Balancing Protein And Carbs For Weight Loss
High-protein, low-carb diets are often effective for weight loss because they can lead to a reduction in calories. However, consuming a diet too low in carbs is difficult to adhere to long-term. A study published in a 2012 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition reports that a reduced-calorie diet with a one-to-two protein/carb ratio was most successful for diet adherence, body-fat reduction, reduced waist circumference, a lower waist-to-hip ratio and preservation of lean body mass compared with diets with one-to-four or one-to-one protein/carb ratios. For example, an effective 1,200-calorie weight-loss diet may contain 140 grams of carbohydrates, 70 grams of protein and 40 grams of fat.
The Following Foods Contain Protein:
- meats, poultry, and fish
- grains, some vegetables, and some fruits
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Human body cannot make some amino acids and must consume them through food. These are essential amino acids. In your diet, protein sources are labeled according to how many essential amino acids they provide:
A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids. Animal-based foods for example, meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are complete protein sources. That does not mean all animal-based proteins are healthy though, as regular consumption of red meat is connected to higher risks of cancer and stroke .
An incomplete protein source is one that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. Most of the plant-based proteins are incomplete, except for soy, quinoa, seitan, and buckwheat, which are considered complete. If you do not consume very many complete protein sources, not to worry. As long as you vary your incomplete proteins, you should get enough of all the essential amino acids.
Decide Your Ideal Macronutrient Breakdown
After determining how many calories to consume each day, the next step is to decide what macronutrient ratio works best for you.
Typical macronutrient recommendations are as follows (
- Carbs: 4565% of total calories
- Fats: 2035% of total calories
- Proteins: 1035% of total calories
Keep in mind that these recommendations may not fit your specific needs.
Your ratio can be fine-tuned in order to achieve specific objectives.
For example, a person who wants to obtain better blood sugar control and lose excess body fat may excel on a meal plan consisting of 35% carbs, 30% fat and 35% protein.
Someone pursuing a ketogenic diet would need much more fat and fewer carbs, while an endurance athlete may need higher carb intake.
As you can see, macronutrient ratios can vary depending on dietary preferences, weight loss goals and other factors.
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Work Out How Many Grams Of Each Macro You Need To Eat
Not all macronutrients are created equally. For every gram of protein and carbohydrate, your body is provided with 4 calories of energy, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
To work out how many grams of each you need, you multiply your total daily calories by 0.4 for protein and 0.3 for carbohydrates and fat. The protein and carbohydrate figures are then divided by 4 and the fat figure by 9. The final figures will be how many grams of each to eat.
For example, heres an 1800-calorie diet with a 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates, 30% fat ratio.
- Protein = 1800 x 0.4 = 720/4 = 180g
- Carbohydrates = 1800 x 0.3 = 540/4 = 135g
- Fat = 1800 x 0.3 = 540/9= 60g
How Your Body Handles Sugar Alcohol Carbs
Sugar alcohols are processed similarly to fiber, with a few important differences.
Many sugar alcohols are only partially absorbed in the small intestine, and there is a lot of variation among different types.
Researchers report the small intestine absorbs 290% of sugar alcohols. However, some are only briefly absorbed into the bloodstream and then excreted in urine .
In addition, these sugar alcohols can have varying effects on blood sugar and insulin levels, although all are considerably lower than sugar.
Here is a list of the glycemic and insulin indexes for the most common sugar alcohols. By comparison, glucoses glycemic and insulin index are both 100 (
Importantly, the controlled studies on sugar alcohols involved fewer than 10 people, and blood sugar levels werent always tested.
Overall, sugar alcohols dont seem to have a major effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, but individual responses may vary, especially among those with diabetes or prediabetes.
The absorption and fermentation of sugar alcohols vary widely. With the exception of erythritol, most are capable of raising blood sugar and insulin at least slightly.
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Calculate Your Recommended Daily Caloric Intake Or Tdee
Everything starts with BMR. BMR stands for the Basal Metabolic Rate. Its the number of calories your body burns only by existing. Your BMR depends on your weight, height and age. If you dont exercise or move at all, your target calories would equal your BMR.
But as we said, exercise is a must or at least moving around as much as possible . By exercising and moving around, you burn additional calories and speed up your metabolism.
You wont believe it, but you burn calories even when you eat food. It actually costs energy to digest and absorb food. Thats called the Thermic Effect of Food or TEF . Combining your BMR with the calories you burn through physical activity and the calories you burn while eating leads us to Total Daily Energy Exposure or TDEE.
