Calculating Energy and Macronutrient Needs

Most women need an average of 1600-2200 calories per day while most males need 2200-2800 calories per day. Please visit the Calorie Calculator web site to get an average energy need calculation for individuals of your gender, age and activity level. It is important to remember that the Calorie Calculator web site and almost any other energy needs calculations are based upon averages. Therefore, your energy need may be less than or greater than the energy need recommended for your age, gender and activity level. For a better understanding of energy and macronutrient needs please view the Calculating Your Energy Need prezintation.

Next, visit Free Dieting's Calorie Calculator for Macronutrients to determine the number of grams of carbohydrates, fats and proteins your body needs. The calculations for your macronutrient needs are based upon percentages of your body's total energy need.

PLEASE NOTE: the default settings for macronutrients within the Free Dieting Macronutrient Calculator are default settings. They are not preferred macronutrient intake settings. You need to manually input your preferred percentages of macronutrients into the calculator and the calculator will perform the mathematical functions to identify how many grams of each macronuterient you should consume based upon your total energy need.
Your preferred percentages of macronutrients should be based upon your understanding of macronutrients as they have been presented in the Section 2 e-lecture and textbook readings.

The average daily carbohydrate intake for a woman(1) should be between 225-300 grams and 300-375 grams for men(2) (assuming approx. 45-65% of total calories from carbohydrates); the average fat gram need for women(1) is 40-65 grams and 65-95 grams for men(2) (assuming approx. 20-35% of total calories from fats); protein intake should be approximately 50-100 grams for women(1) and approximately 60-150 grams for men(2) (assuming approx. 10-20% of total calories from protein). Fiber intake should be between 25-40 grams each day-- higher amounts >25 grams are recommended for higher caloric needs and older individuals. To calculate your fiber needs based upon your gender and age go to: Fiber Calculator. Fiber needs recommendations are based upon 11.5 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories of energy need. For example, if an individual has an energy (calorie) need for 2,000 calories per day, their fiber need would be 22 grams (11.5 x 2).
For a better understanding of macronutrient needs please view the Calculating Macronutrients and Percentages prezintation.
Reference Appendix F of the Nutrition Now text (sixth edition) for additional details regarding macronutrient needs.
For the Diet Diary and Dietary Plan written assignments you will calculate your percentage of total calories from each of the macronutrient categories and determine based upon your goals, e.g. *58% of calories from carbohydrates, **30% of calories from fat, and ***12% of calories from protein, whether your diet diary and your diet plan meets those needs. You may set your own preferences, however, you should strive to have a minimum of 45% of your calories come from carbohydrates and less than 35% of your calories from fat. The Percentages of Nutrients journal activity is designed for you to identify your preferred ratios of macronutrients. See the Percentages of Energy and Macronutrient table below for an example.

(1) based upon 2000 calories per day for women and (2) 2500 calories per day for men.
* Carbohydrate variance can be anywhere between 45-65% of total calories consumed from carbohydrates.
** Fat variance can be anywhere between 20-35% of total calories consumed from fats.
*** Protein variance can be anywhere between 12-40% of total calories consumed from proteins. Most RD's recommend between 12-18% of total calories come from protein (body weight in kilograms x .8).

IMPORTANT: Most RD's recommend 55-60% of calories from carbohydrates with less than 10% of carbohydrates coming from simple carbs like sodas, sweets, chips, etc. and 20-30% of calories from fats with less than 7% coming from saturated fats and none coming from trans fats. Protein intake varies between .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight-- about 10%-15% of total calories. Variances are based upon gender and desire to increase lean tissue, primarily muscle mass. *Higher amounts of protein are recommended for those trying to increase muscle mass, but amounts >2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight are unnecessary.
* "... there is little good evidence that the very high protein intakes (more than 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) typically consumed by strength athletes are beneficial. Moreover, it is possible to obtain this quantity of protein without special supplementation assuming a mixed diet containing sufficient energy is consumed (

When you perform the calculations for your written assignments, you will determine whether you have met your daily need for energy (calories), carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber based upon 100% values for energy and each macronutrient. This can be a bit 'tricky' and complicated so I will do my best to attempt to make it clear. It is also very important that you remember that a diary is a record of past events and a plan is a sequence of events/behaviors that are expected to be executed in the future. In your Diet Diary Analysis you will see how your current eating habits align with your energy and macronutrient needs. In the Dietary Plan assignment will create a diet that demonstrates your ability to address your energy and macronutrient needs.

