How Much Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates You Actually Need
Do you know how much protein you eat in a day? How about fat and carbohydrates? Most of us are pretty unaware of how much of each of these macros we are getting in our diets, which is where macro tracking—not calorie tracking!—can be a helpful tool.
I always say that WHAT you eat is more important than how much you eat, but making sure you are hitting your protein-intake goals and getting in the right amount of carbs and fats is another important factor in reaching your ideal body composition and feeling your best.
I used a macro-tracking app to log my protein, carbs, and fats (along with the diversity of plant fiber I consumed) for a month, and it helped me dial in the ratio that makes me feel and perform at my best. In this episode, I’m sharing my results and giving you the info you need to make sure you are getting the right amount of each macronutrient in your diet to look and feel your best, too.
I’ll also share some tips on how to uplevel your diet even further with a few of my simple and effective hacks, so stay tuned until the end!
00:01:05 – Are you measuring the right data for weight loss?
00:01:52 – The importance of protein and how to calculate how much you need
00:05:28 – My ideal protein shake recipe
00:05:50 – How many carbohydrates you need and best sources
00:10:25 – Incorporating whole fat first
00:11:50 – How to upgrade your diet, beyond diversity of foods
Resources Mentioned in this episode
Get my full macro recommendations in The Sugar Impact Diet
I love the Carbon app for tracking macros
Study: Hydration and fat loss
I use the Nutrisense continuous glucose monitor
I make my protein-first smoothies with All-In-One Shake
Adding Collagen Peptides Plus boosts a smoothie with 11 grams of protein
Good Karma Flax Milk + Protein adds an additional 8 grams of protein
Get a copy of my Loaded Smoothie Cookbook, packed with delicious, protein-first smoothie recipes
WB40 Ep 554 YT I Tracked My Macros for 30 Days Heres What Happened
[00:00:00] I am JJ Virgin, PhD Dropout. Sorry, mom, turn four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I'm a certified nutrition specialist, fitness Hall of Famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe. But I'm driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as [00:00:25] many people as I can, and that's why I created the Well Beyond 40 podcast.
To synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode we'll talk about what's working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better health so you can love how you look and feel right [00:00:50] now and have the energy to play full out at 100.
What you measure and monitor, you can improve. You just wanna make sure you are measuring the right thing. If you're counting calories, you're focused in the wrong direction. I mean, yes, calories count, but where they come from counts most. And you [00:01:15] wanna make sure that you're setting yourself up for success by tracking where those calories come from.
By tracking your macros instead. You know, it's said that we underestimate our calories by as much as. 40% per day. I tracked my macros for a month to ensure I was hitting my protein goals and getting the plant diversity for my gut microbiome, and it helped me dial in my daily diet even better. So I'm gonna share my experience [00:01:40] to help you determine your perfect amount of protein, fat, and carbs per day so you can transform your body over the next 30 days.
First, the macros. Protein, carbs and fat, but let's get into protein first. So for protein, I'm focusing on it to build and maintain skeletal muscle. Of course, when you eat protein first, which is my mantra, a couple really cool things happen. Number one. [00:02:05] It's more satiating, so you'll have better appetite.
Control number two, it helps with better balanced blood sugar, especially when you team it up with fiber and number three of the three macronutrients protein fat in carbohydrates, protein is the most thermogenic. It's gonna burn about 20 to 30% more calories as it gets assimilated. Then carbohydrates are fat are, it [00:02:30] comes down to having about 0.7 grams to one gram or a little more per pound of target body weight.
Now that's important. Not your weight now, but what you want your weight to be, your target body weight. The higher range is if you're a vegan. If you're training really hard, if you're aging or if you're recovering from something. Now I throw in aging here, and I wanna really underscore this because it's super duper [00:02:55] important because apparently women eat on average like 40 to 65 grams of protein a day.
I'm gonna say our minimum is a hundred grams a day, and minimum met meal is 30 as we age. We have something happening called anabolic resistance. That means it is harder for our body to go through muscle protein to bring in that protein and go through muscle protein synthesis. So [00:03:20] we need more protein, not less as we age, which is why tracking your macros can be so important to ensure that you're getting this, and especially ensuring that you're getting that 30 gram minimum at each meal.
Think of a meal having like 30 to 50 grams. What you're really trying to get is three grams of leucine. Because leucine triggers something called mTOR, which then triggers muscle protein synthesis. [00:03:45] Really focus on what I call your bumper meals, what you break your fast with, and what you eat three to four hours before bed.
That's important. Number one. What I don't want you to do is the protein dribble. Have 10 grams here. Have 10 grams here. Have 10 grams here, because you need to hit that three gram leucine to trigger that mTOR to trigger muscle protein synthesis. So don't dribble. Right, eat actual meals. Plus, one of the big things I talk about is not snacking anyway, [00:04:10] because snacking raises blood sugar and insulin and we want to eat.
We want a pulse. Eat and let your body just recover. Go through digestion. Use that. Bring blood sugar and insulin back to normal. Three to six hours, four is probably optimal. Then eat again. If you're focused on putting on muscle for women, this is probably three meals a day for men might be four, so just look at that.
