How to Count Macros for Weight Loss (and Actually See Results!)
Tired of cutting things out and jeopardizing your health to lose weight? Had enough of fad diets and want to know the secret to sustainable weight loss?
The macro diet, or IIFYM, is a form of flexible dieting that is easily adjusted to help you lose weight, maintain it, or even muscle gain.
In this guide, we will show you how counting your macros can develop your healthy eating habits, helping you to safely and sustainably lose weight. We've also provided our top tips and macro meal suggestions!
Does counting macros really work for weight loss?
"It doesn't require you to eliminate anything in order to lose weight."
When it comes to eating for weight loss, the majority of diets are restrictive by nature. For example, the keto and paleo diets recommend significantly cutting down on foods containing carbohydrates and the Atkins Diet suggests removing both fats and carbs.
Counting your macros (the IIFYM ‘diet’) is far more flexible and sustainable because it doesn’t require you to eliminate anything in order to lose weight. Instead, it focuses on getting the right balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat). This ensures that you don’t risk any long-term damage due to deficiencies.
Hang on, what's a macronutrient and why are they important? Let MayoClinic tell you in 1 minute:
Make sure you check out our Ultimate Guide to Macros (With Macro Calculator) to learn more about the IIFYM diet.
Why counting macros is more effective than counting calories
It’s true that the only way to lose weight is by creating a calorie deficit but there’s much more to being healthy and promoting sustainable weight loss than simply counting calories. The best way to do this is by tracking your macros. Not only does this make you more aware of the food you are eating, but it also supports you to choose more nutritious and balanced options. What’s more, the flexibility of the IIFYM diet enables you to choose the foods that you personally enjoy, as long as it fits your macro ratio. This makes it much easier to stick to in the long-term!
Why all three macros are important for weight loss
Believe it or not, all macronutrients are important for health and fitness. What’s more, as long as we maintain the correct balance, then we can consume all three macros and lose weight at the same time.
"Consume all three macros and lose weight at the same time!"
Carbohydrates - for sustainable energy
Far from the bad guy that many fad diets (keto, we're looking at you) make it out to be, carbohydrate is a very important energy source. The body digests it to make glucose and afterward stores it as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Your body uses these two forms of sugar as fuel, which helps you to perform high-intensity exercise that burns off fat and builds muscle.
In addition, healthy carbs give you more sustainable energy due to their slow-release, they are an important source of dietary fiber, AND they keep you fuller for longer. So, carbohydrate is clearly an essential macro that has great attributes for weight loss!
Don't believe us? Then maybe you'll believe Joanna Soh, certified Personal Trainer (ACE), Nutrition Coach, and Women’s Fitness Specialist (NASM):
Protein - produces appetite-reducing hormones
We all know that protein helps you to build muscle, but did you know that this macro is great for weight loss too? By eating foods that contain protein, your body will produce appetite-reducing hormones and slow the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) - reducing your cravings and helping you to feel fuller for longer.
Studies have also demonstrated that increased protein intake can accelerate calorie burn, supporting healthy weight loss. Moreover, this important macro makes hemoglobin, which transports oxygen around your body and is essential for keeping you fit enough to complete that fat burning workout.
Fat - to absorb vital minerals aiding in weight loss
If the keto diet has been good for anything at all, it’s because it has taught people that fat does not have to lead to weight gain. While fat contains more calories than the other two macros, it is still essential to our diets and we don’t have to eliminate it in order to lose weight.
Without this macro, we wouldn’t be able to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are all essential for healthy and sustainable weight loss. In fact, fat is an essential part of our cell membranes and supports cognitive function, nerve, and heart health.
Use a macro calculator to get you on track to lose weight
We made our very own macro and calorie calculator to help you calculate your own personalized balanced ratio! It uses the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation - found to be the most accurate by the American Dietetic Association. The equation calculates your basal metabolic rate (BMR) based on estimated averages. Activity levels are then factored in to work out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.
It also works out your suggested macro ratio based on:
- The calories per gram of each macronutrient (protein = 4 calories, carbohydrate = 4 calories, fat = 9 calories)
- USDA/FDA recommended daily allotment (RDA) for macronutrients (45% carbs, 30% protein, and 25% fat)
How to use the macro calculator for weight loss
Our macro calculator helps you to calculate the calories you need to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, then you simply need to create a calorie deficit (reduce your daily calories).
What is the best macro ratio for weight loss?
Some people prefer to stick to the same macro ratio, but the specific ratio for optimum weight loss entails a higher protein percentage. This allows people to continue to strengthen muscle while shedding excess body fat.
To lose weight by counting your macros, the optimum “Fat Burning Ratio” is as follows: 50% protein, 30% carbohydrate, 20% fat
Coupled with a 500 calorie deficit, the above macro ratio is ideal for weight loss.
How much weight will I lose if I eat a 500 calorie deficit?
One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so by creating a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you will lose approximately 1 pound per week.
Example: If your BMR is 1,800 → consume 1,300 calories per day with 50% of those calories coming from protein, 30% from carbs, and 20% from fats.
Follow this link for our article on Macros for Muscle Gain
Activity levels are important for weight loss
It goes without saying that a diet is not the only contributing factor for weight loss. Maintaining a sustainable fitness regime is vital for burning fat and promoting a healthy body. If you have used our calculator, then you will have chosen 1 of 5 different activity levels to calculate your macro ratio. Your ratio will change depending on the amount of exercise you do on average every week.
To help you get an idea about how different activity levels can affect your calorie deficit, have a play around on the calculator. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below!
TOP WEIGHT LOSS TIP:
Download MyFitnessPal to keep track of your calorie intake and exercise each day. They also have handy Macro graphs for you to keep track of your fat, carbohydrate, and protein intakes too!
Visual Learner? Find out how to lose weight by counting macros using MyFitnessPal here:
How long does it take to start losing weight while counting macros?
It’s very difficult to say because everyone’s situation differs. It depends on your metabolism, fitness level, exercise activities, and other personal differences. Counting your macros will help you to keep track of your average weight loss per week, so if you want to speed things up (or slow things down) then you can always adjust your calorie and subsequent macronutrient targets accordingly. It’s very flexible!
Macro meals for weight loss
We've put together some delicious macro-friendly meal plans to suit different needs. They're perfectly balanced using the maintaining weight macro ratio but can be easily adjusted to increase the protein and to suit different calorie targets.
Fancy a snack? We've got some great healthy (yet delicious) macro snack suggestions for weight loss!
Can I eat junk food if it fits my macros?
Well...yes, but it will make your weight loss macro targets more difficult to stick to! Plus, eating healthy food ensures that you are getting all of the right nutrients to help your body burn fat and lose weight.
Check out our guide to healthy and delicious junk food alternatives!
CONCLUSION: WHY YOU SHOULD COUNT MACROS FOR WEIGHT LOSS:
Most diets are difficult to stick to. Even if you are able to lose weight to begin with, they may not be sustainable. So the best way to ensure you maintain your weight loss over a longer period of time you should try to eat at a calorie deficit. However, you should also make sure you are eating the right balance of calories to stay fit and healthy! This is where macros come in!
So what are some awesome macro-balanced foods that you can eat for weight loss? Check out our Macro Snacks, the perfectly balanced, healthy chip alternative: