- This is for the general fitness person looking to lose fat without having to go crazy with super low-calorie diets.
- You need to have an established caloric deficit while eating the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs.
- This is intended for a healthy individual.
- If you are unsure about your health, consult with your medical doctor or registered dietician before starting any exercise or nutrition regimen.
- I have no affiliation with MyFitnessPal. I make no money promoting their product. I’m just a guy that wants to help people lose fat using a great tool.
Let’s face it …
If everyone knew how to eat to reach the goal they wanted, and in this case, fat loss, there would be a lot fewer fad diets, bro gurus who starve clients, and people saving money on crap supplements that are meant to suck the funds from your wallet instead of the fat from your belly.
While all roads lead to Rome, oftentimes we find what works for the short term, because of drastic calorie restrictions, meaning eating WAY less than the body needs while exerting more energy than you are intaking, isn’t sustainable.
How many of you have ever lost that 10 pounds just to gain back 20? How many of you need to “drop 20 pounds as fast as possible”?
Unfortunately, fast fat loss is poor fat loss. Not only for your general health but for your hormones (fat stores metabolic hormones) as well as your metabolism. It’ll cause massive havoc on your body, make you feel incredibly tired/lethargic (more than you need to be), and you just won’t function optimally (however, there is some data in those who are extremely overweight or obese that losing weight quickly at first can be beneficial).
No one likes to hear this but the fact remains; in an otherwise healthy human being, barring any kind of metabolic syndromes or health issues, in order to lose body fat safely, efficiently (note: not quick), and sustainably, you have to eat the most amount of food (calories) while maintaining an energy deficit (caloric deficit).
This also goes against conventional wisdom that you need to eat 1200 calories (if you’re a female) and 1500 calories (if you are a male).
Unless you are 5’4″, 120 lbs, and need to lose some body fat, that is INCREDIBLY low. Of course, there are varying ranges on the spectrum but most fall in the middle.
Now while there are many off-shoots of this post I can go in to so far as “how many carbs?” or “how much protein” or “is calorie cycling needed” or the many other questions, this is simply a guide to create your own meal plans as I have found, personally, that having a meal plan far out-does guessing what you will eat.
But to answer those questions, let me be brief:
Once you set your calorie needs, you will set your protein need. Once you have that, you’ll determine how many grams of fat you’ll want. Then the remaining calories go-to carbs. And no, calorie cycling, intermittent fasting, carb cycling, etc – none of that matters. It’s all preference and what matters most is what you can do to keep consistent over the course of your dieting time.
If you are one who tracks macros (If It Fits Your Macros aka IIFYM) and you find it easy and it’s working … KEEP GOING! It works. I have done it. Many others have as well. Because again, at the end of the day, it comes down to calories and THAT’S what matters.
I know for myself when I have a goal of fat loss (especially when getting into competition leanness), having a meal plan keeps me from having to think about what I will eat next. My calories (thus my macros [protein, fat, & carbs]) are set and all I have to do is eat, train, and live my life. Not worrying about the minutia of everything else.
MyFitnessPal is a tool many people use to track their food. Even more people have heard about it and don’t know how to use it.
Once I started playing with it, I realized that this can be a POWERFUL tool if utilized properly.
What I am going to do is give you a step-by-step guide on how to set it up, create your very own meal plans, show you how you can make substitutions if necessary, and get your nutrition in order so that you can start seeing progress.
Disclaimer: This guide is intended to help you create your very own meal plans. This isn’t professional medical advice and if you choose to create your own, you understand the risks in anything nutrition & fitness related. You should always consult with your physician before you start anything involving fitness or nutrition planning and programs.
How Do I Find My Starting Point?
Well – we know that maintenance calories for most people sit anywhere between bodyweight x12-15kcals
When it comes to fat loss for the general population (smaller, less-active females, really overweight males and females) who are training 1-3 days/week, you can start bodyweight x8-9kcals. For the general population (shorter females who are more active, taller females, more active individuals) who are moderately active (training 3-5 days/week), you will start with your current bodyweight weight x10-12 to find your calorie intake needed for fat loss. Wherever you fall activity-wise + your body fat amount is where you’ll start. The more fat you have, the bigger the deficit you can have. The smaller and/or leaner you are, the smaller the deficit to preserve your lean mass a bit more.
