How to calculate macros fro Crossfit is different from bodybuilding, and different from endurance sports. Most of the research and recommendations about macro intakes is designed for bodybuilders and endurance athletes. So how do we calculate macros for CrossFit?
This video will walk you through how to calculate your macros if you do CrossFit so that you can lose fat and improve your performance. If you want to gain muscle, you need to do training focused on gaining muscle, which is not the focus of CrossFit training
Calculating Macros using the C-P-M Model
At Beyond Macros, our coaches are taught to calculate macros using the C-P-M model.
C stands for calories.
P stands for protein.
M Stands for macros.
When you are calculating your macros for CrossFit, you will calculate each in that order.
Fat Loss vs Cross Fit
When it comes to calculating macros to lose fat, you need to calculate a calorie deficit. That is the only way which you will manage to lose weight.
We have found that a 20% calorie deficit is the sweet spot where you are less likely to lose lean mass, will still perform well, hit PRs, and have energy when you go to the box- but can still experience a rate of fat loss in the healthy ½-1lb per week range. Be sure to check out our related post: How To Calculate Macros For Fat Loss.
The best way to calculate macros for performance is to eat your maximum maintenance calories, while giving your body ample carbohydrates since the primary energy system CrossFit relies on burns through carbs.
Let’s start by calculating your maintenance calories which is important for both goals.
This chart shows you how to calculate your maintenance calories. But it also requires you to understand what your activity level is.
Here are some definitions.
What’s My Activity Level?
You are sedentary if you are not currently exercising regularly, and your job is mostly desk based.
If you go to the gym about 3 times per week for about an hour, you are lightly active.
You are moderately active if you are going to the gym about 5 times per week, or if you aren’t going to the gym but have an active job.
If you are exercising for more than an hour 5 or more days per week, or if you exercise 3-5 times per week and are also active at work, then you are considered as being very active.
Now each of these activity levels has a range of numbers that you will multiply your body weight in pounds by. For a metric conversion, multiply your body weight in kilos by 2.2 or download the calculator worksheet for the metric macros calculation chart.
What to Consider When Choosing Your Coefficient for Calculating Macros for CrossFit?
Here’s what to consider when choosing the best coefficient for your situation, but don’t overthink it. You can always adjust when you see how your body reacts.
First off, if you know you are overweight, pick either the bottom or middle coefficient in the range depending on your activity level.
If you’re pretty lean already, and calculating fat loss macros to get leaner, you can multiply by the middle or top of the range of numbers.
Next, consider your activity level. How active are you compared to what I described earlier? For example, if you go to 4 classes per week, and work at a desk, you might be towards the top end of the light active definition.
Now multiply your bodyweight in pounds by the number you’ve chosen from the chart.
Again, for metric just multiply your bodyweight in kilos by 2.2 and then multiply by the corresponding number in the chart.
This is the total calories you will need to consume to maintain your bodyweight. This is also a great starting point for target calories if your goal is purely performance-based.
If your goal is to lose fat, multiply your maintenance calorie number by 0.8 which will give you a 20% calorie deficit. This number is your daily calorie target.
Calculating Your Daily Protein Goal
Now that we have your daily calories, it’s time to move on to the “P” in the C-P-M model. The reason we calculate protein next is that when it comes to fat loss, if you are on a calorie deficit there is a good chance you will lose muscle as well as fat if you don’t consume enough protein.
Another way to maintain your muscle during fat loss is to follow a muscle building accessory program that includes resistance exercise with weights or bodyweight. We have one of these programs designed to complement your Cross Fit training in our Macros & Meal Planning Programs.
If your goal is fat loss, protein is also important because foods that are high in protein also reduce appetite more than other foods, so it will help you eat less without feeling hungry all the time.
Calculate your protein intake for the day after calories, as it is your top priority for fat loss and maintaining or gaining lean mass with a performance goal.
