Ask The Trainer #120 – Mastering Your Macros


I was curious what your take was on the best macro balance to lose fat? Some bodybuilders have told me that calories don’t really matter, as long as you have your macros in the right ratios. I’m wondering what ratio mine should be in to lose fat and build some muscle? Also, I go to the gym and do lifting and cardio 3 times per week. Thanks.



Hi, Daren. I probably receive more inquiries regarding this subject than any other. I believe many different entities in the fitness industry want you to believe this subject is much more technical than it really is.

You see, the more complicated it is, the more dependent people will be on paying trainers, coaches, or nutritionists to figure out this magic formula for them. I’ve been telling people for a long time I think obsessing over proportions of macros is a HUGE waste of time. Why? Because science proves this is true over and over again.

Losing or gaining weight is all about calories!

For example, you cannot lose weight without a calorie deficit diet. It’s also extremely difficult for your body to build new muscle tissue if you’re not consuming a calorie surplus.

Studies Provide Proof

This is not my personal opinion. These are scientific realities. Anyone who claims otherwise is just ridiculous. Virtually every study on the subject of calories, relating to weight loss or weight gain, clearly demonstrates this fact.

The only studies out there that prove anything different are those where subjects would report their own calorie intakes to the researchers doing the study. This leaves a ton of room for error. The vast majority of the population is very inaccurate when estimating their own calorie intake.

I recall one client who insisted he was only consuming the 2,100 calories per day I prescribed to him. Then, I forcing him to journal his daily food and beverage intake for a typical day. I then discovered he was actually consuming close to 5,000 calories per day.

Likewise, I had another client who claimed she only eating 1,500 calories per day. But, after making her write everything down, I discovered she was only consuming about 900 calories per day.

You can’t disprove the laws of thermodynamics if you’re being honest with yourself. Regardless of what any so-called ‘expert’ is telling you. Carbohydrates won’t make you fat. Fat won’t make you fat. Protein won’t make you fat. Overeating WILL make you make you fat!

How Many Calories?

You’re probably asking yourself the question: How many calories should I be taking in each day to reach my goals? That will depend on what your current state of conditioning is and where you would like it to be. If you’re sitting at 13% or more body fat, I can tell you that eating fewer calories each day is the right move to make. Since I know nothing about your stats, lifestyle, training, health concerns, or genetics, it would be impossible for me to determine exactly how many calories you should consume each day.

If your primary goal is fat loss, then you have 2 options: 1. Eat less or, 2. Move more. I highly recommend doing both for optimal results. Write down everything you eat and drink on a typical day. Take note of portion sizes and calories per serving of everything you put in your body. After you’ve calculated your total calorie intake for a typical day, look over your daily menu and figure out the easiest way to eliminate 500-800 calories per day. What are you eating or drinking every day that you can cut back on or find a lower calorie alternative without feeling overly deprived?

In some cases, the answer can be as simple as giving up soda, beer, or fruit juice. This is because you can take in a lot more calories in a shorter amount of time by consuming calorie dense liquids than you can by eating real food. Once you’ve established what you can live without or substitute, try incorporating a little more activity each day even if it’s as simple as going for a 20-minute walk after dinner.

You should be able to drop about 2 pounds per week. If you’re not, then continue to cut calories from your diet in segments of 200 calories per day until you are finally losing about 2 pounds per week. Take note, if you begin losing 3 or more pounds per week, chances are you’re losing muscle and that’s not what your aim is. In this case, you would want to slightly increase your calorie intake to avoid losing muscle.

Losing Muscle?

You may be wondering how will you know if you’re losing muscle? There’s one easy way to gauge this. When you conduct your weight training workouts, if you notice your strength is dropping, you’re pushing less weight, for fewer reps, that’s a good indicator you’re losing muscle.

I generally feel that losing muscle is unacceptable on a fat loss diet unless an individual has plummeted under 9% body fat for a physique competition. If they’re training naturally, it’s going to be tough not to lose some muscle in the midst of the calorie restriction required to be competitive in a modern day physique or bodybuilding competition. Most of the people I encounter aren’t looking to compete though. They just want to know how to establish regular, sustainable eating patterns that will allow them to become leaner, more muscular, and feel better about themselves.

I hope this helps answer your question. I wish you all the best of success with your health and fitness goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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