Determining carb, fat and protein intake to achieve fat loss can be overwhelming at first. However, once you’re in the habit of macro tracking and you understand how to position meals around workouts, it gets easier to see results for gaining mass or getting lean. Logging food provides structure to nutrition plans—especially when changes need to be made to meet your goals.
Changes in your macro tracking may be necessary along the way for many reasons. Changes in physical demands or varying different sources of food can achieve regularity or inflammation responses in the body. When it comes time to make changes to your macros or their sources, tracking can make the transition a lot less complicated. Tracking detects the issue by showing exactly what you’ve been taking in over a long period of time.
Even the most advanced athletes need a process of trial and error to alter their macros every now and then. Just like workouts, your diet needs variety and alterations so the body never gets used to the intake. As a result, your metabolic levels will always be at their peak.
Why are fat loss options so drastically different? It’s important to understand that every person has different levels of:
Therefore, everyone will be more sensitive to certain nutrients, ingredients, and macro totals than others. While one person may be losing body fat while on a ketogenic diet, the next may see more than they’d like in their midsection. What used to work for you in the past may not even work anymore, so stricter changes such as cutting out gluten or dairy may need to be implemented to continue to get results on your journey.
Some theories for optimal thermogenic effects vary at both ends of the spectrum. For example, ketogenic diets focus on extremely low carb, high fat diets, whereas carb cycling will vary depending on what muscle groups are worked that day. There are also plans such as the Paleolithic diet which focuses on fats, carbs, and protein only coming from approved sources like fish and vegetables.
The closer you get to your goal, the harder it can be to continue to see results. As I mentioned before, nutrition includes a lot of trial and error, and that’s okay.
Since so many people find comfort in food, it can be hard to admit that food is meant to fuel our body for activity and not for our emotional voids. The more we truly accept that the purpose of food is to nourish our bodies for its physical demands, the more motivated we will be to eat clean sources and not ruin hours of work in the gym for minutes of satisfaction.
In my professional opinion, I believe variety is the key to consistency. If you are depriving yourself of the food you crave the most, you are more likely to binge or get off track more frequently and the more epic your cheats will be. Having a healthy balance of fats, carbs, and proteins that fits your unique body is the recipe for success.
In order to get the results we want to see, we must fuel our bodies appropriately for the muscle groups we are focusing on that day. For our larger muscle groups, such as legs and back, our bodies will require more quick energy sources such as carbs and fats. Smaller muscle groups also require them, but in smaller doses. What this ratio means in exact numbers is relative to your body weight and your amount of lean mass.
While carbs and fats are important for all types of workouts, it will make or break different fitness programs more than others. For example, if your goal is performance based (you have a deadlift or squat weight to hit), higher carbs and fats are needed compared to more isolation-type workouts.
Aside from the trial and error process, there is a strategy behind fueling your body for optimal fat loss:
This strategy means you may be taking in the same number of calories, carbs and fats that you were taking in prior to adjustments, but your body is benefiting from them more. The change in metabolism should allow you to see better results than you were before.
When a plateau occurs and you have tried the first two options listed above, it could be that you’re getting too little or too much of one macro nutrient. As I mentioned previously, everything depends on your personal goal. Embrace the trial and error that is nutrition tracking.
My advice would be to add or take away 100 calories worth of your highest macro and see how your body adjusts weight-wise for a week. Once it starts going in the opposite direction, stop. That may be the better spot for that macro currently with your lean mass. Once you figure out one macro, switch to the next and go the same route.
Usually the 100 calorie trial and error process is more relevant for fats and carbs. However, proteins may need to change also. As you gain muscle, you may need more protein to feed that muscle. You want to have at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass. Some may need 1 pound of protein per pound body weight or more. The important thing is to understand that while proteins have calories, there is such thing as having too much. If your body isn’t able to use it for energy and recovery for your muscles, it will be converted to fat.