How to Calculate your Leangains Macros

Andy MorganDiet & Nutrition1710 Comments

How to calculate your leangains macros

Important Update (March 5th, 2014)

Welcome. Having being read over 750,000 times now this guide by far the most popular post on the site and continues to be, despite it being nearly three years since the original publication.

Though I’ve updated the guide here over the years, I’ve progressed massively as a coach since, and using those client experiences as well as the feedback and questions I’ve received (on this post, over 1000 comments) I’ve put together a much more complete version for you, the series of articles The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth. It requires more reading, but it’s far better, and has pretty much everything you need to be successful. Go make yourself a cup of tea, get a pen and notepad, and take your time over it.


Calculating your Leangains Macros

This is just my interpretation of how a person may go about calculating their macros according to the principles written for us by Martin on Leangains.com. The only person that knows how Martin calculates things for his clients is Martin himself. Real-world experience, study, passion for what he does and really hard work are what make the results he gets for clients so seemingly magical.

While the method for calculating the macros and fine tuning them can be a little complex, the implementation of the diet once have your macros is very simple. Don’t be put off by the maths below.

Firstly, the calculations I have outlined below will work best if you follow the simplified macro-counting rules that I used to achieve this 7 week transformation. It’s a short article, please read them.

Secondly, the guide below will set you going in the right direction, however it will be up to you to monitor your progress objectively, and then fiddle with your macro ratios and overall macro intake to get your physique to the level you want.

Thirdly,  I cannot possibly write everything down in one article, there are too many variants to consider, physical, hormonal and otherwise. There can never be a “one formula fit’s all” (which is why I’m not a fan of online spreadsheet macro calculators).

If you do not want to, or don’t feel you can do it then I offer you two options:

  1. Try the Basic Set-Up of the diet. If you’re new to leangains it will work, you will get leaner but probably not to the point of abs lean. At that point you will be much more in tune with your body and more motivated to give this a go yourself, so come back then. It can be fun and rewarding to try.
  2. Hire me, or better still hire Martin (if you can get your hands on him) for a consultation.

The Steps

Step 1. Calculate your BMR.

Step 2. Adjust for Activity

Step 3. Choose to ‘Cut’, ‘Slow-Bulk’ or gradual ‘Body-Recomposition’

Step 4. Calculate a Training-Day and Rest-Day Calorie Figure

Step 5. Calculate your Macro Targets for Training-Days and Rest-Days

Step 6. Make your Menu from these Macros.


Step 1. Calculate your BMR

I like to call BMR your ‘coma calories’. – The energy intake you need, should you fall into a coma, to maintain your body weight. There are a variety of formulas, all of which produce a guess at best, however we need a figure to work with. Please choose a different formula if you wish.

Metric BMR Formula* (*Harris-Benedict)

Women: BMR = 655+ ( 9.6 x weight in kilos )+( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66+ ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )

If you’re obese then the above formula will overestimate your BMR, and if you are very lean then the above formula will underestimate your BMR. If you have an idea of your body fat percentage then you’re best using the Katch-McArdle BMR Formula.

Katch-McArdle BMR Formula:

BMR (men and women) = 370 + (21.6 X lean mass in kg)


Step 2. Adjust for Activity

You need to add an ‘activity multiplier’ (x1.2~x1.9) to your BMR depending on your lifestyle/training.

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (easy exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job): BMR x 1.9

It’s essential to realise that any calculation will just be a best guess, which is why I used the words “likely range” to describe the calculations above. This is because spontaneous physical activity (a.k.a. NEAT, written about here) – fidgeting, moving around, propensity to take stairs vs elevator etc. – will vary greatly between people.

This means that two 6ft, 200lb males, with the same 15% body fat and training regimes may find their maintenance calorie needs vastly different. One guy may need 2500kCal a day to maintain his weight, the other 3250kCal.

No calculation can take into account these individual NEAT differences. However, we need a starting point, so we make a calculation regardless.


Step 3. Choose to ‘Cut’, ‘Slow-Bulk’ or gradual ‘Body-Recomposition’

The calories and thus macros you choose will depend on your goals.

If you have training experience unless you have striking abs already, I highly advise you to go for a cut first, as starting a ‘slow-bulk’ when ‘abs lean’ gives you significant hormonal advantages for gaining muscle with minimal fat. It also means you can eat a lot more when slow-bulking and yet still keep your abs, which is fun. This means that many people reading this should go for a ‘cut’.

The exception to this is very light framed and/or weak people, whom I would recommend choose ‘body-recomposition‘ calories, then increase accordingly. With the implementation of this diet and a barbell training program your first year will give you the most dramatic changes to your physique in your life. You should be excited. You will need calories for this. (If this is you, I have a special message & offer in the first comment box for you below.)

If you are adverse to losing size, for sport reasons, or ego reasons, then go for a ‘body-recomposition’. Just remember the results will be slower.

I’ve recently written in much greater depth about this topic in the article,  “12 Weeks on Leangains: Identifying Where You Are Now, Setting Realistic Goals, and Your Best Course Of Action.


Step 4. Calculate a Training-Day and Rest-Day Calorie Figure

These calorie figures are just a guide to help you calculate your macros. We’ve already recognized that these calorie numbers may be a little low to be taken literally because of the simplified rules.

‘Body-Recomposition’: Martin himself refers to a +20%kCal and -20%kCal rule for T-Days and R-Days respectively.

So if you came out with 2000kCal from your calculation, then make a T-Day 2400kCal and R-Day 1600kCal.

‘Cutting’: You need to be lower than this so as to create a weekly energy deficit. Even so, you must eat a surplus of calories on a training day in most situations*.

Your numbers might look something like 2200kCal and 1300kCal. (+10%/-30~35%kCal)

(*Obese/Very fat people are at less risk of losing muscle when on a calorie deficit if protein is kept high, so they can get away with a deficit on both days.)

‘Slow-Bulking’: So you are already very lean and looking to do a bulk? (Skip to Step 5 if it’s irrelevant to you, because I go into a little more detail here.)

If you are new to leangains I would highly recommend that you do ‘body-recomposition’ macros (or slightly less) for the month first while you adjust to the system. This way you will keep your abs and have a base-line for increasing your macros after. Once you’ve done that, try the advice below.

If you have already used leangains to get lean then you’re in a perfect situation to try this.

The key to keeping abs with slow bulking is quite simple, make sure you have enough of deficit on your rest-day so that you burn the stored fat* from the training day.

Your numbers might look something like 2800kCal and 1800kCal. (+40%/-10%kCal)

This is a way of putting on quality muscle without the fat, and as such is a slower process than the usual ‘eat everything!” approach some people take to bulking.

(*The complicating factor here is that fat stored on a training-day is not just is that the fat you consume, but also any spillover of carbohydrates that your body does not shuttle into your glycogen depleted liver & muscles after training, or use for recovery, as any excess glucose can be converted to fatty acids and stored as fat tissue. If you can get your carb balance right, you can decrease the deficit on your rest-day. – Track your progress weekly, in detail so that you can make adjustments objectively.)


Step 5. Calculate your Macro Targets for Training-Days and Rest-Days

There is not one perfect macro-ratio. (i.e. 40% Carbs, 40% protein, 20% Fat) It varies from individual to individual, and depends highly on a persons conditioning. It can still take a few weeks of close monitoring to get a good ratio for a client, and even then, this ratio changes as a person progresses. This is why I monitor the progress of clients, I don’t just give them 3 numbers and send them on their way. You need to do this too.

Protein
Your protein needs to be kept high on both days, for satiety and muscle preservation. Research suggests that with maintenance calories there is little benefit to >2g/kg lean body-mass (LBM). On a cut, to preserve muscle mass this may need to be higher, i.e. 2.5g/kg LBM. There is no need to go higher than this. However, for personal preferences you can choose to go higher, & protein will give you the feeling of being fuller for longer so I sometimes go with 3g per kg of LBM*.

If you are 95kg with a lean-mass of 75kg, and love eating meat, then you might put this number around 225g on both days. This can get a bit expensive so there is no harm in going with 2.5g/kg LBM, so go with 190g of protein.

Otherwise you would choose 2-2.5g/kg LBM on workout-days and 2.5-3g/kg LBM on rest-days. It is fine to keep protein consumption the same on both days for simplicity for now. I do.

(*Please just guess lean body-mass. Don’t get all worked up over it.)

Fat

Consumption of dietary fat is important for hormonal regulation, especially testosterone production. It should never be eliminated from a diet.

Training Day Intake: When eating above maintenance calories, the fat we consume is easier to be stored, so it is best to keep fat intake lower on this day. For a cut, the ‘average’ male client will typically have an intake somewhere in the ~40-65g range.

Rest Day Intake: You’ll have a calorie deficit on this day so all dietary fat consumed will be burned off. Increase your fat intake on this day to balance out the lower fat intake on the training days. For a cut, the ‘average’ male client will typically have an intake somewhere in the ~60-95g range.

Notes:

  • Those carrying more body fat will do better with a higher fat intake on training days than leaner individuals. This is to do with insulin sensitivity, which increases when you get leaner.
  • If you eliminate fat from your diet, the most obvious change you will notice is a decrease in sex drive. If this happens, consider increasing your fat intake, or decreasing your overall calorie deficit, or taking a diet break.

Carbs

For your initial calculation think of carbs as just balancing the equation as per your T-Day and R-Day ‘calorie’ targets. Let’s not go into more detail than that.

1g of: P = 4kCal*, C = 4kCal, F = 9kCal

(*Latest research suggests this to be more like 3.2kCal because of the energy required for digestion, however I suggest you keep it simple and call 1g of protein 4kCal.)

Let’s consider a man called Tom, 95kg, 20% body-fat (~75kg LBM), choosing body-recomposition (+20%/-20%) whose BMR calc+multiplier gave him 2000kCal. (Remember what I said earlier, I know the number is a little low.)

