How to Use Macros for Fat Loss and Muscle Building

Tomato with a nutrition facts label. Concept of healthy food.

What are Macros?

“Macros” is the colloquial term for macronutrients—large amounts of specific nutrients that are used to fuel and sustain the human body. Macronutrients come in the form of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Tomato with a nutrition facts label. Concept of healthy food.

Along with the vitamins and minerals found in micronutrients that we receive when we consume food, macronutrients are broken down through the body's digestive processes into much smaller entities including things like fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids that subsequently journey through our bloodstream while interacting with a multitude of cells via numerous metabolic processes.

All calories are not the same

Throughout history, all the way up until recent times, many professionals in the medical, science, and nutrition fields subscribed to the notion that all calories were created equal and that the “calorie is a calorie” concept was a determining factor in body composition and such maladies as obesity and more. Fortunately, the collective school of thought and its conceptualization of calories has changed immensely, with the notion that there is a complex truth behind calories and bodily composition becoming increasingly more accepted.

​A simple example illustrating the calorie is not a calorie concept is shown below:

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    ​If I eat 1,800 calories a day from a nutritionally-sound assortment of healthy unrefined carbohydrates, optimal fats, and high-quality carbs and protein to build muscle mass, my body will thus be healthier with an improved overall body composition
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    If I eat 1,800 calories a day from an assortment of junk foods including refined carbohydrates like white bread, and sugary cakes and cookies, my health will suffer, and my body composition will be in dire need of improvement

The example above clearly illustrates the value in engaging in food awareness with a critical look at where your calories are coming from. Therefore, macros-centered food plans and ways of eating are a fantastic solution to help people regulate their personal levels of health and nutrition, as well as their specific goals and activity levels by dispersing highly-specific calorie allotments to the respective protein, fats, and carbohydrates categories for optimized results.

Eating in a macros-based fashion essentially involves the implementation of a highly advanced nutritional strategy that can be simplified into specific components that cater to an individual's personal needs.

An exceptional way to easily decrease body fat while adding muscle and fine-tuning one’s body composition, eating via macros merely entails determining your ideal numbers in terms of grams of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to eat on a daily basis, with consideration of related caloric goals for weight loss and body composition endeavors.

How to determine your Macros

If you’re a person who prefers the professional advice afforded by nutritionists and dietitians, you can obtain your macronutrient figures in a single appointment made at any local office.

However, if you are like most budget-conscious people who want to quickly figure out their numbers in order to instantly implement them within their personal diet and eating plans, there are an abundance of online resources dedicated to providing comprehensive information about macronutrients.

MyFitnessPal is a renowned consumer favorite and provides a multitude of macros-related information in addition to providing an immense database of highly useful caloric data.

Generally speaking, individual macros figures are determined by the following process:

The percentages will then be given to you in measurements of grams (example: 90 grams, 10 grams of carbohydrate, and 20 grams of fat), and you will then apply those numbers to your diet or eating plan to determine what you should eat in addition to how much of it you should eat.

A simple example illustrating the key points discussed above is illustrated below.

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    ​Mike is a male who weighs 185 pounds. He exercises approximately seven hours a week and aspires to gain muscle. His body type is of the mesomorph variety, which is naturally athletic and muscular. 
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    ​When inputting his weight, fitness goals, and current activity level into a Macros calculator, he is informed that his caloric target is 3,620 calories a day, which is broken down into 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat, which is then further broken down into user-friendly gram measurements with 361 grams of carbohydrates, 272 grams of protein, and 123 grams of fat.
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    ​With this highly specified information, Mike then plans his meals around those numbers and ensuring he eats exactly the number of grams of carbohydrate, fat, and protein he is allotted for his fitness goals.
Macros chart of protein, carbs and fats

Tracking your Macros and Meals

Eating in a macros-based fashion requires users to commit to using an application that tracks the breakdown of each meal’s nutritional value. Nearly impossible to achieve on your own time, computing nutritional values is an immense hassle that is made easy by fitness and diet websites that not only compute your macros for you but also contain a large database of caloric values for your convenience.

Estimating nutritional values can wreak disastrous results on your fitness and weight loss goals. Eating in a macros-base fashion is about being precise, consistently accurate, committed, thus tracking your daily caloric consumption and activity levels is highly recommended.

​Helpful Tips and Advice

Protein

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    ​Protein is fundamental to fat loss and lean muscle gains. Helping to control appetite by staving off insatiable hunger, protein is superior to carbohydrates and fat in terms of creating feelings of satiety and fullness
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    ​Protein requires more energy than both the other macros in terms of digestion, rendering it far more effective in processes involving the burning of calories and fat
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    ​Eat high-quality protein from a variety of meat, eggs, fish, dairy, and whey protein-style shakes
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    ​On the low end, aim for at least .5 grams of protein consumed per pound of lean body mass per day. On the higher end, aim for 1.5 to 2 grams of protein consumed per pound of lean body mass per day 
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    ​Lean body mass is computed by simply taking your total weight and deducting your fat. If you weigh 250 pounds and are at 20% body fat, then your lean body mass is 250 – 50 for a total lean body mass of 200. 

Carbohydrates

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    ​Always opt for high-quality, unrefined carbohydrates such as rice, oatmeal, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. Used to sustain our bodies and fuel us with energy, carbohydrates are stored in many locations in our body including the blood, brain, muscles, and liver in the form of glycogen
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    ​Avoid carbohydrates from refined sources, sugary treats, and processed foods and drinks
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    ​While many fitness aficionados swear by a low or zero carb lifestyle, bodybuilders, athletes, and endurance buffs typically consume hundreds of grams of high-quality carbs a day to healthily sustain energy levels and to maintain focus, mood, and mental alertness
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    ​A relatively low amount of carbohydrate is a range of .5 to 2 grams per every pound of lean body mass; however, that number is entirely dependent upon your activity level, body fat figures, and specific fitness and weight goals

Fat

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    ​Many a dieter balks at the notion of eating fat, regardless if its healthy fat or the unhealthy saturated kind. However, cutting-edge research has clearly shown that the consumption of healthy fats are integral to weight loss and body composition transformation efforts. By providing a feeling of fullness and satiety, healthy fats make us eat less while also greatly assisting with a host of brain functions, the regulation of hormones, and increasing absorption levels of essential vitamins and minerals.
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    ​Obtain your fat macros from high-quality sources such as meat, nut butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
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    Aim to consume fat at a range of 15% to 45% of your total daily caloric expenditure. While fat consumption is highly variable depending upon your individual goals, a safe ballpark figure is roughly .30 grams to .75 grams per pound of lean body mass

​If it's your goal to comprehensively change the way you eat in order to spur the kind of all-encompassing transformational changes that only macros-based meal planning can give you, use our highly informative guide to jumpstart your way to achieving your fitness and body composition goals today!

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