Counting Macros

TDEE and Macro Calculations for Pregnant or BreastFeeding Women

Many women who are pregnant or breastfeeding want to count macros as a way to keep pregnancy weight gain under control or as a way to lose baby weight after pregnancy.

Tracking macros (Flexible Dieting) is a great method for accomplishing either goal but some extra factors must be addressed before you jump straight in.

In this article, I’ll discuss how counting macros works for either pregnancy or breastfeeding as well as how to adjust your macros to accommodate that new life you are nurturing.

Calculating Macros for Pregnant Women

Everyone knows that weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy and increased calories are a necessity during pregnancy. However, many women may fall into an “I’m eating for two” mindset and literally give themselves the freedom to eat whatever and how much of whatever they want. This can lead to unhealthy and unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy.

This weight gain can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, and obesity after pregnancy.1

When a woman is pregnant, they are not actually “eating for two” but eating to support a developing fetus. Here’s a good look at what healthy pregnancy weight gain looks like.

Calorie Needs of Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant really only need to eat an additional 200-300 calories per day.1 More if you are underweight and less if you are already overweight.

So here’s how that works when calculating your macros.

Let’s say a 29-year-old woman weighs 150 pounds, is 5’4″ tall, and does light activity. Using my calculator we see that to maintain her weight her TDEE and macros are as follows:

Maintenance TDEE: 1914 calories

  • Carbs: 211 grams (44%)
  • Protein: 124 grams (26%)
  • Fat: 64 grams (30%)

If this same woman is pregnant, she would have to add calories to her TDEE to support enough energy for the growing fetus.

  1. 1st-Trimester Pregnancy Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 1914 calories (no extra calories required)
  2. 2nd-Trimester Pregnancy Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 2214 calories (300 extra calories)
  3. 3rd-Trimester Pregnancy Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 2314 calories (400 extra)

To calculate the macros, we ration them out at the percentages given:


2nd Trimester Math:

  • Carbs: 44% of 300 = (.44 x 300) / 4 = 33 grams
  • Protein: 26% of 300 = (.26 x 300) /4 = 19.5 grams
  • Fat: 30% of 300 = (.25 x 300) / 9 = 10 grams


Pregnancy adjusted weight loss macros:

  • Carbs: 244 grams
  • Protein: 143.5 grams
  • Fat: 74 grams

Some women who engage in more intense exercise may opt for extra protein etc. so whatever qualifiers you add to the calculator, just be sure to add an additional calories at the percentages given and you’ll be all set.

Some pregnant women who fall into the obese category may want to lose fat while pregnant thus keeping pregnancy weight gain to a minimum. This may help avoid the complications often associated with obesity and pregnancy.

I strongly advise you to check all of this over with your OBGYN before beginning as they will understand your complete health profile and will be able to give you the “all clear” before beginning this or any dietary regimen. They will also be able to monitor the weight gain of the fetus and make sure you are on track for a healthy pregnancy.

Please see our comprehensive guide to Macro Counting. It contains everything you need to know and do to be successful with tracking macros. Plus, meal plans, recipes, helpful hints, and much more.
DOWNLOAD NOW

Calculating Macros for Breastfeeding Women

Many women are looking for something to help them lose the baby weight that they have gained during pregnancy. Counting macros is great for this because it allows you to be at a safe calorie deficit for fat loss while still having the resources needed to produce nutritious and adequate milk for the growing baby.

Calorie Needs of Breastfeeding Women

Experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers consume 400-500 extra calories during the breastfeeding period.2 Some sources say as little as 300 extra, but if a woman is also trying to lose weight, 300 might not be enough to produce highly nutritious milk.

So here’s how tracking macros looks like in conjunction with my calculator.

Using our same example above, a 29-year-old woman is 150 pounds and 5’4″ tall and does light activity. Using our calculator we see that to lose weight her TDEE and macros are as follows:

The only difference from above is that experts recommend for breastfeeding mothers to consume more protein, so the protein level was set to high.3

Weight Loss TDEE: 1531 calories

  • Carbs: 144 grams (37.7%)
  • Protein: 124 grams (32.3%)
  • Fat: 51 grams (30%)

If this same woman is breastfeeding, she would have to add 400 calories to her TDEE to support weight loss while still providing enough energy for the growing baby.

