Counting Macros

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

By Ted KallmyerUpdated November 10, 2022

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

You have two choices:

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

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

Emergency Macros

  • I’ll give you suggestions on what to eat if you run out of a macro
  • I’ll explain why going over a particular macro (now and then) will not hinder your overall progress.

Protein-dominant (pure protein) foods

The following foods are rich in protein and free (or low) in other macros.

When to use

You need more protein but are hitting your carb or fat limit.

  • Pure Whey Protein Powder
    Choose brands that have zero (or very little) carbs and fat. Brands like Isopure and BioSteel are zero carbs and 1 gram of fat per serving.
  • Very Lean Chicken Breast
    It has 1.5 grams of fat per serving and less if you remove any trace of yellow chicken fat before you cook it.
  • Fish
    Many fish are very low in fat. Here are the top three:
  1. Atlantic Cod: 0 carbs and .8 grams of fat per serving.
  2. Orange Roughy: 0 carbs and .8 grams of fat per serving.
  3. Mahi Mahi: 0 carbs and .8 grams of fat per serving.
  • Seitan -Chicken Style (Isolated Wheat Protein)
    0 grams of fat and just 6 net carbs
  • Egg whites
    One egg white provides a trivial amount of 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 has zero carbs. Just skip the dipping butter!

See the full list of the best proteins.

Carb-dominant (pure carb) foods

Pure carb foods

These foods are rich in carbs but free from all or most of the other macros.

When to use

When you need more carbohydrates but have 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:

  • Banana
    A medium-sized banana has less than .5 grams of fat and only 1.4 grams of protein.
  • Apple
    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.
  • Pear
    A large pear has a trivial amount of fat and less than a gram of protein.
  • Honey
    While honey is mainly 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 free from sulfur.

Recommended Dried Fruit

  • Trader Joe’s Unsulfured Apricots
    10 apricots are 50 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fat, and only 2 grams of protein, plus 4 grams of fiber.
  • Dried Figs
    5 dried figs deliver 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-dominant (pure fat) foods

Emergency macros - the best fats

This is one macro group that I never have trouble reaching!

I have to work on NOT going over my target. However some people (particularly from a low-fat diet background may need some help.

  • 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. 1 tablespoon contains 14 grams of fat and no other macros.
  • Grass-fed Butter
    Grass-fed butter 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 have 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.

See more about the best fats you can eat when counting macros.

Will going over a macro target ruin my diet?

Don’t worry if you go under or over one of your macros now and again. It will not “ruin” your diet.

The most important thing 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.

Strive to meet your macros as these will help you reach your goals.

Eating 20 extra grams of fat on a particular day won’t derail your progress unless it puts you 180 calories over your TDEE.

I've helped 14,000+ people lose thousands of pounds by tracking their macros.

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References

References

  • 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.
  • 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.

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