How to calculate your leangains macros

Updated January 13th, 2015

This guide has now been read over 1 million times. But let me tell you a secret – what you’re about to read isn’t the best guide on the site, it’s just the most popular one.

I’ve progressed massively as a coach since, and using those client experiences as well as the feedback received, I’ve put together a much more complete version for you (just with a slightly more boring sounding name), The Nutritional Pyramid of Importance for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth’.

Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance Pyramid

You’re welcome to read this original guide below of course, but you’ll see from my last few hundred comment answers that most people will simply find what they’re looking for in this pyramid series.

So, go make yourself a cup of tea, get a pen and notepad, and start getting those gains!

Go to the newer article →


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.

Andy Morgan | RippedBody.jp 10 Weeks BWFirstly, the calculations I have outlined below will work best if you follow the simplified macro-counting rules that I used to achieve this 10 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…

About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional coach and trainer. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, riding a motorbike, or staring at watches I can't afford.

1,817 Comments on “How to Calculate your Leangains Macros”

  1. Kenny

    Hi Andy.

    I’m trying my best to keep progressing with my cut after you and I finished in December.
    I’ve lost a couple of kilos but now I’ve been stuck at around 80 for a few weeks.
    I just calculated my macros and adjusted them a bit and now I got this.
    Bmr: 2020kcal
    T-day: P180F60C135=1800 kcal
    R-day: P180F70C25=1450 kcal
    But according to this article I should be around 2200 on training days and 1400 on rest days.

    So, should I up the calories on trying days to keep loosing weight?
    My measurements are roughly the same, although my strength stats have increased a bit.

    I now have 2.5 months left until my wedding and I want to look awesome on our honeymoon so I’m going all in these last 10 weeks

    Thanks!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Kenny, see the FAQ at the end of the article bud. Relative adjustments based on how you are currently progressing is the most important thing, like we did together.

  2. miguel rodrigues

    some authors like mike matthews defend you should nt go below BMR to preserve LBM.i am currently on IF whats your take on the extremely deficit on rest days even with fairly high protein?it just seems to musch whats the reason behind that

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Miguel, thanks for the question.
      “You should not go below BMR to preserve LBM.”
      This is not a bad guideline for a complete beginner, but it’s not true as an absolute statement. It depends very highly on the context. Body-fat percentage, duration of restriction, daily protein intake, and training status. More info in the more detailed set up series linked at the top.

  3. Kim

    Hi Andy, I’m a 19 year old female recovering from anorexia nervosa and looking to build muscle as I have destroyed mine from restricting calories and overdoing it on cardio for a year and a half. I got a metabolic test done last week (where you blow into a hose) and although I’m at a bmi of 19 now, it showed that my bmr is only 1040. Does this mean i would gain weight on 1500-1600 calories? Or is the metabolism supposed to repair itself after an eating disorder? I do about 2 hours of cardio a week (low intensity) and strength training at the gym 20-30 minutes a day. I’ve been maintaining my weight for a week on 1200 calories. I wouldn’t mind gaining 5-10 more pounds if it could be in muscle, but I don’t want to be that person who gains on 1500! Before my ED i could maintain on 2000-3000 while sedentary. Please help.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Kim, appreciate the question. You need to see a qualified specialist in this field who has training in not just the technical stuff but he psychological aspects of this.

  4. Ross

    Great article and clears up a few things. I do have some questions in regard to body type. I’ve been IF for about 2 weeks (cutting) but my body is not responding well to the amount of carbs – I’m an endomorph. I’d like to IF using 35% p, 40% f, and 25% carb. This places my fat well above the range you recommend for cutting, even for a heavier person (19%bf). Also, this causes issues when calculating macros for rest days. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Ross, thanks for the question.
      “…but my body is not responding well to the amount of carbs”
      Just swap out some carbs for fats then and see how you respond in comparison.

  5. Rafael Ferreira

    Hello Andy! One of the readers of my blog came up with this question and I wonder what would you say about this. As you adviced, he’s keeping the protein intake the same on training days and rest days for simplicity. But he’s also doing the same with fat, he’s taking 60g on both days. In other words, he is consuming almost the maximum for the training days and the minimum for the rest days for simplicity. What do you think about this? Cheers!

  6. Matt

    Hey Andy, thanks so much for taking the time to write this article! Quick question, for the more advanced lifters who train 5-6 days per week, what adjustments (if any) would you recommend to make to the protocol? Is it okay to have more high carb days without the worry of added body fat?

    -Matt

  7. James1990

    Hi Andy, I think my diet is lacking vitamins & nutrients but not sure on how to include this into my diet except by added some boiled vegetables.. I was looking on the internet for some smoothie recipes and came accross an detox smoothie that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, is this worth giving a go since im not getting enough vitamins & nutrients in my diet? Any ideas on what to do would be fantastic.

    Thanks.

  8. Jake

    G’day Andy,

    I have worked out both my training and rest day macros as per the calorie/macro cycling suggestion in step 4.

    I am running with early morning fasted training with 50% macros to break the fast at 12pm and 50% at approx 7.30pm.

    My training day carb macros equal 448g per day (242g per meal).

    TO meet these requirements I need to eat 340g rice/pasta per meal. This seems like a lot of carbs per meal. Are there any tricks to increase carb numbers with the choice of food so I am not ingesting so much rice/pasta?

    Thanks,
    Jake

  9. Aashna

    Hi. Great article. I recently started IF. I am 21 yo female, 65kg, 5’10” height. My question is that us there any specific workout that is most effective for this diet or will any kind of workout do? I do HIIT and boot camp style workouts 3-4 days a week and power yoga everyday. Is that enough? My aim is to reduce body fat and adopt a routine that is not too cumbersome since I am a student at uni and cannot have 6 meals a day if my life depends on it. Thanks.

  10. Jack1990

    Hi Andy, Im weighing in around 72kg and my height is 5 ft 8 inches, currently training 5 days a week one muscle per day. Mainly weight training and no cardio… Im currently on a 2000kcl diet, would you say that is too less considering my weight and height? and how would i know how many calories i am burning while weight training?

    Thanks in advance.

  11. Sunny

    Hi Andy, I’ve been following LG with RPT style training for approx. 10 weeks. Great results so far! My question is regarding rest day carbs:
    There are several other LG macro calculators out there. I feel that the 30-40 g of carbs on rest day is extremely low. Some other calculators give me a number closer to 65, which I have been doing just fine at. Would increasing to around 65 g be that detrimental? Would my results be quicker with 30 g of carbs? Basically I want to know if I’ve been doing it all wrong this entire time. I’ve done UD2 and Lyle recommends around the same amount (around 60 g)…mind you, it is for 3.5 days straight, which absolutely sucked all energy and life out of me. but it did work albeit making me a d*ck for the better half of the week until the carb load,

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Sunny. If an extra 35g of carbs makes your mood, energy, workouts, and overall life better – do it. Results will only come in time, and any method you can’t sustain is irrelevant.

      More technically speaking, the difference is 560kCal per week, which is less than a quarter of a pound of reduction in fat loss per week. (Assuming you didn’t adjust the fat or protein intakes to allow for that increase without increasing overall weekly intake.) So not a big deal by any means.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Vin, great question. I know the author, James Fell, he is a good writer. When you consider the way that most people go about getting ripped, then I would have to emphatically agree with that statement that it isn’t worth it, nor is it sustainable. People start out in a way they can’t possible continue with, and then it all goes to shit when they finish their diets.

      Sustaining a ripped physique is easier than getting there (assuming you do that in a gradual, methodical and systematic way – as I teach on this site), because you can eat a lot more as you no longer need the calorie deficit. Post diet, after a maintenance period where people still count and pay a lot of attention to their diets, a lot of people find that they can auto regulate (keep lean without counting), or at least stay lean with minimal counting.

      However, whether people actually choose to sustain that depends on the pull that environmental factors have with the changed value you now place on being shredded lean. Most people find that simply having got there satisfied the urge to be shredded, and staying there revealed that it didn’t make life as wonderful as they thought because everyone treats you exactly the same. (Real, decent people care only about the content of your character.)

      Thus, you might find yourself at a point where you’re happy to trade off a few extra fat percentage points for being able to relax more and drink a few more beers when with your boys, and join your girlfriend for dessert at restaurants. – The happiness that brings outweighs the happiness that being a little leaner brings.

      Make sense?

  12. John

    how do you know how many grams or ounces a pack of hamburger or turkey burger or a chicken breast is ?

  13. Jack1990

    Hi Andy, Just a quick one.. Im working in a office job and have no idea what high protein snacks i can have while im at my desk! Any recommendations?

    Thanks,

  14. richard

    Morning Marting, once again thanks! thanks for sharing all this information! I hope you can answer my question, if I understood correctly, the leangain method applies to people working out 3times a week, would I use the same logic say if I follow a different program (perhaps wendler 4times a week)..eat more on training days and less otherdays?

  15. Denis

    Hey Andy I had a quick question, when I do my calculations for cutting do I use my daily requirement calories or do I use my defficit calories. For example my maintenance cal are 2800 do I calculate of that or 2300 for cutting. With 2300 I’m in a deficits both days of training and rest.

  16. Jessica

    Hello, I am glad I stumbled upon your website. I am just starting off trying to calculate and focus on learning my macros. Based off my extremely active lifestyle I have found what my calories should be for both my active and rest days. However I am up from 3am until about 8pm or 8:30pm. I have heard to help aid a person in weight loss that choosing to limit your eating to 9 hours or even 12 hours can be beneficial. I have tried doing the 12 hours and found that even 7am until 7pm it was difficult to go through the first few hours of work with only water. Would eating for such a long period of the day (from wake up until an hour of so before bed. Eating every 2 to 3 hours.) be ideal as long as I spread it out. Based off my my calculations I am needing to consume atleast 165 grams of protein, 40 grams of fat and 549 grams of carbs based off of a 155lb frame to be able to fuel my workouts for athletics and lifting together.

    For awhile I was only doing vegetables for my carbs and am thinking that the lack of proper carbs in proportion to a lower fat intake was my problem and not necessarily my times I am consuming my food?

    1. Andy Morgan

      See the related article linked at the bottom of the post Jessica. The hierarchy of importance is covered in detail there, but will be obvious from the image itself without clicking through.

      1. Jessica

        Ahh yes yes I read that a few hours right before you responded. You site has helped me very much I appreciate the easy breakdown.

  17. Rafael Ferreira

    Greetings Mr.Morgan! I’ve got a question for you: should I subtract the 10g of BCAAs and the 5g of creatin from my protein macro? Let’s say, I will train fasted and I’ll have 10g of BCAA before the train and then 5g of creatin with my first meal. If I need 100g of protein on training days now I’d have the other 85g from real food? Is that right? Thanks a lot!

  18. Chris

    I like IF because it fits my style- I’m used to skipping breakfast so all I need to do is wrap up my eating by 8PM the night before.
    However I have a question as far as Body Recomp calories/macros go.
    I’ve noticed that I have a hard time gaining when I eat less than about 2400~ calories. According to the first formula above my maintenance is 2220 and I should be eating about 2600~calories on training days and 1800~ on rest days. Since from personal experience I know that I’ve made gains on about 3000 calories on training days and 2700 on rest days, could I still expect to achieve a body recomposition rather than just a bulk? I’m an ectomorph with some belly fat covering the abs- I’m quite skinny fat.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Chris. Unfortunately there is no blanket answer that can be given to your questions, it all depends on the individual and their situation. Now, I’ve done my best to answer that though already in a couple of guides that cover many different eventualities. Check out these two in combination:

      Physique Goal Setting – The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.1of3)
      The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance (for Fat Loss & Muscle Growth) – Overview

  19. Dario

    Hi Andy! I’m just finishing my cut and going to maintenance for a week or two before starting a slow-bulk. I know on cut fats should kept higher (0.9-1g*LBM), but when eating at maintenance/over how do you think I should tweak them? Thank and great site!

      1. Dario

        Didn’t see that table, my mistake.. So after I decide the percentage, should I adjust training/rest fat intake to hit that number weekly? Thanks

  20. Lucy Fisher

    Hi Andy, My personal trainer has told me to split my calories 40 P/40 F/20 C. I have just began strength training and aim to build muscle, get lean and lose fat. I train 5 times a week and my BMR is around 1400 calories. Do you think this break down is correct? After reading your article I’m not sure if it should be 40 P/40 C/20 F? Thanks, Lucy

  21. Daniel

    Hey Andy, im doing a body-recomp, based on your ecuations my BMR+act. level is 2600 cal, but I really know me, and if I eat that calories I will gain weight even though it is my “maintence level”. Im stipulating around 2300 calories my maintence level, so can I setup the body-recomp macros starting from 2300 cal and not from 2600cal? An how many time I should be in body-recomp? im 18 bf, trying to get around 10bf. Thanks

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Daniel.
      If you gain weight then that is not your maintenance level. Calculations are only an estimation – they are based on formulas which were derived for what happens to people on average. There will always be outliers.
      Two articles you’ll find useful moving forward:

      Coaching Lessons #4 – Tracking Trumps Calculations
      Physique Goal Setting – The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.1of3)

  22. Marcin

    Hi Andy,

    First of all sorry for my language, English is my 3rd language.
    I’m 30yo male with BF about 20%. Training 3 days per week. Macro +20/-20. Training experience over one year.
    I would like to do recomp and I have a few questions. You are saying ‘Those carrying more body fat will do better with a higher fat intake on training days than leaner individuals’. My macros for training days are: 160p, 400c, and 60f. Follow your suggestion I should have a higher fat intake on training days. Above your advice you saying ‘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’.
    When I consume post workout meal (~80p, 200c, 20f) I’m feeling sleepy (there’s enough veggies in meal),
    What is your suggestion to me?

  23. mustang302

    The “Adjust for Activity” confuses me slightly. Is the activity level meter for people who have high activity during their normal day-to-day activities, which excludes their optional gym time after work?

    For someone who works at a desk all day and moves very little, but does go to the gym after work some days for 2 hours, what activity level do you choose?

    If I didn’t work out after work, i’d choose Sedentary. But since I do work out after work then do you choose Moderately active?

    What confuses me about this: If the goal is cut, then should i be choosing my baseline of sitting at a desk all day(Sedentary), or should i be including my optional gym time that i only do to put me in a calorie deficit?

  24. Tyler

    Hello Andy, Say you work out 6 days a week. Three days are weight training and three days are endurance/ athletic cardio training (running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.). Therefore there aren’t really any “rest” days since you are active almost every day. How should caloric intervals be used then? Based on my calculations and activity level of “moderate” I am getting a 2,648 daily calories for maintenance. I’m not sure if cutting or body recomposition is the best for my goals. Body fat is around 11%. Should carb intake always be considered the same as a training day? But then that would throw off my other macros, and I should still be getting a good amount of protein and fats every day, right?

  25. Tyler

    Hi Andy,
    I am a triathlete and I run about 24 miles a week, bike 50+ miles a week, and swim at least once a week for 30 minutes. I also want to get in my weight training 2- 3x a week.
    What type of macros should I be focusing on for this? Should I get higher fat on my cardio days? Should I generally always be eating lots of carbs?
    I ask because I started seriously tracking calories a couple months ago and I am very strict about eating and going to the gym. I dropped 1% of body fat but my weight has stayed the same. I feel like I haven’t made much progress for all the work I’ve been putting in. My goal is to drop body fat to single digits for visible abs as well as define my chest more. Thanks a lot!

  26. Gareth

    Hey Andy! This site has really helped me in understanding the concept of Intermittent Fasting more. I’m about to start on my cut with it, and I have calculated everything according to the guidelines above. I’m at 18%bf, 161lbs and 5′ 10″, moderate exercise lifestyle. I’m looking to lower my bodyfat and lean bulk from there.

    I calculated my protein requirements as 177g for both training and non-training days, 60g fat on training days and 80g fat on non-training days, and 473g carbs on training days and 107g carbs on non-training days.

    Should my training day carbs be lower and my protein generally be higher? And should my non-training day carbs be lower?

    I’m afraid that there will be too many carbs and too little protein for a good cut and I really want to get off to a good start on my Intermittent Fasting. I hope you can give me some input or advice on this. Thank you in advance!

  27. Greg

    Hey Andy,

    I came up with these values after a 1.55 multiplier…

    REST DAYS 2160 CALORIES
    155 CARBS
    200 PROTEIN
    80 FAT

    TRAINING DAYS 3240 CALORIES
    475 CARBS
    200 PROTEIN
    60 FAT

    How do i come up with the training day calories and carbs?
    I’d have to consume about 235 carbs in one meal and between two meals thats huge and 1600 calories?

    Even a big mac meal only has 1k calories and 70g of carbs…

  28. Jesse Levine Evers

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for this awesome site! It’s been really helpful! I wasn’t sure how to scale fat intake, because you said “average male” and I’m definitely not, as I’m ~130lbs and 5’5″ (I’m a high school wrestler). How much fat would you recommend I intake on rest/training days? Thanks!

  29. Jim

    I’m having trouble following your calculations at the end. If Tom’s protein intake for training day is 190 grams, why do you have him eating 950 grams of meat? Same for his carbs and fat.

    Did I misunderstand something?

  30. Kerrod

    Hi Andy,

    Using the calculations provided for my macros, I came up with a calorie requirement of 1900 (2945 with a 1.55 multiplier)

    This number seems very high to me (24year, 180cm, 80kg) especially if i am to eat >20% on my training day.

    Furthermore, I do HIIT 3-5 days a week (mornings), is it still possible to do this and train 3-5 days (afternoon) a week and have a deficit/surplus.

    I’ve been reading through most of your articles and I am just a bit confused about how to accomplish my goals when i require HIIT and have a high calorie requirement as calculate using your figures.

    Much appreciate all the information you have provided.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Kerrod. Based on what you’ve said the number isn’t high. I wouldn’t recommend 3-5 days of HIIT on top of your regular training though, but that’s for you to decide on. Basically, I just think you need to do a little further reading, as this isn’s one of the best or newest guides, it’s just the most popular one cause of the name.

  31. Jordan Liester

    Hey andy. Started IF yesterday. Here’s my question. What happens if you dont eat enough to reach your base calorie needs? I’m a 107 kg athlete. And my bf sits around 15%. That puts my calorie needs between 2500 and 3000 per day. so, if i’m trying to cut, will eating 2000 calories prevent me from losing body fat faster?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Jordan.
      The lower the calorie intake, the higher the energy deficit, the quicker you will lose weight.
      As you’re around 15% body fat, you should be aiming to lose around 1-1.25lbs of fat per week. Guidelines on calorie setting in my Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance series. Give that a good read.

  32. Anthony

    Andy, I swear I saw it somewhere on this site but I can’t seem to find it…..
    What app do you recommend for tracking macros?

    Your site is the best on the net, hands down.

  33. Roman

    Hi Andy,
    One thing that has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head is the seeming disconnect between your advise regarding no more than 3 days of training versus the activity multiplier giving an option for 3-5 days of activity under moderate for example.
    In theory, does this not mean then, that the maximum allowable number of workout days would be 5 under this choice. Again, being that this option has 3-5 days of activity as a benchmark, wouldn’t that then mean that the energy expenditure is already accounted for up to but not to exceed 5 days? Again, this had always been a tiny nagging voice in the back of my head, but it wasn’t until now, that I was finally able to formulate that thought into a question. Also, if I am oversimplifying my reasoning, then please feel free to call me out on it; I would much rather have your professional explanation remove all question, then be spinning my wheels needlessly.
    Thanks!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Roman, good question.
      Intermediate and advanced trainees will likely (but not always) need to increase the number of days they train in order to get in the necessary volume when bulking.

      To be honest though I had that there originally not for reasons of the above, just as a copy paste from the standard wiki on TDEE calculations, fully expecting people to ignore my advice to go for three days of training principally, and hammer me with, “Oh but I train more days…” questions. :)
      Still, didn’t work as there have already been 1743 comments on this post already.

      1. Roman

        Thanks, and I understand your points, but for the sake of conversation, does it not make sense then that a person could, in theory ,choose the activity level of 3-5 days and actually work on that level and still yield favorable results or rather, the results that you propose? And if not, why not then state for the record and place ALL clients on the 1-3 activity level and remove some confusion from some people’s minds? I am probably over thinking this a bit much, but blame that on my over analytical mind! Thanks!

  34. Drew

    Hey Andy, love your calculator! Very easy to use and gives a great layout of information. One question though; when calculating TDEE for females is it based on lean mass? Have you explored any of the findings from Alex Navarro? Or listen to the recent podcast on Body.io with Keifer. Really trying to utilize this information and find the best way to plan nutrition and training for women. Have had results all over the board with women and fat loss. The trial and error just takes such a long time and no person reacts the same way.

    -Drew

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Drew. The Katch-McArdle equation above is for both men and women. You’re likely getting confused between the commonly used Harris-Benefict equation that doesn’t. The former will be more accurate if you have an idea of your body fat, otherwise go with the latter.
      Really though this misses the point: Set your macros, track, and then adjust calorie intake accordingly so that you get the targeted rate of change. See the guides on tracking and making adjustments in the diet menu.

      Last piece of advice – the thing that screws beginners out of making progress more than anything is trying to mix and match advice from different sources. Stick with one you trust and keep to it.

