Macro calculator

Can someone help me understand how to calculate my macros for weight loss? Calculators online give me different numbers and I want to do it right-
I am female, 185lbs, moderate activity, and 5’6”
Thank you so much
(I know I need to focus on calories but also want to track macros)


  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,695 Member
    Macros don't really matter for weight loss. Calories are what matter for weight loss and weight management in general. There is no universally optimal macro ratio and there really isn't a "weight loss" macro ratio. For example, a vegan is likely to have a much different macro breakdown relative to an omnivore. An endurance athlete like a marathon runner is likely going to have a much different optimal macro ratio for performance than a body builder or power lifter, etc.

    Macros a very personal thing and there isn't a one size fits all. It's something you just have to play with. Tracking macros is more about monitoring your physical performance and satiety...and to some extent body composition depending on what kind of exercise you're doing and whether or not you're engaging in strength training.

    In general when losing weight it is recommended to get more protein than the RDA which is a minimum. More protein in combination with resistance training will help preserve muscle when your body is in a catabolic state (dieting). That said, I find some of the protein recommendations as of the last few years to be pretty over the top for gen pop and at some point you're just making expensive glucose and pee. IMO, anything more than 1 gram per Lb of LBM is overkill...and even that is overkill IMO for most people.

    I personally strive for around 0.6-0.8 grams per Lb of a healthy weight, so for me that comes out to around 108-144 grams. On average I'm generally in the 110-115 grams range. The high end would put me at around 1 gram per Lb of LBM, but I've found that to be completely unnecessary for my goals.
  • Rockmama1111
    Rockmama1111 Posts: 264 Member
    edited April 24
    I had a similar start weight and height and I just happen to be analyzing my spreadsheet right now and thought I’d share so you have a comparison.

    21 weeks, 18 pounds lost, average daily net calories (before exercise calories consumed): 1545.

    My macros shake out to a fairly consistent 40 carbs, 40 fat, 20 protein, but I really just aim for a protein goal of 80-90 grams and 25 grams of fiber, and let the rest happen however. (I’m upping my protein goal to 100 starting this week.)
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 33,523 Member
    I just used the default macros when I lost weight, which are 50%Carbs, 30%Fat and 20%Protein. I tended to eat more like Rockmamma does, though. It really isn't all that important as long as you're getting enough protein and fat.

    Here's a great thread explaining:

    Here's the MFP Dietician take on it:
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,376 Member
    edited April 24
    Protein shouldn't hinge on a percentage simply because depending on your calorie restriction, that will change how much protein a person is eating, which really shouldn't be happening because the metabolic processes that require protein don't change that much and why protein should be constant regardless of your calorie consumption, basically.

    .7 to 1g of quality protein per pound of what your final goal weight might be, and keep this a steady consumption regardless of how you then decide the percentages for fat or carbohydrates. These are both energy macro's and neither one have an advantage to weight loss and it really doesn't matter how you divvy these 2 up and I suggest you go by what might appeal to you more, allowing you a better chance to adhere to your deficit.

    Once you figured out your calorie goal, take that protein number and calculate what the default percentage will be to figure out your other two macro's. This is just my opinion. Cheers

  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 8,465 Member
    It depends on what makes you happy and feel full. And that's different for everyone. Why not start with the standard settings, log all your food, see how the macros are distributed for a few days and then consider whether you'd be happy to eat more of one or another. Change your settings. Or keep as they are.

    I use the standard settings, usually am a bit low of fat (In continental Europe, food is traditionally not very high fat) and high in carbs.
  • tomcustombuilder
    tomcustombuilder Posts: 1,136 Member
    Yes protein drives the train as far as macros go however you have to be careful with the common
    .8-1gram per pound of bodyweight as that, for someone with a lot of fat can be too high. In those cases either go off of your goal weight or your current lean weight which is your weight minus the fat. So someone at 180 with 30% BF would be in the neighborhood of 126 lbs so somewhere around that number of grams per day or perhaps a little higher
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 29,630 Member
    I haven't seen anyone mention this on your thread, so I will:

    Counting calories while watching nutrition (macros, maybe more) is essentially the same thing as counting macros while watching calories.

    Each macronutrient has a characteristic calorie level: Protein and carbs have roughly 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 calories per gram, and alcohol (not strictly a macro but plays like one) has 7 calories per gram.

    The calories and macros won't balance exactly on MFP (even if you pick accurate food database entries) because of things like rounding error and the fudge-factors allowed on food labels, but they should be close.

    As others have said, the MFP default macros aren't terrible as a starting point for most people . . . as long as people don't try to lose stupid-fast. At 185, probably something like a pound a week, or even a pound and a half for a while, would be fine. (NB: I started weight loss at 183 and 5'5", have been around 130 +/- 5 for most of the last 7+ years.)

    Neanderthin is right, that it's better to calculate some gram goals for protein (and I'd say fats, but many people get enough of those without paying them much heed . . . I don't). Others have given you good links or rules of thumb for thinking about gram goals.

    Carbs aren't an essential nutrient, in the sense that our body can manufacture them from other stuff (which is not true of the essential macronutrients proteins and fats - or rather the essential amino acids (EAA) and essential fatty acids (EFA) that are part of those). So, carb levels are very flexible, in theory. Some health conditions (such as diabetes) require people to manage them more closely. Some people find that carbs spike their appetite (those people should eat fewer carbs). Some people find that eating low carbs tanks their energy level (those people should eat more carbs). Me, I just use them (or occasionally alcohol, TBH) to balance out my calorie goal.

    In general, as has been said, it's calories that directly determine body weight. (Nutrition's effect is indirect, via fatigue or appetite/cravings.) Macros, micros, other beneficial phytochemicals and what not: They matter for health, energy, body composition (amount of fat vs. lean at any give body weight), satiation, and that sort of thing.

    For macros, close is good enough. Over on one day, a little under the next, averaging out around your goal level over a few days to a week: Fine. If you're persistently under on protein or fats, work on improving that.

    Macros are not a magic spell that confers some special benefit if they're exactly exact every single day. Humans are adaptive omnivores.

    Best wishes!