Muscle for life

A Simple and Accurate Macronutrient Calculator (and How to Use It)

A Simple and Accurate Macronutrient Calculator (and How to Use It)

If you want to calculate your macronutrients for losing, gaining, or maintaining weight, you want to read this article (and use this calculator).


When it comes to losing fat and building muscle, you probably know that exercise alone isn’t going to get you there.

Your diet is ultimately going to determine your progress.

Think of it this way:

If your body were a car, exercise is the gas pedal and diet is the brake.

You have to exercise to get your physique moving in the right direction…

…but how far are you going to get with your foot on the brake?

Not very far…and eventually your engine will burn out.

The bottom line is this:

  • Get your diet right and you’ll find that burning fat and building muscle is simple and straightforward.
  • Get it wrong, however, and you’ll find it mystifyingly hard…if not impossible.

Unfortunately, many more people are getting it wrong than right.

They’re lost in the kaleidoscopic funhouse of mainstream diet nonsense, wandering in circles.

If you feel the same way, take heart: this is article is going to show you the path out.

It’s going to teach you the easiest and most effective way to “diet”: macronutrient-based dieting.

(Also known as “flexible dieting.”)

Imagine if you could get the body you want with…

  • no food restrictions,
  • no set meal times,
  • no starving yourself,
  • no low-carb misery,
  • and no battling with hunger and cravings.

Well, you can make that fantasy a reality, and this article will show you how.

Read on.

The Macronutrient Calculator

calorie calculator

I’m going to start this article with the calculator in case you’re already familiar with the most important aspects of dieting (energy balance and macronutrient breakdown) and so you can get back to it easily and quickly in the future.

And if you need a bit of help understanding the calculator and how to use it to create meal plans that actually work, then keep reading!

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What is a “Macronutrient” Anyway?

what are macros

The dictionary defines “macronutrient” in the following way:

A macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

(Most people think of “macros” as just protein, carbohydrate, and fat, but technically it includes the macrominerals as well.)

When it comes to diet and meal planning, the macronutrients you pay most attention to are protein, carbohydrate, and fat.

Understanding the “Macronutrient” Style of Dieting

flexible dieting

If you’ve spent any time cruising the Instagram profiles of fitness folk, you’ve likely seen talk of food in relation to its “macros”…

…and you’ve probably been a little baffled.

How the hell do these people look the way they do eating the foods they eat?

It must be a hoax, right?

They don’t actually eat that pile of pancakes or bowl of Oreo ice cream…they must be just snapping photos to look cool.

Or maybe these graphic displays of “unclean eating” are the exception. The only cheat meal of the month or something?

If you’ve had thoughts like these, I understand.

I was just as skeptical when I first heard that, as far as body composition goes, what you eat isn’t nearly as important as how much.

That is, the caloric and macronutrient content of food determines our physiques more than anything else.

Let’s break this into two parts–calories and macronutrients–and learn a bit more about the role each plays in our diets.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Energy Balance Determines Your Caloric Needs


If you want to know how caloric intake relates to body composition, then you need a basic understanding of the scientific principles of “energy balance.”

Energy balance is the relationship between the energy you feed your body and the energy it expends.

As you probably know, this is often measured in kilocalories.

(A “calorie” is just a measurement of energy. One calorie is the amount of energy it takes to heat one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.)

You see, the scientifically validated, “boring” reality is this:

  • Meaningful weight loss requires you to expend more energy than you consume.
  • And meaningful weight gain (both fat and muscle) requires the opposite: more consumption than expenditure.

If you’re shaking your head, thinking I’m drinking decades-old Kool-Aid, let me ask you a few questions.

Why has every single controlled weight loss study conducted in the last 100 years…including countless meta-analyses and systematic reviews…concluded that meaningful weight loss requires energy expenditure to exceed energy intake?

Why have bodybuilders dating back just as far…from Sandow to Reeves and all the way up the line…been using this knowledge to systematically and routinely reduce and increase body fat levels?

And why do new brands of “calorie denying” come and go every year, failing to gain acceptance in the weight loss literature?

The reality is a century of metabolic research has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that energy balance, which operates according to the first law of thermodynamics, is the basic mechanism that regulates fat storage and reduction.

That doesn’t mean you have to count calories to lose weight…but it does mean you have to understand the relationship between calorie intake and expenditure and weight gain and loss.

This is why claims that some foods are “better” than other for losing weight is misleading.

It misses the forest for the trees because foods don’t have any special properties that make them better or worse for weight loss.

What they do have, however, are varying amounts of calories and varying types of macronutrient profiles.

These two factors–the calories contained in foods and how those calories break down into protein, carbohydrate, and fat–are what make certain foods more suitable for losing weight than others.

Notice I said more suitable, and not “best.”

And that’s because if you know how to regulate and balance your food intake properly, you can eat just about anything and lose weight.

Don’t believe me?

Well, Professor Mark Haub lost 27 pounds on a diet of protein shakes, Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, and Little Debbie snacks.

He did this to prove a simple point:

If you consistently feed your body less energy than it burns, you’ll lose weight, even if that energy comes from convenience store fare.

Let’s not forget the corollary, either:

If you consistently feed your body more energy than it burns, you’ll gain weight, even if that energy comes from the “cleanest” foods on the planet.

Just look around your gym for proof of this one.

How many of these people are overweight regardless of how nutritiously they eat?

So, that’s calories and energy balance and how you can use them to reduce or increase body weight.

How do macronutrients fit into this picture?

How to Get Your “Macros” Right

macronutrient ratio

You’ve already seen that as far weight loss and gain goes, a calorie is a calorie.

Eat too much of anything–even organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, sugar-free vegetable goop–and you will gain weight.

Maintain a calorie deficit while following a “gas station diet” of the most nutritionally bankrupt crap you can find and you will lose weight.

When it comes to optimizing body composition, though, a calorie is not a calorie.













When you want to build muscle and lose fat (or minimize fat gain), your food choices matter. Well, not the specific foods per se, but how they break down macronutritionally.

You see, people say they want to lose or gain “weight,” but that’s not what they mean.

The goal is never to just lose or gain weight. It’s to lose fat and not muscle and gain muscle and not fat. And when that’s the goal, some types of calories are now much more important than others.

Protein, for instance, provides the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrate, but is far more important for building muscle and losing fat.

Eating like Professor Haub did will no longer cut it.

Instead, you will need to ensure you balance your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake properly.

The Most Important Macronutrient: Protein

macronutrient calculator for cutting

If you want a strong, lean body that you can maintain with ease, then you want to make sure you’re eating enough protein.

There are quite a few reasons for this, but here are the highlights:

Your protein intake is even more important if you’re exercising regularly because this further increases your body’s need for amino acids.

If you want to know how much protein you should be eating to build muscle and lose fat, check out this article.

Why You Should (Probably) Eat a Lot of Carbs

macronutrient calculator bodybuilding

Ask Google how many carbs you should eat, weed out the idiots, and you’re left with a lot of contradictory answers.

Many well-respected health and fitness authorities argue why low-carb dieting is the way of the future.

Many others rail against it as just another fad.

Many still are in the middle saying “it depends…”

Well, here’s my position:

If you’re healthy and physically active, and especially if you lift weights regularly, you’re probably going to do best with more carbs, not less.

And yes, that applies to both building muscle and losing fat. The reality is a relatively high carbohydrate intake can help you do both.

Check out this article to learn more.

How Much Dietary Fat You Actually Need

macronutrient calculator for athletes

Remember when low-fat dieting was all the rage?

When fat-free products flooded the supermarkets and “gurus” used to say that dietary fats made you fat?

Well, that pendulum has swung hard in the other direction.

Now we’re told that carbohydrates are the real enemy and that we should be eating copious amounts of dietary fat if we want to be healthy, lean, and strong.

What gives?

Well, the truth is dietary fats play a vital role in the body.

They’re used in processes related to cell maintenance, hormone production, insulin sensitivity, and more.

If fat intake is too low, these functions can become compromised, which is why the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 20 to 35% of their daily calories from dietary fat.

That said, those percentages were worked out for the average sedentary person, who often eats quite a bit less than someone that exercises regularly.

And even more so if that person has a higher than average amount of muscle mass.

For example, a 190-pound sedentary male with a normal amount of lean mass would burn around 2,000 calories per day.

Based on that, the IoM’s research says he would need 45 to 80 grams of fat per day. That makes sense.

Now, I weigh about 190 pounds…but I also have a lot more muscle than the average person and I exercise about 6 hours per week.

Thus, my body burns about 3,000 calories per day and if I were to blindly apply the IoM’s research to that number, my recommended fat intake would skyrocket to 65 to 115 grams per day.

But does my body really need that much more dietary fat simply because I’m muscular and burn a lot of energy through regular exercise?

No, it doesn’t.

Based on the research I’ve seen, if dietary fat comprises 20 to 35% of your basal metabolic rate (around 0.3 grams per pound of fat-free mass), you’ll be fine.

Putting It All Together


We’ve touched on quite a bit so before I move on to the macro calculator, I think a recap will help.

  • The most important aspect of dieting is energy in versus energy out (energy balance).

An energy deficit results in weight loss and a surplus in weight gain.

  • Next in importance is how those calories break down into protein, carbs, and fats.

You want to eat enough protein and tailor your carbohydrate and fat intake to your circumstances and goals.

  • Last in importance are the actual foods providing the calories and macronutrients.

The reason to eat “clean” foods is not to help with weight loss or gain but to provide the body with vital micronutrients.

This supports and preserves health.

Thus, an overall strategy emerges:

Calculate your caloric intake, break it down into “macros,” and build a meal plan that provides the majority (80%+) of those calories and macros from nutritious foods.

This is the heart of “flexible dieting.” Do it and you can’t lose.

And you can get started right away with the macronutrient calculator at the top of this page.

How to Calculate Your Macronutrients

macronutrient food calculator

As you probably saw, the macro calculator has several elements.

You input your weight, (approximate) body fat percentage, and activity multiplier and it shows you your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), and then lets you set your macros.

Let’s quickly go over each of these functions.

(Basal Metabolic Rate) BMR

Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body burns at rest.

It’s the minimum amount of energy it costs to stay alive.

It’s called this because basal means “forming a base; fundamental” and metabolic means “related to the metabolism,” which is “the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which it produces, maintains, and destroys material substances, and by which it makes energy available.”

The most accurate way to calculate your basal metabolic rate is to go to a lab and hook yourself up to a metabolic cart.

Fortunately, though, there are mathematical equations that can predict its results with a fair amount of accuracy.

You can learn more about this here, but know that this macro calculator uses one of these formulas to approximate your BMR.

(Total Daily Energy Expenditure) TDEE

TDEE macronutrients

Total daily energy expenditure is exactly what it sounds like:

The total amount of energy you expend every 24 hours.

Your TDEE is comprised of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) plus additional energy burned through physical activity and processing the food you eat.

If determining that sounds like a huge headache, don’t worry.

You don’t have to track every step you take, record readouts on cardio machines (they’re inaccurate anyway), approximate energy burned in weightlifting workouts, or try to estimate how much energy is burned through processing the food you eat.

Instead, you can just multiply your BMR based on your general activity level.

It’s not going to be 100% accurate, of course, but it doesn’t need to be.

Instead, it will give you a good starting point for determining your total daily energy expenditure (and thus how many calories you should eat), and then you can adjust your calories up or down based on how your body actually responds.

You can learn more about TDEE and how this calculator determines it here.

Now, if all this is new to you, I have two simple recommendations:

  • If you want to lose fat, I recommend you eat 75 to 80% of your TDEE.

This will be a large enough calorie deficit to drive fat loss but not so large as to cause problems.

  • If you want to gain muscle, I recommend you eat 110% of your TDEE.

A calorie surplus is crucial to maximizing muscle growth, but a large surplus is counter-productive.

As you’ll see, these recommendations are built into the calculator as presets.

Setting Up Your Macros

macronutrients calculator

Once you know your BMR, TDEE, and target caloric intake based on your goals, you’re ready to work out your macros.

And that’s what the bottom portion of the calculator is for.

As you’ll see, once you set your protein intake, it remains locked.

This makes it easy to adjust carbs and fats up and down using either the sliders or input fields.

If You Want to Maximize Fat Loss

macronutrients for weight loss

If your goal is rapid fat loss, I have a few tips for you:

  • Set your protein intake to 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight.

If you’re very overweight (a man with 25%+ body fat or a woman with 30%+), I recommend you set your protein intake at 40% of your total calories.

  • If you exercise regularly and don’t have any medical conditions, set your fat intake to 0.2 to 0.25 grams per pound of body weight.

This gives your body what it needs for basic health purposes and leaves plenty of calories for carbs.

  • Allot the rest of your calories to carbs.

Trust me.

Eating a lot of carbs does not make you fat (overeating does) nor does it hinder fat loss (overeating does).

Keeping your carb intake high is going to help you in many ways: better workouts, better meal plans, better mood and energy levels, and more.

Experience it for yourself and you’ll never look back.

  • If you’re sedentary, though, or have a medical condition like diabetes, then you’ll probably do better with fewer carbs.

If you’re sedentary, about 25% of daily calories from carbohydrate should be plenty.

If you have a relevant medical condition, check with your doctor as to your “carbohydrate ceiling.”

I’ve seen a lot of variation here.

If You Want to Maximize Muscle Growth

macronutrients for muscle building

If your goal is maximum muscle growth, then you’ll want to set your macros up a little differently.

Before we get to that, though, you should also know that you only want to “bulk” if your body fat percentage is in the right range.

For guys, this is about 10%. For girls, about 20%.

You can learn more about why here.

With that in place, here’s how I recommend you set up your bulking diet:

  • Set your protein to 1 gram per pound of body weight.

You don’t need more than this.

  • Set your fat to 0.3 to 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.

This leaves a large amount of calories for your carbs.

  • Get the rest of your calories from carbs.

This high-carb approach is going to help you build muscle faster in several ways.

The Bottom Line on Macronutrient Calculators

macro calculator

Many people find counting and tracking just calories burdensome enough.

The thought of keeping tabs on three different quantities sounds insufferable.

It’s really not, though. With a little “practice” it just becomes second nature.

And, more importantly, the payoff is huge:

  • You get to eat foods you actually like.
  • You improve body composition.
  • You don’t have to battle with overwhelming hunger or cravings.
  • You don’t have to cross your fingers and hope that it will work.

So, even if you’re still skeptical, give it a go. Follow the advice in this article and within a couple of weeks you’ll see real results in the mirror and on the scale.


What do you think about this macronutrient calculator? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

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    • Brian Boglitz

      Hi Mike – I’ve been following the BLS guidelines for ‘obese’ as I’m currently 247 lbs at about 29% BF- based on 250 lbs that’s 212 G protein, 78 g fat and 160 g carbs (I started at 260 lbs and based on the book I cut all the calories in carbs after losing the 1st 10 lbs). I am lifting 4 days a week (no arm days as I have a nagging pain in the left elbow/ bicep) plus have ramped up cardio to 4-5 days week HIIT.

      Your calculator suggests that I should increase carbs and cut down fat vs what I’m doing now- what do you think?

      • Great job on the weight loss so far.

        Those macros sound pretty reasonable really but you may be able to reduce intake without issues.

        If you’re losing about 2 pounds per week, though, I wouldn’t change anything.

  • Byron Van Jaarsveldt

    Hi Mike. In BLS it says when bulking for a 150 male to have a intake of 60g fat. With your calculator/what you say in the text it says 0.3g per pound and works out to 45g, Thats quite a big difference. Which is the best one?

    • Good question!

      0.3 to 0.4 grams per pound is fine. I just went with the lower end here. I will edit.

  • Lily R

    Hi Mike, been following the above very strictly for a few weeks now. Lifting as heavy as I can (newbie female) 4 days a week and 20% deficit with the macro split as recommended above, 127lbs 27% BF and not seeing much change yet, should I reduce cals even further? Or am I just being impatient! At 1380 right now. Thanks

    • Hey Lily!

      Check this out and LMK what you find/think:



      • Lily R

        Hi Mike,

        Been following your advice and seeing some results yay! Thanks so much for saving my sanity! The water retention thing is definitely helpful to know as it’s so de motivating not knowing what’s going on. Starting to do 4 sessions of HIIT per week 25-30 mins. Just read your article about it with vmax info and interval times, I cannot sprint for a minute yet only about 30 sec with a 30 sec/1 min break between intervals is this enough to be effective? Thanks again.

        • Happy to hear it! My pleasure. 🙂


          Cool you started doing HIIT!

          Totally fine on the interval times. You’ll work your way up to a 1:1 ratio between the high and low intensity periods.

          What you’re doing now is still effective and will help accelerate fat loss.

          Welcome! Talk soon.

  • Will

    Hey Mike,

    Very thorough article about calculating Macronutrients. Solid as always.

    I have a question about Bulking. I’ve been training for about 3 years, so my newbie gains are gone. When I’m in a bulk, how much weight or additional reps (in the 4-6 range) should I specifically be adding to my lifts each week since my gains are little?

    • Thanks Will!

      Good question and if you’re an experienced lifter, you’ll probably find you can add a rep or two per week to your major lifts and thus weight every 2ish weeks.

  • Steve Ward

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been a follower of yours and implementor of BLS for a year now. I was actually surprised to see the numbers in this calculator. By running my numbers off the formulas in BLS, I only have myself at 2200 calories (caloric deficit) a day and this calculator put me at 2900. I wonder what it is I’m missing? 700 calories is a pretty big difference. Maybe I’ve been starving my body during this particular cutting phase. This is my second cut and I have been losing a pound a week or more which feels a bit fast. Currently 207.

    Thanks man. And as a side note, Fortify has literally changed my life.

    • Hey Man!

      What’s your BMR and what activity multiplier are you using?

      One pound per week is perfect actually.

      So glad to hear it on Fortify! I’m a big fan of it too.

      Would you mind dropping a quick review of it on Amazon? Every one helps!

      • Steve Ward

        Mike, thanks for the reply. My BMR is around 2100. I haven’t really used any activity multiplier other than what’s on MyFitnessPal. Just basically used your 1.2g Protein, .2g Fat, and 1g Carbs multiplier for my macros.

        And, for sure on the review at Amazon. I’m on it.

        • NP!

          Regarding the activity multiplier, I mean how many hours a week are you exercising (weightlifting and cardio)? It makes a big difference in your TDEE hence your cutting cals.

          For the macros, that’s pretty good. I recommend 1.2g protein and 0.2g fat per pound of bodyweight and the rest of your cutting cals from carbs.

          Thanks a ton for the review. 🙂 I really do appreciate it!

          • Steve Ward

            Not a problem for a product that works!

            I am doing the BLS workouts 5 hours per week and playing basketball for a couple hours on the weekend.

          • Appreciated brother!

            Cool. Let’s use the 1.35 activity multiplier in the calculator above. Then subtract the 20-25% to create a deficit and those should be your cals for cutting.

            LMK how it goes.

  • Nav

    Hi Mike,

    Using the above calculator, at a 20% deficit it’s recommending me 1558 calories (using the 1.2 multiplier which it automatically applied once I selected 1-3 hours of exercise per week). My BMR according to the calculator is 1623. Should I go below my BMR?

    • Yeah, that’s the problem with a larger calorie deficit when you don’t exercise much.

      No, I would recommend starting slightly above your BMR (about 100 kcal above).

      And then keep this in mind as you diet:


      • Nav

        Thanks for your reply Mike. I am currently cutting on 1700 so I guess I will just stick to that for now especially because my weight is still dropping 1-2 lbs per week 🙂 Glad to have got some clarification from you on the matter.

  • Lauren N

    Hi Mike, I just used this calculator and am way off based on what I found out here for maintaining. I’m about 133 pounds, around 20% body fat, and exercise 6+ hours a week.
    I got 2051 calories, 133g protein, 290g carbs, and 40g fat. I currently eat and have been for a long amount of time: 141g protein, 214g carbs, and 59g fat. What do you think I should do? Thank you!

    • Remember Lauren that no formula is going to be 100% spot-on for everyone.

      Part of the game is learning your body’s “sweet spots” for losing, gaining, and maintaining weight.

      That said, both of those calorie amounts are quite close. Slightly more pro and fat is fine if you like eating that way.

  • Rima

    Hey Mike – thanks for a great article! So I am just starting to learn about carbs. I read this article and used the macro calculator and my carbs are 141g. I’m a little bit afraid to bring it up to this (Currently i try to keep it around 100g – usually lower like 80-100g). I know this is not the right way – im learning that and I am trying to get away from that mentality. I’m going to work my way up to 141g of carbs.

    My question is – since I am cutting (the macro calculator calculated 141g PRO, 141g CHO, 31g FAT) should I include a re-feed once per week? To be honest, I don’t feel like I am cutting with these numbers – in the past, cutting for me would be 1100-1200 calories with very low carbs so I always felt, YES i have to have a re-feed with increased carbs for the day. With the numbers that the macro calc. gave me, I feel bad about doing a re-feed meal once a week, i feel i wont need it…What do you think?

    Also, if you recommend a re-feed, what should my calories go up to on my re-feed? I usually like to have structured re-feed days…should I change the macro calc to “Maintaining” and use those macro’s for my re-feed day?

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Welcome!

      I understand your concern with carbs after being low-carb for awhile. Check this out:


      Yup, I still recommend a refeed every week. It’ll help accelerate fat loss. For everything you need to know to set up the refeed, check this out:


      I recommend keeping your cals and macros the same for both training and non-training days. Unless you know you don’t do well with carbs, there’s no need to reduce them on non-training days, and I don’t recommend calorie cycling unless you’re pretty happy with where your physique is at, and you’re just trying to maintain it. Take a look at this:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Great article mike! Very detailed! Personally, I’m not a fan of counting how my macros whether I’m bulking up or cutting before a bodybuilding show. When you get to a stage where you know your own body and have a good general idea how much food you need, you’ll do just fine. Thanks to the internet is much easier to keep track of your proteins, carbs and fats and is very useful to anybody who wants to get maximum results from their workout or if they plan to compete.

    • Thanks man! Yeah I wouldn’t recommend people wing it because that usually just leads to dramatic under- or over-eating.

  • Great article. Thanks for the simple calculator!

  • Darrin Hart

    GREAT tool…..I needed this. Confused: what is the “activity multiplier” box??

    • Thanks! The activity multiplier is the amount that the BMR is multiplied by (based off weekly activity) to determine your TDEE.

  • loren

    Hi Mike, I’m in that “in between” stage – about 14% body fat. I look pretty decent after the past year of weight lifting generally using your program. I’m 5’6″, 155lbs. Now- my goal is to be in peak form come summer. Mostly I would like to build more muscle, but end up lean (~12-13%) come summertime. Given that I’m at 14% and really want to develop bigger muscles, should I do a bulk first, then start leaning up in March or so? I guess I’m wondering what the best path is given my timeframe here and current stats. Thanks!
    PS: I think there’s something wrong with your calculator. When I set it to “bulk” it spits out maintenance calories, but vice versa when I set it to “maintenance” etc.

    • Great on your stats!

      Hmm IMO you could bulk for a little but you’d want to minimize the fat storage and here’s why:


      Hmm on the calc, which browser are you using?

      • loren

        Thanks for the response- and I have to say your program and information has been immensely helpful to both me and my wife. On the calculator, my browser is Internet Explorer, v11.0. After listing my TDEE at 2266, it spits out my bulking calories at 2266 and my maintenance calories at 2493, etc. Just FYI

  • Albino Tonnina

    Hello chief!! ;D
    I have this issue I cannot solve lately. I’m here for a word from you. Following your advice I went from bf 20% to around 12% in 3 months ca. Haven’t measured recently but my abs are there to be seen, together with some really appreciated vascularity 🙂
    I’m 178cm x 68kg (was like 80), gym 4 times x 60-90 min, and I kinda want to start bulking a little, I feel it’s time. Problem is I cannot find a way to start. I feel that after losing that belly eating 2500cal will just get it back. I like what I see now after almost 4 months of dieting (didn’t really suffer in the process) and although I’d like to get bigger I am simply stuck in the cut. I didn’t really get the effects of bulking, I read your book and a few articles but still…
    All I can think is love handles, back again. Have a word for me??

    • Ahmed

      Eat maintenance for a week or 2 then start the bulk.

    • Great job on the weight you lost!

      Cool on your routine. I like the plan of putting on some muscle. Let’s do it!

      I hear you on the bulk man. To prevent rapid fat gain when switching to a bulk, all you have to do is reverse diet:


      After that, if bulking properly, the fat gain will be minimal. You’re only shooting to gain .2-.5 KG a week.

      What do you think?

  • Ahmed

    Awesome calculator! Made life alot easier.

  • Zawani

    Hi Mike awesome calculator! Thank you for sharing these fantastic articles and knowledge. I do have a question though, do i keep eating the same amount of calories on rest days?

