How to Calculate the Correct Calories and MacroNutrients

Wow, technical topic or it could be, I’ll keep it as simple as possible.  I have collated the information from various sources and I will endeavour to create links where I can so you can go read the original for a fuller explanation of the points. 

First and foremost I need to point out that if you want to lose weight in a healthy, balanced and sustainable way – you will not be able to follow these guidelines if you have a gastric band, or gastric bypass or any other ridiculous form of body altering gastric / bariatric surgery.  So, just move away from that kind of rubbish and let’s work together and support each other in our aims to get the best looking bodies we can with the least amount of pain and the most taste!

I have have not used any data directly from my preferred site for this blog, mainly because the information contained on Mac-Nutrition is a tad too specific for bodybuilders.  If however, you want to get ripped and you want to know how to manipulate your macros to get your body fat % into single digits, then I suggest you log onto  Amazing photo!!  But I digress, as is my want… haha  I have however referenced a couple of my blogs that are also based on Martins’ work.

So, first let’s tackle the way to work out how many calories you need to consume to enable you to lose weight effectively.   Remember ‘Martin MacDonald’s 10 Rules to Weight Loss…’ and in particular Rule 4 – Do not lose weight too quickly and my associated blog on ‘Why Losing Weight Slowly is Good’,  and Rule 6 – Never eat below your BMR.  Just remember that losing 2 lbs per week is 52 lbs in 6 months.  So you need to work out how much you want to lose, or, you may actually want to gain weight; the same method will work for either requirement.  That’s the starting point, now, how to calculate the number of calories you need to consume.

You will need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate before you start.  There are many on-line calorie counting websites out there, most of which will calculate your BMR (Basal metabolic Rate) that’s how many calories you need in a day to fuel your body for normal everyday living, and they are fairly accurate, although they are generic and will spit out the same BMR for every 30-year-old woman who weighs 140 lbs.   However, a caveat here is – everyone metabolises fat, carbohydrates and proteins in different ways hence the ‘fairly accurate’.

I don’t have the knowledge to go into how many calories you will burn during each exercise, and realistically, this isn’t the information you need.  What you do need to know is how many calories you burn in a normal day.  As muscle is metabolically active, it takes a lot of calories to maintain, ergo, build muscle to burn fat.  The more muscle you have, the more potential for fat burning you will have as Andy my personal trainer keeps telling me.   Makes sense?  If you are trying to lose weight, first you need to find out how many calories you need to consume to gain weight.

How to calculate how many calories to lose weight – taken directly from the Coach Calorie  ( I did think about using academic referencing, but I decided not to, I didn’t think you’d appreciate it 🙂 if you do, let me know and I’ll use the Harvard style 🙂 )

Set your goal – how much are you going to lose/gain each week (no more than 2 lbs ideally)

Plan your exercise program, more resistance than cardio – that’s a blog – from Andy!

Ensure you log everything you eat either in an online or manual journal ( I can give you a spreadsheet that helps you to calculate your macros and calories correctly, if you want this, please use the comments at the end of this blog to request it).  As a statistician and Lean Engineer, I am constantly telling my clients, ‘if you don’t count it, you can’t measure it’, and the same goes for your caloric intake.

  • Eat 2,000 kcals per day, you will need to plan your diet very carefully to ensure you are being accurate during this phase.
  • Weigh yourself every day – is your weight going up or down?
  • If it’s going down, add 500 calories to your diet.  You are trying ascertain how many calories you need to eat before you put on weight.  When you find this calorie amount, you have found the amount of calories you will use to calculate your calories going forward. 
  • If after adding 500 calories your weight is still going down, add another 500 calories per day until you weight increases on a week to week basis. Do NOT be afraid of adding a pound or two in the beginning. Everyone wants to see the scale go in one direction only. This isn’t going to happen. The important thing is you find the calorie amount that is going to enable you to eat as many calories as possible and still lose weight. This will keep your fat loss progress going, and ensure that the weight you lose is fat instead of muscle.
  • Once you find the calorie intake that causes you to add weight, start to subtract 500 calories per day for every pound you want to lose per week. If you want to lose 1 pound per week, then subtract 500 calories per day. If you want to lose 2 pounds, then subtract 1000 calories per day – ensuring that you do NOT go below your BMR – Refer to MM’s 10 Rules to Weight Loss

One of the top reasons diets fail is because people eat too few calories.  When you do this, you force your body to slow down its metabolism.  This causes all kinds of hormonal changes that work against you and your fat loss goals.  Hormones such as testosterone, thyroid and growth hormone are all negatively affected.  Make sure that when you diet you are keeping your metabolism burning and you will be well on your way towards success, instead of like I was, deciding which diet you are going to try next.

Ok, so that’s how to calculate your calories, now for the technical bit (well it is for me) What macronutrient ratio should you choose?

So, you have your BMR and the number of calories you are going to consume in a day….

The macronutrients should look something like this:

  • Fat approximately 30 – 40% of energy
  • Protein is 2 – 2.5 kg per kg of bodyweight, (it can go lower if you have a high percentage of body fat)
  • Carbohydrate will make up the rest.

I use MyNetDiary to help me with getting this right, however if you have read my blog of ‘Deciphering Food Labels and On-Line Calorie Counters’ you will know the vagaries surround the calculations in all of them.

The correct calculations for macro-kcals is

  • FAT     – 1g = 9 kcals
  • CHO     – 1 g = 4 kcals
  • PRO     – 1 g = 4 kcals
  • Alcohol – 1 g = 7 kcals – (see tomorrow night’s blog on How to get Lean – Martin MacDonald’s 10 Rules to Body composition )  This will be an adaptation from his original blog – with his kind consent, of course 🙂

If you have any comment, or would like a copy of the spreasheet, please use the comments below.  Also, if you found this of interest or helpful, please use the like buttons or better still share with your friends.

About Lian Munday

My journey from having a gastric band to actually losing weight in a healthy controlled way with the help and support of Martin MacDonald, Mac-Nutrition, my Nutritionist and Andy Angell, my Personal Trainer. Please join us on our journey.
This entry was posted in Bariatric Surgery, Calories, Gastric Band, Macronutrients, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to Calculate the Correct Calories and MacroNutrients

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  2. Pingback: How To Get Lean – Martin MacDonalds 10 Rules to Body Composition | From Gastric Band to Fitness

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