Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator
This macro calculator shows your optimal macronutrients and calories based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level. Use your results with macro counting or flexible dieting/IIFYM to lose fat or gain muscle.
Why Macros are Important
The foods we eat are made up of three “macros” (macronutrients). These macros are carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fat. Chicken is high in the protein macro but has no carbs. Rice is high in carbs, but very little fat or protein.
These 3 macronutrients (macros) are from which the human body obtains energy and raw materials for growth and repair.
What Are the Right Macros for You?
The right macros for you are based on your personal Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and goals.
Our macro calculator defaults at the best macro ratio that’s proven to work for the most number of people. You should achieve your goals using the default setting.
However, there is nothing wrong with adjusting this ratio if needed. Perhaps you’re an extreme endomorph and do better with fewer carbs. Or, perhaps you only have one kidney and need to eat less protein. You can adjust the macros to levels that are right for you personally with a little math, which is explained in detail here.
How to Calculate the Right Daily Protein Amount
Setting protein to Moderate adjusts the ratio to .65 grams per pound of body weight. This is appropriate for sedentary individuals or for people with higher body fat percentages.
High is appropriate for people who are active, do moderate strength training, and have an average body fat percentage.
Maximum will set to 1 gram / lb. This is appropriate for those who are wanting to gain weight/muscle mass and do intense training.
We go into greater detail about how to choose an appropriate protein level when counting macros so give that article a read if you’re still unsure.
Using the Macro Calculator to Calculate Daily Fat Amount
Fats are set at 30% of daily energy expenditure. This is a healthy moderate amount that most people do well with and is based on recommendations by nutritional guidelines.
When choosing foods that contain fat, focus on getting predominately healthy fats as part of that 30%.
Using the Calculator to Calculate the Right Carb Amount
After protein and fat are calculated, the calculator assigns the remainder of your calories as carbohydrates. This usually results in a moderate amount of carbs that are in the healthy range recommended for most people. Carbs fuel your body and workouts and are the body’s prefered energy source.
Many people coming from a “low carb” type of dieting may feel like this calculator calculates carbs on the high side. However, this is a moderate amount of carbs according to respected nutritional guidelines and the notion that carbs cause weight gain or prevent fat loss when eaten in relation to your TDEE has been debunked.
How the Calculator Adjusts Your TDEE Based on Your Goals
Daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is calculated from your age, gender, height, weight, and exercise output.
You can easily use the macro calculator to adjust your energy levels to lose fat, maintain your current weight, or gain muscle.
By default, the results are for losing weight. Select either lose or gain if you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle. These are good starting points, but you may have to play around with your macros until you find your personal goal-reaching sweet spot. You can then count macros until you reach your desired goal.
Setting the Calculator for Weight Loss (Fat Loss)
- The Lose button puts you in a 20% calorie deficit which promotes safe, steady weight loss.
- The Lose 10% button puts you in a 10% calorie deficit and is intended for those with less than 10 pounds to lose and who also wish to build muscle at the same time.
For Maintaining Your Current Weight
The Maintain button shows you the macro levels that will keep you at your current weight. This is good for people who have lost weight and who don’t want to gain the weight back.
Settings for Gaining Weight or Building Muscle
The Gain button puts you in a 20% calorie surplus and is designed for people who are wanting to build muscle fast in conjunction with a comprehensive weight training program. It can also be used by people who are underweight.
Some people may want to use the maintenance button and then gradually increase calories from there if they want their muscle gains to be lean.
Which Formula – Normal or Lean Mass?
The default (normal) formula is fine for most people. However, there are some exceptions.
1. If you are very lean (low body fat percentage) the default formula may not be accurate. Use the “Lean Body Mass” setting. This uses a formula that factors specific body fat percentage into the equation and since muscle tissue burns many more calories than fat tissue while even at rest, it will give you a higher TDEE. This is perfect for “athletic body types” that want to use macro counting to gain more muscle mass.
2. If you are classified as obese and have a lot of weight to lose, the standard formula will not be accurate because the equation used, factors for an average body fat percentage. If you happen to be above average it will skew the results. Please see this article for more clarification on how to do macro counting if you are obese.
How Do I Calculate My Daily Macros
By default, the results show the number of grams of each macronutrient you should eat each day. Simply make sure you have eaten those macro amounts by the end of the day.
How Do I Calculate My Macros for a Meal
Click on meal numbers to split this into a “per meal” basis for counting macros. For some people, this is easier, while for others it becomes too much to keep track of. Do what works for you. Either method is fine.
Setting Activity Level Accurately
A higher activity level means a higher daily calorie goal (TDEE). For example; if you can maintain your weight at 2,000 calories per day, then adding vigorous daily exercise to this means you need more calories to maintain your weight.
The same rule applies even if your goal is to lose weight.
If you are sedentary and your goal is to lose weight, your calorie goal might be (for example) 1,600 calories per day. If you decide to start exercising, the calculator will increase your daily calorie goal (say, to 1,800 calories/day). Although it may seem counter-intuitive, more energy is required to fuel your workouts, and your metabolism is increased – therefore calories should be higher.
Many people struggle with which exercise level to choose. Basically each level breaks down as follows:
- Sedentary: Just normal everyday activity like a little walking, a couple flights of stairs, eating etc.
- Light: Any activity that burns an additional 200-400 calories for females or 250-500 calories for a males more than your sedentary amount.
- Moderate: Any activity that burns an additional 400-650 calories for females or 500-800 calories for males more than your sedentary amount.
- Extreme: Any activity that burns more than about 650 calories for females or more than 800 calories for males in addition to your sedentary amount.
This varies based on your individual stats, but you can get a more specific amount of calorie burn by simply subtracting your sedentary calorie amount from the chosen exercise level amount.
You also need to determine how many calories you are burning: For this use our exercise calorie burn MET database or a good app like MapMyFitness or a wearable device like FitBit or Apple Watch. (Note that activity trackers tend to overestimate calorie burn.)
Too much physical activity combined with low calories could lead to muscle catabolism (the breakdown of muscle fiber). This is not a good thing, and can actually stall your weight loss, so if you love to exercise, eat up!
Which App is Best for Tracking Macros?
After you have your personal macro calculations, you need to determine the macros in all the foods you eat. By tracking and counting them each day, you can reach your recommended macro targets that encourage fat loss, muscle gain, or whatever your goal may be.
While this may seem like a lot of work, there are some really good smartphone macro apps that do most of the work for you. We rank the best macro tracking apps here so you can get started tracking quickly.
Macro counting is extremely successful, and can free you from the “good food, bad food” mindset.
You don’t need to make radical shifts in your diet, nor deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Just make sure you are within your macro counts for each day, and you’re good to go!
You'll Love Our Macro Solution Program
Step-by-step ebooks, or fully customized personal macros coaching. Now with complete vegan edition.
- Mifflin, M. D., St Jeor, S. T., Hill, L. A., Scott, B. J., Daugherty, S. A., & Koh, Y. O. (1990). A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 51 (2), 241-247. Link
- McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise physiology: nutrition, energy, and human performance. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Link
- Lemon, P. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1992). Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Journal of Applied Physiology, 73(2), 767-775. study abstract link
- Grundy, S. M. (1999). The optimal ratio of fat-to-carbohydrate in the diet. Annual review of nutrition, 19(1), 325-341. abstract