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October 5, 2023

meat and roast potatoes - high protein macros for cutting

Using the wrong macros for cutting stops you getting the lean body you're dreaming of - even if you're in a calorie deficit.

Lowering your calorie intake is the first step to getting shredded.

The next step to getting lean and jacked is calculating the right macronutrient ratios for your cut so you can:

  • have energy
  • build muscle
  • maintain muscle
  • maintain testosterone levels
  • create an aesthetic body composition

Calories are important - but all calories aren't made equal.

2000 calories of Cheetos have a different effect on your body than 2000 calories of lean chicken breast.

Good news is:

You'll understand the best macros for cutting as well as how to plan your next cutting phase by the end of this article.

First - let's discuss what macros are and why they're important.

What are macros?

high protein meal for weight loss

Macros, short for macronutrients, are the three key components of food that our bodies need to function properly:

  • fats
  • protein
  • carbohydrates

Each macro plays an important role in our body's energy production and overall health.

Why are macros important?

Macros are important because they provide our bodies with the necessary nutrients and energy to function properly.

Understanding how to properly balance and incorporate macros into your diet brings you closer to achieving your fitness goals - like cutting fat and building muscle.

Tracking macros stops you being skinny fat

skinny fat man crying wondering if he should bulk or cut

Calories determine how much you weigh.

If you eat in a calorie deficit - you'll lose weight.

The macros in those calories determine how your body looks.

Losing weight is useless if you lose muscle instead of fat, right?

Don't eat enough protein - you'll lose muscle and get skinny fat.

Don't eat enough healthy fats - you'll mess up your hormone production and reduce your testosterone.

Don't eat enough carbs - you'll have low energy levels.

When it comes to cutting body fat, many people make the mistake of lowering their calorie intake without considering their macronutrient ratios.

This leads to losing muscle mass and feeling tired, halting progress towards a lean and toned physique.

Understanding the right macronutrient ratios for cutting means you'll:

  • lose body fat
  • have enough energy
  • maintain muscle mass
  • create an aesthetic body composition

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that manipulating macronutrient ratios affects body composition - especially when adjusting protein intake.

With the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbs - you can sculpt your body into the best shape possible – losing the fat, keeping the muscle, and optimizing your energy levels.

How to calculate your macros (and calories) to lose body fat and get lean

calculating calories and macros - goat in front of math board

Follow these step-by-step instructions to calculate your macros and calories for getting lean and maintaining lean muscle mass.

1: Find the calories you need to maintain body weight

The first step to a successful cut is calculating the calories needed to maintain your body weight - this number is called your 'maintenance calories'.

There are many formulas and estimations you can use to find your maintenance calories.

Below is a Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculator you can use to estimate your daily maintenance calories.

TDEE Calculator

TDEE Calculator

Your TDEE is: 0 calories per day

The thing is:

These formulas and calculators are only estimates.

The only way to find your exact maintenance calories is to experiment on yourself and track your weight over 2 weeks.

Use the number given to you by the calculator above as your starting point - then adjust your calories as you experiment and check your results.

The perfect experiment for finding your maintenance calories is explained in-depth on page 43 of my Getting Lean ebook.

Here's the link:

https://jaycartere.com/gettinglean

2: Calculate your calorie intake - how many calories do you need for cutting?

jay cartere toned physique while topless

When you find your maintenance calories - calculating your calorie deficit is a piece of cake.

For example:

Your maintenance calories are 2500 calories.

To lose around 1lb per week - you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, or 3500 calories per week.

So - in order to lose 1lb of body fat per week - set your calorie target for 2000 per day.

Wanna speed up your weight loss?

You can go for a calorie deficit of up to 1000 calories.

For the above example - that results in 1500 calories per day.

A 250 - 1000 calorie deficit is a good range from slow to aggressive weight loss.

Creating a larger calorie deficit than this will likely lead to losing lean muscle mass.

A healthy amount of weight to lose per week while maintaining lean muscle mass is up to 1% of your body weight.

For example:

If you're 180lbs - you should aim to lose 1 - 1.8lbs of body fat per week.

