T Nation

Calculating Macronutrients


In the past whether I am bulking or cutting I use to base a diet directly from initially calculating one's maintenance calories first , subutract or add ~500 calories to that in relation to cutting/bulking respectively. From the total calories, I would then take a ratio percentage from each macro and break my meals from there...

However, I've come across many interesting points of where I saw individuals advise that rather than basing calories first, calculate macros first!

For myself briefly, I'll be honest here - I'm a recreational natural lifter aka your average Joe. Over a year ago, I was over 185lbs @ 30%+ BF, waist 33". Over the past year - I've dropped down to ~130lbs @ 10% BF, waist 29" (using my accusmeasure and gym handheld electronic device which was just an estimating guage) I'm a 27yr old male , 5'6.

Currently, I'm trying to rebuild my foundation. I started to lean bulk the past few months and now I'm at ~149lbs @ ~12-13% BF waist 29".

I'm looking to break some sticking points in rounding my diet, and perhaps a macro calculation setup would be better than approaching it by looking at total calories.

I've only used the Katch-Mcardle/Harris Benedicts equations to estimate maintenance from there and worked accordingly. Then I broke it usually down to i.e. cutting, 40-50% Protein / 30-40% carbs - ~20% fat... usually ranges sometimes...

My Diet : Usually 6-7 times a day, @every 2-2.5/3hours frequency...
Starchy carbs come from complex carbs (oats/brown rice/yams/sweet potatoes)
Protein from chicken breast/egg whites/cottage cheese(casein
Simple carbs - dextrose - post workout only (2:1 carb protein ratio)
Fats - mostly from EFA's (cold compress flax w/ lignans, natty PB, full fat mayo, egg yolks)
Fibrous carbs - green leafy veggies...

I separate all my macros in protein-carb / pro-fat, usually structure my carb meals pre-workout/post workout and 1-2hrs after post workout, remaining meals are pro-fat... I weigh everything on a digital scale...

Non-Training days, I drop the PWO and slightly decrease carb amounts
Weight Train 3x week/ low intensity fasted AM cardio on off days
Supplements - R-ALA w/ biotin for carb meals except PWO, whey isolate, multivitamin, calcium, zinc, vitamin c.

during cutting phase - clean carb refeed every 10 days or so depending on BF decrease...

Now I found a few posts with different ranges per either body weight or lean body mass to calculate per gram... I wasn't sure on whether or how, these are applicable for bulking and cutting -

Training Days

protein: 1.5 g per lb bodyweight
carbs: 1 g per lb
fats: .25-.5 g per lb

Off Days

protein: 2 g per lb bodyweight
carbs: .5 g per lb
fats: .25-.5 g


-protein= 1 g per lb
-carbs= 2-3 g per lb
-fats= .5-.75 g per lb

-protein= 2 g per lb
-carbs= .5-1 g per lb
-fats= .25 g per lb

-protein= 1.5 g per lb
-carbs= 1-2 g per lb
-fats= .25-.5 g per lb

When calculating use the above figures for example, the calories don't seem much when using 1g carb/1g protein =4 cal, 1g fat =9 cal...

I hope my questions were written clear enough for y'all to follow... This is just a continued lifestyle change for me, I have no plans on competing... it's just been a positive addiction for me and I'd like to learn a bit more... I've looked at many books but they never went by this approach...

Thanks in advance for those that took the time to read and give their feedback...

Now my questions :

  • What ranges for each macro should we shoot for when cutting and bulking?

  • Should the macros be calculated in respect to TOTAL body weight or LEAN BODY MASS?

  • When finalizing the grams for each macro, doesn't it seem less in terms of "total calorie" of what you've consumed in the past? Obviously this would then bust the calorie isn't really a calorie issue

  • Do these ranges work for all somatotypes?

  • Are certain macros kept consistent on off days? i.e. specifically protein and/or fat? I usually lower carb intake...

Ok thank you all again for reading this lengthy post -

  • If there's an e-book that explains these prinicples of macro counting rather than calorie counting which I can pick up, please let me know. Thanks!


Man its to damn individual for that just like any of those k/cal calculators it will give a good starting point find what works for you.

This one being even worse. There is a BIG difference in 1-2g of carbs per lb.

Id say figure out what you work well on high carb, high fat, a balance. I always aim to get in atleast 1 g per lb of BW in protein (that isnt hard) and tack on the rest.


Yeah I totally understand Phil, I've been always doing well with dealing with percentages from total calorie amounts estimated from these equations and worked from there... Thanks for giving your input.

It was just a thought on trying this approach and see where it took off. Just wanted to get some opinions of those who followed macros only instead of calories...

I've been doing it the other way for over one year now, tracking everything on fitday... anyways I did come up with this article by Dr. Clay Hyght - High Performance Nutrition Made Easy -


He suggested protein intake in the 1.5-2 gram/lb body weight whether cutting/bulking -

Carbs in the 1-2.5g/lb body weight if bulking, in cutting that would be dropped to 0.5g/lb body weight.

Fats are in the 0.5g/lb LEAN body weight -

Why are some macros factored via lean body weight vs total body weight? Why wouldn't calculating everything in relation to lean body mass be a better option?

Any authors with any books on this subject anyways out there? Just looking for a change and some more reasoning... we're all learning here... or at least I am :slight_smile:


Hes trying to be different make his mark and well this is the cookie cutter equation that works for them.

I alos find it MUCH easier to use TBW instead of LBM unless the person is Obese.


This should help you guys:



Thanks Cthulhu, but that was the exact opposite of what I was asking hehe :slight_smile:

I wanted to see opinions of those who utilized and calculated macronutrients first, and ignored the whole counting calorie concepts...

That link that you had sent me was something that I've followed for a long time in the sense of breaking ratios from first calculating my maintenance calories and adjusted +/- 500cal from there...


I see Phil, thanks again. Besides written articles, are there any ebooks that I can pick up that further explains my inquiry?


bump to see if any of y'all know any ebooks that are written that go by the macronutrient approach - couldn't find anything via google that focused on this - thanks...