At the Grey/White level, assuming you continue to prioritize Paleo foods, it will likely be sufficient to eat 1-2 palm sized portions of protein, 1-2 fist-sized portions of low-cal veggies, 1-2 cupped palms of starchy veggies or fruit, and a thumb or two of added fat like avocado, almond butter, olive oil, etc. If you eat in this manner, your quantity will be somewhat controlled, and your macronutrients will be pretty in balance. If you need to eat a snack in addition, be sure to pair carb items with a protein item, and be careful to avoid snacks that could be considered what Dallas and Melissa Hartwig of It Starts with Food call "food without brakes," i.e. foods that you can't help but eat compulsively.
At the Black/Red level, we'll be calculating targets for overall caloric intake, and macronutrient breakdown using methods described below. It gets pretty complicated, so please feel free to contact me for help, or to double check your math. If there were actually an easy one-size-fits-all answer to this question, the world would not be experiencing an obesity epidemic. That said, it's established that people need to eat a little less/more than you use in energy if you want to lose/gain weight. This concept is called "Energy Balance."
If we knew the value of our Base Metabolic Rate (BMR, amount of energy we need to exist and do things like breathe) in calories, along with the value for our Energy Expenditure in calories (exercise and activity throughout the day), and estimated the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF, how much energy our body uses to digest food) at 10% of calories eaten, we'd be able to calculate an exact value for maintenance, weight gain or weight loss. Unfortunately, BMR, Energy Expenditure, and TEF are only estimates, and Metabolism is much more complicated than that.
As a useful starting point, to get your starting caloric target, multiply your current bodyweight by a number between 10 and 22 (10 being targeting rapid weight loss for a sedentary individual, aka the very absolute minimum, 22 being rapid weight gain for a very active individual, and 12-14 about right for most CrossFitters to lose weight at a reasonable pace, see table below), and hopefully you'll arrive at a similar value as last week's average minus 500 calories. You can also use this calculator to develop an more robust understanding of the variables at play. As a double check, if your weight has been relatively consistent and you begin to eat about 500 calories per day less/more than you have been (i.e. set your daily caloric target at 500 less/more than you ate on an average day last week), you'll theoretically lose/gain roughly one pound per week. Match this value against the target set based on the multiplier, and contact me if those are different by more than 250 calories.
If your goal is to lose weight, but your average last week was below 13 x bodyweight (in pounds), or you are confused in general about this piece of the calculation, please email me to discuss.
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein is .8g/kg of bodyweight (just under .4g/lb). The RDA is essentially the minimum required to avoid symptoms of deficiency, so this value can be considered the absolute minimum protein intake. Exercising individuals break down muscle tissue as part of the exercise process, and can only rebuild that muscle through consuming dietary protein, thus athletes generally need to eat more protein than sedentary people. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a position stand stating that athletes need between 1.4 - 2.0g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (or .64-.9g/lb, which you can view as your range). More than 1.0g per pound of bodyweight has not been shown to be beneficial, and also hasn't been shown to be harmful except in people with kidney dysfunction. If your average protein intake from last week was substantially different than this target between 1.4g to 2.0g per kilogram of bodyweight, please email me to discuss.
The Zone Diet recommends a 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat split, where each percentage represents the number of calories from each macronutrient, where each gram of carbs and protein contains 4 calories, and each gram of fat contains 9 calories (and each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, but no macronutrients, contrary to the belief that alcohol is "carbs"). A it turns out, this 40/30/30 split is also the recommended intake for a mesomorph - a person of a relatively average body type. For those who lean more naturally to the muscular, and who gain weight easily, a split as low as 25% carbs can be ideal, and for those who are more inclined towards the more distance runner build, and who find it difficult to maintain weight, a split as high as 55% carbs can be ideal.
For those who are minimally to moderately active, and/or seeking to lose weight, the above range will work pretty well - at an AGM of 12, protein will be 30% of intake if you target the higher end of the ISSN range. As your activity level increases, or you seek to maintain or increase your bodyweight, you can choose to increase your protein above the ISSN target (your body will turn it into glucose or stored energy/fat beyond the amount it needs to repair muscle), or reduce your protein % and proportionally increase your carbs and fat.
I.e. if you weigh 150 pounds, are moderately active, and have a goal to maintain bodyweight (AGM of 15, for 2,250 calories daily) and decide to target protein intake of 125 grams (83% bodyweight, or 500 calories), your protein target will be only 22% of your total intake. This is potentially fine (although if your goal changes to leaning out, or gaining muscle you may need to increase protein intake at some point for maximum effectiveness), but will mean that you need to increase your calories in carbs and fat such that the total of calories between those two groups is 78% of intake. If you lean to an endurance build, that might need to be 55% carbs and 23% fat, or if you have a more muscular build, that might need to be 25% carbs and 53% fat. Somewhere in between is probably right to optimize how you feel, how you look, and how you perform, so experimenting with ratios between these ranges will likely result in the best macronutrient split for you (right now - it could change in the future with your goals, activity level, or other lifestyle factors).
At the Red level, continuing with the example above, you could set your minimums as follows:
These minimums total 1,142 calores, or just over 50% of your calories, leaving you full (Paleo) discretion regarding how to "spend" your remaining macros. If this is too much discretion, you could set a protein target (125g exactly) and let the remaining 1,108 calories come from only carbs or fat. Or, you could decide you want more strict rules and set either or both carb and fat minimums a bit higher to give you less discretion. The point here is that you need to know yourself a bit - if you like freedom and variety, minimums to make sure you get enough protein, while leaving freedom to choose between carbs and fat for your remaining calories might be sufficient to get results. If you prefer rules and structure, or are ready for more complexity, you can move towards the Black level, which is to use this spreadsheet to pick specific targets and get as close to those targets as possible.
If you are eating according to your AGM x bodyweight target, but find yourself feeling hungry between meals, focus on consuming slow-digesting/low glycemic carbs (more on that later, for now Google will help) and/or increasing fat and/or protein while decreasing carbs prior to increasing overall intake. If you find yourself feeling like it's hard to eat enough, consider increasing carbs and/or fat relative to protein. Generally, according to the Paleo school of thought, when we are eating foods in their natural forms, our bodies have mechanisms in place to signal the brain that we've had enough, so if you can't eat another bite of chicken, or broccoli, you've probably had enough. These mechanisms are less reliable in sugary or highly processed foods, which is part of the Paleo argument against them.
As you begin to think about macronutrient balance, particularly if you intend to dramatically increase your protein intake to match or exceed the above range, be aware that rapidly increasing protein intake can lead to constipation, so gradually increase your protein intake weekly while making matching reductions in carbs or fat. Pay attention to how you look, how you feel, and how you perform as you adjust to each target.
As you select your body type from the descriptions above and set your goals for carbs and fat accordingly, particularly if you were fairly consistent in your macronutrient breakdown last week, and it differs dramatically from the recommendations above, please email me to discuss prior to making a major shift).