Alright, so we learned all about reading nutrition labels, and now we know how to decipher all the information. But one big question I get a lot is what kind of foods go in each macro nutrient category, and how to choose foods that substitute out for each other with a similar macronutrient breakdown. So let’s go over some examples and substitutions!!
First things first, when choosing a lean protein source, things like chicken breast, ground chicken, white fish, shrimp or scallops are all relatively similar in protein to fat ratio. That is, they are all relatively high protein and low fat, so these substitute out with each other easily!
Some moderate fat/high protein options that substitute easy are chicken thigh, 93/7% ground beef, top sirloin, and some fish like ahi or salmon. I say some, because depending on the brand, I’ve seen ahi and salmon with 0 fats, and some with 10+ grams per serving, so that is where being able to read and understand a label helps with choosing appropriate substitutes! I tend to choose protein options such as these that are around 20-25+ grams of protein, and 8-12 grams of fats per serving when I need a moderate fat protein option!
Where we need to pay super close attention to protein sources, is with meats with a high fat to protein ratio. Things like 85/15% ground beef are often about 23g of Protein but also 23g of fat per serving, and that is where calories can add up really fast. This is the same for higher fat steaks like filet mignon and ribeye. While these can still have a place in our diet, I would recommend these a little more sparingly!
Carb sources are a little more straight forward and are easy to substitute! Carb sources like sweet potato, red or yellow potato, rice, quinoa and oatmeal tend to have a similar Carbohydrate ratio! Most run around 25-35g of carbs per serving (usually about 145-150g of cooked weight.
Fruits are also an easy substitution as simple carbs instead of the more complex carbs like those above! Any type of fruit can get substituted out for another, and I would recommend serving sizes be based off of a small apple, or small banana, versus some of the monster sizes we see sometimes! For things like berries or fruit that are cut/ diced up, I would base serving sizes on about 2/3 of a cup of fruit!
Fats such as avocado, seeds and nuts, and oils are all interchangeable to hit your fat goal, but I would definitely get into the habit of measuring a serving of fat based off of the nutrition label. 1 serving of oil is typically about 14g (1 tbsp) and is also 14g of fat, which can easily add up if we aren’t paying closer attention to how we use when we cook or dress our foods!
This also gets into my next little tip about fats, and is where a lot of people get confused! Sometimes people thing that nuts and nut butters are a protein source, but while they have some protein, they are predominantly a fat source! So when fat consumption is lower in the day, they can be a great option to turn to, but when protein is low, and our fat goal is closer to being met, I would opt to not choose nuts to hit the protein goal, as you can easily go over calories!
This is also a ton of information in one post, but I wanted to not prolong my series any longer lol!!! If you have questions about what foods can be substituted out, feel free to comment a photo of the nutrition label for me to review or shoot me a message!!