    • Thanks! My pleasure!

      Yep, I recommend keeping the cals and macros the same for training and non-training days.

  • Lauren

    Hi Mike
    Great article thanks… what if I want to maximise fatloss AND build muscle – the macronutrient quantities vary…. any guidance please? Thanks, Lauren

  • Jean

    Hi Mike,
    I’m currently 140 lbs and 19/20 percent body fat. Should I set my macros at the guide in calculator above or from the TLS book. I do hit cardio everyday and lift 5 to 6 days a week. I am pretty lean, but at 38 and after 3 csections I’m really trying to get my abs back. I want to shed as much fat at I can. Thanks for all the great info I look forward to your podcasts. Thanks, Jean

  • Alex M

    Hi Mike, in your book you recommend 1.2 g of protein per lb of body weight for fat loss, but here you say 1-1.2g should be the aim. Is there a benefit to reaching 1.2g instead of 1g/lb, or is 1g/lb sufficient?

    • Once you get to the 10% range and want to get leaner, I’d recommend 1.2 g/lb.

  • Nikki Gregoris

    Im currently bulking, it says 2085 and then for a cut it says 1500 calories or so. That seems like a huge drop, when my weight loss slows after a month then what?

    • That isn’t an unusual difference in calories from bulking to cutting.

      What does it say your BMR is?

  • Mike, Previous information you have written mentions that Protein Intake should be based on LBM, not actual body weight. When I run that calculation based ofd lbm at 1.2g it says I am at 159.3 Grams of protein. It looks like your calculator above is going based off someone bodyweight. Which is true?

  • Filipa

    Hi Mike.
    I’m new here, and just found your site through instagram…
    Congratulations it’s awesome…
    Just order your book “TLS”…waiting for it to arrive….
    Hope it can help me to achieve my goals….have been dealing whit weigh problems for a long time and its been dificult for me to lose it and drop my body fat percentage…
    Thank you for all the good information

    • Hey hey! Welcome and thanks for ordering my book. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      It’s time to finally get some results! My pleasure!

  • Chris

    Hi Mike,

    On my second week of the program and love it. I’m curious if I need to adjust macro’s as I lose weight and body fat percentage. I would imagine if I stick with it my macros 5 months from now would be different than today. I’m doing a cut by the way.

    In the book it mentions reducing carbs by 25 grams if weight loss stalls for a week so just want to make sure I don’t need to adjust everything as the weight comes off.

    I appreciate the help, really great book and workout program.


    • Happy to hear it!

      Keep the macros and cals the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week, you can drop the 25g of carbs. Everything else stays the same.

      This will be good to keep in mind:


      My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed the book and like the program. 🙂

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Chris

        Thanks Mike! That keeps my mind at ease and not thinking I need to change macro’s every week. I appreciate it.

  • Sean Haber

    Hi mike this calculator has much lower macros then most calculators i have found , their is no difference between males and females? , My friends and I have dropped our calories and macros due to this calculator and we are expriencing drops in strength and wheight

    • Yeah standard activity multipliers are just too high. I talk about it in the article. Check it out.

      Gender doesn’t make a difference, really. Main difference between men and women is we have quite a bit more muscle and thus a much higher BMR.

  • jb9573

    Hello, Mike. After 4.5 years of cycling, most recently in the last couple of years following a couple of 8-week cycles of a dedicated program meant to increase speed and stamina in order to fair better in fast local group rides, I finally realized that I had turned “skinny fat.” 44 years old, 6 feet tall, average frame, around 172 pounds, and 20% BF (Dexa scan on 11/2/2015).

    After watching a local trainer take a former cyclist friend of mine from a big and strong guy to a solid, leaner, stronger, and even bigger guy, I started asking questions. I realized my goals are to drop some fat, add the muscle I’ve lost, get to a goal of ~14-15% BF, and develop some strength so I’m not a frail old man one day (I’m chasing a 5 year old daughter around, too). I started working with him 3 days per week in early November (actually we started at 2 days a week for the first 2 weeks). There’s a big emphasis on slow extension and perfect form. About the same time we started going 3x per week, I found your information about energy balance being the highest priority with macronutrient balance being the next most important step. Here’s our routine:

    -Day 1 is an upper body day with heavy weights (military press and pull-ups, 3 heavy reps X 10 sets each) and some lighter, but still heavy complimentary work afterwards (incline press and single arm rows, 10 reps x 5 sets each). Ab rollouts (for instance) and some sort of compound shoulder exercise end the day (10ish reps x 3-4 sets). About 1.25 hours.
    -Day 2 is a lower body day with heavy weights (squats, 6 reps x 8 sets lately) with complimentary work (knee extensions and the upper half of dead lifts, 10ish reps x 3-4 sets) + core.
    -Day 3 is heavy upper body again (bench and rows, 3 heavy reps x 10 sets each) with complimentary work (shoulder presses with dumbbells and lat pull-downs, 10 reps x 5 sets) + core.
    -Day 4 (really day 1 of the next week) is heavy lower body (dead lift 6 reps x 8 sets lately) with complimentary work (hamstring curls and squats with a different bar, 10 reps x 3-4 sets) + core.
    -Then start the cycle over with “Day 1.”

    I train fasted and take 6 capsules of Legion Forge before each workout. I don’t really feel like riding unless it’s 2 full days prior to a leg workout. So basically I’m only getting the 3-4 hours of lifting each week.

    Now I’m at 166-167 pounds and about 17-18% BF. I have a new, popular, higher-end consumer scale with BF sensing built in. It seems to be accurate (based on the Dexa scan from 4 weeks prior to buying it). So I’m about 5+ pounds down in about 8 weeks with 6 weeks of staying pretty close to your 20% energy deficit (1659 kcal) and as close as possible to the 40% protein (166g), 40% carbs (166g), 20% fat (37g) balance that your calculator prescribes.

    The mirror says I’ve lost quite a bit of fat and the muscle is definitely coming on in ways I never dreamed possible, but the BF drop has stalled out lately. I’m having a hard time shedding some of the fat under the arms on the side of my torso and across the front of my stomach. Yet I’m still losing .5-1.0 pound each week on average. I’d guess I’m 7-8 pounds down on fat (that’d be 4-4.5% of BF based on a starting 172#) and 1-2 pounds up on muscle, yet the math doesn’t add up.

    1) I’m concerned that I should get back to a more normal caloric intake so the workouts are stronger (especially legs) and I can put on muscle a bit faster and maybe move the BF% needle by increasing lean muscle.
    2) I’m concerned that the weight loss has turned to muscle loss, though that seems implausible given the volume of lifting I’m doing.
    3) I can’t figure out what to drop with carbs and fat if I try to up protein intake to closer to 200g per day (1.2 x body weight).

    I’m hoping you might have some thoughts about my concerns so I can figure out what to do in the near future and to roughly the end of February before I likely move to more maintenance lifting while I pick up cycling again for the spring and summer. I know I can’t run at this caloric deficit much longer without coming off it for a brief period anyway, but I’m a bit lost on how to maximize my training for these next two months. Sorry for the long message…

    • Thanks for all the info! Cool you started hitting the weights with the trainer!

      I like your goal. Let’s make it happen.

      That’s right. Energy balance is the most important factor that determines weight loss.

      Cool on the routine you’re following. To see what I recommend, check this out:


      Awesome you’re training fasted and taking Forge.

      Good call on not riding unless you have at least two days before legs!

      Great on where you’re at now. For tracking BF%, take a look at this:


      1. If your primary goal right now is to lose fat, I recommend you continue cutting. Regardless, you should get to 10-12% BF before bulking so you have a good amount of time to bulk. Check this out:


      2. As long as you’re lifting heavy, keeping your protein intake high and keeping your deficit at around 20-25%, you’re good.

      This will be good to keep in mind:


      3. It’s pretty simple. You can sub carbs and protein 1g for 1g. For fats, 1g = 2g protein. I don’t recommend lowering your fat intake though.

      Hope this all helps! LMK what you think. 🙂

  • Devin Rhode

    You seriously open the article by comparing diet and exercise to the gas and the brake of a car. Do better in all areas of life. Now go improve it 😉

  • dizzyblonde3

    Hi Mike. How often should I change my macros? Weekly, monthly? Or whenever I lose a certain amount of weight/fat?

    • Keep them the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week, lower your intake accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Nick

    Hey Mike,

    It seems like no matter what I plug into the calculator, if I choose the deficit preset, it outputs my total calories to be slightly lower than my BMR. This is with the activity multiplier at 1-3 hrs a week. I follow your BLS 4 day split. Is this accurate? Should I still follow it? I don’t wanna undue my bulk by losing muscle too quickly and don’t want to compromise my health either.


    • Can you increase your activity level? Bump up to a 5-day split or add in some cardio? That will keep your cutting cals from being below BMR which I don’t recommend eating at.


      My pleasure!

      • Nick

        Thanks for the reply.

        Due to my schedule, increasing my activity isn’t possible.

        I’m 168 Lbs @ roughly 15% BF. If my BMR is 1770 would starting my cut at 1800 be an ok thing to do?

  • Heath

    Is the Calculator also for females? (asking for my gf. lol)

  • Becky Ramsay

    I’m eating 50% protein, 30% fat and 20% carbs for fat loss diet. Is this ok? Or is the higher fat having a negative effect on my fat loss?

    • That’s fine. What’s most important is cals:


      That being said, I generally recommend going higher on the carbs and lower on the fat. Check this out:


      LMK what you think.

      • Becky Ramsay

        Thanks. I checked it out. Makes a lot of sense. So for stubborn fat loss would you recommend carb cycling? I’ve looked at your stubborn fat loss article and tried everything…

        • YW!

          Not really, no. If you’re sensitive to carbs or are just interested in trying it, go ahead:


          For help with the fat loss, check this out:


          • Becky Ramsay

            Thanks for the advice. I’ve pretty much read all type articles ready. I’m a bit obsessed. 😂 I’ve been trying to reverse diet but I’m struggling to increase my calories. I’m just not hungry and don’t see how I can get them in…

          • Welcome! Good to know. 🙂

            It’s part of the process! You just gotta keep increasing them. I recommend sticking to calorie dense foods like red meat, potatoes, bananas, whole-fat dairy, fruit juice, rice milk, etc.

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Becky Ramsay

            Thanks for the advice. I’ll give it ago. ☺️💪

          • Great!

  • MT

    The one thing you do not cover is how long you can effectively cut before your body self regulates to a lower metabolism due to the decreased cals. I find 8 – 12 weeks to be the limit before I enter a new build cycle.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • That will vary person to person. The body is always trying to maintain energy balance.

      So, I just recommend people continue cutting as long as they’re getting results (or of course, when they reach their goal). Once you’re not losing 1-2 pounds a week and are all the way down to your BMR, I recommend you RD:


      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

  • Sharon Beyga

    Hey Mike, I am really struggling on the plan. I have been following the exercise and macro plan for 3 weeks now and I have not lost a single solitary pound 🙁 I have a lot of excess to lose that I put on over the xmas break, so I really, really need to be shifting some as I am feeling so uncomfortable.

  • Bill

    How is ffmi being calculated? I you go to http://www.naturalphysiques.com/28/fat-free-mass-index-ffmi where you calculate it you will neither find the algebra behind it nor a single answer. You get 2 answers: FFMI and Adjusted FFMI. sometimes the former is higher than the latter and vice versa.

  • Brandon Watson

    Hey Mike, I absolutely love your Muscle For Life site and Legion Athletics as well. Good Job!
    I was just wondering. Does the amount of Carbs, Protein and Fat needed to build muscle relate to all days or just workout days??

    • Thanks Brandon. Happy to hear it!

      The macro breakdown is for your daily intake–regardless if you’re training or not.

  • Will

    Any food tips on getting low fat and high carb, high protein food? I am so used to eating low carb that my cabinets are all full of high protein high fat (healthier fats – nuts, etc.) and I keep going over my fat allotment. Mostly due to habits from low carb eating.

    • I recommend lean cuts of meat with good carb sources like rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.

  • Adam Rozen

    Mike, I’m 5’7″ / 135 lbs, about 13-15% bodyfat (I think), so my “cut” calories are basically spot on my TDEE — right around 1500, which is pretty difficult (I already do IF and skip breakfast, so I basically have 600+ cals for lunch and dinner, with 250ish for a pre- or post-workout shake).

    I’ve been lifting about 4 days/week (as best I can but fairly consistently) for about 6 weeks now. I can definitely see my muscles growing and becoming more defined, but I’m not losing the “1-2 lbs/week” you suggest I should. I’m not worried, but should I keep it up or make a change — does the muscle it looks like I’m gaining balance the lack of weight loss? I think my bodyfat has decreased but it’s pretty hard to tell. I can’t really cut any more calories (I struggle to stick at 1500, especially with 150g protein), so all I can think is either I keep at it or I reverse diet and start over.

  • Paul Ballas

    I love your site, I’ve read your book. Thanks so much for giving us your expertise in fitness.

    I am really stuck. I used to work out from 2003-2007, but not really efficiently. I did 4-5 times a week, but high reps, didn’t push myself, basically what a typical 23 year old with no knowledge in lifting would do. Got married, had kids, fast forward to now, and I just signed up for a gym on February 1! I’ve been doing your 3-day split due to time, but will start 4-day next week as time now allows.

    Question on the calories though. I am 5’10” 166 lbs, estimating about 18-20% bodyfat. My TDEE using your calculator is about 2100, since I work out 3-4 hours I changed the multiplier to 1.25. With summer coming I wanted to shed bodyfat but build a little muscle. I will be patient for bigger gains post summer. Question for your though is, should I do a mild deficit, or a mild surplus, or maintain to get down to the 10-12% range. Maybe this is unrealistic for next 4-5 months, but really not grasping this 100%. I understand macronutrients and how to calculate everything, and use myfitnesspal.

    Thanks for your time. I know the area of Florida you are from, I go to Honeymoon Island quite often during the year with the family.

    God bless!

    • Thanks, Paul! My pleasure! Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Thanks for all the info! Cool you started training again and are rolling on the 3-day split and plan on moving to the 4-day split.

      I like you goal! To get down to 10-12% BF, you need to be in a deficit. Check this out:


      My pleasure!

      Honeymoon Island is great!

      Talk soon.

  • Nick

    Hey Mike,

    Do we keep our macros the same on strength week? More specifically if we’re cutting?


    • Yep, keep intake the same.


      • Paul Ballas

        I know you’re probably really busy with all these comments but if you get a chance can you reply to mine right below? Really appreciate it. I don’t know to do a crazy deficit of I don’t have to. Thanks!

      • Nick

        With regards to strength week, do should we do flat bench or should we do incline bench if that is the current major lift focused on chest day?

        • It’s meant to be done with the flat bench, but if you prefer, it’s totally fine to do with incline bench.

  • Nathan Plante

    Hey Mike,

    I am not sure how to get my macros right. I have been struggling with getting my bf % down and would like to know what you think.

    I am 128 pounds, about 15% bf. I want to build muscle and wish to get my bf % down also.
    With a 20% calorie deficit I would need to eat 1550 calories/day. In most of your article, to lose fat and gain muscle I understand that I should eat at least 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bw (that would be around 154 grams/day). But for the fat, it is not always the same. Sometimes for fat you say it is 0.2 or 0.3 gram per pound of bw or even 20% of daily calories. The remaining should be carbs. So how much Fat and carb should I eat? I plan on training between 4 to 6 hours a week. I have had hard time to see result sine I started training 2 years ago and I really wish to make it work this time. Hope you can help, love your site!

    Thank you,


    • Hey Nathan! NP.

      Thanks for all the info. Let’s go with 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight, 0.2g of fat per pound of body weight and the rest from carbs.

      Train and diet properly and this time, you will get results. 🙂

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

      Welcome! Talk soon.

      • Nathan Plante

        Thanks for your quick answer! Would that make a big difference if I eat 0.25 or 0.3 gram of fat per pound of bw? At 0,2 I can only eat 25 grams daily and honestly I am now making a meal plan and it’s kind of hard to limit my fat intake to 25 grams. Any thoughts on that?


        • Welcome! No, that’s fine. You can bump the fat to 0.3g per pound of body weight. Just make sure you adjust your carb intake accordingly.

          Happy to help. 🙂

  • Jarumy Tirado

    Awesome information, thank you… I started lifting about two to three months ago, and barely started to see some results, I heard about macros and how this can help build muscle and lose body fat, which is actually my goal. I want to lose body fat, build lean muscle and tone my body, but in terms of diets I don’t know what to eat, that’s why I’ve been reading about macros and I found your article. I’m currently 29 years old and weight 128lbs, I workout at least 3 hrs p/week. I tried to calculate “my macros” according to what I read and this are my results:
    CARBS: 245 G PER DAY.
    FATS: 61 G PER DAY.
    Can you help me? How accurate are this calculations?

    • Thanks! My pleasure.

      Cool you started training a couple months ago. Understood on what you’re trying to do. Let’s make it happen.

      When trying to build muscle and lose fat, you need to set up your diet for a deficit. So, those macros don’t seem right. What’s your BF%? If you don’t know, check this out:


      LMK and we’ll sort out your numbers. 🙂

      • Jgomez26

        Hi, I used a BMI calculator from the page you recommended and it says 22

      • Jgomez26

        I used a BIA at the gym and it said 16.4

        • Unfortunately, those aren’t very accurate. Check out that link on measuring BF.

          LMK what numbers you get, and I’ll be able to let you know on the macros.

          • Jgomez26

            Ok, I did one with My body measurements (height, waist, hips, wrist, forearm) and the result it gave me was 12%

          • Okay cool. Yeah, measurements are a good indicator of BF% either.

            Here’s what your macros should look like:

            Protein 132g
            Carb 132g
            Fat 30g

            Let’s try that out and see how you do!

  • Jgomez26

    Awesome information, thank you… I started lifting about two to three months ago, and barely started to see some results, I heard about macros and how this can help build muscle and lose body fat, which is actually my goal. I want to lose body fat, build lean muscle and tone my body, but in terms of diets I don’t know what to eat, that’s why I’ve been reading about macros and I found your article. I’m currently 29 years old and weight 128lbs, I workout at least 3 hrs p/week. I tried to calculate “my macros” according to what I read and this are my results:
    CARBS: 245 G PER DAY.
    FATS: 61 G PER DAY.
    Can you help me? How accurate are this calculations?

  • Phillip

    Hey Mike!

    I am currently bulking, but because of my fast metabolism I have a very difficult time putting on weight. Because my BMR is different than the average person, I am having issues calculate my macros. I weigh about 158 llbs but I have to consume 3400 kCal/day to gain weight according to your recommended weight. Is 175g protein, 468g Carbs, and 92g Fat ok? (I know Im over on protein, but its very difficult for me to find room to reduce it much lower than this)

    Also, how accurate should these numbers be? I’m assuming that total kCal is the most important but how far off can these numbers be?

    Thanks again!
    You have yet to disappoint me! I have even told a few friends who love your stuff!

    • Hey Philip! Cool you’re bulking.

      That’s fine on the cals/macros. How much weight are you gaining weekly at those numbers?

      As you said, cals are the most important. After that, you want to make sure you’re getting 1g of protein per pound of body weight. You have some room to play around with the carbs and fats, but for best results, stick to the macro split.

      My pleasure! Thanks for the support and for spreading the word!

      Talk soon.

      • Phillip

        Great! But I am gaining .5 llbs/week so I am all set. Thanks again!

  • Corway

    Hi Mike. When working out my TDEE is walking included in the actvity level?? I do about 4-5 hours of weight lifting a week and walk an hour everyday (30min to and from work). What would my multiplier be? Also If I have an extra 5 minutes at the end of a session I like to do some burpees using the tabata protocol. They are killer. whats your thoughts on these types of quick super intense cardio finishers??

    • It is, but we’ll count about half the time. For calculating TDEE, we count hours of intense exercise so for walking, if you’re doing 5 hours a week, we’ll count 2 1/2 hours of exercise towards your activity level.

      Totally fine on using the extra 5 minutes at the end of your workout for a tabata workout.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Stephen Williams

    Hi Mike. I was just curious as to what effect consuming just high gi carbs would have on body composition vs lower gi carbs. Obviously complex carbs tend to be more nutritious than simple carbs, and make you feel more energetic etc. So assuming you were consuming a simple carbohydrate diet, but managed to supplement your micronutrients very well, carbed up well around workouts feeling energised (however unlikely this is) and consumed the exact macronutrients you needed. Do you think that there would be no significant body composition difference between doing this with simple carbs vs complex carbs? Obviously both would be meeting the correct macro and micronutrient criteria, but high gi carbs have a much more profound effect on things such as insulin. Would this not make a difference to the appearance of a physique over a significant period of time? Sorry for how poorly written this question is haha!

  • Rhino

    Hi Mike! I just finished your BLS book and bought your Year One Challenge log book and ready to get started. I’m 46 now and have been working to get back in shape for the last 14 months. At 5’10” I was 176 lbs with 24% BF, very no bueno, but have cleaned up my diet and started exercising and dropped down to 152 lbs @ 12%BF but my wife didn’t want me to drop into the feather-weight category, so for the last 8 months, have tried to gain more lean mass, now at 160 lbs with 14% (measured using BF calipers for 7 sites) by doing a combo of resistance and HIIT training.

    My question is at this weight and %BF, should I start with a bulking phase or a cutting phase?

    My goal for now is to get up to 175 lbs with 8%BF, and wondering how best to get there as fast as possible…I expect to get there in 8-9 months, is that reasonable?

    Thanks for the work you do to positively influence the fitness world!

    Many thanks!

  • Ted Nimbé

    Hey Mike,

    I’m stressing a little bit. I’ve been on a cut (doing IF) for 10 weeks now, I’ve gone from around 23% body fat to 15%, but i want to get down to 10%. My lifts haven’t gone down, it looks like ive kept all my har earned muscle and im still losing weight at a rate of around 2-3lbs a week, but im worried about being in a deficit for too long and wasting away so to speak. Should i carry on until i reach my desired bodyfat percentage or is there a time when i should stop and go back to bulking?

    Many thanks,

    • Hey Ted! Great job on the results so far! That’s grate.

      Hmm. As long as you’re still losing 1-2 pounds a week, are eating above BMR and maintaining strength, you’re good! Keep going until you reach your goal BF% or are eating at BMR and not getting results. When that happens, you should RD:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • wonderbrett

    Why is this calculator so much lower than every other calculator I can find on the internet? I’m 6’2″, 189lbs, 20% bodyfat, trying to bulk up, and my fitness app (S Health) tells me to take in 3,050 calories a day just for daily intake based on my activity level (3 hours of bodyweight training a week) and your calculator here tells me to take 2,453/calories a day to bulk. Just curious as to why it’s so much lower.

    • Most calculators overestimate the cals burned from activity.

      The goal when bulking is to gain 1/2-1 pound a week. So, I recommend following the cals you get from the calculator and then adjusting intake accordingly. If you’re not gaining 1/2-1 pound a week, increase intake.

      Also, I don’t recommend bulking at 20% BF. Check this out:


      • wonderbrett

        Thanks for the reply. I didn’t have my body fat professionally measured, just a guess. After looking at a few other men’s body fat photos online, looks like I’m closer to 15-17%, so I should be around 2,900 calories according to your calculator. My plan is to bulk until the middle of May, then cut for two months before my wedding. I’ll let you know the results in a few weeks if I’ve gained much. Appreciate the input and love your site/honest articles.

        • Welcome! Ah okay cool. Still, I recommend starting with a cut. Up to you, though. 🙂

          Congrats you’re getting married!

          • wonderbrett

            Hey thanks Michael! Trying to look good for the wedding.

            After some review (and staring at my stomach), I’m going to take your advice and do a cut. I’m actually doing a complete bodyweight program (I do add a weighted backpack for lunges) created by a guy from the Netherlands called “Homemade Muscle”. It involves a few advanced bodyweight moves that add a lot of resistance like one-arm pushups, handstand pushups, one-arm pullups, etc in the more advanced stages as a means to add more resistance to the training. I realize that bodyweight exercises are good but definitely have their downfall in that you can’t add much resistance, which is where the harder variations of each exercise come in.

            That’s somewhat unrelated to what I’m about to say. The nature of my workouts is 3x a week, and a whole body workout of pull/chinups, pushups, dips, lunges, leg raises, and a lower back exercise he calls “Prone Cobra”. Would I need to adjust anything calorie-wise or macro-wise since I’m doing whole body workouts every day? My current plan is to start IF and do carbcycling – macros being 40carbs/40protein/20fat on nonworkout days and 55/25/20 on workout days.

            Sorry for the long comment. Interested to hear your opinion on this.

          • NP!

            Haha. Sounds good!

            Cool on the exercises you’re doing. Yep, there’s plenty of clever ways to make bodyweight exercises more difficult.

            Regarding intake, nothing changes. Just make sure you count all hours of exercise when entering your activity level to calculate your intake.

            Cool you’re doing IF and carb cycling if it fits your lifestyle and you’re getting results!

            No worries. Talk soon.

  • Shay

    Hi I’m a 26 year old female and I currently workout 5-6 days a week 60 minutes or more each day. Workout include about 3 miles on the elliptical, weights and some HIiT. I’m trying to lose and lower my body fat percentage. I weight 146 right now. I did the calculator above and it put me at 1676 calories that’s with a 20% deficit. Protein at 181g, carbs 131g and fat at 56g. Does that sound about right for what I’m trying to do? Any help will be appreciated.

  • Paige

    Hi Mike,

    Just finished reading Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and really enjoyed it! Like many others here, I’m struggling a little with the macro calculations.
    I’m weighing in 151, bf of 25.8-ish if I remember correctly using your calculator. I weight train 5 days a week for 45-60 min with cardio sprinkled in as time allows. I’ve been training consistently for 6 mos, I work a desk job and want to cut weight.
    Is it possible for you to help show me where I should be? Currently, I’m 180p, 130c and 30f. The calculator you’ve provided puts me at 158p, 158c, and 35f. Does that sound about right?
    Any guidance would be MUCH appreciated! Many thanks!

    • Hey hey! Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Yep, those numbers look good. Let’s stick to them and see how you do!

      Talk soon.

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Right now, even when I hit the carbs and fat suggested
    by the calculator exactly, I’m still short 180 calories and 85 grams of
    protein. This keeps happening with every
    food combo I can think up; As far as I can tell, any vegetarian food
    that has high protein, has really bad ratios to the other macros e.g
    beans, at 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, or nuts at around 4 or 5:1
    ratio of fats to protein. Even eggs fail, at a 1:1 ratio of fat to
    protein. I already plan a protein shake every day, but even so unless I
    want to put 85g of protein in it, I can’t find any vegetarian foods
    that to get anywhere close to the macro ratios the calculator

    • Yep, it can be tough to get the protein you need on a vegetarian diet without exploding your macros.

      A few things I recommend to help are fat-free dairy options (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc), low-fat tofu, seitan, egg whites, etc.

      Hope those help! LMK.

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Unfortunately where I live greek yogurt costs $10/cup and there isn’t any cottage cheese or seitan…I’m not sure about low fat tofu. Actually, after hours of frustration trying to do it myself, I’m passing the buck as it were and I’ve ordered a custom meal plan; looking forward to being impressed!

    p.s. Do I need to recalculate on my “rest day”? i.e. if the calculator has me at 1900 calories per day (6 hours of exercise per week) but one day I don’t do cardio or weights, should I drop down the activity multiplier back to 1 for that day?

    • James Perry

      I noticed this was answered a couple months ago on comments. I’m learning almost as much by going through all the comments 😂

      You keep the macros the same regardless if it’s a rest day or not.

      • Elijah Laughinghaus

        that’s a good tip, thanks.

    • Damn. Sorry to hear that. We’ll take good care of you. 🙂

      And what James said below is correct.

  • James Perry

    … You’ve made me a believer! I’ve completely changed my eating and I’m looking forward to the results! I do have a quick question though:

    I’m going from doing Insanity to P90x3. When I do that, in a few weeks, my workouts will change to 30 min a day 6 days a week. My intake for the 1-3 hours is a drastic (% wise) change. Should I leave it at the 4-6 hour workout rate or go ahead and change it? It’s just right at the 3 hr mark and I just want to get a good start.

    Thanks so much!

    • Happy to hear it. 🙂 I’m excited to see your results as well!

      Let’s change it to the 1-3 hours of exercise a week (1.2 activity multiplier) and see how you do.

      The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week while cutting or gain 1/2-1 pound a week while bulking. So, adjust your intake accordingly.

      My pleasure. Hope this helps! LMK how it goes.

  • Azh

    Hello! I’m a 20 year old girl, I’m 5’6 and weigh 158 lbs. my body fat is 26%. I’ve tried iifym twice and favs it up because I always end up gaining weight on it. Can you please help me pick the right macros? I work out 6 days a week for 1 hour and 45 min. My weight training is intense and so is my cardio. Please please help.

  • Azh

    Gave it up*

  • Greg

    Im going out this weekend, which drinks can i drink which wont provide me from losing fat. If i drink for an example a jagermeister, how much calories does that consist of?

  • John Triathlete

    Michael, thanks for all the great info. I’m a 38 year old AG triathlete/runner. Obviously I do a good deal of cardio. I’m trying to gain muscle but I wouldn’t call it bulking in the body-building sense of the word. I started doing your bodyweight work out 4 days per week for about 40 minutes each. But I also run 5 days a week for a about 3-4 hours total. This varies depending on the training cycle I’m in. At times it may be as much as 10 hours per week.
    My question is regarding my TDEE. At what point do you think I need to add calories to my diet? Does the multiplier of 1.45 take care of 20 miles of running per week or should I up that some? Thanks!

    • My pleasure, John!

      Cool on what you’re trying to do. Instead of a bodyweight routine, I recommend following a 3-day weight lifting split. Check this out:


      While trying to build muscle, keep this in mind:


      Yeah, let’s start with the 1.45 activity multiplier and see how you do. Adjust intake based off results.

      Hope this all helps! LMK how it goes.

      • John Triathlete

        Alright Mike, I’m in. I’ve gained some muscle doing the body weight workouts and am ready for more. Just bought the book and am waiting for it to arrive. Ready to get after it!

  • Amanda

    Hi! I am trying to track my daily caloric intake by using an app that tracks the food I eat. Using your calculator, I should be eating 1500 calories a day. The app tries to use this 1500 calories as net calories a day, it includes the calories I burn during exercising. Does the 1500 calories from your calculator mean total caloric intake or net calories a day?

    • Hey Amanda! The calculator takes your activity into account and gives you your total intake. So, you shouldn’t subtract additional cals for activity.

  • Pintmann777

    hi Mchael,am female 26 year old 5’8” and endo/meso(65/35%) with 28% bodyfat.i want to lose fat.everytime i see that if endo want to lose fat ,he should not eat more than 20-25 % carbs from their diet.i tried it and i don’t have any energy for my workouts(4x full body + cardio everyday).does it mean that i can stick with 40% carbs and be ok.by the way i don’t have any health conditions.thanx

  • Art Green

    Hi Michael, great info and really like the clear – no BS approach. Thanks for that.

    I’m a 38 year old male and so far went from 25 to 19% body fat, using the Cut preset in your macros calculator. My goal is 10%. Should I continue doing the same until I reach the BF % goal? No matter the time it takes?

    Thanks !

    • Thanks! My pleasure. 🙂

      Great job on the fat you’ve lost!

      You should calculate your intake using the calculator and then adjust intake based off results. The goal when cutting is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake as necessary to make that happen.


  • Sarah D.

    I’m a 5’8 135lb skinny fat woman. I’ve lost about 7lbs over the past 13 weeks, heavy compound lifts and steady state cardio with at a 20% cal deficit, about 1750 calories. I still have a lot of body fat and am worried that the more I lose I will just continue to look like a skinnier version of myself. Do I quit cardio and increase my calories into a surplus, or continue doing what I’m doing at a deficit. I’ve had strength gains, but I don’t have any definition and still look very skinny fat.

  • Christina

    Hi there, I’m 24 y.o. female, 5’7″, ~117 lbs and ~19% BF.. I was j/w, to gain muscle should I eat a surplus everyday, EVEN on days I don’t work out? Or should I just change my % of macros? And if so, what % should they be? Thanks!

    • Hey Christina! Yep, I recommend you keep your intake and macros consistent and stay in a surplus daily when bulking.

      Hope this helps! Welcome. 🙂

  • Musharraf Salimi

    hey I’m currently bulking and just curious, if I’m 9-12 grams short on my protein intake am I fucked? (forgive my language)

    • Nah, that’s not a huge deal. For best results, you want to hit your target cals and macros daily, but if you miss your protein goal intake by 9-12g you have nothing to worry about.

  • Mike, based on your calculator for fat loss and also from the formula in TLS, if I were to eat the recommended grams of fat 0.2g/lb), I’d be only consuming about 15% of my daily cals from fat, instead of your recommended 20-25%. (1475 calories/day based on TDEE & 25% deficit and only 26g F based on TLS calculator) How do you adjust that?

  • Jordan Angela Spotted Elk

    I’m 5’5″, 140lbs, and I had my body fat measured at my gym about a month ago with capilers and it was 22.8%. The guy at the gym said it could be a little lower or a little higher. I’m wondering if I should start a cut or bulk since you said 20% is the number you want to be at? I’m trying to get to 17% body fat by September 1st and I’m not even sure if that’s realistic or healthy. I’ve lifted weights and had a macro based diet in the past through a friend of mine, but I recently bought your book and trying it on my own this time around. I was training for a half marathon from January to about a month ago when I injured my knee so I’m back to weight lifting.

    • Hey Jordan! Thanks for the info. Yeah, calipers are generally accurate within 1-2% given you’re using them correctly.

      Cool on your goal of getting to 17% BF. It’s definitely possible! Let’s make it happen!

      Glad to hear you’re getting back to lifting since you’re marathon training. Sorry to hear about the knee injury. 🙁

      Nope, you have nothing to worry about! If you’re new to this style of training, you can build muscle while losing fat! Check this out:


      Welcome! Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

      • Jordan Angela Spotted Elk

        I read this article and the link for the definitive guide to effective meal planning and both were so incredibly helpful! I’m really excited to get the right numbers and start to see some results. I’m planning on doing the 5 day split as well as 2-3 hiit sessions per week. In the past I did a lot of high reps (usually 4 sets of 20) with a lot of supersets and carb cycling based on my friend suggestions, so after reading these articles i’m interested to see how this will go! 🙂 So, based on doing 6+ hours per week would I want to be in deficit, maintain, or surplus while doing body recomposition? I figured out the numbers for each using the calculator you provided but I’m not sure exactly how to start out.

      • Jordan Angela Spotted Elk

        Yes, it was so helpful! I’m planning on doing the 5 day split as well as 3 hiit sessions per week. This should be just over 6 hours, so should I increase the numbers you suggest for 4-6 hours? I’d have 168g protein, 140g carbs, 28g fat for a total of 1,482 calories, or does that seem okay? I’m new to all this so I’m not sure how long I should stay in the deficit.

        • Great! That sounds good.

          Hmm. Let’s try a 1.4 activity multiplier and see how you do. The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake accordingly based off results.

  • Neil Ray

    Hey Mike, Im 5’9, male, 127.6 lbs., 21 years old. I did a tanita scan a few weeks back and it said I was 18.2% body fat which is pretty in line with my caliber readings (usually between 18-20%). A little more about me, about two years back I went from 185 lbs to my current weight just through HIIT. I feel as if it’s time to put on some muscle and plan on starting a muscle building program . The problem is the diet, I’ve been so used to eating low carb and keeping my calories around 1400-1600 that making a transition to eating more is a little intimidating. My goal is to get to 10-12% bodyfat by November and maintain my current weight of 127-130 lbs., and I just wanted your advice on how to go about doing this in terms of my diet and perhaps what advice you have for me. Look forward to hearing from you!

    • Hey hey! Thanks for all the info!

      Unfortunately, those scales cab be very inaccurate when it comes to measuring BF%. Also, to make sure you’re using the caliper correctly, take a look at this:


      Damn. Awesome job on all the weight you lost.

      I hear you! To prevent any serious weight gain, let’s do a proper RD:


      After that, you can go back to cutting. I like the goal of getting to 10-12% BF. Let’s make it happen!

      What do you think? Talk soon!

      • Neil Ray

        Hey Mike,

        Thanks for the great reply!
        I did a little more research on reverse dieting, so I am thinking a 5% increase in calories every week until I get to 1880, then I start cutting?

        Secondly, I watched a few of your videos on IF and training fasted. I’ve never lifted weights fasted but I did do HIIT fasted and I felt like I was gonna throw up. But, I’m planning on giving it a try and seeing how I feel (I’m just worried about loosing the stubborn belly fat)).

        Thats it for now, thanks for the great advice, I’ll update in a month!

        • YW! You can do that if you want. I recommend 100-150 cals every 7-10 days.

          Cool! Yeah, some people just don’t do well with fasted training. But go ahead and give it a try and see how it goes!

          My pleasure! Looking forward to hearing form you soon.

  • Jenny

    Hi Mike! I had my metabolism tested using the Body Gem device. It measured my RMR at 1220. When I used your calculator it estimated my BMR higher at 1548 with a TDEE at 2090 (1.35 activity). But when I multiply 1.35 with my actual BMR my TDEE is 1647. With a 20% deficit my calories would have to be 1318. Does that seem too low? I’m 29 years old, female, 164.4 pounds probably 25-27% body fat (I attached my current pics. I would be using your book Thinner Leaner Stronger 5 days a week and doing 5 days of high intensity circuit training (using mostly body weight, a bench and 2-5kg weight, medicine ball) 20 minutes a day. I really want to drop back to around the body fat percentage I was at previously (pic of me in the gray shirt); I was 140 pounds then.


  • tracy

    Hi im having trouble calculating my macros. Im a petite lady 4ft 10 and weighing 7lb 1. My body fat is 23% but like to lose a little bit more. I exercise 5x aweek which includes kettles bootcamp bodycombact and have a Pt. Your help would be really appreciated…….thankyou

    • NP! I’m happy to help. 🙂

      How much do you weigh and how many hours of training (weightlifting and cardio) do you do weekly?

      LMK! Welcome.

      • tracy

        Im 7st 1 my training consists of kettles 45min….bootcamp which includes weights 1hr….Hitt/bootcamp again includes weights 1hr…..bodycombat 1hr…..PT session includes weights 1hr and box fit 45mins…..thankyou 😀

        • Thanks for the info! Here’s what your numbers are:

          Calories: 1207
          Protein: 121g
          Carb: 121g
          Fat: 27g

          My pleasure. LMK how it goes!

  • dave

    Mike I have been reading around and I have conflicting answers on this. Can you add back the calories your burn? Are we looking at net calories consumed or overall calories consumed?

    • Hey Dave! Nah, my calculator takes into account the cals you burn from activity already. No need for additional subtraction on your end.

      Other calculators may work differently though.

      • dave

        Yep, I figured that out after doing some deeper research.

        I guess it is only fair to add in the calories burned if you do something in addition to what you normally do.

        Like if I already hit the gym 5 days a week that is accounted for, but if I go do a 5 mile hike on top of the gym that would be additional activity from what I have accounted for.

        For that day my TDEE would be a bit higher.

  • Aidan Vosooghi

    Hi Mike! I’m currently bulking on BLS and interestingly, my weight has either been stalling or dropping over the last month. I’m 5’6″ and weigh ~140lbs at 11.5% BF.

    2400 calories/day was enough to see my weight increase for a while, but now my weight is slowly decreasing, even as I’ve increased my intake to 2550 for the last 2 weeks. Should I maybe increase my calories more aggressively?

    Additional info:
    * Sleep is 7 hrs/day on average
    * Weigh myself every morning as recommended and average over the week
    * Lifts are progressing slowly but surely in weight/reps/form.


    • Hey Aidan! Cool you’re rolling on the BLS program.

      Sounds like you need to eat more! This will be a constant cycle. You increase your intake until you’re gaining 1/2-1 lb a week. Once weight gain stalls at that intake, you’ll have increase it again. Check this out:


      Thanks for all the info! Cool on everything you’re doing. Glad you’re progressing in strength! Now we just need to get the weight moving. 🙂

      LMK how it goes! Welcome!

  • Georgia Oxley

    Hi Mike

    If I set my fat intake to 0.3 X body weight and occasionally find it difficult to keep below (when bulking) can I go over on fat intake as long as it’s below 0.4 X body weight and compensate by reducing carbs?

    How strict should it be?



    • Yeah that’s fine. What’s most important is that you hit your target cals and protein. You can play around with the carbs and fat. Just keep in mind it’s 1g fat for every 2g carb and generally speaking, I recommend a higher carb lower fat intake.

      Hope this helps! Welcome. Talk soon!

  • Jessy

    Hey Mike,
    I have followed your advise for a cut, and am happy with the results. I want to gain a fair amount of muscle, but since its summer and I know with muscle comes fat, i would like to maintain for the summer and then bulk in the fall. I am wondering what my % should be for my macros to maintain. Or if you have another recommendation to get thru this bathing suit season!

  • Scott

    Hi Mike,

    I wanted to thank you for all of the information you’ve posted on your site, It’s so difficult to find a genuine, scientific approach to nutrition and training and I’ve learned a lot from your articles. I’m about to start a bulk, and I just wanted to see if you could give my calculations a once over?

    I’m 6’2 and weigh 169lbs at 14% body fat. I’ve calculated my daily calories with a 10% surplus at 2657 a day. Two questions – because I’m kind of a skinny guy, should I base my macro breakdown on an ‘ectomorph’ body type, and are there any considerations I should look out for if I choose to make my diet a vegetarian one? Thanks for your help again!

  • Johnny Hill

    Hey Mike,

    Thx for all the info! So, I’m currently a 215 lb guy, around 18% bf. I need to cut.
    I see from your articles that I should have a minimum of 215g of protein per day, but I’m having trouble getting more than about 150.

    How am I supposed to get that much protein in my daily diet without literally 5 protein shakes and 30 oz of grilled chicken? Or should I do that? haha! If there’s an article I missed, let me know. Thx again!

    – johnny

    P.S. Loving Phoenix and especially Pulse. Just ordered Forge. Stoked!

    • Hey Johnny! YW!

      I hear you on the protein. To help, I recommend lean cuts of meat for meals. For snacks, I recommend Green yogurt, cottage cheese, jerky, etc. Whatever you can’t get with meals and snacks, you can supplement with protein powder as necessary.

      Hope this helps! Glad you’re enjoying the supps! 🙂

      Talk soon.

  • Johnny Hill

    Also, I noticed the calculator doesn’t have fields for age or gender. Is there a multiplier we need to take into account for that?

  • Stevie Collier

    Hey Mike, Love this article! Quick question, should I redo my macros once a month? I was eating 1800 cals to lose body fat, now that I’ve lost ten pounds the calculator wants me eating 2000. So my question is, when should you re-evaluate your macros? Reason being is I don’t want to lose muscle by slowly becoming more and more into a deficit as my body loses body fat. Thanks!

    • Hey Stevie! Thanks! Happy to hear it. 🙂

      Good question! You should keep your intake the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week you can adjust your intake accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Welcome.

  • Simon McGeorge

    Hi Mike

    Thanks for your amazing articles! Just brought bigger stronger leaner and half way through on day 1, light bulbs going on all over the place!

    Just a quick question regarding the above calc. Should I adjust for days when I am extremely active as I wear a fitbit surge and apparently my TDEE varies between 2600 and 3800 depending on what type of job ive been on? Just wanted to make sure I dont under eat on the days were I do 20000+ steps + workout ?

    Many thanks in advance

    • Hey Simon! My pleasure! Thanks for picking up my book.Glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

      Nah. Unfortunately, those devices can be painfully off when it comes to calorie estimates. Your best bet is to determine your average hours of weekly activity (including weightlifting and cardio) and calculate your intake and stick to it daily. You can then adjust based off results.

      Welcome! What do you think?

      • Simon McGeorge

        Hi Mike thanks for the speedy reply! I have now finished the book so your reply makes lots of sense😊

        Just started 5 day program and am extremely revved up and excited thanks to your book, which I found it 10 years ago- infact It should be part of school curriculum ! Especially as youngers as young as 15 are getting so much **** advice and misleading info etc.

        Will be giving this one 5* rating for sure. Looking forward to getting the sequel.. But will be patient, feel like a complete begineer after years of training, annoying but exciting at the same time!

        Look forward to sharing my success story in a few months or so 🙂

        Thanks again

        • Welcome! Awesome!

          Cool you’re rolling on the program. Glad you’re excited, and I hear you! It’d be nice to have all the correct info on training and dieting right when you start. 🙂

          Thanks for the feedback, and I appreciate the support! I look forward to seeing your results.

          YW! Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Georgia

    Hi Mike

    The calculator here is different to what you suggest in your book. From your book I have learnt that for cutting my body will require 1.2g protein per lb of body weight and 1g carbs per lb of body weight but here it works it out at 40% for each. What is the reason for the difference? Which should I use?

    Many thanks

    • Georgia

      Hi, sorry, also, if you go from bulking to cutting do you immediately slash your calories or decrease somewhat gradually?

      • Hey hey! The 40/40/20 is just an easy, workable macro breakdown. The formula from the book will be more exact, and if you want to be even more exact than that, you can use this one:


        Yep, when you’re ready to cut, you can drop straight to cutting cals.

        Welcome. Hope this helps! Talk soon.

  • Neil Ray

    Hey Mike!

    Just finished Reverse dieting, and also I’ve read Bigger, Leaner, stronger.
    I am at this weird crossroads now, I don’t know what I should do. I started lifting this past month, and through progressive overload I’ve made considerable strength gains but unfortunately no gains in muscle mass. Through this experience though, my BF and weight have stayed the same, and I measured using callipers that my BF is 18%. I don’t know if I should cut next or bulk or recomp? Just some extra info, I train 4 days a week (Arms and chest on Monday and Friday, Back and legs on Wednesday and Saturday) and I do cardio two times a week (Steady state (long distance-soccer) on Tuesday and HIIT on Thursday).


  • Eminta

    Hi mike,
    I started insanity( intense 6 days/week) a couple weeks ago along with following this macro calculator. Im a woman 250 lbs 27% body fat. I havent lost any weight, my macros are 200P 150C and 69F. Am i eating too little or too much. also im pretty much sedentary throughout the day, besides around the time i workout. Thanks

  • Francisco Velasquez

    Hello! Just looking for a bit of closure- my BF hovering around 10-12% (i thought i was more!!, got it measured by physician) this calculator gives me about 1500ish cals for a cut (125lbs 10-12%BF). However in your book for a cut it results as about 1325 cal, the difference being about 20 carbs and 10g fat. I have stuck to 1400’s range to feel like im not too much on either side, but I would love to be cleared of the confusion on this. ( also 1325 feels strikingly to me, and im paranoid about not eating enough). I should also add that i am in the gym about 6-8 hours a week

    • No worries! I’m happy to help.

      Cool on the BF%! Let’s go with the numbers from the calculator. The formula from the book is a general formula that is workable, but the calculator takes more info into account and is more accurate.

      Yep, that’s correct. Once you reach your BF% goal, you should RD to TDEE. Then you can start bulking.

      Hope this helps!

  • Vanessa

    Hi Mike!

    I’m in the process of finishing up TLS (love the book btw!), and I am trying to figure out my daily caloric intake for a cut. I’m a 131 lb. female, 18% body fat, 5’4.5″. I am pretty active: 5-6x/week of weight training (prior to starting TLS, I still did heavy compound exercises) and no cardio.

    I just started adding cardio as of this week (3 HIIT sessions/week).

    In TLS, I am getting ~1395 calories for a cut. I was eating in the 1900-2000 range without gaining weight. This macros calculator gives me 1535 cal a day. Which caloric intake do you recommend that I go by?

    Also, how often should I readjust (if at all) during this cut? (Say I lose weight on this: should I reassess and recalculate my macros?).


    • Hey hey! Thanks for picking up my book! Glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

      Go with the numbers you get from this calculator. The formula in the book is workable, but the calculator takes more into account and is more accurate.

      Good question! You should keep your intake the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week on a cut or gaining 1/2-1 pound a week on a bulk at your current intake, adjust your intake accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Welcome.

  • David


    I just recently purchased your book and I’m a big fan of it. I have made many modifications to both my nutrition and weight training approaches to build more muscle and strength. A little about me, I’m a 31 year old male weighing 170 lbs and standing about 6 feet tall. I have roughly 12-15% body fat. I exercise quite a bit. I weight train 4 days a week and do about 2-3 one hour sessions per week of martial arts. I’m in the bulk phase, eating about 2900 calories a day. Since implementing your strength program about three weeks ago, I have seen significant gains in my strength and overall muscle definition. I do have a question, though. How do I lose that little extra body fat around my waist without compromising any weight or muscle loss?

    Any insight would be very helpful.


  • Jennifer Valentine

    So I’m in a slight different position (I think?) because I’m an endurance athlete (I run competitively). I have let my weight creep up and would like to lose about 10 pounds. I have cut my calories back over the past 3 days but I feel like DEATH, I think mostly because my carbs are so much lower than they were before. I feel like I need at least 200g of carbs to fuel my running, which doesn’t leave me much for fat and protein. I need to be able to train at least some during my weight loss. I guess the risk is losing muscle by favoring carbs over protein, but do you think that’s the best strategy in my situation? Thanks for any insights you can provide!

    • Hey Jennifer,

      Keeping protein at recommended levels, you may want to up your carb (and potentially fat) intake due to your level of activity. If you’re not losing weight at that level, then you’ll have to come back down again.

      • Jennifer Valentine

        Yeah that’s what I was saying. It’s impossible for me to get enough carbs on my current calorie intake if I also hit the protein targets recommended here. I guess I either have to eat more and have a much slower weight loss or sacrifice some muscle with my weight loss on higher carb/lower protein. Thanks for weighing in 🙂

        • John Triathlete

          Jennifer, I feel your pain. I’m a competitive runner/triathlete. What I’ve come to discover (for me anyway) is that I just have to pick a goal. If I want to gain the max amount of muscle and look the best I can on the beach, I think I’ll have to give up some speed and endurance. The plan Mike is selling here is awesome at building strength and muscle but is vastly different than running/triathlon training plans. But to be fair I’m still in “testing mode”. I’m following Mike’s plan(diet and heavy weights) and only running about 15 miles a week. I’ll pick that and cycling up soon to get ready for a tri but will still try to keep it at a minimum while trying to gain muscle mass. I’ll have to see if the extra muscle helps or hurts. I think I know the answer (especially on the run) but again, I’ll just have to decide which I want more. Win/place in my AG or look good watching someone else get the medal.

  • Ash Carter

    Mike I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your articles. However it is very hard for me to really to reconcile the simplified energy balance argument with “lean, complex carb” eating diets. I am 31, about 182lb and roughly 8.5% body fat and I have been stuck for a long time. Cant get stronger, cant get leaner and your simplified energy balance angle makes it sound like i can eat pancakes and garlic bread every day (within macro nutritional reason of course) and still get gains. How is this not too good to be true- assuming I am vigilant in my consumption.

  • Ionescu Alexandru

    Hi Mike,i have a quick question,i’ve bee using your macro calculator for almost 1 month and from 16 boDy fat i managed to get to 10% huge thanks! i can see my abs now:D,but i’ve notice one health problem:my testosterone levels are very low(i haven’t been to the doctor to make some blood tests)but i know for a fact because i’ve been starting to have problems in bed and my libido is sooo low…and i’ve been searching online for this and found out that the diet may have cause this problem,especially the low fat diet,so now i want to start to get around 0.9g of fats in my diet rather than 0.5g per kg that i was having,sorry for the long post,so my question is is it really from the low fat in my diet,and why in your article do you even say we could go with 0.25g of fat per kg?what did i miss?

    • Hey, I was just about to suggest you check your fat intake as I was reading your comment. These are general guidelines to fit most of the population. as long as your fat is 20-30% of your calories, which Mike actually mentions in multiple articles, you are in a healthy zone.

  • cmac176

    Hey Mike! Can i ask you about refeed days? When we are increasing calories, what do we do regarding fat? My usual fat intake is about 38g per day, and in your ‘Bigger, Leaner, Stronger’ book (which is a good read by the way!) it states that on a refeed day I should eat as little dietary fat as possible (no more than 20g for the entire day). Just to clarify, does that mean that I should reduce my overall fat intake for my refeed day to under 20g or does it mean that I could have extra fat but no more than 20g of extra fat, so up to 58g for my refeed day? Thanks.

    • Check out this detailed guide:

      That’s 20g total!

      • cmac176

        Thanks Roger! The article is really useful. It’s actually helped me to replan my refeed day for carbs too. In the book it says to break the ‘extra’ calories down into the macronutrient profile, and as a result I had a refeed with too much protein and not enough carbs. Seeing the example meal plan helped me to spot that it was the entire day’s calories that were broken down in that way, not just the extra ones. Thanks again.

  • MrQuiggLes

    Is this calculator based off the Katch Mcardle formula?

  • Mark Dinsdale

    Hello Mike, does height factor into your macros? I’m 6ft 3 and was wondering if my macros would be any different for someone of a different height and if I need to eat more while bulking/cutting etc? Thanks 🙂

    • Height does not factor into the macros in this calculation. There are other formulas that do use it though.

  • Kendra

    Does breastfeeding change how you would factor macros for fat loss?

    • In a sense, yes. Tack on 500-700kcal/day to your TDEE, then calculate your cutting cals and macros.

      • Lea

        Would you use 40% carbs 40% protein 20%fat or would you go with body weight x 1.2 to figure out protein, then fat and fill the rest with carbs? The numbers are significantly different for me depending on which approach I use.

  • Zizoo

    How to calculate the rest of carbs intake? Can some1 help me plz
    Im 82kg with 17.5% fat and willing to cut down to 10%, i do weight lifting 4 to 5 hrs a week
    Can some1 break my macros please?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi, With your stats, this is what you get:

      BMR 1831
      TDEE 2380
      target: 1904kcal/day
      P- 216g
      C- 165g
      F- 42g

      Hope that helps!

  • Sammy tote

    Hi mike I have used your calculator, is this based on a ‘normal’ motabolism? Mine is a little bit faster than normal and I’m currently looking to bulk. I am 52kg at the moment weight training 5h per week. 😊

  • Laura

    Hi Mike!

    I’d like to ask… aren’t the activity levels of this calculator too low? I recently read this from Tom Venuto (author from Burn the fat feed the muscle) and accordingly to him, my activity level factor would be around 1.55 – 1.6. But your calculator tells me it’s 1.35… so I am confused!! Help me understand please 🙂

    Here’s the article http://www.burnthefatinnercircle.com/members/how-to-choose-your-activity-factor.cfm

    He even explains each number and puts various examples for us to figure out our numbers correctly!

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hey Laura! The truth is most calculators overestimate the cals burned from activity. I recommend you go with the numbers you get from my calculator and then adjust based off results. You want to lose 1-2 lbs a week so adjust things as necessary to make that happen.

      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

  • Roxanne

    Hey Mike! I bought your book Thinner a leaner Stronger and loved it! I am just having a hard time with figuring out my calories/macros. I do crossfit 5 days/week. Our workouts usually last 20-40 minutes of pretty high intensity 3 days a week and then a couple days of just lifting. But even those are about 30 minutes. With the warm ups, each class is 1 hour. Because the workouts are much shorter, I’m not sure if I should consider myself 3-6 hrs of exercise per week or 4-6. Thank you!

    • That’s great! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Try a 1.35x Activity level multiplier and adjust based on results.

  • LisaP

    Hi! Your site is a WEALTH of information-love it, thanks! Best site I’ve found. I’m female, age 47, height 5’7″, 107.5 lbs. (Got sick 3 yrs ago w/ vertigo and lost 40 lbs). Started working out about 2 yrs ago and I train HARD and am now in peak physical condition-very lean, muscular, ripped abs, etc. My body fat is around 10-13% and I’ve maintained that year-round through strict eating and very hard workouts (HIIT/weights) for about a year and a half. My eating habits and macros are bad though and I want to fix them to be more normal and include more fat. Plus I only eat twice per day a few days per week (intermittent fasting).
    I inputted an average of my food into a calculator and found they’re approx. 1500 cal, 80% carbs (300g) (mostly high GI like rice cakes-bad I know!), 13% protein (50g), 4% (7g) fat. Some days I have prbly 2000 calories (same macros). Once a week I have a cheat meal and once a week I also have a cheat day. It’s kind of like a bulk/cut cycle on a weekly basis, if that makes sense-and it’s kept me looking good-but it is starting to turn almost binge-like. So I want to fix this and make my macros more sustainable and healthy. I have actually been looking really really good for a long time on what I’ve been doing, so I’m scared to change it!
    I’m hoping to change my macros (figured it out based on my TDEE and all you said about .2 g/lb fat, 1g/lb protein, etc.) to 1600 calories, 60% carb (240g)-I do best with a lot of carbs!, 25% (100g) protein, and 15% (27g) fat. If that works, I’d eventually like to reverse diet even more. I don’t want to bulk at ALL-I have and want to maintain a lean muscle look like a lean fitness model. Also don’t want to gain weight or lose my six pack 🙂 So based on your reverse dieting info, and I’d like to go even slower than you said to give my body time to adjust w/out gaining fat, I’m thinking to add in maybe 5 g fat per week while also decreasing carbs, and adding protein til I’m up to these macros. My question is: how much to DECREASE carbs (most of your info was about increasing carbs) and add protein each week? Will I bulk up if I almost double my protein? Would I be better off with less protein than 100g? What do you think of the idea of reverse dieting more slowly-will that help my body adjust better? I’m in no hurry. THANK YOU so much!

    • LisaP

      I should have said I don’t mind gaining scale weight-just want to remain as lean-looking as I am, which I think is possible based on what I’ve seen online and on your site about reverse dieting.

    • Hey Lisa, happy to hear you are loving the site. When you are reverse dieting, you would add 12.5g protein for a 50cal increase to go with your 45cal increase from the fat boost. You won’t bulk up from increasing protein, and I do not recommend eating less protein than your body weight.

      To stay lean and make slow, steady gains, you’ll want to calorie cycle:


      That’s essentially what you were doing, but here’s the official, systemized way 😛

      • LisaP

        Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I found the calorie cycling article right after I posted and I said, Hey, that’s what I was instinctively doing! lol
        If I add 12.5 g (50 cal) protein and 5 g (45 cal) fat, that’s only 95 cal increase per week (which as I said, slow is fine if you think that’s better to stay lean). Question 1: do I then keep adding that same amount of protein and fat each week?
        Question 2: How much should I be *decreasing* carbs each week at the same time? And should I be replacing those carb calories I’m decreasing with something else (fat/protein) to keep my calories at 1600-ish?
        I cannot THANK YOU enough! I so appreciate your time and thoughtful answers! Your supplements look great too-my husband and I are going to get some-love the coupon code too!

        • Haha awesome. Slow increase is good. I do suggest boosting your carbs over the protein, though. You’ll have better workouts and feel more satiated. If you choose to bump up the cals through protein and fat, you can leave carbs as they are.

  • Ivonne

    Hi Michael,
    I’m a bit confused trying to figure out what my macros are and on the article above you say you should take 1 – 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight, except if you’re overweight then its recommended 40% of your total calories. I saw a separate article on legion athletics that recommends protein of 1g per lean body mass rather than body weight. Since I weigh 216 lbs, the difference is 108g to 126g per day. The other article also suggests the same approach for calculating fat, which is .3g per LBM as opposed to 0.25 from body weight or 25% for someone who is sedentary.

    What is the difference between calculating from body weight vs LBM and which would be a better option for me? Also, is it better to have more carbs to protein or vice versa at my weight or does it depend on activity level? I tried doing protein 126g, carbs 79, fat 49 from the article suggestions above and had a hard time meeting the protein requirement but went over on carbs with fats at slightly higher.


    • Ivonne,

      Use this guideline (women):
      If cutting and = 30% body fat, it is 1g/lb body weight.
      Fat at 20% total cals will do you just fine.

      Carbs definitely will depend on activity level, and on that note, so does fat. As your activity increases, your body needs more fuel. If you need help meeting the protein requirement, consider supplementing:


      Also consider low fat protein sources:
      * Leanest meat cuts trimmed of fat (chicken breast, lean beef, non-fatty fish, and so forth)
      * Zero-fat dairy
      * Egg whites
      * Whole grains like wheat, brown rice, oats, and barley
      * Vegetables like green beans, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower
      * Legumes like green peas and beans
      * Tubers like white potato, which is incredibly satiating, and sweet potato

      It’s all about smart food selection in your meal planning.

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Hey Mike! I just noticed something with the calculator, it has a glitch. It has some issues between the metric and American system, because for example, I am at 66kg right now. All other settings being equal, it recommends I take in 160g of protein. I thought that seemed strange, so I switched to the equivalent in pounds, which is 144, and sure enough, it then bumped my protein suggestion down to 144g. The carbs are also largely effected, the fat not so much, even the daily total recommended calories is different, depending on the system you choose even though the weight is exactly the same.

    • Hey Elijah, I’m unable to duplicate what you describe…Tried with my own stats and client stats. No idea why it glitched out on ya. Sorry!

      Personally never had a problem. 🙁

  • Harry Ashton-Potter

    I’ve been using this formula to cut recently whilst following the BLS program. Using my figures of 145lbs, 12% body fat and training 4-6 hours a week. My calories target is stated at 1752. However my weight has actually started to creep up towards 147/148lbs over the last month

    Before starting the BLS program I used to train in a mixture of 6-8 rep and 8-10 rep range, could this be that I am actually building muscle while cutting? I’m definitely squatting, deadlifting and benching more weight than I used to, but I’m not sure why my body weight is going up…?

  • Elizabeth Foster

    I think I have calculated this correctly but I would love some back up. I am 5ft 3 weighing 145lbs. I have been exercising a lot over the past couple of years starting with HIIT and seeing good fat loss, I them moved on to to GVT which saw some great muscle gains but introducing quite a high calorie, carb filled diet I started to get really bulky. At my lowest weight, I was around 136lbs but after introducing weights I was solidly at 140lbs. At no point have I considered myself ‘lean’ although I am certainly not overweight either.

    Over the past 6 months I have continued with HIIT but working on a 28 minute circuit type programme with body weight workouts included. I have not been so careful with my diet and my measurements have really crept up. I am really hoping I can see some results with the plan in your book, I will be receiving the Year One Challenge next week.

    I cycle 40 mins (11km) to work and back about 3 times a week, hitting the gym in the evenings 4 times a week. I intend to do HIIT after the weight training on the days I don’t cycle to keep up with my cardio. Considering that I think my body loses more effectively with less carbs, do you think the split below is correct?

    1560 calories
    40% protein
    30% fat
    30% carbs

    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Hey Liz! We can definitely help you get the macros sorted. What’s your body fat %?

      • Elizabeth Foster

        Well I don’t have calipers but my scales read 29% which seems about right when I look at myself.

        Does that help?

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Well this seems strange. My first two days after finishing my cut, I jumped right into the full 2400 calories for a bulk, and I mentioned I gained 2lbs those two days alone. I cut back like you said, down to 2100, for a week, and didn’t gain or lose anything. I upped to 2250, again no gains no losses for a week. So now I’ve jumped up to 2500 calories, and this week I actually LOST a pound. I weigh myself at the same time every day (on waking) and haven’t changed my activity regiment at all. What do I do? Keep upping the calories I guess, but does it matter which ones? Keep pumping the carbs?

  • Tomas Jessen

    Hi mike! Do you count your macros (protein) from carbs and veggies? Say no please… If you do, the calculator and my brain will explode 😊

  • Sukhraj Riyat

    Hi mike hope you are good! what would be a good activity multiplyer number for somebody who lifts intense 5 days a week and does 2days HIIT in the non lifting days, ?? i was thinking around the 1.5-1.6 mark? thanks ( i know they are estimates) but from experience what would be the most suitable number to start with

  • Miz Eloise

    hello. question pls. i am skinny fat and im tracking macros and calories dai. im on a deficit right now. question is what is how detrimental is it if i dont always fulfill my calorie or fat allocation? i prioritize protein first so sometimes i dont have calories to spare anymore to dill in my carbs and fat.

    as i am cutting i understand that i will not be able to build muscle right. all i cam do is preserve it

    • That’s fine if it’s once in awhile and not dropping below BMR. If you are meeting the protein target, you should still have calories free for carbs and fat unless you’re eating much more than the target and taking away allocated calories for the carbs/fat.

  • Francisco Velasquez

    Hey. During a cut, does it make any difference if you lift a 2 day split (as thats pretty much what it takes to maintain lean mass) or a 5 day split? Im aware that it will mean an increase an energy expenditure but that is covered by calorie intake resulting in about the same net deficit per week. If I have gained most of my “newbie” muscles already on cut is there any benefit in training 5 days as opposed to two(still training in regards to progressive overload) ? I ask because the net deficit will remain the same by manipulating food intake, and i am more than likely past my newbie gains and know that I won’t put on much more muscle on a cut but instead maintain it, which would only require 2 training days at high intensity (heavy weight on the bar, low rep)

    • Francisco, you can still make muscle gains on a 5-day split while cutting. Dropping it to a 2-day split increases your chance of muscle loss. I advise against it.

      • Francisco Velasquez

        Really? I’ll admit to say ive made gains while cutting on a 5 day split however I did read another article (on here) that it only takes 1-2 days of training per week to maintain current mass

        • 1-2 days of training is okay to maintain when maintaining, but not on a cut.

          • Francisco Velasquez

            Oh ok. No worries, I can def opt for a 5 day split! But with busy lifestyles sometimes its hard to go 5 days a week. If im doing a rather aggresive cut (25%) a 5 day split wouldnt be overtraining yeah? This of course is applying the 9-12 sets of 4-6 rep range per body part. I also do abs twice a week and HIIT twice a week, so my workout per week AND involve 2 days of weak spot training- does that sound like too much? I’m 5’4 at 124 lbs 10-11% BF and my maintaince cals after calculating my activities is about 1950. Is 1600-1550 cals enough? I dont want to go under 1500 since my BMR is about 1440

          • 5 days of training even with a 25% cut is totally fine. As long as you stay above BMR, you’ll be losing weight at a healthy rate.

  • Katrina Brown

    I’d be grateful for any help! I’m quite happy with my muscle gains but really need to strip the fat now! What macro’ would you suggest for me? I,m 5’10, 176 lbs and ad about 30% body fat! Thank you so much😊

    • Hey Katrina,

      Scroll up to the calculator and input your body stats. Then, plan out your exercise schedule and assign the appropriate Activity Multiplier to it. Now set the calculator to Cut for your cutting calorie target.

      For your macros, at 30% body fat, Protein is 1g/lbs body weight. Fat 20%, and the rest in carbs.

      • Katrina Brown

        Thank you so much! Yes i dont know my exact fat% i went of a chart😕 but i think i’m more 25% but i will go with the macro’s you suggest and see how i get on! Thanx again😊

        • Sounds good! YW.

          BTW, you can always refer to this:


          • Katrina Brown

            I’ll check it out! I’ve always trained hard but not quite got the nutrition right, i was obviously not eating enough protein! I’m 100% sure with this advice in 3-6 months i’ll be ripped💪 Are you on instagram or have a direct email! I’d love to send you my end results! Thats how sure i am! 😊

          • Cool! Yes, nutrition is a critical component. Feel free to email me with questions (and end results!) here: mike at muscle for life .com

            Talk soon.

          • Katrina Brown

            Hi mike for some reason i couldn’t send you an email on the link you send me! Just want to say i’ve been following the macros you suggested on 25% deficit of my tdee and i’ve lost 2kg in 10 days and my muscle definition is showing even more! Thank you again for all your advice i’ll keep you posted😘 p.s are you on instagram?

          • That’s awesome you’ve made such great progress! Glad I was able to help. Try:
            mike at muscleforlife dot com.

            I am! http://www.instagram.com/muscleforlifefitness

  • Amber Orta

    Hi Mike! I am a 36 year old mom that is 133 lbs and roughly around 18% BF. I lift 6 days a week and play coed soccer as well. I was in a private gym for awhile and won an 8 week bodyfat contest. My lowest I was 118lbs and 11.1%. My macros that were given to me were 1450 Calories, 130P, 60 fats, and 80 carbs. Although I did only 20 carbs per day during contest to cut so quickly. Your calculate gave me 157 carbs and it scares the heck out of me. My old macros and low carb aren’t working for me (mentally and emotionally) so I wanted to try something new and I just bought your book. I would like to be 125 and around 13 -15% BF but I am not used to higher carb intake because I’ve been low carb for 2 years and that’s what I was taught to drop body fat with. Would your macros not work if I did 100g of carbs vs 157? Or am I just crazy because I’ve been low carb for so long? 🙂

    • Hey Amber, nice work winning the contest!

      Check out this article on the subject of low carb diets:


      Using the calculator above, I suggest that you set your protein target to 1.2g/lbs body weight, or 160g. Set fat to 20% of your total calories, and the rest in carbs. You’ll find that your exercise performance will be much better with the higher carb diet and feel more full and satisfied when cutting.

  • Andrew Hobbs

    Hi Mike, great job on the website, a wealth of information and my go to place now for information. I am looking to buy some of your books… i am very new to this. I am currently 171lbs, just starting to lift which i am doing 4 times a week with HIIT 3 times a weak.

    I have recently been doing carb cycling which i dont feel has worked that well, my low days were to low i think and far to far under my calories need according to the calculator, i want to recover my metabolism with your suggested 150 cals per week. Once i am at maintenance and left it there for a week or so and wanting to cut, do i go straight down to my 25% deficient or work back down at 150 cals per week until i get there. I estimate i am around 20-24% body fat.

    Also why does the calculator not take into account sex as ladys vs men have different calorie needs?
    Thanks man

    • Glad to hear you’re enjoying the website content and looking to pick up some of Mike’s books! You’ll learn tons from them.

      Awesome how you are on a fitness plan now. Jump straight into the 20-25% deficit.

      There is no need because the calorie needs are the same based on body mass and composition regardless of sex.

  • Andreas Philipson

    Hi! First off – big thanks for all the great information and the hard work you guys put in. I’ve been reading your material for a few years now, and just picked up the podcast at work. It is all great stuff so thank you very much!

    My question is about the “Maximize your fat loss” – segment. The tip is to use 1-1,2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Does that include fat or not? It seems like the rest of the article uses lean mass when recommending these kinds of numbers.

    I am 91 kg (73 kg lean mass) at 19% so I figure I should take about 160 – 190 g of protein per day, not 200 – 240g. Is that correct?

    Hope you have time to clarify this. Cheers!

    • Thanks man! Glad you’re getting a lot out of the content. Use total body weight for your protein calculation. In your case, that’s 240g when cutting.

  • Joseph Paventy

    Thank you. As one who reads a lot of articles on nutrition and training I can get overwhelmed with trying to decide which approach is best so I appreciate the simplicity and straightforward approach of your articles.

    I have two questions. 1) why is more protein needed when cutting? If 1g per lb is good enough for muscle gain why isn’t it enough to preserve muscle when cutting? 2) Does timing of nutrition play a significant role, such as pre/post workout, before bed etc. ? Thanks

  • Samuel

    ive used both your calculator and the IIFYM calculator and there’s a drastic difference in what my calories and macros should look like. Which one is more accurate?

    • Ultimately, the numbers are only approximations. But, I’ve found this one to be far more accurate than the IIFYM calculator.

    • Antonio Wright

      The IIFYM calculator goes of the suggested activity rates. The one here used a modified version, which I believe is more accurate. We as population don’t move that much anymore and the current activity rates don’t reflect that shift.

  • Jonathan Martinez

    Hey Mike,

    Quick question, I am 155lbs, 5’10” about 11 – 12% BF. I want to cut to around 9-10% before bulking but based on my macros (1900 calories a day) my fat intake should be around 42gr. With that said, I can only eat one piece of chicken breast (8oz) at lunch (25gr fat) and a piece of salmon (8oz) at night (25gr of fat). I dont have space for avocado or nuts or anything like that because I would go over (Numbers based on my fitness pal app). Does that sound right to you?

  • Lukas Jochem

    Hey dude I’m tracking my macros and I’m having trouble trying to figure how much sugar I should be getting? I’m a 22 male 5’9 175 and very active I go to the gym 6 days a week about 11% body fat. Any suggestions?

  • Shawna

    I have been following your program and macro calculator for about 6 months now and seeing great results, my body composition has changed and am gaining muscle. However, I recently found out I have kidney stones and need to cut my protein down a lot. I’m 5’8 and 153 lbs. and was following macros of 155P, 167C and 42F. I’m now going to need to cut my protein down to around 100-120P which I know isn’t ideal, but necessary. Would you recommend splitting the different between carbs and fat or keeping fat lower at 42. When readjusting, it looks like this: 120P, 200C and 39F (the carbs seem really high if I still want to cut for a while)…. any recommendations? I’d like to cut for another month or two and then am happy to maintain.

  • Meaghan Schwigen

    I’m a little confused on my macro breakdown. Some say I should be intaking protein at 1g/lb of LBM while this says 1-1.2g/lb of my weight. I’m 122lbs, a little over 5’5, workout 2-3/week weight lifting (30mins) and I do Kayla Itsines BBG 2-3x/week which is more like a HIIT workout but other than that I’m pretty sedenatary. I also do 5:2 fasting (500cals) on Monday’s and Thursday’s to help me be *slighty* leinant on the weekends but on these 500 cal days I do mostly protein with small fat and very little carbs. I’m looking to get to lose fat and gain lean muscle. Should I do cut, maintain, or bulk? What would my macros be? Right now, I’m doing 1325 cals, 133g C /133g P /29g F. Any information would be helpful. Thank you in advance!

    • Meaghan, it depends on your BF%. If you’re over 30% BF, then the guideline is 1g/lbs body weight. 1.2g/lbs body weight if under 30%.

      If you’re over 25%, then I recommend that you cut to 20% or lower before bulking.

      • Meaghan Schwigen

        I am right around 21-22% BF. My calories say to consume about 1310/day and protein of 1.2g/lb would put me at 147g of protein per day. Does that sound right? Thank you for your help!

  • Lisa Munro

    I have been counting Macros for a while now & my gym is having a 12 week fitness challenge (based on body fat percentage).
    When I used the calculation it said I should eat 197 P / 197 C / 44 fat. The P/C are 40 percent each.
    The current plan I’m on suggests low, med & high numbers as follows
    L- 130P / 176C / 64F
    M – 130P/ 297C / 44F
    H – 130P / 321C / 44F

    I want to lose weight I weigh 75Kg & my body fat percentage is 39.

    I am confused on what numbers to follow for weight loss, I know my current plan is more matinance but stays at matinance if I keep my carbs under 300. If I go over I start to put on weight.

    I exercise over 6 hours per week

    • Antonio Wright

      Your numbers are far too high.

      • Lisa Munro

        So what would you suggest for fat loss how long would you stay at them macros for, until u loss all the weight ? The program I am following says u should do no more than 4, 8 week cuts per year. In between you stay on matinance numbers. I have never done a cut on that program but like you feel the numbers are to high. I put on some weight & at the moment eat between 1800 – 2000 cal per day, my protein is about 130, I find this a little low & always go over. My fat & carbs are cycled as mentioned in my 1st message. I read the article on carb cycling & it makes sense as to why I have not had any substantial fat loss. The program I use also looks at Cal burn using the Fitbit mine can be between 1800 up to 3800 depending on what I have done during the day.

        • Antonio Wright

          Use the calculator above. Of course these are just guesses but the numbers are pretty spot on. Regarding the bulking cut cycles. That depends on body fat %’s. Google Diet breaks and you will see the general guidelines for when you should take one.

          • Lisa Munro

            Thanks, sorry to be a pain I’m used to my protein being lower carbs higher should these both be set on 40 percent each the calculator says 197 p & 197 c & 44 f or should the protein be 1g per pound of body weight which makes my protein 165 that seems a little high ?

          • Antonio Wright

            How, you need to select the “cut” preset. Or change to either 20-25%.

    • Hey Lisa, given your stats and about 6 hours of exercise each week here’s your target:

      P 165g (1g/lb body weight when over 30% BF)
      C 202g
      F 41g (20% of total cals)

      Hope that helps.

      • Lisa Munro

        Thanks Mike 😄

        • NP! 1833kcal/day is already a deficit from your TDEE. If you don’t lose weight, then increase your physical activity and/or drop 100 cals from carbs (25g).

      • Lisa Munro

        Just to clarify for a cut, I take 20-25 percent off this base number.

  • Shawnda

    So I did a cut for 9 weeks, and loved the results and got to 20% BF and I had more muscle than I’d ever had. Then I used this article to do my macros for maintain and bulk. I was putting on too much weight and not even hitting my maintain numbers. I just read the rest of your book last night and my maintain/bulk numbers are totally diff according to your formula vs what this calculator gave me! I’m frustrated because I feel like I lost so much of my gains from my cut. Is it too soon to cut again? I just ended in late June. Do I cut or just go to my new maintain numbers? I’d rather maintain lean and grow muscle slowly, but I’m not at the lean I want to be with the wrong macro numbers over the last 2 months 😢 Thx so much!!!!

    • Antonio Wright

      How much of a difference are the numbers? Better yet, post both set of numbers here.

    • Shawnda, that’s great you got great gains from the cut! Did you do a reverse diet after that before bulking? That’s a critical step.


      These calculations are in the end, estimates. You have to adjust based on results. The book gives general guidelines, but this calculator is more in depth. Adjust your macros and continue the bulk if you still have a ways to go before hitting 25%BF.

      This will also help:


  • Frederic L.


    I’m pretty new to this game and am just about to start my first serious bulking cycle.
    I currently weigh 142 pounds and have around 11,7 % BF.
    When using your macro calculator to see my daily goals, I seem to have run in to some form of bug which I’d like to make your tech guys aware of:
    When adding my numbers as well as my activity level (4-6 hours) I get a standard output of 2165 calories. When I then adjust for a bulking phase the calculator spits out 2382 calories, with 157 g. protein, 333 g. carbs, and 47 g. fat.

    These figures was slightly off compared to your book, which indicated that I should consume around 142 protein, 284 carbs, and 56,8 fat. A total of 2215 calories. At first however I just thought it to be an effect of the added activity multiplier.

    It was now I ran into the bug I mentioned. When switching the preset from bulk to cut (with the same weight, fat percentage, and activity multiplier present) and then back to bulk again, the numbers have completely changed.
    The calculator still tells me that I should consume the same amount of calories, but now claims that the protein intake should be 196 g, with 268 g. carbs and 59 g. fat.

    Since I’ve haven’t changed any of my input to cause this new values, I am now somewhat at a loss. Any advice is therefore greatly appreciated. If a bug is indeed present, I hope your tech support is able to assist with fixing the calculator so that the measurements are once again reliable.

    Frederic L.

    • Frederic, thanks for the heads up. I don’t believe this is a bug. The sliders can be adjusted and fine tuned, and I recommend doing that. Here are some guidelines for you:

      Cut- protein 1.2g/lbs body weight, 20% fat, rest in carbs
      Bulk- protein 1g/lbs body weight, 20% fat, rest in carbs

      This might help you with your bulk too:


      • Frederic L.

        Many thanks for your insight!

  • ling

    If I would like to eat more fruits, are they classified as carbs?

    • Absolutely! They contain fructose, which is a sugar.

  • Kristie S

    Hi Mike! I started the yearly challenge workbook this week (loving it!) and I’m ready to put the eating recommendations in place. I see recommendations for weight loss and gaining muscle, but I’m not sure what to select since I am already in a healthy range of 114lbs and 20% body fat. I would like to reduce body fat a few percentage points and replace it with more muscle. Do I set the calculator for a slight cut (5% or 10% for example)?

    • That’s great, Kristie! Nice stats. No, cut hard and fast with 20-25%. Hit your target, then start the bulk to 25%.

      • Kristie S

        Thanks for the quick response! Will do – I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Sarah

    Hi Mike
    Great article. Just wanted to check something.

    My weight is currently 131lb, and according to my home scales Im 27% bf (but I’m not sure how accurate those things are). I have been weight training for a while so have good levels of strength and muscle.

    Fitness routine:
    Day 1: Push & 10 mins sprints hiit
    Day 2: 40 mins uphill walking on treadmill
    Day 3: Pull& 10 mins sprints hiit
    Day 4: 20 mins bike hiit and 20 mins uphill walking
    Day 5: legs
    Day 6: 40 uphill walking on treadmill
    Day 7: rest

    As my weight loss has stalled for around 2 weeks now, I’ve worked out my cals and macros using this and one of your other articles, and it brings me out at

    1414 cals
    157g protein (1.2g per lb)
    32g fat (.25g per lb)
    124g carbs (what’s left).

    Just wondered what your thoughts are on this? According to everything else I read, then 1400 cals is on the low side for recovery and muscle retention.

    Also one more question – should my calories or macros be different on my rest day?


    • Hey Sarah, nice job scheduling your exercise and working out your macro targets. If you’re not losing weight, check this out:


      1414cals is a great starting point. But, assuming you are tracking accurately, it looks like you need to increase your activity. Start with longer HIIT sessions (or more HIIT sessions). Aim for 25min/session.

      Macros are same on rest days.

      Keep it up!

  • Amanda

    Hi Mike! I’m wondering what the leeway is for calories when cutting- try to hit as close as possible but is +/- 50 okay if my goal is 1600 a day?

    Also in terms of higher carb or higher fat, what do you recommend? I’m currently doing 45% carb, 30% protein, and 25% fat. Should I be adjusting my carb/fat ratio and does this breakdown/calorie intake change on rest days?


  • Amanda

    Hi Mike, I really appreciate all the time you spend here and all the help you give us. You are truly a great guy. Thanks again.
    Can you please help me out with the following?
    Female 46 years – 145 pounds, 29 ish% BF, Lift 3 times a week (TLS), and go for a walk about 1 hour per day after supper. I want to get down to about 20% BF.
    According to the calculator above… TDEE 1665 , BMR 1387 so eating at 1332 for a -20% deficit.
    I track on my fitness pal, and I’ve been eating around 1350 daily on average for 8 weeks, but I’m not losing weight, or inches.
    I swear it seems like 1350 is my maintenance. This scares me, and I don’t want to go much lower and if I do, I don’t want it to be for very long. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Amanda!

      I strongly recommend that you increase your exercise activity to 4-6 hours through HIIT cardio or a 5 day weights split. Walking is great, but doesn’t really count toward activity.

      This will bring your cutting cals up to 1491, which is above your BMR for safe weight loss. Adjust based on results.

      If you’re not losing weight currently, then check this out:


  • AmyL

    The macro nutrient ratios that I get when I use this Calculator are different than the ones that I get when I use the formula in your book. Which one do you recommend using?

    • Hey Amy, great question. The book gives several great general guidelines. This calculator helps you personalize it. You can actually adjust the ratios manually here. It’s not set to spit out perfect macros for you every time.

      P- 1.2g/lbs bodyweight if BF% <30%, otherwise 1g.
      F- 20% of total cals
      Rest goes to carbs

  • AmyL

    I get a different macro ratio with the online calculator than the formula from TLS. Which one should I use?

  • jessica laurence


    i’m looking to do a macro cut in order to lose some wight, i’m currently 120 pounds, 5’3 and I am about 21-22% body fat.

    Would the following work for me?

    1,392 calories
    139 C/139 P/31F

    I exercise 5-6 days a week

    • That works!

      • Jessica laurence

        Thank you ! After how long should I expect to see any changes and what is the best way to adjustment my macros if they are not working ?

  • Anna


    I’ve been struggling to lose a few pounds for the last few months now and nothing has seemed to work for me including macro counting as I may have inaccurately calculated them, I would really appreciate it if you could give me a set of macros which would enable me to lose weight whilst still retaining my muscle. I am 5’3 and around 21-22% body fat, I work out 5/6 days a week doing a mixture of hitt/ weighted workouts
    Thank you !

  • Jeremy

    Hi Mike, thanks for this article. I like how you explain everything and back up with studies and experience. I’m a bit confused about how many calories I should eat per day. I’m 6’1 and weight 190 pounds. My body fat is 20.5%. I go to the gym 3 times a week to gain muscle, about 40 minutes each time. You say that guys should be looking at bulking when their body fat is at 10%. How many calories should I eat to gain muscle? And should I follow the 40/40/20 principals for my macros?


    • Jeremy, based on the information you provided, I strongly recommend that you increase your exercise activity to a 4-day split and/or add HIIT cardio sessions.

      Give the data provided, your cutting targets are:

      228g protein
      129g carbs
      40g fat

  • Mia

    Hi Mike, i changed my lifestyle this year and your content has helped me a lot. I’m a female, 19 yrs and started with 189 pounds and 32% bf.My bf was tested last month and was 22% at 167 pounds. 4-6 hrs exercise per week( 4 hrs lifting, 1 hour total cardio). The problem is that i’m not losing weight or measurements for weeks( maybe months) now. I’m using your macrocalculator which gave me 1671 cals( 167 protein, 167 carbs,37 fat).If i decrease the numbers i would be below bmr. I’m trying to be accurate with the food measurement but very unmotivated at this point.

    • That’s great, Mia!

      I recommend that you increase your exercise activity through HIIT cardio. 3x/week. Also, take a look at this:


      If you’re not losing fat, it’s because you are not in a big enough energy deficit. Increase activity, and/or drop cals. That’s the only way to keep weight loss going.

      • Mia

        Thanks for the reply! I will make these changes and see how things go.

  • Daniel Breez

    Hi Mike,

    For your calorie counter, I want to understand what constitutes exercise. I lift heavy 3 days a week. Each workout is about an hour. However, I purposefully walk a lot during the day for cardio – I sit all day at work so I take fast paced walks every day for 45 min on my lunch, I try to park further away to get more walking in, and it adds up to an average of 7 km a day (about 8000 steps). My tracker considers those walks as exercise. Should I then use 6+ hours as my activity in your calculator?

    • I don’t count walking as exercise. For best results, only include weight training, sports, HIIT cardio, or any steady-state cardio you do. Use the 1-3 hour setting and adjust cals based on results.

      • Daniel Breez

        I’ve never had trouble gaining weight. That being said, I’m using 1-3 hours and not gaining weight. My tracker tells me I burn about 400 calories a day from walking. I walk a lot.

  • Raymond

    Excellent article. I just had a question regarding the workout doing HIIT. I’m looking to do compound lifting 3x a week on mon, wed, and fri while doing some type of HIIT on tues, thurs, sat like battle ropes and boxing. Would this be acceptable? I’m currently 220lbs, 32%bf.

  • Curtis Haggins

    Hi Mike, thanks for all this vital information. I like how everything is so informative. Here’s where I am in my weight loss journey. I’m 5’7 and weight 290 pounds down from 314 in 2 months. My body fat is above 35%. I workout 6-7 days a week..cardio and weights. My goal is fat loss and build muscle along the way. I eat 6 times a day and I’m trying to get my macros accurate. Here’s what I’m basically doing now:
    27g protein per meal 162g per day
    25g carbs per meal
    6g of fat per meal

    4oz protein..2 oz carbs.. 4 oz veggies..can you help with my macros so I can meet my goals..

    • Hey Curtis, nice work with the weight loss! Try these daily targets:
      P 190g
      C 296g
      F 54g

      • Curtis Haggins

        Thanks this for fat loss??

        • That’s for cutting, yes. Reduce the calories as needed based on your results. If you’re not losing weight, then take out 25g carbs.

  • Letisia

    Hello mike. Can u help me calculate my macros please.
    My total calories allowed is 2009. And I’m switching to maitaince mode before I bulk. I weigh 144lbs. Thanks.

    Is this correct?

    • What’s your body fat% and hours of exercise each week? This will also help you, now that you’re done with your cut:


      • Letisia

        I excercise 4-6hours a week and my body fat percent is 20.9.

        • Based on that info, maintenance is:

          2009 calories
          P 144g
          C 258g
          F 45g

          Yours work just fine too.

  • Laura

    I’m a 55 year old overweight diabetic female and I need to get in control of my health. I’ve been hearing about macro’s and I am very intrigued. I’m about 240 and I have no idea my body fat %. I walk 30 mins 5x a day. I’d like to get my weight down before I do too much since it is hard on my knees. Can you tell me how many calories and what my macros should be please. Thank you so much.

  • Erin

    Hi Mike! Thank you for all your help : ) What is the best way for a woman to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously? Should I loose fat first then start heavy weightlifting? I am a 25 yo female, 5’8″ and 144 lbs. According to the inBody machine… I am at 32.3 percentage body fat and bmi of 21.9. It recommended that I lose 14 lbs of fat and gain 11 pounds of muscle and I have a BMR of 1325 calories. Should I simultaneously weight lift while cutting calories or should I focus on cutting calories with light work outs (walking, etc)? I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start…

  • Mac Jay

    Hi Mike can you please help!? I have just started “cutting” using the macro calculator above. My stats are:

    Weight 86.5 kg (190lb)

    Body Fat 15.5 (based on looks and a machine at the gym)

    Activity level 1-3 times a week

    This gives me 1870 calories, 228g protein, 154g carbs and 38g fat for cutting as per the guide 1.2g protein per lb of body weight 0.2g fat per lb of bodyweight and carbs resulting from this.

    I have been using myfitness pal to record everything I eat and I have noticed that at the end of a day I can be hitting my protein, carb and fat gram targets, in the 49 % 33% 18% method and still be 300 calories off my cutting calorie allowance?! This is confusing me!?

    Is this because on myfitness pal sugar is listed separately to carbs or some other reason?

    Which is more important, being at your calorie target and being slightly over your macro targets for cutting? Or being at your macro gram targets but lower/higher than calorie target!?

    Is the composition of foods (49,33,18%) more important?

    If you could shed some light I would be grateful because I am struggling to see how all the factors fit together and I am more confused than ever!?.

    Finally the activity level bit of the calculator I have selected 1-3 times a week, I actually do weights 4 times a week and HIIT 2 times a week at the moment, but does the activity level relate to weights, cardio or a combination of both?

    I work in the military and have been away for 6 months and not been able to nail down a diet for a long time due to havig to eat what food was cooked for me… and not great food, but i have made some great gains just by your training methods… so thank you.

    Thank you, regards Mac.

    • Hey Mac! Thanks for writing. You’ll often see that the calories and macros don’t match up when using nutritional labels. Go by the calories and don’t go over your target when cutting.

      Macro ratios are important. As long as you’re shooting for 1.2g/protein, 20% cals from fat, and the rest in carbs, you’ll be fine.

      For activity level, use the 4-6hr setting, and then adjust based on results. If you’re not losing fat, then increase your physical activity and/or drop 100cals from carbs (25g).

      Yeah, it’s tough when you aren’t prepping your own food, but it’s also great to have the predictability and routine of having food prepped for you. You can easily stay consistent and make portion adjustments when needed. Keep up the great work!

  • Neil Gibson

    Hi Mike – hopefully you can help me with a macro question….?

    I have been doing BLS program for 7weeks now and I’m loving the results and general improvement in health and strength! Started at 199lb with approx 26% BF and now down to 183lb with ~18%BF. New to weightlifting and my strength is improving every week.

    I have calculated my macros for cutting based on the presets on this page (40:40:20) giving me 1769 / day with 1-3hrs training. However in the BLS book, for cutting you recommend 1.2g/lb of protein, 0.2g/lb fat and the balance with carbs. It also states in BLS that intake should not be lower than BMR (?) but the online calculator seems to always have it the other way.

    Do you think I should increase my protein and drop carbs for improved results? (I’m a 44yo guy, so maybe I need more protein due to age?) 😉

    Appreciate any help you can give on hitting the right numbers!

    • Hey Neil! That’s great you picked up BLS and calculated your macro targets. The book gives a general guideline and does not take activity level or bf% into account. This calculator is more customized.

      You’re actually supposed to adjust the sliders and not just leave them at the default settings. Your targets in this case should have been:
      P 220g (1.2g/lbs bw)
      C 134g
      F 39g (20% total cals)

      Because you are cutting, and the target is less than BMR, what you have to do is increase your physical activity to increase your TDEE. This will then increase your deficit target as well.

      Hope that helps!

  • Miz Eloise

    hello. skinny fat lady here! 113 lbs 23.8 percent body fat. i am recomposing my body but i feel that im losing mass. people comment how skinny i look and im worried. i follow yoir program of lifting super heavy and on a deficit. i got my macros and nutrition right.

    questions are:
    1)im conserving calories. id rather eat food than drink calories. do i need whey protein for post or pre workout if im able to meet my protein via whole foods anyway? will whey preserve my mass?

    2) im low on budget. what supplements do i need in order of importance? crea, whey or bcaa?

    • If your strength is increasing (or maintaining), you’re not losing muscle, so there is nothing to worry about.

      That’s fine if you’d rather eat than drink your calories. No need to supplement if you’re hitting your targets through real food.

      If you don’t want to drink your protein, then there’s no need for whey. If you’re training fasted, then I’d pick up the BCAA.

  • Beth

    Hi I’m 125 lbs I train /lift 5x a week and do cardio 3x a week for 25-30. I’m currently trying to cut my 21%bf to 18% bf. I’m eating 1446 calories with 39% protein 35% and the rest fat. I’m using the Lose it App and I’m not always sure if it’s calculating my fat right. I’m struggling to get to 150 grams, 125 grams protein/carb with staying in my calorie deficit of 25% what am I doing wrong?

    • Hey Beth! With a target of 1446 cals, 150g Protein, 125g carbs, that leaves you with 346 cals of fat, or 38g fat. If you’re overshooting those targets, then it’s simply a matter of modifying your portion sizes and changing food choices to fit your meal plan specifications.

  • Jess

    Hi mike,

    I exercise for about 5/6 days a week doing hitt cardio/free weights workouts. I have found that my weight seems to be stabilising/ going up and down more recently. Would the following macro split work for me for a cut: 1320 calories, 40% protein, 35% carbs and 25% fat, I am 23 years old, 5’3 and around 21/22% body fat

    • If you’re not losing weight, take a look at this first:


      I don’t know your current weight, but 1320 sounds awfully low. Don’t go below BMR.

      • Jess

        Hi mike i’m 122 pounds, what cutting macros would you recommend? and would 40% protein, 35% carbs and 25% fat be okay?

        • Great! With 4-6 hours of exercise each week, I recommend 1408cals/day with the following macros:

          Protein 146g
          Carbs 136g
          Fat 31g

          Your BMR is approx 1304, by the way.

  • Brett M.

    Question. I’m not sure if I’m not understanding or not reading the calculator right. I’m a male, 32 years old, 6.0ft in height, 175lbs, and have I’m guessing 18% body fat. I work out 4-6 hours a week. Maybe sometimes more. I’m trying to cut and lose enough weight to get to as close to 10% bf so I can start bulking up and worry less about cardio. As your article about fast cutting suggested. The calculator says Total Calories- 1921; does that mean I need less than that to lose fat/weight or is that including the deficit and where I should be at? Thanks Mike.

    • Hey Brett! That’s great you’re setting your targets. TDEE is your total energy expenditure (2401cals), and Total Calories on a cut is 20% less than that–1921 calories/day. Total Calories is your daily cutting target.

      • Brett M.

        Thank you. Thats what my goal is then for now on, no more than 1921 calories a day.

        • Awesome! And if you’re not losing weight, take a look at this:


          • Brett M.

            At 2000-2100 calories, what would be the perfect macro count for someone wanting to get stronger but lose body fat? I’m 175 with 15% bf and exercise 4 days a week.

          • At 175lbs, 18%BF, here are your targets:

            Protein 210g
            Carbs 185g
            Fat 44g

          • Erick Traschikoff

            Wait, I am confused, why 210g of protein. I thought you should aim for 1 gram of protein per body weight? Should it not be 175 g (Protein) Fat at .20 and the rest carbs?

          • 1.2g/lbs bodyweight protein when cutting

          • Erick Traschikoff

            Thanks Mike! The article is so helpful!

          • YW! Glad you got a lot out of it.

  • Destiny

    I’m at 22% body fat but wanna go ahead and start my first bulk. Does that 2% matter? I am a female at 122 pounds and crush it really hard with slow gains. Loaded the FitnessPal and realized I just plain don’t eat enough. It’s hard. I’m full at 1100 to 1500 calories. All your calculators tell me I need 1800 to bulk.

    • Hey Destiny, that 2% gives you a bigger bulking window. I recommend getting down to at least 21% before bulking.

      Yeah, eating enough can be a challenge…

      • Destiny

        Hi there! Thanks. I went ahead and started bulking. It’s the holidays and cold weather (ie sweat pants) so… I am loathing My Fitness Pal. It seems terribly inaccurate. I can type in banana and get 2 completely different results. It seems so untrustworthy. Is there a more promising tracker for accuracy?

        • Sweet. I like using Excel (or Google) spreadsheets, actually. It’s come to a point where I know a lot of my foods and portion macros by heart and coming from a Finance background, I just adore Excel. If I ever need to look something up, I just go to caloriecount.com or calorieking.com. Super convenient and straightforward.

          For the best precision, I recommend weighing out your banana and logging it by weight instead of the estimate of a whole banana.

  • Sarah

    Just wanted to say thanks. I used your calculator for a friend who’s male and obese. I kept reading and I’m very grateful for the way you explained it all. I spent the last 2 hours online trying to find useful information that would help him. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until I reached the very end and saw your books that I realised I actually have “thinner, leaner, stronger” bought it 2 weeks ago from Barnes & Noble and it’s actually right in front of me right now. I just wanted to say thanks and that Im very excited to get back on track.

    • YW! Haha that’s awesome you picked up a copy of TLS earlier as well. Welcome to the website!

  • Destiny

    I posted a question to RogerT but also wanted to post here at the top… I HATE My Fitness Pal. It it terribly inaccurate. I don’t mind tracking. I am bulking right now and if I didn’t track, I wouldn’t be eating enough. I can (like most women) eat like a bird. Tracking helps me eat more carbs, basically. But, when I load ‘banana’ into MFP I get so many results. Those damn green checks mean squat! I feel like I have to go to pen, paper and calculator to get it right. (Say it ain’t so). Is there a favorite tracker that is more accurate? I’ll pay 3 bucks if I have to. I hate following internet meal plans. Who can eat oatmeal 3x a day for 4 weeks? Not me. I know Tom Venuto says the trimmest people in world eat the same things every day but come on….give me some variety. I just want to load my food and trust that the numbers are correct. Thanks for all the free help!

  • Lianne


    i’m hoping you can help me, im 23 years old and i’m 5 ft 3 and 122 pounds, I would say my bf is around 22%. I exercise around 5/6 days a week doing hitt cardio workouts/ free weights (dumbbells) . No matter what I try i can’t seem to see any physical changes and haven’t seen any for months, i tend to store fat in my legs and they never slim down. What macros would you recommend for a cut and the number of calories? I have always strayed from carbs as i think I may be sensitive to them and therefore I dont know what split would work best for me as ive hit a plateau with intuitive eating and iifym.

    If you could help it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Lianne, given your numbers, here are your targets:

      Protein 146g
      Carbs 136g
      Fat 31g

      Hope that helps!

  • Orxan

    Hi Mike, I would like to say that the knowledge you provide or share with us help us a lot. I’m hoping you will respond to my question.. I’m 5’7 tall(170 cm) and 143lbs(65kg) with 10 % body fat. What i have been following is:
    Protein: 143 g
    Carbohydrates: 300g
    Is that accurate or should i change it? It’d be nice if you would help me out like how many calories should i eat, protein, carbohydrates,fat.

    • Orxan

      I work out 5 to 6 hours per week.

    • Orxan

      I’m so sorry to be more specific i wanna gain maximum muscle and low fat(bulking)

    • YW! Glad you’re getting a lot out of my content, and nice work with your macros. Just a small tweak:

      Protein 143g
      Carbs 342g
      Fat 54g

  • Kyle Weinrich

    Hi Mike, I appreciate you sharing all of your knowledge and providing tools to help us. I’m in a special situation and was wondering if you’d be able to help me out. I’m starting a fire academy in about a week and therefore will be going through intense physical stress for 8 to 9 hours a day 4 days a week for 5 months. I weigh 186 pounds with about 14% BF and with the activity level turned up my macros are as follows just wondering if you think this is sufficient…

    Calories – 3120
    Protein – 312
    Carbs – 312
    Fat – 70

    • Grats on starting fire academy! With all that activity, I think you’ll respond better with more carbs:

      223g protein, 396g carbs.

  • Amy Songhurst

    Mike! I am Male, 164 lbs, 5 foot 10, looking to gain size but also burn fat as i have a fat stomach!! what macros should i go for? Thanks

  • Caleb L.


    Both of my parents are overweight (+35% body fat) and I am trying to help them calculate their macros.

    According to the above calculator, my dad (240# and 35% body fat) would have a BMR of 1901 and a TDEE of 2091. Set to cut, his calories are at 1673. I thought it was not recommended to eat below BMR? How can they get around this healthily without increasing too much exercise? Should they just eat at exactly BMR?

    They are both 65 years old and really are only capable of walking for exercise. I am sorry if you have answered something like this before, I just have not been able to find it. Thanks for all of your help.

  • Michael Steiner

    So I’m a little confused by this macro nutrient calculator.

    My wife and I recently purchased BLS and TLS (Along with their supplement stacks), and based of the calculations from the book (Using 1.2grams of protein, 2gram of carbs, 0.2grams of fat per pound of body weight) I made an excel spreadsheet to calculate our macros, and our numbers came out to be (for me, 170lbs at 18%bf) 204protein, 170carbs, 34 fat 1802totalcals and (for my wife 130lbs, 28%bf) 156protein, 130carbs, 26fat for a total 1378calories (using the 9f/4c/4p ratio of macros to calories given in the book)

    However, when I use the calculator in this article, I get macros of 235p, 235c and 57f for a total of 2347 for me and 174p, 174c, 39f, for a total of 1740 for my wife. So I’m confused on which macros we should be using?

    • Michael Steiner

      This is for a cutting plan for the first 8 weeks.

    • The book will give general guidelines, but this calculator lets you really dial it in and customize your targets.

      For you:
      1878 cals
      f- 42g

      For your wife:
      1392 cals
      p- 156g
      c- 122g
      f- 31g

      Hope that helps!

      • Michael Steiner

        Thats perfect it helps allot. So you basically just adjusted the calculator to 44% protein, 36% carbs and 20% fat to get those numbers?

        • Yup. 1.2g/lbs bodyweight for protein–manually entered. Then, I set fat to 20%.

  • Emily Nelson

    Was wondering if I could get a little advice. I’m a 189 cm woman (yep) weighing 82.8 kg. Based on the photos at this link (https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-measure-body-fat-percentage/) I would estimate my body fat percentage to be around 23%, but I’m not sure. I look athletic with big muscles and no belly (profile picture not current), but not super toned. I train with kettlebells 4 X a week and I usually go quite heavy. I also walk a lot, run around with my dog, go hiking, go rock climbing, etc., on a regular basis. I would like to get just a bit leaner. If I use the calculator with the highest activity multiplier and set a 10% caloric deficit, I come up with a target of 2280. I do not think I can do that. I would be way too hungry to get through the day, although I generally choose mostly nutritious, filling foods. I know that I’m currently eating much closer to 3000 calories a day and maintaining my weight. Any thoughts on why these calculators don’t work for me, and how I should go about setting a more realistic target?

    • Hey Emily,

      Sometimes the calculator doesn’t work out so well for folks with really high metabolisms. If you’re maintaining now at 3000cals, drop it 20% to 2400cals and adjust based on results. Measure your weight daily, bf% and waist weekly. Drop cals 100 at a time by ditching 25g carbs.

  • Antonio Calhau

    Hi Mike! is this calculator right? because you have to inputs that i think they are the same.. The presets, that have cut, maintain and bulk, and then you have again radio buttons deficit and surplus. And when you will have your app running in Androind?

    • It’s right. The Deficit/Surplus radio button just adds a negative or minus sign to the %.

      Depending on how the iOS release goes, we’ll see!

  • Erick Traschikoff

    Hello Mike. I am 6 feet tall 167 with 17% body fat. I am tall and on the slim size but have been developing belly fat. I am getting ready to cut (Protein 147, Carb, 147, fat 42 grams). However, should the work outs also change? Or can I continue doing workouts for muscle gain? (compound movements with low reps). Thank you

  • Alejandra

    Hi Mike! What about a maintenance diet? Whats your advise on that!

  • James

    Hi Mike, For the Activity Calculator Should you Count in the Minutes Of Weight Training Or the Cardio Only For Example I a do 4 Hours a week weight traing and 3 – 25 mins HIIT. Please can you advise me mikey

    • Both. So in your case, that’ll be 4-6 hours for activity.

  • Shelly

    Hi Mike,

    I have been calculating macros for about 17 days now and I had seen a downward trend on the scale however the last week the scale has been fluctuating upwards and i’m not sure why.

    I am 23, female, 5 ft 3 and i exercise 5/6 days per week doing a mixture of hitt cardio and free weight training.

    I’m currently eating 1,411 calories, 39% protein (138g), 36% carbs (127g) and 25% fat (39g). I find that i’m on the more carb sensitive side and for hormonal reasons chose a higher fat level.

    • Cool Shelly! I like what you’re doing.

      You’re probably just looking at water retention issues. Check this out:


      • Shelly

        Hi mike,

        I had been on holiday and had not been eating very well apart from that I am very consistent, I had followed these macros as soon as I had got back and saw the scale go down in the first week (I’m sure a loss of water weight) but after the first 7/11 days I had then just seen the scale go up and up and then fluctuate between the higher numbers, should i be adjusting my calories ? I’m

        • Yes. Increase your exercise activity and drop the cals.

  • Jase van der Meer

    Hey Mike,

    I had a question regarding the 2 hour range you use in this calculator to determine the activity multiplier…if I do 4 hours of activity per week and the next guy does 6 hours, that seems like a pretty big margin of caloric requirements for the 2 men. Yet the maintenance is the same. And the 6 plus activity multiplier bumps up maintenance by roughly another 100 calories a day. Technically 6 hours of activity could be either number…So do we just find middle ground and estimate what our daily caloric needs are within this range or is this not worth messing with?

    • It’s not going to be super exact to-the-T for every individual. These are approximations–albeit, very good ones. Not worth messing with. Follow it for a week or two, then adjust your cals depending on results.

  • Cassidy Malone

    Love the book and made some great progress over the past months, but I was hoping if someone could clear up some confusions I have.
    The main question I have is: is there anytime I need to recalculate my tdee and macros? Like during cutting, reverse dieting, or bulking?
    Ex: say,I cut my calories all the way to my bmr, fat loss stalls, and I start reverse dieting. do I need to recalculate my tdee and reach for that new maintenance tdee?
    I reach my tdee, when I reverse diet, do I need to recalculate for muscle gain or new bf%?
    When I get to my goal bf% and want to start buffing, do I recalculate for a new tdee?
    Sorry if this is confusing, I feel like I missed something about when I reach certain point in my body changing goals. Any help would be awesome!

    • Awesome! Glad to hear you’ve been making great progress. No need to recalculate until you end the cut and are starting the RD. Recalculate before the bulk, though you shouldn’t see your BF% or weight change much. a 1-3lbs gain is normal, however, due to water retention and glycogen.

      • Cassidy Malone

        Oh man thank you so much! I’ve been stressing out about it cause I couldn’t wrap my head around it!

  • James

    Dear Mike,

    I have been following BLS now for 12 weeks

    Currently 138 Lbs Started at 150 Lbs
    Currently at 17% BF (Body Fat) Started at 21%

    I have used the calculator at the start of the program and was using the Interval 2-4 Hours and have recently adjusted upwards 4-6 Hours as I have noticed that I am not loosing fat but weight and wasn’t sure about the right interval to use.

    Previously my Intake was 140gms Protein 140gm Carbs 36 gms Fat – 1488 Kcal

    My Intake then changed recently to 160 gms Protein 160gm Carbs 40 gms Fat – 1656 Kcal

    I have noticed that I have lost a lot of weight and my fat seems to be at the same levels now 17% and is not going lower, but this maybe due to me eating less than my BMR for a few weeks until I readjusted the calculator.

    I am doing 3-4 – 30 Mins Recumbent Biking HIIT Sessions after my weights sessions on BLS. Currently lift 4 days a week also.

    I Start with a 3 minute warm up and get my heart rate to 130 BPM then do intervals of 1 Minute heart rate to 160 BPM then drop to lower interval for 2 minutes to about 130 BPM and continue this for 25 Minutes all-together.

    I am definitely working out hard and lifting as much as possible on BLS whilst doing my HIIT Cardio.

    What do you suggest should I go onto a Reverse Diet to bring me back up to my TDEE then what should I do?

    I have now adjusted to 140-150 gms Protein, 190gms Carbs and 40gms Fat – 1856 Kcal and gradually increasing this to my TDEE 2100 Kcal every week by 150 Kcal.

    I am continuing to to train Hard as I believe I have hit a Plato and just continue to loose weight and not fat plus I believe looking at your website I need to re balance my metabolism.

    My strength is not dropping as I can progressively increase weight every 2 weeks slightly and am continuing to do this.

    Would really appreciate your help as I really want to get down to 12% – 10% BF and weigh the same without loosing a whole lot more weight as I have the Skinny Fat Look which is disappointing.

    • Hey James, nice work on the cut! With your current measurements of 138lbs and 17% BF working out 4-6 hours a week, your targets look like this:

      (1494 BMR)
      P 165g
      C 158g
      F 36g

      If your strength wasn’t dropping week after week, then there was no muscle loss. When you hit a plateau, what you want to do is do more HIIT cardio (up to 5 half-hour sessions), add more activity, and/or drop 100 cals (but not going below BMR).

      Hope that helps!

  • Scott

    Hey Mike,

    I have been doing your program for a couple months now. Currently, I sit at 174 Lbs and 13-14% body fat. Still cutting until I get to 10% than going to bulk. Lift 5 times a week and do 3-4 20 minute treadmill interval sprints (1 minute warmup & cooldown, 1 minute low 30 second high, repeat 12 times) sessions per week.
    I have used the calculator religiously this whole time and currently is say’s 2153 calories, 215 grams protein, 215 grams carbs, and 48 grams fat. My question is that I have a desk job, where I am sitting for 8+ hours a day. Should I drop my carb intake to 25% (135 grams) and raise my protein & fat intake? It just seems that the fat loss has stalled the last couple of weeks.

    Thanks for all you do.

    • Nice work, Scott. Do this instead:

      1995 cals
      P 208g
      C 191g
      F 44g

      Adjust based on results, and increase HIIT cardio to 4-5 sessions if needed.

      • Scott

        Thanks Mike, will give it a go. Should be able to add another session of interval sprints in on the weekend.
        Thanks again, although I was secretly hoping you would say to give reverse dietng a try, just so I can eat more, lol.


  • totman

    Just got your BLS book… super excited to get started, thank you!

    So, I’m a little confused by a discrepancy between this calculator and the sample meal plan on page 133…
    The meal plan is for 220LB male (which I am) and says the target calories are 1,826: http://d.pr/i/Hw2F/4FCFwMNV

    But when I run the calculator, it’s saying my TDEE is 2,146:

    I don’t want to be overeating by 320 calories as I currently need some extreme cutting 😉

    Please clarify, thank you!

    • The photos aren’t showing up 🙁

      All good. The book will give a great starting point, but to customize it further, follow instructions on this article.

      • Travis Tolman

        Thanks for the response!
        So out of the two numbers (book: 220 male cutting- 1,826) vs the calculator on this article (2,146 for 220 male @ 19% BF) it’s safer to trust the calculator number then, right?

        (the images were links to the images, but Disqus auto uploaded them… maybe if you click on them?)

        • No problem, Travis. Go with this calculator. Remember, to fully customize your targets, you have to take into account weekly activity and body fat %.

  • Chrissy


    I am 28,5 ft 5, weigh 136lbs. I sit at a desk all day but exercise 4 times a week. My body fat increased a lot over s few months and now at 29%

    I want to lose a stone/ body fat and be toned.

    What macros would you suggest?

    Thanks a lot

    • Hey Chrissy, you can start with 1423cals/day:
      P 142g
      C 142g
      F 32g

      • Chrissy

        Thank you very much. I’m always scared about too many carbs. I’m looking to lose this quite quickly and then maintain – will this provide fast(but good) results? I was previously doing 137 g protein.

        Are there any foods I should focus on eating?

        Thank you again

        • It’s all about energy balance, Chrissy. Eating more carbs, but staying within your calorie target will not make you gain weight.

          Eat as much whole (unprocessed) foods as possible!

  • Cooper

    Hey Mike,

    I’m unsure what to pick for activity level.
    I ride my bicycle to work and back. Which is a short 15min 4.3km (2.6 miles) each way ride 6 days a week and I’m only starting to lift the weights 3 days a week.
    So what should the activity level be? And should I be lifting more?

    • That’s great you’re starting to train with weights, Cooper! Currently, your activity level is 1.2. I’d move towards a 5-day split, if possible.

  • Kelly

    Hi Mike,
    I am 32 year old female. 145 lbs, 5’6″
    I have recently got hydro-statically body fat tested (under water weighing) and my results were:
    BMR: 1591calories
    Bodyfat: 24.1%.
    Lean Body mass 110.9 lbs

    I have an office job where I sit all day, but I do work out 5-6 days a week for around an hour. I do mainly weight training with some cardio. Do you have any advice on my macros and caloric intake? I am wanting to lose more bodyfat. I have been doing a higher protein diet, but I am having a hard time on carbs/fat macros. Any advice would be appreciated. I have always been told to cut carbs, so i have not tried a higher carb diet..

  • Janeen

    Hi – I’ve got about 15 more pounds to lose to hit my goal but I’ve been stuck for quite a while!!! I’m a 50 year old female. I exercise 6 days a week, cardio kickboxing and resistance training. I’m 5’2″ and weight 162. My body fat is sitting at 33%. Any suggestions to help me over this plateau???

    • Hey Janeen, nice work so far. I recommend that you set your macro and calorie targets with the calculator above, and adjust based on results. If you’re not losing fat, then drop 25g from carbs (100 cals). On the off-chance you still don’t see progress, read this:


      Keep up the great work!


    If I am trying to cut I am kinda freaked out by increasing the carbs and taking down the protein ? According to the calculaterc and your tips to losing fat rapidly I would be at 1433 calories, 125 g protein, 177 g carbs, 25 g fat. I am female , 125lbs, 4-6 hrs of training , going off your pictures I am 22% body fat .
    Are these numbers correct? I’m worried those carbs are going to add to my existing love handles 😜

    • Hey Cindy, remember, it’s not the carbs that make people fat, it’s over-eating. Nice job working out your targets, but let’s increase your protein to 150g, carbs 137g , fat 32g. Hope that helps!


        Are those numbers for cutting? How did you come to those targets and why will they work better than the ones above? Just need to know do I can readjust them as I reach my goals

        • No problem! Those numbers are for cutting, and add up to 1433 cals, assuming 125lbs, 22% BF, 4-6hrs of intense exercise.

          P- 1.2x body weight
          F- 20% total intake
          C- the remainder

  • Lia

    Hey Mike, I have a question for you…I’ve been following your exact macro program for a while now; several months. I am usually perfectly fine with the cutting calories your calculator gives me. This is kind of a weird question, but is an elevated appetite due to PMS a real thing? Because for some reason this week I have been totally starving following the same macro recommendations given. I also monitor my weight and BF percentage and plug the new numbers into the calculator, so I am making sure it’s always what it should be. Is this a thing? Is it possible I’m judging my body fat percentage wrong? According to fat caliper measurements taken by some personal trainer I’m around 20%, but I just don’t think I’m that low. since I carry so much fat in my stomach region I feel like I am more around 23%. In any case, what do you think? Sorry for the rant, but I am just worried about my appetite change! Whatever you say I trust so thank you in advance for any advice! And you can totally just tell me it’s all in my head and I need to buck up if that’s the case 😂

    • Hey Lia, it’s totally normal. Don’t give in to the cravings or hunger, though! Stay focused and stay on target. You’ll find that some bloating and water weight gain will happen during that time as well, but don’t sweat it. Stay on your cutting targets, and you’ll be just fine the following week.

      It’s possible he’s not measuring accurately, by the way. Check this out:


  • Rebe

    Hello Mike have a nice day to you.

    I ‘ve been doing a program for 7 days now base from your book “ bigger leaner
    stronger “. I started at weight=70kg, and about 16-17% body fats. I calculated
    my macronutrients base on this calculator. And I weigh in again base on your
    suggestion to assist yourself after 7 days, now my current weight is 68.5kg, I reduced 1.5kg in 1 week. Now my question is where should I base my macronutrients intake per day? Should I re calculate it again base on my current weight at 68.5kg? by the way thanks a lot for your book, my stomach now is flat and my upper abs are visible already. But I reduce so much, your suggestion is only 1lbs or almost likely 0.5kg per week. i guess i need to adjust. thanks a lot…

  • James Matan

    Hi Mike,

    Firstly just want to say thank you for shedding some light on bodybuilding and fitness in general, I purchased BLS the other day and literally read the whole book in a few hours! I`ve been out of the gym for almost two years now due to an injury and slowly making a comeback. I just wanted to ask you, I noticed in the book you mention switching from bulking to cutting phase, I`ve been bulking now for almost 6 months and have gained a few pounds of muscle and fat however my stomach has always been a bit of an issue and I want to lose it desperately. I am currently about 25% body fat and have a belly even though I`m pretty slim everywhere else. A few of my training buddies said its probably better to bulk for a year before cutting as I`ll look too skinny if I get to 10% bf now, but I don’t know if I want to wait that long to lose my belly? Could you please give me some advice on this? Also I haven’t been doing much cardio for the last 6 months except 1hr power walks 2-3 times a week and going to start HIIT training this week. Thanks

    • Hey James, glad to hear you picked up a copy of BLS and really enjoyed it! If you’re at 25% BF, it’s time to cut. This is ideal for several reasons: it preserves insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance, it allows you to maintain a calorie surplus for many months before having to reduce body fat levels, and it saves you from long, grueling cuts. Can you imagine continuing to bulk until you’re over 25% BF? Take a look at what that looks like:


      Don’t worry about looking skinny. It’s only temporary and a normal part of the process.

      Awesome! HIIT cardio is great when cutting.

    • James Matan

      Thanks for getting back so quick Mike. I’ll start cutting right away!

  • James Matan

    Hi Mike,

    Just a quick question. I recently jumped on to the cutting phase like you recommended. I am just a little confused in regards to working out my daily protein requirement for cutting because BLS suggests I consume 1.2g per pound of muscle (163g) but when I use your macronutrient calculator here the numbers are slightly off. I am 163lbs and about 20% bf with 1.3 activity level..also during cutting phase as we`re not bulking do we just keep lifting the same weights for the duration of the cut or still try to lift heavier? Cheers

    • Both are workable, James. You can go with 1.2g/lbs bodyweight. The weightlifting does not change regardless of cutting or bulking. Keep pushing for heavier weights.

      • James Matan

        Thanks mate!

        • James Matan

          Getting lean, losing one kilo a week thanks to your macro calculator!

  • Sonny

    Hi Mike. Also started cutting but was just a tad unsure about the activity level box. I’m a scaffolder so am physical 5 days a week with 2 cardio sessions and 2 full body calisthenic workouts. I’m also 178lbs but should I put 6+ hours activity down with my job or less?

    • Hey Sonny, 6+ is a good start, and adjust your calories and exercise based on results. (Ie. reduce cals, increase exercise if you’re not losing 1-2lbs/week down to 18% BF)

    • Sonny

      Thanks Roger! So I suppose 1800 calories would be a good starting point then?

  • AmyL

    Hi, I was doing MFL macros for cutting and was doing OK but was starting to not feel so great and so I began Keto 6 weeks ago. I did so in part because of allergies to grAins and nuts and Keto works well with that. However i have lost some strength in my lifts. Wondering how I can tweak the macros to help me. Would a 40%protein, 35%fat, 25%carb split be ok do you think?

    • Hey Amy, if you’re doing Keto, your exercise performance will definitely take a dip because you aren’t eating much carbs. How about increasing your carb intake back to the original levels but get your carbs from sources other than grains and nuts?

      The macro split you listed is fine too, but you will still have better workouts on higher carb.

  • Alex

    Hi there, suppose I calculate my daily calories required for a deficit to be 1,700, but I also burn around 300 calories from exercising. Then does that mean I should eat 2,000 calories now? Thank you!

    • Hey Alex, you do not ever “add back” calories. TDEE will have already taken into account all your exercise calories burned. I’m glad you asked the question!

  • Michelle

    Hi Mike,

    I’m struggling with figuring out how much activity to say I do. I currently have been lifting 5-6 days a week with about 1 hr cardio a week, per your advice in your book. But I have a desk job that I don’t get much movement from. Is the activity amount based on one-hour workouts? How intense do they count for?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Good question, Michelle. In your case, use a 1.35x multiplier (4-6 hours of activity) and adjust based on results. If you can, I suggest increasing your HIIT cardio.

      • Michelle

        Thanks for the feedback, Mike. I could add another hour on upper body days.

        I know weight lifting has a greater after-burn, but I wear a FitBit during my workouts to track heart rate and calorie burn. I realize this isn’t 100% accurate, but I feel it at least helps motivate me to try to work harder. How many calories should a lifting workout burn during the workout?

        Or, am I missing the mark and I should just be worrying about how soon I can add more weight? (Also unsure how often that should be…)

        Thanks for all your feedback. Progressive overload training is new to me, so I’m trying to figure out if I’m doing it right.

        • Welcome!

          As you said, those activity trackers just aren’t accurate. And as to how many cals you’re burning per workout, that’s going to vary person to person depending on weight, composition, workout intensity, etc.

          The easiest thing to do is to keep your intake consistent daily and then adjust it based off results.

  • Michael

    Hi there, I completely bewilder with trying to figure out macros. I have been using this macronutrient calculator for over a year and after a rough start, it’s been a good guide.

    I have bought all of Mike’s books and love his work. Unfortunately, I myself have not seen any significant results with my diet and exercise, but I have also always been fit and so accepted that I hit my genetic limit of muscle building potential at 152lbs 🙁

    Recently, I participated in a medical study where they did a DEXA scan and calculated my BMR and body fat. I thought I was at 8% body fat but I was actually between 18-15% body fat! I thought my BMR was around 1740 but it was actually calculated to be between 1535-1540.

    I know a DEXA scan is a more accurate measurement of what is happening in the body but that throws this calculator out of the water. I’m not sure what to do. Do I use my DEXA numbers or use formula calculations to calculate? If I use my more accurate DEXA numbers do I use the formulas designed to be accurate guesses? If not, what formulas should be used when you have more accurate numbers?

    I can’t ever really seem to gain mass or cut down to low body fat levels using any calculator or by using any formulas. Any suggestions?

  • Vee_Vee

    Hey Mike,

    I need advice on adjusting my macros during my back surgery 6 week recovery. I know I will lose a lot of my gains and I am worried about my diet during that time. I’m already quite familiar with macros and have seen tremendous success in achieving lean muscle mass when combined with my weight training and HIIT routines (I went from 26% BF to 17.5%).
    I’m pretty certain I should be at a maintenance mode with high protein/lower carbs however, there are multiple macro calculators out there and my TDEE is varying 400 calories from site to site.
    42 y.o
    138 lbs
    17.5% BF
    The doctor wants me to walk at least 3 miles a day and sit as little as possible

    Some macro sites give me 2055 calories while others give me 1636.

    Can you give me your expert opinion?

    • Hey VeeVee! Don’t worry, you won’t lose that much. And, it’ll all come back once you start lifting again. Being in maintenance helps a lot. I suggest that you start with about 1800cals/day and adjust based on results.

  • Dyamond Brown

    Hey Mike!
    This has been a very informative article I enjoyed reading. I recently had my body fat percentage measured and I was absolutely shocked to find out how high it was. I’m 5’1 121 pounds and my body fat percentage is 34%. Recently I’ve gained three pounds of muscle and dropped 2% body fat, but I was wondering if you had any tips on how to lean out and bring down MGM body fat percentage? I do kickboxing twice a week, ballet once a week, and gym workout 1-2 times a week. I’m going to start Kayla itsiness bikini guide in addition to my kickboxing and ballet, and I wasn’t sure of exactly what I should be eating to burn fat? My base metabolic rate is 1,155 and my bmi is 23

    • Glad you enjoyed the article! I’d start with a 20% deficit while increasing your weight lifting and doing 3-4 HIIT cardio sessions (25min)


      a 1.35x multiplier would be a good start. If you’re not losing fat, then increase HIIT cardio and/or drop 100cals (but not going below BMR)

      • Dyamond Brown

        Ok thanks for the tips! The only thing is I’m not sure what exactly a 20% deficit would be for me. I’ve tried using different macro calculators and get a different result everytime of what my daily caloric intake should be. Do you think around 1,200 or 1,300 would be about right?

        • Scroll up to the calculator and punch in your weight, body fat %, and hours of weekly exercise (4-6hrs, or a 5 days weight lifting plus 4 25min HIIT sessions). Select Cut from the drop-down menu. Bam! you have your target calories: 1246cals/day.

      • Dyamond Brown

        I’m a little confused as to what that all means

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Well today marks the end of my first completed cut/bulk cycle, following all of your advice as religiously as I can, and I’m trying to figure out exactly where I’ve gone wrong.

    Initially I cut down to around 9% before starting the bulk, and during this period, (about 3 months) I found myself static in the gym; I wasn’t able to add weight to _any_ of my lifts. But that seemed to make sense.

    So I was excited about the bulk when it finally came. I struggled hard at first to find a calorie intake that resulted in gains. My calories to cut were 1920. I found I had to eat around 3200 before I would gain anything however! It was a real struggle to eat that many calories in a day, so often I would drink a beer with a meal or eat other unhealthy (low fat, high carb) snacks to try and pack in the calories.

    At any rate, here’s the thing: I’m nearing 15% body fat again, 6 months later, and…I’m still lifting exactly the SAME as before. Every single week, I go in, on my first lifts, I add the minimum weight possible I can to the lift, and fail to hit 4 reps, so I take it off again, and bang out my usual 6 at the same weight as the week before. (in spite of hitting 6 reps, I am unable to “move up” in weight as you recommend) As a matter of fact, I actually had to DEcrease one or two lifts last week, which was really alarming.

    For 9 months of never missing a single workout, it’s getting REALLY hard to keep dragging myself in there on these results. I’m hitting my macros religiously, although on occasion my fat intake runs higher than it’s supposed to.

    • Hey, nice work setting your targets and getting down to 9% on your cut. Did you take a deload at all since cutting to today?

      • Elijah Laughinghaus

        I’m not sure I understand the question. To be clear, I cut to 9% 9 months ago. It took 3 months, during which I was lifting 3 days a week. After that, I bulked for 6 months, and now it’s time to start cutting again.

        The issue is, I am lifting the SAME WEIGHT now, after 6 months of bulking and gaining around 20 lbs, as I was 9 months ago, when I first began the program.

        (I had been lifting before that, not following any particular regimen, just eating normally without paying any attention to macros or anything else, and working out, for about 6 months, during that time I did make gains)

        • Did you deload?


          Did you try strategies to push past the plateau?


          • Elijah Laughinghaus

            Oh yes, sorry. Yeah I’ve incorporated deloads, and I had read the plateau article a while back, I guess that’s why I didn’t feel anything was wrong for such a long time, because I was trying to scale back my expectations and just hit those extra 1-2 reps. But that has flattened out as well and like I said, it hasn’t translated to extra weight on the bars.

            I suspect part of the problem might be that I am pretty weak to start, and the smallest weight plates in my gym are maybe not small enough? For example, right now I can only bench press 35kg. The smallest weight I can add to the bar would be another 5kg, which is around a 15% increase in weight.

          • Have you tried taking your sets past 3 sets of 6 and into 3 sets of 8? At that point, you should be able to tackle a weight increase. If not, I suggest picking up some smaller weight plates and using those to make a lighter weight increase.

  • siamak j

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your wonderful information. I’ve progressed a lot since I visited this website last year. I’ve read all your articles and I have to say they are really informative. I cut from about 15% to 10% last year, and my bulk lasted about 6 month. Now I’m 17% BF. My calorie intake at the end of bulking was 4500. But here’s my problem. How can I cut down my calories properly to reach to 10 % during 4 month without damaging my metabolism?
    Now, I cut down my calorie intake to 3500 but nothing has happened yet. Is it going directly below my TDEE would cause any problem?

    • Awesome work. To cut, you have to take 20% off of TDEE. Going straight into the cut will not cause any problems.

      • siamak

        thank you so much for your response, i’m appreciative.

  • Sonny

    Hi Mike,

    I think somebody’s asked this already but during a cut, is there any need to keep readjusting calories as weight drops? I’m currently 170lbs with 17% BF and so have come up with a figure of 1900-2000 so can I just stick with that until the end of the cut?

    • Hey Sonny, no need to readjust as your weight drops. If you reach a plateau, increase your activity and/or drop your cals (but not below BMR).

      • Sonny

        Amazing…thanks very much!

        • YW!

          • Sonny

            Also, reading about fasted training, I’d only be comfortable with doing it once a week due to my working hours. Is it worth doing it once with Forge for example, or is it good enough to just stick with a deficit and training? It’s the stubborn belly fat I’m worried about! 😄

          • I strongly recommend training fasted with Forge.

  • I’m 41 and three weeks into my first cut, hoping to go from about 15% BF to 10%. I was about 205 and have dropped nearly 10 lbs, using this calculator as my guide (dropping to 2200 cals on a 40/40/20 split). But man — my workouts are getting difficult. I’ve missed reps on all my heavy lifts, and it’s kind of depressing.

    I’m doing fasted, but I’m going to have to skip that and get some pre-workout carbs. I’m also considering upping the cals.

    Is this normal? I feel gym-weak — definitely not making any PRs and apparently losing strength.

    • That’s great you’re cutting for the first time! Performance will take a dip when in a deficit and training fasted. Totally normal. Reduce the weight as needed so that you can stay in the rep range and perform each rep with good form.

  • Tracy

    Hi there,

    I’ve been doing your Thinner Leaner Stronger program for the past 13 weeks after reading your book. I was using macros calculated by a different website that I paid for. While I have definitely gotten stronger, I never lost weight (I know muscle weighs more but there hasn’t been any real fat loss) (The old program had me at 1765 calories, 115 protein, 180 carbs, 65 fat).

    I’m thinking about trying your calculator but it’s a bit different than the book and the protein comes in less than the above recommended 1 to 1.2g per lb of body weight. I’m curious what you would recommend in my case? I currently weigh 154, do the 4 day a week program with 20 min of HIIT right after (1 1/2 min warm up, 2-3 min cool down).

    While I love the program, love being stronger, have found a newfound love of weight training AND have overcome my fear of the free weight room, I’m frustrated at my lack of weight loss and my clothes fitting exactly the same.

    Thanks for your input!

    • Hey Tracy, that’s great you’ve been on the program and making gains! Using the calculator here, you can still customize the targets by manually entering in the values. Punch in 1.2g/lbs bodyweight for protein, then 20% for fat. The carbs will adjust itself.

      I also recommend increasing HIIT to 25min and reducing the calories by 100 if you’re still not losing fat. Also, check this out:


  • Brad

    Hi Mike, I have a query with your calculator. The results don’t match the Harris–Benedict calculation well-known to be the most accurate calculation of BMR. Can you justify yours over the other calculators out there?

    • Hey Brad, the main reason I tend to favor the Katch-McArdle is that it also accounts for lean body mass, whereas the Harris-Benedict does not. In general, it tends to be a little more accurate for people who are in better shape.

  • Hi Mikem I just finished reading TLS and want to start the program. I’m having trouble figuring out what macros I should be following. Using the book’s formula, I calculated 1818 Cals, 181 P, 136 C, 60 F
    but the above calculator gave me 1461 Cals, 146 P, 109 C, 49 F.

    HELP! For reference, I’m starting 225 lbs & roughly 48% BF. I did follow the instructions for overweight people in the book.


    • Both are workable, but you can customize your targets further with the calculator above. I strongly recommend that you increase your activity level through HIIT cardio. That will bring your target up to 1640 and above your BMR of 1518.

  • I’ve lost the my first 10lbs in 3-4 weeks of cutting. 6 weeks complete now, its going slower and/or not at all. thought maybe i should re-run the above calculator with new weight but thats only a 100 cal difference. weird. or normal?

    • Nice work on the cut! What’s your HIIT cardio look like? I suggest adding another session. You can max it out at 2.5hrs/week.

      Yup, it can feel like a lot of protein. If you were to cut cals, take it from carbs and don’t drop below BMR.

      BTW, a 100cal difference is quite significant.

      • thanks man. HIIT is 3 days a week, 30 mins (4 mins warmup, 21 mins of 1-min on/off, 5 mins cool down). still getting the hang of what works best — cycling is easier on my ACL-op knee than trainer, and just found that a lower resistance makes it easier to get my HR up to the 170s than a higher resistance which just wore me out. for lifts still doing my 4-day compound split, with 2 more days of lighter assistance for a total of 6 days. really putting Stacked app thru it’s places 🙂

        yeah i’ll try cutting the 100 cals of carbs — my lifts are already weakened so i’m less worried about (ego) lifting my previous weights.

        i did just average my daily weight readings — i’m going down, but it’s less dramatic, .5 lbs a week. progress, but after the initial drop it seemed amiss.

        • Sounds good! Yeah, cycling will make HIIT easier on your knee. I suggest increasing the duration you’re doing intervals and reducing your cool-down time.

  • Liam

    HI mike, I have trouble hitting my daily calorie requirements, due to the nature of my job etc no two days are the same. My wife recently bought me a Fitbit, some days I’m burning upwards of 5000cal in a 24hr period other days around 3000cal. I never know what type of day I’m going to have until I arrive at work which makes meal planning near impossible. I was wondering if eating the required calories a day behind would work? E.g. If I burnt 3500cal on a certain day eating 3850cal if bulking or 2800cal if cutting the following day. Many thanks

    • As long as your week ends up in the appropriate calorie deficit or surplus, you’ll be OK. It would be easier, however, to eat the same number of calories every day and simply adjust that target based on results.

  • Vanessa

    I have tried so many calculators to see what my macros are and I am so confused! please would someone help. Female, 32 years old, weighing 162 lbs and want to lose weight, but I do do

  • Vanessa

    Hi! Sorry about the last post. I have tried so many calculators to see what my macros are and I am so confused! please would someone help. Female, 32 years old, weighing 162 lbs and want to lose weight and lean. I work out 5 times a week doing weight training and circuit training-mix of cardio and weights. 🙂 thank you!

  • Mia Gamboa

    Hi Mike,

    I need help assessing what my “activity multiplier” number is. I do weight training per TLS five days a week and I do HIIT cardio for 30-60 minutes per week (so I’m in the gym 5-6 days per week). Also, even though I have a desk job, my job requires quite a bit of walking plus I intentionally walk as much as I can during the week. I walk about 3.5 miles per day on average at a leisurely pace. I have found that when I try to follow the “activity multiplier” set at 1.45 or 6+ hours of exercise per week, my TDEE according to your calculator is only 2259.

    The thing is when I eat ~1807 calories per day (cutting) I feel weak and irritable as if I am not eating enough particularly on non-rest days even though I get plenty of sleep and follow your macro-nutrient suggestions pretty close to ideal. In other words, I think that I may have a higher TDEE than 2259, but I don’t want to go too high either. Also, I should note that I am currently taking Phoenix which helps immensely. Feedback on this would be helpful.

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Mia, if you’re losing 1lbs a week on a 1.45 activity multiplier, great! Adjust based on results.

    • Terri

      Because you’re weight training, doing HIIT, and getting activity at your job, you probably have to eat a bit more than the cutting recommendation because you’re not just cutting. Have to support your workouts too. I think you’re right to take the cues your body’s giving you about the pure cutting number not being quite high enough.

  • Ray Harrison

    Why are the numbers different here than in the book? In the book, the split for cutting is 45/38/17, here is it 40/40/20. For bulking, the book says 26/51/23, here it says 27/54/18. For maintaining, the book says 30/47/23, here you say 30/50/20. I know the difference is not huge but just wondering which numbers are preferred.

    • The numbers will default to to those values, but that doesn’t mean you can’t customize them. Furthermore, it’s not every case where the percentages will work out perfectly. Percentages are a nice guideline, but not the be-all-end-all. Follow the guide on how to set your macros at the end of this article.

  • Mike

    When cutting do you adjust you Body Fat and Weight in the calculator as it changes? When I plug in new leaner numbers it increases more caloric intake, is that correct?

    • No need. The only time you would make adjustments is when fat loss hits a plateau. You’d first increase HIIT cardio and then drop 25g carbs.

      • Mike

        Help! I accidentally misread and cut carbs and increased HIIT cardio and now it looks like i’m shrinking and getting a little layer of fat instead of getting leaner. Can I salvage this? My lifts haven’t dropped much in weight.

        • That’s totally fine since you’re still in a deficit. It’s impossible that you’re gaining more fat and losing muscle as long as you’re eating enough calories, protein, and lifting heavy.

  • Siu Beans

    Is this accurate for women? 22% body is a lot different on a man than it is on a woman… It’s suggesting my current maintenance calories for bulking. I think there should be an input for gender and age?

    • Siu, you can customize the targets by manually entering the appropriate protein target, for example. The other values will adjust automatically to keep the same calories.

  • James Matan

    Hi Mike how you been? Just had a couple of quick questions. In BLS you mention that we should stick to the 4-6 rep range on most exercises but then on some other exercises you say to do 8-12 reps? Im a little confused with that..Also Ive been training consistently now for about 6 months 3 times a week and although I have been lifting heavier weights, physically I don’t feel Im making much of a progress or looking much different than when I started. Also how long does it normally take you to go from 15 to 10% bf if you are doing cardio 2-3 times a week cos it seems to be taking me forever? And lastly are there any decent strength and conditioning coaches you could recommend for me in Sydney (Australia) cos I do want some professional guidance at the gym every now and then to make sure I’m on the right track but struggle to find trainers who are genuinely keen to help and not just after money? Thanks

  • Karly

    So when do you go back and re-evaluate your meal plan? Like, if it is based on my body weight and body fat percentage, and I lose weight and go down in body fat, when do I need to adjust my meal accordingly?

    • Good question, Karly. When your fat loss slows down considerably or has plateaued, drop 100 cals (25g carbs). I’d first increase your HIIT cardio activity before doing that.

  • Jon

    I’m in a little bit of a dilemma, I am only losing 0.5-0.8lbs of fat (0.1-0.3% of bf)/wk

    I lift weights 4-5 times a week (5.5-6hr) + 1-2 cardio/wk (.5-1hr total). For the past 3 weeks, have been finally getting a minimum of 7.5hrs (sometimes 9) hours of sleep per night and it reflects in my recover, energy and strength.

    – activity multiplier I use is ‘4-6 hours per week’
    – a 20% calorie deficit, avg 2050 last three weeks
    – current stats: 209.4lbs, 26%bf, 40p/40c/20f

    I know this is slow fat-burn, what do you think? eating more than I should or not enough

    • Jon

      adding: for strength weeks, should I decrease cals?

    • How’s that waist and bf% looking each week? Are you doing any HIIT cardio? You should be dropping at least 0.25″ off your waist each week and be doing 3-4 25min HIIT cardio sessions a week.

      • Jon

        I measured 6 weeks ago, first 2 wks no exercise, following meal plan. Last 4 weeks, exercise + meal plan. Measured again yesterday, waist has gone up by .75″ in those 6 wks. 1% bf loss (27 to 26%) in those 6 wks.

        Yes, my 2 current cardio sessions are HIIT of 30 mins each.

        Avg cals/day in those 6wk = 2100


    Hello Mike, Thanks so much for all the articles you write! I really enjoy reading them. I have started looking into fitness, I’ve never had a problem with my weight until I had an accident 2 years ago that has left me with injured wrists and cant lift weights. Im due for wrist surgery on both wrists so its more of a long term chronic injury. Can you suggest something else I could do instead of lifting weights for muscle strength? I do interval cardio with plank exercises but have trouble getting stronger due to my inability to life weights or do high intensity yoga like i used to. The belly fat has definitely piled on since my accident. Any suggestions on other things i can do that will help me build muscle but somehow not use my wrists? Thanks so much! Linda..

    • Ouch! You can still lift weights, just don’t do heavy pressing exercises, or whatever else aggravates your wrists. You might also look into wrist wraps or braces to give you extra support. Planks are usually pretty hard on the wrists, so if you can do those, I think you’d be able to weight lift. HIIT cardio would probably be good for you to lose body fat and doesn’t require wrist usage. Best wishes with your recovery!

  • Lee R

    Any recommendations for apps that track macros?

  • Stacey Jones

    Good Morning,

    I just finished reading TLS and am excited to get started with the program. I am having a really hard time figuring out my macros. In the book there is an equation to use for body fat around 30% and there is an equation to use if your body far is over 45%. I am smack dab in the middle at 38% so i have no clue which one to use so i decided to just average them and got 187 protein, 140 carbs and 65 fat. Now I just used the calculator above and it has totally different numbers (184 protein, 184 carbs, 41 fat) and those numbers factor in the the cutting deficit. So I am at a total loss as to what my macros should be. I desperately want to start losing weight and want to start on the right foot. To add a bit more confusion, I bought the meal plan from this site when i weighed just a few pounds less than now and those numbers are totally different too (171 protein, 187.5 carbs and 40.8 fat). Please help with which numbers I should follow!!!!

    Additionally, in the post workout meal suggestions it states that I am supposed to consume 1 gram of carbs per kilo of bodyweight which equates to 90 grams of carbs post workout. Is that correct???

    • Hey Stacey, it looks like the macros for your meal plan are very close to what this calculator gave you, so follow that and we can make adjustments as needed 🙂

      I like to eat my biggest meal post-workout, so that’s where I include the most carbs. You don’t have to eat 90 grams of carbs post-workout, but you certainly can. Check this out: https://legionathletics.com/everything-need-know-post-workout-nutrition/

  • Meg

    What are your thoughts on minimum calorie intakes for women? I’ve typically read women shouldn’t dip below 1200, but according to this calculator, I should be eating around 1090 to cut. Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Hey Meg, it depends on your weight and body fat percentage. I don’t recommend eating below your BMR.

      • Meg

        Thanks! I’m 117 lbs with 25% body fat. According to the calculator, my BMR is 1230 calories and TDEE is 1354. I guess 20% off of that is around 1090 calories which is below my BMR. As a solution, do you suggest that I apply the macro ratios you recommend for cutting and use my BMR as the number of calories per day?

        • Hmm, sounds like you’re using the sedentary activity multiplier. I recommend increasing your activity so that a 20% deficit won’t put you below BMR. Make sense?

          • Meg

            Hi! Completely 🙂 I’m currently pretty sedentary because I am in PT, but am looking forward to being able to be active again sooner rather than later. I guess this q was just for the interim month or two till I’m able to do something that really gets my heartrate up.

          • Gotcha. I’d stick around 1300 in that case, and then re-adjust once you can get your activity level up. I hope this helps!

          • Meg

            It does! Thanks so much 🙂

          • No problem!

  • Diana Shal

    Hi there. I am VERY confused about the macro intake. I am reading the book and based on those calculations for a cut program, I have to take 150g of protein, 125g of carbs, and 25g of fat. However, the calculations on this page show different numbers (143g protein, 143g of carbs, 32g of fat). Although not that different, the fat percentage does make a difference so any suggestions?

    • Diana Shal

      Any my calorie intake based on the book is 1450 but on the site it’s about 1413

      • Hey Diana, those are very close to one another. I’d just use the macros from this calculator, as it takes your body fat percentage into account. It’s just a starting point anyway, so you can adjust as needed based on results.

  • Ethan

    Hey Mike, what counts as hours of exercise? Is it only lifting and cardio, or can it include more casual exercise such as a pickup game of basketball?

    • Sure, you can include the basketball. The calculator will just give you a good starting point. You can adjust intake from there based on how your body responds.

  • Mia Gamboa

    Hi Mike, I have been following your TLS program for the last 4 months and I have lost 30 lbs so far! Thank you for this wonderful program!

    I do have one question I need help with: I am buying an electric bike (with pedal assist) to commute to work. I need to calculate what my additional caloric intake will be after adding 5.5 to 6 hours of cycling to my exercise regimen (~25-30 miles per week). Thoughts?
    (I am doing the TLS 5 day split and I have been using the macronutrient calculator so I currently eat about 1750 calories per day (when cutting).
    Using pedal assist will use less calories than a regular bike, but from what I’ve read online, it’s about 100-110 calories less per hour. I’m not a fast cyclist so my guess is that I’ll be burning ~440-450 calories per hour).

    • Hey Mia! Wow, great job so far!

      What I’d do is recalculate your TDEE with the calculator on this page using the 6+ hours activity multiplier. That’ll give you a new starting point, and you can adjust based on real life results. For example, if you’re losing less weight than before the cycling, you probably raised calories too much. I hope this helps!

      Congrats on the fat loss, and keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Jessy Kay

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been following my low carb diet of around 1400 calories a day for around a month now. I’m noticing huge changes to my body but im starting to feel exhausted, my skin is bad and I’m looking gaunt. I’m a 5ft 4ins female weighing 52kg, I exercise 5 days a week (cardio and weights) and consume around 50g of carbs a day. Would you advise I increase my carbohydrate intake slightly and see if I feel more energised?

    • Andres

      High Jessy,

      Just a Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics enthusiast here. I think Mike would definitely agree yes increase you Carbohydrate intake absolutely by all means. You should see improvements in energy, mood, lift numbers and many other areas. Your Macronutrient breakdown should minimum be 40%; I personally like to keep it at 50% though. Use Mike’s calculator above it is very handy. It breakdowns macronutrient percentages accrodigly to your weight and BF% and wether you are bulking, maintatining or cutting.

      • Thanks for the comment, Andres!

      • Jessy Kay

        Thanks Andres! I’ve already noticed a difference in my energy levels having increased my carbs by 20g per meal 🙂

    • Hey Jessy! I definitely recommend increasing your carbs. Most people lifting weights do better with higher carbs, so give ti a shot and see how you feel. The calculator on this page will give you a good starting point for your macros. Also, check this article out: http://www.muscleforlife.com/low-carb-diet/

      • Jessy Kay

        Thanks again Mike! I found the article very useful indeed 🙂

        If I increase my carb intake (say 20g per meal) am I still able to enjoy a weekly cheat meal without noticing adverse effects, providing I cheat moderately?

        • Sure. Ultimately, losing and gaining weight is all about energy balance. If you’re lowering your fat in order to increase your carbs throughout the week, there’s no difference when it comes to a weekly cheat meal.

  • Kat Sea

    Hi this is Kate (134lb, 5’7) In your book BLS, for a bulk you recommended: protein bw X1, carb bw x2, fat bw x.4.
    I calculated using my full weight…. p 134g c 268g f54g
    Great… but!….

    On this calculator there is a huge difference, because the bf% is considered which is super awesome because there is more precision.
    Accordering to this calculator I should be eating p134g, c186g, f40g.
    Now, that is quite a big jump in carbs & quite a difference in calories.

    Will I still be bulking if I eat for my body mass index? (My weight excluding the body fat which is what this seems to be) ??


    • Hey Kate, judging by your numbers, it looks like you may have forgotten to enter an activity level. If you workout 4-6 hours per week (like in BLS or TLS), you should be getting a carb and calorie amount much closer to those from the formula in the book. Make sense?

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by eating for your BMI. If your body fat percentage is really high (over 30%), you can use your fat-free mass as a target for protein intake, rather than total body weight, for example.

      I hope this helps!

      • Kat Sea

        Thanks for your reply.
        I plugged in the <1hour per week, because I want to build muscle, so am not doing too much cardio ATM. If I do cardio I manually add he calories burned so I know how much more food to eat. Even if I'm just lifting weights 3-4x per week does that count towards the activity level?

  • Phase Nonapp

    Your calculator says that I should eat 2618 cals per day to bulk. I eat 3500 now and I am not gaining any weight.

    • The calculator gives an estimate, which serves as a good starting point. Everyone will need to adjust their intake based on real life results. If you’re not gaining at 3500, try 3600, and go from there 🙂

      Check this out: https://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

  • Brenda H

    If you have done BMR testing can you change this number in the calculator?

    • The calculator on the page will not let you change BMR, but you can do your own calculation easily enough. Multiply BMR by the activity multiplier to get your TDEE.

  • Will Stangler

    Mike, At 187 lbs with a BF% near 30, should I only use LBM to calculate my macros? This is telling me to eat damn near 200g of protein and that seems relatively difficult.

  • wyatt

    Hey this is Wyatt! Thanks for all the advice that you have spread over the years it has helped me tremendously! I’m starting a late cut after a bulk and my current weight is 170lb at about 16% body fat. I workout 6 times a week in weight training doing push/pull/legs (I feel my body responds best to this) and doing about 90 minutes of cardio both low intensity and high intensity mix a week. I also sit all day a desk. What do you think my activity level should be on the calculator and caloric intake? Thanks!

  • hi Mike! thanks for all the info.
    One thing that bothers me is that I always get conflicted nutritional information regarding chicken breast, cooked chicken breast, steak, ground beef. Even with apps like myfitnesspal the same foods seem to have different interpretations. Do you have a reliable source of nutritional information for protein sources that you trust?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Hey Aldo, I would check the label on the package and weigh the meat raw. You can also google the type of meat and double check against the package. Maybe check CalorieKing, too. I hope this helps!

  • Charlie L

    Hello! I’m a female, 26, 5’6″ 143. If I have been dieting harder since May about 1300 calories a day (lifting 6 times a week for an hour/20-30 min cardio a day) – will these macros work for me or do I need to reverse first? I bought your book (it hasn’t come yet) – will that help me get on track with losing fat without eating minuscule amounts?

  • Ryan

    Hey guys. I’m doing BLS and in a bulking phase. Unfortunately I now have tricep tedonitis on the left side so I can’t do any strength training except abs, calves and maybe deadlifts. I also play 6-a-side soccer two times a week. So if I do deadlifts/ calves two times a week and abs three times a week, should I stick to a bulking diet or switch to maintain? Thanks for everything you guys have shared so far, it’s been awesome!

  • Hi Mike, love your work. I’m currently trying to lose the last 3-5 pounds of fat left on my belly. I’m roughly at 16% body fat. I strictly watch my calorie intake and track everything I eat. I do the refeed day based on your article every other week.

    I’m using this calculator from this article to set my calories. It seems to be working and I am losing at about 1 pound per week. Although it has been slow in the last month. I am not sure if this because I am so close to getting rid of the last fat or what.

    My issue is that I have not kept the strength gains I had. My arms have gotten smaller along with my middle, even though I am doing strength training. So it’s getting a little frustrating at the end here. Does this mean I have set my macronutrients wrong (I’m doing 40/40/20) or is this just what you have to go through to essentially get a flat stomach before you re-build size in your upper body? I know you cannot target weight loss, but it has sucked to see some of my gains go with the belly.

    • Hey Tom, it’s normal to lose a bit of strength and size as you cut, but if you’re losing strength consistently, and getting a lot weaker, an adjustment needs to be made. For example, maybe you’re losing weight too fast/calories are too low, maybe protein needs to be higher, etc. Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kar-86pA0-g

      • Great, that helps. Note the “How much protein should I eat during cutting” link takes me to an article about avocados. But I found the other one via Google. I am not losing strength, just size really. That was bothering me, and I am only losing a pound (or less) a week. I suppose because I am so close to the goal it’s just tough at the end. Thanks for the response.

        • No problem, Tom. Keep up the great work! You will definitely store less glycogen while in a deficit, particularly if your carbs are a bit lower, so it’s not abnormal to lose a bit of size.

  • Cerebralbore101

    Matt, are you sure this calculator is working properly? I’m going on a bulking diet at 172 lbs. It says I need 445 carbs a day. I’m using the 1.45 exercise modifier. I’m ready to inhale those carbs, but this seems excessive somehow.

    • That’s not unreasonable if you’re bulking and need close to 3,000 calories a day. Ultimately, you’ll need to adjust based on your results. You can lower carbs a bit and increase fats if you prefer.

      • Cerebralbore101

        Well your book had a 175 lb guy eating 350 carbs a day for a bulk. But then again I get a loooooooot of bike riding in since I don’t own a car. Anyway thanks for the reply. I’m sure the calculator is working fine now.

        • Yep, more activity will raise energy needs. Keep up the good work!

  • Edward Witt

    You say
    Before we get to that, though, you should also know that you only want to “bulk” if your body fat percentage is in the right range.

    For guys, this is about 10%. For girls, about 20%.

    I’m male prob 20% bf in good cardiovascular shape and have good experience in training.. I want to add as much muscle as possible but I’m aassuming given my bf of 20% I use maintenance macro ? Body will burn excess fat is that correct ?


  • Erika Tonelli Bonnett

    Great article. I am a 42 year old female who lifts heavy and does crossfit. I’m 127 pounds, 4’11 and my BF is 29% (no matter what I do!). The calculations above say I should be 1355 Total Calories Protein 136g Carbs 136g Fat 30g

    I’ve been given so many different numbers on different sites and calculators and from friends “who know this stuff”. These numbers are right to cut the BF without losing my gained muscle? Please and thank you.

    • Hey Erika! The macros this calculator gives you serve as a great starting point. Ultimately, you will need to adjust the numbers based on your results.

      For example, if you follow these and you’re not losing weight, you’ll need to increase activity and/or lower calories. Check this out: http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

  • Christian B

    Hey Mike. I started a cut a month ago per your suggestions in this article to maximize fat loss. I started at 178.4 lbs and ~18.6% BF and went down to 171.6 lbs and ~13.6% BF in those 4 weeks. So I’ve been losing about a pound and a half a week.

    Since I set up my caloric intake in the calculator to be 4-6 hours and I train 5 hours a week I thought that adding two half-hour sessions of cardio would help me even more. But when I did that last week it messed up my sleep. I think it’s because I already move a lot (I don’t have a sedentary job). At the rate I’ve been losing weight would it be better to leave cardio out for now? if so, when would you say I should add cardio again?

    • Hey Christian, I always like to include some cardio, but you’re losing weight at a great rate, and you definitely don’t want to interfere with your sleep. In your case, you can leave it out, and maybe add it back in if you hit a plateau. Check this out: http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-much-cardio/

  • Austin Daniel

    Hey Mike, I’m in the process of preparing to do a cut but I have a question about whether I should do a 20% or 25% deficit with my weight currently being at 157.6 and body fat percent being at 19.5.

    • Hey Austin! I like to lose fat as quickly as possible, so I tend to go with a 25% calorie deficit. It’s up to you, though, and you can adjust based on your results. Check this out: https://legionathletics.com/how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      • Austin Daniel

        I think I’m going to try doing 25% deficit but I’m not sure how to do it exactly with 1454 calories a day.

  • Cat

    Hi Mike,

    I’m trying to lose 5% of fat which is around 5 pounds of fat while trying not to lose too much muscle. I know it’s not possible to increase muscle while reducing body fat at the same time so I’m trying to get a sweet spot.
    I read that 10% calorie deficit is just nice for those who has less than 10 pounds to lose. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m very new to this macro thing and trying to figure out which is the best formula. The more I read the more confused I get! Different calculators gives me different results which vary a lot.
    I’m a 34 female, 153cm and 47.5kg. Currently body fat is 25 to 26%. My aim is to hit 20% for a start. I would like to go under 20% eventually as I want to get my abs but for now I just give myself 5% of fat to lose. I am currently on a 1260 calories for 2 weeks and some days i felt quite hungry. Your calculator gives me 1310 calories for 20% deficit and 1473 calories for 10% deficit.

    My workout routine as follows.

    Mon – Weights, 1 hr
    Tues – Cardio, 1 hr
    Wed – Hot yoga, 1 hr
    Thurs – Weights, 1 hr
    Fri – Cardio, 1 hr
    Sat – Weights, 1 hr in the morning
    Cardio + Strength, 1 hr in the afternoon
    Sun – Cardio + Strength (3.5 hrs)

    Looking forward to your advice. Thank you!


  • Kiran

    Hi Mike, I am a 36 y/o female 5’5 , I weigh 107 but I have 32.3% body fat (I am the definition of skinny fat). I do not have any kids, so I would like to get to about 26% body fat to avoid any future issues with hormones. Would you recommend a cut or maintenance? I have a very small frame, and since I am a beginner with training I am not sure which to select. I am leaning toward maintenance?


    • Hey K! If you want to get down to 26% body fat, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. Check these articles out:


      I hope this helps!

      • Kiran

        Thank you so much for your quick response. I purchased the book and the one year plan. Seriously one of the best purchases. My calories per the calculator Coke to 1038 – I was worried it was below the recommended 1200 for women. I’ll give it a go – is there a recommended time frame for cutting? I’m assuming once I complete cutting then I should go to maintenance ? Thank you again!

        • I’d check this calculator for a good starting point calorie-wise: https://legionathletics.com/how-many-calories-should-i-eat/

          You can adjust from there based on your results.

          Depending how much fat you have to lose, losing 0.5-2lbs per week is a good target. Once you reach your desired body fat level, you can maintain. If you want to focus on building muscle, you can bulk, but I’d recommend getting down to around 20% body fat first. I hope this helps! 🙂

      • Kiran

        Thank you so much! Loved the articles- I tweaked the calculator – so I will work out a bit more, and still cut but at a slower rate so I can be at my comfort level for the calories..with the cut- at a slower rate (10%) — slow and steady wins the race, right? I am SO excited to start this and will definitely report back on progress. Truly appreciate you responding so quickly!

  • Hi Mike! Thank you so much for your books, blog posts, and podcasts! They have made such a difference for me pushing past the “newbie” phase where anything worked to a place where I am fine tuning and improving every day! How often do you recommend recalculating calories when cutting?

    • I’m at 5’2″, 123 lbs and 23% body fat

    • Hey Mikki! Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad you’re loving my content 🙂

      Generally speaking, you don’t reduce calories until you’ve hit a plateau, which is no fat loss for 7 to 10 days.

      And before you cut calories, you increase exercise, but you can only take this so far before you run into overtraining issues. For me, I can’t do more than 5 45-minute weightlifting sessions and 4 25-minute HIIT sessions per week when cutting or I start feeling run down. This is a matter of learning your body.

      I hope this helps!

      • Thank you so much for the prompt response! You rock! 🙂

  • Jay L

    Hi Mike!

    First of all, thank you for what you do. I believe I have greatly benefited. As well as your prompt replies to our questions here.

    I’ve got a couple of questions with regard to counting calories.

    1) if I’m following the BLS 5-day split and 4 sessions of 25 min HIIT a week, should I be using the activity multiplier of 1.35 or 1.45?

    2) Assuming if I used 1.35, I would arrive at a TDEE of 2234. And applying a Cut preset of 20%, it gets me 1787.
    My question is, do I still have to factor in the calories that I’ll burn on a day to day basis during my workouts? Or is the 1787 all inclusive as a result of using the multiplier?

    Do I have to add/eat another additional 300 calories to the 1787 on the days I hit the weights, and maybe another 500 calories to the days I hit both weights and HIIT? (Assuming a weights session and HIIT burn 300 and 200 cals respectively).

    If yes, then that would mean I get to eat more! Haha. This is the part that I’m really confused about.


    • Hey there, Jay!

      1) I typically recommend going with the 1.35 multiplier, unless you have a really active job, for example.

      2) The 2234 figure is your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). This includes the calories burned from your workouts.

      This article might help you out: https://www.muscleforlife.com/tdee-calculator/



      • Jay L

        Thank you!

  • Jamal

    Mike, according to chapter 14 of your book, a 162 lb man should be cutting on ~ 1700 cals. That comes from the suggested 1.2/1/0.2 grams of each macro per pound. But the calculator on your site gives me ~1840 cals at 16% fat. Which is more accurate and why are the numbers different?

    • Hey Jamal, the calculator on my site takes into account your body fat percentage, so it’s a bit more precise, but the formula in the book works well for most people, too. That said, either one just offers you a starting point. You’ll need to adjust from there based on your real-life results. I hope this helps!

  • Michael Legna

    Hello. I saw the guy name Corno Murphy. Do you think he is natural or on juice? Thank you.

    • Hey Michael, honestly man I don’t really want to get into the “who’s natty or not game.” It’s often hard to tell, and even the best answer is always going to be speculation. Focus on your own training and dieting, and you’ll be happy with the results.

      • Michael Legna

        Yeah. You are right, but my question has more to do with his physique. Do you think people can achiever his body naturally? How hard is it to get that body? How long it takes realisticly? I personally gain 30 pounds mostly muscle (my waistline doesnt change much) in 3-6 months using your program. Thanks.

  • ann

    Hey Mike. I just started cutting. The calculator says I need to be at 1417 calories broken down to 40-40-20 for protein – carbs – fats (percentages) , which means 142g – 142g – 31g. No matter what I seem to do I can’t seem to get 142g of carbs AND protein without going over the calories. If I want to make sure I get 142g of protein I can’t go over 110g or so of carbs in order to meet 142g is carbs that the calculator notes (and the alotted 31g Of fat)

    Basically if I want to meet my protein counts I can’t get enough carbs or fats. My carbs are mainly oatmeal, quinoa, beans, one fruit (banana or apple).

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hey Ann! This article might help you out:


      At the end of the day, it’s fine to go a bit lower on the carbs and higher on the fats if it helps you hit your protein and calories. I hope this helps!

      • ann

        its not better to go a bit lower on the fats and higher on the carbs? or a bit lower on the protein and higher on the carbs?

      • ann

        also – i posted this question under the article about glycogen but thinking it transitions better into our discussion here! (ps im ALWAYS HUNGRY, at at 5″3 and 120lbs and 20% BF i know i can’t be eating 2200 calories a day to maintain)

        my post i left under the glycogen article – would love your help/advice:

        question about carbs and glycogen – i know some are more favourable than others for the purpose of building and maintaining muscle – ie. oatmeal, sweet potato, beans, etc as opposed to dates and orange and grapes etc.

        but even when i get the same amount of carbs but cut out the second group (ie dates and grapes etc) and focus on getting the same # of carbs from the first group, my performance suffers and my hunger is through the roof.

        arent slow burning/digesting carbs superior? why do i feel worse when i cut out the unstarchy carbs like fruits etc and feel famished? is there a problem with my bodys ability to deliver glycogen from starchy carbs to my cells the way it does with fruits etc?

        and should i still stick to the starchy carbs or go back to more of the naturally sweet carbs if i feel better on them? (dates, grapes, etc)


  • Ali

    Hey Mike. I just finished reading your “Bigger Leaner Stronger” book and I want to keep on my bulking goal. I am currently at 14% body fat. You stated in the book that people could bulk safely until they reach the 17% body fat. What do you recommend – Should I bulk until I reach the 17%? or Should I cut now and get to the 10% range and then start bulking from there?

    Thanks for your help!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve read recently that simple carbs, if not consumed after working out, could boost insulin levels in the body and hence promote fat storage. Is this actually true? Or Should I ignore that as long as I’m meeting my carb intake requirements?

    Thank you very much!

  • Edward Witt

    I have a question please

    I am 111kg of which 88.7kg are muscle that’s 26.5% fat.. These stats are accurately measured

    I’m an experienced body builder and have been 112kg at 10% bf and thats where I want to get back to. I understand the macro calculator but it doesn’t apply to me because of my high bf %

    So I’m looking to recomp, build muscle yet lose fat.. I’m training 7 days a week, 5 x weights 70-90 mins, 2 x week cardio 40 mins at 75% MHR

    Currently working with 2800 calories a day 260 from protein 70 from fats rest from mostly complex carbs. Normally I’d be at 1.4 x body weight for protein but that’s at 10-15% bf

    I feel my protein should be higher and carbs lower ? Arnt I using my excess bf for energy ?

    Id really appreciate your thoughts

    Many thanks in advance

    • Hey Edward! When you’re over 25% body fat, 0.8 grams of protein per lb should be sufficient. Set fat to 0.3 grams per lb, and get the rest from carbs. As long as you’re dropping fat, I’d keep doing what you’re doing. No need to drop carbs at this point. Check this out:


  • Olivia Crinnion

    So if you are cutting according to this calculator ( 20% deficit with lifting 4 days a week and running/cycling added to that) and am not seeing a 1lb a week loss, what would you recommend reducing calorie/macro wise and how much? Thank you!

    • Hey Olivia! If you’re losing fat too slowly, your best bet is to increase your activity if you can. If you can’t, lowering calories by 100 or so usually gets things moving. You can just reduce carbs by 25g, or a combination of carbs and fat as long as you’re keeping fat at a minimum of 20% of daily cals.

      That said, there can be a number of reasons you’re not losing weight, so I’d recommend giving this article a read:


      I hope this helps!

      • Olivia Crinnion

        So I increased my cardio quite a bit and lowered carbs by 25g, I am still losing, but slowly. I have noticed that my lifts have increased even though I am cutting. Would it be safe to say I am losing fat but the scale isn’t showing this because I am gaining a little muscle as well? I have checked my waist measurements and have gone down about 1 and a half or 2 inches. I have been lifting for a little under a year, on phase 2 of the 1 year challenge right now.

        • Yup, that’s definitely possible! Especially since you’re getting stronger and your waist measurement is decreasing. Keep up the great work!

  • Victoria Alfaro

    Hello! I’ve a question, the carbs are net carbs o total carbs? I use an app called Cronometer, so it shows me that i’m eating 150 grs of carbs (total) but 45 grs of them are from fiber, so my net carbs are 105 grs. I don´t know if i’m undereating or if i’m doing it right. I’ll appreciate your help. Awesome article!

  • Robert McBain

    Hello Mike, thanks for the work you’re doing. I’m seeing great changes in my body, but cutting is something I’m struggling with. I’ve two questions about the macro calculator:

    1. I’m sure I read you saying that we should eat under our BMR. Mine is about 1950. However, when I type in my data, this calculator has me eating about 100cals under my BMR. Should I follow its advice or just eat my BMR?

    2. In your book you recommended we eat something like 1.5g of protein per body weight while cutting. However, this calculator has me eating less than that. What should I listen to, the calculator or the book?


    • Hey Robert! I recommend increasing your activity level so that you can be in a decent deficit while still eating above your BMR.

      In terms of protein, I recommend 1.2 grams per lb of body weight when you’re cutting, unless you’re really overweight. Check this out:


      The calculator will put you around 40% of your calories from protein, which should be a pretty similar number overall. This will be a great starting point for most people, but it’s up to you if you want to re-work it to be exactly 1.2 grams per lb.

      Keep me posted on your progress!

      • Robert McBain

        Hi Mike.
        Thanks for your reply.
        I currently do your program three times a week. I’m also a member of a run club and we run about five miles once a week and do about 30 mins sprint training on another day. My friends are part of crossfit group that workout for about 30 mins three times per week. If I was to join them for crossfit on top of everything else I’m doing, do you think I’d affect my progress on your strength program and be doing too much?


        • That could potentially be too much, especially if you’re cutting, but you’ll have to try it and see for yourself. Everyone’s going to be a bit different in terms of how much they can handle. If you notice any symptoms of overtraining, you can back off on something. Check this out:


  • Klo Light

    So are you saying 20% of protein macro is too little? I’m a pescetarian and there is not way I can afford nor want to eat 149 grams of protein. I did that in the past when I ate land animals and was toned, but felt I could of achieved the same results with lower protein like 90 grams. It was time consuming trying to meet that protein macro and easier when I ate land animals and wasn’t a graduate student. I am thinking of setting my macros this time around 60-20-20 or 50-20-30….carbs/protein/fats… for something that is obtainable long term…What do you think? I’m not really that much overweight and just want to lose 20lbs or so. Thank you! I’m 5’10.5 and 197, 40 years old.. and female…and I have what you might call “firm fat”..I am not flabby…

  • Monica

    My weight is 125 kgs And this calculator recommended me to eat 1225 cal a day. Isn’ t there any mistake?

  • Allison

    Hi Mike

    Hi Mike!

    I’ve always been an athlete and at my peak 2 years ago I was around 145lbs with 18% BF. (Female) After going through some Medical issues I started in September with lifting and cardio at a starting weight of 215lbs with around 37%Body Fat. I am currently 188lbs at around 35%BF. I was losing weight but was under-eating. I finally wrapped my head around Macros about 5 weeks ago and from research found your page and calculated my Macros to 1645cal: 190g Protien (=to BW), 144g Carbs, 39g Fat. –consistently lose 1.8-2.5lbs a week.

    Heres my problem–I got a fitbit several weeks ago, and on my rest days it has me at a TDEE of 2500 and my gym days TDEE is 3100-3500… Making my average just over 3100. Currently i do HIIT for about 25-35min, then have a workout split 5-6days a week. Do you suggest that i use this TDEE # and bump my calories up? leaving me around 2100cal 188g P, 215g C, and 47g F? or should i continue on what I calculated previously. My concern is that when i hit a plateau I wont have room for much manipulation.

    Any input would help. Thanks so much. This article has been the most beneficial to getting myself back on track.

  • Carl

    Hi Mike reading your book and doing your five day workout along with 3-5 days of cardio. I plugged in my numbers (24.6% BF, weight 185, height 5′-9″, 4-6 hours of excercise), into the calculator I received a TDEE of 1765. If I eat over 1300-1400 calories I end up gaining instead of cutting, what gives? Trying to get down to 175lbs and bring my viceral fat and BF down to a healthy level. The ratio I received was 40%, 40%, 20%, don’t know if I can do with that low level of fat, I have been trying to hit 40%, 30%, 30%….advice? Carl

    • Hey Carl!

      I think something’s up with your TDEE calculation. Based on your given states, it should be around 2348, and you’d calculate your deficit from there. Check this out:


      Are you weighing and tracking everything you eat? I suspect there may be something inaccurate about the way you’re measuring, as you shouldn’t be gaining weight eating that few calories. Are you using a food scale?

      Check this out:


      That said, if you’ve been eating very few calories for a long time, it is possible you just need to speeds things back up and slowly increase your calories. You may put on some water weight as you increase cals and carbs and store more glycogen and water, so just be aware of that. As long as you’re eating less than your TDEE, you won’t be putting on fat. I’d recommend giving this article a read:


      If you can’t stick to 20% fat, you can slightly reduce carbs and increase your fats. It’s all about keeping the same overall caloric intake.

  • Michael Steiner

    Trying to nail down the macros for my wife – She’s 5’6″, 23 years old, 126lbs and 23% BF and we do about 4-6 hours a week of exercise. Any direction would helpful!

    • Hey Michael! Just use the calculator above in the article and set the activity multiplier to 4-6 hours 🙂

  • Emil Kolar

    Hi Mike I noticed some inconsistencies in formula you gave on this site for cutting(didn’t check bulk and main) and BLS. You give ratio of protein 40%, carbs 40% and fats 20% and in book they are protein about 45%, carbs about 37% and fats about 18%. Witch one would you recommend?

    • Hey Emil! 40/40/20 is just a good starting point for a lot of people, but go ahead with the formula in the book, or just follow the numbers given here. I actually just updated the calculator to reflect the formula in the book pretty closely.

      Set your protein to 1.2 grams per lb, fat to 0.2 grams per lb, and get the rest from carbs to hit your calorie target. Adjust from there based on your results 🙂

  • Destiny

    Hey Mike! Love your products and podcasts. I’ve written on here before. You actually inspired me to do a much longer bulk. I’m going for 6 months and I’m half way in. I’m a small gal. Just barely 5 foot. I’m pretty muscular. I struggle with the amount of food that has to be eaten in just a 10% bulk. 205g of protein doesn’t seem like much to a 6ft 185 pound man, but me…eating that much is so hard on my digestive tract. My kidneys have been hurting. It’s gotta be the multiple, giant protein dense meals? I was wondering how ‘little people’ got thru this? I battle bloat from just so…much…food! And I do dense foods too. I try to pack a punch in my meals, but just wondering if there were some better ideas. Over a year ago I was 115lbs and now I’m pushing 130. So the process does in fact work. But, why does it have to be so miserable? Thanks and keep rocking out the great stuff. LOVE my grape Pulse:)

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