Technically, you could achieve some success by counting only the number of fast food hamburger you eat every day and reducing it by one. However, if you want to experience permanent changes in your body, stay healthy, and improve your fitness, it may be helpful to study how much of each macronutrient is consumed.
There are three primary macronutrients (macros): carbohydrates, fat and protein. Each of them is necessary for your health and performance, but there are endless ways to combine them. For carbohydrates alone, your options range from a ketogenic diet with very little carbohydrate, where you eat almost no carbs and lots of fats, to carbohydrates, where you change your carbohydrate intake daily according to your exercise plan.
These days it's pretty easy to do a quick internet search and find hundreds of different diet plans with different levels of complexity and extremity. But in the beginning, for most people, it's best to maintain a good balance between all three macros in your diet and just focus on quality and consistency.
Most American diets are also heavy in fat and carbohydrates and not enough protein. A proven ratio to deal with these imbalances is:
- 20 percent of your calories from fat
- 40 percent from carbohydrates
- 40 percent from protein
Use Bodybuilding.com for free Macronutrient calculators to help you figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle. Over time, you can make changes to this ratio, depending on which foods you prefer, how your body responds, and how your daily activity is.
For example: fitness model and coach Obi Obadike says he ended up on a 20/30 /. 50 split for lasting slimming, while you can still work out in the gym. Other coaches and athletes were successful with 30/30/40, 25/35/40 or other proportions.
Frankly, there is plenty of room for adjustments when it comes to fats and carbohydrates, as long as you keep two factors more or less constant: total calories and daily protein intake. These two factors are the numbers that have shown studies that are most related to the success of dieting, according to registered dietitian Susan Hewlings, Ph.D., in the video "How to Lose Weight" in the Bodybuilding.com course Foundations of Fitness Nutrition.
"Here's the thing: as long as the calories – that is, the total portions – are under control and you get enough protein, [dietary systems] all work with about the same predictability level," says Hewlings.
A balanced nutritional plan not only helps with weight loss, but also helps to maintain weight long-term. It may not sound sexy, but maintenance – d. H., Not Yo-Yoing – is an essential ingredient in losing fat and keeping it off.