Macros are the number of calories that come from carbohydrates, proteins or fats. A low-carb diet is one where most of your daily calorie intake comes from carbs (and very little from protein). On the other hand, a high-protein diet is one where most of your daily calorie intake comes from protein (and very little from carbs) and vice versa.
There are two types of diets: low-carbohydrate and high-protein. Low carbohydrate diets are typically used to lose weight because they tend to lead to less satiety, which means fewer calories consumed after eating. High protein diets are usually used for health reasons because they tend to increase lean body mass and decrease body fat. Both types of diets have their pros and cons, but the main thing is that both types of diets work well if followed properly.
The macronutrient ratios for weight loss female are different than those for male. For example, a woman’s body type tends to favor higher protein over carbs, so she needs to eat more protein to maintain her current weight. Also, women generally require less fat than men do because their bodies prefer lower amounts of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol in their diet. Therefore, it makes sense that a high-protein diet would be better suited for them.
Your body requires carbohydrates to provide energy for the brain and central nervous system, as well as, in conjunction with protein, for the building and repair of muscles. The current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that 45-65% of your total daily calories should come from carbs (1). The amount you should consume depends on your body type, activity level, age and how many calories you’re trying to consume overall.
Most people need between 40-60% of their calories from carbs to prevent the body from breaking down muscle mass for energy. That means if you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, you should get between 800-1,200 of those calories from carbs. If you’re very active (marathon training, Crossfit, etc.) or trying to gain muscle, aim higher (up to 65%).
If you’re sedentary (caveman lifestyle, little exercise) or trying to lose weight, aim lower (down to 45%).
Protein is a vital macronutrient for building and maintaining muscle mass. The current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that 10-35% of daily calories should come from protein (1). Since the average person consumes about 2,000 calories per day, this works out to between 200-700 calories from protein.
The high end of this range (700 calories) works out to 42 grams of protein. For most people, this is way more than necessary; 0.8 grams per pound (.36 grams per kilogram) of body weight is more than enough for anyone.
A person who weighs 150 lbs (68 kg) would only need 48 grams of protein per day. This is also quite doable by eating just a little meat, fish or dairy every day.
How to Get the Proper Calories and Protein for Your Body Type
As mentioned above, your protein and carbohydrate requirements depend on your body type. Since women typically have more fat than men, they tend to do better on lower carb, higher protein diets. The sample diet plan below is optimized for a woman who needs to lose weight or maintain her current weight. To adjust it for your needs, simply adjust the quantities of each food group to meet your macronutrient requirements.
If you are very active (think workout videos, not just walking around your office), you will need more carbs and will have to consume more food throughout the day. Also, if you want to gain muscle, you’ll need more protein and will have to spread it out over 5-7 meals per day. See our male-specific sample diet plans for either of those options.
For the quantities of each food group, just choose from the foods listed under each category. Remember, don’t obsess over getting the exact quantity listed — just use the list as a guide to help you make the right choices.
Oatmeal 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Blueberries 1 cup (or other fruit)
Total: 600 calories, 86 g protein, 40 g carbs, 12 g fat
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp.
Jelly or Jam 1 Tbsp.
Whole Wheat Bread 2 slices
Total: 450 calories, 18 g protein, 66 g carbs, 10 g fat
Turkey Sandwich Lettuce 1 leaf, Tomato 1 slice, Turkey 4 oz. (cooked weight), Mayonnaise 1 Tbsp.
Carrots 1 cup
Raisins 1/2 cup
Total: 550 calories, 48 g protein, 46 g carbs, 13 g fat
Pretzels 3 oz. (about 12 sticks)
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp.
Total: 450 calories, 16 g protein, 70 g carbs, 11 g fat
Broiled Salmon 6 oz.
Mashed Potatoes 1 cup
Broccoli 1 cup
Iceberg Lettuce 2 cups (shredded)
Blue Cheese Dressing 2 Tbsp.
Peanuts 1 oz.
Total: 600 calories, 48 g protein, 53 g carbs, 18 g fat
Lean Beef 1 slice (cooked weight)
Cottage Cheese 1 cup
Apples 1 apple
Total: 450 calories, 50 g protein, 23 g carbs, 11 g fat
Totals: 2950 calories, 291 g protein, 381 g carbs, 80 g fat
Note: Don’t forget to add the calories from your recommended intake of essential fats to your daily total. For this plan, we added another 500 calories worth to the meal plan.
The Daily Plateau: Maintening Your Weight After You’ve Reached Your Goal
Congratulations! Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ve reached your goal weight. Now is the time to move into maintenance mode. This means keeping your weight steady so you don’t gain or resume the weight you’ve just lost.
The best way to do this is to continue with your exercise program and eat your maintenance level of protein, carbs and fat, which we calculate for you in Chapter 7 based on your height, weight, age, gender and activity level. It’s just that simple!
We hope you had success with our diet and exercise plans. If you want to change your diet, you can always switch to one of the other plans in this book that you may find more appealing. These plans are not just for women, they work for men too. Of course, you can also modify any of the plans in this book to suit your own personal taste.
We worked with a wide variety of people on these plans, including women who wanted to lose just 5 pounds and women who wanted to lose 150 pounds! The plans in this book can help you achieve your desired weight loss, whatever your goal.
The following is a list of some terms used in this book that you may or may not be familiar with. Even if you are, you may not know the specifics of how they apply to the body. We’ve provided that here so that you have a better understanding of these concepts and how they can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
The following list contains a brief explanation of each term:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): The amount of energy expended daily by the body while at rest. This includes the activity of the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and all other organs.
Calorie: A measure of the potential energy in food. When you eat food, your body converts those calories into the energy it needs to perform all of its functions.