PLEASE NOTE: Examples within the Calculating Macronutrients and Percentages Prezintation will reference the Three Day Dietary Plan assignment.
Please DO NOT confuse the Diet Diary assignment with the Dietary Plan assignment. The Diet Diary assignment is a two day record of food you consumed (a record of past events); whereas, the Dietary Plan assignment (a record of future events) will require you to put together a three day plan for what you need to eat to meet your energy, macronutrient and micronutrient needs. Please remember for the Diet Diary assignment, the quality of your diet does NOT matter. You will not be graded on the quality of food or the quantity of different foods you consume. Your evaluation will be based upon accurately recording the data for the food and drink items you consumed for two days and your analysis of whether your current diet addresses your energy and macronutrient goals.
It does not matter whether you are completing the Diet Diary assignment or the Dietary Plan assignment. The way you will calculate your percentages of macronutrients consumed (diary) or macronutrients you plan to consume (plan) is the same for both assignments. The BIG difference is the plan should make the corrections you identify in your diary.
Analysis will include evaluation of the diet diary items you listed and whether the food and beverages you consumed would meet dietary guidelines as outlined in the text and e-lectures.

Let's look at how to calculate your energy and macronutrient needs. For example, Person 'X'' may have a goal to consume 60% of her total calories from carbohydrates. Assuming a 2000 calorie per day diet, Person 'X' would achieve 100% of her need, if she consumed 300 grams of carbohydrates and she hit her goal of consuming 2000 calories in a day. In this example her carbohydrate intake would be 60% of her total calories from carbohydrates (300 grams of carbohydrates x 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates = 1200 calories). This would be 100% of her need for carbohydrates (1200 calories from carbohydrates divided by 2000 total calories consumed = 60% of total calories consumed). This can fluctuate, however, based upon her total calories consumed. For example, if she consumed 300 grams of carbohydrates, but only 1500 calories, instead of 2000 in the previous example, then she would have consumed 75% of her total calories from carbohydrates (1200 calories from carbohydrates divided by 1500 total calories consumed = 75% of total calories consumed) and she would have exceeded her carbohydrate consumption goal. This would be an excess in carbohydrates probably resulting in a deficiency in one of the other macronutrient areas, e.g. fat or protein, because the macronutrient totals from food consumed cannot exceed 100%. If she consumed 300 grams of carbohydrates and 2500 calories, then only 48% of her calories would have come from carbohydrate. She addressed 100% of her energy needs from carbohydrates (300 g) in all three examples, but only in the first example did she meet her goal of consuming 60% of her total calories from carbohydrates.

In the Percentages of Energy and Macronutrients example below you will see how the information recorded in your diary and plan assignments will be calculated to determine whether you are meeting your energy and macronutrient needs.

  1. Step 1: Identify your Total Energy Need by visiting the Calorie Calculator web site at the Mayo Clinic. You may want to visit other calorie calculator web sites to see if there are differences in the calculations.
  2. Step 2: Identify your macronutrient goals by visiting the Calorie Calculator for Macronutrients web site and identify the percentages of macronutrients from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The site will provide you with the number of grams and calories you need for each macronutrient based upon your stated energy need goal.
  3. Step 3: Record (Diet Diary assignment) or Plan (Dietary Plan assignment) the food you have consumed (diary) or plan to consume (plan).
  4. Step 4: Create a table like the one below to calculate your percentage of calories consumed (diary) or the calories you plan to consume (plan). You should include all nine categories listed in the table: Calories, Carbs, Protein, Total Fat, Saturated Fat, etc. as well as a column listing the food item and quantity.

Percentages of Energy and Macronutrients Table
  Calories Carbs Protein Total Fat Sat Fat Poly Fat Mono Fat Trans Fat Fiber
Daily Total Goal *2000kcal 1200kcal
Daily Total
(How much you actually consumed [diary] or plan to consume)
2520kcal 1366kcal
Percentages of Goal for Calories/Macronutrients =2520/2000
Actual Percentage of Calories #N/A =1366/2520

*2000kcal This is not a fixed number for every individual. This is the number of calories needed for an average woman. The number of calories for each person may vary greatly from person to person. kcal is the scientific expression for calorie. Please visit the Calorie Calculator web site to determine your total energy need.
#N/A These categories are not applicable as the actual percentage of calories and fiber consumed will always be 100% of the actual amounts consumed. Conversely, they may be deficient or exceed your goals, thus the difference between actual amounts and goal amounts.
It is important to remember that your Diet Diary assignment is a record of past events and your Dietary Plan assignment is a plan for what you will attempt to eat in the future. Your diary may very well be way off what your needs/goals are for calories and the macronutrients; however, your plan should demonstrate you know how to plan to meet your energy and macronutrient goals. Whether you choose to follow your own plan is up to you!

Please review the Food Label presentation for additional information regarding how to read information on a food label and incorporate that information into your diary or plan.

You will calculate your percentages consumed in your Diet Diary comparing them to the goals you set for yourself, e.g. 58% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% of calories from fat, 12% of calories from protein and 30 grams of fiber. Your goals may vary from the 58%/30%/12% example listed above, but you must have a goal that states a minimum of 40% of your calories come from carbohydrates and a maximum of 35% of your calories from fat. You must also have a minimum of 20% of your calories from fat.

PLEASE NOTE: The dietary analysis and dietary plan assignments are designed to get you to determine whether your current diet is addressing your goals for energy and macronutrient consumption. Don't forget that just like RDA's, DRI's, EAR's etc. there are HUGE variances for energy needs and macronutrients just as there are upper intake limits and minimum requirements for micronutrients.

For your Dietary Plan you will need to determine how many meals per day you will strive to consume. Based upon two to six meals per day, the percentage of energy (calories) and macronutrients can be distributed across all meals equally or unequally. The goal is to achieve balance by the end of the day and if/when one day is out of balance, then the goal is to achieve balance over multiple days. Ultimately, the goal is to have balance in energy and macronutrient intake over a lifetime to achieve optimal wellness!!!

let me see if I can provide another example in my attempt to help clarify this somewhat confusing set of instructions; some individuals may need 1900 calories per day to maintain their weight while others may need 4500 calories in their desire to gain weight.  Some may need only 1400 calories if they wish to lose weight.  The variances for the macronutrients are just as diverse.  For example, one individual may wish to get 40% of their calories from carbohydrates, 40% of their calories from protein and 20% of their calories from fat.  Conversely, another individual may wish to follow a 60/25/15 percentage diet.  60% of their calories from carbohydrates, 25% of their calories from fats and 15% of their calories from protein.  
It is complicated because one individual may have a goal to consume 40% of their 1800 calories from carbohydrates (180g of carbohydrates needed daily).  This is a very different goal than the person who wishes to consume 60% of their 4500 calories from carbohydrates (675g of carbohydrates needed daily).  These two examples represent two different individuals with very different energy needs and very different carbohydrate consumption goals.

In my opinion, meat and dairy are so abundant in our culture for relatively inexpensive prices when compared to the cost of meat and dairy in other countries and because we have been 'brainwashed' to believe we need more protein than we actually need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, we, Americans, have a tendency to consume more protein from animal sources than is healthy. Consuming protein from plants, e.g. beans, nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits is much more prudent and reduces the risks for diet related diseases (The China Study).

I am allowing for great variance in each person's dietary goals as they relate to percentages of calories from the macronutrients. However, I would recommend each student strive for a diet that has a min. of 45% of total calories from carbohydrates and no more than 35% of total calories from fat.  Protein is essential, but we need far less than we typically consume in the U.S.  Most individuals only require .8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.  To calculate your protein need: convert your body weight in pounds to kilograms (kg), divide your weight in pounds by 2.2-- the quotient is your body weight in kilograms.  For example, an 130 lb. female would weigh 59kg (130/2.2 = 59).  She would need approx. 47g of protein each day (.8 * 59 = 47).  This would be 10.4% of her 1800 calories per day (47 * 4 = 188 calories from protein and 10.4% of 1800 calories).  Protein intake amongst different groups of Americans range from 13.4-16.0% of their total calories each day from protein sources (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007).  

Diet Diary Analysis | Dietary Plan