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Building Your Meal Plan!

Learn How To Calculate Your Daily Protein, Carb & Fat Needs To Reach Your Goals!

Posted by Scott_Herman - January 1st, 2014

The MEAL PLAN! It seems like this topic has been blown so out of proportion, with so many different “tricks” over the years, that a lot of us just say “whatever” when it comes to counting their calories and macros.

The most often words spoken are:

“I’ll just east clean.”

When it comes to reaching your goals, having a well thought out meal plan is imperative and finding the right ratios of protein, carbs, and fat is much easier than you have been lead to believe.

To begin, you will need to know the following information.

  • Weight:
  • Body Fat %:
  • Basil Metabolic Rate - BMR (Calculator Link)
    • At Rest:
    • In Motion:

For the purpose of this article, I will be using my own information as an example.

My Info:

  • Weight: 171 lbs
  • Bodyfat %: 7% (0.07)
  • BMR
    • At Rest: 1,832 calories
    • In Motion: 2,840 calories

Once you have this information it’s time to do some calculations. First, we will need to see how much of your bodyweight is FAT WEIGHT.

  • FAT WEIGHT = Weight x Bodyfat %
  • My FAT WEIGHT: 171 lbs x 0.07 = 12 lbs

Next we are going to use this number to find yourLEAN WEIGHT.

  • LEAN WEIGHT = Weight – Fat Weight
  • My LEAN WEIGHT = 171 lbs – 12lbs = 159 lbs

We will also need to find your AVERAGE BMR. This will tell us how many calories you need to burn a day in order to maintain your current bodyweight. The AVERAGE BMR is the average between your BMR In Motion and BMR At Rest. Both these numbers can be obtained on the SHF site LINK TO BMR.

  • AVERAGE BMR = (BMR In Motion + BMR At Rest ) / 2
  • My AVERAGE BMR: (2,840 calories + 1,832 calories) / 2 = 2,336 calories

Now let’s quickly recap with all the numbers we just gathered.

My Info:

  • Weight: 171 lbs
  • Bodyfat %: 7% (0.07)
  • Fat Weight: 12 lbs
  • Lean Weight: 159 lbs
  • BMR: 2,336 calories

Once you have all the information you need, we are going to calculate your PROTEIN & FAT intake for the day based on your GOAL and LEAN WEIGHT.

Protein Multiplier

This multiplier will tell you how much protein you need to ingest per day according to your goal.

Goal: Maintain / Lose Weight

  • Ingest 1 gram per pound of lean weight
    • My protein intake goal = 1 x 159 lbs = 159 grams

Goal: Gain Muscle

  • Ingest 1.5 grams per pound of lean weight
    • My protein intake goal = 1.5 x 159 lbs = 239 grams

Fat Multiplier

This multiplier will tell you how much fat you need to ingest per day according to your goal.

Goal: Maintain / Lose Weight

  • Ingest 0.35 grams per pound of lean weight
    • My fat intake goal = 0.35 x 159lbs = 56 grams

Goal: Gain Muscle

  • Ingest 0.5 grams per pound of lean weight
    • My fat intake goal = 0.5 x 159lbs = 80 grams

My goal is to gain muscle, so I will be using the GAIN MUSCLE multipliers.

My Daily Protein & Fat Intake Goals:

  • Protein: 239 grams
  • Fat: 80 grams

Now that I know how much protein and fat I need to consume per day, the next step involves converting GRAMS to CALORIES. This will help me calculate how many calories are being taken by protein and fat per day and will help me determine how many calories are left over for carbohydrate intake. Below is a chart that will explain how many calories there are per 1 gram of each macronutrient.

Converting Macros from GRAMS to CALORIES

Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories

Carbs: 1 gram = 4 calories

Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories

I will now use this chart to calculate my TOTAL CALORIES being ingested from Protein & Fat.

Protein in Calories

  • 239 grams X 4 calories = 956 calories

Fat in Calories

  • 80 grams X 9 calories = 720 calories

Total Calories from PROTEIN & FAT

  • 956 calories + 720 calories = 1,676 calories

We are now going to use this number to determine your carb intake based on your goal. But in order to do this we will need to adjust your AVERAGE BMR to reflect your goal.

  1. If your goal is to MAINTAIN you will use the same number, no adjustment is needed.
  2. If your goal is WEIGHT LOSS you will subtract 250 – 500 calories from your AVERAGE BMR.
    • My weight loss range = (2,336 – 500) to (2,336 – 250) = 1,836 to 2,086 calories daily.
  3. If your goal is MUSCLE GAIN you will add 250 – 500 calories to your AVERAGE BMR.
    • My muscle gain range = (2,336 + 500) to (2,336 + 250) = 2,836 to 2,586 calories daily.

