If you have faced weight problems, you probably poured over a huge amount of information about exercises, tracking your food intake, and lifestyle. While everything seems to be clear with the types of workouts to choose, nutrition may cause some confusion. It’s obvious that your need to control the calories, but what are the macros, and how to define your macros for cutting the fat tissue? Let’s sort it out together.
What Should My Macros Be?
What’s ‘macro’? Macro means large; when nutrition-related, it indicates a large amount of the nutrients we need for functioning. Macros or macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, and water. These elements supply us with energy, providing non-stop body performance. Macros differ from each other function- and calorie-wise. Typically diets are based on macro percentages for cutting fat or growing muscles. They define the protein intake, lower or higher carb consumption, and fats needed for your body. Macro cutting works best when setting a clear goal – lose weight, gain muscle mass or maintain the same weight and tissue ratio.
For instance, carbohydrates or protein provide four calories per gram, while fat provides nine calories for each gram. How to use all these numbers for defining what you need when reducing your weight?
Carbs are often blamed for extra weight, however, it’s far from the truth. It’s an essential component and building brick of our body. Carbs give us energy so that we can work, do everything that we need and even think (this function is also “sponsored” by carbs).
Approximately 65% of our energy comes from carbohydrates, as they are easily breakable by the body. Typically this energy comes in the form of glucose, which is used by all tissues and cells of the body.
When the carbs are turned into glucose, you can either use this energy on a go or let it be stored for later use, in the form of glycogen.
The main sources of carbohydrates are bread, wheat, potatoes of all kinds, maize, rice, pasta, banana, sweets, sugar cane, sweet fruits, and honey. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds contain carbohydrates, but in a lower amount.
Proteins are the basis of the muscles, as they provide their growth and repair; stimulate the strength of our immune system, take part in hormonal synthesis, etc.
Protein is the second source of energy, after carbs. If there is no carb income, your body will start breaking the muscles.
The main sources of proteins are lean types of meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, lentils, fish, cheese, any type of protein shake, and milk products (not all). Animal- and plant-based proteins are both beneficial for our bodies.
Fats bring the biggest amount of energy per 1 gram. They are classified into saturated and unsaturated fats:
Saturated fats keep solid form at room temperature. Eating too much saturated fat is not good for a person’s health, as it can be the reason for heart and blood vessel problems.
Unsaturated fats keep liquid form at room temperature, they are healthy fats. Sources: fish, oil seeds (sesame and sunflower), olive oil, avocado, etc.
Plant sources of fats are typically also rich in vitamins and longer-chain fats which are known to be heart-healthy. Animal fats, tend to contain lots of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and weight problems. 
When aiming to lose weight, calories matter, however, the source of calories is also important. The macro split for each individual depends on their goals.
- To build muscle and lose fat at the same time – 30-40% carbs, 25-35% protein, 15-25% fats
- For fat loss: 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fats
- To maintain: 30-50% carbs, 25-35% protein, 25-35% fats
Another thing to keep in mind is the body type, as there are people who have problems losing fat, and there are those who can’t gain either muscle mass or fat tissue (yes, they exist).
You should also take into account your client’s body type.
Ectomorph body type
Ectomorphs are typically slim and skinny, with small bones. They are the ones who eat everything and never get fat. However, gaining muscle mass is not easy for them, as it requires effort.
Carbs – around 55 %
Protein – 25%
Fats – 20%
Mesomorph body type
Mesomorphs have athletic bodies, they are the most likely to reach success in sports. They can gain weight if they don’t follow a healthy diet, yet it’s not a big challenge to lose it. They need a more balanced ratio:
Carbs – 40%
Proteins – 30%
Fats – 30%
Endomorph body type
Endomorphs have larger bones and a high percentage of fat mass. Weight loss can be arduous for them; however, gaining muscle mass, with appropriate planning, is easier than for others.
Carbs – 25%
Protein – 40%
Fats – 30%
Counting Calories Vs. Counting Macros
Every macronutrient serves its functions and helps your body perform daily. If you keep the right balance of all three, you won’t need to fight the body weight, and the ratio of fat tissue and lean mass will always be maintained at a proper level.
Macros are crucial regarding the body’s complexion. Counting calories and counting macros are both important. Every macro carries a specific number of calories.
- Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram
- Proteins have 4 calories per gram
- Fat has 9 calories per gram
Let’s say you need 2000 calories a day. If you mainly get them from simple carbs, you will have no benefit for your health and body, just random spikes of energy. If we get a significant portion of these calories out of proteins, fats, and carbs, then we will provide just enough strength for our cells, organs, and tissues.
