Carbohydrates are the energy source your body relies on most throughout the day. They fuel your workouts and provide energy for movement and brain function. The calculator on this page provides recommendations for a moderate-carbohydrate diet, with slightly lower carb levels for fat loss and higher levels for muscle gains.

If you're new to tracking your macros, use the calculator's recommendations to get a good starting baseline. If you're transitioning from a so-called "standard American diet" with soda and crunchy snacks, this might already be lower than you're used to! Then, if you decide you want to try a lower-carb or ketogenic approach, you can experiment with reducing your carb levels.

Male Female

Feet Meters

Pounds Kilograms

Fat Loss
Maintenance
Muscle Gainz

Sedentary (Little or no exercise)
Lightly active (Light exercise/sports 3-5 days a week)
Moderately active (Moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days a week)
Very active (Hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week)
Extra active (Hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week, plus physical job)
Calculate

This daily carbohydrate target can help you lose weight in the form of body fat while minimizing muscle loss. Here are the next steps on your weight -loss journey:

1. Pick a weight-loss workout plan.

A well-designed program is an essential part of turning hard numbers into hard-body results! Here are the most popular ones from BodyFit:

Shortcut to Shred

beginner
|
6 Weeks

FYR

intermediate
|
4 Weeks

Alpha M's Tailored

intermediate
|
6 Weeks

Lean at Home

beginner
|
1 Week

2. Calculate your macros.

Carbohydrates are just one of the three macronutrients. To get targets for the other two, as well as a daily calorie target, use the Bodybuilding.com Macronutrient Calculator.

3. Learn about the best fat-loss supplements.

Supplements can help you accelerate your results once you have your carbohydrate intake and training in place. Krissy Kendall, Ph.D., shares her recommendations in the article, "5 Ways to Up Your Fat-Loss Supplement Game."

4. Join a fitness community.

For over 10 years, members of BodySpace have been helping each other build their best bodies. Join the world's strongest fitness community!

This daily carbohydrate target can help you focus on body recomposition, or gradually burning fat and building muscle, while focusing on your health. Here are the next steps on your journey to customize your nutrition:

1. Pick a workout plan.

A well-designed program is an essential part of staying motivated and seeing results. Here are some of our most popular programs from BodyFit:

Home Body

beginner
|
8 Weeks

Strength & Muscle for Beginners

beginner
|
4 Weeks

FYR

intermediate
|
4 Weeks

Garage Gains

intermediate
|
6 Weeks

2. Calculate your macros.

Carbohydrates are just one of the three macronutrients. To get targets for the other two, as well as a daily calorie target, use the Bodybuilding.com Macronutrient Calculator.

3. Learn about the best health-focused supplements.

Supplements can help you accelerate your results and support your training once you have your carbohydrate target and training in place. Chris Lockwood, Ph.D., shares what to take and why in the article, "Start Here: The Most Important Supplements for Every Body."

4. Join a fitness community.

For over 10 years, members of BodySpace have been helping each other build their best bodies. Join the world's strongest fitness community!

This daily carbohydrate target can help you build lean muscle mass while minimizing body-fat gains. Here are the next steps on your journey to see the scale go up:

1. Pick a muscle-building workout plan.

A well-designed program is an essential part of turning hard numbers like calories into hard-body results! Here are the most popular ones from BodyFit:

Shortcut to Size

beginner
|
12 Weeks

Kris Gethin Muscle Building

advanced
|
12 Weeks

Modern Physique

intermediate
|
8 Weeks

Garage Gains

intermediate
|
6 Weeks

2. Calculate your macros.

Carbohydrates are just one of the three macronutrients. To get targets for the other two, as well as a daily calorie target, use the Bodybuilding.com Macronutrient Calculator.

3. Learn about the best supplements for gaining muscle.

Supplements can help you accelerate your muscle-building results once you have your carbohydrate intake and training dialed in. Krissy Kendall, Ph.D., shares her recommendations in the article, "8 Proven Supplements for Muscle Growth and Strength."

4. Join a fitness community.

For over 10 years, members of BodySpace have been helping each other build their best bodies. Join the world's strongest fitness community!

Learn Which Goal and Activity Level You Should Choose

MAINTAIN CURRENT WEIGHT

First time tracking macros? Or not sure which goal is right for you? Then start with "maintenance." In theory, this is an amount of carbs in line with the number of calories that you burn to maintain your current weight. Many nutritionists say before you start cutting or adding calories or tweaking your macros, you should spend some time at maintenance level and get more comfortable with tracking your foods and portion sizes.

LOSE WEIGHT

If you know that you're ready to lose a few pounds and you have some experience counting calories or tracking macros, select "lose weight." This will give you a carbohydrate target in line with 200-700 calories below maintenance, depending on your activity level, and a 40/40/20 macronutrient breakdown of carbs, protein, and fats. This is a popular "sweet spot," both calorically and in terms of macronutrients, for healthy, sustainable weight loss.

GAIN WEIGHT

Gaining weight—especially as muscle—sounds easy enough. Train hard, eat big, right? But once the fork hits the plate, plenty of people find they need to eat far more than they realized to see the scale move up. Selecting "gain weight" will give you an amount of carbs in line with 500 calories above maintenance, on a 40/30/30 macro split. If this doesn't make the scale go up after a couple of weeks, you may need to add a few hundred more calories.