For illustration, I will use myself, and essentially, you will plug in your own data to create it for yourself.
This means this:
Current bodyweight (BW) 175 lbs x 10-12 = 1750-2100 calories.
Yes, you read that right. That is what I will need to maintain a caloric deficit.
This also falls in line with the fact that it takes 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. This means I would need a 500 calories deficit at minimum to achieve this.
If I multiply 175 * 15, this equals 2,625 calories for maintenance.
If I subtract 500 calories, that’s 2,125 (round down – that 2,100 calories) starting.
Now height, current fat mass/lean body mass (more-so how you look) will determine where on the spectrum you will sit.
If you are a woman, 5’7″, 150 lbs with fat to lose, and you lift 2-4x/week, you will eat 1500-1800 calories!!!
Yes, this is physiology, not some starvation diet you’ll read about on social media. You need to eat. Don’t fear food.
Once you set your caloric goals, this is when the nitty-gritty of HOW MUCH in terms of macros (protein, fat, and carbs) you will need to ultimately function while losing body fat.
From this moment, I will reference everything according to me eating 2100 calories for fat loss since you generally (re: not ALWAYS depending who you are) want to start at the higher end in the event you need to cut calories slightly.
If you want an even more accurate way to figure out how much to eat, read this: Coach Louis’ Macros Guide
How to Set up Your Macros in MyFitnessPal
The next steps are simple.
The instructions to setting up calories and macros is as follows:
- Open MyFitnessPal
- Click the ‘MORE’ tab on the lower right hands (with the three dots °°° )
- Click Goals
- Click Calorie, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals
- If you are using the free version, you will only be able to use the %.
- Determine your calories first then input that.
- Slide all of the scales down to 0%. MyFitnessPal will try to give you automatic targets. Do not use these.
- Once you know your protein goals, slide it so the % comes very close to your protein goal.
- After that, slide your fat goal to be within 25-35% of your total calories.
- The remaining % of calories will come from carbs.
- Make sure the total % (at the bottom) is 100%
- If you are using the paid version:
- Make sure the slider is set to Grams, not %
- Slide the macros to the specific numbers you came up with. The calories will autogenerate.
- Make sure the slider is set to Grams, not %
Once these are set, you will have set your targets which also are your bondaries.
Do not go over your macros thus not go over your calories and you are then on your way to seeing results you didn’t think were possible.
As stated previously, I like structured eating more-so when it comes to a goal such as fat loss simply because I don’t want to have to think. This is what I encourage my clients to do.
I personally eat the same thing over and over and have no issues. If this isn’t you, later on, I will tell you how you can make changes when necessary.
Remember, set your protein first (this could be in the form of chicken, protein powder, beef, tuna, salmon, turkey, bison, kangaroo [if you’re Aussie], etc]) and make sure you divide it relatively equally among your meals.
This means if you had 175g protein to eat per day, you’d ideally want to have around 40-45g of protein per meal (not in weight but protein from food).
This will ensure you won’t get a huge heap at one meal than virtually nothing at the next. Then from there, choose your carb for the meal and fat.
What I like about MyFitnessPal is the ability to use grams(g) of food. It’s smaller than ounces and puts it right on the money.
Again, do not use ounces (oz). Use grams.
When inputting food into MyFitnessPal, do not use the % option. Use the decimal option to enter whole numbers.
As you can see in this cooked chicken breast entry, a few things (some I am doubling back on to bring it all together).
- Serving size is set to 1g (this is 1 gram).
- The number of servings is 180. 180 x 1g = 180g of chicken breast, cooked.
- You will want to do this with most, if not all of your food – especially since measuring in grams is more accurate in addition to the fact that you will be eating more than 100g of food, usually. The fractions option does not give you this ability.
- You’ll notice that 180g of chicken breast, cooked is not 180g. 180g chicken breast, cooked is 56.7g of protein.
- When planning/tracking meals, in the premium (paid) version, you will be able to see how many grams of protein you have per meal. Do not stop your eating until you get the planned amount of protein in your meal. This means if you’re supposed to have 30g of protein per meal and the line above the meals shows you’ve only had 18g in that meal, then you need to increase your protein in that meal.
