Get the skinny on macros for weight loss.
What are macros? How can you use them to help you lose weight? This basic guide will get you started. Learn how to calculate macros for weight loss so you can start or continue your journey to shed fat and feel better.
Using macros for weight loss focuses on consuming three primary macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The body needs all three of these nutrients to carry out its daily functions, which includes everything from digestion to thinking. While macro counting has been used in bodybuilding circles for years, it’s just now starting to be used to help women lose weight.
Counting calories has always been a good baseline guide for weight loss, since successful dieting requires that you burn more calories than you consume. But some calorie sources are better for shedding weight than others. For example, you might cut calories and lose weight, but if you cut those calories by not eating enough protein, it’s harder to build the lean muscle that supports a higher metabolism—and in turn, lose weight and keep it off.
Each macronutrient contains a set number of calories:
- One gram of protein equals 4 calories.
- One gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories.
- One gram of fat equals 9 calories.
Generally, you’ll want 40% of your calories to come from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fat.
How to Calculate Macros for Weight Loss
1. Estimate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
BMR is the amount of energy your body uses to carry out its normal functions—basically it’s what your body needs just to perform functions like breathing and digestion. To find your BMR, use the online calculator at the top of this article, or talk with a registered dietitian or nutritionist for a more accurate estimate.
2. Multiply your BMR by your activity level.
Find your maintenance calorie intake based on the following calculation:
BMR x 1.2 if you’re sedentary (no exercise)
BMR x 1.3-1.4 if you’re lightly active (exercise 1-3 days per week)
BMR x 1.5-1.6 if you’re moderately active (exercise 4-5 days per week)
BMR x 1.7-1.8 if you’re very active (exercise hard for a specific sport 5-6 hours per week)
BMR x 1.9 if you’re an endurance athlete (train hard for 10+ hours per week)
3. Calculate your weight loss calorie target.
The calorie intake number you calculated in step 2 is what your body needs to maintain its current weight. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to eat fewer calories. To lose about one pound per week, plan to cut about 500 calories per day from the number you determined in step 2.
4. Calculate your estimated macro intake.
Take the estimated weight loss calorie target you calculated in step 3 and multiply that number to determine the number of calories you should consume of each macro:
Multiply by .40 for protein intake
Multiply by .40 for carb intake
Multiply by .20 for fat intake
For example, if your estimated weight loss calorie target is 1200 calories per day, you’ll need to eat 480 calories of protein daily (1200 x .40). Since there are 4 calories in each gram of protein, that means you’ll want to aim for about 120 grams of protein per day.
5. Create your weight loss plan.
Plan your recipes so you consume the proper number of macros based on the estimates. Resources like Skinny Ms. Menu Planning will help you find recipes that support your weight loss.
For exercise routines that help you burn fat, check out Skinny Ms. Beginner Workouts for Women and Skinny Ms. Fat Blasting Workouts.
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