TDEE = Calories you burn just by existing + calories you burn to process food + calories you burn by moving around and exercising
If your calories consumption equals TDEE, you will neither loose nor gain weight. TDEE is the number of calories that lets you maintain your weight.
There are many BMR/TDEE calculators out there, so I recommend you experiment with several of them and see what kind of calculations you get. As an even better alternative, lets do the calculations by hand, since its not really hard.
Now the fun begins. Lets calculate my ideal BMR and TDEE as an example.
How To Calculate Your Macros
Now you know what macros are and how many calories they have. Next, you’ll need to do some math. That’s because your intake ratio is written in percentages but nutrition information is provided in grams. I’ll use my macro intake as an example.
1. First, you need to know how many calories you eat each day. I eat roughly 2,300 calories per day.
2. Next, determine your ideal ratio. I like to eat about 50% carbs, 25% fat and 25% protein.
3. Then, multiply your total daily calories by your percentages.
4. Finally, divide your calorie amounts by its calorie-per-gram number.
Here’s how I would calculate my calories for each macronutrient:
- Carbs: 2,300 x 0.50 equals 1,150. I eat 1,150 calories worth of carbs each day .
- Protein: 2,300 x 0.25 equals 575, so I get 575 calories worth of protein.
- Fats: 2,300 x 0.25 equals 575. I also get 575 calories comprised of dietary fat.
To calculate the actual gram amounts:
- Carbs : 1,150 divided by 4 equals 287.5 grams of carbs.
- Protein : 575 divided by 4 equals 143.75 grams of protein
- Fat : 575 divided by 9 equals 63.8 grams of fat.
If you don’t like math, don’t fret. The internet is home to a range of macronutrient calculators that will do the math for you.
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Why Do Calories Matter Isnt A Keto Macronutrient Calculator Useless If I Am Already Limiting Carbs
After hearing about the keto diet and how it helps you burn fat, you may be wondering why we even have a keto calculator. According to many low carb diet proponents, all that really matters when it comes to losing fat is cutting the carbs Isnt this true?
High-quality research studies have been published on this specific topic, and the data clearly shows that regardless if you are on a high carb or low carb diet you will lose weight if you are in a calorie deficit and gain weight if you are in a calorie surplus. For a closer look at the research and why calories matter, check out this article.
Due to the irrefutable importance of calorie consumption for weight loss and weight gain, a keto macro calculator is one of the most valuable tools that you can use to increase your chances of diet success.
So How Many Carbohydrates Protein And Fats Do You Need
Well it all depends on what your goals are.
- Do you want to build muscle? or
- Do you want to lose fat?
Its important to note that everybody requires a 100% unique set up when it comes to IIFYM Dieting, because everybody is coming from a different starting position, with completely different end results in mind.
But, heres a starting guide:
If you are trying to lose weight, the recommended starting point is 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body mass throughout the day.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds: you should eat 100 grams of protein per day.
200lbs x 0.5 grams = 100 grams of protein per pound of body mass.
If you are trying to gain muscle, consider eating 1.0 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body mass.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds: you should eat 200-300 grams of protein throughout the day to build lean muscle.
200lbs x 1.0-1.5 grams of protein = 200-300 grams of protein per pound of body mass.
If you are trying to lose weight, the recommended starting point is around 0.5-0.75 grams of carbs per pound of body mass.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds: you should be eating 100-150 grams of carbohydrates throughout the day to build lean muscle.
200lbs x 0.5-.75 grams of carbohydrates = 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body mass.
If you are trying to gain muscle, consider eating 1.0-2.0 grams of carbs per pound of body mass per day.
Remember: fats are still required so you can’t just completely cut them out.
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Why Should I Track Macros
Know that you don’t need to track macros to be healthy, lose weight, build muscle or reach any other health goal. The only time you actually need to track macros is if your doctor told you so.
In fact, logging your every bite can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it’s worth noting that you’ll get pretty good at eyeballing portions if you make tracking a habit.
Tracking macros can definitely be useful for some things, such as preparing for a bodybuilding show or optimizing athletic performance. It can also be helpful if you want to implement “flexible dieting,” or the practice of eating any foods you want, as long as they fit into your macronutrient ratio.
Counting your macros may also be the key to finally eating less processed foods, as processed and packaged foods tend to be high in fats and carbs , and adding in more superfoods. Many people who want to create a calorie deficit to lose weight prefer tracking macronutrients instead of counting calories, as it takes the emphasis off of weight loss and shifts the focus to nutrition. This is helpful for creating long-term healthy habits.
Additionally, many people enjoy tracking macros because it helps them understand what types of foods work best for their bodies. Give it a try to see if it works for your lifestyle, but don’t feel like you ever need to track your macros.
