Foods & Their Macronutrient Categories

Wow! That is such a fantastic title for this article. I’m glad you’re still with me…

I often have clients ask questions about “what is a protein?” or hearing that carbs are bad, not realizing the vast difference between the carbohydrates found in cookies versus the carbohydrates found in a tomato. This is a list of different types of foods, broken down into their MAIN category.

I say “main” category because inevitably I’ll get the question about beans and or cheese: “But Elizabeth, beans & cheese have protein in them, don’t they?” Yes, they do. Beans have protein in them, but they are an incomplete protein [more on that in another blog post]. And although cheese has protein in it, it really has more fat than protien, so I put cheese and nuts in the fats category.

And no. By all means, this is not a complete list. but it should get you there.


  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Tuna (water packed)
  • Fish (salmon, seabass, halibut)
  • Shrimp
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%)
  • Venison
  • Buffalo
  • Ostrich
  • Protein Powder
  • Egg Whites or Whole Eggs
  • Ribeye Steaks or Roast
  • Top Round Steaks or Roast (aka Stew Meat, London Broil, Stir Fry)
  • Top Sirloin (aka Sirloin Top Butt)
  • Beef Tenderloin (aka Filet, Filet Mignon)
  • Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
  • Flank Steak (Sir Fry, Fajita)
  • Eye of Round (Cube Meat, Stew Meat, Bottom Round , 96% LeandGround Round)
  • Ground turkey, Turkey Breast Slices or cutlets (fresh meat, not deli cuts)
  • Soy Burgers
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

Slow Burning/Complex Carbs

Loosly translated, these are grains and vegetables that grow beneath the ground. Yes, there are exceptions. That’s why I said “Loosly”.

  • Oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick Oats)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
  • Beans (pinto, black, kidney)
  • Oat Bran Cereal
  • Rye Cereal
  • Grape Nuts
  • Brown Rice
  • Farina (Cream of Wheat)
  • Multigrain Hot Cereal
  • Whole wheat or Spinach Pasta
  • 100% Stoneground Whole Wheat Bread

Fibrous Carbs

Loosly translated, these are vegetables that grow above the ground. Yes, there are exceptions, like peas that don’t fall into this category. That’s why I said “Loosly”.

  • Green Leafy Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Leaf, Romaine)
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • String Beans
  • Okra
  • Spinach
  • Bell Peppers
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green or Red Pepper
  • Onions
  • Pumpkin
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini


Please don’t get all “avocados and tomatos are fruit too!” Yes, but they don’t generally raise your blood sugar.

  • Apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Lemons or Limes

Healthy Fats

  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Olive Oil or Safflower Oil
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds)
  • Flaxseed Oil


  • Crystal Light
  • Green Tea
  • Other Tea (without sugar)
  • Coffee (without sugar)


  • Mayonnaise
  • Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Reduced Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salsa
  • Hot Peppers and Hot Sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Mrs. Dash
  • Steak Sauce
  • Sugar Free Maple Syrup
  • Chili Paste
  • Mustard
  • Extracts (vanilla, almond, etc )
  • Low Sodium beef or chicken broth
  • Plain or reduced sodium tomatoes sauce, puree, paste)
  • Stevia (natural sweetener)