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Calculating Macros: A Beginner’s Guide

24th March 2023

If you're into fitness, you've likely heard the term "macros" before. But what exactly are macros, and why are they important? Macros, short for macronutrients, are the three main nutrients that make up the food we eat: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Calculating macros is a way to ensure that you're getting the right balance of these nutrients to support your fitness goals, whether that's losing weight, building muscle, or simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


The optimal macro distribution for someone who's into fitness can vary depending on their individual goals, body type, and activity level. However, as a general rule of thumb, most fitness enthusiasts aim for the following macro distribution:

  • Carbohydrates: 40-60% of total daily calories
  • Protein: 20-40% of total daily calories
  • Fat: 20-30% of total daily calories

This macro distribution provides enough carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, enough protein to support muscle growth and repair, and enough healthy fats to promote overall health and satiety.

It's worth noting that some fitness enthusiasts prefer a higher protein intake, which can range from 30-50% of total daily calories. This can be especially beneficial for individuals looking to build muscle or lose fat, as protein is the most satiating macronutrient and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied while consuming fewer calories overall.


To calculate your macros, you'll need to determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is the number of calories you burn in a day. There are a few different methods for calculating your TDEE, but one of the most accurate ways is to use an online TDEE calculator that takes into account your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level.

Once you have your TDEE, you can use the following formula to calculate your macros:

  • Carbohydrates: Multiply your TDEE by your desired percentage of carbohydrate intake (e.g. 50%) and divide by 4 (since there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate).
  • Protein: Multiply your TDEE by your desired percentage of protein intake (e.g. 30%) and divide by 4 (since there are 4 calories per gram of protein).
  • Fat: Multiply your TDEE by your desired percentage of fat intake (e.g. 20%) and divide by 9 (since there are 9 calories per gram of fat).

For example, let's say your TDEE is 2,000 calories per day and you want to follow a macro distribution of 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fat. Here's how you would calculate your macros:

  • Carbohydrates: (2,000 x 0.50) / 4 = 250 grams of carbohydrates per day
  • Protein: (2,000 x 0.30) / 4 = 150 grams of protein per day
  • Fat: (2,000 x 0.20) / 9 = 44 grams of fat per day

So in this example, your daily macro breakdown would be 250 grams of carbohydrates, 150 grams of protein, and 44 grams of fat.

It's important to note that these numbers are just a starting point and may need to be adjusted based on your individual needs and goals. It's also important to focus on eating nutrient-dense, whole foods rather than simply hitting your macro targets with junk food or highly processed foods.

To avoid doing macro math, you can use a meal planner. For example, AutoMealPlanner makes it easy to generate a custom diet that fits your macros and foods preferences.

Create and customize a meal plan that fits your macros instantly