Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator

Calculate your optimal macronutrient ratios based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level. Use your results with macro counting, flexible dieting, or IIFYM to lose weight, maintain, or gain muscle.

Age

Gender

Current Weight

Height

Formula ?If you know your body fat %, Lean Mass formula may be more accurate.

Activity Level

Goals

Carbohydrate

Protein

Fat

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MEALS PER DAY

ADJUST PROTEIN

What Are Macros?

Each of the foods we eat are made up of three “macros” (macronutrients). These macros are carbohydrate (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.

This calculator tells you the best ratio of macros that you should eat to achieve your goals. From there, you need to determine the macros of all the foods you eat. By counting them each day, you can reach a target that leads to fat loss.

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 from your favorite foods. Just make sure you are within your macro counts for each day, and you’re good to go!

If you need help, we publish some extensive guides here.

Lose, Maintain, or Gain?

This macro calculator gives you the ability to adjust your macros at 4 different goal settings.

  • Lose puts you in a 20% calorie deficit which promotes safe, steady weight loss.
  • Lose 10% 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.
  • Maintain allows you to eat at macro levels that will keep you at your current weight.
  • Gain 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.

How Do You Calculate the Macros?

The following formula is used:

  1. Protein ratio is set at .825 grams per pound of bodyweight.
  2. Fats are set at 25% of daily energy expenditure.
  3. Carbohydrate grams come from the remainder.

Daily energy expenditure is calculated from your age, gender, height, weight, and exercise output.

See the full guide to macro ratios here.

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.

You can calculate your ideal body weight here.

Adjusting Protein

Setting protein to Low adjusts the ratio to .65 grams per pound of body weight. Higher will set to 1 gram / lb.

Higher protein levels may be helpful if you have a strength training component in your exercise routine. There are many differing opinions about this.

Try starting at the Normal level. If however you do a lot of lifting (3 times a week or more), then set to the High level.

Counting Macros per Meals per Day

By default, the results show the amount of grams of macronutrient should be eaten each day. Click on meal numbers to split this into a “per meal” basis for counting macros.

See our Healthy 5 Day Flexible Meal Plan. It includes 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.

Goals

By default, the results are for maintaining 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.

Activity Level

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.

Figure out your activity level using the Calories Burned Calculator.

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 an exercise database or a good app like MapMyFitness or a device like FitBit.

Too much physical activity combined with low calories could lead to muscle catabolism (breakdown of muscle fiber). This is not a good thing, and can actually stall your weight loss, so eat up!

If you need some inspiration, check out these incredible transformation stories of from people who used counting macros to reach their goals.

You'll Love Our Macro Solution Program

Step-by-step ebooks, or fully customized personal macros coaching. Now with complete vegan edition.

References

  • 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

1,528 Comments

  1. Shanny 2 months ago

    So what should my initial goal be if I am skinny fat (skinny arms and large layer of fat surrounding abdomen). I want to gain some lean muscle( increase size of arms, chest, etc) but also reduce fat around my abdomen. Should I look to lose 10%, cut or gain/bulk first for a skinny fat person aiming for a lean & shredded look

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Shanny, If you have less than 10 pounds to lose, you should go with “lose 10” and high protein in conjunction with a comprehensive weight lifting program.

      Reply
  2. Duan Strydom 2 months ago

    Hi James,

    I am unsure about the carbs. I want to cut a bit from 86 kg to about 80 kg in the next 2-3 weeks. The carbs seems a bit high at 249 grams? Then again, I don’t want to lose any muscle mass while cutting either so just want to confirm if I should stick to 249 g carbs and if so – what foods do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Duan, If you’re extremely active that level of carbs is what you want. Carbs do not make you can weight or keep you from losing weight when you are in a calorie deficit. You want most of your carbs to come from whole food sources like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

      Reply
  3. TJ 2 months ago

    Hi my name is TJ. I’m 62 years old 5’2”105 pounds and I’m looking to gain weight. I burn about 1100 cal a day. When I put all my information in the calculator and I chose “gain” it only said I needed to eat 793 cal. Currently I eat approximately 1000 cal a day and it’s still difficult for me to maintain or gain weight. So can you tell me why the calculator is only giving me 793 cal a day when I’m eating to gain weight not lose it?