Pros Of Macro Tracking
Fullness and satiety
Macronutrients provide you with a sense of fullness and satiety. Protein in particular has a greater satiety profile over fat and carbohydrate, increases thermogenesis , and helps build/maintain lean mass . So bumping up your protein percentage a little bit probably wont hurt you and may help you feel fuller for longer and therefore less likely to overeat.
Many people are unaware of exactly how much food theyre putting into their mouths. So tracking macros can help raise your personal awareness of portion sizes as well as the amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat in a variety of foods.
Over time, you will develop a keener eye for estimating serving sizes and can then take off the macro counting training wheels.
If you are feeling a bit stale in your food choices and looking for more variety , then counting macros can help you find equivalent substitutes. For example, if youre feeling a bit stale on eating lots of chicken, you might want to substitute in fish for a change. So youd just have to work out how much protein and fat it contains and work that into your ratio calculation.
Manually Calculating Your Macro Percentages
If you already know the macro grams and you want to determine percentages, youll have to put on your multiplication hat.
If you have 120 grams of carbohydrate, 90 grams of protein, and 60 grams of fat, youd first calculate the calories as follows:
- 120 grams of carbohydrate multiplied by 4 calories per gram of carb = 480 calories of carb
- 90 grams of protein multiplied by 4 calories per gram of protein = 360 calories of protein
- 60 grams of fat multiplied by 9 calories per gram of fat = 540 calories from fat
Next, you have to add up all the calories to get the total, so:
- 480 + 360 + 540 = 1380 total calories.
To get your percentages, you divide the calories from each macronutrient by the total calories, so:
- 480 divided by 1380 = 34.8% carbohydrate
- 360 divided by 1380 = 26.1% protein
- 540 divided by 1380 = 39.1% fat
To cross check your work, you just need to ensure your percentages all add up to 100%, so:
34.8 + 26.1 + 39.1 = 100%
What Does A 1800 Calorie Keto Diet Look Like
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How To Count Macros: A Step
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Heres our process.
If you belong to a gym or tune in to the health community, chances are youve heard the term counting macros.
Popularly used by people looking to shed weight or gain muscle mass, counting macronutrients can help you reach various health goals.
It entails keeping track of the calories and types of foods you eat in order to achieve certain macronutrient and calorie goals.
Though counting macros is relatively simple, it can be confusing if youre just starting out.
This article explains the benefits of counting macros and provides a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
In order to successfully count macronutrients, its important to know what they are and why some people need different macronutrient ratios than others.
Foods To Avoid On The Ketogenic Diet
Naturally, incorporating the foods listed above into your diet is not enough. You also need to make sure to cut down your carb intake. No more bread or pasta! You should steer clear of the following:
- Bread – that’s a big no-no unless you find one based on almond flour or coconut flour
- Grains and starch, including pasta, rice, and cereal
- Fruit – all except for little portions of berries
- Sugary snacks including soda, cakes, candy, and ice cream
- Beans such as chickpeas or lentils
- Vegetables – all except the ones listed in the previous section
- Alcohol, as it usually contains a high percentage of carbs.
While you shouldn’t consume any sugar, you can substitute it with stevia or artificial sweeteners. You can also drink no-sugar drinks such as Coke Zero.
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Get To Know The Macros Of The Food You Most Frequently Eat And Prepare A Plan
It’s not over yet. At this final step, the fun continues. You know your macro targets calories, protein, carbs, fats.
Thus, its time to hit these targets as precisely as possible at least by the end of the day.
To do that, you need the following data:
- A list of the foods you most frequently eat : I suggest you prepare a list of all the foods you eat based on your daily meal plans, a meal log or your standard shopping list.
- The weight of foods: Thats the hardest part, but for a week or so you will have to weigh everything you eat on a kitchen scale.
- Macro values for every food: You get the macro values on a nutrition facts label, in different online spreadsheets or software applications. You can find many recipes online that already give macros for the whole dish and can help you do the calculations quicker.
As an example, lets look at the approximate values of the food that I regularly eat:
As you can see, we are approximately in the macro targets for my lunch. I could add a few almonds to the dish and it would be perfect.
The next step is to:
- Make calculations for a few combinations of your favorite dishes
- Upgrade your favorite dishes to meet the macro targets
- Combine the dishes in the way that you get to your daily targets
- Prepare your weekly dieting plan
- Do the same for the bulking phase, carb cycling and any other variations
You can do the calculations in a spreadsheet or in any food tracker, like MyFitnessPal.