When it comes to cutting, calculating your cutting macros is extremely important. Learning how to find the perfect balance of macros in your diet will not only help you lose body fat but will assist muscle preservation and even gains, allowing you to get as lean as possible. And if you want to do it right, you shouldn’t guess your calorie intake either.
So, here we are going to show you how to calculate your macros for cutting to maximize fat burn and keep muscle.
Cutting Calories and Macros
When it comes to cutting and losing weight, it is common sense that you should be counting calories. That’s because only a calorie deficit is what helps you burn that fat. So, you should count those calories in order to create a calorie restriction.
Counting calories might not be as important for those who simply want to get rid of a pound or two. Yet, a serious cutting phase is about changing your body composition. This means burning fat while keeping muscle mass. At the same time, the right balance of macronutrients (macros) will help you both achieve your goals AND remain healthy. That’s why macros are very important for everyone, simply to stay healthy. But especially for those who are serious about changing their body composition.
That’s why, if you want to maximize your efforts, you should know how to calculate your macros for cutting. This way, you will need to opt for quality food instead of fast food and other types of junk food.
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Unsure how to count macros? Follow these steps!
Determine Your Calorie Needs
First off, you need to determine how many calories your body needs each day in order to maintain the current weight. Usually, that’s in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day. But it can be very different from one person to another. It depends on the age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. It’s common sense a 270 lb man can’t have the same calorie needs as a 135 lb man.
There are various online calculators that can help you determine your calorie needs.
Create a Calorie Deficit
Once you know your current daily calorie intake, you need to reduce that number in order to start the weight loss process. That’s what creates a calorie deficit. That reduction is usually about 10 to 25% lower than your usual calorie intake.
For example, if your daily need to maintain weight is 2,500 calories, a 20% decrease means that you would cut down to 2,000 calories a day. 10-25% decrease from assumingly 2500 calories means that you should aim for 1875-2250 calories a day.
Attempting an even faster weight reduction you’re not only at risk of losing your lean muscle, but it also can be unhealthy. This can hinder your metabolism, causing hormonal issues and other health issues. This explains why many people tend to regain everything after a drastic and fast weight loss, and usually even more.
You could start with a 10% calorie deficit, then move to 15%, then 20%. Also, you need to recalculate your needs as your fitness level changes.
Calculate Your Macros
After you’ve found out the number of calories, you can calculate your macros. As you know, macronutrients are split into three groups:
In order to do that, you should know that one gram of protein is equal to 4 calories and one gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories too. Lastly, one gram of fat would be equal to 9 carbs. This means that if you eat, for example, 100 g of protein, it means that you’ve had 400 calories.
We need to talk about the importance of your protein intake when you’re calculating macros for cutting. That’s because a higher protein intake is crucial during a cutting phase. There are two reasons for that.
First, proteins protect lean muscle mass while you’re reducing your calorie intake. It may even help you gain muscle while you’re cutting fat.
Second, when you’re on a calorie restriction diet, you can feel hungry. Protein is incredibly satiating. This means that by having more proteins, you are going to feel fuller for longer. This means that you won’t be tempted to eat more. Therefore, protein supports your cutting goals.
So, how many proteins do you need? I recommend aiming for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass in order to reach your goals. Generally, it is between 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This means that a guy who weighs 200 pounds should aim for 160 to 240 grams of protein a day as a part of his cutting macros plan. If he has 240 grams of proteins a day x 4 calories = 960 calories a day, from proteins.
You can take it slowly with proteins. Such as 0.8 g/pound of body weight for the first 2 weeks. Then increase to 0.9 g/pound of body weight for the next 2 weeks. Increase up to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight by 0.1 g/lb/body weight increments every 2 weeks. This means that a 200 guy would start with 160 g protein daily the first 2 weeks. But would end up with 240 g of protein daily by week 12.
A standard in dieting is to keep fat levels to a minimum. But not too low because, again, completely avoiding fat can cause health issues. Yet, you shouldn’t have too much fat for obvious reasons. So, you should consume the right types of fat and the right amount of fat too. After all, adding the right fats will add more flavor to foods. This way, you’ll be less inclined to snack on sugary and processed foods to feel fulfilled.
Moreover, fat is a great source of long lasting energy. Carbohydrates usually fill in the final gap when you are calculating your macros for cutting. This means that you should first determine the fats. Usually, the amount of fat you need to consume depends on your activity level (or keep it average).
On average, you need 20-40% of fats as your daily macronutrients need from your calories. This means that you either keep it at 30% of your daily macro needs or calculate them according to your activity level:
- 20% when you’re very active
- 30% when you’re moderately active
- 40% when you’re lightly active
Now, let’s assume you aim for 2000 calories a day. One gram of fat makes 9 calories. 30% out of 2,000 means 67 grams of fat per day. 67×9 = 603. 30% out of 2,000 is 600. Following the same rule, we find out that 89 grams of fat is 40% and 45 grams of fat is 20%.
Lastly – carbohydrates. You determine your calories, you determine your proteins, and fats. Now, all you’ve left to do is to find out what your carbohydrate intake is. Following the example above, for example, a 200 lb man has a maintenance calories of 2500. He aims for a cutting cycle so he aims 2,000 calories a day. In order to sustain muscle, he eats 160 grams of proteins which is equal to 640 calories. He also eats 67 grams of fat a day in order to get the 30% of fat and that makes 603 calories from fat. Therefore, out of 2,000 calories, he is left with 757 calories that he should take from carbs. Since 1 gram of carbs is 4 calories, it means that he should eat 190 grams of carbs a day.
Carbs are extremely important because the more you exercise, the greater the amount of carbs your body uses.
Following that example, a man that has 2500 calories a day as maintenance, aiming for 2000 calories a day as a cutting cycle would eat 160 g of proteins, 67 g of fats, and 190 grams of carbs a day. This makes a fairly good ratio of:
30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs.
Yet, that’s not set in stone. Some changes are allowed. Such as 40% of protein and 30% of fat and 30% of carbs. Or 40% of both protein and carbs with 20% of fat and so on and so forth.