How To Set Up Your Diet: #2 Macros, Fibre & Alcohol

#1 Calorie Setting, #2 Macro Setting, #3 Micros & Water, #4 Nutrient Timing, #5 Supplements

When people in the industry refer to their ‘macros’ they are talking about the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. You may have heard it said that while energy balance determines whether weight is gained or lost, macronutrients determine whether that change is fat or muscle mass.

Though that is a gross oversimplification, as their position in the pyramid above would indicate, macros play the second most important role when it comes to the fat loss/muscle gain equation. Simply put, get them right and you’ll reach your physique goals quicker and more painlessly than if you ignore them.

The following guidelines are based on research, other coach recommendations (main influences being Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Martin Berkhan and Eric Helms), as well as personal observations from client work.

There are sometimes individual differences and considerations which I have tried to cover in the explanations below.

Note to geekier friends: ‘Re-feeds’ and macro cycling strategies will be discussed in the timing guide. This will form the base for that though, so don’t skip it.

Protein Intake Guidelines

Protein Section Header

There are 4 Calories in every gram of protein.

Why is it important?

Protein helps us to recover from our training, it preserves lean tissue when dieting, helps us grow more muscle when bulking, and has the highest effect on satiety of all the macronutrients.

Protein is therefore very good stuff. However it is not as simple as saying more = better. Here is what I believe defines ‘optimal’ intake for physique goals:

A quantity of protein consumed that is high enough to reasonably cover all potential benefits, without being so high that it becomes unnecessarily expensive, and limiting to food choice by reducing the quantity of the other macronutrients we can consume while keeping to our calorie budget for the day.

NB: This is not the same as the government RDA which is usually very low. There is a very big difference between minimal human needs, versus what is optimal for our physique goals. (Personally, in the face of the evidence I think that the RDA needs to be raised so that the muscle loss which sick, bed-bound people experience is minimised. But issues with the RDA and politics why it doesn’t change are another story for another day.)

How much protein should I consume?

Protein2.3-3.1g/kg LBM (~1.1-1.4g/lb)1.6-2.2g/kg LBM (~0.8-1.0g/lb)

The amount of protein that is optimal depends on our lean mass. As body-fat ranges vary dramatically I don’t like to base calculations on body weight because that risks giving fatter people too much protein and leaner people too little.

The most important factor in determining our protein intake requirement is lean body mass (LBM). The more you have, the more you need. We can determine this by taking our weight and subtracting the amount of body-fat we carry. (You will have estimated this in part #1, Calorie Setting).

If you have no idea on what your body-fat percentage is, get an estimate either through body-fat caliper measurements (only if you are fairly lean), or the BIA machine your gym will likely have. (DEXA, Bodpod and underwater weighing are other options if available.)

Important:All of these methods have inaccuracies and inconsistencies, so save yourself the heartache and DO NOT USE THESE DEVICES TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS. They are fine for the purpose of making these calculations but not for tracking progress. (My guide for that here.)

Reason for the difference between bulking and cutting

  • Protein helps spare muscle mass when in a calorie deficit, so the requirements are higher when cutting.
  • Protein intake past the range given when bulking, though not likely detrimental other than to our wallets, isn’t likely going to be beneficial either – protein synthesis will already be maxed out. (Unless drugs are used, which is why you may read in a magazine about a Mr Olympia competitor’s 600g per day consumption.)

Reason for the range of intakes

  • Ripped dude side image‘Optimal’; intake is also determined by Severity of the Calorie Deficit, Body-fat percentage, and Training Status.

  • When cutting, the greater your deficit, the higher protein intake you’ll need to keep your body from eating into lean tissue. The steadier you take the fat loss, the less you’ll need.

  • Fatter people can get away with greater deficits. However, greater deficits mean more hunger, and as protein is the most satiating macronutrient (meaning we stay feeling fuller for longer on higher protein diets) you might want to keep your protein intake at the higher end of the range anyway.

  • Beginners trainees seem to have lower protein requirements. (Perhaps their calorie partitioning is better with the new stimulus their bodies are experiencing.)

NB: While these numbers are based in the research, we can only use the research to use what is good for people on average.  There will be outliers – people that need more, and those that can get away with eating far less. However, there is no way to tell this without painstaking trial and error.