What I helped Brendan Ruth [00:04:35] get his muscles for Superman returns. I had him eating four meals a day because I need to be able to get that protein up. One other great tool to help you get your protein up is protein powder. I use protein powder. And collagen every day. I find it's a great way to break a fast in the morning or an easy way to get that protein in after your workout.
So that's another easy one. Especially if you're a vegan, this could be a great tool for you cause it's gonna be challenging to get what you need [00:05:00] from your food. Now, for me, dinner is easiest because for dinner we always do some kind of protein. It's either fish, chicken, lamb. Beef, we either always have some chicken or Turkey in the fridge, or we always make extra of the dinner so that we can have it the next day.
Extra protein for the wind. Now I weigh 146 pounds, so I like to get about 150 grams of protein in a day, and I make sure like my bare [00:05:25] minimum's a hundred, but I can't think of the last time I only had a hundred grams. I make my smoothies and they're about 40 grams of protein. And what I use is two scoops of my protein powder from Reignite Wellness.
I use a scoop of my collagen, and then I use from Good Karma, this flax milk called Protein plus flax milk. And so between those things, I'm getting actually 40 grams and I use a little extra flax meal too, so it probably pushes it even more than that. All right, [00:05:50] let's talk carbs. So overall, basically I'm gonna go somewhere in the carbohydrate range of about a hundred grams.
Per day, maybe down as low as 70. If you are doing workouts, can go up to about a gram per target body weight. You know, if that's a big workout day, maybe even a little bit more, not a low workout day, drop it down. So I tend to dose it from 0.7 on a low day to [00:06:15] one on a. Bigger workout day and you could go up even from there.
But I find for most people we do, we do best around a hundred grams of of carbs. We're gonna get the fuel, the carbs that we can put into our muscles for glycogen to provide for our intense workouts, to have that fuel. But what we're really looking to as well, is helping our gut microbiome. So remember, carbs can help provide fuel for muscle protein synthesis and [00:06:40] also fuel for your gut microbiome for the bacteria in your gut microbiome.
Now, I wrote the Sugar Impact Diet to really help you figure out how much carbohydrate you should have, what the best ones are for you. So I'm just gonna refer over to that because remember all carbohydrates. Turn into sugar except for fiber. It's just whether you're making it from the foods you're eating.
Like let's say that you're having an apple, or you're having broccoli, or you're [00:07:05] mainlining it because you're eating something like white bread, right? And you're easily mainlining it from the foods you eat. Here's how I prioritize my carbohydrates. Five servings of non-starchy vegetables a day. Here's what a serving is.
It's either a half a cup. Of cooked or a cup of raw. So five plus is my bare minimum. Now, along with that, I've been working on a lot of diversity between those because [00:07:30] I get into a veggie rut, like left to my own devices. I'll eat romaine, arugula, baby carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. So we have been working on getting at least 25 different.
Non-starchy vegetables in a week. The other thing that I've made sure that I'm getting every day is fruit. And I used to not eat much fruit. I would eat like half of a green banana in my smoothie for the resistant starch. But what I've really been working [00:07:55] on is getting two servings of fruit a day and mixing this up like I've had Fuji apples and pink lady apples and blueberries and blackberries and raspberries and papaya and nectarine.
And I used to just like eat blueberries. So I'm mixing up the fruit a bunch too. And again, we wanna get two servings of that a day. And that serving is about a cup, right? Optional are slow low carbs [00:08:20] and slow low carbs is about a half of a cup. That would be something like legumes or lentils or wild rice or winter squash, or tomatoes or oatmeal or potatoes.
These can be really good. It's gonna depend on you and how well you do with them. Here's the deal with macro tracking. If fats up, carbs are down, if carbs are up, fat is down. And the non-negotiables again, are those [00:08:45] non-starchy vegetables in the fruit. The negotiable is what you want to do with those slow low cards.
I don't tend to eat much of them, but they can be great source of fiber, again, for the gut microbiome and prebiotic fibers as well. And we really want those prebiotic fibers because they're basically the fuel. For the gut microbiome. So what I've done, like I talked to, I did a podcast with Deanna Minick and she's like, you need to get 50 different [00:09:10] types in a week.
And I'm like, holy smokes. Now the good news is spices count, but I played a little game and this is what I did in a week. You'll see I didn't get to 50 though. Broccoli. Cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels butter, lettuce, rido, cherry, tomatoes, radish, red onion, yellow, one that's 10. Fuji and green. Apples, blackberries, blueberries, [00:09:35] raspberries, green banana.
That's. 15 Romaine arugula, cucumber, purple and yellow potatoes. 20 sweet potato, portobello mushroom, shiitake mushroom, garlic, rosemary, 25. Basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, cayenne, lemon, grapefruit, tangerines, avocados, cherries, colored ba baby carrots, counted all the colors. So I think about like 35, 40 maybe.
