If you have been following this series of articles, you know about fats, carbs, and proteins. Now you need to know how much of each macronutrient you should be eating to reach your goals. This article will break down how to calculate macros based on your goals!
If you have missed the other articles in this series…
Fat loss macros can be the most difficult and controversial to calculate. In order to calculate macros, you have to be willing to do a bit of experimentation. I can give you ranges and rules of thumb, but everyone has a different body and reacts differently to foods. That said, let’s jump in to the numbers.
First off, you have to find a calorie number that would allow you to lose fat. For most people, taking their bodyweight and multiplying it by 12 will allow them to lose fat. However, if you want a more precise calculation please see my article here about caloric intake.
The idea that in order to lose fat means that you have to cut back on carbs is essentially true. However, you may find that you don’t have to cut back on carbs as much as you thought.
When you want to calculate macros for fat-loss, I like to start with protein. In order to lose fat, a good rule of thumb is to keep your protein between 40-50% of your daily total calories. This may seem like a lot of protein, but the higher protein keeps you full and satisfied on lower calories. I personally like to keep my protein around 40%.
With carbs and fat, you just have to experiment to see what works for your body. For me, I like to keep my fats higher and my carbs lower because I get less hungry and see better results on higher fat. Your body could be the total opposite.
In order to lose fat, a good rule of thumb is to keep your carbs between 10-30% of your total calorie intake. I personally like to keep my carbs around 20%.
When it comes to calculating fat macros, a good rule of thumb for fat loss is to keep fat calories between 30-40% of total calories. This may seem really high on the fat scale, but the fats will carry you through the day and be used for energy during workouts.
When you want to calculate macros for maintenance, you have to take into account what your recent diet habits have looked like. Did you just lose a bunch of weight? Gain a bunch of muscle? If you have you will need to calculate your maintenance calories based on your new weight and activity level. See my article on caloric intake to calculate your maintenance calories.
Let’s kick off maintenance macros with protein. If you are looking to maintain, eating between 30-40% of your daily calories from protein is a good rule of thumb. I personally like to stick to the higher level at 40% because of my workout intensity and I want to maintain muscle mass. I also really like my protein shakes and pro-oats 🙂
Next let’s look at carbs. Your carbohydrate intake is going to be higher for maintenance because your body will need them for fuel so your fat and muscle stores are not used as much for energy. I recommend eating between 30-45% of daily calories in carbs while trying to maintain. I personally stick on the lower end, 30%, because I like to keep my fats higher. Again, this is something that you will have to experiment with until you find what works for you!
If you like to keep you carbs higher during a maintenance phase, you are going to want to keep fats lower. A good rule of thumb for a maintenance phase is to keep fats between 25-35% of total calories. I personally stay on the high end at 35%.
Lastly, let’s talk about muscle gain. To figure out the calories you will need to put on muscle, see my article on calculating your caloric intake.
When it comes to protein, you’re numbers are going to be similar to a maintenance phase. When trying to put on muscle, aim to take in 30-40% of total calories from protein. This will be sufficient for muscle building. I personally stick with 40%, just like I eat during my maintenance phase.
You are going to see the biggest difference in the number of carbs that you eat during a muscle-building phase. In order to build muscle, the muscles need more fuel. Therefore, aim to get 40-60% of your total calories from carbs. These would be clean carbs. Just because you calculate macros and find you can fit crappy foods into your diet does not mean you should all the time. I like to keep my carbs around 40% to get clean gains while adding minimal fat.
Since your carbs will be so high during your muscle-building phase, it’s a good idea to keep fats a little lower. Aim to keep fats between 15-25% of total calories during a muscle building phase. This will keep you staying a little bit leaner while packing on that muscle. I like to keep my fats higher, around 20%. I like my fats.
In a Nutshell
I just gave you rules of thumb in order to calculate macros for any goal you may desire. These will serve you very well in getting started on your macro tracking journey. As you get more accustomed to tracking your macros, try experimenting. Up your fats a little while lower carbs, or vice versa. If you do make a change to your diet, be sure to give it at least two weeks before deciding whether it worked or not. Your body needs time to adapt to change.
If you enjoyed this article but would like a little more guidance, I have 4 spots open for nutritional coaching. I will be there to guide you and help you make tweaks to your diet so that you can achieve those goals quickly and with as little fuss as possible! If you are interested in 1 of the 4 spots available for coaching, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What was the most useful part of this article for you? Drop it in the comments so that I can chat with you!