How to Calculate Your Macros 👀
IIFYM– ‘If it fits your macros’- is one of the most popular styles of flexible dieting used by gym goers and athletes alike.
It allows you to meet your weight goals without being overly draconian: you shouldn’t feel restricted using IIFYM, and you shouldn’t find yourself getting hungry as you’re losing weight.
IIFYM puts the focus on macronutrient intake rather than calorie consumption and limited types of food. This allows you to enjoy a greater degree of flexibility in your eating habits as all foods can be included, as long as they fit within your daily macro targets.
The IIFYM website provides a free macro calculator, if you want to keep things simple. Alternatively, you can do it yourself manually for a more exact answer.
- Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and adjust this BMR for your activity levels to find your total daily energy expenditure.
- Adjust this new level to meet your weight goals. A daily deficit of around 500 calories will lead to a weekly weight loss of about 1lb/0.5kg.
- Now determine your macronutrient load based on this adjusted BMR. In very broad terms, it’s worth starting off at a split of:
50% of your calories come from carbs
30% from protein
20% from fat
Calculating Your BMR 👫
There are many online BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculators that use different formulas to estimate your daily calorie needs based on your body’s resting energy expenditure.
To calculate your BMR, take your weight in kilograms and your height in centimetres.
- Men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
- Women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
To calculate the total calories you need based on your activity level (or TDEE AKA total daily energy expenditure). To figure that out, look at the table below.
|Physical Activity Level||Physical Activity Ratio||Description|
|Sedentary||1.55||Office worker (sitting all day) with little to no exercise|
|Moderately active||1.9||Office job with 1 hour of daily cardio/weightlifting or walking during work.|
|Vigorously active||2.2||Job with moderate activity for about 8 hours daily, 2 hours of daily swimming or similar exercise, or 2 hours of daily cardio/weightlifting.|
|Extremely active||2.4||Competitive athlete (3-4 hours daily) or a job with moderate activity for about 8 hours daily, along with 1 hour of daily cardio.|
For example, if someone weighs 95kg and is moderately active (exercising 3-4 times a week and walking their dog daily), their BMR might be around 1885 calories.
By multiplying this by 1.9 (for being very active), they would need about 3,581 calories per day to maintain their current weight.
Calculating Your Macro Needs 💪🏻
Using the numbers above, if you wanted to lose 0.5kg per week, you would need to hit an average daily deficit of 500 calories, meaning you’d 3,081 calories daily.
If you wanted to put on 0.5kg per week, you’d need to hit an average daily surplus of 500 calories, meaning you’d need more like 4,081 calories.
Example: Calculating Macros to Lose Weight
Using the same numbers above, you want to split 3,081 calories per day into 50/30/20 of carbs/protein/fat.
- 50% of calories comes from carbs (1,540 calories)
- 30% from protein (925 calories)
- 20% from fat (616 calories).
1g of protein= 4kcal
1g of carbohydrate = 4kcal
1g of fat = 9kcal
So based on the above, your macro breakdown looks like:
- 1,540/4= 385g of carbs
- 925/4= 231g of protein
- 616/9= 68g of fat
As long as what you eat adds up to these every day, you should have enough of everything you need to be healthy and energetic (and to recover from the gym) whilst remaining in 500kcal daily deficit to lose 0.5kg each week.
How To Meet Your Macronutrient Needs 👉🏻
To meet your macro needs, you need to track what you’re eating each day.
Here are some good apps to use:
You should also buy a set of electronic cooking scales so that you can weigh ingredients as you’re making your meals. This will make it easy to see the quantities of an ingredient as they go into your food.
This may sound a little daunting at first. It can be time-consuming as you get used to the process.
However, it becomes a lot easier with time, as you both get used to the process, and learn what macros your favourite ingredients contain.
IIFYM: What Is It? 🤔
“IIFYM” stands for “If It Fits Your Macros.” It’s a flexible approach to nutrition where you focus on tracking and meeting specific macronutrient (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) goals rather than strict diet plans.
This means you can enjoy a variety of foods as long as they fit your daily macronutrient targets. It’s a more adaptable way of eating that allows you to enjoy your favourite foods while still meeting your nutritional needs.
What Are Macronutrients? 🍞🥑🥩
All foods can be categorised by macronutrient. There are three main macronutrients:
Few foods are solely one or the other, and instead will be a combination of all three
A medium banana will typically contain around 0.4g of fat, 27g of carbohydrates, and 1.3g of protein.
Though they are predominantly a carbohydrate source, we can see there are also minimal amounts of fat and protein.
What roles do macronutrients play in our bodies that make balancing them correctly so important?
What Are Carbohydrates? 🍞
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. They come from sugars that your digestive system breaks down into glucose, which is your body’s preferred energy source, crucial for your brain and concentration.