Beware of the Industry Nonsense

Protein is the most expensive macronutrient to get in your diet, which means we can find a lot of nonsense online and in magazines surrounding the subject of optimal intake. If you are new to this and about to increase your protein intake, here’s likely what will happen:
  • “Oh damn, that’s going to be expensive. Let’s get some protein powder.”
  • Your mum/partner/auntie laughs at your protein tub in the kitchen, starts to worry it isn’t healthy.
  • They google “Are high protein diets safe?” It comes back with an article about kidney damage regarding either high protein diets or protein powders specifically. They start harassing you.
  • You start second guessing this and get worried yourself.
Just to be clear: High protein diets do not cause kidney damage.The origin: Back in 1983, researchers first discovered that eating more protein increases your “glomerular filtration rate,” or GFR. Think of GFR as the amount of blood your kidneys are filtering per minute. From this finding, many scientists made the leap that a higher GFR places your kidneys under greater stress.What science really shows: Nearly 2 decades ago, Dutch researchers found that while a protein-rich meal did boost GFR, it didn’t have an adverse effect on overall kidney function. In fact, there’s zero published research showing that downing hefty amounts of protein—specifically, up to 1.27 grams per pound [2.8g/kg] of body weight a day—damages healthy kidneys. – Alan Aragon from Mens Health OnlineNB: That’s per pound of bodyweight, not lean mass, so that’s a very high number indeed. For a full summary of the research and practical recommendations regarding high protein diets see this excellent article over on

Protein Powder or Real Food?

Protein powders are a very useful tool to make hitting protein targets affordable, not to mention the convenience factor when out and having to rely on restaurant portions of meat which tend to be small.

However, getting your protein intake from real food is always going to be more filling. By that I mean mainly through meat, fish, eggs and dairy consumption. When we diet, hunger is our enemy. So it’s best to prioritise real food.

On the flip side, when bulking it can be tough physically get in enough food without feeling sick or bloated. In this situation calorie dense foods or liquid meals, like protein shakes, can be your friend.

Alright, now with protein intake set, it’s time to decide where the rest of the calorie intake (that you calculated in part #1, Calorie Setting) will come from. 

Fat Intake Guidelines

Fat Section Header

There are 9 Calories in every gram of fat.

Why is it important?

Consumption of dietary fat is important for regular hormonal function, especially testosterone production. If you drop very low with your fat intake the most obvious change you will notice is a decrease in sex drive. It should never be eliminated from a diet.

How much fat should I consume to cut or bulk?

Fat0.9-1.3g/kg LBM (~0.4-0.6/lb)20-30% calories


When cutting we need to take in fewer calories. Fat is the most energy dense of the macronutrients, so decreasing fat intake is an easy way to make large changes to your overall energy intake.

As with protein though, there is a minimum amount you don’t want to go under. In this case it is for the hormonal reasons mentioned above. I’d suggest that you don’t go below 0.9g of fat per kilogram of lean body mass. (If you cycle fat macros in your diet then consider this the average intake number not to go under.)

Why the range?

Those carrying more body-fat will do better with a higher fat intake than leaner individuals. This is to do with insulin sensitivity, which increases (generally, but not always) when you get leaner. So, if you have a very high body-fat percentage then go with the upper end of the range, leaner folks go lower.


When bulking we need to take in more calories. Due to fat being the most energy dense macronutrient, aside from being a good way to reach calorie numbers without severe fullness, increasing our fat intake also increases our food choices available.

I tend personally not to think in terms of percentages, so previously I hadn’t given specific fat recommendations for bulking (publicly), as I am waiting for more experience with clients. However, after watching Eric Helms’ video series I compared his 20-30% recommendation with the results I’ve seen with clients and it works out quite nicely.

Why the range?

There is room for personal preference, also, some people simply do better with different fat intakes (which is probably also largely linked to insulin sensitivity), so feel free to experiment.

I am not a proponent of very high fat, low-carb diets – they are overly restrictive (thus threatening long-term diet compliance) and they hamper performance, certainly in athletic populations. Anything over 40% of a person’s calorie intake from fat, while it may work, is not likely to work optimally.

Carbohydrate Intake Guidelines

Carbs Section Header

There are 4 Calories in every gram of carbohydates.

Why are they important?

Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient we can live without. However, carbs have positive impacts on hormones, help fuel us through our workouts, replace muscle glycogen (the primary and preferred fuel source of our muscles), and make life a lot tastier. So, while we restrict them (through lack of any other choice) I do not recommend eliminating them from your diet.

Resistance training is likely equally, if not more important than adequate protein intake for retaining muscle mass when dieting. I mention this here because it’s relevant when it comes to setting your carb intake.

We need to eat enough carbohydrate to still get effective workouts so that we can maintain our muscle mass – which a lot of people find isn’t possible when restricting carbs severely. (~80% of a workout is fuelled by glycogen stores, a low glycogen state will compromise your ability to train hard.) This is not to say your workouts won’t be tougher when in a deficit, they will, because you’ll have less energy overall, but you want to avoid leaving yourself glycogen depleted also.

How much carbohydrate should I consume?

Carbs– the rest –– the rest –

Think of carbs as just balancing the equation as per your ‘calorie’ targets decided in, #1 Calorie Setting. The difference between cutting and bulking will be the greatest with this macro number.

Fiber Intake Guidelines

Dietary Fiber Section Header

There are 0-2 Calories in every gram of fibre.

Why is it important?

Fibre is a classification of carbohydrate. We cover this here because fibre keeps us feeling fuller without adding significantly to the calorie content of food, lowers blood sugar levels and delays digestion of food, lowers cholesterol, helps us avoid constipation, and reduces colon cancer risk. It is clearly very good stuff (full list of benefits here).

However, it’s also possible to have too much, the side effects being gas, diarrhoea (and thus the increased risk of browning your pants in public), constipation and bloating.

Keep between the following numbers and try not to have large jumps in your intake and you’ll be fine:
  • Minimum – 20g/25g for women and men respectively.
  • Maximum – 20% of your carb intake.
Further Reading: Fibre – Nature’s Broom by Lyle McDonald.

Alcohol Considerations

Alcohol Section Header

There are 7 Calories in every gram of alcohol.

Why is it important?

Makes dull people interesting, reduces pain, masks social insecurity, makes us forget the midnight kebabs. Technically a macronutrient but not an essential one, unless you are from Glasgow.

How much alcohol should I consume?

This really varies with location. Sober observations in singles bars leads me to conclude that, in England at least, it is a fine balance fraught between being pissed enough so that the girl sitting alone at the bar has become pretty enough to talk to, while still being able to stand up, walk over and not slur speech. Further supplementation may or may not be required depending on levels of dutch courage.

More seriously though…

For many people alcohol consumption is a fact of life. Complete avoidance will work, but that’s not going to be sustainable approach for most people.

Alcohol has calories with 1g containing 7kCal and that is usually combined with carbs (either from fruit as with wine, hops/wheat/barley as with beer, or sugar from carbonated drink mixers).

Beer Side ImageWhen drinking in moderation it’s possible to adjust for the alcohol without messing things up. Look up the drink you’re consuming and see how many calories are in there. Then subtract the appropriate amount of calories from the macros you see fit to maintain the calorie balance for the day. This way you’ll have maintained the number one most important thing in our nutritional pyramid, while remaining close to the macros for the day.

For Example: You drink three beers

Carbs and Protein contain ~4kCal/g, Fat contains 9kCal/g.

If the calorie total for those three beers comes to 600kCal, consider taking out 75g of carbs (300kCal) and ~33g of fat (~297kCal).

  • Alcohol gives us energy, but with none of the benefits associated with the other macros. Thus, frequent binge drinking isn’t going to be sustainable.
  • You’re likely not going to want to adjust the protein macro, given it’s muscle sparing properties.

Yes, there are strategies for occasional binge drinking in, The Alcohol Guide. Don’t abuse it.

Putting That All Together – Two Examples

We’ll continue with our examples of Tom and Bob, whose calorie requirements we calculated in the previous guide.


Remember Tom

NB: Tom is 90kg at 20% body fat, thus his lean body mass is 72kg. [90*(1-0.2)]Protein
  • Protein intake in grams = 2.3~3.1g/kg LBM
  • We’ll choose 2.5kg, as Tom is a beginner trainee and the deficit is modest.
  • Protein intake in grams = 2.5*72 = 180g
  • Fat intake in grams = 0.9-1.3g/kg LBM
  • Tom has a moderate amount of body-fat, so we’ll choose 1.1grams.
  • Fat intake = 1.1*90*(1-0.2) = ~80g (Technically 79.2g but rounded for simplicity.)
  • Carb intake in calories = Daily Calorie Intake Setting – Protein Calories – Fat Calories
  • Carb intake in calories = 2152 – 180*4 – 80*9 = 712kCal
  • Carb intake in grams = 712/4 = ~180g (Again, technically 178g but rounded to make life easier.)

Tom’s Daily Macros: 180g Protein, 80g Fat, 180g Carbs


Remember Bob

NB: Bob is 75kg at 10% body fat, thus his lean body mass is 67.5kg. [75*(1-0.1)]Protein
  • Protein intake in grams = 1.8~2.2g/kg LBM
  • We’ll choose 2.2kg, as Bob loves eating meat.
  • Protein intake in grams = 2.2*67.5 = 150g (Rounded from 148.5)
  • Fat intake = 20~30% of calories
  • Bob likes a nice balance in his diet and doesn’t have a preference for carbs or fat so we’ll choose to eat 25% of our calories from fat.
  • Fat intake in calories = 3141*0.25 = 785.25kCal
  • Fat intake in grams = 87.5g (Rounded from 87.25)
  • Carb intake in calories = Daily Calorie Intake Setting – Protein Calories – Fat Calories
  • Carb intake in calories = 3141 – 150*4 – 87.5*9 = 1753.5kCal
  • Carb intake in grams = 1753.5/4 = ~440g (Rounded from 438.375)

Bob’s Daily Macros: 150g Protein, 87.5g Fat, 440g Carbs

Addendum for Leangains System Followers

There is a school of thought that it can be beneficial for nutrient partitioning (and therefore body composition) to have more calories on the days you work out, and less on the days you don’t. Martin Berkhan in particular took this a step further by experimenting with higher carb/lower fat intake training days, and higher fat/lower carb intake rest days in forming his Leangains system.

I believe that this works very well, however, in terms of the order of priority for results it belongs under section #4 Meal Timing & Frequency, so I will discuss it there. For many people (though not generally the readers of this blog) this is an additional, unnecessary layer of complication. So if you were linked this article by a well-meaning friend and are feeling overwhelmed don’t add it in yet, remember the order of importance.

Summary of Macro Guidelines

Protein2.3-3.1g/kg LBM (~1.1-1.4g/lb)1.8-2.2g/kg LBM (~0.8-1.0g/lb)
Fat0.9-1.3g/kg LBM (~0.4-0.6/lb)20-30% calories
Carbs– the rest –– the rest –


Getting your micronutrient intake bases covered is essential if you’re not going to short-circuit your long-term progress. But it doesn’t have to be the ball ache that is sounds. We’ll cover some simple tips for this next.

Prefer to keep with the web version? #3 Micronutrients & Water →

Questions? Clarifications? Hit me up in the comments. – Andy.

Note: Questions asking me to confirm your calculations will be deleted. If you’re worried about your calculations being correct, I have you covered in the second question of the FAQ.

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last six years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.

183 Comments on “How To Set Up Your Diet: #2 Macros, Fibre & Alcohol”

  1. ajgar says:

    Hi Andy,
    I’m on a budget, and where I live, soy chunks are 3 times as cheap as eggs and about 10 times as cheap as protein powder(in terms of grams of protein/unit currency). Why don’t I see this revelation anywhere online? Is it likely to be bad for me if I make soy chunks my primary source of protein?

    And your website is second to none. You’re a precise writer, a clear thinker and a great researcher.

    1. Hi Ajgar, thank you for the question.

      Soy is a lower quality protein than animal protein (the amino acid profile is less complete). You can include it in your diet, but don’t make it the main source as all the building blocks won’t be there.

  2. rachel says:

    Im a female aged 19 weighing about 63.5 kg. When i calculated my macros i got 116g of protein, 51g of fat and 74 grams of carbs… i am lightly active (workout 2-3 times a week)

    Is the fat content suppose to be that high?

    Thanks, Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel. Doesn’t seem high to me, but please see the FAQ, third item.

  3. toby erikson says:

    Hi Andy,

    Into my 2nd month and as I progress additional questions come up that maybe aren’t critical (given the diminishing returns moving up the nutritional pyramid). Nonetheless I want to get the most out of every aspect i can correctly (or most optimally). So you’ll see my comments in the various sections at once today (not to spam, but to keep the content relevant).My questions for this section are:

    1. You advise getting at least 50% of daily protein from real food as opposed to powder. Is this just for the sake of satiety, or does real food provide some other benefit beyond this? I only ask because sometimes its easier for me to get most of my protein from a powder on a particular day (without feeling hungry), but i would avoid doing this is there is a real cost (besides satiety).

