Counting your macros can be a great tool for flexible dieting, and it is relatively easy to do!

Macro stands for macronutrients, which are the nutrients that can be used as energy for the human body.

Our macronutrients will be the same as how many calories we take in through our diet. This includes carbs, protein, fats, and alcohol. They are going to be shown in percentages for the ideal.

These four macronutrients comprise all the energy our body accounts for and are the various components of our food products.

Tracking our macros is important for tracking a variety of diets or for certain goals like specific amounts of protein being taken in each day.

Our calculator will look at your total energy expenditure and break that down into the various percentages of macros that would help you achieve your goal of maintaining, gaining, or losing weight.

You can also customize your macronutrients if you are on a diet that desires to be high in something like fats, such as the keto diet.

With these percentages, the exact gram percentage will be looked at next. We will dive into how those are chosen later.

Use our calculator below by entering your age, sex, height, weight, goal, and physical activity level. Customize your percentages if you need to.

How Are The Calories Calculated?

Well, initially, this begins with the personal information that allows us to calculate the BMR with the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation.

This equation is as follows:

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  • For men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5 (kcal / day)
  • For women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) -161 (kcal / day)

From there, your total energy expenditure is then calculated based on your activity level. Each activity level is given a number as follows:

  • Sedentary = 1.2
  • Lightly active = 1.375
  • Moderately active = 1.550
  • Very active = 1.725
  • Extra active = 1.9

The product of the BMR, basal metabolic rate, and activity level number results in your total daily energy expenditure which will either stay the same, reduced by 10 – 20%, or add 500 calories, depending on the goal you have set.

Once all of this is done, the macronutrients are split up into ideal rations based on nutrition experts’ recommendations for gaining muscle, losing weight healthily, and maintaining weight.

Here are those ideal macro ratios:

  • Weight loss: 40% carbs/40% protein/20% fat
  • Weight gain: 40% carbs/30% protein/30% fat
  • Weight maintenance: 40% carbs/30 %protein/30% fat

But, keep in mind that you can change these percentages to suit a diet better you may have in mind, like the popular keto diet or low carb diet, and using more fat than these recommendations.

From here, we calculate the macros based on their percentage of your total daily energy expenditure, your set goal, and the number of calories per gram of each macronutrient.

1 gram of protein is equivalent to 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrates is equivalent to 4 calories

1 gram of fats is equivalent to 9 calories

And alcohol is not included, but 1 gram of alcohol is equivalent to 7 calories.

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Do I Need To Track My Macros?

Counting macros is useful, but perhaps not for everyone.

Many fitness enthusiasts set physique goals that get very specific and will require a close watch on their nutrition, which a macro calculator helps with.

Suppose you are looking to maximize the ability for fat loss. In that case, the ability to gain muscle, or maintain your current body composition, then counting daily macros can be very useful.

Many people count specific macros only, such as those trying to maintain max lean body mass and tracking just the grams of protein intake in a meal plan.

Tracking macros is just the tracking of all three main forms of energy.

For general health purposes, tracking your calorie intake alone and not worrying about macronutrient ratios could be easier and more effective.

But, for those looking for more specific control over their body weight and where the daily calories come from, a macronutrient calculator and tracking plan can help significantly.

It can be a good idea to have some health apps help track food items, as these macronutrients are more challenging to track than just tracking overall calories.

How Good Is A Flexible Diet Approach?

Long-term success in a nutrition plan has been researched for a long time, and it has been found that just aiming to minimize carbs or fat in the diet is less effective than a flexible dieting plan.

This does not mean that the macro approach is always the better choice, just that it may succeed more on average than other dieting plans.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this style of nutrition planning.

Pros for focusing on macros:

  • These are easily customized for your athletic and fitness goals
  • These help to objectively compare each food item and meal
  • The quality of food is more adequately assessed here
  • It fights any temptation to cut the amount of energy in your diet plan
  • It can allow for flexibility based on your taste and desire to indulge.

Cons for focusing on macros:

  • It can confuse people that are new to dieting and nutrition.
  • It requires closer attention to weighing and portioning meals.
  • The micronutrients are not considered outright so that they may need an additional plan.
  • These plans may undervalue the quality of a protein, the importance of fiber, and the presence of micronutrient-rich veggies
  • Food labels are not 100% correct.

Here are some ways we can make sure to get the most out of a macronutrient focused diet plan:

  1. Start out by building a diet plan around foods rich in nutrients; this way, you do not have to worry greatly about micronutrients. Also, leave some room for indulgences here.
  2. Make sure to work out while doing this type of diet plan. Even if you wish to lose weight, this can ensure you lose the right kind of weight.
  3. Do not pay attention to your scale, as it does not tell the whole story of body composition.
  4. Make sure to prioritize protein over the other macronutrients first, as this is the most important of all macronutrients. You may be able to skimp on the other two, but protein is key.

How Can I Calculate My Macros In Meals?

All you need to do is pay close attention to the food labels and use a scale to portion out these meals properly.

You should become well-versed in using a food scale and calculating calories and macronutrients for your portions based on the serving sizes shown on nutrition labels.

They are accurate enough to follow pretty well. Also, make sure that you have some of the basic foods you eat in your mind for easy calculation.

If you have a lot of chicken, it could be a good idea to remember how much protein is in particular serving sizes. You may even be able to eyeball the amount later on.

We hope that this article and calculator have been able to help you with your fitness and health goals!

Make sure to check out our other health calculators here on PTPioneer!

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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