This list of 21 Macro Diet Friendly Staples is great for beginners! Get a list of food that's great for making simple recipes, including high protein options.
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Disclaimer: I am not a health or diet expert, this is just my personal experience!
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard about dieting is to never start a diet that you can't do in some form for the rest of your life. Fad and crash dieting doesn't work; consistent, long-term commitment is the key to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. That sounds intimidating, but for me it's really about finding a diet that fits what you're already doing, not changing your eating to fit your diet.
In the past, I've struggled with finding a diet that didn't make me feel miserable but provided results. I exercise regularly, so I didn't want my muscles to fade away as I lost weight, but I still wanted to see some fat loss. A little over a year ago, I randomly stumbled on a Facebook group that quite literally changed the way I'll eat forever.
I was surfing Facebook one night when someone mentioned the Macros Inc. Facebook group. I joined out of curiosity and realized that these people were talking about a diet that sounded kind of doable. It was all about paying attention to more than just calories; for this lifestyle, you need a balanced approach to protein, fat, and carbs. Calories are most important to observe, but a close second is protein; this keeps you full and makes sure you have the fuel needed to maintain muscle while losing fat. I took the quiz on their site to see my estimated calories and was kind of blown away by how high they were! If I could lose weight with that many calories, why not give it a try?
I've been counting macros (with a few small breaks) for over a year now and have no plans of changing anytime soon. This approach makes me feel the best I've ever felt. I'm consistently full (but not stuffed), have a ton of energy (even with working out 6 days a week), and when I stick to the diet, I consistently lose weight and see better muscle tone. I feel like this is a really balanced approach to nutrition that is easily doable for a long period of time. And, if you're a macro counter too, I'm sharing a few of my favorite pantry staples today!
I literally just raided my kitchen to write this post – these are all products I keep on hand to make sure I get enough protein in the day. There really aren't any weird, fad foods here – just simple staples that can be found in pretty much any grocery store that have become my go-to favorites.
Macro Diet Friendly Staples
1. Greek yogurt/pudding
This is one of my current favorite snacks/treats. I simply mix a pack of sugar free pudding mix (usually either cheesecake or vanilla) into a 32oz tub of Greek yogurt. Serve with a little bit of fruit and it tastes just like a dessert! The pudding gives it an icing/cheesecake-like consistency.
Macros (per serving): 13c/0f/17p, 115 calories
2. Turkey Pepperoni
Turkey pepperoni is a great lower-fat alternative to regular pepperoni (but still packs a protein punch). These are great on salads, wraps, or even as a side.
Macros (per serving): 0c/4f/9p 70 calories
3. Tuna Pouches
I'm not really a big fan of unflavored tuna, but these flavored pouches are wonderful. This is one of the easiest ways to get a ton of protein into a meal – if you have the carbs, they're great with crackers, but you can also eat completely by itself! I like the Great Value (Walmart) brand – the ginger sesame and sweet and spicy are delicious. But, if you don't shop at Walmart, there are tons of name-brand ones as well.
Macros (per serving): 4c/0f/15p 80 calories
4. Ranch Dip
This is probably the least fancy packaging you'll see in this whole post. 🙂 As a macro-friendly alternative to ranch dressing, I mix 1 part light sour cream with 1 part light mayo, mixing in about 1oz of dry ranch dressing mix. It is a fantastic dip for vegetables, spread for a sandwich, or salad dressing.
Macros (per 2 tbsp): 3c/5f/1p 60 calories
5. Laughing Cow Cheeses
These little wedges of soft cheese are great to spread on a sandwich or wrap; if you're used to cheeses or sauces on a sandwich (but don't love the added calories), this is a perfect alternative. I really like the spicy pepper jack flavor, but I can't seem to find them anywhere lately!
Macros (per serving): 1c/1.5f/2p 30 calories
6. Mozzarella Sticks
Don't count out the “kid snacks” in this list! I eat my kids mozzarella sticks all the time to get a boost of fat and protein. These are great to shred on salads.
Macros (per stick): 0c/4.5f/6p 70 calories
I've read before that eggs are just about the most perfectly balanced food you can possibly eat; looking at the macros, that's hard to deny. Long-time readers here know that I really am not a big fan of eggs, but if I mask the flavor (in something like these sous vide egg bites), I can tolerate them…and it's worth it for that protein! If you're a boiled egg fan, I've also got a super easy method over here to make those.
Macros (per large egg): .4c/4.8f/6.3p 72 calories
8. Deli Meat
You will pretty much always find deli meat in our fridge – it's another easy way to add protein into a lunch. I have a ham sandwich or wrap at least a few days a week (usually with a Laughing Cow cheese).
