What Should Your Macros Be?
This macronutrient calculator, or macro calculator for short, is a comprehensive tool that can serve as your personal diet companion. After providing a few basic pieces of information such as current level of exercise or target weight, you will receive a detailed, week-by-week diet plan based on your macros intake. Additionally, you can scroll down for some tips on how to calculate macros or what is the optimal calorie deficit for a safe weight loss. We will also elaborate on the pros and cons of the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet.
Remember that no online tool can replace a personalized consultation with a professional dietitian. If you’re planning on losing or gaining a lot of weight, make sure to schedule an appointment with an expert before you attempt a drastic change in your eating habits!
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients are food components that we need to take in on a daily basis to ensure our organisms are working properly. Some macronutrients provide energy in the form of calories, while other ones, such as water or fiber, are required for different reasons – for example, to facilitate the functioning of the digestive system.
If you’re interested in macros for weight loss or weight gain, you will be focusing primarily on the three types that produce energy. These are:
- Proteins: these macros build our muscles, but also play a key role in regulating our metabolism and hormones. Some proteins are essential for the immune system, too. You can find them in meat, fish, and dairy products, but also in vegan foods such as nuts or beans.
- Carbohydrates: the main reason we need to consume carbohydrates is to provide energy to our bodies. Simple carbohydrates, such as white bread or white sugar, will give you a short-term energy boost, but you will soon need to eat more. Your body needs more time to digest complex carbohydrates, such as fruits or vegetables, what means they will fill you up for a bit longer.
- Fats: this third type of macros is by far the most efficient: while 1 gram of proteins or carbohydrates is equivalent to only 4 calories, 1 gram of fats contains 9 kcal. This is why fats serve as an energy reserve – if you cannot provide your body with as many calories as it needs, your fat tissue will begin to break up to supply additional energy. You can find fats in products such as oil, nuts, avocados, but also pizzas or chips.
What should my macros be?
If you’re trying to estimate the daily intake of each macronutrient, you need to take a few aspects into consideration. The first one is your required calorie intake. This value is different for each individual, as it is based on factors such as your age, sex, weight or activity level. Additionally, you need to adjust this value basing on the target weight – intuitively, you will need to eat more if you want to gain weight, and less in a case of planned weight loss.
Once you know the total number of calories you should consume each day, you can calculate how many of them should come from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. You can use the following rules of thumb:
- 10-15% of all calories should come from proteins. A second recommendation, issued by the Food and Nutrition Council of the National Research Council, suggests to consume approximately 0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
- 50-70% of all calories should come from carbohydrates. Our macro calculator uses 60% as a recommendation. Additionally, you should limit simple sugars (such as sweets or white bread) to maximally 10% of your diet.
- 20-35% of all calories should come from fats. In the case of this macronutrient, though, it is essential to monitor the type of fats you consume as well. In general, you should minimize the amount of saturated fats (e.g. butter or cream) and trans fats (e.g. margarine), and substitute them with healthier unsaturated fats coming from sources such as nuts or avocados.
These numbers give you a good starting point in planning out your own diet, but make sure to distribute them between meals in a sensible way, too!