How to Count Macros for Weight Loss

How to Count Macros for Weight Loss

Staff Writer
5 minute read

How to Count Macros for Weight Loss

If counting calories isn’t working for you but you still want to keep track of what you are eating, counting macros just might be what you need. 

Instead of keeping track of every single calorie you eat, macro counting only keeps track of how much of your total energy intake comes from each macronutrient respectively. 

Keep reading to learn more about macro counting and how it can be used for weight loss. 

What are Macros? 

Macros, in full macronutrients, are nutrients that provide us with energy. There are three main types of macros namely carbohydrates, fats, and protein. 


Carbohydrates can be classified into three main categories; sugars, starch, and fiber. In a typical diet, carbohydrates tend to be the most consumed macronutrient. About 30 to 45% of energy on the typical western diet comes from carbohydrates. 

Sugar and starch are digestible forms of carbohydrates while fiber isn’t. This means that the body isn’t able to break down fiber to produce energy. For each gram of digestible carbohydrate the body produces about 4 Calories of energy. 

Foods rich in carbohydrates in potatoes, rice, oats, fruits, vegetables, and sweet treats. On a weight loss diet, try to get most of your carbohydrates from whole foods rather than processed foods. 

This is because processed foods tend to be higher in sugar and low in fiber, a combination that works against your weight loss efforts. 


Similar to carbohydrates, each gram of protein yields 4 Calories of energy. Protein plays multiple roles in the body including growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues, synthesis of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies, and transport of molecules like cholesterol. 

It is recommended that about 20 to 35% of your energy should come from protein. However, protein recommendations vary with age, gender, goals, and state of health. 

While most people get enough protein on their diets, they tend to consume most of it with heavier meals such as lunch and dinner. 

On a weight loss diet, it might be beneficial to try and incorporate protein at all or most of your meals including breakfast and snacks. High-protein meals help to keep you full for longer after meals because protein is one of the slowest digesting nutrients. 

Sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, dairy, seeds, and protein supplements. 


Even though fat yields the most calories out of all the macronutrients, it is still necessary even on a weight loss diet. Each gram of fat comes out to about 9 Calories, more than twice the energy yield of proteins and carbohydrates. 

The key to incorporating fat into your diet is choosing high quality sources of fat. These include oily fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds. 

Limit low-quality sources of fat such as fried chicken, French fries, and sweet condiments. 

How to Count Macros for Weight Loss

Macros are expressed as percentages of your total energy intake. For example, if your diet is 30% carbohydrates, that means that 30% of your total energy intake comes from carbohydrates.  

To get a picture of your macro intake, follow the steps below:

Calculate your total energy intake 

Since macros are expressed as a percentage of your total energy intake, you must have an idea of how much energy you consume everyday.

There are many ways to find out your daily calorie intake. Since you have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, you may choose to calculate your energy expenditure first and try to aim for a lower energy intake. You may also choose to calculate your energy from the food you eat on your weight loss diet. 

Choose the macro distribution that supports your goals 

While there are current recommendations for macro intake, you may choose to follow another distribution that better supports your goals. 

For example, if you are following the ketogenic diet, your carbohydrate intake will be about 10% or less. Or if you are trying to control your blood sugar levels, you might want to keep your carb intake at about 35% or lower.

Estimate your macro intake 

If you already had a diet in place for your weight loss journey, you’ll use a tool such as MYFitnessPal to track the macronutrient composition of your food. 

To do this, you will have to know how much of each food you are consuming. Enter the amount into the app and it will do all the math for you. At the end of the day, the app will show you your macro distribution at which point you can decide if it suits your weight loss goals or not. 


How do I calculate my macros for weight loss?

To calculate your macros for weight loss, find out your total energy intake and use it to estimate how much of each macronutrient you will need to eat inorder to hit your targets. 

What is the best macro ratio for fat loss?

The best macro ratio for fat loss differs from person to person. This is because everyone is different and has different goals and desires. However, it is generally encouraged to get enough protein and high quality carbohydrate and fat. 


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