilities and also for keeping you full longer. They are also necessary to bone health and hormone production.
Carbohydrates are needed to deliver the body short-term energy. They are critical in a metabolic process that converts your food into usable energy (known as ATP). Your body will tap into your carb stores first when it needs energy.
That’s it! For the purposes of this post, that’s about all you need to know for now. (Although I’m sure that you’re one smart cookie and already knew those things.)
So again, the three macros are fats, protein, and carbs.
But I thought that fats are bad?
False! Consuming healthy fats is absolutely necessary for brain function and so much more.
However, the types of fats you consume (and in what quantities) are what’s really important.
For health purposes, you should aim to consume less trans and saturated fats (which are mostly found in fast food & other processed foods). These types of fat contribute to instances of heart disease, high cholesterol, and many other health issues.
Meanwhile, you should try to increase polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are found mostly in fish, nuts, and healthy oils such as coconut oil.
Either way, know that fat does not in fact MAKE you fat.
That’s just the gist of it – if you want to learn more about fats, here’s an article detailing the different types of fat and the foods they come from.
Why Prioritizing Protein Is Important
If you’re interested in a printable macro food list, chances are you’re savvy about the importance of protein.
Maybe you’ve tried tracking calories (here’s how to do that in a healthy way) and in doing so, you realized that you’re consuming far more carbs than you are proteins.
Either way, the fact is that most people are overconsuming fats and carbs while undereating precious protein.
You already know that protein is essential for muscle growth and retention, but there are more reasons to eat more protein.
Protein is critical to overall health. It is the building block of our cells and is used to build up & repair tissue. It’s also what aids hormone production, which is directly related to your metabolism.
Proteins are made up of thousands of smaller units called amino acids. (These are essential for many bodily functions!)
Proteins make enzymes and hormones that help regulate things like metabolism and growth.
You should also know that protein contains fewer calories per gram of food than fats. There are 4 calories per gram in protein and 9 calories per gram in fats. (There are 4 in carbs.)
This means that you get better “bang for your buck” when eating protein.
But here’s where it gets really interesting.
Did you know that protein actually requires more energy to metabolize than carbs and fats?
In other words, you burn extra calories when your body is processing protein!
Because it takes longer to metabolize, your body feels “full” for longer.
This is definitely something to consider when setting your macros!
How to Set Your Specific Macro Goals
You didn’t think I was going to let you go without telling you how to set your own personal macro goals, did you?
Please note – while this isn’t a one-size-fits-all suggestion, it’s the best I can do without knowing your exact goals and current physical state.
Determining your required macros can depend on basic factors such as age, weight, and gender, but it also depends on your personal goals and training regime.
Related Reading: What is the Mediterranean Diet? Questions Answered
However, the baseline recommendations for daily intake of macronutrients are as follows:
Protein: .8-1.2 grams x bodyweight in lbs
Protein calories = Protein grams x 4
Example: A 180 lb woman calculates her protein goal using the equation of 180 x .8 = 144 grams. To find out how many of her calories should come from protein each day, she multiplies 144 by 4 = 576 calories
Fat: 20-35% of daily intake (usually 30%)
Fat calories = Calorie goal x .3
Example: A woman has a calorie goal of 2,000 per day. She wants to set her fat goal at 30% of her diet. The equation is 2,000 x .3 = 600 daily calories from fat. To know her fat goals in grams, she uses 600 / 9 = approx. 67 grams.
Carbs: 45-65% of daily intake or remaining calories
Using the example above, we can subtract the protein & fat calories to calculate carb goals. 2000 calories – 576 – 600 = 824 calories from carbs. We then divide this number by 4 to find carbs in grams = 206 grams!
Keto Diet and Other Diet FAQ
I personally don’t endorse the keto diet, but a flexible low-carb diet can be useful sometimes. It just depends on your goals!
Here are some frequently asked questions about following a low-carb diet and other diet fads:
Nope! When you see “Net carbs” advertised, it’s just another way brands are trying to market to you by making you think there are somehow fewer carbs in a given food. You’ll often see this when fiber is in an item, but that doesn’t change the amount of carbs you’re getting per serving.
If you want to build or even just retain the muscle mass you already have, prioritizing protein should be your number one goal. Increase your daily grams of protein to at LEAST 100 regardless of gender or other factors.
This depends. If you are just eating things like cheese and bacon, that’s known as “dirty Keto” and I don’t recommend it. I’m personally all about carbs, but “clean keto” can have short-term benefits. However, if you’re finding yourself fatigued and have brain fog, it’s probably because you need more carbs. Just choose healthy carbs like apples, sweet potatoes, or whole grains instead of refined carbs like white bread and regular pasta. Your energy levels are highly dependent on carbs!
