Out of a Macro For the Day? Here’s What to Eat

It’s 5 o’clock, you’ve almost hit your 60-gram daily macro limit for fat, and you haven’t had dinner yet. What’s a flexible dieter to do?

Well, you have two choices:

1. You can go over on your fat macro that day.

-or-

2. You can eat foods that are free or very low in this macro.

In this article, I’ll give you suggestions on what to eat if you run out of a particular macro and I’ll explain why going over on a particular macro from time to time will not hinder your overall progress.

Protein Dominant (Pure) Foods

Here are some foods that are rich in protein but free from all or most of the other macros. Use these foods when you need more protein but have already hit or are coming close to your limit on carbs or fat.

Pure Whey Protein Powder: This is great to have on hand and choose brands that have zero carbs and fat or brands that have very little of the other macros. Brands like Isopure and BioSteel are zero carb and 1 gram of fat per serving.

Very Lean Chicken Breast: This is only about 1.5 grams of fat per serving and could be even less if you remove any visible trace of yellow chicken fat before you cook it.

Fish: Many fish are very low in fat. Here are the top three:

  • Atlantic Cod: 0 carb and .8 grams of fat per serving.
  • Orange Roughy: 0 carb and .8 grams of fat per serving.
  • Mahi Mahi: 0 carb and .8 grams of fat per serving.

Seitan -Chicken Style (Isolated Wheat Protein): 0 grams of fat and just 6 net carbs

Egg whites: 1 egg white provides just a trivial amount of both fat and carbs but 3.6 grams of protein.

Turkey Breast: Roasted turkey breast is just .8 grams of fat per serving and has 0 carbs.

Crabmeat: Alaskan King Crab is just .8 grams of fat per serving and zero carbs. Just skip the dipping butter!

MacroFoodListCoverThumbFind out how to get our helpful 100+ item macro food list. It makes meeting your macro limits so much easier.

Get it here

carb-rich

Carb Dominant (Pure) Foods

Here are some foods that are rich in carbs but free from all or most of the other macros. Use these foods when you need more carbohydrates but have already hit your limit on protein and fat or are about to.

While it would be simple to just eat tablespoons of sugar, I’ll focus here on healthier carb-rich foods.

Fruit: Most fruit is almost fat free and very low in protein: Here are some to choose.

  • Banana: A medium size banana has less than .5 grams of fat and only 1.4 grams of protein.
  • Apples: A large apple has less than a gram of both fat and protein.
  • Blueberries: A cup has .5 grams of fat and only 1 gram of protein.
  • Strawberries: A cup of strawberries has less than .5 grams of fat and only 1 gram of protein.
  • Pears: A large pear has a trivial amount of fat and less than a gram of protein.

Honey: While honey is mainly pure sugar, it does offer some good health benefits1 so use this as a carb boosting sweetener when needed.

Sweet Potatoes: A medium sweet potato has a trivial amount of fat and just 2 grams of protein, but 23 grams of healthy carbs.

Butternut Squash: A cup of roasted butternut squash is virtually fat-free and contains less than 2 grams of protein.

Dried Fruit: Dried fruit is a quick way to boost your carb intake in a hurry. Just choose dried fruits with no added sugar and ones that are unsulfured.

  • Trader Joe’s Unsulfured Apricots: 10 apricots is 50 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fat and only 2 grams of protein, plus 4 grams of fiber.
  • Dried Figs: 5 dried figs delivers 26 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein with 7 grams of fiber.
  • Dried Dates: This “as good as candy” dried fruit contains 31 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of fiber per 5 dates.

fat-rich-foods

Fat Dominant (Pure) Foods

This is one macro group that I never have trouble reaching and one that I actually have to work at NOT going over, but I recognize that some flexible dieters may not find it as easy.

Especially if you had been stuck in a “low fat” mindset for a long time.

In any event, here are some foods that are rich in fat, but also in healthy fat:

Virgin Olive Oil: This monounsaturated oil has been linked to a lot of health benefits2 so use it when possible to boost your fat grams for the day. 1 tablespoon is 14 grams of fat and nothing else.

Virgin Coconut Oil: This fat has gained wide popularity over the last 5 years and also has health promoting properties. 1 tablespoon contains 14 grams of fat and no other macros.

Grassfed Butter: Grassfed butter also packs some nutrition along with the fat. 1 tablespoon is 11.5 grams of fat and has just a trace of carbs and protein.

Nuts: Nuts are high in fat, but do contain some protein and carbs. However, the fat they contain is healthy and by far the dominant macro.

  • Almonds: 10 almonds has 6 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of carbs, and 2.6 grams of protein.
  • Walnuts: 1 oz contains 18.5 grams of fat, 3.9 grams of carbs, and 4.3 grams of protein.
  • Pecans: 1 oz delivers 20.4 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 2.6 grams of protein.

For a more indepth article on healthy fats see this article.

Will Going Over on a Macro Ruin My Diet?

Do not stress out if on a few days here or there you are over on one of your macros or under on some others. It will not “ruin” your diet.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to hit as close to your TDEE as possible.

Macros are more for “fine tuning” your results, while your TDEE determines whether you lose, maintain, or gain.

So yes, strive to meet your macros as these will help you reach your goals as far as body composition is concerned, but eating 20 extra grams of fat on a particular day won’t derail your progress unless it puts you 180 calories over your TDEE.

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    Citations:

  1. Bogdanov, S., Jurendic, T., Sieber, R., & Gallmann, P. (2008). Honey for nutrition and health: a review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(6), 677-689.
  2. Cicerale, S., Lucas, L. J., & Keast, R. S. J. (2012). Antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenolic activities in extra virgin olive oil. Current opinion in biotechnology, 23(2), 129-135.
  3. Lead image: Flickr

57 Comments

  1. Tarissa 2 weeks ago

    I am new to working out and counting macros. I was counting calories but I feel counting macros will help me. I am 28, 121.5 lbs and I am trying to lose fat but I am also trying to gain muscle. I have my macros set to 166.6g protein, 72.2 fat and 79.1 carbs. Does this sound right? When I weigh myself should I see a maintain of weight or lose of weight? I dont know if I should just go by photo progression?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

      Hi Tarissa, I wouldn’t advise your macros ratios. Too much protein and too much fat. Flexible dieting advocates a more balanced approach that doesn’t villainize one particular group. Have a read here to better understand this method.

      Reply
      • Tarissa 2 weeks ago

        thank you!

        Reply
  2. Lauren 3 weeks ago

    Hi I’m a 36 year old weight 64.7kg and 167cm I’ve done all the calculations on your tools and worked out that for weight loss I need to eat under 950 calories. However MFP won’t let me log a day with that low of calories. When trying to end the day and see progress it shows a message saying I’m not eating enough.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

      Hi Lauren, You are doing something wrong. 950 calories is too low. I think you forgot to switch the calculator from Lb to Kg. For sedentary weight loss, I get 1289 for you.

      Reply
  3. Donna 4 weeks ago

    I’m always over on protein now what? What t do wh n you are at your macro for protein and carbs?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 weeks ago

      Hi Donna, I’m sorry but I don’t understand your question. It seems like the article should have answered your question because it shows you what to eat if you don’t have protein or carbs left.

      Reply
  4. Amy 1 month ago

    I’m new to counting macros and I’m trying to lose weight. I can usually hit my protein but low on the others. Will I lose this way or do I need to hit all numbers? I’m just not hungry. The protein fills me up

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 1 month ago

      Hi Amy, If you aren’t hitting your other targets than you will be lower on total calories than you should be. If you are in too much of a calorie deficit for an extended period of time you risk slowing your metabolism and a weight loss stall. This is especially true if you exercise a lot.

      Reply
  5. Summer Kelley 3 months ago

    Hi,
    I’m a 5’3 110 lbs measurements of 34-25-35 and roughly 23% BF woman trying to GAIN weight and lean muscle but not fat. I calculate my macros daily and I’ve decreased cardio. I am however missing my mark in every aspect. I refuse to eat processed foods for the most part. I do not consider myself under eating. I just eat healthy and i dont eat unless im hungry. It also appears the more I try to eat the more weight I lose. I dont rely solely on my app to count my macros and calories, I do that myself. I average 1000 calories a day max. I’m having a difficult time reaching my caloric intake in healthy foods. I do occasionally fasten because honestly I’m not a hungry person in the morning so it seemed to fit. I want to lose body fat and gain lean muscle. Is that even possible to accomplish at the same time? Would you suggest supplements? I was trying to do this completely natural but it’s just not working. 🙁

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Hi Summer, The bottom line is that you are not eating enough. You need to calculate your TDEE and at least eat at your maintenance levels. You will never gain muscle/ lean mass if your body doesn’t have the raw materials to do so. There are a lot of whole foods that are calorie dense. Avocado, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, lean meats, high-quality protein shakes etc. Use our calculator here to see how much you need to be eating to accomplish your goals.