How to program your calorie deficit:

woman on phone programming her calories and macros for cutting

Let's continue the example from above:

You're 180 lbs.

Your TDEE is 2500.

You wanna lose 1lb a week.

This means you need a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day or 3500 calories per week,

But - this doesn't mean you need the exact same calorie intake every day.

The most important thing is that you average a caloric deficit of 3500 per week.

It's okay if you eat more on some days and less on others - as long as the average calories per week ends up being 2000 calories per day.

You may wanna eat less on days when you're not working out.

You may wanna eat more carbs on days when you're working out.

You can be as flexible as you need.

Wanna eat 2700 calories on Monday?

1750 calories on Tuesday?

1550 calories on Wednesday?

Go for it - the average of these 3 days is 2000 calories.

Pro tip: Walking 10k steps per day burns around 500 calories and makes sustaining your caloric deficit even easier.

Adjusting your calories and macros

As you lose weight - your maintenance calories will lower too.

This means you'll need to adjust your maintenance and cutting calories as you make progress with your fat loss.

If you find your weight loss stalling for more than 2 weeks - try subtracting 250 calories from your daily calorie goal.

If this is your first cut - go slow and easy.

Start with a smaller deficit at first.

Create a bigger deficit as you get used to your cutting phase.

For example:

1 - 4 weeks: 250 cal deficit

5 - 8 weeks: 500 cal deficit

9 - 12 weeks: 750 cal deficit

Also:

Take diet breaks every 12 weeks minimum - no cutting period should last longer than 12 weeks.

If you have a lot of weight to lose - do it in 12 week blocks.

Cut for 12 weeks - have a diet break for at least 4 weeks.

This cycle makes the cutting process easier, more bearable, and doesn't beat up your metabolism as much as dieting non-stop.

3: Calculating your macros for cutting (the fast and easy way)

calculating macros for cutting and weight loss

Here's an easy starting point for calculating your macros for fat loss:

  1. Protein: 0.8 - 1g per 1lb of lean body weight
  2. Fats: 40g minimum
  3. Carbs: use the remaining calories for carbs

For example:

For an 180lb man on low protein aiming for 2000 calories:

Protein: 150g (30%)

Carbs: 225g (45%)

Fat: 56g (25%)

For an 180lbs man on high protein aiming for 2000 calories:

Protein: 200g (40%)

Carbs: 175g (35%)

Fat: 56g (25%)

Discover how to eat 200 grams of protein per day the easy way by clicking here.

4: How many grams of protein should you eat when cutting?

how much protein do you need when cutting - woman making protein shake

A high-protein diet is essential when cutting.

You need to consume 0.8g - 1g per 1lb of body weight to maintain or build muscle while cutting.

If you're overweight or obese - use your lean body mass to calculate how much protein you need.

If you're 300lbs and have a lot of excess body fat - you don't need 300g of protein.

For most people a high-protein diet is 200g of protein - if you're not built like the hulk, 200g of protein is enough for you.

According to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the optimal protein intake for muscle synthesis falls within the range of 0.8 to 1.0 grams per pound of body weight.

5: How many grams of fat should you eat when cutting?

5 different kinds of nuts - healthy fats

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism claims a low fat diet can lead to a 10 - 15% decrease in testosterone.

Your fat intake should be at least 40g per day to keep your body and hormones operating properly.

6: How many grams of carbohydrates should you eat when cutting?

complex carbs - fruits and vegetables for weight loss

Carbohydrate intake depends on your goals and body type, but generally, consuming around 35-40% of your daily calories from carbohydrates is recommended for weight loss.

For an 180lb man on a 2000 calorie diet, this would be about 175g of carbs per day.

First - make sure your protein intake is high and your fat intake is at least 40g.

Then - use your remaining calories for carbs.

Truth is:

How many carbohydrates you need to eat while cutting is flexible.

You can eat 0 carbs and achieve the lean body you're after.

The important part is - carbs give you energy.

So I recommend consuming 50g of carbs before workouts - and eat as many carbs as you need with your remaining calories.

