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 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.

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!

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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

76 Comments

  1. NELA AGRCIA 3 months ago

    CARBS TOTAL 7 GOAL 5
    FAT TOTAL 67 GOAL 75
    PROTEIN TOTAL 26 GOAL 20
    I NEED FAT BUT THEN IF I EAT FAT ILL GO UP ON CARBS AND PROTEIN.. I JUST STARTED MONDAY AND I WANT TO QUIT CUZ I CAN NEVER HIT THE GOAL ;/

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Why are you eating such little carbs? Are you doing a ketogenic diet? If so, you need to search for ketogenic food lists. This one is geared more for flexible dieters.

      Reply
  2. Lora 4 months ago

    I’ve gone over on my carb macros for the day by 24g but hit my protein and fat right on. Can I hop on the treadmill on a high incline to compensate?

    Reply
    • James 4 months ago

      I wouldn’t stress. Just reduce your macros the following day by the same amount.

      Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      How many grams of fiber have you eaten? Only about 40% of your fiber provides calories so it gives you a little cushion if you go over on your carbs.

      Reply
      • Lora 4 months ago

        30g of Fiber today. Thanks so much by the way!!

        Reply
        • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

          Perfect, so you had at least an 18 g buffer then.

          Reply
  3. Lindsay Lewis 4 months ago

    Hi there. I’m new to macros. I need help. I’m currently training for a marathon on 4 weeks. I am 32 and 5’11”, 143 pounds, I calculate my calories to be 2264, and my Macros 283C/142P/63F. Is this right? Help!!
    I still want enough energy to train and carbs to run long distances. So I did 50%C/25%P/25%F.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      Hi Lindsay, I would have to know how long your runs are. (time and average speed) and what your goals are before I could comment on whether or not the macros listed would be appropriate.

      Reply
      • Lindsay Lewis 4 months ago

        Average speed short runs are 8:30/mile, long runs 9:00/mile. This week we run 5 days, 5 miles, 8 miles, 5 miles, 5 miles, 20 miiles, then it starts tapering. My goals are to improve performance on marathon day and cut some fat.

        Reply
        • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

          You really should figure out the calorie burn from each run and then add that to your sedentary TDEE to be the most accurate. This will ensure that you are fueling your runs and training properly. You’ll probably need several sets of macros and not just one. Here’s a good resource that can help with calculating your calorie burn from each run. https://www.freedieting.com/calories-burned I would also do just a 10% deficit if you are already pretty close to your goal weight.

          Reply
  4. Jennifer 4 months ago

    What about Sugar, is there not a daily # for sugar?

    Reply
    • James 4 months ago

      The premise behind macro counting is flexibility in terms of food choices. Ideally your carbohydrate choices would be a combination of green veg and other whole foods, but how much of your carbs are sugar is up to you.

      Reply
  5. Dawn Findlay 5 months ago

    I go over on my protein every day and under on carbs… I feel hungry all the time if I don’t eat the extra protein..but feel bloated if i eat the correct amount of carbs that had been worked out. Is there any way of adjusting my protein to be higher In my macros ??

    Reply
  6. Renee 6 months ago

    Gelatin is also pure protein (7g per packet). I make finger jello with unflavored gelatin and herbal tea. Last time I added Truvia (stevia) for a little sweetness, and that made it a bit more palatable.

    Reply
    • Kristin Ekberg 5 months ago

      Gelatin is protein from connective tissue and not from muscle meat, which is optimal for building muscle. Gelatin lacks certain amino acids and are a weak source for others in comparison to eating say, a chicken breast. The key amino for building muscle is leucine so to compare 1 serving of gelatin to 1 serving of chicken breast its 524 vs 2652. Long story short, you should not be counting gelatin towards your desired protein goal for the day if your goal is to build muscle.

      Reply