There are a few ways to approach protein calculations, and lots to take into consideration which I will discuss in another video, but we will keep it simple and you can adjust as necessary in the future because it is more important to get you a solid starting point that you can adjust from as necessary.
It’s important to realize that your macros aren’t static, and should change at least every 12-weeks. They will change when your box’s cycles change. They will change as you lose or gain weight. And they will change as your goals change.
So, to get a good estimate of your protein intake just multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 1, or bodyweight in kilos by 2.2 and that is your daily protein target in GRAMS. Multiply that number by 4 to get the total calories you need to consume from protein.
We will need that in this next step.
Calories..Proteins… Now Macros!
Now that we have your total calories and protein, you could just focus on those two numbers and see fat loss. But it’s important to get the right carb intake for crossfit performance, so we will finish off the “M” for macros in the C-P-M calculation model.
The remaining macros are fat and carbohydrate.
When we calculate macros for clients, we go into a little bit more detail with the macros calculations, but if you’re doing things on your own it’s important to keep things simple and effective.
Macro Percentages vs. Macros in Grams
So instead of doing advanced calculations like what you’d learn in our macro calculation course, we’ll stick to macro percentages because MyFitnessPal’s free version only accepts macro goals in percentages anyway. This just makes things easier.
So first, you need to determine what percentage of calories are coming from the protein target. To do that, take your protein target in calories, and divide that by your total calories.For example, if your protein target is 150g, which is 600 calories, and your calorie target is 1800 calories, then 30% of your calories are from protein.
Calculate Your Fat Intake Macros for CrossFit
Next we will calculate your carb intake.
The reason for this is that the intensity level of a CrossFit metcon paired with strength work means that your body will be burning through more carbs while you’re exercising than if you were simply doing low intensity endurance work or even pure bodybuilding and strength work.
Your body is relying on carbohydrates stored in your muscle to fuel your training, and eating enough carbohydrates is critical to restoring your muscle carbohydrate storage while also providing enough energy to your brain to make it through the work day without crashing.
So you will set your carb intake between 40-55% of total calories. Pick this number based on how well you tend to perform and feel with carbs.
And be honest with yourself, if you’ve developed a fear of carbs because keto, paleo, and low carbs are popular in the CrossFit world at the moment feel free to start at 40%.
But if your goal is performance and you’re in that moderate active or higher category, you’re going to need your carbs and should aim towards the top end of that range.
Calculate Your Fat Intake Macros for CrossFit
Another thing to consider is how much you love fatty foods. If your protein intake is roughly 30% of total calories, and carbs are 40%, that means you’ve got 30% of your calories left for fat which is plenty.
But if you don’t care as much about fatty foods, and don’t tend to eat fatty meats, you might find it easier to eat about 20-25% of your calories from fat to give yourself more carbs to fuel your training and recovery.
Once you’ve picked your carb intake, you can easily set your fat intake by adding your percentage of calories from protein and carbohydrate. Subtract that number from 100, and that is the percentage of calories you will eat from fats.
To carry on with the previous example of the person who will eat 1800 calories with 30% of calories from protein…if they choose to eat 40% of their calories from carbs then they are getting 70% of their calories from protein and carbs. 100%-70% is 30% so this person will be eating 30% of their calories from fat.
And If you calculate your macros, you might as well count them too.
We have videos on how to count macros using MyFitnessPal which is what I recommend using. That video will teach you how to input your calorie and macro-nutrient targets from this video, and how to easily keep track of your food and use the macros you calculated for fat loss!
Want to Calculate Macros for Fat Loss Instead?
Remember, your macros need to be adjusted regularly based on your activity level, progress, and goals. If you’re ready to calculate your macros for fat loss, see our related article: How to Calculate Macros for Fat Loss.
At Beyond Macros we are THE sustainable transformation nutrition coaches. If you are interested in learning exactly how to get leaner, stronger, and perform your best Click Here to learn more about what you get with a Beyond Macros coach, or schedule an initial meeting with us HERE