For fat loss, being in a calorie deficit is the most important factor.
Protein is also key as it keeps you full and helps you maintain muscle.
I don't worry about my carbs and fat. Instead, I eat a healthy balance of both.
Whether your goal is to lose fat, gain muscle, or merely keep an eye on how you're fueling your body, tracking your macros can be a great educational tool.
All food is made up of three macronutrients (or macros): protein, carbs, and fat. Protein and carbs both have four calories per gram and fat has nine.
When I have a particular fitness goal, I loosely track my protein and overall calorie intake, but I let the carbs and fats fall into place without meticulously calculating them.
This technique has helped me lose fat and build muscle over the years, reducing my body fat percentage from 31% to 17%.
Protein is key for body recomposition
In my main fat loss phase in 2019, I lost 35 pounds. However, it was really important to me not to lose the muscle I'd built through weight lifting.
To maintain muscle, I made sure I didn't drop my calories too low, strength trained consistently, and ate a high protein diet, aiming for 0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight each day.
"Out of the three [macros], the one we're most interested in is protein, as a higher protein intake can assist with weight loss by helping to regulate your appetite and keep the hunger pangs away," sports nutritionist Scott Baptie previously told Insider.
Protein keeps you full and helps your muscles repair after a workout. It also uses more energy to digest compared to carbs and fat, which is known as the thermic effect of food.
Nothing drastic happens when I eat a low protein meal - the occasional low protein intake day won't have any impact on my progress - but I do notice I'm hungrier.
I don't worry about fats and carbs
For weight loss, Baptie said tracking fats and carbs "isn't really necessary" if you have your protein and calories in check, and this has always been my experience.
If you're someone who feels better eating more carbs, you should do that, personal trainer Ben Carpenter wrote on Instagram. And if you prefer eating higher fat, you should do that.
"Rather than striving for a specific ratio, keep in mind that long-term results are always bottle necked by personal adherence, so it makes sense to opt for personal preference," he said.
I prefer to keep a moderate balance of my carb and fat intake. Some days will be higher in one or the other, but I don't notice any huge difference in my mood or fitness performance either way.
Eating more carbs makes me more bloated because carbs cause water retention, but I know it's not fat gain.
Calories are most important overall
While calorie counting isn't for everyone, calories do count when I'm trying to lose fat.
Tracking food works for me and it's a tool I come back to when I want to lose fat, but I don't do so religiously. I use the free app, MyFitnessPal.
If you want to lose weight, the most important factor is your calorie intake - if you haven't hit your protein target by the end of the day but you've eaten all your calories, all the fitness experts I've spoken to agree it's best not to eat more.
"Calorie target first, protein intake second, let everything else slot into place according to your own personal preferences," Carpenter said.
Read the original article on Insider