So the Training Day Macros are:

P = 190g, F = 60g, C = 275g

Calories from Carbs = [T-Day Target calories] – [Protein calories] – [Fat calories]

= 2400 – (190 x 4) – (60 x 9) = 2400 – 760 – 540

= 1100 (kCal)

Carbs in grams = 1100 / 4 = 275

Rest Day Macros

P = 190g, F = 80g, C = 30g

Calories from Carbs = [R-Day Target calories] – [Protein calories] – [Fat calories]

= 1600 – (190 x 4) – (80 x 9) = 1600 – 760 – 720

= 120 (kCal)

Carbs in grams = 120 / 4 = 30


Step 6. Make your Menu from these Macros

Really this is up to you. If a food fits your macros for the day then go for it. I’m not classifying any food as good or bad. This ‘If it fits your macros’ (IIFYM) policy is gaining popularity in fitness circles. (IIFYM google search)

Tom’s Training-Day macros are: P190/F60/C275

If a food fits your macros for the day then you can eat it. No exceptions.

Which according to my simplified rules means eating means consuming:

950g of leanish meat/fish, 385g of rice and lots of green vegetables.

Tom’s Rest-Day macros are: P190/F80/C30

Which is something like:

475g of fattier meat/fish, 475g of lean meat/fish, 40g of rice, lots of green vegetables.

Simple! You’re done!


FAQ

Do these macros look right?

They could be right, it depends.

Assuming you are not on the extreme ends of daily activity (triathlete/coal miner or in a coma) you can use a fairly standard energy multiplier (1.1-1.3) to BMR to get a rough idea of your daily energy needs, from there calculate a deficit or surplus (based on goal), and then put together your macros (which anyone can do if they take a little time reading the guides).

HOWEVER, everyone’s actual energy expenditure will vary somewhere between plus or minus ~20% of that due to the current state of metabolic adaptations and NEAT variance.

A better question is, “How are these macros working for you?” If you’re not tracking, you don’t know, so get started and make sure you don’t miss any points. -> How To Track Your Progress When Dieting

Specific questions are welcomed, but I cannot answer comments regarding the specifics of your personal macro set up – such questions will from now on be deleted.  - 15th Feb. 2014

Think you might be interested in a personalised coaching?
See
Personal Consultations: Nutrition and Training for more info.


The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth

Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance Pyramid

Consider this a much more detailed guide to the above.

There is a very clear order of priority when setting up your diet. If you don’t understand it, at best you’ll just be wasting money, at worst your time and effort as well.

Unfortunately there is a large amount of confusion and misconceptions over what is important. I see this a lot with the one-on-one nutritional coaching also, and I’m sure you see it around the internet too.

This article is the first of a six-part series teaching you the principles here you’ll feel freer and more in control of your nutrition, regardless of style of diet you follow (paleo, IIFYM, Keto, etc.). We will also cut through any mystery and myth surrounding Intermittent Fasting, explaining where it may fit into your diet success, should you choose to use it.

Read more…


How and When To Manipulate Your Macros

How to manipulate your macros

Your diet progress has slowed or come to a stop for 2-3 weeks, diet adherence has been good, you’re sleeping well and there is no additional stress at home or work. So what do you do to get things started again?

This is where manipulating your macros may come in.

Full guide on how to keep your diet progressing: Learn what the optimal fat loss rate is for your level of body fat, and a the order in which you should make changes to your diet when things don’t reach that target.

Read more…

Andy MorganHow to Calculate your Leangains Macros

1,710 Comments on “How to Calculate your Leangains Macros”

  1. Johnny

    Hi Andy, thanks so much posting this info in such an organized and easy to use fashion. It has life changing potential.

    I recently started to implement a body recomp plan but I’m getting pretty hungry between meals and also kind of low energy. I’m worried that I underestimated my caloric needs.

    Should I listen to these signs or will they pass as I get farther along?

    I just really want to make progress in the gym as I’ve been lifting on and off for YEARS and seen practically no results. I’m really tired of being a “Perpetual Beginner”, you know?

    My stats are 81 kg male with roughly 18% body fat who lifts 3x a week doing the big 3, and eating an average of 2500 cals a day and 180 grams of protein.

    Thanks again mate

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Jonny.
      If this is the first week then the hunger is normal, your body needs time to adjust to the new meal times. – See the FAQ for more on that.
      More broadly speaking, if your weight is dropping quicker then targeted then that is a sign that your calorie intake is too low. Details on appropriate target rates of fat loss here.

  2. Pingback: Lean Gains? Whats the low down.

  3. Robert

    Hello Andy!
    Could you pleas tell help me?
    I’m cutting and have +10%/-30%. About 3300/2100 kcal. In those days when I have -30% I go sometimes to a swimmingpool (in average 3 times a month).
    If I burned for instance 400 kcal in the swimmingpool, then I understand, I should add this 400 kcal to 2100kcal ? I mean, should we any additional unexpected activity add to normal calories?

  4. Randy Solis

    really confused on the whole rest day and training day calorie change…. how does this work for the more advanced lifters who train 7 days a week or only have 1 rest day but even then do some HIIT cardio that day, seems like they would always be on a calorie surplus by following the train rest day split to cut.

  5. Mike

    I calculated my macros following the above guide for cutting. My question is that on my training days is Im supposed to eat 430g of carbs (almost double my protein for the day) is that correct… or should be upping my fat a bit more than 65g to help balance that out?

    Thanks!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Mike.
      Macro ratios are a function of activity and stage of dieting, not a target in themselves – a common myth.
      What I mean by this is, with a bottom limit for protein and fat intake, after a small adjustment for preference, your carbs will reflect the balance, and that will affect the ratio. Those with a large energy expenditure/a lot of activity will have a lot more carbs relatively; those at the very end of their diets will have less.

  6. Michal

    Hey I’m trying to view this on my ipad and where it says click to expand there’s just a bunch of “[faq faq_topic="Step1"]” <—these prompts but no link. Anyone else experiencing this or is it just me? Thanks :D

      1. Michal

        Thanks very much! I just blasted through your articles, they’re extremely useful and I appreciate the objectivity. One question that I haven’t been able to have concretely answered yet (neither here nor on Martins also awesome site) is what is an appropriate macro cycling protocol between rest/training days regarding fats and carbs? I have my macros set up for my training days and have been guessing at rest day carb-fat swapping but I’d like to lock them down appropriately. (I am using Martins leangains protocol with BCAA-fueled ‘fasted’ training.)

        Can this be calculated? If this was provided and I missed it please redirect me and if not and you could elaborate id appreciate that too! Thank you! Keep the enlightening, guru-destroying information coming! :)

  7. Robert

    Hello Andy. The Website is very useful!.
    I’d have question. I want to cut. Do I have to have -30% on rest days and +10% on workout days or it is irrelevant and I can do -20% / 0% I have noticed that some people do -30/10 and some -20/0. What should I do?

    1. Andy Morgan

      The most important thing is to get started, then to track. So the best advice I can give for now is to go with whichever you find the maths easiest on bud. Then from there you’ll come to a point when you want to read further, at that point, see the nutritional hierarchy of importance articles.

      1. Robert

        Thank you Andy for reply. I have read and now understand why best +30/-10.
        I would have one more question:
        Martin Berkham writes about 4 protocols and my question is: can I do different protocols in a week?
        I mean: can I in a week have one trainig after 2 meals and two trainigs on an empty stomach (with BCAA). Do I have to do always the same protocol-configuration?

  8. Chiranjeev Sharma

    Hello Andy! hope everything is fine. I’m 154 @14-15% body fat. I did a bulk for 4 months and the month of July has been really dull for me and had a couple of cheat days during July. I want go on a cut for a while and calculated my calories. I made a mistake with cutting 2 years ago and lost heaps of strength because i cut down too many calories. i was wondering if cut with -10/-30(-770kcal/-200kcal) weekly deficit of 3470 kcal seems ok to you? i will be keeping protein 2.25g/kg both days to preserve muscle mass. Any help will be much appreciated.

  9. Sarah

    Hi Andy. Thanks for the article!

    All makes sense, but just wondering what’s recommended for women in terms of fat amounts on training and rest days? Your figures above are quoted for an ‘average male’. I’m female and 125lbs, and have currently set it at 30g for training days and 40g for rest days. Does that sound about right?

    I’m using a 14/10 fast/feed setup as recommended for women.

    Many thanks

  10. Fatih

    Andy, I’ve read just about all your articles here. GREAT stuff by the way!! Truly amazing work, explanation and referring to sources.
    And maybe due to too much information I’ve gotten a bit confused about calories. It would really help me if you could help sort this bit out:

    1. Calculate BMR
    2. Adjust for activity (here exercise is already considered on a weekly basis, so this isn’t maintenance calories anymore right?)
    3. Calculate Training- and Rest-Day calorie figures (here do we calculate % from BMR only or from BMR x Activity?)

  11. Tom

    Solid information Andy. Did my own calculations (about 86 kg, 5’9, 26 year old male) and they seem a bit high compared to what I’ve done before. Your cut comes out to 2,400 training day and 1,400 on rest days (this puts the daily average right around my BMR using your calculation). I’m guessing you recommend a recomp for beginners, but I’ve been lifting for two and a half years focusing on deads, squats, and bench and think it makes sense to shed the fat and slow bulk from there.

    Deads, squats, and bench are at 120kg, 110kg, and 93 kg respectively for the top set in a reverse pyramid program (your protocol).

    I know it’s not ideal without every detail, but are these numbers low to start a cut for a guy my size with at least 20-30 pounds to lose?

    Is it alright to shoot a little lower than the cut macros I calculated as long as I keep protein high as per your recommendation?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Tom. Got you covered in that FAQ question above.
      Rates of advised fat loss targets are covered here, in part 1 of the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance series mentioned above.

      1. Tom

        Ahh, perfect. I forgot about that section on Martin’s page. Between your fat loss target section and his categories I think I can put the pieces together on my own. As you’ve mentioned though, I’m sure the key will be to be patient and check progress over a 4 week period (as oppose to getting caught up in day to day fluctuations during the week that might swing with my relatively higher carb intake on training days).

        Thanks for clarifying, I’ll take a better look at the hierarchy post next time.

  12. Christy

    Is there a quick place to easily create a meal plan for step #6? That’s my biggest challenge!

  13. Julie

    Thank you Andy! I love this site. I reconfigured my macros via your site today. I know this topic has been discussed, but I wanted some more clarification if possible.

    In regards to the underestimation of 20 to 30 percent, you are stating that by your calculations an underestimation is present if we follow your calculations because of the idea of the application of ‘simplified macros.’ Correct?

    So, we should just calculate as shown (multiply proper activity level to get maintenance calories).

    Love the site. Really great info!

  14. Dean Shah

    Andy,

    My question concerns not going under an average of 0.4 g fat per pound of lean body mass per week (for me that would be around 60g on average). Rest days are supposed to be low calories relative to training days, but also high in fat to compensate for the low fat on training days. Well, if I consume 200g of protein every day, that’s already 800 calories. Then, if I consume 75g of fat on rest days, to compensate for the 40g or so on training days, then that means my rest days are already at 1500 calories (200 g protein, 800 calories, and 75 g fat, 700 calories) and that’s not even counting carbs. I know that eventually my rest day calories are going to have to dip below 1500 when it comes time to adjust and break through a plateau and that will lead to my weekly average of fat to be below 0.4. Will that be OK when the time comes for that adjustment or does that mean 1500 calories is the lowest I should ever go on a rest day until I get to my final goal?

    Thank you, sir! Greatly appreciate it!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Dean, sorry for the lack of clarity.
      Daily average fat intake of 0.4 g per pound of lean body mass is a guideline, not a rule. There are many things at interplay here, but when dieting cuts have to come from somewhere and there is always a tradeoff. If performance suffers when cutting due to lower carb intake, you’ll want to consider dropping your fat intake instead and raising carbs back up. Sufficient training intensity is important in maintaining muscle mass when dieting. More here.

  15. Tom

    Hi Andy

    Is it okay to be under your BMR when on a cut, since its our “coma calories”? Because when i calculate how much calories i need to be under maintenance it gets below my BMR kcals..

    Keep up the good work!

  16. Hamza Bouchefra

    Hi Andy,

    My name is Hamza and I’m from the Netherlands. Thank you for all the work you put on this website. I have 2 questions though:
    Why is it that even at 1500cal rest days/2300cal training days, which is pretty damn low, or every single day 1700cal, I can’t keep on going to lose weight(fat)?
    Is it that important to do high fat/low carb on rest days and low fat/high carb on training days, if it’s just calories in vs calories out can’t I just look at that only?(protein high every day)

    I would really appreciate your help man!

    Current weight: 78kg(goal is 74kg to get shredded for once)
    Height: 175cm
    Age: 29

    Thanks a lot in advance, Hamza! :)

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Hamza.
      1. In order of likelihood:
      a) You’re counting wrong and/or have overestimated your TDEE.
      b) You’ve been dieting for too long, metabolism has adapted pretty heavily, and need a break.
      c) You have a hormonal problem. (Very unlikely.)
      The first is going to be by far the most important to look at. Yes everyone will jump for the third.
      2. See part four of, The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance – #4 Meal Timing & Frequency, Calorie & Macro Cycling.

      1. Hamza Bouchefra

        Ok, thank you. I will look into the first one.
        The counting I am not worried about but more about the calculation of my TDEE.
        – Is it per definition that when working out 3 days a week at least, I have a activity level “Light exercise” or should I go for “Sedentary” because I sit all day for my work?
        – Does it really matter to have high fat/low carb on rest days and low fat/high carb on training days? I read the reason on your website, but since it’s calories in vs calories out can’t I just do a distribution of 40/40/20 protein/carbs/fat every day?

        Again, thanks a lot m8 :)

          1. Hamza Bouchefra

            Thanks for that.

            In your example (your picture above) in the time frame of 7 weeks, what were your rest days and training days calories to get in that state in just 7 weeks?

            If for example the training day calories that are supposed to be hit are 2600 for cutting, is the amount of calories that will be burned during training taking into account in this number? So 2600 calories to consume with ~400 calories burned with lifting is only 2200 calories consumed. And does it mind if this gets below the TDEE then?

  17. Nicolay

    Hi Andy, interesting stuff!

    Quick question (as it seems many others also have had, but I haven’t really found a final answer):

    When you write ‘Use of my simplified rules tend to underestimate things by 20~30%. So if you are then try taking x0.2-0.3 off.’ I assume you mean to subtract 20-30% off the total calories calculated, is this correct? I.e. if my maintenance calories clock in at 2500, I should subtract 20-30% (500-750) for a total of 2000 or 1750 respectively?

  18. Kierran Clarke

    HI Andy,

    Regarding the activity adjustor’s, would you consider someone who barbell trains 3 x a week to be under the “light exercise (1-3 days per week)” bracket?

  19. Ed Iles

    Hi Andy

    I’m around 25% body fat at the moment and train 3-4 days a week. I’ve run my numbers and the weekly deficit it gives me for a cut is about 1700 which doesn’t seem a big enough drop in intake to have quick results. The carbs figure for a training day is massive, could I shave a 100 or so calories a day there to influence the overall deficit without losing muscle?

    I tried running with the calculations using the quick set up guide 12 moths ago and didn’t see huge differences in fat loss. I’ve triple checked the maths and it all works out ok. Any hints as to where I might be going wrong?

    Great site and information, I always recommend people to read it.

    Regards, Ed

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Ed. If you’ve run the calculations and it is the same as what you were doing previously, your tracking system is good, and you’re not progressing then you’ll need to adjust things. Guide here.

  20. Elwin

    Hey Andy,

    I Just Losing muscle because i thought i must eat under BMR so i ate 1200 calories perday instead my calories perday 2800. what should i do ? should i keep in cutting phase or body recomposition phase ? i’m really stress about my muscle :(

  21. Tariq Aldossary

    Hey Andy. i`m starting intermittent fasting next monday of course after being inspired by your web sites :D . My BMR = 1650 TDEE = 2,265 . I did a (+5%/-35%) to meet a deficit of 2,835kCal a week .However, my rest day calories is 1,447 which is lower than my BMR . Is it ok to be lower than BMR in general ? If not , what do you recommend ?

  22. MCR

    Finding it difflcult to pack in 250g carbs (as per calculation)

    avergeing around 180 and full day.

    How important is the carbs figure on training day?

    1. John

      200g uncooked rice for lunch and approximately 300g uncooked sweet potatos for dinner, simples!

  23. Jason

    Hi Andy, how are ya mate?

    One quick question that I’m hoping you can help me with regarding protein intake. I see that you say you sometimes go up to 3g/kg of body mass, and I’ve also read somewhere on the site about an intake up up to 2.8g/kg not being detrimental to kidney/health function or whatever it was.

    I’m still a little bit worried, and thought you might be able to help. I am currently on about 250g of protein a day and am currently weighing 65kg. So this equates to about 3.8g/kg. Could this be too high? and will it have negative effects? The reason for such a high intake is hardly even on purpose. I just generally get alot of protein-rich foods, chicken breast, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt etc. I also get a shit load of veggies and fruit on rest days, and a boat load of carbs on training days, but protein still soo high. Any recommendations/response is much appreciated.

    Thanks mate.

    Jase

      1. Jason

        I know there is no NEED for it to be that high. But that’s just how high it goes. I dont lack in any other macronutient at all. I get around 12 servings of veggies and 2 of fruit a day, plus all the carbs post workout in form on oats, cereal, choclate milk and ice cream etc…what else can i do?

        1. Andy Morgan

          “…what else can i do?”
          I don’t understand the question Jason. Did you read the series of articles that I recommended and recalculate things?

  24. Marc

    Hey Andy,

    Quick question about the differenc in my kcals calculation between training and non training days. I’m 6’3 215 lbs and 20-25% body fat and looking to “cut” and am using the big 3 program. I kept protein intake at 200g for both days, fat 60g/80g and carbs 470g/133g for training/non. The calorie difference is 1200 between the days. My question, is this too big of a drop off in cals?

  25. Dan

    I’m not sure if I would be considered obese/fat. I am 29 years old, 5’10” and 200 lbs.. I would venture to guess my bf is around 23-25%. Should I consider myself in the obese range for figuring out my macros?

  26. Noman F

    Apologies if i asked a question about specific macro goal, just read your comment now.

    Some general advice would be appreciate.

      1. Noman F.

        Thanks for getting back to me.

        I have read that link and tried to understand what you have put (appreciated btw).

        I like training fasted in the pm i.e. (evening workout) but you said one meal is not good enough. If i am eating a lunch with 35% macros, technically im not training fasted right? In doing so am i having an adverse effect of what leangains is about?

        Or am i justing overthinking it and i should go with what you have put in the evening workout section.

        Thanks again.

        1. Andy Morgan

          Seems I answered your question already. Then you asked it again. Then in the same comment you answered it for yourself, forgetting you’d read my answer already in that article Norman. :)
          Good luck!

  27. Cliff

    I’m 6’7″, 248lbs, 18% BF. I’ve read that I have a couple disadvantages when working for a lean mass look (Think Will Smith in Bad Boys 2). I’ve heard that it’s a little more difficult to achieve that “leaned out” look with a larger frame and also that my gains are not nearly as noticeable. While the latter makes perfect sense, it seems that the aforementioned would be easier too due to the fat layer being stretched over a larger frame. However, I continue to hear this isn’t the case. I really need to build up my chest and cut down my waistline. I’m definitely getting stronger and notice my chest gaining SOME mass. I love compound exercises like DLs and Squats. Are there any other movements you’ve seen that have worked well for gaining lean muscle on a larger frame?

  28. Krishn

    Hi Andy,

    I’m looking to implement the leangains approach, however I play football (soccer) twice a week on non training days. How would you suggest I adjust my caloric intake on football days?

    Thanks in advance.

  29. Anine S

    Hi Andy, and thanks for a really informative and good blog :-)

    I want to start doing a cut, and I see from your other post (the one about identifying where you are) that you recommend 3 days of a split-routine when cutting. Problem is, I really WANT to workout more than three times a week, it’s like my freetime I really enjoy. Normally I do weight training 5 times a week, one day of other training like swimming/running/cycling and stretching, and one rest day. If I am going to continue having this workout routine, will it still be ideal with -30-35% calories on the restday and +10% every day I workout? Won’t the total calorie consumation be a little too high for a cut then? (My body fat percent is quite low on my upper body (my abs are visible), but my lower body is another story, so an extra question is if you think a cut will work for me to get some results?)

    My other question is about the calculation of fat. I see you write what an average male on a cut normally should consume, but I find it a little difficult to “adopt” this to my situation since I am a girl… Do I just have to start somewhere and adjust, or what do you recommend?

    Regards,
    Anine

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Anine.
      “I really WANT to workout more than three times a week…”
      Don’t confuse moving your body (what you call ‘working out’) with training. When it comes to training, more is not better, and more can be worse. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. If you enjoy swimming or running, then do it. If you’re doing it for fat loss, stop and find another hobby.
      Calculate your fat in the same way as a starting point. Have a good read of the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance articles next.

      1. Anine

        Thank you. Now I’ve also read the articles, but what I still can’t figure out is how to cycle my calories when I have 5 (strength) training days a week. If I am going to have a surplus on my training days and still have a total weekly deficit of around 3500 kcal, I’ll have to starve myself on the restdays/the days I’m just moving my body with running/swimming?

        If my maintenance is 2300 kcal, and I eat about 2700 on my training days, that means +2000 in total, which means I have to be -5500 the rest of the week to get a deficit of 3500 kcal. And basically that means I can eat like 50 kcal the two days without training… Or I am totally lost here?

        1. Andy Morgan

          Anine. I do not recommend strength training five days a week. However, in the article, #4 Meal Timing & Frequency, Calorie & Macro Cycling you’ll have seen that I worked out a formula to show people how to do that.

          Now, what you’re asking me to do here is to comment on your calculations, which, with 1638 comments currently on this post, I hope you can understand my position of choosing to not attempt that. This is written in red above. I think you need to recalculate things, or just follow the standard plan as you’re breaking the golden rule.

          1. Anine S

            Sorry, I understand that you can’t comment on the calculations.

            I saw the Meal Timing & Frequency post, and used the fomula to figure out my calories on training- and restdays. What confused me is that with strength training five days a week it’s not possible for me to have a surplus of calories on training days, which this post says I should, “Even so, you must eat a surplus of calories on a training day in most situations”.

            To get the total deficit of the week I have to have a deficit every day, simply because if I should have had for example a surplus of +300 kcal on those five training days, that means a total deficit of 5000 kcal the last two days to get my weekly deficit of -3500 kcal, and since 5000/2 is 2500 kcal and over my maintenance-level that wouldn’t work.

            I am NOT asking you to comment the calculations, I just wanted to explain the problem properly. Maybe this is why you don’t recommend 5 strength training days a week :-)

            1. Andy Morgan

              Right. This post, is an older post intended for three days a week training. You need to follow the advice in the newer guides and forget about this one.

  30. Julia

    Hey Andy,

    sorry but i have two other questions about the daily calorie intake.

    1.My BMR multiplied with the active level says i need about 2300 kcal a day. what about the rest days then? do i multiply my BMR with the lowest active level factor then to get my calories for the day i don’t work out? or do i have a calorie need of 2300 kcal every day when i do 4 to 5 times workout a week?

    2. What if i don’t eat a plus of 10% when i do weight training and just have -20% on my rest day? will it have a negative effect on fat loss? right now i maintain strenght and even got a bit stronger (like 2,5kg on deadlift) while i lost 2,5kg of bodyweight.

    Thanks a lot, you woukld really help me with an answer :)

    1. Andy Morgan

      No worries Julia. Honestly there are a few too many questions here to cover them in a comment answer.
      1. See the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance series, and give it a thorough read through.
      2. See the section on the FAQ about the calorie surplus.
      As a woman that lifts one of the most important things to get out of your head is that the scale weight tells the whole story. See this picture.

      1. Julia

        Hey Andy,

        thanks a lot for your answers!
        I know that picture of the girl and I’m trying not to focus on the scale. I take pictures every week. This is a very good way to track it, on the first one you don’t see abs and now I can see a “four- pack” already :)

  31. Julia

    Hey Andy,

    I really like your page! I learned a lot more about IF.
    I’m doing IF since two month now, it ´s going very well (even better since I read almost every article on your page), i’m on a cut.
    I do weight training three to four times a week, but on my rest-days i also do trx, like two times a week. What about the calorie intake on the days i do trx (it’s a course over 30-45 mins). Should i still cut calories about 30%?
    I know i don’t have to do extra workout to get results but i like trx :)

    Thanks, regards from germany!

  32. siraaj

    Hi Andy,

    When counting protein macros, does this include what comes from carb sources like pasta? Is there a threshold minimum quantity of lean, complete proteins you recommend we should take within our total protein macro calculation? Thanks!

  33. Vince

    Hello Andy. Is it accurate to say that during a cut the primary reason for weight lifting is for muscle and strength preservation and less about glycogen depletion and fat loss? I would think that with the recommended lifting schedule and exercises, that the warm up sets and a total of 3 to 6 work sets does not use a lot of muscle glycogen. The fat loss is due to the total weekly calorie reduction under maintenance. Is that correct? Also, I like using the fasting and calorie/carb zigzagging protocol, but is it necessary? Does it expedite the process? Can the same results be achieved if macros and calories are the same everyday? Appreciate your thoughts and comments and thanks for your time!

  34. Alan

    HI Andy,
    As far as training and rest days go for this slow bulk, what should I aim for my calorie difference to be between rest/training days? 500/600, more or less?

  35. Stephany Barraza

    Hi I’ve been reading your blog for almost 4 hours and I found it really interesting. I all ready got my BMR which is on T Days 2407 and in R Days 1600 and my LBM is 43kg. But I just can’t figure how to apply step 6 which is making my menu.
    Bases on your example :

    Tom’s Training-Day macros are: P190/F60/C275
    Which according to my simplified rules means eating means consuming: (WHAT RULE??)

