How to Get Macros: A Guide to Boost Your Diet

If you’re looking to improve your nutrition and maximize your athletic performance, one of the most important steps you can take is to focus on your macronutrient intake. Macros, as they’re commonly referred to, are the three primary nutrients that make up the bulk of your diet: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. By optimizing your macros and ensuring you’re getting the right balance for your goals, you can improve your energy, build muscle, and feel your best.

Understanding Your Macros

Before you can begin to focus on your macros, it’s important to understand what they are and why they matter. Here’s a brief overview of each nutrient:


Protein is essential for repairing and building tissue, and it also plays a role in hormone regulation, immune function, and a range of other bodily processes. Depending on your goals and activity level, you may need anywhere from 0.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.


Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source, particularly for high-intensity exercise. They come in two main varieties: complex carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and simple carbs, such as sugar and processed foods. Your carbohydrate needs will depend on your activity level and goals, but most people should aim for roughly 45-65% of their daily calories from carbs.


Fats are essential for hormone function, nutrient absorption, and other bodily processes. There are different types of fats, including saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats, and getting the right balance is important for optimal health. Most people should aim for roughly 20-35% of their daily calories from fats.

Calculating Your Macros

Now that you understand the basics of macronutrients, it’s time to start calculating your specific needs. Here are some steps to follow:

Step 1: Determine Your Daily Caloric Needs

The first step is to figure out how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight. There are many online calculators available that can provide an estimate based on your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. Alternatively, you can use a food journal or app to track your calorie intake for a few days and average out the numbers.

Step 2: Determine Your Macro Ratio

Once you know your daily calorie needs, the next step is to determine your ideal macro ratio for your goals. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • For fat loss: aim for a higher protein intake, moderate carbs, and lower fat (30-40% protein, 30-40% carbs, 20-30% fat)
  • For muscle gain: aim for a higher protein and carb intake, and moderate fat (30-40% protein, 40-50% carbs, 20-30% fat)
  • For maintenance: aim for a balanced intake of protein, carbs, and fat (25-35% protein, 45-55% carbs, 20-35% fat)

Step 3: Calculate Your Macros

Once you know your macro ratio, you can use an online calculator or consult with a registered dietitian to determine your specific macro needs in grams. Keep in mind that these needs may change over time as your weight and goals change, so it’s a good idea to recalculate your macros regularly.

Maximizing Your Macros

Now that you know how to calculate your macros, it’s time to start optimizing your diet to ensure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients. Here are some tips to follow:

Focus on Whole Foods

As a general rule, try to prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods and limit highly processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Some good examples of healthy, whole foods include lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Meal Plan and Prep

One of the best ways to ensure you’re hitting your macros is to plan and prepare your meals in advance. This can help you avoid impulsive choices and ensure you have healthy options available at all times. Consider meal prepping on weekends and packing healthy snacks to take with you when you’re on the go.

Track Your Progress

Finally, it’s a good idea to track your progress regularly to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals. This may include tracking your food intake and macros using a food diary or app, as well as tracking your weight, body composition, and progress in the gym.


Getting the right balance of macros is essential for optimizing your nutrition and performance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can determine your specific macro needs and begin to optimize your diet for your goals. Remember, consistency is key, so aim to make small, healthy changes that you can sustain over the long term.

Common Questions about Getting Macros

  • What are the benefits of tracking macros? Tracking macros can help you ensure you’re eating enough of the right nutrients, which can help promote muscle gain, fat loss, and improved energy levels.
  • How often should I recalculate my macros? You should recalculate your macros every 6-8 weeks or any time your weight, activity level, or goals change.
  • Is it necessary to hit my macros exactly? While it’s important to get relatively close to your macro targets, it’s not necessary to hit them exactly. Aim for consistency over time rather than perfection.
  • Can I adjust my macros for my dietary preferences? Yes, you can adjust your macros based on your dietary preferences, such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Just be sure to choose healthy, whole foods that meet your nutrient needs.
  • Do I need to supplement with protein powder? While it’s not necessary to supplement with protein powder, it can be a convenient and effective way to increase your protein intake if you struggle to get enough from whole foods.


1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (n.d.). Macronutrients Explained. Retrieved from

2. Phillips, S. M. (2017). Current concepts and unresolved questions in dietary protein requirements and supplements in adults. Frontiers in Nutrition, 4, 13. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00013

3. Ruscigno, M. (2019). The Plant-Based Athlete: A Game-Changing Approach to Peak Performance. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.

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