If you just started tracking your macros but are struggling to figure out what to eat, a helpful tip is to keep your meals simple. Before you start trying to track complicated recipes and complex meals like casseroles, start with the basics! A macro bowl, or a meal that is balanced in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, is a simple way to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need while still giving you the opportunity to eat foods you enjoy.
To make a macro bowl:
- Start with a carbohydrate base like steamed rice, roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, couscous, quinoa, lentils, soba noodles, vermicelli noodles, or beans.
- Add some veggies. Vegetables are also carbohydrates, but they are dense with nutrients and high in fiber and water content. A cup of vegetables has fewer carbs than a cup of grains. You can top your base with roasted broccoli, asparagus, or Brussel sprouts; chopped cucumbers and carrots; or sautéed bell peppers and onions. To add even more volume, add some leafy greens like spinach, kale, or arugula.
- Top with a protein: Adding a protein source to each meal can help you spread your protein intake out evenly through the day, making it more manageable to hit your protein target. Top your bowl with grilled chicken, a filet of mahi-mahi or salmon, seasoned lean ground turkey or beef, shrimp, eggs, or cottage cheese. For plant-based protein options, go for chickpeas, lentils, beans, tofu, or tempeh.
- Pick a fat source. You may already have a fat source in your macro bowl if you have included a fattier meat (chicken thigh, pork, steak), eggs, or salmon. If you need to add more, you can top your bowl with avocado, nuts, seeds, cheese, or hummus.
- Add some flavor: Customize your bowl with whatever condiments or toppings you enjoy most. This could be a Greek yogurt-based salad dressing, balsamic vinegar, kimchi, coconut aminos, sriracha, or anything else that will give your bowl the flavor it needs.
Brown or white rice
Nonfat Greek yogurt
Lean ground turkey
Lean ground beef
Nuts and seeds
Easy Bowl Recipes
Taco bowl: Rice or black beans topped with sautéed peppers, onions, and zucchini. Add seasoned lean ground turkey, guacamole, salsa, and nonfat Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.
Breakfast bowl: Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes with some bell peppers, tomato, or broccoli. Add a fried egg or two and top with hot sauce and some greens.
Roasted chicken bowl: Rice, farro, couscous, or quinoa as your base. Top with roasted cauliflower, carrots, kale, and chicken thigh. To sweeten it up, add with coconut aminos. For a different flavor combination, try curry instead.
Mediterranean salmon bowl: Farro or quinoa with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a salmon fillet. Add a spoonful of tzatziki on top.
Plant-based protein bowl: A high-protein carb base like lentils, quinoa, or black beans. Add roasted veggies and chickpeas, topped with tahini or avocado.
Kate Lyman, MPH, CHES is owner and head coach of an online nutrition coaching business. She and her team at KLN believe in ditching restrictive diet rules and building flexible eating habits that allow you to eat the foods you enjoy while still working towards your aesthetic, performance, and health-related goals. She provides individualize and group nutrition coaching and also instructs corporate nutrition seminars. Get in touch at katelymannutrition.com or on follow along at @klnutrition.