      Reply
      • Alline Burns 2 months ago

        Hey Ted is there a app that helps you count your macros and to better help me understand how many macros a perso needs I’m counting mine now

        Reply
  6. Mike 5 months ago

    Meeting your total daily calorie and minimum protein goals every day is what’s important, not whether you ate too much protein or too much fat one day or another. And if you went over on your calories, just roll them into the next day and count them as the next morning’s breakfast. Energy balance does not follow 24 hour increments, it’s continuous. If you break even by the end of the week/month/etc., no matter how you’ve distributed your calorie intake, you won’t gain a pound.

    Reply
  7. Anonym 9 months ago

    Hello!
    I use honey instead of sugar, but it’s really high on calories. I just want to ask, is it really necessary, to add it to MFP? Because when I have 3 tablespoons of honey, it’s almost 200 calories, and for me it’s pretty much.
    Thanks for answers.

    Reply
    • Ted 9 months ago

      Hi there, yes, if it has calories, you have to add it. Otherwise, it will interfere with hitting your goals. That’s a lot of honey. What are you using it on/in?

      Reply
      • Anonym 9 months ago

        Mostly on flakes – oat or buckwheat, and sometimes I add it to curd, when I want some sweet snack.

        Reply
        • Ted 9 months ago

          You may be better off sweetening with brown cane sugar. Honey is still sugar yet it takes more to make something taste sweet.

          Reply
          • Anonym 9 months ago

            I always thought that sugar is worse than honey, and a lot of diets recommended honey, instead of sugar. But thank you, I will give it a try.

          • Vincent Collier 5 months ago

            Honey has health benefits, which is probably why people recommend it over refined sugar.

          • Ted 5 months ago

            Not really unless it’s raw and hasn’t been exposed to UV light. Most commercial honey is just sugar.

  8. matthew 10 months ago

    i know my caloric goal, and what limits i have for fat carbs, and protein for each day, but i dont have any idea where to look to get help on setting up an actual meal plan, any advice on where to look.

    Reply
  9. Linda Ferrara 12 months ago

    Is it bad if I only meet my macros and not my calories ? I have a hard time meeting my requirements for calories ?

    Reply
    • Anon7 10 months ago

      If you’re successfully hitting your macros pretty closely, by default you should be hitting your calories to the same degree (with the exception of being more off on your fat macros).

      For example:
      1 gram carb = 4 calories
      1 gram protein = 4 calories
      1 gram fat = 9 calories

      Calculating your macros is essentially calculating the *ratio* of calories you’re taking in. Do you understand why if you’re hitting one, you should be close on the other?

      Reply
      • Ted 10 months ago

        This is all correct, but most people use tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and these can be off. This has to do with errors in the information in MFP and the fact that some nutritional labels include all carbs in their calorie count and others don’t. It can be confusing so I always tell people to focus on their macros.

        Reply
  10. Summer

    I have a question if there is anyone that may be able to help me.

    I have just started with macros. I am going over in Fat and not able to hit Protein
    Does anyone have any suggestions for getting more protein without going over fat?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hey Summer, We published a bonus guide that is perfect for this. I have a list of protein foods that are almost purely protein and list the macros per ounce of said food. It’s bundled with our premium package, you get a lot of great stuff for your $. Please check it out: https://healthyeater.com/ebook

      Reply
  11. Isaac Nance

    Question: My daily Calorie intake for the plan I created is 2470. But with all my macros in line, I am only getting a total of 1616 Calories. How do I move around my macros to achieve my total calorie intake daily? Currently I’m at Protein:190.1g,Calories:1616,Fat:66g,Carbs:69g. My meals are as stated daily every 3 hours, Breakfast(9am):10oz Egg Whites and two large carrots,Noon:5oz Turkey Burger and two large carrots,3pm:5oz Turkey Burger and two large carrots,6pm:5oz Turkey Burger and two large carrots,9pm:5oz Turkey Burger and two large carrots.

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Issac, Your protein and fat are good. you need to greatly increase your carbs. You’ll feel much better during your workouts and recover faster if you do. Add in sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, rice, whole grain pasta, fruit etc. BTW you’re eating way too many carrots . Don’t be afraid of carbs!! Flexible Dieting IIFYM gives you the freedom to eat them and still reach your goals. If you need more guidance check out my book and bonus macro food list. The list has macros for over 100 foods divided by protein, carb, and fat purity. https://healthyeater.com/ebook

      Reply
      • Isaac Nance

        My problem is, my body does not take well to carbs, that is why I was told to go high protein high fat low carb. I tried the carb aspect and started to gain weight like a wild fire.

