You’ve probably run into this problem before:
You’ve decided that you’re ready to lose weight; you’ve done your research on how to eat healthier; and you’re ready to give flexible dieting a try.
You want to start the macro diet- the only problem is that you have no idea as to what your starting macros should be.
And every time you type “How To Find My Macros” into a Google search bar, all that pops up are personal trainers + nutritionists that are more than willing to help you out- but they expect you to pay top dollar for all that information.
I get it.
I know how frustrating it can be because this was my same experience long before I became a fitness coach myself.
While there’s nothing wrong with investing in a little professional help to make sure that your meal plan is set up just right- I understand that sometimes you just want to do this weight loss thing by yourself.
And so today, I’m going to help ease your distress.
Yep- in this blog post, I’m sharing with you everything you need to know to calculate your own macros and get started on your fitness journey!
This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, see my disclosures here.
Now if you’re new to macro counting + need a little refresher as to what macronutrients are, then you’re going to want to check out this post here– where I go more into detail about what the macro diet is.
But if you’re ready to dive on in, then keep reading, my friend! Below you’ll find 3 simple ways to calculate macros that are personalized to you.
In full disclosure, Option #1 is the most complex strategy out of the 3 that I’m sharing with you today.
While Option #1 isn’t complicated- it can be overwhelming to follow all the math that I’m going to walk you through.
So if you start reading Option #1 + find it all too confusing to follow- don’t worry!
Simple scroll down to Options 2 and 3- where you’ll find a much more straightforward approach to calculating your macros.
Option #3, in particular, requires the least amount of calculation on your part! So if simple is what you want- start there!
I promise- that out of the three options below, there’s one that will match your needs.
Option 1: Calculate Your Macros Using Current Intake as Base Line
If your goal is to have the most accurate macros possible, then you’re going to need to spend some time tracking your current food intake.
Most of us think of our metabolism as this static ‘thing’ but the truth is, our metabolisms can fluctuate.
You see, metabolisms are “adaptable”- which loosely means that your metabolism will adjust based on what you do in your daily life.1
If you’ve ever had it where you’ve been dieting for a really long time + you’ve noticed that your weight loss seems to have stalled- it’s not that your metabolism is sluggish or broken…
What’s really happening is that your body has adapted to the lower amount of calories that you’re currently feeding it.
And this ability our metabolism has to adapt is a blessing (not a curse- I promise!) because it allows our bodies to operate very efficiently.
However, because our metabolisms are so adaptable- it does mean that what’s ‘normal‘ for you + your body will vary greatly from everyone else.
And it’s also why it’s important that when you calculate your own macros that you take into consideration what your body is accustomed to (a.k.a – your current intake).
>>> So for Option #1: to understand what your starting maintenance calories are, you’re going to need to track + record your calories for 5-7 days and get your average intake.
Assuming that you’re not gaining or losing any weight during these 5-7 days, the intake that you record will be your starting point.
After you determine your starting calories, the next step is to divy those calories up into proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Now, understand that your three macronutrients will add up to your daily caloric intake, so keep your starting calories in a handy spot, somewhere you can reference it.
To start your macronutrient breakdown, let’s begin by calculating your body’s protein needs.
>>> Most women will benefit from consuming between 0.8 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
For example, a women weighing 160 pounds should consume 128-160 grams of protein per day.
Consuming less than the recommended amount of protein (which in this example is 128 grams) may cause a person to lose muscle mass, while consuming more than the recommended amount means taking away calories from fats and carbohydrates- calories used for direct energy.
>>> Once you decide on a protein target, it’s time to determine your daily fat intake.
Calories from fat can range between 15 and 35 percent of your daily caloric intake. I typically recommend that women start with a fat intake around 25 percent of their total calories.
Simply take your starting calories (the maintenance calories you recorded earlier) and multiply by 0.25. Then divide this number by 9 (there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat) to determine your daily fat target.
To give you an example: if your starting calories were 2,000, you’d multiply 2,000 by 0.25 and get 500 calories. To convert into grams you’d take that 500 and divide by 9- giving you a daily fat target of 55 grams.
>>> Now all that’s left to do is calculate your carbohydrate macro.
If you take your protein macro and multiply by 4, you’ll convert those grams into calories. Add the number of calories from protein and the number of calories from fat together, then subtract that number from your starting calories to determine what calories are left for carbohydrates.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds- but let me give you an example to make things a bit more clear.
Referring back to that 160 lb female that we mentioned above- if her protein target is set at 130 grams, that means she’s going to be eating 520 calories worth of protein (130 grams * 4 = 520 calories).
We already determined that her fat target is 55 grams or 500 calories. (55 grams * 9 = 500 calories).
500 + 520 = 1,020 calories. Since we know that her starting calories were 2,000- that means that she has 980 calories left for carbohydrates. (2,000 – 1,020 = 980).
