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

• 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.

## 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

• 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

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

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, is an expert macros coach, and the author of The Macro Solution. If you need personal help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see his nutrition & macros coaching options. Follow Ted on Instagram
Last Updated: January 25, 2021

1. Amanda FungKeeFung 6 months ago

Hi, I’m looking for some advice on what my macros should be while breastfeeding. I started off pre pregnancy as 160lbs size 8-10 and I’m 34. I’m 37 weeks pregnant and gained 35lbs. I feel just massive and I’m hoping to get back down to pregnancy weight in a healthy way while breastfeeding and keeping my milk supply. Any advice on what my carbs, protein and fat should be? Thanks so much for your time and hopefully you can help.

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 6 months ago

Hi Amanda, You can use the recommendations here along with my macro calculator. Since you have some weight to lose set your protein to moderate and use the lower 400 calorie recommendation for breastfeeding. If you need more precise calculations consider my coaching options.

2. Crystal 9 months ago

Question:
When I input the numbers from the example the percentages are different from the example. It shows 37.7% C, 32.3% P, and 30% F.
Now I’m no stickler by any means lol but I’m trying to figure out the right numbers since I’m a breastfeeding mom.
So should I go with the calculator (and obviously my own numbers!) Or use the percentages 36/39/25 as a guideline?

I totally got the calories and the additional needed to maintain supply. Just confused on what the right macro percentages are.
Hope you can help!

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 9 months ago

Hi Crystal, Go with 30% fat, especially since you’re breastfeeding. 25% is still within range but in my many years of experience coaching people, 25% makes it more difficult to keep from exceeding your fat target when trying to dial in your protein and carbs, while 30% gives you more leeway.

3. Megan 9 months ago

I’m concerned for women who read this article, and steongly advise all readers to check with their doctor to confirm what I’m about to comment: Weight loss is not appropriate for a pregnant woman. The additional calories that are needed to support a growing fetus represent a neccessary SURPLUS above the normal maintainance macros would be if not pregnant. Just look at this logic: You can’t be in a DEFICIT (for what is needed for maintenance + growing fetus) and still achieve a SURPLUS. They are opposing terms. Pregnant = growing fetus = surplus required.

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 9 months ago

Hi Megan, I don’t think you actually read the article. 1. I state this: “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.” 2. For women who are overweight or obese prior to getting preagnant it is recommended that the weight gain from the pregnancy be minimal to avoid complications. Therefore a slight calorie deficit is needed after calculating extra energy in the 2nd and 3rd trimester needed for baby development. The “surplus” would come from the woman’s fat reserves instead of the diet. Here’s a well-researched article from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/how-to-lose-weight-safely

4. Viktoriya 11 months ago

Hi there! I am currently 3 mo postpartum with my third baby , exclusively breastfeeding. Hoping to get a correct answer from you as to How much of macros would I need to safely breastfeed and lose weight?
I am needing to lose 15lbs to get back to pre-baby weight. I am 5’1 , 142lbs and will be working out consistently 5x week doing strength and cardio and which will result in 300 cal Burned. Thank you!!!

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 11 months ago

Hi Viktoriya, Congrats on your newest child!. The article above explains how to do the calculations in conjunction my macro calculator. But, if you want me to calculate everything for you, that would be available as one of the services I offer here: Personalized Macros Coaching

5. Alexis Jenkins

Hey I’m 9months PP and still breastfeeding. Before I got pregnant I was 145lbs— didn’t gain a lot until the end but 181 the day I had my son. I was about 160 when I left the hospital. And 150 by 12 weeks postpartum. I have gained all the weight back since quarantine. I’m back at 160.
I’m in the army and we do physical training MWF. Before I would always shed weight quickly from running but I haven’t lost anything since returning to normal PT with the army August 19th.
I don’t eat out much. Lately, I know I don’t drink enough water. I don’t eat fatty foods very much and eat vegetables daily. I don’t know where to start but I have to lose this weight. Please help. Thank you.

• Alexis Jenkins

By the way I am 20 years old.
5’2” 160.3lbs

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Alexis, It sounds like its a matter of understanding how much total food you should be consuming based on your stats, goals, and breastfeeding and then tracking your intake to make sure you’re staying in the limits. I’m happy to get all of this calculated for you and get you moving towards your goals. Personalized Macros Coaching

6. Teena princia cardoza

Hello, I’m 31 years old with 5’3 height 52 weight according to this my BMR is 1200 cal and TDEE is 1864 cal . I’m a breastfeeding mother of 5 months old and i workout five days a week . Can anyone guide me in what ratio I should consume protein , carbs and fat to loose body fat?
Note: I do yoga and some resistance training at home for 40-50 min

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Teena, You want to deduct 20% from your TDEE and then add in 400 calories for breastfeeding. Shoot for 30% fat at least .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight and the rest carbs.

