Macros...protein, fats, carbs - the three macronutrients that we need in large amounts, hence the term "macro", to be able to function, train hard, and simply live.
When you hear people say, "I gotta hit my macros", they're referring to the number of grams that they need to eat for each.
Whether you're looking to lose fat for good or cut for an upcoming event, you'll need to calculate your numbers and eat in a deficit.
Let's get to it!
- The key to fat loss is a calorie deficit. Without one, don't expect to lose a pound of body weight.
- Simple math we'll be required, but we'll make it easy to understand.
- The first step to macros, is calculating your calorie (energy) needs - then setting your deficit.
- Calculating macros then happens in 3 steps; protein needs, then fat, and finally carbs.
- High protein diets work best for fat loss.
FIRST THINGS FIRST - YOU NEED TO BE IN DEFICIT TO LOSE FAT
Before we get your macros calculated, you must understand that deficits are the key to fat loss.
You need to eat less than your maintenance calories to lose fat. Here's a quick rundown on calories and weight management.
(-) FAT LOSS: Less calories in, more calories out.
(=) MAINTENANCE: A balanced amount of calories in and calories out to maintain current weight.
(+) WEIGHT GAIN: A surplus of calories causes weight gain. this happens when calories consumed are higher than calories burned.
Now let's get to your macros...
STEP 1: CALCULATE CALORIE NEEDS
First up - you need to understand how many calories your body needs for its basic functions;
...what your body needs to do to basically keep you ALIVE.
BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR) is the measure of calories your body needs to perform life-sustaining functions like breathing and digesting foods.
RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR) is the number of calories your body burns while at rest.
RMR is the number of calories an individual burns at rest with minimal movement, while BMR measures the calories burned with zero movement throughout the day.
Now, to lose fat you'll need to consume fewer calories that your body burns and to figure this out, we'll use a 2-step process.
- Step 1: Calculate BMR
- Step 2: Calculate TDEE
STEP 1: CALCULATING YOUR BMR
The most accurate way to get your BMR is by using the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. Although it is technically used to calculate one's RMR - it is commonly used to set one's BMR and calculate caloric intake.
Input your personal numbers into the Mifflin-St Jeor equation below:
Men: BMR/RMR = (9.99 × weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimeters) – (5 × age in years) + 5
Women: BMR/RMR = (9.99 × weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimeters) – (5 × age in years) – 161
Now that you've got your BMR - we move to the next step.
STEP 2: DETERMINING YOUR TDEE
TDEE stands for "total daily energy expenditure".
It is an estimate of the total calories burned once exercise is involved.
Find your TDEE by multiplying your BMR against the activity multiplier below.
Multiply your BMR and level of activity to find your TDEE.
- Sedentary (no exercise): BMR x 1.2
- Light Exercise (1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
- Moderate Exercise (3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
- Heavy Exercise (6-7 days/week): BMR x 1.725
- Athlete (2x/day.): BMR x 1.9
The final number, your TDEE, is how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight.
Now subtract 500 calories from your TDEE and that is your baseline deficit.
STEP 2: PROTEIN NEEDS
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Assuming you're a healthy, active adult who wants to lose fat and build muscle, multiply your body weight in pounds by 1 gram to calculate your daily protein requirement.
Now, for calories, you'll be multiplying your weight by calories per gram.
Weight x 4 = Calories from Protein
STEP 3: FAT NEEDS
Fat = 9 calories per gram.
The general guideline is to consume 20-30% of your daily calories from fat or a minimum of 0.25 grams per pound of body weight.
A good rule of thumb is to aim to consume 0.3 to 0.6 grams of fat per pound of body weight.
If you will be using a high-carb diet - your fat intake will be lower (0.3-0.4).
If you will be going high fat, low car - set your fat intake higher (0.5-0.6)
Now use the following two steps to set your fat macros.
STEP 1: Weight x Fat Intake = Grams in Fat
STEP 2: Grams in Fat x 9 = Calories from Fat
STEP 4: CARBOHYDRATE NEEDS
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Carbs should make up your remaining calories after subtracting protein and fat.
Here's where we put all the numbers together - input your numbers from the previous three steps into this formula:
(Calorie Deficit - Calories from Protein - Calories from Fat) // 4 = Grams of Carbohydrates
Now...you've got your macros for cutting. Ta-dah!
MOVING ON TO NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
Now that you're in a deficit, make those calories count.
Sure you could blow your day's worth on fast food - as long as they hit your macros, but let's save that for a cheat day, not every day!
HIGH PROTEIN FOODS
- Fish and Seafood
- Grass Fed Meats: Beef, Chicken, Turkey
- Free Range Eggs
- Greek Yogurt
- Protein Powder
If you aren’t consuming enough protein, your body may break down muscle tissue to get the amino acids it needs.
Consuming enough protein during a cut can help prevent muscle breakdown and promote muscle retention and fat loss.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. As such, consuming more protein-rich foods can help keep you full throughout the day, promoting weight loss.
Due to its high thermic effect, a high-protein diet also tends to increase the number of calories your body burns each day, even during sleep.
- Fatty Fish
- Grass Fed Butter
- Walnuts, Almonds, Seeds
- Nut Butter
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Your body needs fat to produce hormones, such as IGF-1 and testosterone, which are crucial for developing and maintaining muscle mass in the body.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Apples, Bananas, Mango
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy to fuel your workouts. Your body prefers to use carbs for energy instead of protein and fat. Eating enough carbs can help prevent muscle loss.
Now, some wise words from Dr. James DiNicolantonio,
"If you eat less, you'll lose WEIGHT.
If you eat less and eat PLENTY OF PROTEIN, you'll lose BODY FAT.
If you eat less, eat plenty of PROTEIN, and STRENGTH TRAIN, you'll lose BODY FAT and GAIN MUSCLE."
We'll leave it at that.