To convert those 980 calories into grams, just divide by 4. In this case 980 calories of carbohydrates equals 245 grams.
>>> So what we’re left with is a macro breakdown that looks something like this: 130 grams of protein, 55 grams of fat and 245 grams of carbohydrates.
Now if your goal is to lose fat, then we need to tweak these numbers a little bit.
Just a little bit more math- stay with me!
The numbers calculated above is what gives us our maintenance numbers. The numbers as they are set now are what our body needs to maintain its current state- we’re not losing or gaining weight in this instance.
In order to lose body fat, we need to be in a caloric deficit.
Meaning we need to consume about 15-20 percent less than what is required for maintenance.
So, if we take 20 percent off of our starting calories (in our example, 2,000 calories was the starting point), we’re left with a daily caloric goal of 1600 calories.
This decrease will ideally come out of our carbohydrate and fat targets.
400 calories equates to 100 grams of carbohydrates or 44 grams of fat. Simply subtract either number from the macros you calculated above- or choose to do some sort of combo (subtract 50 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of fat).
Whatever you choose, do what’s best for YOU!
Option #2: Calculate Your Macros Using Estimated Maintenance Calories
For a lot of women, when they decide that NOW is the perfect time to start a health + fitness journey- they don’t want to wait any longer than they have to.
So the thought of tracking your maintenance calories for a week or two before starting your diet- it can leave you feeling discouraged.
I get it. I’ve experienced those same feelings before.
The good news is that you can absolutely fast-track the process– just understand that this method will be slightly less accurate than Option #1 as described above.
To get started with Option #2, we’re going to use your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and daily energy expenditure 2 to determine how many calories you should burn or consume to lose weight.
Again, stay with me because it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds.
Step 1: Calculate your bodyweight in kilograms:
>>> Take your bodyweight (in lbs.) and divide by 2.2
Step 2: Calculate your BMR:
>>> If you’re a male, use the following formula: BMR= (10 x body weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5
>>> If you’re a female, use this formula: BMR= (10 x body weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161
Step 3: Based on your current activity level, determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure :
>>> Sedentary/No exercise: BMR x 1.2
>>> Lightly Active (i.e., 1-3 days of exercise): BMR x 1.3
>>> Moderately Active (i.e., 3-5 days of exercise): BMR x 1.5
>>> Active (i.e., 6-7 days of exercise): BMR x 1.7
>>> Very Active (i.e., heavy exercise/twice daily): BMR x 1.9
When you complete this 3-step calculation, what you’re left with is an estimate of the number of calories per day you need to maintain your present weight at your current activity level.
To break this down into the various macro-nutrients, you’re going to follow the same process that I outlined in the second half of Option #1.
Option #3: Calculate Macros Using Online Calculator
This option is for the ladies who want a more done-for-you approach to macro calculations!
The best way to achieve this is through an online calculator where you input your personal stats + let the calculator do the work for you.
Now I know that there’s going to be a lot of health professionals that disagree with me right now + that are against generic macro calculators.
But here’s my take on the situation:
Yes, online macro calculators can be wildly inaccurate, BUT what trips most women up when it comes to the macro diet ISN’T whether or not they have the most perfect macros.
The problem most women face is that they NEVER START counting macros because they are too confused to give it a try in the first place.
My advice to any woman wanting to get started with flexible dieting is to JUST START.
Any action you take after you start can be adjusted.
But you can’t modify what you never start.
Now if you want a simple way to double check if the macros you receive from the online calculator are accurate, here’s what I suggest:
Use the following two SIMPLE calculations to see if the macros you received from the online calculator fall with this calculated range.
- Take your ‘Goal’ Body Weight and multiply it by 12.
- Take your Current Body Weight and multiply it by 14.
For most people, your total caloric intake (all your macros combined) should fall somewhere between this range.
Remember, lower calories doesn’t mean faster weight loss. I know how tempting it can be to cling to the bottom end of the range that I’ve just given you.
But the ultimate goal of any fat loss program should be to diet down on the HIGHEST amount of calories possible.
If you’re looking for a good online macro calculator to help get you started, my favorite is the free macro calculator found within the My Transphormation App:
Get access to your own, personal macro breakdown by following these 3 easy steps (no purchase necessary):
- Step 1: Head over to the My Transphormation Challenge to download the app and gain access to free tools + your customized dashboard.
- Step 2: Once downloaded, open the My Transphormation App. You’ll be guided through a few simple questions to help personalize your experience within the app.
- Step 3: Enter your info + follow the instructions to be guided to your very own meal plan to aid with your fat loss goals.
Counting macros doesn’t have to be a scary or daunting process. And despite what others may tell you, you ARE capable of finding your own starting macros using a few simple calculations as I have outlined here.
Now, I’d love it if you’d share your greatest takeaway about macro counting in the comments below!
As always, here to support YOU!