    Reply
    • James 2 months ago

      TJ I input your stats, and with an activity level of Extreme, it shows 2394 calories/day.

      Reply
  4. Adrian Gheorghita 2 months ago

    Hello! My name is Adi , and I was wondering how can I get more carbs , what I need to eat?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  5. SONG 2 months ago

    Does the fat contain saturated fat?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Song, The fat macro includes all types of fats. It’s your “total fat” for the day.

      Reply
  6. Naina 2 months ago

    Hi Ted,

    I just wanted to shout out and thank you for all your advise in this macro journey. I’ve been seeing some great results with this diet and I finally seem to figure it out. I started my journey with 143lbs and have come down to 136lbs. I do see some muscle gains as well 💪 I can see results from everywhere except for my belly. Is there anything additional I can do to get rid of some belly fat? My goal isn’t to have a six packs abs but I just want to reduce some fat from my belly. My current macros are P123, C165, F55. I’m 5’3” and weighed 143lbs (when I’d started)
    Thanks you!!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Naina, Great job and thanks for taking the time to let us know. I’m so glad I was able to help. With belly fat, keep doing what you’re doing. Around the abdomen is usually the first place fat is stored and usually the last to go. You’ll want to readjust your macros when you get down to 133 lbs.

      Reply
      • Naina 2 months ago

        Aha! I’ll hang in there. Thank you again 🙂

        Reply
  7. Brieanna 3 months ago

    Should the carb grams I consume be net or total?

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      We normally advise counting total carbs (as it’s easier). This will also give you a small buffer on your carb count for the day (typically the easiest macro to overeat). For example, if you are aiming for 100g carbs a day – the actual amounts that you eat might be 90g digestible (net) carbs and 10g indigestible fiber. This means you have a small buffer of 10g if you overeat carbs (hope that makes sense).

      Reply
  8. Lucas 3 months ago

    Just wanted to shout out and say thank you! Three years ago I figured out the macro math on my own and tracked a routine in which I was training at the gym 6 days a week. I’ve always had a very lean body build, but wanted to pack on muscle for strength that made me feel accomished at the gym. I kept up with extreme training, six days a week up to two hours a day for three months. I gained 15 pounds of muscle allowing my power ratio to go from 1 to 1.75. I have struggled to figure out the math since then and loss weight due to work stress and poor eating. Now I have been craving a wicked training routine again. So thx for having this calculator it makes things a lot easier and will give me more motivation to gain that muscle back and maybe go beyond! Macros work, I wish more of my gym buddies could find this website : )

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      Happy to help. Please come back and let us know how you get on… we’re always trying to improve the calculator.

      Reply
  9. R 3 months ago

    New to this.
    Every factor I plug in never gives 100% nutritional value for each category.
    Even if trying to gain weight.
    Only hits at most 50% of recommendation for daily value.
    ?

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      Could you elaborate? I’m not sure I understand. What do you mean by category?

      Reply
  10. Jen Sturm 3 months ago

    Hello. I am a 50yo female. I started this plan 8 months ago. I followed the “lose” numbers and lost 25 pounds. I then reset my macros for “lose 10%”, and lost another 10 pounds. This put me at my goal weight of 135lbs. I set the macros to high protein throughout the program. Currently I am at approx 24% body fat, and weigh 135lbs, and I am 5′ 7″. I workout at CrossFit 3-4 days a week. I’m currently happy with the number on the scale. I would like to stay at this current weight but drop the body fat % and gain muscle mass. I’m not sure what I should set my macros for at this point. Also, as a nurse anesthetist, I work 24 hour shifts and I try to set my macros for “sedentary” on those days(even though I average 7-9K steps during a shift). On days I workout at CrossFit I set my macros for “light” activity. I’ve worked so hard to lose the 35 pounds, and I’m nervous to switch up my macros. How can I maintain this weight loss and add more muscle mass?? Thank you.

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      Hi Jen. I did reply to your comment on the other post https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting

      However you have more info here. Congrats again. What an outstanding achievement! I would suggest tweaking your macros to the “maintain” setting. Carry on with the “light activity” macros for your CF days, and sedentary for your other days. It is very challenging to lose fat at the same time as building muscle but it can be done. 24 hour shifts is challenging, as sleep is a very important factor when it comes to muscle building.

      Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      One more thing. You should probably now be using the “Lean Mass” formula above — where you input your body fat percentage.

      Reply
      • Jen Sturm 3 months ago

        Thanks so much! I couldn’t find my original post. Sorry. I will give the “maintain” setting a try for a few weeks and see what happens. I will also enter my body fat percentage, although it is an estimate from the scale I use to weigh myself. Thanks so much for the response, and the great calculators and information on your site. I truly feel I have changed my entire outlook on eating and nutrition!!

        Reply
    • Matt 3 months ago

      There are a few options, one of the most successful that bodybuilders use to drop body fat % whilst maintaining muscle is getting yourself into a caloric defecit (meaning your intake of calories is LESS than what you use). By doing so you need to up your protein intake so that muscle inst burned up in the search for energy.
      Personally i like to hit just under my required caloric intake for maintaining, then hit 300 cals of cardio. i also use a thermogenic fat burner and train whilst fasted to shred that fat quickly. it is important to maintain your lifting program to keep the muscles wanting to grow. a good starting point is 250 calories less than recommended for maintaining, this way you shouldnt feel too depleted.

      Reply
  11. Katie thorpe 3 months ago

    Hi
    I am a flight attendant and do a lot of long haul flights meaning I have to eat at strange times and I really struggle with meal prep. It’s not so bad for my first flight out but there are restrictions on what I can take into some destinations. I do Crossfit around 4 times a week and want to pair that with a good diet that I can maintain when I am away with work. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      Hi Katie, being a flight attendant would certainly present a lot of challenges. However I think a macros-based approach would work for you (obviously I’m biased as I’m one of the editors on this site).

      For you, rather than having each meal planned/prepared in advance, you would track your macros as you go (using a phone app). If possible you would bring with you some prepackaged snacks etc, to help you reach your macros toward the end of the day. We often find it’s easy to go over on carbs and fats, but not hit your protein goals. Please let us know if you have anymore questions.

      Reply
  12. Nay 3 months ago

    Hi Guys, i work and office job and do crossfit 3-4 times per week, i plan on using my fitnesspal and will turn excercise tracking OFF so i can eat the same macros each day while i’m starting out.
    What excersice level would this be? Light?
    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Hi Nay, Yes, if you are going to eat the same each day regardless of if you exercise of not then it would average out as light exercise.

      Reply
  13. Zoey Casselberry 4 months ago

    what are we supposed to do?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      You simply enter your stats above, select exercise level and your goal. It will calculate your TDEE and macros for you.

      Reply
  14. Jessica Silva 4 months ago

    Hi ! I’m new to this and I want to lose body fat. I was on low carb for 2 months and lost 5 pounds but I stopped losing weight now and my body fat it’s still high… I can’t go to the gym at the moment… I try to eat 800kcal/day and I’m scared of carbs and this calculator suggested a very high percent of carbs… I know that being sedentary makes it slower but I’ll have a hard time with the suggested 1217 kcal… it’s way more than I’m used to I’m scared of gaining weight if I do it 😔 (I also do intermittent fasting 18-24 hours every single day)

    Reply
    • Jessica Silva 4 months ago

      I forgot to mention I weight now 119 pounds and my goal is 98/99

      Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      Hi Jessica, Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it looks like you’ve slowed down your metabolism, thus resulting in your weight loss stall. Please read this article.

      Reply
      • Jessica Silva 4 months ago

        Thank you so much, it cleared a lot of things ! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat all of that but I’ll try… should I eat more proteins ? It’s hard for me to eat that but if it’s going to help me lose body fat I’ll do it

        Reply
        • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

          Glad to hear that. Try adding 100 extra calories every few days until you get to your recommended TDEE. This will help you not be overwhelmed. You should consume 80-100 g of protein a day.

