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.

Pregnancy and Determining Macros

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.

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 our calculator we see that to lose weight her TDEE and macros are as follows:

Weight Loss TDEE: 1531 calories

  • Carbs: 163 grams (43%)
  • Protein: 124 grams (32%)
  • Fat: 43 grams (25%)

If this same woman is pregnant, she would have to add 300 calories to her TDEE to support weight loss while still providing enough energy for the growing fetus.

Pregnancy Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 1831 calories

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


The Math:

  • Carbs: 43% of 300 = (.43 x 300) / 4 = 32 grams
  • Protein: 32% of 300 = (.32 x 300) /4 = 24 grams
  • Fat: 25% of 300 = (.25 x 300) / 9 = 8 grams


Pregnancy adjusted weight loss macros:

  • Carbs: 185 grams
  • Protein: 148 grams
  • Fat: 51 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 300 calories at the percentages given and you’ll be all set.

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.
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Calculating Macros while Breastfeeding

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.

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 in conjunction with our 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: 137 grams (36%)
  • Protein: 150 grams (39%)
  • Fat: 43 grams (25%)

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: 36% of 400 = (.43 x 300) / 4 = 36 grams
  • Protein: 39% of 400 = (.32 x 300) /4 = 39 grams
  • Fat: 25% of 400 = (.25 x 300) / 9 = 11 grams

Breastfeeding adjusted weight loss macros:

  • Carbs: 173 grams
  • Protein: 189 grams
  • Fat: 54 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

You'll Love Our Macro Solution Program

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

    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.

42 Comments

  1. Adriana Rosado 1 week ago

    Hi,

    Question, at the moment I’m looking at this I am 23 weeks pregnant. Should I base calculation on current weight ( I’ve gained 15lbs so far) or make calculation with pre-pregnancy weight?
    I was overweight pre-pregnancy with a BMI of 26-27.

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 1 week ago

      Hi Adriana, I think you should do prepregnancy weight because at least half of the 15 pounds is probably fluid weight.

      Reply
  2. Jordan alford 1 month ago

    Good morning I was wondering if you are basing the calorie count off of a desired weight or actual weight. What I mean by that is if someone is obese would they want to base their calories off of their actual weight or where they want to be.

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 1 month ago

      Hi Jordan,

      In general, we use your actual weight. But if you have more than 50 pounds of fat tissue then additional calculations should be considered. It’s not as simple as just using your goal weight in the calculation and many things must be considered especially if you are pregnant or nursing. I would recommend having your macros calculated by a professional such as myself if this situation applies to you.

      Reply
  3. Michelle Bonner 1 month ago

    Help so confused. I got this carb manager app and set it to keto and the calculations are so different then what this says. I just want to make sure im doing this right as I am a breastfeeding mother and I have noticed a decrease in my milk supply since I started last week. The app was set at 5% net carb (21g), 25% protein (104g), and 70% fat (129g). But from my calculations, I should be doing 29% carbs 144g, 40% protein 197g, and 30% fat 65g. I am 190lbs 5ft 9in with not much exercise 36 yrs young. Please help I want this to work but need my milk flow to continue.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 1 month ago

      Hi Michelle,

      If you’re breastfeeding, you should not be doing keto but following a balanced set of macros. Breastmilk needs carbohydrates to properly form and your baby needs those carbs too. The app also is not giving you enough calories to produce high-quality breast milk. I would be happy to calculate everything for you and if this interests you, please see the options under our coaching services.

      Reply
  4. Whitney 2 months ago

    I noticed under the breastfeeding math portion it doesn’t seem right… I just want to clarify my steps:

    Find your TDEE, take the percentages given for your carbs/fats/protein and multiply each with 400 calories, then divide that by 4 and take the result and add it to your TDEE.

    Ex… carbs 178 – 41.3% : (400 x .41.3) / 4 = 41g so 41+178 =209?

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 2 months ago

      Hi Whitney, If you had 400 calories to divide by 40% carbs 30% protein and 30% fat the math would be as follow:

      (400x .4) = 160/4 = 40 g of carbs
      (400 x .3)= 120/4= 30 g of protein
      (400 x .3)= 120/9= 13 g of fat

      You would then add each of those numbers to your existing gram targets.

      Reply
  5. Rita 2 months ago

    Hi! I have read and heard that if you want to lose weight while nursing you should go off your maintenance macros and add between 200-300 cals to your TDEE if you’re past 3 months pp. But here it says to do it off your cutting macros plus the extra for nursing. For me that’s the difference between 2065 cals or 2265. How do I know which numbers to pick?!

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 2 months ago

      Hi Rita, Your body has to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Using the formula you mentioned you would only be in a slight deficit if any and any fat loss would be super slow. By establishing a 20% calorie deficit and then factoring in breastfeeding calories it will allow for a safe weight loss deficit while still providing enough energy to produce adequate breastmilk.

      Reply
  6. Lauren 3 months ago

    Hi, I have figured out my macros until I have to add the 400 calories for breast feeding and split them up. I’m stuck on the math above. Can you help me please? My percentages are carbs 32%, protein 43%, and fat 25%.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Hi Lauren, (400 x .32)/4= 32 grams carbs (400 x .43)/4= 43 grams carbs (400x .25)/9= 11 grams fat. I will advise that 43% protein is too much and not necessary. It seems like you should switch your protein and carbs. 32% protein and do 43% carbs.

      Reply
      • Lauren 3 months ago

        Thank you!!

        Reply
  7. Caty 4 months ago

    Is the 1g protein per pound of body weight for your goal body weight (goal weight 130lbs = 130 grams protein) or my current weight (160lbs = 160 grams of protien)?

    And then I know I add the additional 30% for nursing.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 months ago

      The one gram per pound setting is really only suitable for those doing intense weight training and it is based on a person’s current weight. You’ll be fine with default setting and then a little extra for breastfeeding.

      Reply
  8. Lindsay 5 months ago

    Hi there – I’m trying to figure out my cals and macro’s. I am breastfeeding my infant, weight approx 170 lbs, am trying to lose about 30 lbs. I weight train 3 days a week and do cardio 2-3 days a week. I eat about 1600-1700 cals a day with current macros of protein 30% carbs 40% fats 30%. What would you suggest for weight loss while still meeting nutritional needs to nurse my babe?

    Reply
  9. Susan 8 months ago

    Hi, just working out my macros for breastfeeding. If I use your calculator than it’s 1685 cal and I add 400 for breastfeeding. If I use your math above ie 39% of 400 for protein etc and add those numbers to the calculator results it has me as 211 grams of protein? That doesn’t seem right to me?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 8 months ago

      Hi Susan, Sorry the protein calculation can be confusing but it should be based on your body weight not a set percentage like 39%. So everyone would be different and what your goal is during pregnancy is also a factor. For women who exercise/strength train, they can eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and this will be adequate. Some women who exercise more intensely can add an additional 10-20 grams.

      Reply
  10. Maranda 8 months ago

    I’m terrible at math but I think I have it figured out if my in take is 1400 I should add 2-300 for breastfeeding, but I feel like the protein is too high right now it’s saying 135g add in the extra 30% it should be 142ish, is that correct or too high?
    I’m 5’2” 135lbs my goal is to loose 15lbs

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 8 months ago

      Hi Miranda, Keep your protein at 135 g and divide the extra calories between carbs and fat.

      Reply
  11. Tay 12 months ago

    Hello! I am currently pregnant so I am trying to figure out my macro’s. I am stuck on the “Pregnancy adjusted macros” how did you get from 32g of Carbs to 185g? What is the calculation there? I have been sitting here trying to figure out how to get to that number so I can accurately calculate my own.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 12 months ago

      Hi Tay, 32 grams is the amount of carbs from the extra 300 calories. This is then added to the woman’s base for a total daily carb amount of 185 grams.

      Reply
  12. Inga

    Hey there! Could i please get some help im trying to workout my macros and im so confused maths aint my thing lol. I just had my 2nd child 4 weeks ago im 25, currently 83kgs, 161cm and also breastfeeding.. ?? Thank You

    Reply
    • Inga

      Sorry forgot to add i would like to loose weight where my milk supply wont get affected and i also will be walking for 30mins 3 times a week as exercise…

      Reply
      • Ted Kallmyer

        Hi Inga, It can be a bit tricky getting your macros right for a woman breastfeeding. I would recommend that you have me do your macros for you. See my coaching options here.

