Counting Macros for Weight Loss - Does It Really Help?
I’m sure you’ve heard about counting macros for weight loss, the importance of tracking your diet and most importantly the overall health benefits of it all.
In principle all of that sounds great but how do you know if any of it really works?
Regardless of how you came about the subject, the biggest question with any weight loss regimen is “Will it work for you?”
I’m assuming that’s why you’re here and kudos to you for taking the time to learn more about macros and how to make them work for you.
To better assist you, I’ll cover just about everything you need to know about macros.
We’ll take a look at what macronutrients are, why you should consider a macro diet and some of the essential foods you may need to add to your diet.
Above it all we’ll see how to properly count macros for weight loss and the recommended macro ratio(s) for weight loss.
That final point is the most critical – the recommended ratio.
Where most people fail is they don’t realize the way you ration your meals matters.
We all have different body types, different goals and different levels of activity.
All those things come into play.
Counting macros is great but are you doing so in a manner that will help you lose weight?
That’s what we’re about to find out.
What Are Macros
Macros aka macronutrients – are the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that make up a major composition of all the foods we eat.
One of the biggest benefits of having a diet full of the appropriate macros is it keeps you full of energy and prevents you from running over for that next snack.
Definitely something you want to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight.
The good news is a macro diet allows you to eat anything you want (preferably healthy) as long as it is within your macro ratio.
Generally speaking it eliminates the need for you to count calories but still plays a crucial role in the amount of calories in your diet.
Long story short if you meet your macros, you’ll also meet your recommended calorie count.
There’s a simple formula that makes all of this possible:
1g of Carbs = 4 Calories
1g of Protein = 4 Calories
1g of Fat = 9 Calories
When you take all of that into account and do the proper calculations, it helps keep you in check and ensures you’re on track to lose weight.
Check out: How to Count Macros Without Losing Your Mind
Macros are your
- Fats (ex. Healthy Oils, Nuts, Butter, Avocado)
- Proteins (ex. Eggs, Fish, Tofu)
- Carbohydrates (ex. Grains, Veggies, Dairy Products)
Fun fact: Alcohol is technically also considered a macronutrient but it has no nutritional value.
The Importance of Macros for Weight Loss
The whole reason why any of this matters is because our bodies need the appropriate amount of macronutrients in order to function properly and stay healthy.
In other words if you plan on losing weight, you need to make sure you’re getting the appropriate amount of macros to help you reach that goal.
That said, I believe it is also important to take a look at how each macro functions in the body so you get a better understanding of the different roles they play.
The whole concept really begins to make sense when you take the time to understand how they function in weight loss.
We all have that love/hate relationship with carbs but they really do play an important role in our bodies.
Carbs are the body’s primary source of energy.
When you eat any foods containing carbohydrates they’re broken down into smaller molecules, absorbed by your cells and then converted into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
Just in case you were curious, the entire process is called Cellular Respiration but that’s as much as I’m going to mention on the subject.
The important thing you need to know is ATP is the primary fuel molecule in the body and you get it from carbs.
You need your carbs to fuel those muscles.
Carbs & Fiber
Fiber is a form of carbohydrate gotten typically from plant foods and functions primarily in boosting your immune system and regulating your digestive tract.
Your body cannot digest fiber.
The reason I bring this up is when you’re counting your carbs make sure you exclude the fiber content.
For the most part it plays no role in your macro or calorie consumption.
You’ll often see this labeled as “net carbs” on nutrition labels. (Read more about it here).
Protein: The Building Blocks
Proteins are the building block of every cell in the body.
They also play a numerous amount of important roles in the body.
But for the sake of weight loss we need to know they function in building and repairing muscle cells and tissue.
That’s why you see everyone at the gym with some form of protein shake.
But before you go heavy on the protein, here’s a word of caution – protein alone will not help you build extra muscle or keep you lean.
What matters is the proper amount of protein AND exercise.
That’s why those folks are in the gym.
So if you assume you’ll just eat more protein and immediately bulk up then you’re just doing yourself more harm than good.
You’re probably wondering what about weight loss?
Well when you eat the proper amounts of protein it helps you feel satisfied and keeps you away from feeling hungry.
Less hunger = Fewer extra meals = Weight loss (ignore the simplicity of the equation. I just want to express the point).
Please keep in mind less hunger does not imply starving yourself!
Just by virtue of its name, fats get a bad rap but they are also essential in your body.
They function in energy storage, body insulation & temperature regulation, and the transport of certain vitamins.
In addition, your body needs fats to lose weight.
Okay let me rephrase that – You need a good balance of healthy fats to lose weight.
Consuming the right amounts of healthy fats helps you feel fuller and satisfied.
That by definition is a good recipe to help you stay on track.
As long as you completely stay away from trans fat, avoid saturated fats as much as possible and eat unsaturated fats in moderation, you should be able to lose some weight.
