How Many Macros For Weight Loss


How Many Macros For Weight Loss. There are many different factors that go into a successful weight loss program including diet, exercise, and even genetics. But one thing that’s often ignored is protein intake. Protein intake is just as important as your calorie intake and exercise routine because it will determine whether or not you reach your desired weight loss goal.

Calories or macros

While reducing calorie intake is a proven way to reduce your weight, there’s no shortage of diets promising the same results but with more flexibility. One such popular diet is “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM), which offers users less restriction in what they eat, while still guaranteeing results.

Rather than counting calories, IIFYM counts the daily macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) found in the foods and drinks we consume. Many people like the diet because it offers flexibility and allows them to consume any food as long as it fits into their daily macronutrient (“macro”) requirements.

However, there’s currently no scientific research that has specifically examined whether counting macros is as effective as other methods in achieving different weight goals. Past research has looked into the effects of reducing or manipulating individual macros for weight loss, such as comparing the effect of consuming a low-fat versus low-carbohydrate diet or comparing four diets containing different proportions of fat, carbohydrate and protein. Ultimately, researchers found no significant, long-term difference between the diets on how much weight they helped people lose) – and all are difficult to adhere to in the long term.

As such, this makes it difficult to know whether counting calories or macros is more useful when it comes to your different body weight goals.
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Weight loss

The basic principle to achieving weight loss is eat less energy than your body requires on a daily basis and you will lose weight. Any diet can lead to weight loss as long as this basic principle is applied.

The tricky part is establishing what our energy requirements really are. The most practical and accurate measure of this, indirect calorimetry (a measurement of the gases that we breathe from which energy expenditure can be estimated), is still not 100% accurate. And the prediction equations commonly used in dietary counselling and by online apps to set calorie intake goals for weight loss are even more inaccurate. This is especially so in those who are overweight or obese due to the equations being based on body weight, and not taking account of fat mass.

But whether you’re counting calories or macros, you still need this starting point to work from to keep within your targets. While our actual energy requirements are uncertain and can vary greatly depending on how active we are, our requirements for macronutrients are more certain, based on government guidelines.

An advantage of counting macros is that it ensures that some essential nutrients are incorporated into your diet, instead of focusing solely on calories. Counting calories takes no account of nutrients. And while it seems obvious that choosing wholesome nutritious sources of calories is better than processed, high-sugar and saturated fat foods, you could hypothetically eat seven chocolate bars (each worth 228 calories, a total of 1,596 calories) and still lose weight if your total energy expenditure is around 2,000 calories a day.

Macro calculations are estimated based on body weight, height and activity levels and can be adjusted to your weight goal. While fewer restrictions on what to eat may be a bonus for some on IIFYM, for others keeping track of macro intake and hitting those targets can be difficult and time consuming.

Tracking both macros and calories can be time consuming

Whatever you’re counting you’ll require an affinity for reading food labels and keeping a record of all foods and fluids consumed throughout the day. While there are numerous online nutritional databases and apps that help you track macros and calories, they may not always be accurate either. Plus there’s the added complication that we may not actually absorb all of the energy or nutrients that food labels list, making it even harder to meet specific targets.

Additionally, neither method will guarantee that you meet all of your other nutrient requirements. For example, as macros only focus on carbs, protein and fats, they may overlook the importance of other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, which are essential for staying healthy and preventing deficiencies. Unless combined with dietary advice about making permanent changes to a healthy balanced diet, neither method is a long-term solution to weight loss or maintenance.

How does tracking macronutrients work?

Counting your macros is a way to keep track of what you’re eating, but at the same time allow yourself to indulge in foods that would normally be off limits. You’d start by finding your daily macro allotment (see next slide), and then downloading a calorie-tracking app like MyFitnessPal to log all of your food.

Once you get those numbers, you’ll weigh and track your food, while also tracking your bodyweight and body measurements. From there, it’s easy. If you aren’t losing weight, decrease your macros a little, and if losing too much (more than three pounds per week) increase them.

How to meet your macros

First, you need to figure out how many calories you should consume based on whether you want to lose or gain weight. “That’s easy,” says Jeb Stuart Johnston, an NYC-based transformation specialist and a coach with Stronger U Nutrition. “To lose, multiply your body weight by 10, and then by 13 to maintain, and 15 to gain.”

Once you have that number, you’ll need to calculate your macros. It’s important to know that there are 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories per gram of fat. Johnston says to always eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Then, you’ll multiply your body weight by 0.3 to calculate your fats. The remainder of your calories will be left for your carbs.

For a 200-pound male looking to lose weight, it’d look like this:

200 (protein) x 4 = 800 (calories). Then, 200 (bodyweight) x 0.3 = 60 (grams of fat) x 9 = 540 (calories).
From there, you’ll add up 800 and 540 to get 1,340. Then, subtract 2,000 (your total calories) from 1,340 to get 600 calories and divide that by 4 to get 165 (grams of carbs).
So a 200-pound guy looking to lose fat will eat 2,000 calories, 200 grams of protein, 165 grams of carbohydrates, and 60 grams of fat. If you wanted to gain, you’d use the same formula but with a higher calorie number.

