No matter your body composition goals, calculating macros for cutting is a valuable tool. Macronutrients, consisting of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, play a crucial role in providing energy and supporting various bodily functions. By strategically determining the right macronutrient ratios for your cutting phase, you can optimize fat loss while preserving muscle mass. Luckily for you, we have created a comprehensive guide to help you calculate your macros for cutting(effectively) with proper meal planning and high-protein foods.
- 1 What is a Calorie?
- 2 What Are Macros?
- 3 Counting Calories vs Macros: What’s The Difference? Which Is Better?
- 4 Actually Calculating Your Macros During A Cut
- 5 Tips on Cutting Macros
- 6 Measuring Your Macro Cutting Success
- 7 What Is The Best Macro Ratio For Cutting Weight?
What is a Calorie?
A calorie is how energy in an item of food or drink is measured.
When humans eat and drink more calories than they use up, their bodies store the excess calories as body fat. You can typically find calorie counts listed on certain foods and you can see high-calorie counts on foods like fatty, fried, or processed foods. Although, it’s good to keep in mind that some fruits and vegetables can be high in calories, while low-calorie foods (such as diet sodas) don’t provide any nutritional value.
We have to have calories to give us enough energy to move around, stay warm, grow, work, think, and play. Even our blood circulation and digestion need the energy gained from calories in order to function.
What Are Macros?
Macros—also known as macronutrients—are exactly what they sound like. Macro means large, so macronutrients are the big nutrients that your body needs. In total, there are three forms of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
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Each macronutrient is measured in grams, but the calories per gram of each macronutrient aren’t the same. Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories for every gram while fat has 9 calories for every gram. Fat is more nutrient dense than carbs or protein since each gram of fat has more than twice as many calories. Other familiar nutrients like fiber, vitamins, or minerals such as potassium and calcium are considered micronutrients which are nutrients that your body still needs, just in smaller doses.
Counting Calories vs Macros: What’s The Difference? Which Is Better?
Reducing calorie intake is a proven way to decrease your weight and paired with a high activity level you’re guaranteed to see results. It’s also very simple to just count your calories and make sure it’s under the amount that you burn.
Rather than counting calories though, many people prefer counting micronutrients because it offers more flexibility and allows them to consume any food as long as it fits into their daily macro requirements. The only downside is that there’s currently no scientific research that can confirm whether counting macros is as effective as other methods in achieving certain weight goals.
This makes it difficult to know whether counting calories or macros in food sources is more useful when it comes to your different body weight goals and fitness routine.
Actually Calculating Your Macros During A Cut
To determine your total daily caloric intake you’ll need to know how many calories your body requires to maintain its current weight. This can be estimated using various formulas such as the Harris-Benedict equation or the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation. These formulas take into account factors like your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. Once you have your total daily calorie intake, you can create a calorie deficit to support fat loss in each of these categories in an effective nutrition plan:
Protein is important for preserving muscle mass during a cut. A common recommendation is to consume 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Though it’s important to remember while keeping a high-protein diet that your amount of protein per day needs to be based on your specific circumstances, such as your activity level and overall health.
Fat is crucial for hormone production, vitamin absorption, and overall health. A general guideline is to consume 0.3-0.4 grams of fat per pound of body weight (or 0.6-0.9 grams per kilogram). Again, adjust this range based on personal preference and health considerations.
Carbohydrates provide energy and can be adjusted based on your remaining calorie allocation. After calculating your protein and fat intake, subtract the calorie content of these two macronutrients from your total daily calorie intake. The remaining calories can be allocated to carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrate provides approximately 4 calories.
With all that information you’re going to calculate the grams of each macronutrient and multiply the percentage of each by your total daily calorie intake and divide by the calorie content per gram. Remember, the calorie content per gram is approximately 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein and then 9 calories per gram for fat.
Let’s assume your total daily calorie intake for cutting is 1800 calories, and you weigh 150 pounds. You decide to aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, 0.4 grams of fat per pound of body weight, and the remaining calories will come from carbohydrates.