7. Marianne

Hello. I’ve had success losing weight before with counting macros, but this time I am breastfeeding my 2 month old full time, so I want to figure out how to add more numbers so I can lose weight without losing supply. My old coach just said it’s usually 300-400 calories added to my old calorie total, and the majority for macros should be carbs. What are your thoughts? My previous numbers were:

Calories: 1896
Carbs: 170
Fats: 53
Protein: 185

For reference, I am 31 yrs old, 6ft1, 225 lbs and lightly active.

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Marianne, Start with 400 added in. Divide them among your macros at the same percentages, but your protein seems a bit higher than needed. Perhaps set that to 30%. I’d love to look at all factors and make sure your deficit is calculated properly. If your interested consider one of the options on my coaching page. Personalized Macros Coaching

8. Vee

I’m breastfeeding my 2 year old son. I’ve searched the internet and have found nothing for someone who is breastfeeding a toddler. Ive heard that 50g of carbs is what you should do if you’re nursing.

I’m 5 ft tall, 112 lbs, about 25 to 28% body fat and i’m 31 years old. My normal healthy weight is 100lbs, so i’m looking to lose 12 lbs. Anyway i’m not nursing as much as someone with a newborn would be so i’m wondering what my macros would be. Thanks!

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Vee, In your case, add back in just 200 calories for breastfeeding divided among your macro percentages.

9. Cay

Hi, I am exclusively breast feeding my 5 month old. I am on the heavier side so I only calculated based on 300 extra calories… the calculations I got are

1680 cals per day
84 carbs
209.5 protein
80.5 fat..

But that seems like a bit much . Does this sound correct ?

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Cay, Calorie wise it looks within range but I wouldn’t know for sure until I had a look at all your stats and lifestyle factors, but your protein is too high. Protein should be based on your lean mass rather than your total body weight. I would set it to lower protein. Breast milk is higher in carbs so you’ll need to have more carbs in your diet.

10. Jenny

Hi, I’m 9 months postpartum and still exclusively breastfeeding. I’m 5’8 and currently 97kg (not sure in lbs). I’m looking into loosing 20-25kg weight to get back to my goal weight (1 year before I got pregnant). Officially I lost my baby pounds 8 weeks after giving birth but now nothing is working (intermittent fasting, working out 4-5 days a week with hit and weight lifting,etc.) my body type is endomorph which makes it harder to lose weight. Is there something I have to be aware of calculating my macros?

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Jenny, You would probably benefit from a fat tissue adjustment since you have about 25kg to lose. Excess fat tissue can skew calculations and recommend that you eat more than you actually should be, especially if you’re also adding calories in for breastfeeding.

11. Alex

Hi! I’m currently exclusively breastfeeding.. im 140lbs and would like to be back at 125. I’m 4’11” and I work out maybe 3-4 times a week doing cardio and light weights. What would be macros be?

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Alex, Congrats on your new baby! Feel free to use the above info and our calculator to calculate things, but I’m also available to do this for you with one of my coaching options. Even just the custom macros would probably be sufficient. Personalized Macros Coaching

12. ARios

What weight to I input? My starting pregnancy weight? Should that number get me through all 9 months or should I adjust as I gain through pregnancy?

• Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

Hi Arios, That’s a bit tricky because it depends where you were starting at. Where you overweight before becoming pregnant, underweight before becoming pregnant or of normal weight?

13. Harmony

I’m 3 month postpartum and I weigh 200lbs at 5’3”. When I gave birth I was 205lbs, my peer pregnancy weight was 160lbs, but 3 months before I got pregnant I was at my goal weight of 130lbs which took me 2 years to get to from 205lbs. But I did the keto diet during that time and I feel I can’t do that now. So how should my macros be with an 1800 calorie day goal and I am pretty active working out 4-6 days a week?

• Harmony

Oh and I’m exclusively breastfeeding my baby. Hopefully for as long as I can.

• Ted Kallmyer (Macro Coach)

Hi Harmony, Congrats on your new baby. Your situation would take a little bit of customization since you’d have to account for some fat tissue weight since you have more than 50 pounds, also your exercise level, and then adding in the calories for breastfeeding. Therefore I’d have to dig into your lifestyle a bit to give you some expert calculations. If you’re interested in that here’s my coaching page: Personalized Macros Coaching I’d love to help you reach your goals!

14. Nicole

Hi Ted, would love some help! I’m currently exclusively breastfeeding my 5month old, 130 lbs 5f2. My goal weight is 115 lbs or to maintain the same weight but change the fat to muscle composition as I’m feeling very squishy.