        Reply
  13. Leonora

    Hey! I think I don’g get it… If I use the formula to lose weight and add 300cal, I end up with less calories than If I use the mantain weight formula… Is it right? I don’t want to lose any weight, I just want to keep it under control… Could you help me? I’m 63,3 kg and 166cm tall.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer

      Hi Leonora, If you don’t want to lose weight than you have to calculate your maintenance calories plus 300 for breastfeeding.

      Reply
      • Leonora

        Tks a lot! I’m facing weight loss already… But i love the ideia of macros!

        Reply
  14. Brittnye Schroeder

    My calorie goal to maintain my weight (112 lbs) is 1832 cals. If I add 200 calories for breastfeeding (only feeding 2-3 times a day) that equals 2032. When I do the macro count for that with 39% protein, that equals 198 grams of protein a day. This doesn’t seem healthy, I’ve read that women are only supposed to have 1 gram of protein per pound a day. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Brittnye, You aren’t calculating your protein correctly. On the calculator page, we tell you how protein is calculated and state that the high range is 1 gram per pound. so, your protein should be 112 g plus 30% of the extra 200 calories for breastfeeding. This makes your total 127 g.

      Reply
  15. Michelle Cunningham

    I’m currently 13 weeks 5 days pregnant. I’m confused by the macros because I’m bad at math. I currently weigh 155.9 pounds and I’m 5’5″. If I use the gain weight option there’s a 31 calorie difference. Should I use the macros for that one? My Fitness Pal will only let me do percentages unless I pay for premium. I started out at 130 pounds. How is it even possible to have gained this much ? I’m so embarrassed.

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Michelle, No, that wouldn’t work. You have to find your weight loss TDEE and then add 300 calories to that. Those 300 calories should be divided at the percentages given with the calculator. What happened to you is pretty common so don’t be embarrassed. You just have to realize that even though you’re pregnant, you aren’t really eating for two and still have to keep calories within reason. Wishing you all the best with your pregnancy.

      Reply
  16. Shayla Monée Brown

    I am 5 months pregnant on my 2nd child and have already gained significant weight. Should I start the flexible dieting using my current numbers or my pre-pregnancy weight? Would it be beneficial to get an accurate body fat test?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Shayla, You should use your current weight. I don’t think a body fat test would be relevant at this point. Once you deliver you can track that aspect.

      Reply
  17. Megan Carter

    I have a question concerning both breastfeeding and also being on the obese side. I calculated that I have 40% body fat and around 90 pounds of fat weight. So I calculated my lean weight and then added the 400 calories (for breastfeeding) and calculated my macros from there. My sedentary days would be around 1662 calories and my very active days would be around 2214. I was told to eat at least 2000 calories to maintain breastmilk supply and that’s with a sedentary lifestyle. So, I guess I’m asking if it seems like my calories would be low going off the lean body weight instead of my actual weight. I’m looking towards losing a lot of weight and felt like going with the lean body weight was the smart decision, but I also want to make sure my supply stays up and that I can breastfeed for a year. Thank you so much for the advice!

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Megan, You can’t use just lean body mass because your fat tissue does burn calories so you can’t ignore that completely. Fat tissue burns about 2 calories per pound per day so you should factor that in.

      Reply
      • Christina

        I am also breastfeeding but did not calculate the extra calories because of how little I always ate . That has always been my issue .. I would eat a salad with grilled chicken and maybe and egg or two and call it a day even while breastfeeding . Now I am forcing food down my throat so therefore didn’t calculate the extra calories because this is a huge jump in calories for me already and I am still trying to lose weight

        Reply
  18. Lee

    I’m confused as to how to work out my adjusted macros for breastfeeding….
    I used the calculator and came up with a daily calorie amount of 1331, with c 172g (51.6%), p 78g (23.4%) and f 37g (25%). How do I adjust for the extra 500 calories?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Lee, You’ll have to do the math. 1331+ 500 = 1831 then you have to calculate for each macro. This is described in detail here, including the math. https://healthyeater.com/how-to-calculate-your-macros

      Also, you should use the “high” protein setting if you’re breastfeeding.

      Reply