When it comes to sustainable weight management, counting your macros for fat loss is an absolute must! This is a skill that with time will really empower you as it will allow you to better understand your body and control your physique while enjoying a variety of foods.
Understanding Macros for Fat Loss
The term macro being the opposite of micro means larger scale.
In terms of nutrition, micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals contained within our food and macronutrients are the big 3 categories you’ve all heard of.
Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein.
There is a fourth being alcohol, but were not going to cover that in this guide.
Both carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 per gram. These numbers will form the basis for the simple addition that you’ll do once you have your macro targets set.
Most of you probably knew that stuff already but at some point, all of us had no idea what a macro was.
So regardless of what your physique goals are, every macronutrient plays an important role in regulating your metabolism, appetite and proper hormone function. For this reason, we cannot overlook any of them.
Now before you can start counting your macros for fat loss you’ll need to get an estimate of what your maintenance calories are.
Estimating Maintenance Calories
To estimate this, you can do one of two things.
- Use a calorie calculator that estimates your basal metabolic rate (BMR) along with your activity level to get an idea of your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
- Start counting your current caloric intake without any changes to your diet for a solid two weeks.
I highly suggest the second option because These calculators can only estimate. They cannot take into account numerous other factors such as; your current metabolic rate, specific activity levels and exercise intensity.
Of course, you must understand that when counting your macros for fat loss (initially) there will be a greater margin of error.
These factors will affect what your true maintenance calories are. Which is the baseline we must establish to set the best fat loss macros for the greatest success.
Before Setting Macros for Fat-Loss
You may want to dive right into your deficit but trust me on this. Slow and steady wins the race as this is a game of sustainability. We don’t want you to burn out before hitting your goals, regaining the weight and stressing yourself out further.
You must understand that counting macros and tracking your progress is a game of tuning in and getting to know your body.
Adjustments to your macro diet plan WILL need to be made along the way if you are losing weight too quickly, slowly or hit a plateau. Therefore, tracking with multiple points of data (from your weight-loss, macro counting app and measurements) will help to make the best calorie adjustments.
Setting Your Caloric Deficit
Once you’ve got a rough estimate of your maintenance calories, we’ll need to set your calorie deficit to achieve consistent fat loss.
Using a 20 to 25 % deficit works well and should put you around the 1lb a week fat loss range.
Subtracting this number by your maintenance number will give us a target of 1650 calories per day.
Establishing Your Fat Loss Macros
When designing a weight-loss macro split for my clients we always start with protein.
Protein plays the biggest role in preserving muscle mass and reducing hunger by keeping us full. Not only is it the most satiating of the macronutrients, but it also has the highest thermic effect, helping to burn more fat while dieting.
Make sure to select a protein target between 0.8 to 1.2 grams per pound of total body weight.
If you are leaner and only have 10 to 20 pounds to lose you are at a higher risk of muscle loss, so you’ll want to go closer to 1.2g.
Setting fat Macros
The fat we get from our food is imperative for proper nutrient absorption and hormone processes. For this reason, your fat intake should never drop below 25% of your total caloric intake.
Stay within the 25% to 35% range and choose the target number based on your food preferences. Please note that the higher you set your fat macro target the lower your carbohydrate macros will be.
Either way, this will all be fine-tuned over time as you understand it better and make adjustments.
Carbohydrates help to support your leptin levels, a hormone that regulates your metabolism and appetite. Carbs will also keep your testosterone to cortisol ratios in check especially in active individuals providing a better hormone balance.
They keep you satiated, promote relaxation and better sleep quality reducing stress levels to help you lose weight more effectively.
Using the above example of a 1650 calorie target for a 160lb individual the macros would look something like this:
If choosing 0.9 grams, multiplying this by the total body weight will give us 144 grams. Multiplying 144 by 4 calories per gram gives us 576 calories.
144 x 4 calories per gram = 576 calories
Take your fat loss calorie target, multiply it by 25% (the target you chose) and we get 412 calories.
Dividing this by 9 calories per gram and you get 46 grams.
1650 calories x 25% = 412 calories
412 / 9 calories per gram of fat = 46g
For carbohydrates add together your total calories from protein and fats, then subtract this number from your calorie target and divide it by 4 to get 165g of carbs
The Final Macros Would be:
165g of carbs.
Rounding up or down your numbers will help to simplify this process. And believe me, the more simplicity you can implement into any of this (which I have tons of tips for) the more sustainable it will be for you.
Just Estimate your maintenance, set your starting macros take measurements and be patient.
Macro Counting Apps & Tips
With counting & tracking macros for fat loss it’s best to use a smartphone app.
Most of the world seems to be using MyFitnessPal though I personally use cron-o-meter.
Regardless of which you choose this will simplify the process for you and keep a library of the data for future use.
**Make sure to star or favourite your regular food choices as this will save you a bunch of time in the future.
Definitely Use a Digital Food Scale
This will be the most accurate way to measure and log your food into the app.
Avoid Using Measuring Cups
When possible try to avoid them. This can create more work, cleanup, and it will likely increase the margin of error.
Weigh Everything RAW
When possible, make sure you are weighing everything you can raw. Meat, grains, starchy vegetables and choose the raw/uncooked selection in the app.
I totally overlooked this when I started many years ago and delayed my progress for at least a month.
A Must Know for Your Weight Loss Journey
Research shows that tracking your food intake can really help with weight maintenance.
And it’s important to understand that counting your macros is going to require some time, effort and consistency from your end. Though as with any skill, you will definitely get better at it, and especially more accurate and efficient. You’ll come to gain a better understanding of your body and its needs.
More importantly, as you achieve your fat loss and physique goals over time, you’ll be creating a shift in your self-image. The way you see your self within your mind.
I believe this is one of the biggest reasons why the majority of people regain the weight they’ve lost on any diet. They haven’t created a change within their self-image leading ultimately to self-sabotage.
This is a whole other topic that I’ll be doing tons of future content on.
Are you more of a visual person?
Check out my Macro Counting guide on YouTube