where should i set my macros?

Before setting your macros, you must first understand the different ways you can set them.

Deficit – eating sightly less than your body needs. Most often used to lose body fat.

Maintenance/Recomposition – eating at your calorie needs. Eating about as much as your body needs will maintain your current weight and/or support fat loss and and muscle gain at the same time.

Surplus – eating slight more than your body needs. Most often used to gain muscle.

I want to gain muscle + lose fat

It’s very difficult to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but there are some situations where it is possible:

-you are new to weight training
-coming back from taking time off from weight training
-have a lot of body fat on your frame
-on anabolic steroids

If you fit any of the above situations, you could set your macros in a slight calorie deficit or ~10-15% less than your maintenance needs while engaging challenging strength training with progressive overload.

If you do not fit the bullets above, it will be best to pick one or the other. Choose to spend focused time trying to lose fat or gain muscle individually rather than trying to do both at the same time.

I want to lose weight + that's all I care about

Understand that weight loss and fat loss are distinctly different. When you lose weight that “weight” can be in the form of muscle, fat, or water – or a combination. Most who say they want to “lose weight” really mean that they want to lose fat.

Sustainable and significant fat loss takes time – as in months and months. For the most success, you should aim to eat as much as possible while still seeing fat loss over time. Set your macros in a slight calorie deficit ~10-15% from your estimated maintenance needs. Prepare to increase your activity through a variety of exercise such as walking, strength training and cardio.

I don't care about my weight, but I want to be leaner + stronger

Being leaner usually means you want to lose body fat to appear more defined. Being stronger means you want to build muscle mass and be more capable in lifting heavy things. In this scenario, you’re happy with or simply do not care about your scale weight.

Plan to eat at your maintenance calories so you are well fueled for and properly recovered from challenging strength training activity, which is what is required to become stronger and build muscle mass. This is called “recomposition”.

I want to get super strong + fit

If you want to get super strong and completely change your body composition to have more muscle mass, you need to spend significant time (months and years) eating at your maintenance calories at least.

Very little time or no time at all should be spent undereating your needs. You will be most successful if you treat your maintenance calories like minimums and eat more when you need to according to your appetite. Plan to engage in challenging strength training with progressive overload.

I just want to feel healthy! I need something Doable + sustainable

If you feel you’ve been significantly overeating your needs on most days, oscillating between undereating on some days and overeating on others, the best place to set your macros is at estimated maintenance calories. Maintenance doesn’t mean “nothing is happening”, but it does help to improve hormones and metabolism as you get back into a rhythm of supporting your body. You may lose body fat and weight at maintenance.

You could choose to set your macros is a slight deficit of ~10-15% from estimated maintenance calories very doable and sustainable fat loss if you feel you have body fat to lose.

Still need help figuring out where to set your macros? Use my guide below to find your best fit macro targets so you know exactly how to support big goals this year.

calculate your macros with my free guide