CALCULATING YOUR MACROS - A STARTING POINT
So many people want to track their macros but so many of you just don’t know where to start. I don’t blame you, with all of the information our there it can all get a little confusing. But before we get into it something to keep in mind is that there is no perfect caloric intake and no magical macro ratio. Calculating your macros for the first time or for a new goal is merely a starting point. If you calculate your macros and after a week you have not seen the results you are looking for then don't fret, you may just need consistency and some possible adjustments. The point of tracking macros is to have a calculated intake which then allows you to make adjustments depending on your weekly progress. It's important not to overthink it, just find an intake that is calculated according to your stats and is suited to your goals, then go from there.
Let me show you how…
There are many different ways of calculating your caloric and it can all get a little confusing. You can absolutely use macro calculators if you wish however you may not have all of the information they are asking for. I am going to show you the simplest way I know how and it's what I now use for myself and my clients.
Step 1. Calculate your BRM (Basal Metabolic rate)
Your BMR or the amount of calories your body burns at rest is literally the amount of calories your body would burn if you were to lay in bed all day without moving a muscle.
I get this number by doing the following:
Body weight in Kgs x 22 = BMR calories
E.g. 65kgs x 22 = 1430
Here I would be burning 1430 calories in a day if I didn’t move, its what my body needs just to carry out its normal functions to survive.
Step 2. Calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
Your TDEE is the amount of calories burned in an entire day depending on your physical activity).
To determine this number it will depend on a scale of how physically active you are in your week.
TDEE: BMR x scale
Pick a number on the scale here that best reflects your weekly activity level
- BMR x 1.2 Sitting or lying all day
- BMR x 1.3 Seated work, no exercise
- BMR x 1.4 Seated work, light exercise (leisurely walking for 30-50 minutes 3-4 days/week, golfing, house chores)
- BMR x 1.5 moderately physical work, no exercise
- BMR x 1.6 moderate exercise 3-5 days per week (60-70% MHR for 30-60 minutes/session)
- BMR x 1.7Active individuals (exercising 6-7 days/week at moderate to high intensity (70-85% MHR) for 45-60 minutes/session)
- BMR x 1.8 Heavy physical work and Active Individual
- BMR x 1.9-2.4 for the extremely active individuals (engaged in heavy/intense exercise like heavy manual labour, heavy lifting, endurance athletes, and competitive team sports athletes 6-7 days/week for 90 + minutes/session)
Most people sit within the 1.5-1.7 range. Again don’t over think it, it’s a starting point so pick which one resembles your lifestyle the most.
BMR x 1.7 = TDEE
1430 x 1.7 = 2431
The number we now have is our calculated maintenance level. This is the predicted number of calories I would need to maintain my weight if I was exercising to the level of “1.7” on the scale.
However, we now need to tweak this according to our goals, whether that is to lose body fat or gain lean mass.
If you want to maintain your weight where it is then you can just stay here. Sometimes I do also recommend doing a week on your predicted maintenance calories before you adjust your intake depending on your goals as this can help you get a better idea of whether your metabolism is slower or faster than predicted.
Step 3. Calculate your calories for fat loss or lean mass gain
Here you need to determine your goal and increase or decrease your calories by a certain percentage to get your recommended caloric intake. The usual rule of thumb has been to add or subtracting 500 calories from your calculated TDEE. However I don't use this method because it is not realistic for all calorie intake, for example, someone on a 1500 calorie diet would end up on 1000 calories which is a huge portion of their intake, and someone on 3000 calories would end up on 2500 calories which is not a huge chunk of their intake. Hence, why I work on percentages instead.
- Fat Loss
- Mass Gain
Fat Loss – reduce calories anywhere from 15-25%.
15% - Conservative (TDEE x 0.85)
20% Moderate (TDEE x 0.8)
25% Very aggressive and not recommended ( TDEE x 0.75)
E.g. 2431 x 0.8 = 1944 calories per day for Fat Loss.
Mass Gain – Increase calories anywhere from 5-15% or more
5% Conservative (TDEE x 1.05)
10% Moderate (TDEE x 1.1)
15%+ Aggressive (TDEE x 1.15)
E.g. 2431 x 1.1 = 2674 total calories per day for mass gain
As you can see I prefer to stick with moderate scales to start with because you can always adjust calories if needed. The aim would be to lose fat on as many calories as possible, or to gain mass with as little fat gain as possible.
Now that we have calculated your daily caloric intake it's time to find your macro split.
To keep things simple I am going to use my number from the Fat Loss Calculation.
Step 4 – calculate your protein intake
1.8-2.8g per Kg Or 0.8-1.25g per LBS
These are large ranges and they vary depending on the individual but also a preference to how much protein one likes to eat. I base this off targeting 4-5 doses of 25-40g protein per day. Hence, the minimum would be 100g of protein.
I personally like to work on the higher end from 2-2.6g per kg.
65kg x 2.5 = 162.5 grams of protein
We now need to know how many calories this yields. If you have ready my last blog on about macronutrients you will know protein yield 4 calories.
162.5g x 4 = 650 calories from protein (you will need to remember this number for later).
Step 5 – calculate your Fat intake
Fat intake is largely dependent on personal preference. To put it simply if you like to eat more fat then use a higher percentage, if you like to eat more carbs then use a lower fat percentage.
15-40% of total calories should come from fat. However do not go any lower that 0.5g of fat per KG when losing body fat. You need fat for your hormones to function optimally.
My personal preference here is 25-30% of calories from fat.
Our TDEE was 1944 for fat Loss
Fat calories = 1944 x 0.3 = 583 calories from fat
Fat yields 9 calories per gram.
583/9 = 65 grams of fat intake per day
Step 6 – Calculate remaining calories from carbohydrates
Now we have our protein and fat intake its time to work out our carbohydrates. This is where we need all of our numbers we have previously calculated.
TDEE for fat loss = 1944 calories
Protein = 162.5g = 650 calories
Fat = 65g = 583 calories
So all that is left is carbs. If you did not know that 1g of carbs yield 4 calories make sure you read my last blog about macros to get you up to speed.
So how many calories do we have left? We simply take our TDEE and take away our calories from protein and fat.
1944- 650 - 583 = 711 calories remaining
711/4 = 178 g of carbohydrates
...and you are DONE!
We have calculated the following:
If I am 65kgs and my aim is moderate fat loss then this is my daily macro intake.
- Calories = 1944
- Protein = 162.5
- Carbs = 178
- Fat = 65
From here hit your intake by tracking your food in an app like My Fitness Pal. And adjust macros weekly according to your weekly progress.
How to track macros is coming stay tuned ...