When youʼre in a calorie deficit, maintaining lean mass should be your number one priority. After all, your goal is to LOSE BODY FAT, not simply to lose weight. You’ve worked hard to add lean mass. In order to maintain all that muscle, you have to make sure you get enough protein.
It’s time to talk about MACRONUTRIENTS:
Although no two people are the same, most people can start with the same macro profile: 40/30/30 (Carbohydrates/Fat/Protein). For what itʼs worth, this profile works for most people, most of the time. Exceptions might be made for endurance athletes, bodybuilders, or other groups with very unique energy requirements/goals.
Letʼs say Jane weighs 154 pounds and fat loss is her goal. Right now sheʼs averaging 1812 calories each day, and sheʼs managed to lose about 6 pounds since she started logging her food three weeks ago. Given the fact that her energy levels are good, sheʼll keep her calories at 1800 (since sheʼs losing about two pounds a week, is on track to reach her goal, and feels great).
Now it's time to do some math. First, we need to figure out how many calories will come from each of the 3 macros.
- 1800 x 40% = 720 calories will come from Carbs
- 1800 x 30% = 540 calories will come from Fat
- 1800 x 30% = 540 calories will come from Protein
Secondly, we need to talk about CALORIES PER GRAM.
- Carbs = 4 calories/gram
- Fat = 9 calories/gram
- Protein = 4 calories/gram
Finally, now that we know how many calories there are in each macronutrient, we can set Janeʼs daily goals in terms of GRAMS.
- 720/4 = 180 grams of Carbs
- 540/9 = 60 grams of Fat
- 540/4 = 135 grams of Protein
For what it's worth, many people find it easier to keep track of grams rather than calories. Maybe itʼs the smaller number, maybe itʼs because nobody really likes to count calories – who knows. Do what works best for you.
Now letʼs plug in your numbers. The first thing we need to know is how many calories youʼre averaging each day. (If you havenʼt been tracking calories, letʼs take your body weight x 12.) Click here to learn more about setting calorie goals.
BW _________ X 12 = __________ Average Calories/Day
- Calories ____ X .4 = ____ calories from CARBS
- Calories ____ X .3 = ____ calories from FAT
- Calories ____ X .3 = ____ calories from PROTEIN
In order to calculate how many GRAMS of each you need, you’ll use the following:
- ____ calories from CARBS / 4 = ____ grams
- ____ calories from FAT / 9 = ____grams
- ____ calories from PROTEIN / 4= ____grams
Above all, the most important number to focus on is PROTEIN.
Once again, when youʼre in a calorie deficit, maintaining lean mass should be your number one priority. After all, your goal is to LOSE BODY FAT. In order to maintain all that muscle, you have to make sure you get enough protein.
Animal proteins contain all 22 amino acids and are the most bioavailable:
- extra lean meats
However, if you don’t want to eat that much animal protein (no judgment), youʼll need to find other sources. After all, you still need to get ___ grams of protein each day!
Other good sources of protein:
- Greek yogurt
- protein powder
- cottage cheese
The second most important number is FAT.
Unfortunately, not all fats are not created equal, so focus on eating healthy fats:
- nuts (especially walnuts)
- eggs (with DHA & EPA)
- nut butter
- olive oil
My Fitness Pal (MFP) has a pie chart that calculates macros as you go, so itʼs incredibly helpful in reaching your percentage goals.
However, the macro default settings in MFP are 50/30/20, so itʼs you’ll need to customize your “goals” and set your macros at 40/30/30.
In order to do this, simply select:
- MORE from the nav bar at the bottom of the screen. Now you’ll select
- NUTRITION GOALS
- CALORIE, CARBS, PROTEIN, AND FAT GOALS, and simply click on CARBS.
Once you’re on this screen, youʼll be able to manually enter your percentages and set your macro goals.
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