Breaking down the grams for each macronutrient will meet our unique caloric needs, and get the most benefits for our bodies.
How to calculate your macros for cutting:
Step 1. Calculate your calorie needs
Calorie needs are very individual and the numbers will be quite approximate. Yet even these numbers can help us choose the right way.
The first thing to define is BMR – basal metabolic rate – the number of calories to provide your basic functions for just existing. This is the minimum you require.
- For women, BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)
- For men, BMR = 66.47 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)
Once you start doing something, you need to increase the level of calorie consumption, as your activity level rises throughout the day. It is defined as Active Metabolic Rate – AMR.
Sedentary (little or no exercise)
AMR = BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (exercise 1–3 days/week)
AMR = BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (exercise 3–5 days/week)
AMR = BMR x 1.55
Active (exercise 6–7 days/week)
AMR = BMR x 1.725
Very active (hard exercise 6–7 days/week)
AMR = BMR x 1.9
AMR is your daily intake of calories under your current activity level. If you want to decrease body fat, you need to increase your physical activity and lower your food intake. In other words – create a calorie deficit. Calorie deficit is a defining factor for fat loss. With more energy out than in, yoor body will burn more fat cells, making your goals closer and closer.
Step 2. Estimate your protein needs
Proteins build up and strengthen muscle mass. It also takes part in its recovery. Daily needs can vary from 10 to 40% taken from food. 
If you need 2,000 calories, that’s 200–700 calories from protein or 50–175 grams. Plan to have equal amounts of protein in each meal.
The minimal intake of protein to prevent its deficiency is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a person who weighs 180 pounds, or 82 kilograms, should consume 64 grams of protein daily.
But these rates change if the person exercises regularly. Besides, the more you work out, the more your muscles need protein for recovery.
People who exercise regularly require about 1.1–1.5 grams per kilogram. However, high-intensity activities on regular basis can increase the numbers to 1.2–1.7 grams per kilogram.
Consumption of more than 2 grams per kilo isn’t recommended for an average person, as only balance makes it perfect. Over- and undereating will take its toll.
Step 3. Figure out your daily fat needs
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fats should make up 20-35% of our total daily calorie intake. For those aiming to lose body fat, 0.5-1g/kg of fat will be enough to cover the deficiency and basic needs. Don’t go lower this rate, as you may face hormonal deficiency, which will lead to health issues, accompanied by deteriorated thermoregulation.
For someone who weighs 180 pounds (82kg), it will make 41-82g of fat per day.
Healthy fats come from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables.
Step 4. Determine your daily carb needs
Based on The Dietary Guidelines for Americans the daily carbs income makes up 45% to 65% of total daily calories, which is the biggest portion among the three major macros as carbs give energy, and protect muscles, the brain, the nervous system, and inner organs. 
So if you need 2,000 calories a day, carbs need to make 900 and 1,300 calories, which is 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.
Be attentive to the cabs you consume. Simple or quick carbs will give you a sudden rise of energy, but will not keep you going longer. Complex carbs require more time for digestion and thus, keep a steady level of energy for some time.
The value of the calories may differ – a doughnut with up to 400 kcal will satisfy your hunger only for some time. A bowl of cereal with cheese or meat and vegetables will make fewer calories but you will forget about snacking for several hours.
Meal Prepping To Hit Your Macros
Your macros and calories matter for weight loss, but you also need to eat a diet that helps you hit them. The choice of food is as important as the way you prepare it. To hit your macros knowing their amount you need to consider the following tips:
1. Get Your Portions Right
Knowing your macros is only half the battle in the weight loss fight. Portion size can easily win the battle for the other half.
When you keep a balanced diet, you don’t overeat and stop when you feel full till the next time you feel hungry (and typically, there’s no need to lose weight ). However, in our daily life, we tend to eat just because we are bored, stressed, happy, or because it’s just a habit, etc. If we keep feeding the emotional hunger, we will eventually provide the fat tissue with more and more cells. 
The best way to determine the portion is to follow the hand rules.
This visual is just a guide, not a law to follow. Yet it’s crucial to know the limits if you want to build muscle and lose fat. The main indicators to consider are – feelings of hunger and satiety. If you struggle to control them – buy kitchen scales. They will help at the initial stage, as after you tame your hunger you will get rid of the habit of overeating.
2. Add vegetables to your menu
Veggies are a source of vitamins and minerals, besides, they help to diversify your daily menu. One more positive side of vegetables – is the satiety they provide us with. As long as they take more place in the stomach, they make you feel full faster.
When you switch to healthy and balanced nutrition, it’s important to keep track of your snacks. It will be best for your body if your place the bowl with chopped vegetables in the visible places in the house, so it will be the first thing to snack on, instead of another pack of crisps.