ACTIVITY LEVEL

This choice should reflect the amount of activity in your life based on how you exercise and how physically active your life and/or job is. Nutritional researchers agree that calorie estimates should take more into account than just the amount you exercise. Here's how to figure out what's right for you:

  • Sedentary: You work at a desk job and you don't do much housework, walking, or exercising.
  • Lightly active: You don't exercise much, but you go for walks 1-3 times per week and are on your feet doing housework during some of the day.
  • Moderately active: You exercise 3-5 times a week and stay moving throughout the day with non-exercise activities.
  • Very active: You exercise intensely or play vigorous sports on most days.
  • Extra active: You exercise intensely or play vigorous sports nearly every day, including occasional "two a days." You also work a physical job or are on your feet most of the time.

HOW DID WE CALCULATE YOUR CARBOHYDRATES?

Bodybuilding.com's macro calculator starts with the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which is considered by our nutritionists and dieticians to be the "gold standard" of calorie calculators.

Here's how it works:


Calculate basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the calories your body burns simply by being alive.
For men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5 (kcal / day)
For women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) -161 (kcal / day)

Then, this BMR count is multiplied, depending on your activity level:


Sedentary = 1.2
Lightly active = 1.375
Moderately active = 1.550
Very active = 1.725
Extra active = 1.9

The calorie count is then adjusted based on your goal:


Weight loss: Reduce by 10-20%
Weight gain: Add 500 calories
Weight maintenance: Unchanged

This calorie count is split into macronutrient percentages in the following ratios, based on splits commonly recommended by our nutrition experts for muscle gain, weight loss, and weight maintenance. (Yes, weight gain and maintenance are the same ratio, but the calories and macros are different.)


Weight loss: 40/40/20 (carbohydrates/protein/fats)
Weight gain: 40/30/30
Weight maintenance: 40/30/30

Finally, your carbohydrate intake comes from applying those percentages to your daily calorie number. Each gram of carbohydrates is "worth" 4 calories.

If you'd like to see your complete macros rather than just carbohydrates, use our full macro calculator.

How Do I Determine the Carbs in My Food?

You can do this using food labels, as well as by weighing out your food on a food scale and using one of the many online nutritional databases.

Weighing food may seem like a lot of counting and not much fun, but it gets easier over time. Fitness coach Vince Del Monte says in the article, "From Here to Macros: 4 Steps to Better Nutrition" that you quickly learn to "eyeball" quantities of both calories and macronutrients after just a few weeks of practice.

Bodybuilding.com has also created visual guides to help you learn these skills:

Counting Macros: High Protein Foods for 30 Grams of Protein

Want to build muscle and lose fat? Then you need protein! Here's how much you need and how to measure it for each meal.

Measuring Your Macros: What 50 Grams Of Carbs Looks Like

Carbs are your body's favorite energy source. Learn which carb sources are best and how you can easily measure them without using a scale!

Measuring Your Macros: What 20 Grams Of Fat Looks Like

Contrary to popular belief, fat is not the enemy! Learn how to easily add a serving of healthy fats to your diet.

What Does 2,500 Calories Look Like?

Ever wondered what 2,500 calories looks like? Use this handy visual guide to see a day's worth of meals across 3 different macronutrient ratios!

Are Carbs Bad for Me?

No! Carbohydrates get a bad rap because when eaten in excess, they may add adipose tissue, aka fat. You'll notice that the calculator recommends lower carb levels for fat loss and higher for muscle gains. But if incorporated into a diet in the right levels and at the right times, carbs can provide all of the benefits with none of the cost.

According to registered dietician Paul Salter, the best times to eat carbs are before, during, and after workouts, so they can supply you with energy and replenish the glycogen you expend during long training sessions.

Another great time to carb up? Dinnertime. Many people think you shouldn't eat carbs at night if you want to stay lean, but this is a myth. Not only will carbs after dark not hurt you, but eating most of your carbohydrates in the evening can actually help you lose fat and optimize your hormones.

What Are the Best Types of Carbs for Losing Weight and Building Muscle?

For the most part, it's best to opt for complex carbs from whole foods to fuel your day. These foods break down more slowly and provide sustained energy instead of spikes and crashes. Great sources of complex carbs include sweet potatoes, brown rice, fruit, and starchy veggies like peas and carrots, which all have plenty of fiber to slow down their digestion. These foods also have more of their micronutrients intact compared to processed foods.

But there's a time and a place for simple carbs, too. Even so-called "bad carbs" like certain types of candy, aren't always bad. When you eat them during training or right after exercise, they can help restore your muscle glycogen more quickly and start your recovery sooner. In other words, the sugar goes straight to your muscles to help you heal up from your last workout and prime you for your next one.

Protein and carbs are the perfect post-workout combo to support hard training and help you nail your goals. – View All

GET SYSTEMATIC ABOUT YOUR RESULTS

Once you have your daily carb intake, it's time to take the same kind of strategic approach to the rest of your training and nutrition. These popular calculators can help you dial in your plan!

Original Article