        Reply
        • Ted

          Then you’ll have to increase your fat and protein, but I do think even carb sensitive individuals could do 100 g per day…. When you gained weight eating carbs, were you tracking your total daily calories in relation to your TDEE?

          Reply
          • Abo Hassan Kdouh

            Hey ted I’ve been drinking to much caffeine a day like 4 or 5 or 6 sometime , now I realize that I’ve been getting headache , brain
            Tremors , had getting sweating and etc . Does caffeine effects you getting stress nd chest pain.

          • Isaac Nance

            No, we did not keep track of calories, but was on a diet consisting of close to the same thing, but adding about 1cup of rice in the mix per meal

          • Ted

            You may wanna want to test your theory that carbs make you gain, by eating more within context of your goal TDEE. I have a feeling you were probably eating too much in general and there’s no way to know since you weren’t tracking at that time.

          • Isaac Nance

            Ted do you have a email, I can send you over the meal plan I was on that made me gain weight.

          • Ted

            Hi Issac, I could have a look at it if I was your coach, but otherwise, I’m too busy with my paying clients. However, you could plug the food for a day into MyFitnessPal and then see what the daily calorie totals were.

          • Abo Hassan Kdouh

            Hey ted I’ve been drinking to much caffeine a day like 4 or 5 or 6 sometime , now I realize that I’ve been getting headache , brain
            Tremors , had getting sweating and etc . Does caffeine effects you getting stress nd chest pain.

          • Ted

            Hey Abo, Can you head over to CaffeineInformer.com and ask this question? Thanks

  12. Dubs

    If I have a pre-ordered meal and I know how much Carbs, Fats & Proteins are in that meal, is weighing the food relevant to your macro count?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Dub’s, No, you only have to weigh a food if you don’t know it’s macros.

      Reply
  13. Jose Reyes

    What if you go under your fats is that necessarily a bad thing?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Jose, Fats are important for vital body processes so try to hit your target. Also, If you are under on your fats, you are under at reaching your TDEE.

      Reply
  14. Kathy C

    How do you recommend logging oils used in cooking foods in MFP? I sautée veggies in coconut or Olive oil. Do I log it or not since its absorbed in the food?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Kathy, You measure the oil you put in the pan and log that. The oil does get digested and provides calories even though it soaked into the food.

      Reply
      • Kathy C

        Wow, light bulb effect…Think I just figured out my reasons on why I struggle with not getting to a healthier weight. I am consuming more fat then I account for in MFP. Thanks, just downloaded e-book.

        Reply
  15. Claire Vandiver

    Let’s say you go over for the day. Could you just transfer the macros to the next day in the app. Or would you not reccomend that. Let’s say you’re 200-300 calories over or whatever the case may be maybe more maybe less. Or would you prefer to just try and burn more in the gym and work harder the next day or two? Or would either work?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hey Claire, Sorry, you can’t transfer to the next day as the calculations are for a 24 hour period. If you go over a day here or there don’t stress out. Just get back on track the following day. A day over occasionally doesn’t really derail results in my experience. If you are over 200 calories, you are still in a calorie deficit although not as much as your assigned TDEE.

      Reply
  16. spectra311

    I have found that when I’ve gone over my calories/macros for the day, I can always eat nuts and not have issues with weight gain. I have always wondered a bit about that–I suspect it’s a lack of carbs along with a lot of fiber that does it.

    Reply
  17. Daniel Wagle

    I mainly do calories and not macros. However, I do eat a lot of nuts. I eat about 4-5 ounces of nuts and seeds each day as well as two tablespoons of ground flaxseed and two tablespoons of natural (non hydrogenated) peanut butter. Dates are also a great healthy source of sugar. I have started eating Larabars, which are made out of dates and nuts, with no added sugars or any artificial ingredients. I usually eat about 3 or 4 bananas a day as well. I also eat oatmeal most everyday. Healthy carb, healthy fat is the way to go.

    Reply
  18. Dezarae Hart

    Fantastic! Well written and Chuck full of ideas! Thanks a ton!

    Reply
    • Ted

      Thanks and you’re welcome! Glad it helped.

      Reply
  19. Karla Lynn

    Totally needed this today!! It’s 4:47pm and I am fresh out of my fats. So good to know I’m not the only one who runs into this predicament!

    Seared Wild Caught Ahi Tuna on a spinach salad with pico de gallo, mushrooms, and just a few drops of Olive Oil for dinner tonight. High protein and low fat! YUM!

    Thanks for another great article!!

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Yum alright! Brilliant idea for a high protein tasty dish.

      Reply
    • Ted

      You’re welcome Karla. Glad it helped and sounds like a great meal! Keep up the great work!

      Reply