I would rarely recommend a vegan diet, as plant-based proteins do not contain the full essential amino acid profile and all of the micronutrients that your body needs to function properly. It’s also very difficult to hit your protein goals on plants alone. If you don’t believe me, talk to your doctor. 🙂
Tips For Success With Nutrition and Weight Loss
If you are tracking macros, doing meal prep, and watching your food intake, you could have any number of goals.
Not everyone is trying to lose weight – keep that in mind!
Whether you want to track macros because you’re focused on losing weight or not, your long-term success is dependent on your ability to troubleshoot and make changes as necessary.
Here are a few tips I have for you as you focus on whatever long-term goals you have with nutrition:
- If you are weight training regularly and are focused on building muscle, you will want to set your protein on the higher end. If you are focused on cardio and basic movement alone, you may consider a lower daily protein goal.
- Read my list of the 10 hard fitness lessons you should learn if you want long-term success. It will help you if you’re having a hard time with consistency.
- Keep practicing self-awareness, focusing on mindset, and troubleshooting. Really, just keep learning to get back up after a setback. (Here are some mindset books that might help you along the way.)
- If you’re struggling with yo-yo dieting and fad diet fatigue, consider nutrition coaching. I created a self-paced online nutrition course designed to help you navigate the waters of nutrition for weight loss without the expense of traditional nutrition coaching. (It’s mostly for women, but men can take it too.)
- Balanced meals should be the ultimate goal. Human health is really complex. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to diversify the types of foods that you eat and not buy into any crazy fad diets.
One Last Tip For Your Journey
Remember that weight loss is ultimately achieved with a calorie deficit. Your calorie intake needs to be just slightly less than the energy you burn each day in order to see results.
Always keep this in mind when it comes to your long term fitness goals.
If your goal is to lose weight, you should set a daily calorie goal that is slightly below your estimated total daily energy expenditure.
I recommend using this online calculator to help you estimate how many calories you’re burning each day. It will also help you decide on the number of calories you should aim to consume each day in order to see results.
Related Reading: What Is The Best Diet For Balancing Hormones? (10 Top Foods!)
Of course, know that you don’t absolutely have to track calories on a daily basis.
However, I highly recommend it in your first week or two on a new eating plan. I also recommend doing it periodically for accountability.
I personally track my food 4-5 days a week just to keep myself in check. This keeps me accountable without making me feel totally obsessed.
Anyhow – onto the printable macro food chart! (If you don’t need a printable and are just looking for a quick reference list, scroll allll the way down to see my bulleted macro foods list!)
Printable Macro Food List (Free Download!)
We’re finally here! Get your printable macro food list and get to work! Use it as a shopping list or just keep this printable macro food chart on your fridge as a reference. 🙂
Printable Macro Food List Options
You didn’t think I was just going to show up with one choice here, did you? I actually made a whole bunch of printables for you. Here’s what you have to choose from:
- Macro Example Lists + Overall Macro Cheat Sheet
- Printable Macro Grocery list
Not sure how to download your printable macro food list? It’s in a PDF format. Just click on the link or image, and it should open up a new window.
If you want to keep the printable forever, download it! If not, your computer should open up to a screen that has a printer icon. (Or you can always do “File,” > “Print.”)
I’m sure you can figure it out. 🙂
Here’s the first printable macro food list / Cheat Sheet:
Here is each individual macro food list PDF:
Here’s the Printable Macro Food List (for groceries):
Simple Bulleted Macro Food List
I promised the people that don’t need a printable that I’d write out the foods in a simple, bulleted list. (Just remember that some fats & proteins can go on either list since they have some of both.) Here you go:
- Chicken breast
- Lean beef
- Ground turkey
- Egg whites
- Protein powder
- Chicken sausage
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- Skim cottage cheese
- Turkey sausage
- Turkey bacon
- Canned chicken
- Deli turkey
- Collagen peptides
- Turkey breast
- Elk Pork tenderloin
- Coconut oil
- Egg yolks
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter Almonds Flaxseeds
- Full-fat cheese
- Whole cream
- Some proteins: Bacon, Whole milk, Salmon, Greek yogurt, Fatty steaks, Ham, Pork sausage, Chicken thighs, Lamb
- Rice Cereal
- Quinoa Oats
- Rice cakes
- Tortilla chips
- Potato chips
- Dried fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Granola bars
Phew, that was a lot of free stuff! I hope that this gives you a general sense of what macronutrients are.
Now go download your macro-friendly grocery list or cheat sheet and get to work!