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

Filed under Counting Macros

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 macro counter 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.

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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 carbs 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!

MacroFoodListCoverThumbThis 100+ macro food list comes free with The Macro Solution

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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-sized 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.

Grass-fed Butter: Grass-fed 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 in-depth 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
Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated October 10, 2019

110 Comments

  • Jhosmary Medina 7 months ago

    Hi 🙋🏽‍♀️, I have a huge dilemma, I am trying to do a clean bulk, by also trying to just now get to 2400 calories. I am hitting all my macros, except the carbs, where my goal is supposed to be 280g, and I’m only getting to 189g of carbs. Because of my situation I have to meal prep for 7 days, on my first lunch I already have pasta, on my second one I only have chicken. Ive been trying for weeks to reach my carbs goal, but honestly I don’t know what else can I add (I’ve thought about rice or potatoes) I might give it a try, but even then I still don’t fully reach my goal.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 7 months ago

      Hi Jhosmary, I just emailed you regarding your coaching application, so thanks for that. Are you adding in pieces of fruit? This can be a super easy fix.

      Reply
    • Azieza 3 months ago

      You can use karbolyn powder, 50g per scoop. It’s helped my husband be able to keep up with his carbs when bulking

      Reply
  • Kayla

    Hello! I’m a 32 year old mom of 5 who is trying to lose belly fat and gain a lot of muscle. My husband and I lift weights doing a total body workout 3 days a week. I just recently figured my macros and came up with this. Protein 118,Carbs 295, Fat 79. My goal for calories is 2360. Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Do you have any advice?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Kayla, You’ll have to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and it seems like 2360 would be too much for that to happen plus you’d be looking at a big surplus on days you don’t lift. I’m happy to do all the calculations for you and get you headed in the right direction.

      Reply
      • Kayla

        I would love any help I could get!

        Reply
      • Kayla

        I was reading that if couples sign up together for a plan we get a discount. I was curious how much it costs to have both mine and my husbands macros calculated.

        Reply
        • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

          Hi Kayla, For just macro calculations the total would be $60. The discount is for coaching programs which start at $99. So for both of you to do the 4 week program, you’d be looking at $168 with the couples discount. This option can be better in the long run because it includes lifetime adjustments and the stand-alone macro calculation does not. If you have any other questions about pricing and coaching could you email me?

          Reply
  • Tracy Burkey

    Hi Ted,
    I’ve been counting macros for the past few months using Myfitnesspal app. When I calculated what my macros should be and my goals, (which is loosing some belly fat and increasing my muscle mass), it calculated about 2100 cal/per day, with 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fats. I set my app to a 2000 cal/per day, which works out to 200g protein, 151g carb, and 66g fat.

    I am a 41 yr. old female, I workout 3days a week with heavy weights. My workouts (including warmup, in-between set rest, and burnout) last between 70min-100min),. On my non-workout days, I stay active with my kids (hikes, etc.). I am 5’6 and I started out at 145lb, now I’m down to about 138lbs.

    Do those calculations sound accurate to you? Also, if I’m trying to hit my cards, do I count all of the carbs or just the net carbs? (some of the things I snack on are advertised as keto friendly because of the amount of fiber and sugar alcohols, but my macro app doesn’t distinguish between the two).
    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Tracy, Since you have an intense workout schedule that burns a lot of calories, you need to adjust your protein down and your carbs up. Max your protein at 150 g (any more than this will just convert to energy and protein is an expensive energy source), do 30% fat and eat the remainder of your macros as carbs. It’s easier to focus on total carbs and it gives you a little leeway. Since nutritional info, as well as net carbs, is based on “estimation” it’s not always the most accurate. Tracking total carbs gives you a little “buffer”.

      Reply
  • Abdulaziz Alyafei

    I am 41 years, i have started Macro dieting on Jan, up to May i have lost 12kg, but since that time i didnt lose anything.
    my current is 86, my hight is 173, i do cycling (1hr high speed 30-35) 3 times a week, i do run sometimes 6-10 (2 – 3 a week).
    when i started my diet i started with 1800c, 40%, 35%, 25%. tried to decrees is to 1570, and 2260, as well as tried to make it 1800 high protein
    but its the same, which made me felt disappointed and started to ruin my diet

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Abdulaziz, It doesn’t seem like you have your weight TDEE calculated correctly given your exercise. I’d love to help and here’s my coaching page: Personalized Macros Coaching

      Reply
  • Maggie Chio

    I have been hitting my numbers on protein, carbs, and fats but I still have calories left over.
    I don’t know if there is foods that will help me eat all my calories but not go over on my macros. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Maggie, Calories and macros should line up mathematically, but they don’t when tracking in the real world because of errors in nutritional info and the way some foods count fiber. As long as you are close to your macros, you are doing it right. Don’t stress if your calories are slightly over or under.

      Reply