    950g of leanish meat/fish, 385g of rice and lots of green vegetables.

    I just can’t figure out where did you got this final numbers?

    Hope you can help me !!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Stephany.
      “Which according to my simplified rules means eating means consuming: (WHAT RULE??)”
      See link in the section starting with, “Firstly,” in bold.
      Read carefully. – I said that I will delete comments that ask me to do specific macro calculations.
      Don’t write in capitals.

  36. John

    Hi Andy,

    Quick question: What kind of macros would you use on a cut for a day involving some cardio (not for fat loss!)?

    Some background: I play competitive 5-a-side football (soccer) on Monday evenings and normally train tues-thurs-sat. I’m two weeks into a IF cut and all is going well, I’m just slightly concerned about muscle loss. It can be a pretty intense game (somewhat equivalent of 30 mins of HIIT I guess) and up till now I’ve still been treating it as a rest day (mainly because going from -30% kcal to +10% one day a week would cut my fat loss by 1/3).

    For info if needed: I’ve calculated my maintenance as 2750kcal (I’m 6ft3, 200lb,~15% BF), so am aiming for 1750 rest days and 3000 train days (16,000kcal/week – 3250 below maintenance). Train day eating 4 days a week instead of 3 would mean an extra 1250 kcal per week.

    Basically, should I just suck it up and treat football as a training day? This would take me way past my goal of 12 weeks 12lb of fat though, which would be a little demotivating given that it’ll be summer by then.

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Quick question: What kind of macros would you use on a cut for a day involving some cardio (not for fat loss!)?
      Hi John. Simplest way is to add in some carbs on that day to make up for the extra activity, and be careful of overestimation.

      1. John

        Hi Andy,

        That’s great, thanks.

        Unrelated question out of curiosity. For your cut on the results page, you seemed to lose over 1kg a week. This would seemingly require a deficit of over 7000kcal a week? If you’re willing to share, how did you manage it? Did you keep training days at maintenance and eat, say, 1200kcal on rest days?

        1. Andy Morgan

          I think it was likely to do with my being a low NEAT responder and being quite active and on my feet all day that did it. In hindsight I took it too quickly, and likely lost some muscle mass towards the end of that cut and I should have added in more calories towards the end of it to slow down the weight losses. Specific macros aren’t going to help you there, but I do have some specific fat loss guidelines based on body fat percentage in the article, The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance – #1 Calories.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Welcome, make sure you check out the more detailed version in the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance also. I think a lot of people are missing it just because the name isn’t, “Here’s a more awesome macros guide”.

  37. Shane Clissold

    Hi, Im new to all of this only started 2 weeks ago. I have over the last 6months myself got from 103kg to 87kg, Im 5’9 and 42 years of age.

    Looking at the calculations I have a BMR 1861 I go to the gym 4 days a week a only lift weights – no cardio for me, so this puts me on 2885.

    Now Im about 20-22% BF at the moment so want to cut first then bulk.

    Using your calculations I have got this. I have gone for Cut at +10% Tday and -35% Rday.

    TDay- P: 173g F: 50g Carbs: 500g (this seems very high seeing I have only been sitting on about 120g a day) = 3142 near enough to my +10%.

    I guess im looking for an answer to weather I have done this correctly or not?

    Thanks in advance.

  38. Pingback: What Should My Leangains Macronutrient Numbers Be? |

  39. Chris Seah

    Hi Andy,

    If I take a break from training for a week or two due to visiting, will I be eating my average macros for the week or two and will it affect my recomposition?

    Also, is it alright to split my meals into 10% preworkout at 130, train at 130-230 or 2-3 then 45% pwo and 45% at dinner (6pm or so) because I cant eat between 10-130.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  40. Dean Shah

    Andy,

    So going from roughly 18% body fat to 7-10% (before hitting stubborn fat) should be able to be accomplished simply by taking it slow, having patience, choosing diet breaks before caloric restriction and then using caloric restriction (only after trying the other options) slowly all the way until the end? It’s really that simple, that you just have to very slowly reduce your calories as you progress and you’ll get all the way down to 7-10% body fat? There’s no other tricks I need to implement to get all the way down to at least 10% before I hit stubborn body fat?

    It’s a mental thing for many of us, because we are taught that we need to suffer, do excessive cardio, etc. to lose fat. So it really is as simple as what I mentioned in the previous paragraph?

    Thanks, brother!

    1. Andy Morgan

      1. Yes.
      2. Yes, pretty much.
      3. Yes, that’s what I keep banging on about on the blog Dean. No secrets, the only people with secrets are those trying to sell you something. Everything is here. Check out any of the two hundred or so testimonial comments on the results page and you’ll see people talking about the simplicity of it.
      4. Jesus, yes. Don’t ask a question 4 times. It’s wasteful to your fingers, my patience, and the eyes of everyone reading. You already know I will give you a straight answer.

  41. Brad

    Hello Andy, I love the website! It has been a great help to me. I am currently about 167 pounds at 13% body fat and was wondering if I should start to cut or start a body recomposition? Will doing a recomposition help me gain muscle and lose fat? And how much longer would a recomp take compared to a cut to reach about 9% bodyfat? Thanks!

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