When you’re trying to lose weight, making changes in what and how you eat are among the most important things you’ll need to do in order to be successful. The odds are that this isn’t news to you at all. That said, the “how” of changing your eating habits can be less obvious. For instance, many people wonder about how they should combine their macronutrients in order to encourage the most efficient weight loss.

To start, it’s important to understand that there are three main groups of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. All of those groups are vital to health and weight loss. While there are some who would say that the best way to lose weight is in trying to greatly reduce or even eliminate the intake of one of those macronutrients, research would suggest that it is more important to establish a healthy balance instead of trying to eat too little of one group or another.

Each macronutrient plays an integral role in your health as well as in your weight loss. Consider the following about each one and how they should be combined:

• Carbohydrates – Though carbs have developed a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss, the truth is that when the right ones are consumed, they can promote fat burning. The best carbohydrates for health and weight management include those that are the most fiber rich, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Simple carbs such as white sugar, white flour and products made with those ingredients, on the other hand, should be avoided.

• Proteins – Lean protein from certain forms of poultry, raw seeds and nuts, eggs, fish and legumes are important for healing and building muscle, keeping a healthy body and helping to satisfy hunger throughout a longer part of the day as protein takes longer to digest than many types of carbohydrates.

• Fats – Like carbohydrates, fats have also experienced some damage to their reputation in terms of their impact on weight. That said, all fats aren’t created equal. Consuming limited amounts of the right forms help to lower bad cholesterol levels, boost brain, cell and nerve health and even encourage body fat loss. Essential fatty acids from sources such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil and certain others.

The specific balance you need among these macronutrients depends on your age, gender, body type and certain other factors. As a guideline for weight loss, many dietitians recommend the 40/30/30 method. This means that 40% of your calorie needs come from carbs, 30% from fats, and 30% from protein. For maximum weight loss and minimum muscle loss, try to spread your macros evenly across all of your meals, so you achieve consistency and encourage a steady metabolic rate. For more specific assistance regarding your caloric requirements, use a reputable daily calorie calculator or speak with a doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer.