How Do I Calculate Macros?
Written by Kim McLaughlin
If you’re ready to start tracking your food or you’ve been tracking for a while and haven’t seen the results you were hoping for, this post is for you.
Just a word of warning – when calculating macros, it can be very individualized to each person and, while there are guidelines for where/how to start, those guidelines are mainly based on an avatar.
Here’s the bad news: that avatar may or may not be you. While this type of nutrition protocol can start out with a simple math problem to figure out “your numbers” it never accounts for the whole picture.
Regardless, many people are just looking for a starting point so…. here it is!
Starting point to calculate macros
A simple Google search will bring up a huge number of options for how you can calculate your macros. Some of these are calculators that you can just input information and it spits back numbers and some of these are actual equations, so you have to do a little work on your part to figure out where you land.
Good news: there is probably merit and something special about each one.
Bad news: If you put your information into each calculator or equation, they would most likely all spit out completely different numbers to work with. Hence the question: How do I calculate my Macros?
How do I calculate my macros?
My favorite equation to start with is one that is used and developed by M2 Performance Nutrition:
Total Calories = Desired/Competition Body Weight x Activity Multiplier
The activity multiplier is based on how much exercise you do and how many days a week you do that exercise:
0 hours = 10
1 hour = 12-13. 4 days a week
2-3 hours = 14-16 4-5 days a week
3-4 hours = 17-18 5 days a week
From there, you can calculate your protein based on 1g of protein per pound of desired body weight
Fat = anywhere from .4-.5 grams per pound of desired body weight to support hormone function
Carbs = what’s left after calculating protein and fat. The higher the exercise, the higher the carb intake needs to be
This is a good starting point.
Other factors in finding your macros
Using this formula you can start with a total calorie intake and then protein, fat and carb goals. BUT, while the exercise guideline is a good place to start, the amount and type of exercise you are doing is just one part of the equation.
It can be argued that a person’s non-exercise activities (NEAT) are a bigger indicator of actual caloric needs than the actual exercise being done throughout the day.
In addition to that, genetics, and the types of food you’re consuming and the cost of digesting those (fibers, proteins, fats, processed vs. non-processed, etc) also play a part.
So essentially, macros are a game of guess and check.
Try a set of macros for a month or more — once you see where you are trending toward your goals, adjust if it’s not in the direction you’d like to go.
The Invictus Nutrition program is for everyone – from the athlete who needs to figure out how to find an extra edge in their training to achieve their competitive goals, to the person who just wants to improve their body composition to be happier and healthier.