How To Calculate Your Macros For Fat Loss Or Muscle Gain
Want to know how to calculate your macros for fat loss or gaining muscle? Just follow the 7 stages below and you will be on your way!
If you don't like reading then watch the YouTube video at the top of this page, it takes you through everything step by step.
Calculating macros can be a relatively complicated process, especially when there are so many ways to do it as well as so many conflicting “guidelines” to stick too.
In this article I’m going to layout the process in STAGES so it makes things easier for you to follow, if you would rather watch me explain the process then click play on the above video :)
To start things off let’s just get a few basics out of the way:
- Macro stands for Macronutrient and is made up of carbohydrates, fats and protein
- 1g carb = 4 calories
- 1g protein = 4 calories
- 1g fat = 9 calories
- You will never get a “perfect diet” right away, calculating macros is all about creating a foundation that is then constantly adjusted / tweaked (over the coming weeks / months) depending on how your body reacts
STAGE 1 – Calculating Your Maintenance Calories
Maintenance calories are basically the number of calories you can consume on a daily basis while keeping your bodyweight the same (no weight gain or weight loss). There are a few ways to calculate this so I have outlined my two preferred options below:
Option 1 – BMR
Calculating your BMR through an online BMR calculator (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm) is an easy way to find out what your maintenance calories should be. These calculators use your age, gender, height and weight to provide you with a relatively accurate starting point.
Option 2 – Quick Method
Option 2 is what I call the “quick method” and this is the option I personally use to calculating my macros.
All you do is simple times your bodyweight in KG by 22 or your bodyweight in Lbs by 10. For example I’m a 85kg male so my calculation will look like either of the following:
85 X 22 = 1870 Cals (KG Method)
187 X 10 = 1870 Cals (Lbs Method)
***NOTE*** If you are VERY overweight, use your lean mass rather than bodyweight. To calculate lean mass, subtract your body fat % from your total weight.
STAGE 2 – Adding Your Activity Level
Once you have your BMR number OR “Quick Method” number you want to select an activity level (that best suits your lifestyle) because you’re going to times this number by the calories you have already calculated to create your TRUE Maintenance Calories.
Activity Level is a scale from 1.3 – 2.2 that determines how active you are on a daily basis in regards to your exercise regime and also what you do for a living. Below is a table outlining a rough idea of what activity level number relates to what lifestyle:
Desk Job / Sedentary + 3-6 Days Of Weight Training
1.3 – 1.4
Lightly Active Job + 3-6 Days Of Weight Training
1.5 – 1.6
Active Job + 3-6 Days Of Weight Training
1.7 – 1.9
Very Active / Laborious Job + 3-6 Days Of Weight Training
2.0 – 2.2
Once you have chosen the number that best represents your daily activity level you want to times that number by the calories from your BMR / quick method calculation. Below is an example of how I calculated mine (taking into account I chose a 1.8 activity level):
1870 X 1.8 = 3366 Calories
3366 is MY official maintenance calories that I can now use to in the next step in creating my macros.
STAGE 3 – Choosing My Goal
Now we have our maintenance calories we can choose whether we want to lose weight or gain weight.
Option 1 – Lose Weight
If you want to lose weight this is when you will subtract 500 from your maintenance calories,
E.g. 3366 – 500 = 2866 Calories
Option 2 – Gain Weight
If you want to gain weight / build muscle then you will plus 500 to your maintenance calories,
E.g. 3366 + 500 = 3866 Calories
For the purpose of this article I’m going to stick with my actual goal of wanting to put on weight so I’m going to plus 500 to my maintenance calories to give me a total of 3866 cals.
STAGE 4 – Calculating Protein
When calculating protein we base things off our bodyweight.
Depending on how much you like protein and also how prominent it is in your current diet the amount you choose will be different. The scale for calculating protein is 2 – 3g per KG of bodyweight or 0.9 – 1.3g per Lbs of bodyweight (depending if you work in KG’s or Lbs).
If you’re not the biggest fan of protein and you would rather eat more fat / carbs then choose the lower number (2-2.5g per KG), if you already eat a lot of protein and like things high then go for the top number (2.5-3kg).
When you have chosen a number (I went for 2.8 because I like protein) then all you do is times this by your body weight. E.g.
2.8 X 85 = 238g Protein (KG Option)
1.27 X 187 = 238g Protein (Lbs Option)
To make things easier to calculate I have just rounded my total protein per day to 240g.
STAGE 5 – Calculating Fat
Calculating Fat is slightly different to calculating protein, for fat we use a % of total calories option.
The percentage bracket for fat is 15% - 25% of total calories, your choice will depend on the types of food you enjoy. For example do you love peanut butter, avocado, nuts etc? If so you will go for a higher option between 20% - 25%.
If you prefer carbs then you can choose a lower option between 15% - 20%.
For me personally I love carbs so I’m going for 15% fat.
For me to translate this percentage into grams of fat all I need to do is calculate 15% of 3866 and then convert that number into grams of fat by dividing it by 9 (because 1g Fat = 9 Calories). Calculation is show below:
3866 X 0.15 = 580 Calories
580 / 9 = 65g Fat
Stage 6 – Calculating Carbohydrates
Calculating your total carbohydrates is relatively simple as they make up the remainder of your calories once you have subtracted the protein and fat.
So what we need to is, calculate the total calories of both our protein and fat.
I have the calculation using my numbers below:
Total protein: 240g
240 X 4 = 960 calories
Total Fat: 65g
65 X 9 = 585 calories
Total protein + fat calories:
960 + 585 = 1545 calories
Now I have the total protein + fat calories of 1545 we can just subtract that from the total calories of 3866 and then convert that number into grams of carbohydrates by dividing the number by 4 (as 1g carb = 4 cals).
3866 – 1545 = 2321 calories
2321 / 4 = 580g carbs
STAGE 7 – Putting Everything Together
So looking back at all the calculations above, we can see that my daily macros are as follows:
Protein – 240g
Fat – 65g
Carbohydrates – 580g
I can now use these numbers to either create a structured nutrition plan or go down the flexible route of IIFYM.
Conclusion + Things To Think About
Now you have your macros set up for your goal that doesn’t just mean that you are on a one way road to success…
The key to success is constantly analysing how your body is reacting to the diet, with this observation make the appropriate changes to your macros where necessary.
Below I have a list of questions I want you to think about and then in red I have possible solutions. Make sure you go beyond this article and expand your knowledge of nutrition so you can better understand your body and therefore generate an even higher result of success with your desired goals.
1, Am I achieve my desired results? (Losing / putting on weight) If not then change your overall calories my reducing / increasing total carbs.
2, Am I feeling tired / low on energy? Look at increasing total carbs, if you don’t want to increase your calories then you can look at cutting back a little bit on fats / protein to make up for higher carbs.
3, Is my sex drive lower? Trim back your carbs slightly and increase your fats
4, Am I losing the muscle pump in my workouts? Slightly reduce your fats (or even protein if its at the high end) and increase carbs.
I really hope you found this article helpful, if you did please share it around, give the YouTube video at the top of the page a big thumbs up and subscribe to my YouTube channel for awesome weekly videos :)
If you need help with your training &/or nutrition then take a look through my personalised training options for more information on how I can help or email me - firstname.lastname@example.org