How to count macros? – Formula with step-by-step examples

The number of macros is a fundamental parameter in nutrition. Calculating or counting macros is essential both for people who are in the process of losing weight and to increase muscle mass.

For example, when doing the ketogenic diet, counting macros is one of the fundamental steps to success.

To count macros, all kinds of resources are usually used: calculators and applications that give somewhat inaccurate results. However, you can do it from home simply and easily with a formula.

The following article aims to detail a formula to calculate and count the number of macros, which is used both to do the keto diet, to carry out other diets to lose weight, as well as to increase muscle mass.

What are macros?

The macros or macronutrients are the nutrients found in the highest proportion of food; their primary function is to provide energy. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

In the diet, macros differ from micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the amount needed per day. Generally, macros are counted in grams, micro in milligrams.

To have a rough idea of ​​the number of macros you consume, you should know which types of food have the most:

However, to count macros strictly, you must resort to a formula and measure the amounts of food you eat in portions or grams.

How to count macros?

Counting macros takes a bit of effort up front. However, if you commit to learning the formula for calculating macros, your diet results will be boosted. Here’s how to calculate and count macros step by step:

Counting the number of calories you need

To calculate the number of calories your body needs, you must apply the following formula:

Men : = 66.47 + (13.75 x weight in Kg) + (5.00 x height in cm) – (6.77 x age in years)

Women:  BMR = 665.1 + (9.56 x weight in Kg) + (1.85 x height in cm) – (4.68 x age in years)

Then multiply it by your level of physical activity:

  • Minimum (sedentary) – 1.2
  • Low (light exercise less than 3 times a week) – 1,375
  • Medium (moderate exercise 3-5 times a week) – 1.55
  • High level (intense exercise at least 5 times a week) – 1,725
  • Very high (exercise every day more than once) – 1.9

You can also check calorie charts to simplify this step.

Determine the ratio of macronutrients you want to reach

In some diets, the number of macros is played with to achieve faster results in losing weight. Examples of macro ratios are described below.

According to the WHO, the number of macros for healthy eating should be (1):

  • Carbohydrates: 40-50% of total calories
  • Protein: 10-15% of total calories
  • Fat: 20-30% of total calories

On a ketogenic diet, it is (2):

  • Carbohydrates: 5-10% of total calories
  • Protein: 10-15% of total calories
  • Fat: 70-80% of total calories

In a protein diet, it is (3):

  • Carbohydrates: 40-50% of total calories
  • Protein: 30-40% of total calories
  • Fat: 10-20% of total calories

Determine the grams you need from each macro

To determine the grams you need for each macro, you must:

  1. Multiply the% you are looking for by the total calories.
  2. Divide by the number of calories each contributes. Carbohydrates and proteins provide four and fats 9.

Macro calculation example

You may have gotten a little dizzy with many numbers; however, let’s simplify the calculations with examples. Here’s how to calculate and count macros for a 2,000-calorie daily ketogenic diet:

1. By tables, you already know that you need 2000 Kcal per day. And that you are going to do a keto diet with a macro ratio: 10% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 75% fat.

2. Carbohydrates :

  • 4 calories per gram
  • 10% of total calories = 2000 x 0.1 = 200 Kcal
  • Total grams of carbohydrates per day = 200/4 = 50 grams

3. Proteins:

  • 4 calories per gram
  • 15% of total calories = 2000 x 0.15 = 300 Kcal calories
  • Total grams of protein per day = 300/4 = 75 grams

4. Fats:

  • 9 calories per gram
  • 75% of total calories = 2000 x 0.75 = 1500 Kcal
  • Total grams of fat per day = 1500/9 = 167 grams

So the number of macros per day in this example would be 50 grams of carbohydrates, 75 grams of protein, and 167 grams of fat.

Count your food macros

All foods provide a different number of macros. You can register them both with applications and write them down based on the labeling of the products, whatever you find easier.

If you prepare your meals, you make sure you contribute a known number of macros. If you go out to eat out or buy pre-made food, counting macros becomes complicated.

Keto breakfast macro example:

If, for example, you eat a ketogenic breakfast made with two scrambled eggs, 10 grams of butter, and one coffee, the macros would be:

  • 2 Eggs: 2 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat.
  • Black coffee: does not provide macros
  • 10 g Butter: 0 grams of protein, 0 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat.

Total breakfast macros: 2 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat.

Does counting macros help you lose weight?

Counting macros serve not only to lose weight but also for any goal you set yourself.

In terms of health, the idea is to do a classic low-calorie diet where the macro ratios are 55:15:30. (1)

Restraint of a group of macros can be used to lose weight. For example, on the keto diet, carbohydrates are minimized.

The effects of losing weight are significantly faster than those of a classic diet. However, it is essential to know that this type of diet can have side effects if it is prolonged for periods greater than 12 months. (2.3)

If you doubt the ideal macro ratio for weight loss, consult your nutritionist.

Counting macros – Theory vs. reality

50 g of carbohydrates and 30 g of fat can be provided by a healthy salmon with buckwheat or a donut accompanied by a soda.

It is essential to count macros and their quality; this is the only way to cover the daily needs of micronutrients: vitamins and minerals.

Finally, including foods with fiber is essential. This type of carbohydrate cannot be fully assimilated by the human body, so it should not be counted in the number of net carbohydrates.

At least 20% of vegetable fiber should be added to the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, particularly for those who suffer from constipation.


Macros are the components of food that provide energy. Counting macros takes a bit of effort. However, applying the formula is essential to boost results in some diet plans, such as the keto diet.

The steps for counting macros are to calculate how many calories you need, set the ratio of macros you want, and estimate how many grams you need per day. Then you can record and compare the content of the food with a notepad or an application on your cell phone.

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