Macro Nutrients

When discussing macro nutrients, I am referring to protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Focusing on the caloric value of these along with fiber and water, is the best way to get past weight loss plateaus.

On this page, we will describe how to use macros as a nutritional baseline along with some tips on how to calculate your caloric needs.

The Need for Macro Nutrients

If you have been reading other pages on this site, you are aware that our bodies need all 3 of these macro nutrients (in proper proportions) to stay healthy. 

At the end of the day, losing weight is pretty simple:  Burn more calories than you consume.  That's it.  Now, this is not a recommendation to starve yourself.  Quite the opposite, we want you to be using strength training, cardio and a proper diet complete with macro nutrients, fiber and water to transform your body and your life.  Do this the RIGHT way.  Keep macros front and center in your diet and keep the proper balance based on what your goals are.  More on that later.

The primary need for macros is that they are all sources of energy for your body.  Energy is measured, scientifically, in calories.  Consume 2,000 calories and burn 2,500 through exercise and daily activities and you will lose weight.  Proteins and carbs contribute 4 calories per gram while fats provide 9 calories per gram.  As you can see, fat is an efficient source of energy.  That is why I want you to burn your existing body fat for energy during your workouts.  When overweight, we have a full storehouse of energy just waiting to be used up.

How Many Macros?

Before we get into those details, I want you to read this page on the best way to lose weight.  On that page you will note that I talk about very general portion sizes for protein and carbohydrates.  Use that as an easy starting point in your transformation.  Once you get to know you body's needs better, you will want to fine-tune your nutritional intake. 

To get a bit more specific on balance, you should target approximately 35% of your calories to be in the form of protein, 45% from carbohydrates and 20% from fat.  You will see varying balance recommendations all over the internet.  Here is why I suggest this ratio.  1.  I want you to have plenty of protein for you to fuel muscle growth.  2.  The high carbohydrate number helps fuel muscle protein synthesis as your body turns carbs into various forms of sugar.  3.  The low fat number is because I want you to burn your "on-board" fat supplies instead of external fat that you eat.    As you get leaner, slide the fat up to up to about 30% as you will need more intake with less in your body.  Take carbs down to 35% and keep protein at 35%.  As you hit your goal weight, you will want to have your caloric intake equal your expenditures each day.  If you decide to build more muscle instead of just maintaining, bump the protein to 40% and drop the carbs to 30%.  Keep the fat at 30%.

Calories Needed/Burned For You

Now that you understand what macro nutrients are and how to figure out the balance between them, all you need is to figure out your own macro numbers.  This will be somewhat simplified because, if you want to really get detailed about it, your numbers will change over time.  Still, this method will be a pretty good guide for you.

  • First step:  Get out a pencil, paper and calculator.  It will be easier that way.
  • Next:  Calculate the number of calories that you expend, on average, each day.  Go here to do that.
  • Now, using that number, multiply that number by 85% to determine your daily calorie intake target.  Use 80% if you really want to be aggressive in your weight loss.  Do NOT go any lower than that.  You will be short on energy pretty quickly.

To illustrate, my daily calories burned using this tool is 2,532.  That seems about right.  85% of this would be 2,152 calories.  This would be my targeted daily intake of calories.  I have been rounding down to 2,100.  Using the percentages above, I figure out how many protein, carbohydrate and fat calories that I should be ingesting each day.  I break that down by my 5 meals (they don't have to be exactly equal) and that dictates what I consume each day.   You  can Google the number of calories for various foods if they don't show calories, protein, carbs and fat on the labels (such as meats and fresh fruits and veggies).  To figure out how many grams of each macro just divide calories by 4 (protein & carbs) and by 9 (fat).  In my case that yields 184 grams of protein, 184 grams of carbohydrates and 70 grams of fat daily.

There is a lot more that you may want to know about macros.  Click here to find out all the science behind the method.  Do your own calculations and apply that to your nutrition program.  I think you will be very pleased with the results.

› Macro Nutrients