How to make progress tracking macros

You’ll also have to track your body weight. Some coaches recommend one weekly weigh-in, but others, like Johnston, say daily weigh-ins help you track better but also become familiar with how certain foods and when you eat affects your weight fluctuations. Always weigh yourself in the morning and after using the restroom for the most accurate results.

You should also measure your waist weekly. Sometimes the number on the scale isn’t reflective of your progress-if you haven’t lost any weight, but your waist shrinks by half an inch, that means you’re losing fat and retaining muscle mass.

Typically, you’ll want to stick with your macros for two weeks before making any adjustments. After that time, if you’re down a few pounds, then keep your numbers the same. If you didn’t lose any weight or even gained some, then remove 10 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat (almost 100 calories). If you’re trying to gain and lost weight, then add the same amount of macros. Then, reevaluate after another week.

Common misconceptions about counting calories

There’s a common misconception that calorie counting is a way to eat as much junk as possible while still losing weight or gaining muscle. That’s not true. To meet the macro guidelines that we, and most sensible coaches, recommend, you’ll quickly find that you need to eat mostly single-macro foods, aka whole foods, (that is, foods that are mainly comprised of either fat, protein, or carbs).

This allows you to regulate your macro intake, and, as a bonus, most of these foods are low in calories, so you’re able to eat more of them compare to a slice of pizza or a burger, which is high in carbs, fats, and proteins. The point is: you can work in some treats, but expect to be eating plenty of chicken and lean beef, veggies, and carbs such as potatoes and rice.

Calculating Macros for Sports, Exercise, and Athletic Performance

Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are referred to as dietary macronutrients. “Macro” means large, and we need relatively more of these nutrients than the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). We generally get our micronutrients along with macronutrients.

The amount of the different macros that athletes need varies on the type and intensity of activity they are engaging in. Macro percentages for strength training, for example, differ somewhat from those for endurance runners.

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need?

Protein supports exercise, but not by serving as a primary fuel source. It has too many other more important functions in the body. Of course, dietary protein is needed for muscle repair and growth, but it is also needed to make enzymes – proteins that assist with thousands of chemical reactions that take place in the body – including the production of energy from food.

Hormones, such as insulin and glucagon that help to regulate the levels of sugar in your blood, are made from the amino acids in the proteins that you eat. And, your body uses the protein in your diet to manufacture antibodies – proteins that help your body fight infection.

Recommended protein intakes are often expressed as a percentage of total calories, but sports nutritionists prefer to calculate protein needs for athletes according to bodyweight.

It should make sense that athletes require more protein than sedentary people since they generally have more muscle mass.

The standard recommended protein intake for endurance athletes is in the range of 0.5 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight (or 1 – 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight).
Strength athletes need a bit more and are advised to take in about 0.7 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight (about 1.5 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight). That means that a 180-pound (82 kg) athlete might need a minimum of about 90 and 110 grams per day to support endurance activity, or roughly 130 to 150 grams a day to support strength training.

Ideally, though, protein intake would be tailored to the amount of lean body mass (LBM) you have since bodyweight alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Your LBM comprises all your bodyweight that isn’t fat – your muscles, bones, organs, tissues, and water – and can vary quite a bit among individuals of the same body weight.

Body composition testing can determine your LBM, and athletes are advised to take in about 1 gram of dietary protein for each pound of lean mass. Strength athletes may need a bit more – up to 2 grams per pound of lean mass. By using this tailored approach, dietary protein intake can provide a good match to support the athlete’s amount of lean body mass.
Recommended Carbohydrate Intake for Athletes

Carbohydrates serve as the main source of fuel during exercise, which is why it’s so important for athletes to consume adequate amounts. This ensures that they have readily available carbohydrate stores in the muscle, liver, and bloodstream.

Carb requirements will vary based on activity

For most moderately active people, a well-balanced diet that supplies about half (45 to 55 percent) of the calories from carbohydrates should be adequate.
Endurance athletes may need proportionately more, generally in the range of 55 to 65 percent of total calories.
Ultra-endurance athletes, such as those who participate in events lasting longer than 4 hours, need even more: up to 75 percent of their total calories from carbohydrates.

Sports dietitians prefer to calculate carbohydrate needs according to bodyweight rather than a percentage of calories because it gives the athlete a specific intake goal:

For general training, athletes are advised to take in 2.5 to 3 grams per pound of body weight (about 5.5 to 7 grams per kilogram)).
Endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, swimmers) need more; the goal is 3 to 4.5 grams per pound of body weight (about 7 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram).
Ultra-endurance athletes who engage in competitions that last for four hours or more may need 5 grams per pound of bodyweight, or more (11 grams or more per kilogram).

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