Counting macros can prompt you to be hyper focused on hitting set numbers, causing concern when you go over macros like your fats.
Is it ok to go over your fat macros? Going over your fat macros occasionally is ok because daily variances are normal and expected when you’re monitoring your macro intake. When tracking macros in pursuit of body composition goals, providing you’re within your daily calorie target, odd instances where you go over your fat target won’t have much of an impact.
With that said, if going over on your fat macros is occurring often:
- You’re likely not getting the necessary nutrients from other macro groups
- You could be impacting your overall health
- You may not be progressing toward your body composition or performance goals
Therefore, below I’m going to explain how much fat is too much fat over your macros, and explain what will happen to your body when you go over your fat macros on a regular basis. I’ll also share what to do if you go over your fat macros so that you’re not impeding your progress toward your goals.
Learn more in my complete guide What Happens If I Don’t Hit My Macros.
How Much Fat Is Too Much Fat Over Your Macros?
To get the most out of your macro tracking it is best to track consistently around your targets so you receive the optimal performance and health benefits.
Where you are overeating on your fats, you’re limiting the nutrients you would receive from other macro groups and creating deficiencies in your diet. If this is happening often, then you’re probably consuming too much fat.
To understand your fat intake and whether you are consuming too much, consider these guidelines:
- For the average healthy adult, the recommended dietary range for fats is 20-35% of daily calorie intake.
- For adults participating in a general fitness regime the dietary fat recommendation is between 25-35% of daily calorie intake.
- For athletes the recommended range for dietary is fat is 30%of daily calorie intake
Dietary fat comes in various forms but can typically be broken down into two groups, unhealthy fats and healthy fats.
- Unhealthy fats are saturated or trans fats. Common examples of saturated fat include fat from red meat or chicken skin, lard, coconut oil, butter, whole fat dairy and examples of trans fat are pastries, fried foods, margarine, and shortening.
- Healthy fats are polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Common examples of polyunsaturated fat include flaxseeds and fish and examples of monounsaturated fats include vegetable oils, nut butters, nuts, and avocado.
Unhealthy fats have their place in your diet, they’re fun foods and consuming these in moderation is ok. However, excessive eating of saturated and trans fats could lead to high cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. Changes in these health markers are another indicator that you’re eating too much fat.
Our body needs healthy fats as they help minimise the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, promote cell growth and support brain function.
Regardless of the type of fat you consume though, they are all equally calorie dense.
- There are 9 calories for every 1 gram of fat. This is over double the calories per gram for carbs and protein, which are 4 calories for every 1 gram of protein or carb.
So consuming excessive amounts of fat, even if it is the healthy variety, may still cause health issues, affect your body composition or impact your fitness goals.
To help guide your fat intake and understand what fats you are consuming and in what quantities try using an app like MacroFactor. A tool like this provides good structure and brings awareness to your nutritional intake which can encourage balanced eating habits and limit excessive overeating of fats and other macros.
Check out our complete guide on How To Track Your Macros.
What Will Happen To Your Body When You Go Over Your Fat Macros?
Going over your fat macros here and there will have little impact on your goals overall. When you’re looking to make changes in your body composition or improve your performance, progress will come from how you’re eating the majority of the time.
In instances where you occasionally go over your fats, there is no need for alarm. However, where overeating on your fats becomes the norm and a regular part of your diet then this may lead to changes in your body and health.
These changes could include:
- Gaining weight
- Cholesterol increases
- Bad breath
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Feeling gross
With fats being the most calorie dense macro, providing you with over double the amount of calories per gram than carbs and fats. So eating fats in the same quantities as carbs and protein will mean you’re consuming more calories per bite, potentially causing you to go over your daily calorie target. Where this is occurring often, you might find you gain weight.
In addition foods high in trans fat like donuts and cakes are highly palatable, meaning, they taste good and you’ll want to eat more of them. In addition these foods are often lacking in fibre, grains and other nutrients that work to keep you fuller for longer. Those two factors combined can lead to overeating on your daily calorie intake, potentially causing weight gain, if it is happening often.
If you’re gaining weight because of excess fat consumption, this can reverse the benefits of incorporating healthy fats in your diet in the first place.
If you’re eating a lot of saturated and trans fats you’re likely to see elevated cholesterol readings. High cholesterol caused by a diet high in unhealthy fats will increase your risk of heart disease and stroke and has been connected to diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you’re eating over your fat macros it is possible that fat could be your primary source of energy. Where fat is your primary source of energy this is what your body will burn to fuel itself or your exercise efforts. When this occurs you might notice that you have an unpleasant taste in your mouth and smell to your breath.
This is an indicator of a high fat diet which could be occurring as a result of you constantly overeating on your fat macros.
Overeating on your fat macros, might lead you to experience constipation or other digestive problems. This is because often they lack fibre and in some cases other nutrients which help promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Trans and saturated fats are known to cause inflammation in the body. If you’re eating these in high quantities and they’re causing you to regularly go over your fat macros you may feel bloated and sluggish.
Should You Be Concerned If You Go Over Your Fat Macros?
Don’t worry if you go over your fat macros here and there. Your nutritional habits and behaviors will dictate how you feel, perform and progress towards your goals. So if going over on your fat macros is not a common theme in your diet, then you’re unlikely to experience a negative impact.
