The Macro Diet For Weight Loss

Chris Park , On December 18, 2022


Confused about which diet is best for weight loss? Should you practice intermittent fasting, opt for a keto diet, a low carb diet or should you try the blood type diet? What works is very individual. Obtaining a calorie deficit can be done through both diet and exercise. Here is how to determine the best macronutrients for your weight loss goals.

What is a macro diet for weight loss?

A macro diet for weight loss follows nutrition and calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. In a macro diet you are calorie-counting and the time of day you consume your meals does not matter like in the intermittent fasting diet. To get started on a macro diet calculate your unique unique macro needs is by using a macro calculator to see how many calories you should consume per day.

What are the benefits of following a macro diet for weight loss?

In any weight loss diet, losing weight is possible as long as you stay in a consistent calorie deficit, so the number of calories you eat each day is below your total daily caloric energy expenditure. However, what you choose to eat can make the weight loss diet feel easier or harder. Also, the quality of your choices can impact body composition. To keep your muscle mass you want to lose weight following an anabolic process. Luckily, macronutrients solve a lot of these concerns all at once. Macros are your calories from food organized into nutrient groups: protein, fat, and carbs. Each group provides different health benefits and a different amount of calories (protein = 4 calories per gram, carbs = 4 calories per gram, and fat = 9 calories per gram).

What Is the Best Macro Ratio for Weight Loss?

Out of the three macros listed above (protein, carb, fat) each macro is used a differently by the body, and understanding how each supports your daily health and fitness needs is broken down below:

  • Carbs are your preferred source of quick energy, and excess carbs can be stored in your muscles for fuel or as body fat.

  • Fat is your source of long-term energy, used as immediate fuel or stored as body fat.

  • Protein is the builder macro, used to build and maintain a majority of the cells throughout your body, including your DNA, bones, and muscle mass – any excess protein can be used as energy or stored as body fat.

When counting macros for weight loss counting your nutrients is only half of the equation. You also have to have a custom meal prep plan in place so you know how to portion out your foods to suit your needs. There are different methods in place to count your macros on a weight loss diet to enable portion control:

  1. Use a kitchen scale: This is by far the most precise method for determining your serving sizes. Using volume measurements (like cups, tablespoons, etc.) leaves room for error. Food weight scales are also incredibly easy to use and many come with automatic macro calculations built-in macro calculations. Just input the desired food code provided with the scale and weigh your portion.

  2. The exchange method: This method is based on a carb counting approach used by diabetics but it seamlessly applies to all macros and all diet types. Essentially, one portion (or exchange) of either a carb, fat, or protein equates to a certain amount of grams for that specific macro.


    1 Serving



    1 each = 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup varied per individual carb

    15 g


    1 each = 3 oz

    21 g


    1 each = 1 Tbsp, 1.5 Tsp, 2 Tbps varied per fat

    5 g

Did you know??? The FDA allows food manufacturers a 20% wiggle room on packaged food serving sizes – meaning what the nutrition label says is not guaranteed accurate (1).

Counting The Three Macros for Weight Loss Guideline

Once you know your calorie count and macro target for weight loss knowing where your calories come from is critical to achieving your weight loss goal. This is where having a balanced weight loss diet with calories coming from protein, fats and carbs comes into play. Some diets like the keto diet plan, or the low carb diet plan eliminate one macro entirely. However, other diets like the paleo diet for weight loss are not so aggressive on eliminating carbs.

How many calories should come from carbs in the macro diet?

Carbohydrate intake is controversial when on a weight loss macro diet. According to the department of health carbs should make up 45% to 65% of total calorie intake while most other fat loss diets recommend less than this. However, when counting calories if you are not eating calories from carbs you are ingesting calories from fat or protein. So the number of calories is unaffected. The type of carb chosen is more likely to affect the real outcome of your diet.

Carbohydrates come from anything that grows out of the ground, including fruits and vegetables – and carbohydrates contribute fiber to the diet.

Carbs are the body’s quickest and most efficient source of fuel and the only macro that is able to readily supply energy to the brain. They are also important for muscle recovery, endurance, and strength building. Lack of carbs can actually make you “hangry,” tried, and even create brain fog. And poor blood sugar control from too much added sugar and poor dietary choices can do the same thing.

How much fat should you eat to lose weight?

Fat makes for a luscious weight loss diet. Healthy fat is essential for good health, but because it is the most calorie-dense macro, it can also be easy to overdo it since 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.

How much protein do you need for a weight loss diet?

Protein is the most unique of all macros because it is not a preferred source of energy and is the least likely to be stored as body fat. Protein also helps maintain lean muscle takes more energy to digest (more thermogenic than the other macros), and is thought to help control hunger and reduce cravings. Research continues to suggest that higher protein intake may support more weight loss, but the amount of protein you actually need is still widely debated. US Dietary Guidelines recommend 0.36 to 0.45 grams per pound of body weight – while others argue this amount is based around getting minimum adequate needs for the general population and does not take into account differences in body composition and fitness needs.

Chris Park

Chris Park is a board-certified sports nutritionist, registered dietitian and former college rugby player. Chris loves strength training and pushing his body to the limit, which comes in handy when working with professional athletes and designing their nutritional needs. Chris also enjoys helping others by writing about nutrition.