I got there and [00:10:00] then I did orange, yellow and red peppers, zucchini, summer squash, spaghetti squash. And then I also take curcumin shoes so you can count that. And I also use a green and red powder. So I think I'm getting, getting there, but literally tracking it made me start to become very aware on the diversity, cuz I was super duper in a rut where I was eating broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts and berries.
And that was, It. So that's the other part of [00:10:25] it. Now let's talk fat. You're gonna get the rest from fat. And again, the place, I don't want you to manipulate your protein. Get your protein. What is negotiable is how much fat and how much carbs. Because the reality is we don't need that much fat. And if you are doing, putting your extra virgin olive oil on your salad, if you're eating the wild fish, you're getting some.
Right? Or maybe you're making your smoothie, you're throwing in a little bit of avocado or chia. Now you can start to play around with your [00:10:50] overall calories and go, do I want more fat? Do I want more carbs? Right. And you could add those slow low carbs. I tend to be eating loads of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, and then I'm just messing with the carbs and dark chocolate.
I admit it. What I want you to focus on with fat is whole fat first. So what would that be? That would be things like wild fish. That would be things like nuts, flax, avocado. Then you're gonna be making your food, so likely you're using extra [00:11:15] virgin olive oil, maybe a little grass fed. Gee, I found out like I was watching this and just my cooking and everything else, and I found out that I was being like a little fat piggy.
I was overloading a bit on fat, so I kind of cut back on that and what I found. Was that I actually felt better when I started to bring the fat down a little bit. So again, you might find you do better with more fat, you might do better with less fat, but you gotta count the fat that's in the protein, which the [00:11:40] carbon app that I like to use.
That's how I macro track. I use the carbon app. Shout out to to Dr. Lane Norton. I love this app. Thank you for making it. I'm gonna give you some bonus points beyond just the diversity. What else can you do that's really good? Well, number one is to get a little bit of fermented food in every day. And I have healed my gut now where I can do some Greek style yogurt.
So I kind of alternate between some almond yogurt from Kite Hill or some Greek style yogurt. [00:12:05] Or I'll drink a kombucha, one of the lower sugar ones, or a Kavita. So see what kind of fermented food, if you can get a little bit in every single day. So good for your gut. And then of course, Water. You do not wanna get dehydrated.
So my rule of thumb is half your body weight in water and more if you're in a like sweating, sauna, that kind of stuff. Here's what happens if you get dehydrated, cuz we know water is [00:12:30] great for reducing appetite, it's great for detoxification, it. Boost your metabolism. Turns out even mild dehydration, first of all, raises stress hormones, but it does something even worse.
It actually causes you to store fat. Here's what it does. This is wild. This, I got this from Dr. Rick Johnson and Dr. David Perlmutter. When you're dehydrated, and I want you to think of camels. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't wanna look like a camel. And if you look at the camel and their fat hump, that fat hump is [00:12:55] there because that's where they're getting water when they're going across the desert.
How? Because when you liberate fat, one of the breakdown products is water. So what our body does when we are dehydrated is it starts to break down glucose and turn it into fructose to store it as fat. This is not what we want to do. So make sure you're staying hydrated and once a day, add in some electrolytes every day.
I do [00:13:20] my electro replenish with my sparkling C, which is C and cetin, so that's just one of my drinks I do every day. And I like to do that in my green tea. So you can count in your water, you can count in your coffee, you can count in your sparkling water. I do green tea with some apple cider vinegar.
That's another great thing to do before a meal. So any of those things, they all count. It used to be that we'd say, Nope, those things don't count. They're dehydrating. That wasn't true. Remember, when [00:13:45] you eat protein first, you are not hungry. When you eat by the plate, protein, fat, and fiber, it keeps you super satiated and keeps your blood sugar balanced, right?
And that's where it's great to use a continuous glucose monitor, really see how things are working. I ended up going through this and lowering my carbs and lowering my fat a bit, and I felt a lot better there. And I've been monitoring my body composition [00:14:10] and my energy. And then connecting it all to my macros to see where I really felt best and what I easily maintained.
And I've been adjusting this now over, I've actually now been doing it for a couple months cuz it's been really kind of fun. And again, I feel better. Little lower fat, more protein, and mainly carbs from vegetables and a little bit of fruit and that. Feels so much better now, if it's a really huge physical day, I'll bring the carbs up a little bit.[00:14:35]
Now, I promise if you do this for a month, you're gonna learn some really valuable information and likely see some major changes in your body composition and remember, I want you to focus more on how you feel in your body and your clothes and what's going on with your skeletal muscle rather than getting focused on your absolute weight.
It's what the weight is made up of. That's the super important thing, and you take it one day at a time. Protein [00:15:00] fueled loaded smoothies make hitting your goals so much easier. So watch this next video for how I build the perfect loaded smoothie that. Fuels fat burning and keeps me energized all day long.
Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great, and more importantly that you're built to last. And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my [00:15:25] website, jj virgin.com. And make sure to follow my podcast so you don't miss a single episode.
At subscribe to jj.com. See you next time.