Most diets should consist of around 45-65% carbohydrates, making them a key part of your eating plan. Plant-based diets, in particular, rely on carbs, which are abundant in most plants.
- For your IIFYM plan, aim to get most of your carbs from fresh fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, and pulses, as they are the healthiest options. They’re rich in fibre, nutrients, and sometimes even protein.
Pro Tip: Fiber is a type of carb that’s not digested, and it plays a big role in your diet. It makes you feel full from fewer calories, helps your digestion, and has various health benefits, like lowering cholesterol and nourishing your gut bacteria.
The IIFYM diet allows sweet and sugary foods as long as they fit within your daily carb goals.
What Are Fats? 🫒
A lot of people steer clear of fat when they are dieting for weight loss. Not a good idea!
Though it is calorically dense, it is essential both for losing weight and for maintaining a healthy body. Benefits include:
- Playing a key role in brain development and function
- Cell production, regeneration and normal functioning
- A vital role in the absorption and transportation of fat-soluble micronutrients like Vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as the carotenoids found in plant-based food sources.
A normal, healthy diet will need to be made up of around 15-20% fat.
For healthy fats, look to foods like avocado, nuts, fish, seeds, oils and olives.
What Is Protein? 🥓
Protein is made from amino acids. These acids form the building blocks of many bodily structures, such as muscles, organs, soft tissue, enzymes and hormones.
A healthy diet should be made up of 15-30% of protein.
Those with more physically demanding lifestyles like athletes or labourers will typically need more than this as their bodily structures (i.e. muscles and soft tissue) come under more constant, high-level stress than more sedentary individuals.
Healthy and abundant sources of protein include animal products such as lean red and white meat, eggs and milk products, as well as plant-based sources like nuts, quinoa, seeds and other grains.
How IIFYM Compares To Other Diets 👊🏻
The main reason people turn to IIFYM is for the flexibility it affords.
If you want that slice of cake, you can have it: you simply have to take note of the macros you just ate, and make sure there is room for them in your daily allowance.
Another reason is that you won’t be starving yourself.
Of course, in order to lose weight, you will have to be in a caloric deficit. However, this is a far cry from some of the ultra-low calorie, unsatisfying diets that most people think about when they think about shedding fat.
Pros & Cons of IIFYM 👍🏻👎🏻
|Pros of Flexible Dieting (IIFYM) ✅||Cons of Flexible Dieting (IIFYM) ❌|
|– Food Variety: Flexible dieting allows you to enjoy a wide range of foods, including those typically avoided in traditional weight loss diets. You can still achieve fat loss and weight reduction while having the freedom to indulge occasionally.||– Micronutrient Neglect: IIFYM primarily focuses on macronutrients, such as protein, carbs, and fats. This can lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in your diet. It’s important to supplement with multivitamins to fill these nutritional gaps.|
|– Athlete Approval: Many elite athletes, including Olympians and sports personalities, have successfully incorporated IIFYM into their dietary routines. This showcases its effectiveness in achieving fitness and performance goals while allowing for dietary flexibility.||– Lifestyle Variance: The IIFYM approach favoured by top athletes may not suit everyone’s lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job and less caloric expenditure than high-level athletes, consuming calorically dense foods within IIFYM guidelines might not align with your daily energy needs.|
|– Easier Adherence: One of the key advantages of IIFYM is that it makes it easier to adhere to your dietary goals. By including foods you love with minor adjustments to meet your macronutrient targets, you’re more likely to stick to your eating plan.||– Neglect of Internal Health: While IIFYM can help with weight loss and muscle building, it may not address important markers of internal health, such as blood sugar levels, LDL (bad) cholesterol, visceral fat, blood pressure, iron levels, and testosterone output. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, well-sourced protein, certain fats, and fiber can positively impact these biomarkers, which are not explicitly considered in the basic IIFYM approach.|
Macro Calculator FAQs 👀
What should my macros be for 1500 calorie weight loss?
Will I still lose weight if I don’t hit my macros?
Yes, you can still lose weight if you don’t hit your macros precisely, as long as you maintain a calorie deficit. Weight loss primarily depends on the total number of calories you consume versus the number of calories you expend.
However, hitting your macros can be beneficial for several reasons. Proper macronutrient distribution can help you feel more satisfied, maintain muscle mass, and support overall health. So, while you can lose weight without hitting macros, it’s generally a good practice to aim for a balanced diet to meet your nutritional needs.
Is it better to hit macros or calories?
Both hitting your macros and staying within your calorie target are essential for effective weight management and overall health.
Calories determine whether you gain, lose, or maintain weight, while macros (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) influence your body composition and overall well-being.
Ideally, you should aim to strike a balance between macros and calories. Ensure you’re in a suitable calorie range for your goals (deficit for weight loss, maintenance for weight maintenance, surplus for muscle gain) and aim for an appropriate macro distribution that suits your needs, preferences, and activity level.