This macro calculator is one of the simplest ways to count your macros, lose fat and actually keep it off

Curious as to why you need a macro calculator in your life? Well, there are so many reasons why macros matter, from supporting your hormone health to boosting fat loss and helping you correctly fuel your fitness with a good balance of carbs, fats and protein.

But as a nutrition novice or someone without the macro-know-how, it can seem like a lot of maths without much clarity. We're here to change that, by letting you into the ultimate macro calculation formula.

Here, you'll find your macros and weight loss calculator cheat sheet with everything you need to know about macros, including:

  • how to use a weight loss calculator AKA a macro calculator

  • how to calculate macros for weight loss

  • the difference between calorie and macro weight loss calculators

  • step-by-step instructions to hitting your macro goal bang on every day

Whether you're looking for the best macros for fat loss or simply want more clarity around how many calories you should be eating and where they should be coming from, we've got your back. All you need to do is scroll on and learn how to get to grips with the weight loss calculator.

What are macros?

OK, so first things first: you definitely know more than you think. 'A macro' or 'macros' are abbreviations of the word 'macronutrient' and refer to the three main nutrient groups humans need.

The way you tinker with your macros (e.g. working out the best macros for fat loss) can help you lose body fat, maintain your weight or help with gaining weight safely depending on whether you're eating above or below the amount you're burning each day.

If you need a reminder of what foods fall into each category, save this handy infographic to your camera roll.

macro calculator, women's health uk
macro calculator, women's health uk

Reminder: few foods contain solely one macronutrient. Many are made up of two or sometimes three macronutrients in varying ratios.

You'll get to grips with this more as you start tracking your macros using this formulation but it's good to be aware of before you go ham on the cheese.

Good to know: there are a ton of handy macro tracking and calorie counting apps out there that'll calculate how many grams of carbs, protein and fat exist in specific foods – all you have to do is enter what you eat, and how much. Read on for more guidance.

What's the difference between calories and macros?

Most food plans work by cutting calories – it's an approach that's worked for many people – but as we said before, it's not just about how much you're eating every day but what you're eating.

On a CICO (calories in, calories out) diet, eating 20 calories of kale would be equal to eating 20 calories of chocolate. An extreme example, but one that paints a picture of how focusing on just calories means you can consume solely nutrient-devoid food and still stay under your assigned calorie amount.

However, you'd most likely be protein deficient and most probably eat much more fat than necessary.

Instead, thinking about macros can help you hit your goals. Research published in the journal Engl J Med, found that what you're eating, as well as how much, is important for both fat loss and general health. By tracking your macros, you'll be able to make sure you're not only prioritising nutrient-dense foods but eating them in the amounts your body and training needs.

And, by counting your macros you can optimise your diet so that you're fuelling your body from the right sources by keeping your carb, fat and protein intake in balance.

Plus, it can help with keeping your nutrition balanced between foods that fuel you and "fun" foods. For example, if you have a hankering for a white chocolate mini-magnum (and why shouldn't you), you can add it into your daily macro allowance and work the rest of your meals around it. Easy as.

Sold on how useful the macro calculator / weight loss calculator can be? Okay, let's get down to figuring out how you'll split up your macronutrients using our super handy macro calculator. Something you also might find referred to as a weight loss calculator.

Remember, your results will be totally individual and catered to your body's needs so no peeking at anyone else's.

Do macros really work for weight loss?

Short answer: yes, with one caveat – you must be in a calorie deficit.

While there are a plethora of factors that come into play in losing weight (sleep, activity, medications, health conditions...), experts tend to agree that on the surface, a calorie deficit is one of the simplest and most effective strategies for weight loss.

What is a calorie deficit, you ask? It simply means expending more energy than you consume or burning more calories than you eat.

More often than not, most macro calculators for weight loss will have a calorie deficit built in to their recommendations, but you can also check out our UK calorie deficit calculator.

As mentioned previously, counting your macros using this macro calculator method rather than counting calories may be a more effective weight loss solution for some, as it shifts the focus to a balanced diet, rather than just the overall calorie number. This means you're more likely to be meeting your body's nutritional and satiety needs.

If you're on the hunt for macros for weight loss and the weight loss calculator method you need to work out yours, read on to calculate yours yourself.

What is a macro calculator and is it the same as a weight loss calculator?

A macro calculator is an easy equation to work out how many macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) your body needs each day based on your weight and daily activity levels.

Using a macro calculator gives you exactly how many grams of carbohydrates, fat and protein you should be eating each day to hit your goals bang on. Simple and efficient. But in order to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit, rather than maintenance or surplus, so you need to factor that into your macro calculations.


How to calculate your macros using WH's macro calculator

This detailed macronutrient calculator walks you through the process but if you need more of a deep dive check out the step-by-step instructions below.

how to calculate macros, women's health uk
how to calculate macros, women's health uk

Step 1. Work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns each day without you doing anything. If you were to lie in a room without moving for an entire day, this is the number of calories you'd burn through.

To find your BMR, use the following Harris-Benedict equation:

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x your weight in pounds) + (4.7 x your height in inches) – (4.7 x age)

So, for example, a 128-pound, 5 foot 2, 33-year-old woman would do:

  • 655 + (4.35 x 128) + (4.7 x 62) - (4.7 x 33) = 1348.1

  • 1348.1 would be her BMR.

Step 2. Decide your activity level

Then, to find out your exact ratios based on your daily activity you multiply your BMR by your average activity level based on the following categories:

  • Little or no exercise: 1.2

  • Light exercise a few times a week: exercise a few times a week: 1.375

  • Moderate exercise 3-5 times a week: 1.55

  • Heavy exercise 6-7 times per week: 1.725

So, if the same woman above cycled to work three times a week and attended two yoga classes, she'd be classed as a moderate exercise so would multiply 1348.1 (BMR) x 1.55 (activity level) = 2089.5.

The number she's then left with is how many calories she would eat in a day.

Step 3. Choose your macro split

If you're keen to stay lean while adding muscle, WH suggests splitting your daily calories into a macronutrient split of:

  • 40% protein

  • 30% carbohydrates

  • 30% fat

This split provides sufficient carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, enough protein to build and repair muscle and healthy fats to maintain optimal hormone production- vital for staying lean.

Step 4. Work out how many grams of each macro you need to eat

Not all macronutrients are created equally. For every gram of protein and carbohydrate, your body is provided with 4 calories of energy, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.

To work out how many grams of each you need, you multiply your total daily calories by 0.4 for protein and 0.3 for carbohydrates and fat. The protein and carbohydrate figures are then divided by 4 and the fat figure by 9. The final figures will be how many grams of each to eat.

For example, here’s an 1800-calorie diet with a 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates, 30% fat ratio.

  • Protein = 1800 x 0.4 = 720/4 = 180g

  • Carbohydrates = 1800 x 0.3 = 540/4 = 135g

  • Fat = 1800 x 0.3 = 540/9= 60g

Step 5. Make it work for you

Hitting your macros doesn't have to be a total slog. It can be as easy as batch-cooking a protein, carbohydrate and fat source and boxing them up for the next few days: roast chicken, quinoa and some avocado, for example. It's a meal that hits each macro, keeps you satiated and sounds bloody delicious if you ask us.

Or, try adding a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of peanut butter to your morning oats to add a serving of protein and healthy fats first thing in the morning.

To make sure you're staying within your macronutrient split, whacking it all into a food diary app like MyFitnessPal can be great. It tracks each macronutrient as well as your daily intake and lets you know how much of each is left.

The beauty of viewing your macronutrients this way is that if a chocolate craving hits or you're rabidly hungry one morning and fancy an extra scoop of porridge, it doesn't throw you off track. It just means the rest of your food may be adjusted accordingly.

It's an easy approach to keep you feeling happy and hitting your goals without sacrificing the occasional treats that keep you sane and ticking over. For more inspiration, check out the #IIFYM ('If It Fits Your Macros') hashtag on Instagram for a whole fit community using the nutrition technique (many of them use an IIFYM calculator to help, as well.)

What is the best macro ratio for fat loss and muscle gain?

There's no simple answer to this one: your ideal macros will take some tweaking and experimenting to get right.

However, as protein is the key to building and repairing muscle, most experts agree that a higher protein intake is the key to muscle gain and preventing loss of muscle mass while in a calorie deficit. Pairing a protein-focused macro diet with resistance training is a great way to ensure you're losing fat and building muscle.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight) per day if increasing muscle mass is a goal.

How do I use a weight loss calculator to calculate my macros for belly fat?

Want to lose belly fat? Unfortunately, there's no magic formula to reduce fat around the middle (so there's no specific macro calculation to target belly fat, either). Spot reduction of fat is something of a myth – there's no way to control where your body stores excess fat.

Kate Rowe-Ham, personal trainer and founder of the Fit Hut in Sussex advises focussing on resistance training to build muscle tissue. 'You can’t spot-reduce fat,' says Rowe-Ham. 'Increasing lean body mass by building muscle is the most sustainable way forward if healthy weight loss is the goal.'

Macro calculator-friendly meals

So, you've got your healthy macros down pat and know what you're aiming for each day. But, what actual foods do you want to eat?

Let us guide you through some handy WH resources to keep your macro foods, macro meals and macro diet varied, versatile and flexible enough for fun.

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