Counting Macros

TDEE and Macro Calculations for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

By Ted KallmyerUpdated May 23, 2023

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then counting macros is an effective way to maintain appropriate weight gain.

It’s even more helpful when attempting to lose weight post-pregnancy – healthily and sustainably.

However, you must pay special attention before jumping in.

What should my macros be when pregnant?

Weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, and increased calories are a necessity.

However, the “eating for two” mindset can sometimes lead to unhealthy and unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy.

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

When pregnant, you are eating to support a developing fetus.

What is appropriate weight gain during pregnancy?

According to the latest medical guidelines:

Should I measure calories while pregnant?

Pregnant women 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.

Example macro calculation for a pregnant woman

A 29-year-old woman weighs 150 pounds, is 5’4″ tall, and does light activity.

Using my calculator, we see that her maintenance calories and macros are:

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 1914 calories.

The calculator recommends the following macro split:

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

To account for her pregnancy, she would add calories:

  • 1st Trimester: 1914 calories (no extra calories required)
  • 2nd Trimester: 2214 calories (300 extra calories)
  • 3rd Trimester: 2314 calories (400 extra)

To calculate the macros for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, some math is required.

2nd Trimester additional 300 calories, split into macros.

  • 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

Final adjusted macros for 2nd trimester:

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

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How much protein is too much during pregnancy?

Different countries have different recommendations for protein intake during pregnancy.

The broad guidance is 10-35% of energy, with some countries suggesting 15–25% of energy.

The example above shows around 25.9% – however, our macro calculator has an option for more moderate protein amounts (which may be the best option)

How many carbs do I need while pregnant?

A low carbohydrate diet is not recommended during pregnancy – unless you are at risk of gestational diabetes.

The suggestions made by the calculator example above are appropriate.

If you fall into the obese category, you may want to lose fat while pregnant. 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.

They will understand your complete health profile and can give you the “all clear” before beginning this or any dietary regimen. They will monitor the weight gain of your baby and make sure you are on track for a healthy pregnancy.

What should my macros be when breastfeeding?

If you want to lose the weight gained during pregnancy, then counting macros is a great option.

It allows you to maintain a safe calorie deficit for fat loss while having the resources to produce a nutritious milk supply for the growing baby.

Step 1: Get your base calorie needs.

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.

Here’s an example using the macro calculator.

Let’s say a 29-year-old woman is 150 pounds and 5’4″ tall and does light activity. Set the calculator to a goal of lose weight. TDEE and macros are as follows:

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for weight loss: 1531 calories

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

Step 2: Adjust calories for breastfeeding

Add an additional 400 calories to the TDEE.

Breastfeeding Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 1931 calories

Step 3: Adjust macros for breastfeeding

To adjust 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 OK 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.

What food should I eat?

While macro tracking may give you the freedom to satisfy your 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 nutritious, whole foods.

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

See a comprehensive list of the best foods to choose for each macro.

Need some help?

If you need help, I can calculate everything for you as part of my comprehensive macros coaching package.

“Being a sleep deprived new mom with a 4 month old and working a full time job with back-to-back meetings, I did not think losing weight would be possible for me. Ted was very flexible and put together a plan for me that worked. My main concern was to not lose my milk production for my baby but also wanted to make sure I lost weight.

Not only did his nutrition plan work, but I lost 15 lbs total without being able to workout as much with my busy schedule!

I highly recommend working with Ted!” -Esther

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  • Anna

    I am 5’11, in my third trimester. I am 23 years old. I am 179lbs, gained 9lbs this pregnancy. I was currently losing weight when I became pregnant, lost about 25lbs. I am not exercising but in enough shape that I am able to go on a run while pregnant, for about five minutes. Take a minute break and continue on for the next 20-30 minutes intermittently. Based on my calculations my macros would be; carbs = 202g, protein = 148g, and fat 67g. However, what would be my macros and calories after calculating the proper nutritional recommendations for the third trimester? Thank you.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Anna, You’d want to add 300 calories daily for your third Trimester and divide them among carbs and fat. Your protein is already high enough at 148 grams. All the best for a healthy 3rd trimester and delivery.

  • Laura


    I am a new mother and have tracked macros before but its been awhile. I am trying to lose weight, more so fat than weight but am breastfeeding and dont know where or how to start figuring out my macros. I am 35 and weight 149 and am 5’3. Right now I am currently just doing very lighy activity which is just walking until cleared by OB to start exercising.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Laura, It can be confusing but I’m happy to do all the calculations for you as well as factor for your exercise when you get the all-clear. Here are my coaching options: Personalized Macros Coaching

  • Tanya

    Hello, I’m desperate to get my macros right. I’m 29 and weight 153. I’m 5’6 burn about 500 of active calories per day. I have a two month old who is breastfed. I want to lose weight but when I tried my supply would drop. I can’t seem to get it right.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Tanya, It seems like you should have things calculated by an expert such as myself. You can choose the custom macros option or coaching options depending on how much ongoing support you feel you need. Most women make the mistake of cutting too severely. Personal Coaching Advanced

  • Elham

    I’m just wondering how many calories should I add if I’m breastfeeding a 15 month old toddler! 200 or 300 calories!
    My daughter still wake up at night 2-3 times and breastfeed many times during the day

    My goal is maintenance lose fat& build muscle

    Also my bfp is 31% should i use the normal or lean mass option
    I used the lean mass and here is my calculations correct me if i’m wrong
    W48kg H 154cm
    Maintenance 1682+200 for breastfeeding
    C 44.9% 22.45+189= 211.45
    F 30% 6.67+56=62.67

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Elham, Use the regular formula. add 200 and monitor your supply add more if you see any changes. If you want to lose fat you will have to be in a calorie deficit.

  • Melissa

    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.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      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

  • Kendra

    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.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      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.

  • Esmeralda Velazquez

    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

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

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

  • Amy

    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.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      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.

  • Amanda FungKeeFung

    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)

      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.

  • Crystal

    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)

      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.

  • Megan

    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)

      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:

  • Viktoriya

    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)

      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


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