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What are macronutrients? 

Macronutrients are the nutrients that the body utilizes to produce energy. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Where are macronutrients located on a nutrition label? 

On the Nutrition Facts label which is usually found on the back of packaged foods, macronutrients can be found in the nutrients section. The three main macronutrients are labeled as total fat, total carbohydrates, and protein. You will notice that fats and carbohydrates are further broken down into subcategories. For the purpose of counting macronutrients, refer to the total amount of each nutrient listed. It is important to note the serving size of the food you’re eating, as you will need to adjust the amount of macronutrients according to the amount of servings you consume. The serving size is listed on the first line above the calories. 

Which macronutrients are vital for body function? 

Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are all essential nutrients that provide energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which travels in the blood to the body’s cells to provide energy. Protein is essential to build and repair body tissue and facilitate metabolic reactions. Enough protein is needed to also regulate pH and fluid balance. Fats are another important source of energy that also are essential for cell growth and hormone production. We need adequate amounts of all 3 macronutrients for optimal body function. 

Is water a macronutrient? 

Although water does not provide us with any calories or energy, it can still be considered a macronutrient as we need large amounts of it to live. All of our cells and organs need water to function. In fact, 60% of our body is made up of water. Water helps maintain our body temperature, lubricate our joints, excrete waste, and facilitates bowel movements. The amount of water an individual needs varies greatly from person to person. In general, you can estimate your fluid needs as 1 milliliter of water for every calorie consumed. So if you consume a 2,000 calorie diet, you would need to consume 2,000 milliliters or 2 liters of water a day.

Related Terms

Glycemic Index Glucose

Learn more about Macronutrients:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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