Question:

I would like to know how I determine what my macro breakdown should be? How do I know how to calculate my split as far as protein/fats/carbs based on my weight & height? And what carbs are good for me? Female, Weight 170 lbs., Height 5’2’, Weightlift 5 days per week Cardio 3-5 times per week. I need help (guidance) with the nutrition part of my weight loss journey.

– Yolanda G.

Answer:

Given your current exercise regimen, your estimated daily energy needs for weight loss are about 2,000 calories if 20-30 years old (subtract 75 calories per decade older). Not knowing anything about your present intake, I’d recommend a rough caloric distribution of 30% fat, 20% protein, and 50% carbohydrates. Breaking down the 2,000 calories would give us 67 gm fat, 100 gm protein and 250 gm carbohydrate per day.

I’m so glad you asked about which carbohydrates are good! That indicates you’re aware that quality matters as much as quantity – for all three macronutrients. Complex carbohydrates that are more wholesome (less refined) are preferred over processed sources. Think of oats, quinoa, corn, potatoes, and vegetables complimented by simple carbohydrates from fresh fruit and milk products.

Here’s a one-day sample 2,000 calorie menu providing 27% fat, 22% protein, and 51% carbs*:

  • Breakfast – 1 Cup bran cereal, 1 Cup 1% milk, 1/2 grapefruit, and 1 large egg
  • Lunch – 3 oz. tuna, 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise, 4 rye crisp crackers, large dark green salad, ½ C. chickpeas, 2 Tbsp. of oil-based or ‘green goddess’ dressing
  • Dinner – 4 oz. skinless chicken breast, 1 Cup of broccoli, ½ Cup of corn

3 Snacks –

  • 1 large apple with 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter
  • 1 carrot + 1 celery with ¼ Cup of hummus
  • 6 oz Greek-style plain yogurt with 1 Cup berries

* Calculated by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist using Fitday.com’s food log function. Findings were used along with RDN’s professional judgment.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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