If you’re wondering what the differences are between all those types of fats then read this post.
Recommended Macro Ratio for Weight Loss
Okay now to the good stuff.
I’d like to tell you there was a perfect ratio that was guaranteed to work for anyone trying to lose weight.
Unfortunately such a thing doesn’t exist.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, the best macro ratio is the one that works for you.
Your ratio isn’t dependent on someone else’s success. It depends on what fits you.
The ratios you’ll see here are just recommendations and should be treated as such.
If you try something and it’s not working then make the necessary adjustments.
None of it is set in stone.
My number 1 recommendation will always be to seek professional help to find a ratio that fits you and your needs (goals).
Please note that I’ve covered the actual how-to steps in the following post: How to Count Macros Without Losing Your Mind.
There’s plenty of detail on there that shows you the entire step-by-step process you need to follow.
So instead of repeating those same steps here I want to talk about how this whole macros for weight loss thing works.
By that I mean the principle.
If you really think about it, losing weight simply comes down to burning more calories than you are consuming.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of exercise to shred those extra pounds.
If you have an impairment, that’s a completely different situation but otherwise you need to incorporate some kind of fitness regimen.
Things to consider when determining your macro ratio:
- Your age
- Your goals (in this case it’ll be weight loss of course)
- Your level of activity
- Your gender
- Your body type
Body type is an interesting topic worth taking a look at.
Your Body Type & How It Matters for Weight Loss
There are essentially 3 body types: Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs and Endomorphs.
Those are the three classifications but they are not exclusive.
In other words you can fall under either one or possibly be a mix of 2.
However the point I want to show you here is your body type will determine and affect the way you lose weight.
Let’s take a look at each one.
An ectomorph will be someone you consider skinny.
They’re the smallest of the 3 body types – thin frame and hardly put on any weight due in large part to their fast metabolism.
If you are an ectomorph there’s really no point trying to lose weight. (personal opinion)
In fact most fitness professionals would recommend a diet and exercises that help you build more lean muscle.
Mesomorphs are the more athletic built types.
This is the “middle” of all 3 body types – muscular body, wide shoulders, and symmetrical shape.
With the proper diet and adequate exercise, mesomorphs can lose or gain weight quickly.
In most cases, the macro ratio for mesomorph will consist of a higher amount of (good) carbs than fats or protein.
Again that’s all relative because you still want to make sure you’re exercising adequately and not eating/gaining more calories than before.
Recommended macro ratio for weight loss: 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30%fats.
Endomorphs have a naturally larger and “rounder” frame compared to the 2 other body types.
They also tend to store a lot more body fat and have slower metabolic rates.
As a result they have a harder time losing weight.
Endomorphs also have a low carb tolerance so it’s best to stay away from carbohydrates as much as possible.
Recommended macro ratio for weight loss: 25% Carbs, 35% Protein, 40%fats.
Benefits of Counting Macros for Weight Loss
Losing weight is great and I believe counting macros is an excellent option for you if nothing else seems to work.
Here are a few reasons why I believe it is beneficial to you:
- It’s not as restrictive compared to other diet regimens.
- It really makes you aware of what you’re eating.
- It allows for flexibility.
Long story short you have plenty of freedom and that makes it a lot easier to adhere to.
Still none of that is an excuse for you to just go pile up on junk food.
I’ve read plenty of reports that say as long as you stay within your recommended macro ratio you should do just fine.
I don’t think simply focusing on meeting your macros is an excuse for you to eat unhealthy foods.
The whole point here is to try and eradicate the numbers game like you do when counting calories.
Think about it.
If you’re only eating pizzas, desserts and drinking sodas within your recommended ratio, how well will that work out for you?
This is no professional or medical advice just food for thought.
The idea is you have the freedom to eat different healthy foods.
You cannot ignore the importance of a healthy diet.
Best Macro Foods to Eat for Weight Loss
Since we’re talking about healthy options, I came up with a list of some foods you should consider adding to your diet.
It’s not an ultimate list but it shows you some of the best foods you can eat for weight loss.
- Sweet Potatoes
- White rice
- Wheat bread
- Healthy Pastas
- Tuna (water-packed)
- Lean Meats
- Skinless Chicken Breast
- Protein powders
- Almond Butter/Oil
- Natural Style Peanut Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
Don’t skimp on fruits. They could actually make for great healthy snacks.
That sums up just about everything you need to know about counting macros for weight loss.
If it is your first time it might take some getting used to and a few lifestyle adjustments but the overall process in itself isn’t really that complicated.
When you understand what you’re eating and how much you need, it is a lot easier to realize the necessary things you need to do in order to lose weight.
I also want remind you that although there’s flexibility, a macro diet still requires discipline.
That means you really need to take your time to make sure you are doing things correctly.
If everything is haphazard you won’t get anywhere.
When done right, counting macros could be your solution to a better nutrition and improved health.