Protein intake: 150 grams (proteins) = 150 pounds (weight) x 1 gram/pound
Fat intake: 60 grams (fats) = 150 pounds (weight) x 0.4 gram/pound
Calorie allocation: Total calorie intake = 1800 calories Calorie intake from protein = 600 calories (150 grams x 4 calories/gram) Calorie intake from fat = 540 calories (60 grams x 9 calories/gram) Calorie intake remaining for carbohydrates = 1800 – 600 – 540 = 660 calories
Carbohydrate intake: 165 grams (carbohydrates) = 660 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram
So, in this example, your macros for cutting would be approximately 150 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat, and 165 grams of carbohydrates per day.
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Remember that these calculations and food intake recommendations serve as general guidelines. Adjustments may be necessary based on individual needs, preferences, and the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian.
Tips on Cutting Macros
Besides being mindful of your daily calories and the obvious part of cutting macros, there are a few tips we highly recommend while being in a caloric deficit. These include:
Being mindful of portion sizes
Tracking your food intake using a food diary or mobile app can help you stay accountable and maintain portion control, especially with calories from fat. It’s easy to underestimate portion sizes, so weighing or measuring your food can provide a more accurate representation of your macronutrient intake and help avoid fat gain.
Spreading your meals evenly
Aim to distribute your macros relatively evenly across your meals throughout the day. This approach helps maintain steady energy levels and keeps you satisfied. Consider having three to four balanced meals, each containing a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to help you reach your protein macro goals.
Drinking enough water is essential for overall health and can aid in appetite control. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so make sure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day.
Adjusting as needed
Everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to how your body responds to the macro breakdown and adjust as necessary. Monitor your progress, energy levels, and overall well-being, and make modifications accordingly to help build lean muscle mass. This could mean changing up your food choices to a more specific workout plan for your body type, it really just depends on the person.
Measuring Your Macro Cutting Success
Usually, the best and easiest way to track your macro-cutting success is getting a food-tracking app or some sort of workout app that can help keep your rate of weight loss documented and in one place. Though this does come down to personal preference, so if you don’t want to use an app you can keep a notebook with the following things:
Measure Your Body Fat
Measuring specific body parts, such as your waist, hips, chest, arms, and thighs, can give you a sense of how your body composition is changing and if you’re getting true muscle growth or have muscle loss. As you lose body fat, you may notice reductions in these measurements so it’s a good idea to measure at least every couple of weeks or days.
Body Fat Percentage
Measuring your body fat percentage can provide a more accurate assessment of your progress than just relying on body weight. Methods such as skinfold calipers, bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), or DEXA scans can estimate your body fat percentage during your fitness journey. Decreases in body fat percentage indicate that you’re losing fat while preserving muscle gain.
Take Progress Pictures
Taking regular photos of yourself can help you visually track changes in your physique. Sometimes changes in body composition may not be immediately apparent on the scale, but progress photos can reveal subtle differences in your body shape and muscle definition while you’re in the cutting phase.
What Is The Best Macro Ratio For Cutting Weight?
The best macro ratio for cutting can vary depending on individual factors such as body composition, activity level, metabolic rate, and personal preferences. However, a commonly recommended starting point for losing weight is:
Protein: Aim for 25-35% of total daily calories. This would be around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (or 2.2 grams per kilogram). Remember, protein is essential for preserving muscle mass and supporting recovery during a cut.
Fat: Allocate 20-35% of total daily calories to fat. This range provides essential fatty acids, supports hormone production, and helps with satiety. Make sure to choose a healthy source of fat such as avocados, nuts, peanut butter, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish for a better balance of macronutrients.
Carbohydrates: The remaining calories, approximately 40-45%, can be allocated to carbohydrates. Carbs provide energy for workouts, support overall performance, and can help regulate hunger levels. Focus on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates like fruits, brown rice, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Additionally, monitoring your progress and how your body responds is crucial. If you’re not experiencing the desired results or feel that your energy intake is compromised, you may need to make adjustments to your macro ratio. Consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals.