Macronutrient Calculator

Find your macros for weight loss, muscle gain, or recomposition.

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: June 9, 2022

If you’re here, you’ve probably already tried a macronutrient calculator. And I’m guessing you didn’t get the results you wanted.

The reason is that every other macronutrient calculator uses generic formulas—even those on reputable websites like Legion and Katy Hearn.

That’s why I created a more personalized macronutrient calculator. Everything is tailored to you, from your body type to your daily schedule. So you get macro targets that help you burn fat, build lean muscle, and transform your body.

In just the past year, 117,949 people have used my macronutrient calculator. So give it a try and see what all the buzz is about!

macronutrient calculator

Before you hit “Next,” please take a few minutes to skim the guide below. That way you’ll know how and why my macronutrient calculator works better than others!

Why Macros Matter

Macro counting is when you track your intake of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Usually, what you’re actually counting is grams.

By tracking macronutrients you can manage your weight without overly restrictive dieting. It’s appealing thanks to this simplicity. But there’s more at work than macros.

In reality, calorie balance is the reason that tracking macros works. Because each gram of carbs, fat, and protein has a set number of calories.

So by hitting your macros, you’re also controlling your calorie intake. Together, macros and calories account for about 60% of the nutrition puzzle.

Macronutrient Calculator Nutrition Variables

The importance of macros and calories explains why you can make good progress if you have the correct targets (which is why you’re here).

However, simply counting macros is not a substitute for healthy food choices. In other words, you can’t eat pizza and donuts every day and expect to transform your body just because it fits your macros.

To optimize your results, you must also consider the foods you eat. And be aware of the fact that when you eat matters. So, with that in mind, let’s learn how to calculate macros.

Calculating Macros

First, it’s best to start by calculating your daily calorie needs. Because you can’t burn fat if you overeat, and you can’t gain muscle if you undereat – regardless of your macros!

From there, we will find your macros as a percentage of calories. Then convert from calories to grams to get your daily targets.

Below are some guidelines for ranges of macro percentages. The first column is the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), established by the Institute of Medicine. And the second column is the Nutritioneering recommended ranges for optimizing fitness and body composition.

Table 1. Daily Reference Intake vs Fitness Plan Macro Percentages

  DRI Fitness
Protein 10-35% 25-35%
Carbs 45-65% 5-50%
Fat 25-35% 20-65%

At a glance, you’ll notice that I recommend the upper end on protein. As well as lower carbs and higher fat, with a larger range on each.

The reason for the wide ranges is that your ideal macro ratio depends on your body, activity level, and goal. Now let’s dive deeper into the rationale for these macro percentages.

The Case For High Protein

Protein is like a building block for your body. So if you’re trying to build or maintain lean muscle, getting enough protein in your diet is critical.

For decades, the bodybuilding standard has been 1 g/lb (2.2 g/kg) of body weight. So if you weigh 150 lbs, that’s 150 grams of protein daily. But this rule only works well if you’re of average build.

Instead, your protein target should be based on your body composition, not just how much you weigh. For that reason, I prescribe protein as a percentage of calories. And I calculate calories based on lean body mass, resulting in a more accurate protein target.

Target about 25-35% of your calories from protein when your goal is building or maintaining muscle.

For comparison, a protein target of 30% calories equals 0.6 to 1.5 g/lb, depending on your body composition. So you can see where the 1 gram per pound idea comes from. But it also doesn’t apply to everyone.

For example, the more body fat you have, the lower your protein g/lb. Since your body has a high fat to muscle ratio, it’s unlikely to break down muscle.

As you get leaner, a lower fat to muscle ratio increases the chances of muscle breaking down, which is why your g/lb needs to be higher.

Interestingly, protein intake as a percentage of calories stays the same regardless of body composition. To illustrate, see the table below.

Table 2. Protein Intake In Lean vs Obese Person – g/lb and % Calories

  Lean Person Obese Person
Goal Muscle Gain Fat Loss
Weight, lbs 150 300
Body Fat 10% 40%
Calories 3,230 2,230
Protein 242 g 167 g
Protein, g/lb 1.5 0.6
Protein, % 30% 30%

As you can see, calculating protein intake as a percentage of calories works for any body type and goal. And illustrates how the 1 g/lb rule needs to be adjusted if you’re lean or overweight.

Of course, not everyone has bodybuilding aspirations, which is fine. But even if you’re not trying to build muscle, a high protein diet has benefits.

For one, eating protein helps you feel fuller longer. Which keeps hunger and cravings at bay especially on a calorie-restricted diet.

Additionally, protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient – meaning it takes more energy to digest. So it’s like a free metabolism booster.

Earn Your Carbs – How To Use Carb Cycling

Carbs get a bad rap when it comes to burning fat and looking good. But they’re not all bad if you understand how much you actually need.

When you eat carbs, one of two things happens. Either you burn them immediately for energy. Or your body stores them as glycogen to use later.

Whether or not you burn carbs depends on the intensity of your activity. At rest, only about 30% of the calories you burn come from carbs. In contrast, an all-out effort burns almost entirely carbs.

Therefore, your activity level determines the number of carbs you eat.

Low Activity = Low Carbs

As an example, say you burn 2,000 calories on a rest day. That means about 30% of those calories come from carbs. Or 2,000 x 0.3 = 600 calories.

Now we know there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates. So that’s 600 ÷ 4 = 150 grams of carbs.

In other words, you could eat up to 150 grams of carbs to refill what you burned. Any more than that would likely be stored as fat.

Another way to say this is you should not exceed 30% of your calorie intake as carbs on a day when you’re not active. Yet the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommends you get 45-65% of your calories from carbs, regardless of activity level.

Table 3. Actual Carbs Burned vs Daily Reference Intake (DRI)

  DRI Actual
Calories   2,000
Carbs, % 45-65% 30%
Carbs, grams 225-325 g 150 g
Excess Carbs 75-175 g 0 g

With all those excess carbs, it’s no wonder the standard American diet leads to weight gain and obesity! Especially when combined with too many calories.

Of course, if your goal is to burn fat, you should target less than 30% carbs. That way, you force your body to tap into fat for energy.

Realistically, you could go as low as 5% carbs on your rest day. Which amounts to the carbs you get from vegetables.

On low activity days you should not exceed 30% of your calories from carbs. A good target is 5-20% depending on your goal.

High Activity = High(er) Carbs

Now say you have an intense workout. How many carbs do you burn? Well, let’s look at an extreme case.

Remember, the higher the intensity, the more carbs you burn. And the max intensity you can sustain for a long duration is 75-85% of your max heart rate.

Recently, I wore a heart rate monitor during an intense leg workout. This session included heavy squats, RDLs, leg press, leg curls, leg extensions, and walking lunges. And all sets were to failure with about 60 seconds of rest between sets.

Below is a summary of my heart rate data and the duration and calories burned.

macronutrient calculator workout example

The combination of heavy weights and short rests had my average heart rate at 159 beats per minute (85% of my max). In lamens terms, I was laying on the gym floor after my last set trying to catch my breath! 🥵

After 80 grueling minutes, I burned about 1,200 calories. And based on the exercise intensity chart, roughly 75% of those calories came from carbs. Doing the math that’s 1,200 x 0.75 ÷ 4 = 225 grams of carbs.

Outside of my workout, I burned another 175 grams of carbs. So combined, I earned 400 grams of carbs that day (225 + 175).

That may sound like a lot. But let’s look at it as a percentage of calories. For some background, I’m currently on a 3,800-calorie lean bulk meal plan.

Table 4. Actual Carbs Burned vs Daily Reference Intake (DRI)

  DRI Actual
Calorie Target   3,800
Carbs, % 45-65% 42%
Carbs, grams 427-618 g 400 g
Excess Carbs 27-218 g 0 g

Amazingly, the DRI recommendation is still too high, overshooting by as much as 218 grams. However, even this extreme case requires just 42% of calories from carbs.

Also, this example proves that you’re probably not burning as many carbs as you think. For example, an average 1-hour weight lifting session only burns about 90 grams of carbs!

There’s no need for carbs to be more than 50% of calories unless you’re an endurance athlete. Or possibly if you train hard for multiple hours a day.

You only want to replace the carbs you burn, refilling your glycogen stores. Combined with a strategic calorie surplus, you can build muscle without gaining fat. At the same time, a careful calorie deficit results in burning fat without losing muscle.

On workout days, carbs should be roughly 30 to 50% of calories depending on your goal.

When your goal is fat loss or recomposition, target closer to 30%, and include at least one 50% day per week to refill glycogen and boost metabolism. Also called a refeed day.

For maximizing muscle gain, target up to 50% calories from carbs. However, only exceed 50% if you exercise for multiple hours. Or for rare challenges with the hardgainer ectomorph body type.

Carb Cycling

In summary, aim for 5-20% of your calories from carbs on rest days. And target 30-50% on workout days.

During the week, you should cycle between low, medium, and high carb days based on your workout schedule. Matching your carb intake to your activity level is called carb cycling. And it is a handy tool for fat loss and lean muscle gain.

Not All Fat Is Bad – Know What To Avoid

Unfortunately, fat has a stigma of being bad for you. Most likely because it’s twice as calorie-dense as protein or carbs, some types of fat can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.

However, fat is vital for your brain and nervous system. And it’s a slow-burning energy supply that your body uses for low-intensity exercise. So the key is to get the right fat in the appropriate amount.

This brings us to “good fats” and “bad fats.” Good fats nourish your body and provide critical vitamins. In contrast, bad fats are empty calories that clog arteries and cause serious health problems.

macronutrient calculator fat

As much as possible, avoid artificial trans fats. And limit saturated fat to less than 10% of your calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s no more than 22 grams of saturated fat per day. While debatable, I do not limit coconut oil and MCTs due to their offsetting health benefits.

With that out of the way, the amount of total fat you need depends on your activity level. Therefore, fat intake should go up and down opposite your carb intake. In other words, high carbs = low fat and low carbs = high fat.

Fat intake should range from 20 to 65%. On the low end when carbs are high, and on the high end when carbs are low.

One reason for alternating fat intake has to do with balancing macro percentages. For example, on a day when you get 50% of your calories from carbs and 30% from protein, there’s only 20% left for fat. In contrast, fat gets a bigger piece of the pie on low-carb days.

Another reason for this fluctuation is insulin. A storage hormone that gets released after eating carbs. When insulin levels go up, your body is more likely to store the dietary fat as body fat.

Moreover, this is why greasy high-carb foods like pizza and burgers are so fattening! And it’s why you should hit your macros and eat healthy whole foods.

What Makes This the Best Macronutrient Calculator?

So far, we’ve covered why macros matter and how much of each macro you need. But why should you trust me to find your ideal targets? Let me explain what sets my macronutrient calculator apart from the rest.

Best Macronutrient Calculator For Women Men

The Most Accurate

In researching my calculator, I tested dozens of other macronutrient calculators on the web. And I found that some were a little while others were wildly inaccurate.

Other calculators miss the mark because of generic formulas for finding calorie intake, which can be off by as much as 1,000 calories per day! You’re doomed to failure at that point, no matter what your macros are.

That’s why I created my algorithm based on nine unique factors. Compared to just three factors in the industry-standard formula.

With this new and improved formula, I can find your daily calories with incredible accuracy. And since macros are based on a percentage of calories, that translates into the most accurate macronutrient calculator.

Built For Your Body Type

One reason my macronutrient calculator algorithm is so accurate is that I account for your body type. This is significant because genetic variation means everyone’s metabolism is a little different.

By letting you choose your body type, I ensure that your calories and macros fit your metabolism. I make it easy by describing the body types in plain terms. But you can also take my super easy body type quiz.

Personalized Around Your Schedule

Lastly, my macronutrient calculator is the only one I’ve found that is personalized to your schedule. Other calculators “average out” your activity and give you a single average macro target.

I find out how many calories you burn at rest and how much you burn during your workouts. So I will tell you precisely what your macros should be based on your schedule every day of the week! That way, you can take advantage of the power of carb cycling.

Macronutrient Calculator Results

If you’re still not convinced, I get it. You need proof. Well, look no further than Nutritioneering athlete, Dylan Kosek.

Dylan first used my macronutrient calculator in 2016. Since then I’ve coached him through bulking, cutting, and contest prep for an upcoming bodybuilding show.

With consistency, hard work, and a good macro meal plan, Dylan has created an impressive physique. With my macronutrient calculator, you can transform your body and look your best too!

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A post shared by Dylan Kosek (@dylankosek)

The Macronutrient Calculator Meal Plan

At first, it’s normal to feel confused by all this information. But don’t worry, you can get an easy to follow plan that makes it simple!

To get your Macro Meal Plan, all you have to do is answer a few questions. And you’ll receive a personalized solution based on your body type, lifestyle, and goals.

Including custom meals and recipes, no calorie or macro counting required!

bodybuilding meal plan
  • Transform your body with goal-specific calories & macros
  • Easily plan meals with a daily menu built around your schedule
  • Simplify meal prep with delicious recipes formulated to fit your macros
  • Make better food choices with a grocery list right on your phone

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By |June 9, 2022|Calculators, Nutrition|Comments Off on Best Macronutrient Calculator For Weight Loss & Muscle Gain
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