One of the most frequent questions that health and fitness enthusiasts all over the world, tend to ask on a near daily basis, is what is the best macro ratio for losing weight? Losing weight is a very tricky and very complex procedure that is not just something that can be tackled overnight. Before we go any further, it’s vital that we clear up the fact that, when talking about losing weight, we are actually referring to losing fat, as fat loss is the primary objective of the majority of individuals interested in losing weight. The main issue associated with fat loss, is a conflict of information. You may go to one website or forum and be told that low fat diets are the secret to success, yet on another forum or website, people will tell you that you should be looking to increase your fat consumption and eat plenty of healthy fat to lose weight. Put simply, if one person is telling you to do one thing, and another person is telling you to do another, how do you know who to trust, and which advice to follow? Well, if you are serious about losing weight and getting in shape, you should first take the time to identify trusted and reputable sources that will be guaranteed to help get you the goals and the results that you have been looking for. Instead of trusting an anonymous poster on an internet forum or social networking page, you should instead find articles and advice provided by trusted and reputable individuals, specialising in the health and fitness fields. As far as weight loss is concerned however, you simply cannot underestimate the importance of dialling in your macros and following the correct macronutrient split ratio, and that is where people go wrong.
What are macros?
Macros, or macronutrients, are basically referring to the calories provided to your body in the form of: Protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Macronutrients are the key to health and fitness success, IF, you can dial them in and work out the perfect ratio depending on your goals and targets. Basically, think of macros as molecules used by the body in order to generate energy for itself. Macros are measured in grams, are found in all forms of food and drink, and, if you know what you’re doing, can really help you to reach your ideal goal physique or fitness objectives. Put simply, macros are the amounts of calories found in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Whereas protein and carbohydrates both provide 4 calories per gram, fat provides 9 calories per gram, so just bear that in mind.
Counting calories VS counting macros
One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make when trying to lose body fat, is to spend the majority of their time counting and tracking calories from the foods and drinks that they are consuming. Of course, we all know that if you create a caloric deficit and consume less calories than you can burn, your body will burn body fat to compensate for this lack of energy, but that is only half of the story. You see, the problem with counting calories, is that you don’t know where your calories are coming from. A bodybuilder or somebody trying to build muscle, for example, will obviously want to get a large percentage of their calories, from protein, as different food categories have different effects on the body. If you are trying to lose weight, what you are really trying to do is to lose fat, and hopefully maintain or build muscle. If you simply focus on counting calories instead of tracking your macros, a lack of protein, and indeed a lack of the other nutrients required for muscle growth and repair, could lead to you losing muscle mass as well. Not only that, but by tracking macros, you are able to get a better idea of the types of foods you should, and should not, be putting into your body. Fat, for example, is a vital macro that we need on a daily basis, providing it comes from the right source. 100 calories of fat consumed via oily fish, is going to be much better for the body than 100 calories of carbohydrates which come from a slice of greasy processed pizza.
Calculating macros for losing weight
Now that we know a little more about why macros are so important, and why we should track them as opposed to just tracking calories, it’s now time to take a look at exactly how we can calculate the correct amount of macros required in order for us to lose body fat in a safe and controlled manner:
Working within a daily macro range – First and foremost, before you go any further, you will need to ensure that you are able to work within a daily macro range in order to yield the most impressive fat loss results. In order to achieve this, take a look at the following handy tips and hints listed below:
– Ensure that you set your protein consumption to around 0.8 – 1 gram of protein, per pound of lean bodyweight. In order to work out your lean body composition, you may wish to invest in a set of body fat callipers, or get the measurements taken professionally via your doctor.
– Make sure that your fat intake is set between 20 and 30% of the total number of calories that you consume on a daily basis. Don’t sweat things too much, and certainly don’t drive yourself crazy trying to ensure that you hit bang on 25% of total calories from fat every day. As long as you are getting between 20 and 30% of your daily total calories from fat each day, you are good to go.
– Finally, try to fill the remainder of your daily calories, with a selection of low glycemic index carbohydrates. As fat loss is your objective in this case, you should be looking to consume around 35 – 50% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. However, if you are especially sensitive to carbs, or if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may wish to reduce the amount of calories consumed via carbs to around 30%. If however, you find yourself active and are able to process and utilize carbohydrates well, you should be aiming for the higher number of around 50% and will then have to ensure that the calories from fat fall into the lower end of the spectrum, which would be 20%.
As you can see, in order for you to lose weight, your macros should look something like:
Fat: 20 – 30%
Carbohydrates: 30 – 50%
Going into more detail, a typical example of an active individuals’ ratio split would look something like:
As you can see, in order for you to lose body fat, and to maintain, and possibly even increase your lean muscle mass, most typical macronutrient ratio splits require you to consume 50% of your entire day’s worth of calories, from protein. Many bodybuilders and fitness experts recommend consuming around 1 – 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, though in reality, in order to maintain and promote slight increases, studies have found that 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, is more than adequate. If for example, it was determined that, in order for you to lose fat, that you would need to be consuming around 2100 calories per day, that would mean that 1050 of those calories would need to come from protein, as that would be your 50% totals.
Fats can be confusing as there are many “flexible dieters” that use the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) example, to eat unhealthy foods. Yes, flexible dieting does work, in the sense that you can burn fat and build muscle with the right split, but unhealthy food is still unhealthy food, so try to get your fats from fresh and healthy sources instead. We need fat, fat is essential as only certain nutrients can be absorbed by the body via fat, I.E fat soluble vitamins. Because of this, always make sure that you are consuming at least 20% of your daily calories via healthy fat sources. Foods such as whole organic eggs, oily fish, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, nut butters, grass-fed beef etc, are great sources of healthy fats.
Carbs are the most controversial of all macros, as some people love them, whilst others hate them. Some people thrive on zero carbs a day, whilst others thrive on hundreds of grams per day, the key is finding what works best for you. What we can all agree on however, is the fact that, in order for you to be healthy and well looked after, the majority of your carbs will need to be low GI complex carbs such as: brown rice, whole grains, potatoes, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, etc…