Macros (per serving): 1c/2.5f/9p 60 calories
This isn't one of those things that's going to give you a lot of any given macro – but it does make a lot of the foods on this list way more tolerable. 🙂 Once you start using this, you'll eat it on everything! I like it on avocado toast, cottage cheese (trust me, try it), and steamed veggies.
Macros (per serving): 0c/0f/0p 5 calories (per 1/4 teaspoon)
10. Fruit/Veggies (fresh and frozen)
I keep 3-4 fruits in our house at any given time, whether they're fresh or frozen. My kids love snacking on frozen fruits, so I'll usually keep a big bag of frozen mango and maybe berries in the freezer for snacks or smoothies. Grapes, apples, mandarin oranges, and strawberries are also popular in our pantry. Fruits are an easy way to add in carbs when needed.
11. Sugar Free Energy Drink Mix
I KNOW, I KNOW – this is terrible for me. But I aim to drink 90-120 oz of water a day, and that's not happening without a little bit of flavor in it. I don't use a lot (usually 1 pack per 60-90oz of water) – but it helps water not be so boring and gives me a little bit of caffeine to get through the day! Everything in moderation, right? 🙂 And if you're absolutely opposed to fake sugar, True Lemon makes a lemonade version of this with stevia that's not bad.
Macros (per stick): 2c/0f/0p 5 calories
Basically every morning, I have the same thing for breakfast – 1 scoop of collagen peptides and 1 scoop of protein powder in my coffee. I mix it up with a little bit of water to make a coffee creamer, add coffee, and drink throughout the morning. It keeps me full and gets my day started with a huge serving of protein.
Macros (per serving): 0c/0f/10p 40 calories
13. Protein Powder
This has been our go-to protein powder for years. It's a great combination of quality and price, and the macros on it are fantastic. It tastes great too – no weird aftertaste! We always keep a chocolate and a vanilla in the pantry (there are tons of other varieties, but these two work for most of the things we need).
Macros (per scoop): 3c/1.5f/24p 120 calories
14. Built Bars
I feel like I've tried every protein bar in the book – these are by far my favorite. They're not chalky like most protein bars; they've got a caramel-like, nougat-like filling. They come in a ton of flavors too (Cherry Barcia and Coconut Almond are my favorites). I have one most afternoons for a snack – it feels like you're having a candy bar! The macros on these are also better than most bars I've found.
Macros vary; average 150ish calories and 15-20g protein.
15. Mixed Nuts
A macro-friendly diet isn't always just about protein; sometimes you need to get a fat or carb boost too. If I need a little bit of fat in my day, mixed nuts are the way to go. It's a great form of energy that's not going to leave you feeling sluggish.
Macros (per serving): 5c/15f/7p 170 calories
16. Lavash Bread
Yes, you can even get a good serving of protein from a sandwich wrap. These lavash wraps have 6g of protein per half sheet (which is perfect for a lunch wrap). Trade this in for bread with your lunch to boost your protein and lower your carbs.
Macros (per serving): 8c/1.5f/6p 60 calories
This is one of the easiest (and healthiest) ways to boost your fat intake. Avocado toast with deli meat is a go-to lunch for me – it's really well-balanced and won't leave you feeling groggy after lunch. And, FYI – you can freeze pureed avocado for smoothies! It makes smoothies really rich without tasting like guacamole. 🙂
Macros (per half avocado): 6.4c/11f/1.5p 120 calories
18. Frozen Turkey Burgers
If you need to minimize carbs for a lunch, frozen turkey burger patties are the way to go. These can be cooked in an air fryer in just a few minutes and make a really great low-carb lunch. The seasoned ones are delicious all by themselves.
Macros (per patty): 2c/11f/31p 240 calories
19. Cottage Cheese
I feel like you're either hot or cold on cottage cheese – but, if you're a fan, this will be an absolute macro staple for you. I eat it with either fruit or, for a different taste, with everything bagel seasoning (trust me, try it). If you're buying, don't necessary go for the fat free kind – fat isn't the enemy, and a lot of times there is added sugar in foods to replace the fat.
Macros (per half cup): 6c/1f/13p 90 calories
20. Yasso Bars
If you need to keep a sweet treat handy for those late-night cravings, you'll want a few of these in the freezer. They totally satisfy a sweet tooth and have a nice little bit of protein.
Macros (per bar): 15c/2f/5p 100 calories
21. Protein Shakes
I basically always have a few of these in the fridge for those time when I find that I need a lot of protein and not a lot of calories. This is one of the quickest ways to get a ton of protein at once. I love mixing these into an iced espresso shot or tea for a latte-type drink. They also freeze pretty well – just shake every 20 minutes or so for a couple of hours for a slushy-type dessert. (And yes, the Walmart brand is just as good as the name-brand.)
Macros (per shake): 1c/3f/30p 160 calories
I'd love if you macro fans would leave some of your favorites in the comments below! See more of my food/recipe posts here.