Calculating Daily Calories & Macros

This is a very simple process. It just has a lot of steps! It’s also very customizable, so you may want to play around with the numbers a bit. Let’s start!

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

This consists of three components:
1. Resting Energy Expenditure (REE)
2. Physical Activity
3. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

REE (you may have also heard this referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate — BMR — or Resting Metabolic Rate — RMR) is the amount of energy/calories your body needs to function without ANY physical activity at all. This energy supports necessities like breathing, cellular functions, organs doin’ their thang, etc. Your REE is how many calories you’d need to eat to stay alive while doing literally nothing.

Physical activity refers to literally any activity beyond doing nothing; doing chores, walking, driving, brushing your teeth, etc. It does also refer to dedicated exercise. Things to factor into activity level are (1) how active you are in your down time, (2) the nature of your job, (3) how many times and how intensely you exercise/week.

TEF is a small amount of energy required to process the food we eat. So, yes, to eat food requires food! :P

Here are the steps to calculating your TDEE and then adjusting for your goal (weight loss, gain, or maintenance):

  1. Convert bodyweight to kg if not done already

  2. Use the formula to determine REE

  3. Use REE to determine energy needs from physical activity

  4. Add REE and physical activity

  5. Take 10% of that number to determine TEF

  6. REE + physical activity + TEF = TDEE!

  7. Subtract 100-500 calories for a weight LOSS deficit, add 100-500 calories for a weight GAIN surplus, or leave it right where it is for weight maintenance.

Follow along in this video as I calculate all of these numbers with you:

Here are the formulas used:
(As provided by NASM - Fitness Nutrition Specialist textbook.)

Pounds to kilograms:
- bodyweight in lbs / 2.2 = bodyweight in kg

FEMALES: bodyweight in kg x .9 cal/day x 24 hrs/day
- MALES: bodyweight in kg x 1 cal/day x 24 hrs/day

(REE + physical activity) x .10

Here are the percentages used:
(As provided by NASM - Fitness Nutrition Specialist textbook.)

Physical Activity (as a % of REE)
- Sedentary: 20-30%
- Light: 30-45%
- Moderate: 45-65%
- Heavy: 65-90%
- Exceptional: 90-120%

An idea of where you might fall on this scale:

- Sedentary: desk job with little to no dedicated physical exercise
- Light: desk job with 1-2 days of light dedicated physical exercise
- Moderate: desk job with 4-5 days of dedicated physical exercise, OR a more physical job with 2-4 days of physical exericse
- Heavy: a physical job with 5-6 days of dedicated physical exercise at a higher intensity
- Exceptional: a physical job, 6-7 days of dedicated, high intensity physical exercise, maybe exercising twice/day in some cases, potentially an athlete of some kind

Now, what about macronutrients within that TDEE number?!

Here are the steps to calculating your macronutrients:

  1. Use the formula to determine protein intake in grams.

  2. Multiply this number by 4 to figure out how many calories it equals.

  3. Divide protein calories by TDEE to get the % of total calories dedicated to protein.

  4. Carbs come next! Decide what % of TDEE you want dedicate to carbs.

  5. Multiple TDEE by this % and then divide by 4 to determine how many grams of carbs.

  6. Add the % of protein calories + % of carb calories, subtract this number to determine what’s left.

  7. Fats come next! They are what’s left! Multiply TDEE by this % and then divide by 9 to determine how many grams of fats.

  8. Most importantly: make any adjustments along the way as you see fit! If the numbers seem too low or too high, adjust them!!!

Follow along in the video as I calculate these numbers with you:

AMDR recommendations:

FAT: 20-35% of total caloric intake
CARBS: 45-65% of total caloric intake
(( PROTEIN: 10-35% of total caloric intake ))

RDA recommendation for protein:

.8 g of protein/kg of bodyweight

My recommendation for protein:

1.5 - 2.5 g of protein/kg of bodyweight
Why?? I like the idea of using bodyweight to determine protein intake, because it is more personal and likely better fit to the subject in question. I suggest a much higher intake than the RDA, because protein is extremely important in building/preserving lean mass. Eating too little of it — especially in a weight loss regimen — could lead to an inability to maintain lean mass.
It is worth noting that the formula I suggest does keep within the AMDR recommended 10-35% and leans closer to the high end of that range.

Calories per macronutrient:

CARB = 4 calories / g of carb
PROTEIN = 4 calories / g of protein
FAT = 9 calories / g of fat