Many folks avoid tracking macros for weight loss. It sounds like a tedious chore—on par with unloading the dishwasher or mowing the lawn with scissors—to manage every bite of food that enters your mouth.
But those who do track their carbs, protein, and fat with a macro calculator aren’t complaining. Instead, they’re losing weight with minimal hassle.
This article will show you how to manage your ideal macros for weight loss. It requires upfront planning, but once you get rolling, the system runs itself.
What Are Macros?
Macros (short for macronutrients) are molecules—carbohydrates, protein, and fat—that provide energy in large amounts. Alcohol is technically a macro too, but we’ll leave booze aside today because it doesn’t serve any useful biological functions. (Tip: for weight loss goals, minimize alcohol intake.)
A little macro science now. Digesting food converts carb, protein, and fat calories into ATP (cellular energy.) Beyond being a fuel source, macros also structure cells, regulate and synthesize hormones, and much more.
You need macros to live. But why track them individually?
Why Track Macros?
You don’t need to track macros. You can get by without managing your carb, protein, and fat intake.
But trying to achieve your health goals without knowing your macros is like trying to write an essay on the Battle of Trafalgar without the benefit of background research. Unless you’re a history buff, your paper will end up like Napoleon’s fleet in that engagement. (Bonus history content: Napoleon lost that battle.)
Your reasons for tracking macros will depend on your goals. Some examples:
- To gain or maintain muscle, you need laser-like focus on protein.
- To enter the fat-burning state of ketosis, you must also focus on minimizing carbs.
- To lose weight, you must count macros and calories.
We’ll cover carbs, protein, and fat for weight loss soon. But is counting calories necessary?
Counting Calories for Weight Loss
When you track macros, you’re also tracking calories. The information comes along for the ride.
It’s crucial data because maintaining a mild calorie deficit is the key to sustainable weight loss.[*] You want to consume slightly less energy (5–15%) than your body expends on essential functions, exercise, and daily fidgets.
Wait, you may be thinking, isn’t it more complicated than calories in, calories out? Yes and no. Certain macro combos simplify weight loss, but the principle remains the same. If you want to shed pounds, you must eat less energy than you burn.
The good news is: food tracking helps. In one study, participants who kept a food journal ate fewer calories and lost twice the weight as controls.[*]
In other words, tracking meals increases accountability. (No special weight loss diet required.) That’s why different macro-tracking diets—low-carb, Keto, moderate-carb, high-protein, etc.—can be effective for weight loss.
How Should You Calculate Macros for Weight Loss?
To lose weight, you want to operate at a mild caloric deficit. Let’s review how different macros can facilitate this goal.
Protein and Weight Loss
- Satiety. Eating protein helps you stay full by reducing hunger hormones.[*]
- Calorie-burn. Digesting protein requires more energy than digesting carbs or fat.[*]
- Slower digestion. Since protein digests more slowly, it limits spikes in blood sugar.[*] This stimulates fat-burning and mitigates cravings.
A good protein target is 1.2 to 1.6 daily grams per kilogram of body weight.[*] (About 110 to 150 grams for a 200-pound person.) To further curb your hunger, mind your carbs too.
Carbs and Weight Loss
When you limit carbs, you keep blood sugar and insulin low. When low enough, this signals your body to enter ketosis.[*] (Aka, fat-burning mode.)
More fat-burning, less hunger. Effective weight loss strategy.
To be clear, it’s possible to lose weight on a moderate or high-carb diet. Many people have. It just tends to be easier to limit calories on a low-carb eating plan.
Note: to eat a low-carb diet, limit your carbs to 26% of daily calories.[*] To eat Keto (very low-carb), the limit is about 10%.
Fat and Weight Loss
Fat is your leftover macro. First, determine your protein and carb targets, then fill what’s left with healthy fats like olive oil, animal fat, and butter. An example will help illustrate.
Let’s say you usually eat 2200 calories per day. You want to lose weight, so you target a mild caloric deficit of 2,000 daily calories.
On a high-protein low-carb diet (for satiety and fat-burning), your macros might look like this:
- 25% protein (125 grams)
- 10% carbs (50 grams)
- 65% fat (144 grams)
The protein and carb intakes are deliberate. The fat is a calculation.
Using a Macro Calculator for Weight Loss
If you took a college course on weight loss, the professor might have you track macros by hand. That professor would fare poorly on ratemyprofessor.com.
Family? Friends? Hobbies? No time for such distractions. You would have one hobby: calculating carb, protein, and fat grams in your colossal, bulging notebook—a binder so massive you must wheel it around in a media cart.
Perhaps not your ideal life. That’s why Carb Manager exists.
Carb Manager is the most sophisticated macro calculator on the planet. Advanced AI helps you log meals in a flash. (You can even snap a photo!) Then, the app automatically tracks your macros based on your preferred diet and health goals.
You can set macro targets yourself or have Carb Manager take the reins. Whether you’re Keto, Paleo, low-carb, moderate-carb, high-carb, or want to track your “I’m just winging it” diet—there’s unlimited flexibility.
And don’t worry about calculating calories. When you set your weight loss goal, your calorie target adjusts accordingly.
So leave the media cart at home when you meet friends for lunch. With the benefit of modern tech, managing your macros is hardly a chore at all.