Step 2: Understand Your Macro Needs
All meal plans provide a certain amount of energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat — the main energy nutrients in food. While the ideal proportions of these macronutrients continues to be a topic of dispute, the National Academy of Sciencesprovides fairly flexible guidelines.
“The percentages of macronutrients that make up a healthy meal plan are 45 to 65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fats and 10 to 35 percent from proteins,” Malina Malkani, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
So according to IOM guidelines, a well-planned 1,200-calorie diet can contain a range of 135 to 195 grams of carbs, 27 to 47 grams of total fat, and 30 to 105 grams of protein.
On the other hand, some research shows the quality of food choices may be more important than the proportion of carbs, protein and fat in the diet. According to a study of over 600 overweight adults, published in the February 2018 issue of JAMA, 12-month weight loss success was not linked to whether the diet was high or low in fat or carbs. Instead, weight loss was greater in those who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods — and in those who ate more vegetables and other whole, unprocessed plant foods.
“A 1,200-calorie diet is only as helpful to weight loss efforts as the nutritional quality of the calories,” Moe Schlachter, RD and spokesperson for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and president of Houston Family Nutrition, says.