The Basic Formula for Calculating Breastfeeding Macros
Updated: Jun 11
This post includes the link to me FREE baseline macro calculator that is located on my other website www.milkmademacros.com Please bear with me while I get through the growing pains of getting my site to where it needs to be. At this time, it is under frequent maintenance, so it is prone to being down at times. If that happens, please check back in a couple of hours. Thank you SO much for your patience. I'm doing my best to make the free resources as good for you as possible! <3
Please note that the guidelines below only provide a general estimate for what your breastfeeding macro targets should be. In order to be universally functional, it does not take into account all of the unique factors that would make a customized calc more precise including, but not limited to, lifestyle, any health or medical conditions, dietary preferences, and more. Macros provided by our coaching, one-time macro calcs, and Milk Made Macros calculators offer far greater personalization.
Fitness Forward Nutrition, LLC strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program or making any dietary changes or undertaking any other activities described on the website www.fitforwardmom.com, www.milkmademacros.com, or any affiliated social media pages, including those on Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/iifympostpartumandbreastfeeding) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/fitforwardmom or /milkmademacros). Fitness Forward Nutrition, LLC is not a licensed medical care provider or lactation consultant and represents that the recommendations below are not intended for diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, including low milk supply, or in determining the effect of any specific diet on a medical condition. The information provided by Fitness Forward Nutrition, LLC and Milk Made Macros is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. None of the information presented here should be viewed as treatment or prescription for any disease, injury, or other medical condition, including low milk supply. Kristina Rattet and Fitness Forward Nutrition, LLC, are not liable for any complication caused by a change in diet and the user accepts full responsibility for any unwanted effects experienced. Please check with your medical professional or licensed Registered Dietitian before undertaking any diet program.
You can calculate your baseline macros by hand based on your TDEE (I'll include the formula at the bottom), but the easier thing to do would be to just use my free calculator to do it for you. Is is important that you choose Moderate Loss only. IF YOU ARE 12 WEEKS POSTPARTUM OR LESS, IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU ONLY CHOOSE "MAINTAIN." Do not ever choose the "Aggressive Loss" option. This will give you your baseline deficit TDEE. Also, you can ignore the splits it gives you, as you will be redoing it later.
The next step is to find out your breastfeeding TDEE. The estimated amount of energy the body uses to produce 1 fluid ounce of breastmilk is approximately 20 calories. So, to determine how many calories to add on to your baseline TDEE, estimate the amount your baby consumes per day.
If you are an exclusive pumper, this is easy. Just multiply the amount you pump per day by 20.
If you feed on demand, you can assume 500-700 calories for the average baby (25-35 ounces).
If you do a combination of both and are not contributing to a long-term stash, use the above bullet's guidelines.
If you are pumping for a stash, add 20 calories for every ounce that you freeze.
If you are supplementing with formula, donor milk, or frozen milk, subtract 20 calories for every ounce that is fed from the bottle.
If you are feeding multiples, yes, you will need to double or triple the above instructions to match the number of babies you're feedings. (Enjoy eating all the things!)
If you are tandem feeding, you should add in 20 calories for every ounce you estimate that your older child is taking in (this will be different for every toddler/child).
The next step is to determine your splits. There is no one-size-fits-all split, but the below recommendation is a practical split that should be compatible with the average breastfeeding mom (mothers with diabetes, kidney dysfunction, or any other medical conditions that are directly impacted by nutrition intake should consult with their doctor before following any macro program).
If you are able to track your macros by grams (e.g. you have MyMacros+ or My Fitness Pal Premium), you should set your proteins as 1.0-1.2 grams per pound of estimated lean mass (or 1.5-2.0 grams per kilogram of total body weight).
If you must track your macros by whole percentages, set your proteins to 20-25%.
Set your carbs to between 45-50%.
The remaining calories can be allocated to fats.
You can calculate this by hand: 1g of carbs = 4 calories. 1g of protein = 4 calories. 1g of fat = 9 calories. However, the easiest way is to do it directly within your preferred tracker app.
Let me use my postpartum self as an example. Here were my stats after the birth of my third son.
Weight: 165 lbs
Baby's age: 12 weeks old
Exclusive breastfeeding plus stashing 5 oz a day
Activity level: Sedentary
Using my free calculator, I determine that my baseline deficit target is 1706 calories.
I am exclusive breastfeeding, so will factor for 30 ounces. Plus I add 5 ounces to my stash every day. So my total added calories are: (30 + 5) x 20 = 700
I take my baseline number and add in the calories for breastfeeding to get my breastfeeding macros:
1706 + 700 = 2406 calories
Most people do NOT have access to a paid macro tracker, so I will move forward as if I do not either. Using My Fitness Pal, I enter in my calorie goal as 2406. I set my protein to 20%, my carbs to 50%, and the rest to fats (30%). It looks like this:
And there we go! But it's important to remember that macros are not stagnant. They must be changed frequently! Sometimes, that even means INCREASING your calories even more!
I have provided this guide for when to consider adjusting your macros.
For a comprehensive guide to navigating postpartum weight loss, including free workout plans, recipes, and sample meal plans, please go to my other site Milk Made Macros: www.milkmademacros.com
Here is the baseline TDEE equation for manual calculations.
Step 1: Find your basil metabolic rate (BMR)
Metric: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161
Imperial: (4.54 x weight in pounds) + (15.875 x height in inches) – (5 x age in years) – 161
Step 2: Find your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) by multiplying your BMR by one of the following activity quantifiers:
If Sedentary (Little-to-No-Activity) - x 1.2
If Light (1-3 Days of Purposeful Activity) - x 1.375
If Moderate (3-5 Days of Purposeful Activity) - x 1.55
If Active (4-7 Days of Purposeful Activity) - x 1.725
If Very Active (6-7 Days of Purposeful Activity) - x 1.9
Step 3: Add on calories for milk production (detailed above)
Step 4: Determine your splits (detailed above)
I hope that this helped!