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Macro Question - How Much?

I’m trying to at least track my macros to figure out what/how I am eating.

My goal is muscle growth (currently focusing on upper body).

Is there a ratio of carbs, protein, and fat I should be aiming for? If so, what is it? Also, is there a caloric intake number I should be aiming for?

I am 5’11’’, 196lbs and probably 20% body fat. So I need to trim down, but as stated, I’m trying to put on muscle as my primary goal currently.

My protein usually ends up about 27-30% (130g), carbs around 30-40%, and fats make up the difference.

Any thoughts?

Also, where can I get healthy carbs?


There is not.

Rice (brown and white), potatoes (white and sweet), oats, vegetables and fruit.

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No ratio? So 50% protein, 25% fats and carbs would be ok?

That’s a serious question because I’ve hit that before.

I don’t understand why you would employ a ratio. Why not have a set amount of protein you need to hit in order to build muscle and then obtain the necessary fats needed in order to ensure hormone function and not experience death (what with them being essential fatty acids)? Whatever numbers those shake out to be are whatever they are, irrespective of ratio.

Like, if I were to do a ratio of my intake, I imagine it would be like 1-4% carbs and then the rest split somewhere between protein and fat.


At @T3hPwnisher nails it, as he often does. It’s not about percentage of totals.

Consider this example: you’re dieting to lose body fat. Your protein is 175g daily (or whatever) and 40% of your total calories. As you have to adjust calories down and feel crappier, you are at an increased risk of losing muscle. At the same time, that 175g becomes 50% of your daily calories. Would you adjust protein down, when at your highest risk of muscle-wasting, to stay on ratio? Surely not.

It’s typically a better bet to set your calories as a multiple of body weight, protein as a multiple of body weight (or lean body mass if over day 20% body fat), fat minimum as a multiple of body weight/ fat, and then spread the rest of your calories between carbs/ fat as preferred. You’re going to have to adjust as you go, anyway, so it doesn’t have to be exact.

Here’s an example for someone 200 lbs, ~12-15% body fat (basically in athletic condition), who wants to lose 1-2 lbs a week while improving gym performance. I’m only going to demonstrate caloric starting points/ general adjustments; you can also consider additional cardio a tool to create deficit, but I think that gets tricky.

  • We’ll start at 13 kcal per lbs. We’re cool to lose slowly, so we’ll start at the higher end of where we could expect a drop. I do some risk in adjustments that are too minute, but probably not for us in this situation.
  • We’ll set protein at 1g per lbs. In reality, you can get crazy on this and justify anything between .72 - 1.25, but let’s pick some easy middle ground. We’re not mathematicians here.
  • We’re going to set our fat baseline at .4g per lbs.
  • In this example, we’ll make the rest carbs. You don’t have to - distribute the remainder between carbs and fat as you wish. You’ll see why carb-heavy is easier for adjustment in a sec, but most important is to see what foods you’ll actually want to eat and do it that way. I travel for work and find it more frustrating to try to stay low-carb than low-fat.

So that gives us:

  1. 200 lbs. x 13kcal = 2600 daily kcal
  2. 200 lbs. x 1g protein = 200g protein daily
  3. 200 lbs. x .4g fat = 80g fat
  4. 2600 kcal - 800 from protein (200 x 4) - 720 from fat (80 x 9) = 1080 kcal remaining
  5. 1080 kcal / 4 = 270 carbs daily

Our starting point then is 200p/ 270c/ 80f.

Now, if we don’t lose 1-2 lbs. per week, we have to adjust. I’d recommend 10-15% adjustments, depending on how bad the week was. Since we set our fat at the baseline, we’ll just adjust carbs (that’s where I said it was easy!). We won’t touch protein or fat because we were on the low-ish end anyway and we don’t want to diet more than 16 weeks straight where we might see big enough body weight/ composition changes to warrant a new baselining.

So we only lost .5 lbs. Not awful, but we’ll adjust. Since we lost something, let’s say we’ll drop 10%.

  1. We were at 2600 kcal, so 2600 x .1= 260
  2. 260 / 4 = 65 carbs
  3. 270 carbs (starting point) - 65 = 205g carbs
  4. So our next week is 2340kcal with 200p/ 205c/ 80f

Rinse and repeat!


You are far nicer than I am to go through all that educating, but what you wrote is solid.

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Thank you sir; that genuinely means a lot

Thanks so much for that. I genuinely appreciate all of the responses and it does make a lot of sense. So simply, I want to hit my target goal of protein and fat, then carbs for the rest, but these are the most flexible depending on goals.

As an extension, if I’m trying to put on lean mass, how would I calculate my caloric intake goal?

Using the above formula it would be 4 calories per gram of Protein/Fats/Carbs. So I need to determine how much protein/fats I need.

How do I determine how much protein I need? Assuming I’m 23% body fat, that would be about 151 lbs of lean mass.

Sorry for seeming thick, I’m just trying to understand and do things right. I’m too old to do things wrong. Lol

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Just keep it simple and shoot for atleast 1g of protein per pound of body weight. Zero reason to try and find lean body weight and then match protein to that. Supposedly it’s very hard to gain body fat from excess calories from protein, idk how true that is, but 99% of the time the one thing all big jacked a juicy guys have in common is high protein.

Edit: also, according to your claimed stats you gained 3% bf in 2 days, might want to slow it down hoss :joy:

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Yeah, I would rather overestimate my body fat than underestimate I guess. :slight_smile:

200g of protein… Hell, I haven’t even come close to that. I’m hitting about 130-150g per day. I have a hard time even hitting 2k cals per day though. I need to suck it up and eat more. An extra chicken breast a day or so I guess?

Thanks, all. I really appreciate y’all’s time.

That’s not good. Especially if you want to gain weight/muscle.

Yea, that’ll help drive that protein up but there isn’t many calories in a chicken breast.

I’d lay out what you’re eating every day, start with yesterday and the day before and then let people smarter than you and I help change things/add things.

I just noticed @TrainForPain made an excellent post answering a lot of your questions. I’d also suggest you re read that.

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Yeah, he certainly made a great post and it was very helpful. My next point of understanding was from the perspective of gaining lean mass where his post was on the perspective of leaning out. That is why my continued questions.

So current daily intake typically goes like this:

Breakfast - 1 cup oats, 1 cup milk, 1/2 tbs butter and 1 tsp sugar.
Mid-morning - Whey protein shake with 1 cup milk;
Lunch - Left-over dinner (typically a lean protein and some vegetables);
Dinner - Lean protein and some vegetables;
Before Bed - Casein protein shake with 1 cup milk.

I usually come in around 1800-2200 calories, which obviously seems too low.

Does anyone happen to have any go-to type calorie building snacks?

Thanks again, all.

I had my best outcome doing what I call “the idiot diet”, as in any idiot can do it.

Determine the number of grams of protein you need to put on muscle. I used 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. If you are getting most of your protein for meat, you’ll get plenty of fat.

Now all you need to do is add some essential fatty acids, like fish oil. I like a tablespoon every day.

The variable left is carbohydrates.

So, if you want to lose body fat, drop all the refined food and drink products that you can stand to live without. That is, no soda drinks at all, nothing with flour and in a bag, no snacks in a bag, only can food would be canned fish (cheap protein). Pretty much all shopping for food in the perimeter of the grocery store.

I would drink only water and coffee. No sweeteners.

If you want nuts, know that the fat calories will added.

Now monitor your weight for about three weeks. It can take that long for your body begin to adapt to the change, but it is usually sooner.

Now eat the same quantity of foods every day.

  • If you are gaining weight drop some carbohydrates
  • If you are losing weight and keeping the same strength, keep it up.
  • If you are losing weight and losing strength, add some carbohydrates

The most important thing is to not lose strength.


No difference in terms of adjustments - you just go 10-15% up instead of down. You also get to be more “free” with your meals. Feel free to start with 15 or 16 as your baseline caloric multiplier.

No, 9 calories per gram for fats. 4 for protein and carbs.

I honestly think that’s ok, but 1g per is easy enough across the board. I just think it’s silly when we get someone that’s 350lbs untrained and we say “eat 1+ grams of protein per pounds!” Come on. That’s 1400 calories right off the bat. He doesn’t need that. You can’t dial this in to the fraction of a gram, though, so don’t stress.

Also, are you sure you want to aggressively gain mass (assuming that body fat % is accurate)? It’s not up to me to tell you your goals, but you may be displeased with the outcome. If you clean up your calories, and train appropriately, you can absolutely get less fat and more muscular.

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That’s a great post. Thank you so much. Fortunately I eat decently clean as it is, so cleaning it up is more of an “avoid the cravings” than “completely change how I eat.” I only drink water and milk, I don’t typically eat chips/bagged foods, I typically drink my coffee black (although I do enjoy some extra/extra Dunkin’). My biggest weaknesses are probably adding sugar in my oatmeal and adding some malted milk to my shakes.


That’s a really great point and thanks for bringing that up. No, I don’t want to “aggressively gain mass,” but I do want to gain mass. I’ve always had a small upper body (chest, arms, shoulders , lats specifically. You know, most of it.)

My goal is to increase improve my overall body, targeting upper body specifically, while also decreasing the excess fat I have gained over the last few years.

Would the advice be changed based on this?

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Based on your own estimate, you’re around 197? How tall?

If it was me, I’d likely slowly lose weight while getting stronger in a moderate rep range on a couple key exercises (you pick).

We’re all fatter than we think. Assuming you’re under 6’ tall, you can probably look huge a lot lighter than you think - like 170.

I am 5’11. I think my ideal frame would be 185lbs at 10-12%, but that’s a dream goal. Lol Something to shoot for

This is the program I’ve been using for the last couple of weeks. The one I was using for the 2 months prior is up higher in the thread:

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He’s a smart dude - keep at it.

To be clear, I wasn’t saying counting calories like I posted is the only way to go. It was a direct response to your ratio question. It is a very effective way to go, but not the only way.

I’d control my calories (through whatever means), keep following the program, and try to get your fat down. You’ll look jacked, which is really what most of us are going for vs. actually taking up more absolute three-dimensional space.

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I really appreciate the time and advice, man. Thank you!