You’ve wondered what that magical macronutrient ratio is that would strip the fat off your body.
The problem? Every article you read recommends a different ratio. Some say very low carb. Others say high protein. And then there’s everything in between.
So what I’m going to do is show you how to determine your own unique macronutrient ratio that is most effective for you. And then I’m going to give you a custom macronutrient ratio calculator to use that will recommend exactly how much fat, carbs, and protein you should eat.
Let’s get started…
You Need to Eat Fat to Lose Fat
There are two essential macronutrients – fat and protein. These two macronutrients cannot be manufactured by the body, so they need to be ingested through your diet.
In regards to fat, I’m specifically talking about essential fatty acids (EFAs). To get EFAs you need to make sure you aren’t going too low with your fat intake. By low, I mean below 20% of your calories.
If you’re eating a balanced, whole food diet full of eggs, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds, you’re probably just fine with getting in your required essential fatty acids. If you think you need to supplement, I use Carlson’s Omega 3 Oil. Flax oil can also be used.
Essential Fats Benefit You in Many Ways
- Can aid in weight loss and help prevent obesity. [1, 2]
- Improved thyroid hormone function. 
- Increases insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. [4, 5, 6]
- Reduces hunger sensations during weight loss. 
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. 
I think you get the point. A minimum of 20% of your calories should come from fat, with a focus on essential fatty acids.
How Many Carbohydrates Per Day to Lose Weight?
No other macronutrient has caused more confusion than carbohydrates. Entire diets are formed around the basis that carbs are the enemy.
They are not your enemy and they should not be feared. They serve a purpose, and if used properly, will benefit your mind, body, and spirit.
There are a couple of really important things we need glucose for, which is what carbs most efficiently give us:
- fuel for brain function
- fuel for high-intensity exercise
So what I like to do is have people customize their carbohydrate intake to their needs. If you’re sedentary most of the day and don’t do much in the way of high-intensity exercise, you aren’t going to need as many carbs as someone who is doing 5-6 days of strength training or long distance running.
If you overeat carbs relative to your needs you end up creating a metabolic environment that isn’t as conducive to fat loss. Insulin levels remain elevated and you have a harder time mobilizing fat stores.
Do You Have to Go Low Carb to Lose Weight?
In my experience, most people do just fine with a carb intake between 30-50 percent of their total calories (about 100-300 grams), with the lower number reserved for less active people, and the higher number used for people that engage in a lot of high-intensity activity.
I have never had to bring a client below 100 grams of carbs per day to lose weight (over 1,000 clients trained to date). And I’m willing to bet you aren’t an exception to that rule.
Carbs are not the limiting factor in weight loss, but they do influence it. You can gain weight eating zero carbs per day if you eat 10,000 calories, and you can lose weight eating 300 grams per day if you’re in an energy deficit.
Yes, those are extreme examples, but they prove a point – energy balance is the #1 factor with weight loss.
Consider Your Taste Preferences
You should also balance your activity needs with your taste preferences. If you are more satiated eating fattier whole foods, then you’ll benefit from more fat and fewer carbs in your diet. The opposite would be true too.
Why? Because long-term consistency is key to any transformation. If you can’t stick to your eating plan it doesn’t matter what works best on paper. Make decisions that improve consistency and adherence.
How Much Protein is Too Much?
That leads us to our last macronutrient – protein. Much as been debated on how much you should eat – from the FDAs recommended 0.8 grams/kg of body weight, all the way to the 2 grams/lb that some bodybuilders say you need.
Who is right?
As with most things fitness, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. If you’re sedentary you won’t need as much protein as someone who is engaged in a strength training program.
Studies have shown that an intake between 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient to build muscle and that intakes higher than this don’t show added benefits. This usually comes out to between 20 and 35 percent of total weight loss calories.
If your intake falls in that range you’ll take advantage of 80+% of the benefits protein provides – improved recovery, improved satiety, better muscle growth and preservation, and numerous more.
Is it possible more could be better? Sure. But while there could be some benefits at higher intakes, you get to a point of diminishing returns and potential negative side effects.
Personal Macronutrient Calculator
So what does all this mean for you? Below you will find a macro calculator you can use to determine what ratio would work best for your own unique situation.
I base the ratio off of several things – your body stats, your activity level, how much strength training you do, and the types of food you generally prefer.
All of this info is used to determine a ratio that would best keep you satisfied, consistent, and adhering to your plan. Because the best macro ratio for weight loss is the one that is going to best enable you to stick to your diet while consuming below maintenance calories.