    2. Your guidelines for fiber are min 25g (for men), but maximum 20% of your carbs. With my carb intake at 100g, do i go no more than 20g to avoid going over the maximum? or 25 to make sure I get my minimum? There is a conflict here, so some clarification would be appreciated

    As always thanks for all your help.

    1. Toby, thanks for the questions.
      1. Yes.
      2. Go with the minimum. The maximum applies to when we’re bulking and the carb numbers get high.

      1. toby erikson says:

        Hi Andy,

        To clarify: Yes means that yes this is just for the sake of satiety, therefore all protein from powder is no problem if it occurs?

  4. toby erikson says:

    Hi Andy,

    First up sorry if my question is retarded, but i am completely new to all this.

    Ive been reading up on your guide and trying to build a meal plan to go with the start of training next week, and i am not clear on one thing in particular.
    According to the calculator on your site i need to be inhaling 161g of protein per day.
    Now my initial assumption was that i just need to eat a 161 g steak, but looking at nutritional tables on the net, it says that there is roughly 27 g of protein per 100g of steak… does that mean that i need to be eating 592 g of physical steak to get my fix?

    That is a buttload of meat, that i am not sure if i can realistically eat without drowning in it…

    If this is the case, does the same hold true for the amount of the other macros?

    Anyway, again sorry if this is a stupid question, but i hope you can find the time to let me know.

    Thanks in advance for your help


    1. That’s right. You can of course get your protein from other sources. I have a guide to counting here that you might find useful:
      How To Count Macros – A More Flexible Approach

  5. Colin says:

    Question in regards to protein intake. If someone diets from 200lbs with a consistent 200g/day protein intake, and diets to 155lbs to begin a lean gaining phase, is it important to maintain that 200g/day protein intake. Or should the intake be scaled back to about 150-160g/day in favor or calories towards carbs?

    1. Hi Colin. It’s probably worth dropping it down, yes.

  6. TerryD says:

    Hi Andy,

    Not sure if I need to amend the calculations.

    [Deleted by Andy. Reason at end of article.]

    That looks really low for the carbs on the rest days. Is this just how it plays out & is expected? Or have a made a mistake? Or do you mediated this, based on experience, as I just fall on a “border” where my values do not work out as well?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Terry, please see the second answer in the FAQ.

      1. TerryD says:

        Hi Andy.

        Thanks for the prompt reply and apologies for not picking up on the FAQ comment. I actually spent a few hours last night looking through all 17 pages of posts, looking for that type of answer (check the logs ;)).

        Again thanks for the great content. One thing I struggled with was food suggestions to fit into my macros and the “” post sorted that with the food nutrient database link 🙂

        Best regards,

  7. Barbara says:

    Thank you, it is a medical reason why my protein is restricted. But the problem I am having is I don’t know what the Carbs and Fats should be at. If its better to have lower carbs or higher carbs. I know my protein will sit right around 20% but i am not sure what the carbs and fats should look like to jumpstart the weight loss again. I have been told that a 50Carbs and 30 Fats, then I am told 45% Carbs and 35 Fat. The 45/35 I seemed to be maintaining on, even though my calories were where they should be, at a deficit. The 50/30 I have been gaining the last 3 weeks about a pound a week, even though I am still eating at a deficit.

    1. The calories are what affect your fat loss or gain, not the calorie/fat ratio. So please forget completely about the idea that you may have been eating the wrong ratio and thus be gaining fat.

      There are two possibilities: 1. Your calorie intake it too high, due to miscalculation or miscounting (Note: I haven’t looked at your specific calorie figures, that’s not what I do in the comments.) 2. Temporary fluctuations in water balance due to your monthly cycle, stress, or fluctuations in carb & possibly salt intake.

      1. Double check that you’re counting things right.
      2. Make sure you’re gauging progress over a 4 week period. This is explained in the, How To Track Your Progress guide.

      Good luck.

  8. Barbara says:

    I am so confused from the calculations my brain is going to explode. I have been trying to figure this out, and I have a wrench I have to throw in. My biggest problem is that I have a protein restriction of 70-75g per day MAX from all sources. This was given to me by my doctor and I cannot go over it or I may suffer a reaction. With that being said, I need help in calculating the correct amount of calories and macros. I have been trying to do this and am just mentally exhausted from trying. Its extremely confusing with the converting and I don’t know if its right or what I am doing. I can give you my info….

    [Paragraph deleted by Andy.]

    1. Hi Barbara. Here’s the deal – sustain a calorie deficit over the long term and you’ll lose weight. You’ve calculated calories in the previous section, so all we need to do now is to fill that calorie budget with protein, fats and carbs.
      If you’re restricted due in how much protein intake you can consume for medical reasons, then just make up the rest of the calories in your budget from fats an carbs in a way that makes you happy and thus your diet a sustainable one.

  9. JEF says:

    Andy, as usual, you’ve done a great job with both this section and the Complete Guide. THANK YOU.

    I have a protein macro question for you.

    In the above section you mention that protein levels are as follows:

    1. Cutting is between 1.1 to 1.4 grams per pound of body weight
    2. Bulking is between 0.8 to 1 grams per pound of body weight

    Going back to the original source, Leangains, protein is put out at a higher number for two specific reasons — keeping people satiated and the higher thermic effects of protein.

    My question is this.

    I feel more satiated from carbs and fats compared to protein.

    If I were to use the 0.82 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight when I’m either cutting OR doing a Leangain bulk, in your experience, is there a reason why I shouldn’t be doing this, given my body preferences.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hi Jef, thanks for the question.
      I wouldn’t do it by bodyweight but by lean body mass, that’s what those figures represent. If that’s what you mean to say, then yes for the bulk (it falls within the recommended range) and no for the cut (as it does not fall within the recommended range). Preference has it’s place, within those guidelines.

  10. Senshi Mizu says:

    Hello Andy, as you adviced, i post my question here!

    im trying to set up my macros for a cut,

    i calculated my BMR using Mifflin St Jeor formula, because i dont know my BF and the Harris B. formula tend to over estimate about 5% up.

    So i need some help if you could give me please

    Male , 31 years
    175 cm
    84 kg

    I m weight lifting 4 times a week, and 2 others do active rest (cardio)

    So i m moderate active, so i multiply my BMR x 1.55 = 2767 kcal

    My big question is to calculate the protein / fats ratio.

    If i use 1 g / lb = 185 gr of protein , but i know that alan aragon uses the protein to the target BW, so lets say im gonna stay at 72 kg , wich is the best formula, ??

    and the fats ??

    i want to loose about 0,45 kg / 0,5 kg per week.

    can i do this math like this

    2767 – 0,50 x 1100 = 2217 kcal its the day by day intake to loose about 0,5 per week, considering that the normal its between 0,45 / 0,6 kg as u mentioned at your guide??

    1. Hi Senshi, thanks for the questions.

      If you have a good idea of your lean body mass, go with my recommendation above, calculate your fat intake from there. If not then go with Alan’s recommendation.

      The maths for calculating the calorie deficit is in the previous post. I’m not here to confirm or comment on your individual calculations though – isn’t professional, plus, everyone and their mother would start asking. (Tried answering once, lead to a comment thread nearly 2000 comments deep.)

  11. Vincent says:

    Hello Andy,

    When it comes to using “kg/LBM” or “LB’, which is better to use? For example, for Fat calculation, when I use “kg/LBM”, I get a lower number than if I use “lb”. I am not sure how much I weight currently (I use to weigh myself and fell off the tracks of doing that) and I am not sure what my body fat% is anymore. The information I was using is based on my weight and body fat when I first started cutting.

    Thank You,

    1. Hi Vincent. Thanks for the question.
      The ‘LB’ in LBM means lean body mass. Notes on how to estimate your lean body mass in the first part.
      Also, note I’ve written, g/kg LBM (not kg/LBM). This means grams per kilogram of lean body mass.

      1. Vincent says:

        Sorry, I didn’t meant to write it as “LB” for lean body mass. I meant to write as lb as in pounds. Like in the Fat section where it says 0.4-0.6/lb. Sorry for the confusion, unless you just answered it and I am not reading it correctly.

        1. Ah I see what you mean Vincent.
          1kg is ~2.2lbs.
          I’ve written, “0.9-1.3g/kg LBM (~0.4-0.6/lb)” to make it easier for people, the former for those that want to use the metric system, the latter for those that want to use the imperial system. Just use whichever you’re most familiar with.

  12. Doug says:

    Hi Andy,
    When tracking carbs for the day, do you generally include only starchy carbs/fruits or do you include carbs from vegetables also. On rest days I get quite a bit of my carb intake from vegetables and I have been counting those toward my target. I’m wondering if I’m maybe cutting back too much on the other carb sources for those days.


  13. LaReine says:

    Oops forgot to add.. my first calculations I chose to calculate my BMR by 1.2 since my job is sedentary but I train 3x a week and do everything I can to be active when I’m not sitting down at work (always take stairs, go on walks at lunch, etc.) So should I choose the lightly active calculations by multiplying my BMR by 1.375?
    Either way my target calories were 1480 and now would be 1506 which you don’t recommend going below 1500 anyway..
    I’m pretty analysis about my numbers so I’ve done a pretty good job at getting pretty damn close to my numbers each day.
    thanks again..


    1. Hi LaReine. I’ve got you covered in the first question on the FAQ page.
      Do these macros look right?
      As for the other question you had in the separate comment. The strength loss in the last two weeks is due to your injury and temporary time off, and doesn’t mean you have suddenly lost a lot of muscle mass. Keep your protein intake the same.

  14. Ali says:

    Hello Andy! I was wondering whether the daily intake allowed to change within the range of 20% and 30% from one day to the next, or if it is better to stick to one value within that range. Thanks

    1. Hi Ali, thanks for the question. At this stage it’ll be the same each day. Though if you decide to implement the steps in part four then it will fluctuate.

  15. clark says:

    Greetings Andy,

    I am currently 198 Lbs (90Kg) with 18-19% fat: I am cutting on (3 days training/week)

    Rest: P-F-C (180-100-80)
    Training: P-F-C (170-70-210)

    I am currently on my 2nd week on my 4-5 months journey.
    I was wondering how often do i need to change/decrease my Calorie/macro (Carb)
    in order to not hit a platue in my fat loss

    or do i even need to do that in the next 10 weeks or throughout the 4-5 months ?

    thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Clark. Most likely yes. From the top menu click “Diet Guides,” scroll down to the “Adjustments” section.

  16. Maximus Decimus Meridius says:

    Nice right up! Quick question: am currently on a mini cut to lose some body fat for the summer. Am consuming 17% below my maintenance requirement. I have my carbs set pretty high as I do not want to lose my strength; I was doing strength training before I started the cut. At 55% of daily calories compared to 15% fat. It’s been a month and my strength has been steady and am losing 0.6lbs pounds per week as planned. It’s working fine for me. Is there a disadvantage to consuming high carbs during a cut?

    1. Hi Maximus, thanks for the question.
      Consider the article above guidelines for setting things up that will work well on average. People that don’t know what they’re doing are best to simply stick to them. Those that do can experiment, as some people will do a little better on higher carb or fat intake respectively, but nothing extreme. For you right now, the evidence of the efficacy of the higher carb approach you’re taking is right before you.

      The potential downsides to be aware of are listed in the other macronutrient sections titled, “Why is it important?” as you’ll be eating less of each.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Maximus Decimus Meridius says:

        Lightning fast response! Thanks.

  17. David says:

    Hi Andy! Thank you for your support. I’m wondering what formula YOU specifically use to calculate LBM? I am following your system to a t, but I am not clear on how to calculate my lean mass to be able to accurately do the macros formula you’ve laid out here.

    Also – might you be open to doing a hypothetical example on this step? Similair to the hypthetical you did with “Bob” and “Tom” on step 1? How much protein, fat, and carbs would “Bob” and “Tom” have? I personally wasn’t clear on if I was supposed to multiply 1.1g x my LBM to get my protein and actually, I’m still not 100% clear.

    Thank you for your time! Excited to hear back from you.

    1. Hi David. Thanks for the question.
      “I’m wondering what formula YOU specifically use to calculate LBM?”
      I gauge body-fat percentage by eye when clients send me photos. If you have no idea on what your body-fat percentage is, get an estimate either through body fat calliper measurements (only if you are fairly lean), or the BIA machine your gym will likely have. (DEXA, Bodpod and underwater weighing are other options if available.) Bear in mind the flaws in all of these methods so don’t use them to gauge progress, just use them for the initial guesstimate for the calorie calculation.

      Appreciate this feedback, I’ve added that above to the first article. The Bob and Tom examples will be continued in the next update of this article.

    2. I’ve just added that for you now David to save you waiting, section: “Putting That All Together – Two Examples”
      There will be a fuller (primarily formatting) update to the article in the next week or so.

  18. David says:

    Hi Andy! I don’t know what I’m missing, but I’m just not clear on how YOU specifically would calculate LBM. I read on the macros page where it says “The most important factor in determining our protein intake requirement is lean body mass (LBM)….Determine this by taking your weight and subtracting your body fat (which you will have estimated in #1, Calories).” However, I did not see (and still do not see) where to do that in step 1. In step 1, I calculated my BMR and TDEE using the Harris-Benedict Formula. Even using the Katch-McArdle BMR Formula, I am not clear on how to calculate my lean mass to be able to do the formula.

    I’ve read through all through the five steps, and I’m wanting to verify that I have my macros correct (at least, according to the general guidelines posted.) I have read enough comments to know that you’re not going to answer those questions specifically in the comment section, however, might you be open to doing a hypothetical example on this step? Similair to what you did with “Bob” and “Tom” on step 1?

    It’d make it easier to have something to check it against. I’m not asking you to comment on them, but so you’re aware, I’m 224 lbs and 28% body fat. According to other sites and other formulas, I’d have 161 lbs of lean mass. If I calculate my lean mass x 1.1 I get 225g protein. It seems high? Also, if i do lean mass x .6 i get 96 g of fat.

    Then for the rest, it’d be carbs. Does that mean I should create a meal plan and make sure I’m getting 225g of protein, 96 g of fat, the rest carbs, AND make sure I’m hitting my suggested daily caloric intake of 1,874 calories?

    I’m new to hitting macros gram goals. I used to just track percentages. IE: 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat. Now, I’m trying to make sure I get ENOUGH protein, carbs, fats, but I am just not sure if my calculations are correct.

    ANY type of pointers would be greatly appreciated. My next step is making a detailed meal plan so I know exactly what I’m eating at what time and don’t have to count macros so much during the day because I’ve already done it up front for the week – give or take.

    I certainly hope this makes sense. 😀 Thanks so much for this guide. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been. I’m getting married in 90 days and am committed to shedding the fat. Thanks for helping me do that!

    1. Hi David, thanks for the questions. Commenting on whether you have calculated correctly is not something I offer, however, please shorten this to the things that need clarification in a separate comment so I can delete this and keep this comment section clean and usable for everyone.

  19. Rich says:

    Hi Andy,
    I’ve calculated my BMR as 2200, I burn 350 when I train (I wear a heart rate monitor) which sets my maintenance as 2550. I am currently “bulking” as per your guidelines above so i am consuming 2750 a day (200kcals more than maintenance). Is this correct?

    My macros are f/c/p 60g/310g/240g – would you adjust these as you state above that i would only require 180g protein (I weigh 78kg with 9%bf & 70″ height – Intermediate trainer) – I also stick to these macros on both rest and training days. Should I adjust this also.


    1. Hi Rich. Calculations of calorie intake are covered in the previous section:
      How To Set Up Your Diet: #1 Calories

  20. Isaac says:

    Hey Andy I stumbled across this site about a month ago after becoming interested in weight training. Having never lifted before I’m very excited to say the least! Tried to get familiar with the exercises and form down right before taking this program with full steam….so now I’ve figured out I’m a skinny fat guy, I need to cut, got my calorie intake set, figured what my macros should be… question is (and I’m sure it was explained on this site but I’m just not getting it) do I keep my calorie intake the same everyday regardless of training? I know to increase my carbs on training day and increase my fat on rest days… But do I increase my calorie intake overall on training days considering how much calories will be burned with the brutal training in order to replenish? How would I even know how many calories are burned during training? Thanks again for such a killer website and all the info you’ve passed on to us. Much appreciated!

    1. Hi Isaac, good question. Consider this series to be the order of importance for fat loss and muscle growth, with each additional layer of decreasing importance. As calorie cycling is fourth on the list, you can see that by no means should it be considered necessary.

      1. Isaac says:

        Dang I must have somehow missed that whole section while I was jumping around from link to link! Lol! Totally answers all my questions. Thanks so much for the quick response Andy. Keep up the damn good work!

        1. No worries Isaac. Should probably make it clearer at the top of the articles. (I recently changed the article titles.)

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