As my goal is to make lean gains (muscle gains with very little fat gain) I will be using the lower end of the scale.

Let’s recap what we’ve gathered so far.

  • My Daily Calorie Goal: 2,336 + 250 = 2,586 calories
  • My Calories From Protein & Fat: 1,676 calories

We will now use this information to figure out your daily need for CARBOHYDRATES by subtracting the calories from PROTEIN & FAT from your DAILY CALORIE GOAL.

Carb Calculator

Your allotted carbohydrate intake will be the left over calories from Protein and Fat.

  • My carb intake goal = 2,586 calories – 1,676 calories = 910 calories

We will now use this number to convert the leftover calories for CARBS into GRAMS.

Carbs in Grams (Round Up)

Remember from the gram to calorie table, that 1 gram of Carbs = 4 calories.

  • 910 calories / 4 calories = 228 grams

Congratulations! The work is done! You now have a baseline of what your daily protein, carb, and fat intake should be based on you goal!

My Daily MACROS!

  • Protein: 239 grams         (956 calories)
  • Carbs: 228 grams            (912 calories)
  • Fat: 80 grams                  (720 calories)
  • Total Calories:                (2,588 calories)

Keep in mind that these numbers are your BASELINE starting point. As you continue to exercise you are going to have to manipulate these numbers to ensure that you are eating enough to reach your goal. Also, everyone reacts differently to different ratios of protein, carbs, and fats. Below I am going to list some carb intake guidelines to help you make adjustments to your meal plan if needed.

Daily Carb Intake Guidelines

  • Accelerated Fat Loss: 0g – 50grams
    • NOTE: This is not a healthy long term range for your daily carb intake. You should only be in this range short term for a specific event such as a bodybuilding show or a photoshoot. If you ever choose to utilize this range, be sure to monitor your body closely and have at least one REFEED day a week of about 250 – 300 grams of carbs to replenish glycogen stores.
  • Fat Loss: 50 grams – 100 grams

  • Maintenance: 100 grams – 150 grams

  • Weight Gain: 150 grams – 300 grams

  • Excessive Weight Gain: 300 grams

After weeks of training and manipulating my own daily macronutrient ratios, these are my final numbers.

Final Adjustments: My Daily Macros

  • Protein: 250 grams       (1000 calories)
  • Carbs: 150 grams           (600 calories)
  • Fat: 100 grams                (900 calories)

As you continue to exercise, lose weight, and gain muscle you will need to make more adjustments. I recommend revisiting your daily macros at least once a month to ensure you are eating enough food to reach your goal.

If you would like to take advantage of our 100% customized meal planner for a one month FREE TRIAL be sure to sign-up as a PLATINUM member and use the promo code: FREEFITNESS

If you need more help with building your meal plan, please feel free to join us in the “Diet & Nutrition” section of our FORUMS and our community will do our best to help you get on the right track!

If this article helped you and you'd like to learn more ways to maximize your results, SIGN-UP for the Platinum Membership today!

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Hey scott, can u please suggest me what should i do? Should i lose those fats or go on a surplus and build some mass?

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@jughead I would probably go for a little bit of fat loss first my bro. You should start my PPL program and get into a deficit, that would be your best course of action first up! 


So this is me now.... trying to figure out if i should continue to lose wiegth or start trying to gain muscle.. any advice?? Thanks a bunch


Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@mikeyh1 I'd suggest you go into a lean bulk to build muscle man! I see you posted this on your board too so I'll reply there as well.


Hey Scott, do you suggest to calculate your macros again after losing a lot of weight ? for exmple , i lost about 11kg in the past 3 months, should i eat the same or calculate again?

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@nick_ws sorry for the late reply here bro. You should recalculate in that instance though. If you gain weight, you will eventually need more food to keep gaining. If you lose weight, you will probably eventually need less food to keep losing.


Hey Scott,

after churning the numbers this is what i've come up with, could you give me a nod to if its looking good!?


Weight 164

Height 5"9

age 36

moderate exercise

BMR at rest = 1719.22

BMR in motion = 2664.79

GOAL -----

Fat loss

fat % 21

protein 1.5

grams of fat 0.35


non training day
CALS = 1,900 ( based on a 500 deficit)
FAT = 45
CARBS = 183

training day
Calories = 2415
FAT = 45
CARBS = 308

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@bazza82 Hey Byron! Sorry I only just saw this. But looks like we covered this in the @forums right? How have things been going since you made those suggested changes to your macros?


Hey Scott,

Thanks for the great information and was very easy to understand however I'm very big guy currently weighing in at 308lbs and I a few questions around what my macros should be. But before I ask the questions I'll try and provide you with much information as possible.

Using the above guide + your MBR Calculator this is what I came too.

My Info

Weight: 308 Pounds 

Height: 5'8''

Age:  24

Exercise: Moderate Exercise



BMR at Rest  = 2685

BMR in Motion = 4162

BMR Average  = 3423

Fat Weight =  308*0.4 = 123

Lean Weight =  308-123 = 185

Final Macros with -250 cal

Protein 185g 740 caloires

Fat 65g 585 calories

Carbs 462 1848 calories

Total Calories = 3173

Weight Loss Goals

1. Weight Loss under 220lbs

2. Weight Loss under 200lbs

3. Maintain Archived Weight Loss

4. Reduce Body Fat to Optimal percentage.

Final Goal 

Gain Lean Mass + Definition 


1. I know you mentioned that the final macro is just a baseline, how do I manipulate the above final macros to archive my weight loss goals?

2. On days of rest and little to no exercise what should my macros be?

3. On days of intensive workout what should my macros look like with keeping in mind my goal is currently to lose weight.

I understand that everyone bodies react differently and what may work for you may not work for me but if I can get an understanding on how to manage my macros then I can do it.

Sorry for the wall of text but if you could answer this that would be great!



Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@skarkin no worries man! I understand those late night feels haha.

Skarkin  Edit  Delete  Close

Yeah thanks for that. Sorry I posted in two areas I just thought the forms was a better place for this question and being so late at night forgot to delete from here.

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey again Vincent! Just responded to your @forum post with this question my bro ๐Ÿ˜ 


Hey Scott, 

First off thanks for doing this. It's really easy to follow!

So I fall into the skinny fat category, I've been working out for a couple years but I wouldn't consider it "training". A mix of casual weights and lots of steady state cardio. I'm 6'2" 207lbs at 23% body fat. I've always had the issue trying to jump between losing weight and gaining muscle, and ultimately not really getting anywhere. I did watch your video on this and I'm tempted to try and get my body fat % down to around 18% before I start a long haul program to gain muscle. What would you suggest in this situation? Should I take the next couple months and lose some weight with this plan: 

BMR Rest - 2118.61
BMR Motion - 3283.85
BMR Average - 2701.23

Protein 207g - 828 cal
Fat 55g - 495 cal -
Carbs - 220g - 878 cal
Total kcal - 2,201

Or should I just go for a moderate muscle gain plan right off the bat? 

Protien 311g - 1242 cal
Fat 80g - 716 cal
Carbs - 310g - 1243 cal
Total kcal - 3,201 cal

Or is there a modification I could make that would help me slim down at least a little bit while beginning to put on muscle. (side not I've put on about 15lb of mostly fat this year due to a knee injury so I haven't been running as much which is why I'm reluctant to start trying to get bigger at the get go). 

I appreciate your help. 



Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

yeah exactly @ngwhelan, but increase 250 - 300 every 2 weeks until you get to 3400... dont do the jump at once from 2800 to 3400!

Ngwhelan  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for the help. That does make sense. Full disclosure I've not ever really followed a meal plan in the past, I've done some things like paleo and intermittent fasting while just cutting out completely any sort of dessert or junk or fast food.

 As for training I've done online programs that I could fit my schedule, with school and work some semesters I could only do 3 days a week some 5. But I tried to make sure they focused on compound lifts with some isolation lifts. 

So what your suggesting is 

- 2800 Cal a day with HIIT / strength training to drop BF to under 20%

- Then when I start to move into a longer bulk plan bump it up to around 3400 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@ngwhelan if you're skinny fat at 23%, then you can probably actually lose some fat while you're in a surplus because it sounds like you'd still be a newbie, for the most part. Sounds like you are a pretty big dude, and I think you would actually need more than 2200 calories even when cutting. What numbers have you been following in the past? And what kind of training have you been doing?

I'd also suggest that you start doing more HIIT cardio rather than steady state. That will help you burn off more fat while preserving muscle. At the end of the day you need to decide what is most important to you.. losing fat or gaining muscle? You'll have an easier time putting on muscle at a lower bodyfat percentage, so maybe cut back to at least 20% before you get into a lean mass phase, at which point you can most likely still drop some more fat anyway.

If that's what you decide to do, you could start higher than 2200 calories daily.. I input your numbers into the calculator on the @mealplan page and you're BMR at rest is closer to 2300 calories.. 3500 in motion. So if you're working out, you could eat around 3000 calories and still be in a deficit. I would start at maybe like, at least 2800 calories and see if you can lose weight from there. If you can't, then reduce it.

Hope that all makes sense!