However, you can also get energy from fats and proteins - making carbs optional.

The quality of the carbs also matters - instead of simple carbs like:

  • Soda
  • Crisps
  • Candy

Eat complex carbs like:

  • Oats
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Complex carbs break down slowly, providing a consistent energy source to fuel your workouts and keep you energized.

Simple carbs are quick-release energy sources. Simple carbs give you a short, sharp energy spike followed by a sudden energy crash - terrible for sustaining your energy levels and physical performance throughout the day.

7: Meal planning

high protein dinner calories and ingredients on myfitnesspal

The easiest way to achieve your macro and calorie targets while losing weight is to find 5 - 10 meals you enjoy (with the right macros and calories) and keep rotating these meals throughout the week.

Aim for 50g of protein per major meal (lunch and dinner).

Don't worry too much about fats and carbs because you can easily add more healthy fats to your day (a handful of pistachios or a tablespoon of olive oil works wonders) and carbs are optional.

Here are examples of 5 meals I eat when cutting:

Cutting Meal Example 1 (Breakfast):

oats and pb fit + honey in bowl

Oats + PB fit + honey

Ingredients:

  • Oats (50g)
  • PB fit (20g)
  • Honey (12g)

Calories: 311

Protein: 16g

Carbs: 44g

Fats: 7g

Cutting Meal Example 2 (Lunch):

chicken sausages + turkey bacon - lunch for weight loss and cutting

Chicken sausages + turkey bacon

Ingredients:

  • Chicken sausages (171g)
  • Turkey bacon (80g)

Calories: 466

Protein: 47g

Carbs: 22g

Fats: 20g

Cutting Meal Example 3 (Dinner):

roast chicken and air fried potatoes - high protein low calorie dinner meal

Chicken breast + air fried potatoes + gravy

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast (220g)
  • Potatoes (350g)
  • Fry light spray oil
  • Bisto gravy

Calories: 445

Protein: 60g

Carbs: 44g

Fats: 3g

Cutting Meal Example 4 (snack)

protein shake in myprotein shaker

Protein shake

Ingredients:

  • Protein powder (75g)
  • Water

Calories: 294

Protein: 54g

Carbs: 5.4g

Fats: 5.4g

Cutting Meal Example 5 (snack)

greek yoghurt + pb fit + grapes - low calorie high protein snack

Grapes + PB fit + Greek yoghurt

Ingredients:

  • PB fit (20g)
  • Grapes (150g)
  • Greek Yoghurt (200g)

Calories: 369

Protein: 21g

Carbs: 44g

Fats: 12g

Total calories and macros for the day:

Calories: 1885

Protein: 198g

Carbs: 159.4g

Fats: 47.4g

How to track your macros and calories for weight loss:

The best way to track your macros and calories for weight loss is to plan your meals before you start eating.

Plan your meals the night before, in the morning, or plan your whole week of meals in advance.

Leave yourself a few calories for snacks and cravings - or plan for those snacks in advance.

Use a food tracking app and get yourself some food scales. The more accurate your data - the better your results.

I track everything except for squash, gravy and fry light spray oil - this comes up to about 50 calories in total. 

However - I've tracked my meals for over 3+ years. If you're new to tracking your food - track EVERYTHING.

Every condiment, every gravy granule, every snack.

After tracking everything for a few weeks or months - you'll be much better at estimating how many calories you're consuming. 

I use MyFitnessPal for all my calorie and macro tracking - the free version does the job well enough.

What are the best food choices for cutting?

Best sources of protein:

  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Chicken Breast
  • Protein Powder
  • Lean Turkey Meat

Best sources of complex carbs:

  • Fruits
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Vegetables
  • Sweet (or normal) potatoes
  • Whole wheat pasta or bread

Best sources of healthy fats:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel

Frequently asked questions

What are macros, and why are they essential for cutting?

Macros, short for macronutrients, are the three main components of our diet: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

They are essential for cutting because they provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to function properly while in a calorie deficit.

Macros also affect your body composition and aesthetics.

