If you want to get a downright ripped physique, learning how to set up your macronutrients is key.
In fact, your macros are the second most important factor for fat loss.
That’s why in this article you’re going to learn how to set up your macronutrients for fat loss and what the most optimal ratio looks like.
And in the end you’ll also learn how to track your macros as well.
How to Set Up Your Macronutrients For Fat Loss
Why you want to set up your macros in a certain way is first and foremost to make sure that you lose fat and not muscle during your cut.
It’s also important to set up a balanced intake of macros to achieve optimal satiety and enjoyment to your diet as well.
Let’s start by setting up the most important macro when it comes to dieting for fat loss first.
Your protein intake is the most important macro to set up correctly, as it largely determines whether you lose fat or muscle when cutting.
It’s also a very satiating macro, which makes a higher number great when looking to lean down to a low body fat percentage.
However, I believe that the protein intake shouldn’t be too high.
According to Dr. Eric Helms, who’s done extensive research on protein intake for caloric restricted lean athletes. The optimal protein intake are between 1.8-2.9 grams per kilogram or 0.8-1.3 grams per pound of body weight.
The protein intake that I recommend for recreational trainees looking to get a ripped physique at around 8-10 % body fat, are on the lower end of Eric’s recommendation. Which is this intake:
- 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, or
- 0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day.
I recommend this lower intake simply because in conjunction with intermittent fasting (which as you know is a tool that I recommend highly), you:
- don’t need a higher protein intake for satiety. With the larger meals you can achieve the same level of fullness on less total protein, and
- short term fasting has been shown to improve muscle retention in and of itself which reduces the amount of protein you need in a caloric deficit.
And instead by having a lower protein intake you can have a higher intake of carbs and fats, which gives you four major benefits when cutting:
- Higher testosterone levels
- Improved training performance
- Tastier meals
- Overall better well being
If you want to read more about the benefits of a lowered protein intake, make sure to read this article:
Or watch this video:
Fat is essential to your survival and it has two main tasks in the body:
- Maintain a healthy hormonal profile (testosterone included).
- To take up your fat soluble, life dependent vitamins a,d,e and k.
Fat is also tasty and makes the food more enjoyable. Including a moderate amount of fat in your diet will improve your adherence and enjoyment to it. Which is the most important aspect for successful fat loss.
The fat intake that I recommend are:
- 30-35 % of total calories per day,
This is a bit higher than the usually recommended intake of 20-30 %. Because as I just explained, a bit lower protein intake allows for more carbs and fats, which will improve testosterone levels, training performance, allow you to have tastier meals and feel better overall while cutting.
The reason why there’s a range is that some people feel and do better having more fat in their diet, while others feel and do better with more carbs instead.
Why we keep the bottom range at 30 % is because going much lower than this will likely not be sustainable for most people long-term. Simply because food will be less tasty, and that most people tend to not feel satiated and satisfied on a lower fat diet.
Another reason is that sedentary and/or small individuals tend to require a very small caloric intake during a cut. Going below 30 % of calories from fat could lead to hormonal imbalances and other health issues for these people.
On the other hand, the reason we keep the top range at 35 % is to give more room for carbs.
Carbs improve strength training performance and recovery, which will lead to more muscle growth/retention during a cut. Carbs has also been shown to improve testosterone levels in men.
Furthermore, carbs has the potential to activate (via tryptophan) a “feel good” neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which have the power to promote feelings of satiety, mood and a sense of overall calmness. All great feelings to experience during a caloric deficit.
Since you set your protein and fats first your carbs intake will automatically be:
- The remaining calories
Not sure how many calories you should eat and set your macros after? Read this articles next:
How to Track Your Macros
Okay, you got your numbers, let’s start tracking.
There’s different ways to track your macros. But the easiest and most convenient way is to use a food tracking app. I love MyFitnessPal and here’s how you use it:
Step 1: Download MyFitnessPal and Set Up an Account
Once you’re in the app, skip the part where the app tries to guide you towards setting up your calories and macros. You’re going to use your own calculated numbers.
Step 2: In MyFitnessPal Set Up Your Correct Calories and Macros
Press the menu tab in the top left, and press Goals.
Inside the goals page press Calorie and Macronutrient Goals
Inside the Calorie and Macronutrient Goals page you are now going to change your calories and macros to the numbers you just calculated.
Step 3: Start Adding Your Food in Your Diary
Here’s the power of MyFitnessPal; It contains a database of foods that people around the world adds to the app, and this is amazing news for you!
This gives you the opportunity to eat whichever foods you like from anywhere in the world.
All you have to do is just search it up in the search based database and add it to your diary.
And here’s how you do that: Press “+ Add Food” under any meal.
To add your food you can either search the database for your specific food, or you can use the built in camera barcode scanner.
This option simply allows you to scan your packages barcodes and the app will automatically search and show you the exact calories and macros of the food you scanned. Super simple!
Should You Weigh Your Food Raw or Cooked?
The standard is to weigh all your food raw and uncooked. Since that’s what the nutrition labels are based after.
So, even if meats lose water weight as you cook them, you should still weigh them pre-cooked.
Step 4: Start Hitting Your Macros
The final step is to actually hit your macros. And when you learn to do this correctly, that’s when your flexibility will go through the roof!
Hitting your macros is the first step towards making fat loss feel extremely easy, predictable and enjoyable.
But it needs a little initial practice and planning ahead before you’ll get there.
There’s no better time than today to start experimenting adding food to your app. Eventually you will start hitting your macros within good ranges!
And on that note, what’s important to mention is that:
There’s no need to hit your macros perfectly, staying within +/- 5-10 grams of protein, and within +/- 10-15 grams of carbs and fats are perfectly fine.
It won’t matter at all if you get 200 grams of carbs on one day and 185 grams the next day. You won’t feel or notice any difference.
The most important macro to hit consistently is your protein though. As going too low in protein will likely result in muscle loss during a cut.
Setting up your macronutrients for fat loss correctly is important for muscle retention and adherence to your fat loss diet.
For optimal satiety and enjoyment when cutting I recommend a balanced intake of macros:
25-30% of calories from protein, 30-35% of calories from fat, and 35-40% of calories from carbs seems to be optimal.
Then it’s a matter of finding a tool to track your macros with consistently. I like MyFitnessPal as I believe it’s the most convenient and easy one to use.
Once you got a tool like MyFitnessPal, start adding all the food you eat throughout your days in the built in journal.
You do this by weighing your food in its raw state and noting down the numbers.
Finally, hit your macros within good ranges. +/- 5-10 grams of protein and +/- 10-15 grams of carbs and fats are totally fine.