Hey Scott, thanks for all the info! I'm 6'2'' and 203 pounds and my objective is to gain lean muscle. I think that i'm near to 14% body fat. I go 4 days a week to the gym. I made the calculations and i got:

BMR at Rest2100Cal/day
BMR in Motion3250Cal/day
Average BMR2675
Gain muscle+325Cal

Final Macros


I adjusted the numbers to get:

My Daily Macros


What do you think of these numbers?

In rest days, what should be my numbers?

Thanks for the help man!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@proko Sounds like a good plan bro! Only increase if you need to ๐Ÿ˜Š 

Proko  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for answer Scott. Yeah, I'm getting use to eat more, and keep track to my meals. I'm thinking to buy a digital kitchen scale, to keep track more accurately too. I will try first with 3000 Cal two weeks, and them bump up to 3500 Cal. 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Those numbers look great man! Although at your size, to be honest, I think you'll need closer to 3500 calories or more daily for muscle gain. You can try 3000 for a week or two and see what results you get though, just in case. You're already at about 1.5g protein per pound of lean bodyweight which is good, so if you decide you need to bump up the calories, increase the carbs closer to 300g and fats can go up too.

On rest days just cut the carbs back a bit to reduce the calories ๐Ÿ˜ 


Hi there Scott, Appreciate your effort of putting this science thing in here haha!

By the way i'm 21 years old, 5`8" / 145 lbs and 11.7% body fat, also my goal is to gain lean muscle.

My Daily Macros:   Protein:193.5 

                               Fat: 65 

                               Carbs: 323

    Average BMR: 2154 + 500 calories in plus to gain muscle = 2654 calorie goal/day. 

    After few adjustments i was think to increase the protein/fat intake and cut the carbs, because seems to be too much carbs for myself i'd say; So the new Daily Macros will be:

                                                                               Protein: 250   (2 x lean weight instead of 1.5... )

                                                                               Fat: 80 (increased with 15 grams)

                                                                               Carbs: 233.5 (240 around).

What do you think about that adjustment Scott will suit better ?

Thanks for the help also your knowledge, much appreciated !!! 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@activelean My pleasure! Look forward to seeing your results ๐Ÿ˜Š 

ActiveLean  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for the reply Scott! Will keep the great work for sure!

Also by increasing the fats to 90g-100g sounds well better and definitely some calories added in plus.

I will start posting the work and the results soon!

Thanks again for the reply and everything, much appreciated !


Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey @activelean! You've done a good job with your macro re-calculations man! You could probably get away with between 250g-300g carbs if you're looking for lean mass, but that's OK. You can definitely try these numbers for the next week or two and see what the scale does. You can even increase fats to 90g-100g when you hit a plateau and need to add more calories too. If you're already at 2x lean bodyweight with protein you won't need to worry about increasing that too much too soon. Keep up the great work!


Hey Scott, thanks for all the info, I appreciate it...  I'm 6'2'' and 190 pounds and want to gain lean muscle - what do you think of these numbers?

Protein: 240g

Fat: 100g

Carbs: 285g

Total of 3,000 calories

Do you think that's enough calories to build muscle? Should I add more carbs?

Thanks for the help man!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Yeah man gotta get that food in to grow!! Train hard!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž 

NC_Nate  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey Scott, thanks for the reply - I thought 3,000 calories might be on the low side. I'll follow your advice and slowly increase my daily intake. I appreciate all the videos and workout tips - you rock!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey @nc_nate!  For your height I would say closer to 3500 - 4000.. but if you are just starting to increase calories I would stick with 3,000 for 2 weeks.. then go up 250calories for two weeks and keep increasing until you hit between 3500 - 4000.  then monitor your body to ensure you are not packing fat.  If you are.. then we just adjust caloires down a little.  Just keep letting us know about your progress.  Get some photos on your profile to help us too!


Hi Scott. I'm 16 years old, 68 kg, 168 cm and my bodyfat% is about 16%. I'm planning to clean bulk and i need your opinion, these are the results i came up with:

On rest-days:

Protein: 233g    920 kcal
Fats: 100g        900 kcal
Carbs:175g      700kcal 

total calories: 2520 kcal

On workout-days:

Protein: 230g  920 kcal
Fats: 100g      900 kcal
Carbs: 300g  1200 kcal

total calories: 3020 kcal

I added 350 surplus calories.

What do you think? 

I hope that you reply on this :)

SeepraHerra  Edit  Delete  Close

Okey great, thank you for the reply bro!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey @seepraherra, this looks like it could be a great starting point.   We wont know for sure until about 2 - 3 weeks of doing this.  So make sure you take some photos and track your weight / bodyfat % now and again in three weeks!  Great job my bro!