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How to Use the Macro Calculator
To use our simple, free macro calculator, simply:
- enter your current body weight;
- enter your present body fat percentage;
- select your goal, whether it be ‘lose weight’, ‘maintenance’, or ‘gain muscle’;
- select your target deficit or surplus;
- use the slider to select your net carbs;
- use the protein slider to dial up your protein target.
You can use the pictures below to estimate your body fat percentage.
Enter your Macros in Cronometer
To do so, click on the energy, protein, net carbs, and fat bars. Enter each respectively as your daily targets.
Review and Update Your Macro Targets Weekly
Each week, you can review your progress in Cronometer by looking at the seven-day average under Trends -> Nutrition Report to see how closely you’re tracking against the targets.
You may not hit your target perfectly every day. That’s okay! It’s the weekly averages that matter.
- Unless you’re managing diabetes, your balance of fat and carbs won’t matter much so long as you’re meeting your protein target and keeping the protein bar longer than the energy bar.
- If your blood sugars are still rising by more than 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L after meals, you should pay particular attention to ensure you stay under your carbohydrate limit.
- If you are not losing or gaining weight, you can modify your target energy intake by 50 calories for the coming week. Any energy reduction will come from carbs and fats, while your protein intake should stay the same.
For more detailed instructions on using Cronometer to track your macros, see Cronometer: How To Optimise Your Macronutrients [Macros Masterclass FAQ #3].
What Is A Macronutrient Calculator?
A macronutrient calculator—or macro calculator—provides an estimate of your required calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates based on your weight, current body fat and goals. But if you’re new to the macros and are curious to learn more, keep reading below.
- How to Use the Macro Calculator
- Enter your Macros in Cronometer
- Review and Update Your Macro Targets Weekly
- What Is A Macronutrient Calculator?
- What Are Macronutrients?
- What are Micronutrients
- Why Do Macros Matter?
- You Need Enough, but Not Too Much Energy
- Enter Big Data
- Why Do Macros Matter?
- Why Should I Calculate My Macros?
- Are Macro Calculators Accurate?
- Does Counting Macros Help with Diabetes?
- Ideal Macros for Someone with Diabetes
- Why Excess Carbohydrates are Problematic
- Tracking Your Macros: The Other Side of The Calorie Fence
- What Should You Eat?
What Are Macronutrients?
The food you eat contains macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients provide energy:
- protein = 4 calories per gram,
- fat = 9 calories per gram, and
- carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram.
Note: Alcohol is not technically a macronutrient, but pure alcohol will provide 7 calories per gram.
Reducing the amount of energy input from your food enables the excess energy stored in your body to be used for fuel. Conversely, you require more energy from your diet if you want to gain weight.
What are Micronutrients
The food you eat also contains micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. While micronutrients do not provide energy, they are required to enable your body to effectively use the energy in your food.
To identify which micronutrients you may need more of and which foods and meals contain your priority micros, check out our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge.
Why Do Macros Matter?
Most ‘diets’ simplistically focus on restricting calories. However, while energy is always conserved, there is more to it than simply restricting your calories.
Different macronutrients impact satiety differently and whether you are satiated (or not) determines how much you eat (or don’t) over the long term.
Our satiety analysis has shown that focusing on protein while dialling back your intake from carbs and fat will help you feel fuller during a calorie deficit and use your stored body fat over the long term.
Prioritising foods and meals with a higher satiety value will make it easier for you to stick to your calorie budget.
For more information on the importance of getting adequate protein, see Protein for Weight Loss: How Much You Need and Why it Works.
You Need Enough, but Not Too Much Energy
You need enough energy for your body to survive and thrive. But today, with nearly unlimited access to cheap, tasty food, many people eat more than their bodies require and gain weight. But, at the same time, others consume too few calories to achieve optimal health and vitality.
Your energy requirement is influenced by your weight, body fat levels, activity level, and other factors, individual and unique to YOU. However, tracking your food and having an estimate of your energy budget can help you move towards your objectives.
But the reality is, despite our efforts to track our food and limit our food intake, willpower is a limited resource. So, in the long run, we all eat to satiety. We eat when we feel hungry and stop when we feel full. Thus, the quality of your food significantly influences the quantity of food you eat.
Enter Big Data
We analysed 125,761 days of data from 34,519 Nutrient Optimiser users to understand the behaviours of people who were able to successfully eat less. We wanted to understand how both the macronutrient and micronutrient profiles of the food we eat influence how much we eat.
Processed foods do not provide the broad spectrum of nutrients we require to feel satiated. Moreover, because highly-processed foods are low in nutrients per calorie, simplistically restricting the quantity of these foods without changing the quality often leads us to failure in the long term.
For more details, check out our Satiety Index article.
Why Do Macros Matter?
Macronutrients refer to carbohydrates, fats, and protein. While controlling your calorie intake is critical to gaining, losing, or maintaining your weight, the macronutrient profile of your food influences how much fat vs muscle you will lose.
Our analysis has shown that protein is the most satiating macronutrient. As shown in the chart below, moving from a diet with a low to a higher percentage of energy from protein has a massive influence on how many calories we consume.
Protein has a minimal impact on blood sugar. Higher-protein foods also provide an array of micronutrients that promote satiety.
Protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient. We use a significant amount of the calories contained in protein just to digest it and convert it to usable energy in our body and repair and build our muscles and organs. So while protein is not a ‘free food’, it’s as close as it gets.
We need the amino acids from protein to make enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters that make us feel good and enable our body to function. Protein is also required to maintain and build lean body mass or metabolically active muscle and organ tissues. These tissues burn calories at rest and are essential for keeping your metabolism high during weight loss.
Many diets encourage users to focus on low-calorie foods like vegetables and fruits. While you can eat a large quantity of these foods without exceeding your calorie budget, they do little to maintain your lean body mass or to help you feel satiated over the long term.
So, to maximise fat loss and preserve lean body mass, you need to prioritise higher-protein foods that also have a lower energy density.
For more details, check out our article, Low Energy Density Foods and Recipes: Will They Help You Feel Full with Fewer Calories?
Carbs and fat are our bodies’ preferred sources of energy that you can use to fill in your calorie gaps after you’ve hit your protein goal.
It’s true that most processed foods contain non-fibre carbohydrates with little nutrient value. However, fibrous carbs in plant-based foods can play a valuable role in your diet, as they can help you feel fuller in the short term and provide harder-to-find vitamins and minerals that thus improve satiety.
Eating more carbs can be beneficial if you are more physically active and already have healthy blood sugar levels. The main problem with carbohydrates comes when they rise beyond the healthy range and then come crashing down to below what is normal for you.
If your blood sugars rise by more than 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L after eating, it’s likely that you already have plenty of stored glucose in your system and might benefit from reducing your carbohydrates.
For more on how carbs affect satiety, you can check out our article, How Carbs, Fat, Sugar, and Alcohol Affect Appetite.
Fat is a ‘slow-burning’ energy source that your body likes to use when not doing an intense activity. While carbs cause your blood sugar to rise and fall in the short term, fats tend to raise them slightly over the long term.
But not all fats are created equal. Our satiety analysis has shown that industrial seed oils tend to decrease satiety and have been linked to poorer satiety and rising obesity rates. If you’re prioritising protein, you will be getting some fat that comes with higher protein foods. There is no need to fear nutrient-dense whole foods that naturally contain saturated fat, cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids.
For more on how carbs affect satiety, check out our article, Does Eating Fat Make You Fat? The Surprising Truth About Cholesterol and Saturated Fat.
Our analysis showed us it is not carbs or fat that has contributed to poor satiety or our expanding waistlines. Instead, it’s the hyper-palatable fat-and-carb combo, usually with lower protein, that we often see in processed foods.
Foods that combine fat and carbs in similar ratios are much easier to overeat and keep blood sugar and insulin high for longer, which leads to lower satiety per calorie and more fat gain.
In contrast, people who consume more protein and fibre and less energy from fat and carbs usually see their blood glucose readings fall after they eat, followed closely by decreasing insulin and weight loss.
Optimisers who focus on getting their energy from carbs OR fat as their primary energy source after meeting their protein goal—and not a combination of the two in the same meals—tend to have the best weight loss results.
If you’re interested in finding the ideal macronutrient ratios for you, you may enjoy our Macros Masterclass.
Why Should I Calculate My Macros?
If we want to lose weight, we must eat fewer calories than we burn. However, for the best results, we need to prioritise protein and fibre to maximise satiety to enable us to maintain the deficit long enough to lose weight.
Thus, tracking your macros and tailoring them towards your goals can help you move towards the desired weight over time.
- Optimisers who dial-up their intake of protein and fibrous carbohydrates and scale back on their non-fibre carbs and fat tend to have the most success moving towards their desired weight.
- If we want to maintain our weight, we have to eat as many calories as we burn.
- If we want to gain weight, we need to eat more calories than we expend by scaling up our intake of energy sources from carbs and fat.
Are Macro Calculators Accurate?
Calculating your theoretical macros can provide a useful starting point. However, everyone has a unique metabolism, and many factors determine how many calories you burn daily. Hence, no macro calculator is 100% accurate – it’s only an estimate. To accommodate this, in our Macros Masterclass, we use the Smart Macros Algoythm in Nutrient Optimiser to adjust macro targets each week to ensure Optimisers continue progressing.
Does Counting Macros Help with Diabetes?
Tracking your macros can be extremely helpful for someone with diabetes.
Poor food choices can lead to large swings in blood sugars, leading to appetite changes and cravings when blood sugar comes crashing down to below what is normal for you. Lowering your intake of refined and processed carbohydrate food can help to stabilise blood sugars to normal healthy levels.
Dialling back your carbohydrate intake until your blood sugars rise by less than 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L after eating can be valuable to reduce cravings that occur when your blood sugar is falling rapidly. But this is only the first step. Staying within your calorie budget and achieving a healthier body weight will address the root cause of Type 2 Diabetes.
For more details, see How to Reverse Your Insulin Resistance.
Ideal Macros for Someone with Diabetes
There is no one-size-fits-all diabetic macros calculator that’s universal for everyone. However, a few things should be considered when someone is calculating macros for people who need to manage their blood sugars, including:
- prioritising protein to maximise satiety and prevent loss of precious muscle,
- restricting your carbohydrates from non-fibre sources to stabilise blood sugars, and
- staying within your calorie budget to ensure you use your stored body fat for fuel.
For someone with or without diabetes, we suggest working towards a stretch target of 40% protein which aligns with greater satiety. This is not simply a matter of adding more protein but instead increasing your protein percentage by scaling back your carb and fat intakes. As shown in the chart below, increasing your protein percentage has the largest impact on how many calories we tend to consume.
To get a handle on whether you are currently consuming more carbohydrates than you need, you can test your blood glucose before and after meals to see your carb tolerance. The table below shows the generally accepted limits for normal healthy blood sugar levels.
If you see a rise in blood glucose of more than 30 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L), you are overfilling the glucose fuel tanks in your blood and the stored glycogen in your liver and should look to reduce your carbohydrate limit.
There is no need to fear dietary fat from nutrient-dense foods. Many people with diabetes find they experience greater satiety initially by limiting their carbohydrates and eating fat to satiety. However, later most people find they also need to limit their dietary fat to stay within their energy budget and enable their bodies to use their stored body fat.
Are Carbs Better or Worse than Fat?
The chart below, from our satiety analysis, shows that reducing carbs from 45% to 10 – 20% aligns with a significant increase in satiety and a lower calorie intake. But reducing your carbs further is not necessarily better, especially if your blood sugars are already in the normal healthy range.
But it’s important to note that reducing your dietary fat will also improve satiety to a similar degree. Ultimately, achieving optimal blood sugars and insulin levels requires you to drain both the excess stored glucose and fat in your body.
Why Excess Carbohydrates are Problematic
Carbs raise your blood sugar more quickly than fat or protein. When you consume carbs, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which slows the release of stored energy from your liver so you can burn off the glucose from the food you just ate.
Processed supply a LOT of easily-accessible energy from both carbohydrates AND fat. This often raises blood sugar initially and keeps it high before crashing hours later. Many people find they feel voraciously hungry and make poor food choices to get their blood sugar up again.
Finding the balance of carbs that limits the fluctuation in blood sugar and lowers the area under your blood glucose response curve is key.
While some keto gurus push flat-line blood sugars, this is unnecessary and leads many to overconsume low-satiety, high-fat foods. Once your blood sugar falls within the healthy range, you don’t need to focus on dialling back your carbs further.
While most people think Type-2 Diabetes is an insulin toxicity problem, the fundamental root cause is energy toxicity – your blood glucose is high because both your glucose and fat fuel storage tanks are overfilling into the bloodstream, which you see as high blood sugar levels.
For more detail, see Optimising Your Blood Sugars [Macros Masterclass FAQ #6].
Tracking Your Macros: The Other Side of The Calorie Fence
Food tracking involves monitoring the food you’re consuming in an app like Cronometer. Many people find it useful to weigh and measure their food accurately, at least for a few weeks. ‘Eyeballed’ measurements can get away from us sometimes!
Tracking also could help you get an idea of what macro and micronutrients you’re getting, whether or not you’re under or over-eating, and how certain foods contribute to your hunger, mood, and energy levels.
Because of the Hawthorne Effect, simply tracking our food tends to make us make healthier, making more conscious choices. So even if it’s just for a short time, tracking your food can give you powerful insight towards dieting more successfully.
But ultimately, while you can weigh and measure your food to maximise accuracy, all tracking is inaccurate to some degree. In the Macros Masterclass, we manage this by progressively adjusting macros targets based on actual progress and guiding you to change WHAT you eat, which will help you manage how much you’re eating with less conscious willpower.
For more on tracking macros and calories, check out our article, Is Counting Calories and Energy Balance a Waste of Time?
What Should You Eat?
If you’d like some inspiration to go with your new macros, you can check out some of our free food lists or this series of NutriBooster recipe books we created to suit a wide range of goals and preferences.
To find foods that align with your macro targets, you can grab our bundle of free food lists here.
- Macros Masterclass
- Macronutrients [Macros Masterclass FAQ #2]
- Blood Sugars [Macros Masterclass FAQ #2]
- Cronometer: How To Optimise Your Macronutrients [Macros Masterclass FAQ #3]
- The Satiety Index
- The Secrets of the Nutrient-Dense Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF).
- What is Nutrient Density (and Why It Matters)?