Breastfeeding Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 1931 calories

To calculate the macros, we ration them out at the percentages given:


The Math:

  • Carbs: 37.7% of 400 = (.377 x 400) / 4 = 37.7 grams
  • Protein: 32.3% of 400 = (.323 x 400) /4 = 32.4 grams
  • Fat: 30% of 400 = (.30 x 400) / 9 = 13 grams

Breastfeeding adjusted weight loss macros:

  • Carbs: 181.7 grams
  • Protein: 156.4 grams
  • Fat: 64 grams

Some women with a lot of weight to lose may be fine with just adding 300 calories while others may have to add in 500. Always consult with your OBGYN or Pediatrician before beginning any diet while breastfeeding as they will be able to advise you based on your health and the health of your growing infant.

Some Diet Considerations

While macro tracking gives pregnant women the freedom to satisfy their ice cream cravings, I can’t stress enough the importance of following the 85% 15% healthy eating guideline.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, 85% of your diet should be comprised of nutritious, whole foods while 15% can be the treats, snacks, and processed foods you may be craving.

Aim for:

  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Whole grains

Here’s a great list of more in-depth suggestions for each of your macros.

Counting macros can be a great tool to use in order to have a healthy pregnancy as well as a way to lose your baby weight while still feeding a healthy baby. If you need extra help, we’ll calculate everything for you with our Macros Coaching Package

Accelerate Your Diet and Fitness Goals with My Macro Solution System

Step-by-step self-guided program -or- fully customized personal macros coaching. Feel exhilarated as you conquer your goals!

Macros for Fat Loss
Macros for Muscle Gain

    References:

  1. http://health.utah.gov/mihp/pregnancy/preged/duringpreg/Too_much_weight.htm
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breastfeeding-nutrition/art-20046912
  3. http://www.llli.org/nb/nbmarapr04p44.html
Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and is our lead macro coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see our personal coaching options.
Last Updated: January 25, 2021

103 Comments

  1. Melissa 2 weeks ago

    I am 9 months into breastfeeding. I am currently under weight by nearly 10 pounds. I have lost all my muscle in legs and booty. I aim to gain that back, but my daughter is still very dependent on my milk.
    37y/o, normally 134/136 pounds (since high school), active lifestyle, currently 127 pounds.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 1 week ago

      Hi Melissa, It seems like you need to add 10% to your base calculation + 500 for breastfeeding. I’m happy to do the calculations for you with my custom macros option here: Personalized Macros Coaching

      Reply
  2. Kendra 2 weeks ago

    Hi there!
    I’m 28, 155lbs 5’5” and still breast feeding my 12 month old daughter. I am walking 1-2 miles daily and am counting calories as I never knew about counting macros. I have only been doing this for 2 weeks but I often times don’t eat all of my calories. My fitness pal gives me 1500 calories. My baby is not dependent on my milk because she eats solids but I’m wondering how this all might be effecting my weight.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 2 weeks ago

      Hi Kendra, if you aren’t at full production then you probably only need about 200 extra calories for breastfeeding. You definitely want to factor for that and your exercise and then deduct 20% if you’re trying to lose weight. MFP doesn’t always take everything into account properly so usually it’s best to customize and not go by their suggestions.

      Reply
  3. Esmeralda Velazquez 1 month ago

    Hi I’m suffering from low milk supply causing me to eat lots of more carbs example lactation cookies. After birth I’ve gained 5 more lbs and not going down it’s been about 10 weeks since I had baby. I’m starting to exercise and do weight but I want to maintain or boost my supply. What do you recommend I’m 156lb 5ft

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 1 month ago

      H Esmeralda, Have you used the calculator and added in the calories recommended above?

      Reply
  4. Amy 1 month ago

    I was doing keto prior to pregnancy and was down to 197. I’m now in my second trimester and up to 221. Dr told me I need to slow down on the weight gain so I’m back to doing keto. Should I Calc my macros based on my weight before pregnancy and then add the additional 300 calories or should I enter my current weight and then add 300 calories to it? I’m not concerned with losing, I want to maintain from this point forward.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 1 month ago

      Hi Amy, since you’re overweight you’d want to use your pre-pregnancy weight. Also, you probably want to add just 200 calories for the 2nd trimester and then jump to 300 in your third trimester.

      Reply