In order to properly calculate your macros for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, you need to know how many calories you’re currently eating.
There are ways to estimate this, but people get the best results when tracking their calorie intake for a consecutive seven days. It is extremely important to make sure that you track an average week and weekend (i.e. no special events that alter your diet).
I recommend downloading the free app Carb Manager for iOS and Android to track your macros. Carb Manager is advertised as an app for keto diets, but it has functionality for all macro choices! When you install the app, it will have you create an account and select how you want to balance your macros. As you enter foods during the day, it will show you exactly how you are doing!
It is extremely important that you do not change the way you eat during this week. Why? You want to be shocked. Maybe the way you’ve been eating isn’t so bad. In that case, slight tweaks may be all that you need. Maybe your general diet is atrocious. You need to see how that looks in order to jumpstart your brain into making better decisions for your new lifestyle.
Using a food scale or actual measurement tools are also extremely beneficial for this phase. Many people are surprised to see what 5oz of chicken or 1tbsp of peanut butter actually looks like. Remember to track all of the little licks, tastes, and bites that you consume throughout the day, as these can sneak up on you and add up quickly!
When setting up your tracking app, it will have you enter your height, weight, daily activity level, and goals, and it will provide you with a recommended daily caloric intake from this. Take this figure, and use the chart below to figure out your recommended macros from that figure.
I generally consume 1200 retained calories per day, and I typically live in a weight-loss macro. This means that I should aim for 420-600 calories from protein, 300-540 calories from carbs, and 240-420 calories from fats.
Wait? What did I mean by retained calories? Your workouts burn calories, and you get to subtract those calories! If my workout will burn 300 calories, I actually should aim to eat 1500 total calories in a day, which will leave me with my 1200 recommended retained calories.
If I ate only 1200 total calories and then worked out, I would only have 900 retained calories for that day, which is far too low a deficit. This can trigger your body’s starvation mode reflex, which will actually cause your body to store fat instead of burning it normally!