Good macronutrient ratios is the difference between finishing your cut looking skinny fat or finishing looking lean and muscular.

How should I adjust my macros as I lose weight?

As you lose weight and body fat, your body will need fewer calories to maintain its current weight. Therefore, it's essential to adjust your macros accordingly.

A general rule of thumb is to decrease your carb intake while maintaining or increasing your protein intake to preserve muscle mass. However, everyone's body is different, so it's best to consult a coach or do some research on what works best for you.

What are the best macros for cutting?

Calculating your ideal macros for cutting can be done through a variety of methods, like using an online calculator or consulting a coach.

A common approach is the "40/30/30" rule, which suggests 40% of calories come from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from healthy fats.

However - it's crucial to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.

For example, following the rule above, a 180lbs man aiming for 2000 calories has these ratios:

Protein: 150g (30%)

Carbs: 200g (40%)

Fats: 67g (30%)

This is fine, but I personally prefer these macro ratios:

For a 180lb man on low protein aiming for 2000 calories:

Protein: 150g (30%)

Carbs: 225g (45%)

Fat: 56g (25%)

For a 180lbs man on high protein aiming for 2000 calories:

Protein: 200g (40%)

Carbs: 175g (35%)

Fat: 56g (25%)

All 3 of these ratios give you great results - try them out and stick with the one that makes you feel the best.

What is the optimal protein intake during a cutting phase?

You need to consume 0.8g - 1g per 1lb of body weight to maintain or build muscle while cutting.

If you're overweight or obese - use your lean body weight to calculate how much protein you need.

For most people a high-protein diet is 200g of protein - if you're not built like the hulk, 200g of protein is more than enough for you.

Can I still enjoy my favorite foods while tracking macros for cutting?

Yes, you can still enjoy your favorite foods while tracking macros for cutting. The key is moderation and balance.

If you have a specific craving, plan for it in your daily meal planning and make sure to fit it into your macro and calorie targets.

Focus on making healthy choices and finding balance within your diet rather than giving up foods you enjoy.

Eating 80% healthy whole foods and 20% whatever you like is a good balance to have.

Do I Have to Count Macros?

Counting macros is a useful tool for tracking and managing your calorie intake, but it's not necessary.

Some people find success by simply being mindful of their portion sizes and making healthy food choices without tracking specific macros.

However, if you want precise results and wanna be able to adjust your diet accordingly, tracking macros and calories is essential.

The more data you have - the better your results will be and the easier it'll be to adjust your diet to reach your goals.

But if you commit to eating fruit, vegetables and meats for 80% of your meals - you'll generally see good results whether you track or not.

How Do I Track My Progress?

Use a food tracking app and get yourself some food scales. The more accurate your data - the better your results.

I use MyFitnessPal for all my calorie and macro tracking - the free version does the job well enough.

Also - weigh yourself every morning and take progress pictures to track your progress accurately.

Conclusion:

The right macro ratio is essential to keeping lean muscle mass and having an aesthetic physique at the end of your cut.

A bad macronutrient ratio will have you:

  • tired
  • skinny fat
  • losing muscle

Keeping your protein intake high and getting enough healthy fats is the most important for maintaining muscle and hormone production.

Carbs are optional - but most people will use carbs as an energy source.

Eat enough carbs to fuel your workouts and remain energized throughout the day.

You can't bulk or cut without this:

You need to understand and know your maintenance calories to bulk or cut effectively.

There are calculators online that help estimate your maintenance calories - but they're only general starting points.

They're not accurate enough to trust.

The only way to find YOUR real maintenance number is to experiment on yourself like a lab rat.

The perfect experiment for finding your maintenance calories is explained on page 43 of my Getting Lean ebook.

Here's the link:

https://jaycartere.com/gettinglean

References

  1. 'International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition',Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Available at: <https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0174-y/> (Accessed: October 5, 2023).
  2. 'Low-fat diets and testosterone in men: Systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies', The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33741447/> (Accessed: October 5, 2023).
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Grow your personal brand using the secret tactics that bring me over 410.1+ million organic views online

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