Try to avoid being hyper fixated on achieving exact targets when tracking macros, instead opt for balance and flexibility when tracking your macros. This way you avoid stressing about your food intake and creating an unhealthy relationship with food.
Results from tracking your macros come from being consistent most of the time, not from being perfect some of the time. So if you go over your fats for a day here and there, just go back to your usual habits and macros the next day.
To minimize any anguish you might experience should you go over your fat macros, remember:
- Going over your fats occasionally isn’t going to matter in the long run
- There are no definitive targets, your macros are simply a guide
- Your averages and trends over time are what will influence results
Let’s discuss each of these concepts further.
Going Over Your Fats Occasionally Isn’t Going To Matter in the Long Run
Changes in the body composition don’t occur overnight and what you do or eat for one day won’t dictate long term changes.
When you’re consistent with your nutrition the majority of the time, going over your fat macros for one day won’t impact your progression toward your goals.
- Related Article: How To Count Calories Without Getting Obsessed (5 Tips)
There Are No Definitive Targets, Your Macros Are Simply Guide
Dietary guidelines for fats are provided in ranges for a reason. There is no definitive macro target that will guarantee results. Determining a macro target comes from understanding macro ranges depending on your goals. So where you may go over here and there, provided it is not excessive, it’s probable that you’re still within an acceptable range.
Your Averages and Trends Over Time Are What Will Influence Results
Your body needs time to adapt and see benefits from dietary change, which is why it is important to review nutritional trends over time. If you’re meeting your calories targets and macros most of the time, then going over your fats sometimes, is unlikely to impact the progress you’re making because on average you are doing what you need to do.
What To Do If You Go Over Your Fat Goal?
The main thing you should do if you go over your fat macros, is don’t stress. The most effective response to going over your fat goals is to go back to your usual nutritional habits and macro splits the next day.
Variances in your diet and nutrition are bound to occur and getting overly fixated on specific numbers could cause disordered eating behaviors, when food is there to support your goals not hinder them.
If you’re struggling with incorporating fats into your diet in a balanced way, try these tips:
- The next time you are building a meal, remember the thumb rule when incorporating your fats. Start with your protein and plants as the base of your meal, add some whole grains and when it comes to incorporating your fats, the serving should be around the size of your thumb. Examples include a quarter of an avocado, 10-15 nuts or one tablespoon of a peanut or nut butter or vegetable oil.
- Diversity the types of fats you’re eating and avoid eating them all at once. For example, have red meat on one day, have roast chicken on another day and enjoy a pastry for dessert on a separate occasion.
If you’re working on specific body composition goals within short timeframes, you might have some questions around whether you need to make changes to your macro targets, like:
Should You Reduce Your Other Daily Macros If You Go Over Your Fat Goal?
Whatever energy your body doesn’t need, will be stored as fat. So where your goal is fat loss, then the amount of calories you consume matters the most. You need to remain in a calorie deficit consistently in order to lose weight.
Reducing other macro targets to stay within your daily calories could certainly assist in ensuring you remain in a calorie deficit.
Be mindful of what macros you are reducing to accommodate a higher fat day though as some may be better to reduce than others.
For example, protein is necessary to keep you full and maintain muscle, so reducing this macro may not be ideal. Whereas, carbs usually account for most of your macro splits, so it may be better to take from here in instances where you have eaten over on fats.
If you’re bulking it is probably not necessary to manipulate your macro targets if you have gone over on fats, to stay within your calories. Instead, just go back to your usual levels the next day.
Should You Reduce Your Fat Intake The Next Day If You Go Over Your Daily Limit Today?
You don’t need to reduce your fat intake the next day if you go over your daily fat macros.
The best approach remains going back to your usual fat and other macro splits the next day. Your macros are guides not definitive rules. One day of eating will not determine your results, it is your nutritional efforts and habits over time that dictate your results.
Fat, like with any macro target, comes down to your consistent adherence over time. So deviating off course a day here and there is ok when you’re looking at it within the bigger picture.
Helpful habits to build into macro tracking are:
- Reviewing your average intake over time. Deviating from your fat macros here and there is negligible if you’re eating around your usual targets most of the time. Variations in your fat intake will level out in the context of your overall weekly or even monthly fat consumption.
- Reviewing your macros within a range. When tracking your fat macros, give yourself a 5 to 10g buffer of over or under your target. This range will keep you aligned to goals, promote continued progress over time and give some flexibility on a day to day basis.
Other Macro Tracking Questions
- Do Macros Matter for Weight Loss? (Yes, Here’s Why)
- Is It Okay To Go Over Your Protein Macros?
- What happens If You Go Over Your Carb Macros?
- I Burned More Calories Than I Ate & Still Gained Weight (Why)
- How To Increase Protein Intake Without Increasing Your Fat
- Should You Eat Fat After A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)
The more practical and less rigid you are with your nutrition the more likely you are to see lasting results. Don’t worry about missing your fat targets here and there, instead focus on what you’re doing the majority of the time, because if that is in check you’ll get the benefit.
If you’re worried your diet is lacking balance and you’re overeating on your fats often, reach out to us and we can help understand your needs and tailor the right macro ranges to help you achieve your goals.
About The Author
Steph Catalucci | Nutrition Coach
@macronutritionau | macro-nutrition.com.au
Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food. Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.