If you don’t know how to calculate macros, you’ve come to the right place! But first, in case you don’t know what macros are, allow me explain. Simply put, not all calories are created equal, macros are the stuff that makes up the calories you eat.
First, I’m going to cover each of the main macros and their main function, then we’ll calculate them.
P.S. You’re going to need a food scale to track your macros properly, they’re not too expensive and well worth the investment.
The Bodybuilding Importance Of Protein, Fat and Carbs:
Protein’s main job is to build and repair muscle tissue. When you have a hard workout and tear down your muscles, protein is what comes to the rescue repairing and building your muscles to be even bigger and stronger than before.
Fat is responsible for a lot of important functions in your body, but for the sake of bodybuilding, fat is important because it keeps your hormones in check. Important hormones like testosterone rely on a healthy intake of fats.
Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel for your workout. If your fuel take is low, you’re not going to have very good workouts, and if you’re not having good workouts you’re not going to see the results you’re looking for. Also carbs will keep your muscles looking and feeling full. If your diet is too low in carbs you may notice that you’re muscles look flat and skinny instead of full and strong.
How to Calculate Macros: The Quick Answer For Bodybuilding
If you just want to know what the suggested bodybuilding macros are, see the percentages below. If you want to calculate your macros manually to create your own meal plan, skip down to the next section.
- Protein – 40%
- Fat – 20%
- Carbs 40%
The above percentages are the classic bodybuilding macro recommendations. Personally I feel that the protein is a bit high, you could lower it a bit and split those additional calories between fat and carbs, but 40/40/20 is a great way to go.Whichever route you decide to take, know that all of the macros are important and you need an adequate amount of each to perform your best in the gym and see the best results possible in the mirror.
How to Calculate Macros – Step By Step:
First, I’ve put together a chart below that will help you convert nutrients from grams into calories. I know it might sound a bit confusing, but I promise, by the end of this post it will make perfect sense. So get out a pen and paper and let’s get down to business.
|Macronutrient||Calories Per Gram|
Step 1. Calculate your maintenance calories:
There are a lot of fancy formulas out there for calculating your maintenance calories, but honestly no formula is 100% accurate for every individual. In my experience it’s best to simply multiple your weight by the number below and make adjustments if needed.
- Male – Bodyweight x 15
- Female – Bodyweight x 13
Example: I’m a male and I weigh 200lbs. To maintain my weight I would need to eat about 3,000 calories per day.
Note: It’s important to keep in mind that a simple formula like this does not take into consideration your daily activity. If you have a physically demanding job you may want to increase your calories slightly, if you have a desk job you may want to decrease them.
Step 2. Choose a goal, and adjust your intake:
If you want to gain weight you’re going to need to eat more calories than your maintenance. If you want to lose weight you will need to eat less than your maintenance calories, it’s really as simple as that. Determine your goal below and adjust your calorie.
- Bulking – Increase calories by 250-500
- Cutting – Decrease calories by 250-500
Example: In step 1 I determined that my maintenance calories as 3,000 per day. My goal is to cut, so I’m going to decrease by 250, so I will be eating 2,750 calories per day. If I’m still not losing enough weight I’ll decrease by another 250 after 2 weeks.
Step 3. Calculate your daily protein:
Most people think that protein is only important when you’re bulking and trying to build muscle. In my experience it’s more important to keep your protein higher when you’re cutting.
- Bulking – Eat 1 grams of protein daily.
- Cutting – Eat 1.25 gram of protein.
Example: I weight 200lbs, since I am cutting, I’m going to multiple that by 1.25 and to get my final goal of eating 250g of protein each day. In the chart above you’ll notice that 1g of protein is equal to 4 calories, so I’ll be eating 1,000 calories worth of protein every day. I’m going to subtract 1,000 from the 2,750 maintenance calories and I have 1,750 calories remaining.
Step 4. Calculate your fat intake:
I wouldn’t recommend any more than 30% of calories from fat or any less than 20%. For the sake of easy math, let’s go with 30% fat.
- Multiple your remaining calories by .20 or .30.
- Divide the number by 9, this is how many grams of fat you will be eating.
I’m going to multiple my remaining calories by .30 which is 525, and since 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories, I’m going to divide 525 by 9 and I’m left with 58g of fat per day, voila!
Step 5. Calculate your daily carbohydrates:
So now that we have our protein and fat figured out, let’s calculate carbs.
- Divide your remaining calories by 4, this is how many grams of carbs you should eat.
Since 1,000 of my calories is coming from protein, and 525 of my calories are coming from fat, I have 1,225 calories left. If I divide 1,225 by 4, I get 306g of carbs eat day.
An Important Note:
Supplements have their place in your diet, but they should not make up the bulk of your macros. It’s ok to get some of your protein from a protein shake, but try your best to get most of your nutrition from real food.
If you’re someone that just likes trying new supplements every month, check out the list of fitness subscription boxes I recently reviewed and rated. There’s something in there for everyone no matter what your goals are.
There you have it, a simple way to calculate your macros! Keep in mind that these are just starting numbers and as your weight changes over the weeks and months you’ll have to adjust your calories and macros, so in the example I start off cutting on 306 carbs, as I lose weight I continuously decrease that number.