How Much Carbs, Fat and Protein Should You Eat Daily to Lose Weight?

You can lose weight following any fad diet, but no diet is successful if you don’t stick with it for the long run. It’s hard to sustain highly restrictive diets. Instead, create a balanced plan that reduces calories while providing the carbs, fat and protein you need to stay active and healthy. The best way to achieve balance is to calculate your macronutrients as a percentage of your daily calories.

Determine Your Calorie Goal

If you’re tempted to drop weight rapidly, remember that you’re more likely to keep it off permanently when you lose it gradually, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aim to lose about 1 to 2 pounds each week, which you can do by cutting 500 to 1,000 calories from your daily diet. Your optimal calories depend on your age, gender and activity level. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily for women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories for men. Choose the lower end if you’re sedentary; the higher range is for active individuals.

Carbohydrates for Energy and Nutrients

Carbs are important sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They’re also your body’s favorite source of energy. When you plan your diet, fill your daily carb allowance with fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. Processed grains, including white flour and white rice, retain only a small amount of fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol, but it also supports weight loss by helping you feel full and keeping blood sugar balanced. Men and women of all ages should get 45 to 65 percent of their total daily calories from carbohydrates.

Protein is Essential

Protein’s role in your body is extensive, from building tissues to forming vital antibodies, hormones and enzymes. Getting a regular supply of protein is essential because your body doesn’t store it for future use. It also helps you lose weight because it’s slowly digested, which makes you feel full, and it takes more calories to digest proteins than carbs. Ten to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from protein. Avoid unhealthy saturated fats by choosing beans, low-fat dairy products, white meat poultry, fish and lean meat. Ninety percent lean ground beef and the chuck, sirloin, loin and round cuts of beef qualify as lean meat.

Fats For Your Health

Don’t eliminate fat even when you’re trying to lose weight. Your body needs some fat, so your daily intake should account for 20 to 35 percent of your calories. The type of fat you consume makes all the difference to your health: Unsaturated fats lower cholesterol, while saturated and trans fats raise cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol has a small effect on blood levels of cholesterol for most people, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. However, you should limit cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams daily. You’ll get healthy unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Walnuts, flax seeds, canola oil, salmon and tuna are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.