          Reply
  15. Haley 4 months ago

    Recently I’ve been dieting to lose weight as I weighed 199 pounds and was very unhappy with myself and my body. I am now around 154 and have lost 46 pounds 🙂 although I’ve been struggling after a recent move with my father, we eat out a lot, fast food, restaurants, etc and I’ve found my self developing disordered eating habits such as not eating all day to make up for that dinner meal, I know it’s not good but I’m afraid if I eat through out the day I will gradually gain all the weight I’ve tried so hard to lose back. I don’t want to be a burden on my parents and I enjoy these meals and I opt for the healthier choice whenever I have them. Please tell me what I should do, I’m 15

    Reply
    • Mel 4 months ago

      Hi Haley
      Have you ever thought about doing mealprep for the whole weak? It takes only a fewh hours ( most of the time up to 2 hours). So you can take them everywhere with you.

      Reply
  16. Kristin 4 months ago

    I’ve been under eating with as little carbs as possible for about 3 years and have lost a decent amount of weight . However now it seems I only lose if I practically eat nothing. So, I’ve been counting macros and calories and been eating the recommended amount to lose and instead I’ve only gained a few lbs (been doing it 2 weeks ). I feel like my body is freaking out with all the new carbs And calories it’s getting but I’m freaking out because I’m not at all losing , I’m gaining . Just side note – I do crossfit and Zumba And have since the beginning of my weight loss, I’m only trying macros now because my coach insists I’m ruining my metabolism. I am getting stronger in our workouts but I’m also getting FAT, not just in the scale , I can see it in my clothes that are getting tighter . Anyway my question is – how common is it to first gain weight in a situation like mine before losing ? And how long will it take to start going back down ? I’m getting to a point that I want to diet again because I’m terrified of continuing to gain And getting to far that I’ll never lose it again.

    Reply
    • James 4 months ago

      Hi Kristin. Your story is (unfortunately) all too common. Your coach is probably correct – constantly undereating has lead to your body having a reduced metabolism. Our coach Ted has worked with many clients like yourself, and often finds that after a period of time, things can start to get better. Also the combination of going from very low carb, back to moderate carb may lead to increased muscle glycogen, and your muscles storing more fluid.

      You are doing the right thing. Just this week a new large meta-analysis of low-carb diets has shown that low-carb high animal protein diets lead to an earlier death, and that moderate carbohydrate (what we advocate with a macros approach) is the best for the health (see source).

      Reply
  17. dan alex 4 months ago

    i’m well below the threshold the calculator says i should be in for losing fat with my diet, which is clean, with 5-7 rather heavy training sessions/week + cardio. Still getting fat.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      Hi Dan, Usually in that case, you are overestimating how many calories you are burning during your workouts or you have a slow metabolism which can result from heavy workouts coupled with a long period of too strict of a calorie deficit. Not sure which applies to your situation. How much are you eating and how long has that been the case? There can also be medical issues that cause this but this is rarer.

      Reply
  18. Ernie 4 months ago

    Hi Ted,
    I am 5foot 10 and weigh usually between 175 and 178 on any given day. I due a combination of resistance training and crossfit..But i find it really hard to see much gains i have notice a slighltly better physique but just not quite the gains i want…What would be the macro ratio you would recommend. I am hard gainer as well so …Currently eating around 40g fat/ 150-160g Protein/ 250-300 carbs daily…

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      Hi Ernie, Thanks for stopping by. I can’t give you specific macro guidance without you signing up for macros coaching but it does look like you could eat more fat and a little more protein with fewer carbs. But, as part of macros coaching I would look at many factors and come up with a plan that’s tailored for you.

      Reply
  19. James Jepson 4 months ago

    How often should i recalculate macros using the calculator for weight loss ?

    Thanks in advance James

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      You should recalculate after every 10 pounds. All the best!

      Reply
  20. Sarah 4 months ago

    Hello, i am 5ft5 female who weighs 69kg. I find it really difficult to plan my meals around my macros. can you suggest anything?

    Reply
    • James 4 months ago

      Sarah, there are lots of helpful resources on this site. There’s some example meal plans here. Also with the Macro Solution premium, there is a load of meal plans for different macros.

      If you are tracking your macros as you go, you will be able to get a sense of what sort meals are going to hit your targes.

      Reply