I’m tracking macros at the moment and eating an average of 2300 calories with a goal of 35%c 35%f 30%p. (I know that’s a high number but I’ve always had a big appetite and I’m not gaining weight eating this much).
My issues are that:
– I’m still aaaaaalways hungry, and instead of craving whole foods I’m craving sugar. I’m hesitant to try and cut calories.
– I’m struggling to hit my protieb goal and using end up closer to 20-25%… and making up the rest with carbs/fats. Is my protieb goal too high?

• Ted Kallmyer (Macro Coach)

Hi Nicole, You will have to reduce your calories if you want to lose. Even factoring 500 for breastfeeding you are probably eating at maintenance levels at 2300.
Hunger doesn’t always mean you need to eat and hunger is a natural part of our energy cycle as humans. It is a modern luxury for people to feel no hunger and this is the reason Americans are so big. Reducing your calories will also help you be better able to hit 25% protein. If you want more help dialing things in, check out my coaching services. I’d love to help you reach your goals.

15. Emma Kerr

Hi Ted, I am exclusively breastfeeding my 4 month old twins (ie. not supplementing with formula). Do I double the calorie allowance for a singleton baby? TIA

• Ted Kallmyer (Macro Coach)

Hi Emma, Yes, but start with the lower end (400) or (800 for twins) and monitor your milk supply and then increase if necessary.

16. Miranda

It looks like the formulas in the breastfeeding calculation are wrong… shouldn’t it be:
Carbs (.36 x 400) / 4
Protein (.39 x 400) /4
Fats (.25 x 400) / 4

Accountant & breastfeeding mom here so want to make sure I’m understanding the formulas right. Thanks.

• Ted Kallmyer (Macro Coach)

Hi Miranda, Good catch! The math was correct but the numbers in the formula were wrong. Thanks for pointing that out.

17. Sukhi Kambo

I am vegetarian and am finding it really hard to get in all the protein I need. I am 20 weeks pregnant, 135 lbs, 5’3. Is it safe for me to consume the the vega sport protein supplement to my diet while pregnant?

• Sukhi Kambo

• Ted the Macro Coach

Hi Sukhi, You probably can get by with less protein. Most recommendations in the fitness world are a lot higher than you actually need. Here’s some articles to review: Top 20+ Protein Foods When Counting Macros and How To Count Macros as a Vegan or Vegetarian Most protein supplements are fine during pregnancy but it’s always a good idea to check with your OBGYN.

18. Shaina

Omg this is so dangerous! Pregnant women in the 2nd & 3rd trimester need to eat 300 cals on top of MAINTENANCE tdee, not weight loss. You’re seriously encouraging women to lose weight WHILE pregnant? Even obese women are expected to gain 10-15 lbs during a healthy pregnancy. Eating in a deficit during pregnancy is dangerous for woman and baby. There’s plenty of time to lose weight after baby is born. Shame on you.

• Ted the Macro Coach

This isn’t true. The latest research actually has shown that overweight pregnant woman can safely lose some body fat during pregnancy and obese women can have zero weight gain during pregnancy and still have a healthy pregnancy/baby. See here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070605185550.htm

19. Katie Clements

I could use some help – I’m new to nutrition coaching (certified through ISSA) and a client is currently breastfeeding and is 4 months postpartum. The last few weeks she’s cut calories and tracked food (I haven’t introduced macros to her yet, just trying to get healthy habits built first) … she hasn’t lost weight. I’m at a loss as to whether decrease the calories I’ve suggested for her or go ahead and introduce macros to her – but am unsure what ratio of carbs, fats, and protein to set her at. Help!

• Ted the Macro Coach

Hi Katie, Have you established what her estimated TDEE is minus 20% for weight loss? You have to do that first and then add in calories for breastfeeding. Also, if she has 50 pounds or more of fat tissue than you also have to adjust for that. I have a feeling your client is still eating too much.

• Katie Clements

Thanks Ted, each client is so different and she’s really a puzzle to me since she’s the first client I’ve had that is BF’ing. So her TDEE 2413 — you’re saying I need to subtract 20% then add in calories for BF?

• Ted the Macro Coach

If her TDEE is 2413 it sounds like she has more than 50 pounds of fat tissue which is skewing the calculation. Can you email me with her stats and we can continue this via email? ted@healthyeater.com

20. Sandra

Wondering if the protien is too high? After adding 300 for breeding I get 1668cals a day with 18% coming from carbs 52% for protien & 30% for fats so after doing the math that is
carbs:72g
protien: 215g
fat:56g

The protien seems pretty high?