So I think the biggest battle for people once they understand the concept is "Okay, now what numbers do I use?" If you don't know what macros are at all, refer HERE
The truth of the matter is, it's all across the board. If you are going to plug in your information to myfitnesspal, it's going to give you recommendations, and it's going to be really high carb, moderate fat and really really low protein. This is based on clinical trials that they have done and the recommendations of what is the minimum amount of protein that can maintain the muscle mass that you have now. I used to go with a very high protein approach but have since changed my tune after recognizing there are so many different things that go into how much protein one needs to help them to get results, but also get them satisfied. I personally don't believe that the calculations done in Myfitnesspal are going to get you where you want to be.
"But, Katie, what is high and what is low?" Good question you ask! ;)
I would say low is anything less than 100g. High is anything above 150g. And I normally go somewhere in the middle. That is relative so don't get all upset over those figures. You can honestly do 70-80g even, and that is fine. It needs to be something that you can sustain in the long term and not be shoveling meat in your mouth for every meal. That's not necessary nor beneficial to your longevity of life or weight loss goals. You DO NOT have to eat only protein to get results.
So, how does one calculate macros? Well shameless plug that I normally don't do in blogs, but I have a program called The Macro Starter Guide in my shop that will give you the calculations for that based on your height, weight, age, and all of that. It will give you recommendations of what to do if you are not seeing results after the first month and all about how to count.
However, I always say to use critical thinking so where do these equations come from? They come from clinical trials that have shown that for the general population, the basal metabolic rate can be determined with them. There are a few different equations and there are different people who agree that you should use one over the other. The one that I use is one that was shown superior to the others in a more recent study just based on population norms of today.
BUT, the kicker is that our metabolisms are all across the board. If you are a chronic dieter, then this is going to way overestimate your caloric intake needed to see results. If you are someone who has never dieted, they may be spot on. If you are somewhere in between then you might just need to make a little bit of an adjustment but I would say that the equations are going to give you the upper end of what your calories are.
"So, then what the heck do I do?" Good question ;)
Trial and error. That is going to be the best thing that you can do. Just start. No matter what the numbers are, your body is going to respond to a balanced intake. Give your body 2-3 weeks with no big cheats on the weekends so that you can know that these numbers are appropriate for you and then you can move forward from there. At that point, you may want to make small adjustments and lowering of calories if you are not seeing results.
The goal is that you want to keep your calories as high as possible while still getting results. I know all these programs promise all these quick results and they will provide but you know what they are doing...providing a plan that has a really low caloric intake and lowering your basal metabolic rate (metabolism) while they give you no food. Start high, reduce from there.
Many times when clients do not see results, I don't even immediately take calories from baseline. I just add in some low carb days. This mentally keeps you focused and consistent but provides an overall lower caloric intake for the week so that you are still getting results. There is however no evidence to support that carb cycling as a whole produces more results in literature, but that there is some utility in the mental aspect of things by having some days that are lower to get your average caloric intake lower, but most days you are higher.
If you are just going to jack all of your calories from the beginning, your body may respond and most likely it will. You will lose weight and you may lose a lot of weight but there is going to be a point even if it's a year from now that you establish a new set point of what your body needs to run. Therefore if you have a lot of weight to lose, and you lower your set point then when you reach a plateau, you are not going to have anything to cut from and that's when you hear about women who say that they can't lose weight unless they are eating like 900 calories which is just crazy talk.
Everyone is different though. If you are at 1100 calories and you are satisfied, you don't have cravings, you aren't having to cheat, and all of that, I think that it's a myth that you can't go lower at least for a time frame. Please do not attack me on this, but I think society has now created this threshold of like "if you go below 1200 calories then you are literally starving yourself" and I don't think that's the case. Some days my mom will have less than that because she eats 3 square meals per day that are full of fat and carbs, and she is satisfied and full and is not going to just stuff her face. She's not restricting because if you know my mom, she has a really healthy relationship with food. She just has very little muscle mass and so she has a lower basal metabolic rate. Restriction is one thing and I never recommend that. Having a lower caloric threshold needed is another.
So, to wrap this up, you need to just use trial and error if you are going to do this on your own. Pick some numbers in a balanced way and just start. You can make adjustments from there!