Fat Loss And Macronutrients: Eat What You Want And Still Lose Fat

Aaron O'Connell
Written By: Aaron O'Connell
October 1st, 2012
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
93K Reads
This guide from shredded trainer Aaron O'Connell helps you set up a caloric intake level, and provides you with 9 tips for a more satisfying eating plan.

Fat LossYou’ve been there before, that point where you become fed up and decide to lose weight. You went on some diet that restricted your food consumption, limited your food options, and made you miserable. Then to add to it, you put endless hours into the gym for weeks on end, only to figure out that you only lost one pound. You got frustrated and gave up, only becoming worse than where you first started.

Well here it is, the “non-diet” that will help you achieve your goals and actually change your nutritional habits for long term results. Let's first figure out an estimate amount of your kcaloric needs, perform the following equation(s).

Resting Metabolic Rate Estimate Equation (Harris-Benedict Equation)

  • Men: 88.32 + (4.799 x H)+(13.397 x W) – (5.677 x A)
  • Women: 447.53 + (3.098 x H) + (9.247 x W) – (4.33 x A)

H = Height in cm

W = Weight in kg

A = Age in years

Then multiply by the number equivalent to your activity level.

  • Sedentary (Little to no physical exercise in addition to your daily activities) = 1.4
  • Moderately Active (30 minutes of physical exercise in addition to your daily activities = 1.6
  • Highly Active (60 min of physical exercise in addition to your daily activities) = 1.8

To gain or lose weight add or subtract 400-500 kcalories from your total. Losing or gaining too rapidly can result in excess fat or a decreased metabolic rate due to loss of lean tissue.

  • 1 gram carbohydrate = 4 kcal
  • 1 gram protein = 4 kcal
  • 1 gram fat = 9 kcal
  • 1 gram alcohol = 7 kcal
  • 1 gram fiber (insoluble) = -4 kcal

Everyone has a different goal and desired outcome, balance your ratios to best fit you and your goals. Remember, everyone is different and the same combination/ratio of protein, carbohydrate, and fat consumption will create different outcomes for each individual. Find what combination(s) work best for you.

9 Diet Plan Recommendations

#1 - Drink Water. First and foremost, drink as much water as possible. I know you all have heard of the 8 glasses a day recommendation, which is a start, but it is not nearly enough to support your weight loss goals and/or muscle building goals. There is no set amount that is optimal, but usually more is better. Also, drink water as cold as possible, for every one ounce of ice cold water you consume, you burn one calorie.

#2 - Monitor Saturated Fat. Keep saturated fats at less than 10% of total energy (kcal) consumption.

#3 - Eat Enough Fat. Consistently consuming less than 20% of your total energy in fat can lead to an undesirable affect, by lowering your high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. For men consistent insufficient fat intake will lower testosterone.

Fat Loss Tips

#4 - Carbs: Don't Go Too Low. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for energy and are essential to maintain/maximize muscle growth and strength. Going on an extremely low carbohydrate diet will provide excellent fat loss, but will take a toll in the muscle department as well. (My experience on a low carb diet; I lost fat at an extremely fast rate, but my workout intensity declined, my muscle fullness/pump disappeared, my strength went down, and much more. This all lead to a low metabolic rate, less calories burned per workout and feeling lethargic throughout the day.)

#5 - Macronutient Balance. Keep a good balance of macronutrients. Cut kcalories at the same rate for each nutrient to reduce kcalorie consumption. Consistently consuming less of only one nutrient will always lead to a deficiency and a declined outcome.

#6 - Frequent Feeding. Although not necessary, consume smaller and more frequent meals. This will increase your metabolic rate slightly.

#7 - Carb Timing. To maximally reduce fat, consume most of your carbs in the morning and day. Your body will be able to better utilize consumed carbs throughout the day for daily functions opposed to while you are sleeping.

#8 - Vary Your Food Choices. Mix up your nutrient intake from different sources. (ex: Carbs - beans, vegetables, fruits, grains etc. Protein - pork, beef, chicken, fish, dairy, etc.)

#9 - Consume Nutrient Dense Food. Even though you can "eat whatever you want," consume nutrient dense food. (ex: Eating two slices of wheat toast with one cup fresh strawberries provides you with 26g carbs, 1.5g fat, 7g protein, 7g fiber (118kcal) will benefit you more than a Nutri-Grain bar containing (27g carbs, 3g fat, 2g protein, 1g fiber (139kcal). Eating predominantly nutrient dense food will provide you with numerous benefits, not to mention you get to eat more food!

Posted on: Thu, 01/14/2016 - 00:12

Frequent meal spacing is a myth- our bodies are smarter about using calories than we are. If you are under your total expenditure for the day and eat enough protein, you can eat all of your calories before you go to bed and get shredded.
The "no carbs before bed" is a crock too- Ive been eating all of my calories between 3pm and 9pm for a year and at have held 9% bf @ 175-177. My strength has not suffered.

Posted on: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 09:37

Hi Aaron
Just read your article. Feb 2012 I was 277 lbs and the mother to a 1.5 yr old track star son which made realize I wanted to be a healthier mom. I started doing Zumba in Feb and by around Aug 2012 I weighed about 220. With the zumba I also changed how I ate eating dinner no later than 5:30 not drinking anything but water after 7pm things like that. I am now apx 195. I started incorporating weights into my workouts around May 2013. But I am finding it very hard to keep my diet going because I find I'm restricted so much so I'm still binging at least once a week. I've been watching ppl on Instagram talking about counting macronutrients and how having a wider range of options has helped them continue to lose weight and also cut out their binging. I just cal my intake 2162.18 but after reading a few sites I still not sure where to go...or how to start..any suggestions or books you can point me to would be great. I want to live a healthy life so that my son also lives healthy but I dnt want to do that by restricting everything that taste good.

Posted on: Thu, 03/21/2013 - 07:01

Hi Aaron,

Great article! It cleared a lot of my doubts. I did the calculations and it came out to be 3190 calories/day. I eat much more than that and I won't say I am fat, but have a visible tummy, which I never had earlier.
When you say we should eat frequent meals, how important is it for us to also avoid oil, butter and cream etc? Can I go on an eating spree, since I workout everyday for about an hour? This might be a stupid question, but still have this in my head.

Posted on: Sun, 01/27/2013 - 13:51

All of this is really over my head. I have never in my life worried about what I ate because I am blessed to be tall and skinny. I recently moved to New York to prusue modeling and was told I was flabby and needed to loose some weight. I have recently started hitting the gym, but I know nutrition goes a long way too. I want to be doing the right things in the gym and eating in a way that is healthy and that will help me be more toned and loose a little. Any suggestions? I am basically just a beginner at this and wanting to know the best diet plan/ work out regiment for me. Thanks for all of your great articles, they have helped me already.

Posted on: Fri, 11/09/2012 - 10:42

Hello IM 20 71 inches talk and 172lbs extra belly fat is my main problem . I workout 4 times a week and minimal cardio if I go by the stats here will I lose bf

Posted on: Mon, 11/05/2012 - 06:59

I am 5'5"(166 cms),28year male and i weigh 80KG. As per the BMR i should consume 2800 Kcal. I am trying to lose fat and build muscle. I am doing weigh training with HIIT cardio for avg 60 mins to 90 mins for 6 days a week. I am consuming Rice, brawn flakes,wheat for carbs, Whey protein, chicken, vegitables for protein and fish oil, nuts for my fat. I lost 20 pounds(was 88kg) in two months after that the weigh loss has stopped now. What should i do now to kick start my fat loss furthur? Should i Increase my exercise to 120 mins a day with both cardio and weights daily? or should i decrease my intake of food?

Thank you

Stephen bruno
Posted on: Wed, 11/11/2015 - 20:00

Eat more and work out less

Posted on: Thu, 11/12/2015 - 09:22

Thank you Stephen.. I am still struggling to get to where i want to be. I have reduced by cardio and increased my weight training with 5 days workout and 2 days rest. I find it difficult to eat 2000 cals a day. I will take your advice and try to increase my cal per day.

Posted on: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 01:11

How do you calculate your macros to grams based on 3000kcals and 40/40/20?

Posted on: Thu, 10/04/2012 - 05:49

Hey Aaron thanks for the really informative article! Doing my second cut after my first bulk but not really sure how to go about it without losing all the muscle that I've gained... If, say, I ate nutrient-dense foods such as only vegetables and lean natural protein sources at a 500 calorie deficit, would I be able to cut my body fat percentage by 5% within the month? Won't be able to do much cardio due to tightness of schedule but i do 100 reps endurance training every other day at home. Even with lesser cardio would I still be able to cut on such a high fiber, high protein diet?

Aaron O'Connell
Posted on: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 11:51

If you aren't trying to lose weight for a specific event or anything, I would recommend only cutting around 300 calories. You won't hit this number exactly every day, so going with a smaller deficit will prevent a higher rate of muscle loss.

5% in a month is way too much!!!! that would probably put your around 3 lbs a week or more. At that rate you will lose a lot of the muscle you have worked so hard to gain. A more realistic goal would be 2% bf in a month.

Even with minimal cardio you can cut body fat. Also, you don't have to limit yourself to lean sources of meat. Dietary fat is completely different than body fat. Also, most every meat contains more unsaturated fat than saturated, even Bacon. So I wouldn't focus too hard on the type of meat you are getting. Stick with meat, veggies, fruits, and dairy, hit your calorie mark, and you will be well on your way.

Ed Q
Posted on: Tue, 10/02/2012 - 11:58

Not understanding this well. When I my calulations, I'm at 3673 kcals. 3073 to lose weight Thats 307 g carbs, 307 g protein, 68 fat. 40/40/20 That right?

Aaron O'Connell
Posted on: Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:20

For a 40/40/20 break-up that is correct Ed.

Posted on: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 23:23

You make it sound so easy.

Shawn Henry
Posted on: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 19:51

Aaron, good info. What would you suggest my macro ratios be? Im almost 40, 70inches tall, 196lbs, and not lifting yet. Im primarily an endurance runner training for a couple half marathons and run about an hour to an hour and a half per day at a 8:30/mi pace, with some HIIT once or twice a week. My goal is to slim down to 180lbs and get these marathons out of the way before incorporating weight training. By these calculations I should be consuming 2550-2930 calories/day in order to lose weight, which is far more calories than im used to. What are your recommendations until i start with weights? Thanks!

Aaron O'Connell
Posted on: Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:17

Hey Shawn,

First off why no weights? Even though your a runner you should still incorporate weights. Research functional training, it will help you out.

Anyways, to answer your question, I would stick to the lower end of the range. If you start to lose weight too quickly (more than 1.5 lbs a week) increase the calories. As for the macronutrient breakdown, it really depends on your genes and genetic makeup. If you were my client, I would recommend 40-50% of your calories be from carbs, to provide the needed energy to run as far as you do. Keep most of these carbs before during and immediately after your workout and the rest from veggies the rest of the day. I would recommend 20-30% of your calories from fats as well as 20-30% from protein.

Optimum macro nutrient breakup differs for everyone, start with the recommended percentages and from there it's trial and error my friend.
If you ever want some help, I have an online training and nutrition system on my website.

I wish you luck on your marathons.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/11/2015 - 09:37

Don't fix what isn't broken my man. Sounds as if things are going well and you have your lifting and nutrition under control, keep it up.

Posted on: Wed, 06/10/2015 - 16:05

I strength train 3-4 days a week and walk 1-2 miles with my wife pushing babies in a stroller about every day. Using fitbit tracking, I usually get between 4-5 miles each day of activity which includes the weight training/cardio. I use MyFitnessPal to track calories and macro-nutrient percentages. I've lost 47 pounds in 5 months and need to lose 16 more. I'm 5'9" male weighing 187 now and eat about 1800-1900 calories with 45% carbs, 35% protein, and 20% fats. I'm steadily losing 1 pound a week since I started increasing my caloric intake and tracking macro-nutrients (before I was only eating about 1500 calories a day). Any tips, or am I doing just fine? I'm trying to get muscle tone and lose another 3 inches off my waist. I've already lost 11.25" from my waist which I am very happy with.