  35. John

    Andy,

    Long time no speak (Still need to email you about Japan), hope you’re well!

    I’ve had an ongoing injury for two years now that’s finally being fixed up – steroid injections and physio, so won’t be training for at least a couple of weeks if not longer.

    Should I continue with my current macros (which are still helping me shave roughly 2lb a week) which involves carb cycling. Or shall I spread the macros more evenly during the days rather than cycling? I’m easy either way but want to do my best to retain strength and mass while I’m out of training.

    John

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi John. Good to hear from you.
      There is no need to cycle your macros when you’re not training. Just keep protein intake high and make sure that the calorie deficit isn’t too low (refer to the rates of fat loss guidelines here), but if you enjoy what you’re doing and are comfortable with it then there is no harm.

  36. Burak

    Hi Andy;
    Can i apply body-recomp with if?Because according to this calculations, i have to take 420g carb in 8 hours and it is a little bit hard to take it.Should i do this with if or should i spread this thing in a day not just in 8 hours?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Burak. Yes you can, though it’s not necessary to force it.
      See the FAQ, “Too Full”
      Refer to the fourth article in the nutritional hierarchy of importance series on the importance of IF for physique change.
      Note also the points in the article, “Which Routine Is For Me?

  37. mfmaxpower

    Hi Andy, I’m in the final month of my cut and I’ve had a few ups and downs due to what I now believe to be not eating enough fat. Do you have a way that you use to determine a minimum fat amount to eat on workout/rest days?

  38. Stephen Watts

    Hey Andy, great site and thanks for sharing the info. I’ve been following this way of eating for a few weeks and making good steady progress. I’m just wondering what your views are on adjusting for activities such as yoga which I tend to do on my ‘rest’ days. I know it’s training in the sense I’m exercising somewhat and do work up a light sweat, but it’s not heavy lifting and doesn’t justify a big post workout meal or significantly higher carbs for glycogen replacement. How do you recommend I tweak my macros/calorie intake for days like this? (I lift heavy 3x week, yoga 2x week). Cheers

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Stephen. There is no real need to adjust for yoga as the energy expenditure won’t be anything significant above basal RMR (sweating isn’t to be confused with calorie burn, but it always is, which goes a long way to explaining the hot yoga craze), nor will there be any significant impacts on muscle glycogen. It’s just stretching at the end of the day.

  39. Nathan

    Hey Andy, thanks for the great article. I’m pretty new to this and kind of blown away by the numbers I’m getting. Playing with the formulas I get 4-500 g of carbs on training days. How’s that even possible? That would be 10 cups of rice or med/lg potatos. I don’t think I could even eat that in a day, especially as I typically train in the evenings. I could up my protein, but that’s still a huge volume of food. Any advice appreciated!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Nathan, thanks for the comment. That can very easily be possible, it just depends on the circumstances. I’m not here to tell you whether you have calculated correctly, but here’s the way to think about it:
      1. Is that significantly more, less or around the same as you are currently eating?
      2. Are you currently gaining, losing or maintaining weight?
      3. How does your goal match up with the above two things?

      Bear in mind that if you’re switching from a higher fat diet to this, you will have a higher volume of food intake.

      If in doubt, try a quantity that is comfortable, track progress, adjust accordingly. – See also the “too full” section in the FAQ.

  40. Rob

    Hey Andy great site and info! I do have a question I am 32 and weight 169lbs. About 3 months ago I started a diet and working out, when I started i was about 185. I have been doing the strong lifts 5×5 program, and have never done any “real” weight training in my life before this. I see myself as still skinny fat…overall skinny with a little belly fat…I have been reading your site and now think that I should have been doing recomp this whole time instead of “cutting”. Would you suggest that I move to a recomp type diet? I don’t feel that I am getting stronger any longer and I am at the point where I am starting to fail and de-load on most of my lifts. I know I cannot gain strength while cutting but also want to make sure that I can get rid of this belly fat :) Any suggestions would be awesome!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Rob. For those with lifting experience there is a point where a recomp that won’t work. 3 months seems quite early to be stalling though so you might just need to adjust your training program. My guide for this is here. I’ll have a new article (or series, depending on how long it goes – original article here) explaining more about your common ‘predicament’ coming out soon. So add your mail address to the blog mailing list and you’ll see when that comes out.

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