3. Add more lean protein
Lean muscle mass needs protein for its growth. It’s worth reminding that muscles are more metabolically active, so your body burns more calories serving them. As a result, your BMR gets higher.
The basic amount of protein is 0.8 grams per kilo, which will help to avoid deficiency. The best sources of protein come from poultry, dairy products, lentils, fish, and eggs. Be sure to find enough recipes with such ingredients.
After planning your protein income in the menu, be sure to define the ways to prepare it:
- If you cook food for too long, it will lose up to 25 % of protein.
- With several cycles of freezing, the protein loses its value.
- If you like juicy – greasy meat, be ready for a lot of calories per each gram of protein just for the taste. Butter and oil work well for appetizing dishes, yet increasing calories dramatically.
4. Consider healthy snacks
Daily caloric intake comes greatly with snacks. But we are so busy with all the routines, that planning snack seems to be the least of worries. However, it is important. As an example:
If you snack with a portion of nuts and dried fruits your hunger will be satisfied, your body will get essential nutrients for proper work, and you will certainly feel fuller longer.
If you snack with a cup of hot chocolate with a vanilla doughnut, you will get two times more calories, and your hunger will be tamed for ≈1 hour, making you look for another snack to survive till the evening.
5. Split Up Nuts Into Single Servings
Nuts, dried fruits, fruits, vegetables – the healthy choice of snacks is immense and they will make a perfect fit into your macro ratios. However, be aware, nuts must come in small portions – not more than several pieces – they have relatively high protein and a lot of healthy fats, yet the fat calories prevail.  Even a small serving of nuts has enough fat percentage to cover your macro ratio.
6. Cycling days
Counting and following daily macros may seem a daunting experience, and the lack of sweets may scare you off, especially if you are doubtful about the whole macros ratio approach. There’s quite a good deal for it – organizing cycling days. Not to go too deep into the theory, let’s get to numbers.
Your calorie need is 2000 daily, which is 14 000 a week (approximately).
You can have 2 days with 1300-1500 per day, letting you enjoy a piece or two of a chocolate cake while having a friendly chat with a friend without worries.
The main idea of calorie cycling and carb cycling in particular is to keep the total weekly number of calories under control, having more freedom in between.
The result will be more than just satisfying, as you will not fear eating an extra bite and there will be no pressure involved.
7. Stock Up On Staple Foods When They Are On Sale
When planning your menu, think week-wise. You can organize one shopping day to make sure you have everything you need to cover your macros. Besides, when buying more, you can have pleasant discounts.
8. Choose A Method That Works For You
Food tracking and macros calculation shouldn’t be taken as a burden or a can’t-do-it challenge. You will definitely need a few days or weeks to settle with everything, however, once you adjust, you will find it as an easy – to – follow daily routine.
Apart from calculating macro ratios, make sure to plan your workouts based on your activity level. Wanting to have a lean body you can’t simply rely on measuring macros for cutting fat. Activity level will make a major difference. You can try strength trainings to grow muscle mass, and cardio days, to lose fat and keep it under control.
To reap all the benefits of macros ratio for cutting weight and workouts, don’t forget to have rest days, as the exhaustion will just demotivate you one day.
The Bottom Line
Changing your complexion may seem really difficult at the beginning. Lots of things to consider like your macros, number of calories, and workout plan – everything makes your goal more and more distant. Yet it’s just a matter of knowledge and some time dedicated to calculations.
The best macro split for cutting weight is based on individual measurements, as you need to take into account not just your height and weight, but your health condition and activity level. The numbers you get with all the formulas are helpful, yet not always precise, because our days differ from each other. However, bear in mind – proteins, carbs, and fats are all crucial for our well-being and fat loss goals in particular.
It’s important to know the borders and follow the balance – in nutrition, working out, and lifestyle on the whole. If you find it hard to track the macros amounts, follow your great natural assistants – feeling of hunger and satiety. If the opposite, you can’t control hunger, follow your meal plan and control the portion size with the help of a kitchen scale.
A workout routine is part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle. It helps to lose fat and build up muscles, increasing your metabolic rate and burning fat stores. Fitness is beneficial physically and spiritually, helping you unwind after some tough days. However. it also requires balance. If you don’t have rest days, you will just hate all the staff sooner or later without expecting the results.
P.S. It may have been a long and tiring article to follow, as there are quite a few formulas and numbers. The main thing you need to remember – don’t get too obsessed with all the counting. It’s important to know your limits and balance, yet it also should be a pleasing and stimulating experience. And the best motivation is your results. Just relax and enjoy the process of changes. It’s the way that brings you joy, not the destination.