Rather than counting carbs or calories, many people engage in what is known as “flexible dieting”, or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). Calculating macros for weight loss allows you to customize a meal plan based upon factors that are unique to you. Here’s what you need to know about macros and how they affect weight loss.
What are Macros?
Macros or macronutrients are substances the human body needs in order to function properly. There are three macros: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Consuming the right amount of each can affect how much testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone is produced by the body. These hormones in turn can affect how well your body sheds fat and builds muscle. The idea behind counting macros for weight loss is that taking in the right balance will help you optimize the production of hormones to make eliminating fat easier.
There are some other benefits to following a flexible diet or IIFYM plan, such as:
- The ability to eat the foods you love
- Eliminating the need to count calories
- Making it easier to stick with a diet plan
- Ensuring you have the right combination of nutrients to support fat loss and muscle gain
Calculating Macros for Weight Loss
As mentioned, a flexible diet plan is not “one size fits all”, but instead is customized for each individual. The amount of macros you need will vary based upon your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the rate at which you burn calories while at rest. Your BMR is based upon your age, sex, height, and weight. Your activity level will also affect your macros, and can be broken down into four different categories:
- Lightly active (you have a sedentary job but perform light exercise)
- Moderately active (working a moderately active job and performing moderate exercise)
- Very active (holding down a very active job and performing heavy exercise outside of work)
- Extremely active (you have an extremely hectic job and/or participate in endurance training)
A very precise formula is applied to each one of these factors, which is why we have created our own macronutrient calculator to help you determine yours. Calculating these numbers will give you the number of macros you need to maintain your weight. Our calculator adds 20% to your final calorie total if you are bulking, and subtracts 20% from your final calorie total if you are cutting. These totals should be used as a starting point only. You may require further adjustments in the amount of protein, carbohydrates, or fat you consume based upon your own individual results. A food diary can help you monitor your progress, and will become especially helpful if it becomes necessary to modify your macro intake.
Keeping track of macros is every bit as effective as counting calories or carbohydrates alone, yet many people find doing so is less restrictive and makes it easier to stick with a diet plan. If you are having difficulty losing weight or are particularly concerned with losing fat and not muscle, counting macros for weight loss could be the way to go.