In this article, we are going to cover what macronutrients are, what role they play in weight loss, and what macros you should be following to lose weight.

Let’s start by looking at what macros actually are.

What are Macros?

There are three different macronutrients, fat, protein, and carbohydrates, each playing an important role in an overall healthy and balanced diet. Let’s take a closer look at each and what role they play in health and weight loss.

Carbohydrates:

Carbs contain four calories per gram, and act as one of the primary source of energy for the body. They provide a quick source of fuel and are found in things like fruits, vegetables, sugar, fiber, starches, as well as legumes. If you consume too many carbohydrates than your body can use, the excess is stored in your muscles as well as your liver for later use. (1) This is where glycogen stores come in when exercising. When your body runs out of glucose to fuel your body during activity, it will tap into glycogen stores. When you eat after exercise, you help to refuel those glycogen stores for the next time they are needed. The key thing to remember with carbs is to eat complex carbohydrates like oats, brown rice, and quinoa vs. refined carbs like baked goods, white rice, and pasta. Complex carbs are slower to release in the body and will be less likely to cause a sudden spike and then crash in blood sugar.

Fat:

Fats provide nine calories per gram, and act as the most energy-dense macronutrient. While many people fear fats when it comes to weight loss, you actually need a certain amount of fat to lose weight, support energy, and support hormone balance. Dietary fats are also important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.

When it comes to weight loss, many people are hesitant to add healthy fats to the diet. However, look at the ketogenic or the paleo diet. Both of these diets include very high-fat foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut, and oftentimes, those following these diets are either trying to lose weight or looking to maintain their optimal weight.

Energy from fat also lasts a lot longer, and healthy fats don’t come with those unwanted blood sugar spikes and crashes from carbohydrate-rich meals. Both energy and blood sugar balance play an important role in weight loss. Lastly, fats also provide a sense of satiety, making you less likely to overeat. (2)

Protein:

Protein provides four calories per gram and is super important for overall health. Protein is needed in every cell in the body, and helps the body make hormones, enzymes, and helps to build as well as repair tissue. (3) If you are trying to lose weight, and are exercising, your body is going to require a good amount of protein to help build and repair those worked muscles. If you are following a balanced diet, you will want to strive to consume 10-45% of your calories from protein, or about 0.8 grams per kg of body weight. (4)

What Role do Macros Play in Weight Loss?

Macros play a very important part in weight loss, because, they are what make up the calories you are consuming. While counting calories can play a helpful role in helping you lose weight, the quality of your food is even more important. While an unhealthy food choice may have the same amount of calories as a healthy food, the healthier food option is always going to be the best choice as not all calories are created equal.

The balance of macros in your diet will also play an important part in weight loss. While some people may do well with a lower carbohydrate diet, others may need a good amount of complex carbs balanced with healthy fats and protein in order to sustain energy and lose weight. It’s all about what works for you, and your body.

Here is a rough guideline of what a balanced diet looks like when it comes to what you should be eating each day according to The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine.

Carbs:45-65% of calories

Protein: 10-35% of calories

Fat: 20-35% of calories

Keep in mind that everyone will be different, so find what works for you, and what your body is going to respond to best when it comes to losing weight.


What Macros Should I Follow to Lose Weight?

Now that you know a little more about macros, let’s dive into some specifics and look at exactly what macros you may want to follow to help support weight loss. These are some of the healthiest options, and can easily be added to a healthy diet.

Healthy Carbohydrate Options:

  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Brown rice
  • Lentils
  • Beans

Healthy Fats Options:

  • Nuts & seeds
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Whole eggs

Healthy Protein Options:

  • Grass-fed meat
  • Whole eggs
  • Wild-caught fatty fish
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Chia & flax seeds

Other Approaches to Successful Weight Loss

In addition to adding healthy and nutrient-dense foods to your diet, there are some other things you can do to help support weight loss efforts.

#1 Exercise: Exercise plays an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and can help support weight loss. Try adding some form of exercise to your daily routine whether it’s a daily walk or something more rigorous like a fitness class.

#2 Stress Reduction: Stress can cause hormone imbalance which can lead to weight gain. (5) Certain hormones are notorious for causing added weight. Cortisol is known for causing weight gain in the midsection, and having an estrogen imbalance can also lead to excess weight in areas like the hips and thighs. Strive to include at least fifteen minutes of stress reduction into your day to help support balanced hormones, and help support your body when it comes to losing excess weight.  

#3 Support Gut Health: More and more research is pointing to imbalanced gut health as a cause of weight gain. (6) It’s important to support the beneficial bacteria in your gut to help support weight loss. Try including probiotic-rich foods in your diet like sauerkraut, full-fat unsweetened Greek or coconut-based yogurt, kimchi, or kombucha. A high-quality probiotic can also be beneficial.


The Bottom line

The bottom line is that the foods you eat matters, and they all play a role in your body’s ability to shed excess weight. If you are trying to lose weight, but are struggling to find what works best for you, remember that the quality of your foods matters just as much as the calories. Try making quality a priority when it comes to the foods you add to your diet. Start by adding some of the healthy macros talked about in this post, and see what this diet shift can do for your overall health, and weight loss goals. It may just be the subtle, yet extremely effective change you need to see results.

About the Author

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs N.C is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, specializing in digestive and women's health. She takes a holistic approach to wellness, doesn't believe in "dieting," and believes that healthy eating must be delicious. Rebecca is also a health writer and recipe developer and creates healthy alternatives to traditionally unhealthy foods.