Marcos are a great way to easily calculate and maintain a consistent diet. However, when it comes to customizing macros to fit a new diet it can be a little confusing. Below we look at some of the most popular diets (Paleo, Keto, and Vegan) and determine what are the ideal macro ratios for your goals.
To begin with we first need to determine your overall caloric intake according to your BMR and your TDEE. Then you can take percentages of your total caloric intake to fit your macro goals for your diet. Find some helpful and easy calculations to determine your ideal caloric intake below! Then check out which macro ratio best fits your diet and your needs, see all the heavy lifting is done for you.
Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to support your vital functions, like breathing, without added stress, like exercise. The more mass you have, the more energy (calories) you need to support daily processes.
While it’s tough to get an exact calculation of basal metabolic rate, you can get really close by using the Harris-Benedict equation below.
- BMR for men = 66 + (6.2 x Your current weight in pounds) + (12.7 x Height in inches) – (6.76 x Age)
- BMR for women = 65.1 + (4.35 x Weight in pounds) + (4.7 x Height in inches) – (4.7 x Age)
My BMR is: 65.1 + (4.35 x 132) + (4.7 x 67) – (6.76 x 21) = 812.24
Calculating Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
BMR accounts for the calories needed to support vital processes only — breathing and digesting foods, or processes you need to survive. Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) takes into account your activity level and exercise routine. Multiplying your BMR by your level of activity gives you the total amount of calories you will burn per day.
To do this, you will multiply your BMR by these numbers (choose the number associated with your level of daily physical activity):
- 1.2: Little to no exercise
- 1.375: Light exercise 1–3 days per week
- 1.55: Moderate exercise 3–5 days per week
- 1.725: Hard exercise 6–7 days per week
- 1.9: Very intense exercise
After selecting your corresponding number, multiply it by the BMR from your calculations in step one.
My TDEE would be: 812.24 multiplied by 1.55 = 1,259
Calculating Your Body Fat Percentage & Lean Mass
Measuring your body fat percentage is important for calculating how much lean body mass you have and how much protein you’ll need to maintain muscles. Why? Because muscle burns more calories — even in a sedentary state — than fat. A person with a lower body fat percentage will burn more calories than someone who weighs the same, but has a higher body fat percentage.
You can measure body fat in a few different ways:
- ShapeScale: One of the easiest and most accurate ways of capturing your biometric data is through the use of ShapeScale!
- DEXA scan: This is the most accurate method but takes the most time and money. It’s a type of x-ray that measures your bone mineral density and can give you a good reading of your body fat percentage.
- Skinfold calipers: This is probably the most recommended method. Most gyms and doctor offices will have these, or you can purchase them yourself.
- Body measurements: This involves using a measuring tape to get the width of your neck, hips and waist to estimate body fat composition. While not the most accurate, it can give you a good idea.
- Visual estimates: If not able to do the above methods, you can estimate body fat percentage visually. You can use a guide like this to do so.
Once you know your body fat percentage, you can also determine your lean body mass. For example, if someone weighs 150 pounds and is 25% body fat, we can figure out their body fat in pounds:
150 pounds x 0.25 = 37.5 pounds of body fat.
To get lean body mass, we would do this:
150 pounds – 37.5 pounds of fat = 112.5 pounds of lean body mass.
You will use these numbers to calculate your protein needs. But first, you need to calculate for a caloric deficit or surplus
My Body Fat Percentage is about 19%.
132 pounds x 0.19 = 25.08 pounds of fat
132 pounds – 25.08 pounds of fat = 106.9 pounds of lean body mass
Calculate Macros for Paleo Diet
Protein: 19 – 35%
You get about 19 to 35 percent of your calories from protein when you follow a paleolithic diet. However, you get the most benefits by eating lean meats and fish, including skinless chicken and turkey breast, all fish, lean cuts of pork such as loin and lean cuts of beef, such as sirloin. Focus on grass-fed, cage-free meats. You’ll also get protein from nuts and seeds.
Fat: 30 – 40%
Fat is the densest source of energy coming in at 9 calories per gram. If you’re consuming lower amounts of carbohydrates, guess where all of your energy will be coming from? That’s right, from dietary and stored body fat. Our bodies store fat for when we don’t have food to consume for energy, we also use our fat stores for lower intensity exercises and daily movements. The rule for fat is simple for paleo: enjoy and make it the main source of your calories and nutrition, although ensure that it’s within your caloric needs.
Carbs: 25 – 40%
Paleo for Weight Loss
This will be a more aggressive low-carb and higher fat weight loss method. Here you will steadily drop excess body fat by minimizing insulin production. Lose a few pounds per week of fat while eating meals of mainly proteins, fats, and some veggies. A nice target would be 50 – 100 grams of carbs per day.
Paleo for Athletic Performance
For active individuals, athletes and anyone concerned with performance for long periods of time, you’re going to want to be consuming more carbohydrates than most paleo plans would recommend. Having your glycogen levels topped off, and consuming enough carbs to replenish them after exercising is going to be one of your top priorities when it comes to planning your macros. A good target would be 150 – 200 grams of carbs per day.
Paleo for Weight Maintenance
Once you’ve ideal body composition, you can maintain it quite easily here while enjoying natural foods of your choice to fill you up. I would also classify this zone for athletes, or very active individuals doing high-intensity endurance activities. A good target would be 150 grams per day.
Calculate Macros for Keto Diet
Protein: 20 – 25%
On the keto diet, protein accounts for roughly 20–25% of total calories. If you struggle entering ketosis, your macros are probably too high-protein (a common mistake for keto beginners).
- If you’re someone who’s sedentary, a good protein ratio is 0.6–0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, calculated in step #3.
- An individual who is moderately or lightly active should stick with 0.8–1.0 grams per pound of lean body mass.
- A person who wants to gain muscle (or lifts weights) will need to be in the 1.0–1.2 grams per pound of lean body mass range.
Use these ranges to determine a range for your protein needs in grams, then multiply the result by 4 for the same number in calories. For example, a moderately active female who weighs 150 pounds and has 112.5 pounds of lean body mass will need 90–112.5 grams of protein per day. Then multiply that number by 4 to calculate 360–450 calories from protein per day.
Fat: 70 – 80 %
Fat on the keto diet should make up at least 70–80% of total calories. To calculate your fat needs, add your protein and carbohydrate percentages together, then subtract from 100. The end percentage (whatever is left over) is your fat needs. Be warned: Most people are surprised just how much fat they need to consume to enter ketosis. You will need to eat large amounts of high-fat keto foods, like coconut oil, fatty fish and avocados.
Carbs: 5 – 10 %
The ketogenic diet is a very low carb diet, where net carbohydrates only make up 5–10% of your total calories (remember: Net carbs equal your total carb count minus the amount of fiber you consume). For most people, that equates to 20–50 grams per day.
Calculate Macros for a Vegan Diet
One of the most challenging aspects of doing this diet as a vegan or vegetarian is hitting the recommended protein target, especially if you are weight training or strength training.
While eating more protein has been shown to increase the rate at which muscle mass can be added, the human body can still build muscle with fewer grams of dietary protein although the process will take longer. There are many great athletes that are vegan and you would never know it by looking at their physiques.
Since plants are often rich in fiber, vegans and vegetarians often get a lot over the course of the day. This is one of the reasons a vegan diet can be so healthy. However, if you are consuming 30-50 grams of fiber a day, you may need to eat more carbs to compensate for the indigestible nature of fiber.
On nutritional labels, fiber is included in a food item’s total carbs but much of the fiber you eat isn’t digestible and doesn’t provide the body with energy. If you are active and trying to lose weight, it’s important that you are fueling that activity properly – avoiding too much of a calorie deficit.
Vegans should really eat about 50-75% of their fiber intake back as more carbs. For example, if you eat 50 grams of fiber in a day, you should eat an additional 37.5 grams of digestible carbs to compensate for the indigestible carbs that are included in your total carb goal.
While a solid carb and fiber ratio matched with adequate protein is great way to start the basis for your vegan diet, some forget about the important role that quality fats. In order to feel satisfied with the absence of animal fats and protein, clean and quality fats sourced from plants are a great help to supplement your diet.