How To Determine Your Optimal "Macros" (And How The Skinny On The 3-Phase Extreme Fat Loss Formula)
The hardest part of this chapter is long past - now that you've got counting calories down, it's much simpler to learn to count your macronutrients (macros for short).
First, what are macronutrients? (We've discussed these at length in the past chapters, so we'll very briefly review them.)
Note: the Phases mentioned in parentheses below correspond to the sheets in the Excel Calorie Calculator.
Protein is essentially the amino acids/building blocks of your lean muscle, which make up your body's internal processes as well as your "outside" muscles. They are a vital part of any diet, and are even more important during a weight loss period (since your body is prone to destroy precious muscle tissue when it's not getting the # of calories it's used to.) There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein.
- If you are very overweight or obese:
o Have at least .6 grams of protein per lb. of weight
- If you are lifting heavily or doing intense training:
o Have .8 - 1 gram of protein per pound of weight
- If you're somewhere in the middle or want a good estimate that works for most
o Have .8 grams of protein per lb. of bodyweight
- If you know your lean body mass (LBM):
o Disregard the above conditions, and simply have 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM
- Note: Except for "Phase 3/Leangevity & Maintenance" in the Excel calculator, all protein calculations use a middle ground .8 g/lb figure, or 1 g/lb of LBM (if you entered body fat %)
Carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are sugar, starch or cellulose your body has evolved to use as energy (although it can also use fat and protein for energy, just less efficiently.) There are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbs.
- If you are overweight, obese, or are looking for the fastest results, start on a lower-carb plan that tackles inflammation, insulin resistance, and helps to automatically regulate food intake. (This is "Phase 1/Insulin Reset")
o For women: eat 50 grams of carbs per day
o For men: eat 75 grams of carbs per day
- If you're aren't too far from your weight goals (within 15-20 lbs), start here. (This is "Phase 2/Primary Fat Loss")
o Have 30% of total calories from fat, determine your protein intake, and eat the
rest of your diet in carbs
o Example for 2000 calorie diet and 150 lb bodyweight
- 2000 * .30 = 600 calories from fat = 67 grams of fat (at 9 calories per gram of fat)
- 150 * .8 = 120 grams of protein = 480 calories (at 4 calories per gram of protein)
- 2000 - 600 (fat calories) - 480 (protein calories) = 920 leftover calories
- Eat 920 calories from carbs, or 230 grams (at 4 calories per gram of carbs)
- If you are in a maintenance phase, start here. (This is "Phase 3/Maintenance & Leangevity)
o Have 30% of total calories from carbs
- This works out to about 150 grams per day of carbs for an average daily diet (about 2000 calories)
o If you are training intensely, have extra carbs in this fashion:
- Have about an extra 25 grams (100 calories) of carbs for every hour of training
o Besides carbs, in this phase, you should have about 15% of calories in protein, and get the rest of your calories from good fats
Fat is - well, you know what fat is! There are "good" fats and "bad" fats - we've gone over them all in the past chapters. The reason people are so careful about their fat intake is because there are 9 calories in a gram of fat - which is more than double that which is in a gram of protein or carbs. But fat is a vital component of a healthy diet, and as long as you're getting enough protein and carbs, you can actually eat a ton of fatty foods (good fats, of course). So don't be afraid of it and don't avoid it for all the wrong reasons. Instead, know your calorie limits, know your macros, and eat like you were meant to!
- In Phase 1 (Insulin Reset):
a. Carbs are set at 50 grams or 75 grams depending on gender
b. Protein should be set around .8 grams per pound of weight
c. All other calories should come from healthy fats
d. If you are a 150 pound woman who needs to eat 1600 calories to lose weight:
i. Eat 50 grams of carbs (200 calories)
ii. Eat 120 grams of protein (480 calories), since 150 * .8 (protein
multiplier) = 120
iii. Subtract protein and carbs from total calories (1600 - 480 - 200 =
iv. Eat 920 leftover calories from fat, or 102 grams of fat (at 9 calories per
gram of fat)
- In Phase 2 (Primary Fat Loss):
a. Fat is set at 30% of total calories
b. If you need to eat 1600 calories per day to lose weight:
i. 1600 * .3 = 480 calories from fat
ii. 480/9 = 53 grams of fat (at 9 calories per gram of fat)
iii. Protein is set around .8 g/lb and carbs should make up the difference
(see the "Phase 2" example in the previous "Carbohydrates" if you're
- In Phase 3 (Leangevity & Maintenance)
a. Have roughly 30% of calories from carbs, assuming you are exercising or moving frequently
i. 25% is better if you're going solely for longevity purposes as an
atherogenic, or bad blood lipid profile, slowly rises as carbs go up from 25%. This may lead to higher risk factors for heart disease, high triglycerides, low HDL and high level of small dense LDL particles.
ii. It is important to note that many traditional cultures eat much higher carb percentages safely, so studies may not apply to all people (assuming you're eating whole foods most of the time)
1. The point being, 25% or 30% is the safest bet based on research, but my grandpa (and many millions of grandpas, grandmas, and more) eats a ton of carbs daily and he's strong as an ox, walks daily, and has very few health problems...and
he's in his early 90s.
2. Factors like genetics, stress, and ancestral backgrounds also play a role in your longevity and macronutrient needs
b. Have roughly 15% of calories from protein
i. Protein levels vary in many traditional cultures, but many recent studies show that levels may be quite low in the majority of longliving civilizations (much lower than today's protein supplement companies would like you to know).
c. Have the rest of your calories from (mostly healthy) fats
i. Fat from healthy sources is still a predominant factor in most longliving
1. Again...from healthy sources. A.k.a real, natural food. Not Oreo's and M&M's. At least not always:)
ii. Example: A 150 pound man who's eating 1800 calories daily to
maintain his weight and works out 3x per week
iii. Eat 540 carb calories (1800 * .3) or 135 grams of carbs
iv. Eat 270 protein calories (1800 * .15), or 67.5 grams of protein
v. Subtract protein and carbs from total calories (1800 - 540 - 270 =
vi. Eat 990 leftover calories from fat, or 110 grams of fat (at 9 calories per
gram of fat)
- Note: This shouldn't be a problem if you follow the rules above, but never have less than 10% of your daily calories in fat
If it sounds to you like there's a lot of food decision making in your future, well...welcome to modern weight loss! To date, there has been no more important discovery in the field of weight loss and overall fitness than the role that proper caloric intake and proper food/macro distribution plays in our body's development. This doesn't mean you have to eat like a Paleolithic man overnight (though it's not a bad idea!) - it's may take time, energy, and perseverance through a lot of setbacks to completely change your lifestyle.
But it's worth it in the long run. Trust me, and trust the millions who have lost weight and completely changed their lives.
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.