Also note that once you input a food, it’s in there for as long as you have the app so remember – while you build up the list, it’ll take some time but once you get in the groove of the things you eat normally, finding it will be a breeze.
SUPER IMPORTANT TIP WHEN TRACKING AND INPUTTING DAILY
First – you’ll notice the meal:
- 25g Nutella
- 25g Harvest Crunch
- 50g Magnum protein powder
- Below Meal 3 you’ll see the macro breakdown for the meal
A few things to know about this photo and why it’s important.
- Make sure “Smart Copy” is on turned on.
- Quick Add is used to estimate calories for a meal if you cannot find it in MFP. For instance, the average slice of cheese pizza is 400 calories. If you don’t know the macro breakdown and you went to a local pizza shop, just enter in 400 calories with a quick add and continue on with your day. Or if you went to a restaurant and asked for the nutrition menu, you can pick the meal you’ll have and enter in the protein, carbs, fat (and any related info) from that menu and the calories for it will auto-generate. This works well for chain restaurants.
- Save as Meal is used to save this meal and recall it any time you want to have it. Pretty clear here. Once you save it, you will never need to reenter anything manually. You’ll go to your saves Meals section and recall it. If you have to adjust the amounts to make them work within your macro goals, you can do that.
- Copy From/To Date are two options you will find VERY useful. This allows you to copy the exact meal and amounts to and/or from another day. This keeps you from having to enter it in every single time, manually, 1 by 1. The same rules apply here, too. If you have adjust individual food amounts, you can do this, too.
- An example would be this: if I want the same meal of Nutella, cereal, and protein powder tomorrow, I just copy it to tomorrow with the Copy To Date option. If I want it today (not yet entered), I would choose Copy From Date and then select the day I had it and it will copy over.
The All-Important Nutrients Tab
This is what will keep you accountable so long as you’re honest in the app and with yourself.
The goal here is to have the blue line completely fill up without having red numbers. and if you do, try to keep it no more than -10.
This will tell you how much you’ve eaten and what you have left to eat (if anything).
Most people have no problem filling up the fat and carbs bar. The goal/challenge is to hit protein because that will be your most important macro to hit.
If you find yourself eating more carbs and fat and too little protein, you should start each meal by ensuring you have enough protein first.
This tab will also tell you how much fiber (important if you want to poop) and other specifics.
Other Very Important Tips For Using MyFitnssPal Correctly
Here are other tips to utilize when using MyFitnessPal so you can succeed in your body-changing efforts.
- Whenever you search for ANY food, ALWAYS add g at the end. This specifies that it’s grams you are looking for. Almost all the foods you need and want will have a grams search. Why? Because Americans are the only ones still using the imperial system meaning the entire globe is on metric and uses grams for measuring.
- Whenever you are searching for meat/poultry/fish measurements (assuming you have cooked it in bulk which I would like to believe you are doing), you must search it as
- chicken breast, cooked, g
- 96% lean ground beef, cooked, g
- tilapia, cooked, g
- pork tenderloin, cooked, g
- 99% lean ground turkey, cooked, g
- If you are not using specific cooked entries for your cooked food, you will have incorrect entries and you will overeat.
- See THIS VIDEO I did to show the difference
- The above is needed for cooked rice, pasta, etc.
- TURN OFF EXERCISE CALORIES. Do this by:
- Opening MyFitnessPal
- Clicking MORE
- Click Goals
- Scroll down to the bottom where it says Exercise Calories
- TURN OFF
- TURN OFF STEPS TRACKING. Do this by:
- Opening MyFitnessPal
- Clicking More
- Scroll down to Steps
- Select Don’t track steps
- Input your weight daily in the app. This will help you see your weight trend as well as give you feedback as to if you need to tighten up your diet or if all is well.
- DO NOT SCAN MEAL. This is lazy and it is severely wrong. The technology is not accurate.
- When scanning a barcode, you do not need to eat the entire thing you scan! Adjust your serving size once you scan the barcode.
Wrapping It Up
There are many approaches to fat loss.
This is just the way I coach and love that will help you organize yourself as you train hard and get your nutrition right in order to lose the fat you want to lose as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
The one thing you will definitely need is consistency. Do not change your plan if your plan is actually working.
Keep moving forward!
For 1:1 training and nutrition coaching inquiries, please head to my coaching page to learn more and apply.