Calorie-restricted diet: A type of weight loss diet in which you consume fewer calories than the amount your body needs to maintain your weight. This creates a calorie deficit, meaning you burn more calories than you take in.
Carbohydrate (carb): One of the three macronutrients. Carbohydrates are sugars and other molecules found in plants that the body can convert into glucose (sugar), which it then uses for energy.
Cholesterol: A type of fat the body needs to function, but that most people consume more of than they need. Foods high in cholesterol include red meat and eggs.
Diet: A term used to describe the food that someone eats on a regular basis.
Diets: A term used to describe a plan or program that someone uses to lose weight or get fit. There are many types of diets that people follow.
Exercise: Any movement that requires more effort than just standing or sitting. This can include everything from jogging to lifting weights to doing household chores.
Glucose: A simple sugar that the body converts into energy.
Glycogen: A substance the liver produces from glucose that is used by the body for energy.
Insulin: A hormone that controls the conversion of glucose from glycogen and glucose into fat and muscle in the body.
Macronutrients: Macronutrients are substances in food that provide calories. They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Metabolic Rate: The rate at which the body burns calories.
Micronutrients: Also known as vitamins and minerals, these are substances found in food that are required by the body on a daily basis to maintain optimum health.
Protein: One of the three macronutrients, along with carbs and fat. The body uses protein to build and repair muscle tissue.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): The amount of energy the body expends at rest. It is similar to BMR, but includes physical activity as well.
Secondary Macronutrients: Also known as micronutrients, these are substances found in food that the body needs in smaller quantities than macronutrients. These include calcium, iron, and potassium.
Sedentary: Not physically active. This term is often used to describe people who lead a mostly sitting/lying lifestyle. However, it also applies to people who engage in little to no exercise on a regular basis.
Step 1: Set Your Goals
If you’re reading this book, then you probably want to lose weight.
You might also want to get fit.
Be realistic with yourself. Setting the bar too low will only lead to disappointment and cause you to quit. On the other hand, setting the bar too high will cause you to get frustrated and quit as well.
The best way to set your goals is by thinking about where you want to be in six months, a year and five years from now. Jot these goals down in the table below.
This will give you something to strive for as you work towards your weight loss goals.
Step 2: Watch Your Calories
The easiest way to start losing weight is to cut down on the amount of calories you eat and/or burn off more of the calories you consume. This is known as a caloric deficit.
To lose one pound of fat, you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit. Therefore, if you want to lose one pound a week, you only need to cut out 500 calories a day from your diet.
To figure out how many calories you should consume on a daily basis, there are a few formulas and tools you can use. They are:
The Harris Benedict Formula – This is exactly what it sounds like. The formula was created in 1919 by an endocrinologist named Harris. It uses your height, weight, age and activity level to calculate how many calories you burn in a day.
For example, if you are a 30 year old, 5 foot 6 inch woman who exercises 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, the formula would look like this: (Height in inches x 3.0) + (Weight in pounds x 0.203) – (Age x 0.095) – (Sedentary lifestyle = Calorie needs).
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) – This method uses the above formula to come up with your basal metabolic rate (BMR), then adjusts it based on your activity level. The more active you are, the more calories you need.
Other tools such as Fitday and Skinfometer will ask you a series of questions about yourself and give you a fairly accurate calorie goal to aim for each day.
Whichever method you use, write it down so you don’t forget it!
Step 3: Get Active!
Now that you know how many calories you should be consuming each day, it’s time to start burning some of those calories off!
In terms of weight loss, the best exercise is the one that you will actually do on a consistent basis.
The most effective way to lose weight is to do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. This means that you should do some form of cardiovascular activity (swimming, running, biking, hiking) for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week AND weight train with weights 3 days a week.
If you aren’t used to exercising, start slow and build your way up to more intense workouts.
Don’t forget to warm up before and stretch after your workouts!
Step 4: Eat Your Calories
While cutting out too many calories will cause your weight loss to plateau, it is important not to just eat anything you want as long as it’s under your daily caloric limit.
A general guideline to healthy eating while losing weight is this:
High Protein – Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound that you weigh.
Good Carbohydrates – Choose carbs that are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index such as oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and vegetables.
Healthy Fats – Include sources of healthy fats from foods like nuts, fish, and avocados.
Limit Alcohol – While a glass of red wine every once in awhile is fine, try to avoid heavily flavored drinks and limit your alcohol intake while losing weight.
Remember to drink plenty of water every day as well!
Step 5: Stick With It
The final, and possibly most important step is to actually stick with your plan. This means laying out all the foods that you can and can’t have ahead of time so that you aren’t tempted to cheat.
It also means surrounding yourself with people that support your choice to lose weight. A friend offering you a piece of chocolate cake is a lot harder to say no to if you live with them.
Finally, reward yourself for sticking to your plan and achieving your goals! Whether that be a night out with friends, a new DVD, or a new video game, treating yourself every once in awhile is an important way to stay on track.
Now that you have all the information you need to start your weight loss journey, there’s no time like the present to get started!
Losing weight doesn’t need to be confusing. By keeping your daily caloric intake below your daily caloric burn, you will lose weight. It’s as simple as that!
Got any questions?
Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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Sources & references used in this article:
Individualizing Macronutrient Ratios for Fat Loss by T MacCormick – breakingmuscle.com
Evidence-based diabetes nutrition therapy recommendations are effective: the key is individualization by MJ Franz, JL Boucher, AB Evert – Diabetes, metabolic syndrome …, 2014 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Macronutrient composition and management of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM): a new paradigm for individualized nutritional therapy in … by E Koloverou, DB Panagiotakos – The review of diabetic studies …, 2016 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov