Crossfit, Operation Get the Fat off of my Body

How To Calculate Your Macros for Beginners

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Hey there! This is part two of I’m not exactly sure how many posts regarding If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). In my first post found here, I gave a little bit of an introduction to IIFYM and what exactly this diet entails. Check that out if you are brand spanking new to this entire process!

Today I’m going to go through how to calculate your macros. If you ask certain people, this process is top secret to them. They do not want to share this information with anyone without making money off of it. In my mind, that’s bologna. This information can be found all over the internet, in small morsels, from multiple different people.

No one should ever have to pay for nutrition or health advice found on the internet when just starting out.  This post is just what I have figured out on my own, through my own learning, experience, reading and research and is a general way to calculate.

In all honesty, there is no specific 100% perfect macro calculation/calculator out there. A lot of this stuff is trial and error, and tweaking your macros to see what works for YOUR body. This is a general compilation of many things I have read, researched, and learned from personal experience.

This is a basic method for calculating out your macros. Like I said before, this is not a perfect science. My macros will not work for you, and your macros may not be appropriate for me. Again; these are guidelines and not to be taken as an any type of diet program suitable for everyone. Please consult a physician before starting any type of diet if you are concerned or have questions. Anyone with the Google search engine and enough determination can find this information online and there are even calculators that do this for you, albeit some highly overestimate macro numbers. Everyone calculates their macros differently, and everyone prefers to use different ranges for each of the macros, but this is what has worked for me and what I continue to use each day with the help of my coaches as well as trial and error.

Calculating Macros:

The first step in calculating your macros is first to calculate your calorie goal. Like I said before, when trying to lose weight the amount of food that goes into your body MUST BE LESS than the amount of energy going out.

First you must calculate out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This takes into account your level of activity through work and exercise and also factors in your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the amount of calories you burn just living (eating, breathing, sleeping, etc.)

The easiest way to determine TDEE or your daily calories to maintain your current weight is to take your current weight x 11-14 depending on your activity level.

11 is someone who is less active, with a sedentary job, and whose workouts are not as intense

14 is obviously someone with a very active job, or someone who trains very heavy and intense

**Please be honest with yourself when choosing a number. The difference between a 13 and a 14 is not that great, but be honest about how active you really are.**

For example; a 150 lb female who does crossfit approximately 1 hour a day with intense and heavy lifting…

150 lbs x 13 = 1950 calories

That is 1950 calories to maintain her weight.

To cut weight or to lose weight, we simply subtract calories from that number. The goal with a cut and flexible dieting is to eat as much as possible while still being able to lose weight. That being said, you don’t want to start your cut at 1300 calories, and then have no where to cut calories from when you plateau. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut at 1700 calories and slowly decrease from there if you need to?!

Now too drastic of a cut in calories will leave you starving and more likely to fall off of the program. 1 lb equals 3500 calories. To lose 1 lb a week, you would need to cut 500 calories per day from the above number, or add in some extra cardio on top of your current exercise routine. Personally, I would like to eat more and just do some extra working out.

Also, when figuring out what number to cut to, you should not be cutting more than 1 lb per week. SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE FAT LOSS RACE. If you lose more than 0.5-1 lbs per week, you risk losing muscle rather than fat. It may take you longer, but in the long run it will be worth it as your body composition will change.

So let’s say for example that we cut 250-300 calories per day, and add two sessions of HIIT each week. That will bring us to 2250 calories cut for the week. Not exactly one pound, but more than half a pound each week. This also leave the individual with a large amount of calories to work with and slowly cut from in the future when they hit a plateau.

So our final cutting amount of calories is 1700 with two sessions of HIIT each week.

Next step is figuring out the individual macro groups!

Protein:

Protein is the one true macro that will stay consistent. When cutting, always calculate protein first. I personally go by the rule of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Some people say this is too much protein, but I have never experience any ill effects from this or had any real problem reaching this goal. Never decrease or increase your protein past the 1 gram/1 lb of body weight, unless you lose a significant amount of weight (greater than 5 lbs) and recalculate your macros as a whole.

So, for our 150 lb female:
1 gram protein/1 lb of body weight = 150 grams of protein
Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, 150 grams of protein = 600 calories

So 600 calories from her total will be devoted solely to protein.

Carbohydrate:

Please, please, please! Do not fear the carbohydrates. They are your friends! I promise! They will make your life and your cut manageable, and are one of the easiest things to cut.

For carbohydrates, I follow a rule of 1.0-1.3 grams per body weight. Again, this works for me and you can be pretty flexible with this depending on whether you prefer fats or carbs. So for our 150 lb female:

150 lbs x 1.1 = 165
150 lbs x 1.2 = 180

I pick a happy medium, and split the different and for this person would say around 170-175 grams of carbs. Since 1 gram of carb = 4 calories, 175 grams of carbs = 700 calories

Fats:

Fats might be the easiest of them all to calculate out! Basically you use what is left over calorie wise from your protein and carb ratio and are left with your fats.

Protein: 150 grams or 600 calories
Carbs: 175 grams or 700 calories
600+700=1300 calories
1700 (our cutting number) – 1300 calories (protein and carbs) = 400 calories

There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. So to get our fat in grams we simply divide 400 by 9.
400/9 = 44.4 or 45 grams of fat.

So for our final calculations:
Calories: 1700
Protein: 150 grams
Carbs: 175 grams
Fats: 45 grams
With 2, 12 minute sessions of HIIT each week

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Now keep in mind, that these calculations are rough estimates and will not work perfectly for everyone. Some people prefer more fats to carbs and that is fine! If you like more fats then simply decrease your carbohydrate macros and add to your fats based on calories.

I would recommend calculating your macros and sticking to them for at least 2 weeks. Hit them consistently and then see whether you’ve maintained, lost, or gained. Now you have to be accountable and faithful when tracking, which will be the next addition to this series; how to track your macros. As a little suggestion, My Fitness Pal is my recommendation.

And trust me; you will not see any results if you do not track and do not hit your numbers accordingly. You can’t say “it isn’t working” if you are being accountable and reliable with your tracking.

– – – – –

I hope this was informative, but yet simple enough to understand. I am no expert, but I am becoming more comfortable with this whole process.

Yes, yes you can! Happy tracking!

15 thoughts on “How To Calculate Your Macros for Beginners”

  1. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong in my calculations. When I get to fats I only have 134 cal or less calories (14 grams of fat) left. I’ve done it 3x with different cal reductions and it’s not coming our right-or maybe it is, I’m new to this! Can you help?

  2. How do I not fear eating too much? Once I calculated my macros, it seems like I should eat much more than I have. Initially, I feel really bloated and constipated (I know, TMI but really!!!).

    I’ve been doing it for a few days now and the scale keeps creeping up as well (not supposed to care but it is scary!).

    Thanks for your input.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this information! I have been exercising 6 days a week for this past month and counting calories/trying to follow the 21 day fix meal plan some and the scale isn’t budging. So I thought I would try this method. This information was so helpful and I could understand how to get started!

  4. Does height not matter in calculations? When I used the online calculators they all asked my height. I weigh 143lbs, 5’8 , CrossFit 6 days a week (strength & programmed WOD) plus ~ 1 hour of accessory work per day (bench, curls, banded pulls etc). During the day I don’t move much, desk job with little activity. So I am confused what number to pick as my “activity level” because I am so sedentary during the day do I use 11-12 or because I add in accessory work + CrossFit do I use 13-14!?
    Anyone that could offer insight I’d really appreciate it! I’ve been counting my macros based on an online calculator for 8 weeks and I have seen some results but I think I really need to dial in my numbers.

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