This calculator will provide you with calorie and macronutrient goals that will help you optimize your body composition. Optimizing your body composition means shifting towards a leaner physique without drastic changes in your body weight.
For body recomposition, your calories will be at maintenance (the number of calories you need to maintain weight) but your macronutrient intake (carbs, fats, protein) will be set at specific targets that encourage a leaner physique.
Another important aspect of body recomposition is nutrient timing.
Nutrient timing involves timing your consumption of certain nutrients based on when your body needs them most. By incorporating nutrient timing, you’re working with your body’s natural tendencies, which can help optimize your physique.
For the best results, you should incorporate strength training workouts at least two days per week and implement these calorie and macro targets.
Let’s Get Started
Do you know your body fat percentage?
What Is Body Recomposition?
Body recomposition means changing the composition of your body weight. Your body weight includes lean body mass (bone, muscle, and other fat-free tissues like connective tissue) and fat mass.
Recomposition means altering how much of your body weight is lean body mass and how much is fat mass.
Generally, improving body composition involves increasing how much of your body weight is lean body mass, by adding additional muscle tissue, and decreasing how much of your body weight is fat mass by losing body fat.
When you increase your muscle mass at the same rate that you decrease your fat mass, your body weight will stay the same, but your percentage of body fat will be lower and you will notice changes to your physique.
These changes are indicative of alterations to your body composition, which is where the term “recomposition” comes from.
Body recomposition can also mean losing lean muscle tissue and gaining fat mass, but this is usually not something people are actively working toward, so if you hear the term “body recomposition” it’s likely referring to increasing lean mass and decreasing fat mass.
- Related Article: Can You Lose Fat Eating Maintenance Calories?
The Benefits of a Body Recomposition
The benefits of body recomposition are:
Increased Strength & Performance
Increasing lean body mass by combining appropriate nutritional intake (following the guidelines in this calculator) with progressive resistance training is a great way to improve muscular strength and endurance, which translates into better performance both inside and outside the gym.
A Faster Metabolism
The amount of lean muscle mass that you have is one of the most important factors for your overall metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn per day), so increasing lean body mass will increase your metabolism, meaning that you can eat more food while maintaining your weight.
This is exciting because you will be able to enjoy more foods without worrying about weight gain, and if you decide to lose weight, you will be able to lose weight while eating more food than someone with less lean body mass.
Improving your body composition can also improve your health because excess body fat is linked with a variety of adverse health effects including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Therefore, shedding body fat can significantly reduce your risk factors for many conditions and illnesses.
Additionally, adding more muscle to your frame can improve your quality of life as you age by allowing you to be more independent and continue engaging in activities that you enjoy.
Added Muscle Definition
Looking more “toned” is one of the top reasons that many people pursue body recomposition. As you add muscle mass and reduce body fat, it will be easier to see the shape and outline of your muscles.
Going through a body recomposition phase generally leads to a more athletic physique and higher levels of confidence.
Most of the time when people are interested in dieting, their goal is to look more toned and athletic but this comes from body recomposition and not just losing weight.
Changes In Mindset
Focusing on body composition goals (i.e.achieving a lower percentage of body fat) rather than weight loss goals (i.e. seeing a lower number on the scales) can result in a better mindset around food, fitness, and health.
When you are pursuing body recomposition, you need to be sure that you are eating enough foods, in the right amounts, to fuel your workouts and to build muscle. This means that a restrictive diet won’t work, so you won’t have to worry about falling into unhealthy behaviors like cutting out food groups or starving yourself.
Gaining muscle mass and strength also often means setting new records in the gym, or in your favorite workout activities, and getting a sense of accomplishment and confidence from a new PR is a great boost for mental health.
For these reasons, body recomposition can be much more empowering than dieting and feel more sustainable as well, leading to better physiques over time.
- Related Article: 16 Foods That Will Help You Build Lean Muscle And Burn Fat
Who Should Do A Body Recomposition?
Body recomposition is a great choice for those who have a body fat percentage that is higher than the recommended healthy range for their sex and age.
That said, those with average body fat percentages can also pursue recomposition to lower their body fat percentage further and gain more muscle.
If you’re unsure of your current body fat percentage you can estimate it by taking measurements with a measuring tape and using this calculator, or by referencing the following pictures:
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, here are healthy body fat percentages:
- For women aged 20-39, body fat percentage of 21% to 32%
- For women aged 40-59, body fat percentage of 23% to 33%
- For women aged 60-79+, body fat percentage of 24% to 35%
- For men aged 20-39, body fat percentage of 8% to 19%
- For men aged 40-59, body fat percentage of 11% to 21%
- For men aged 60-79+, body fat percentage of 13% to 24%
How Does Body Recomposition Work?
Follow these six steps to achieve your body recomposition goals:
Step 1: Calculate Your Maintenance Calories
Using our calculator, find your expected Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE); this is the average number of calories per day that you need to maintain your weight with your current activity level.
Keep in mind that this calculator (like any other calculator) will give you an estimate – if you are gaining weight at this calorie intake after 2-4 weeks of consistent tracking, then your actual TDEE is lower. If you are losing weight at this calorie intake, then your actual TDEE is higher.
Step 2: Determine Your Macro Split
Using our calculator, come up with your daily macronutrient targets for training days and non-training days. These macronutrient ratios are designed to provide you with the right balance of nutrients to optimize lean body mass while shedding body fat.
To ensure you’re on track with your macronutrient intake on training days and non-training days, use a macro tracker like MacroFactor (click to read our review) that allows you to monitor your intake.
On training days, we recommend that 30% of your calories come from protein, 40% from carbs, and 30% from fat.
On recovery (non-exercise) days, we recommend that 30% of your calories come from protein, 30% from carbs, and 40% from fat.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy to fuel activity, but on days when you’re not training your body will use fewer carbs.
Fat is your body’s primary energy source at rest, so non-training days should prioritize fats over carbs.
Related Article: How To Hit Your Macros: 12 Tips From A Nutrition Coach
Step 3: Incorporate Nutrient Timing
Nutrient timing means making sure that you are eating the right nutrients at the right times to give your body the fuel it needs to perform optimally. Your body’s needs are slightly different on training days compared to recovery days, so nutrient timing will be different on these days.
On training days it’s important to fuel yourself properly around your workouts. Your pre-workout nutrition should focus on fueling up for your workout with carbs, and your post-workout nutrition should focus on repairing muscle damage and replenishing energy stores with protein and carbs.
We recommend having half of your carbs for the day (50% of carb intake) around your training, with roughly half of that (25%) before your workout, and the other half of that (25%) after.
Protein intake should be distributed evenly over the course of the day.
On recovery days there isn’t a dramatic increase in energy needs from a workout, so there is less focus on nutrient timing other than simply spreading your protein, carb, and fat intake evenly throughout the day.
Step 4: Follow The Plan
Once you know how much and when you will be eating, based on steps 1-3, it’s time to put the plan into action. Follow the training day macros & nutrient timing principles on days that you exercise and follow the recovery day macros & distribute nutrients evenly on your rest days.
Step 5: Assess The Results
After 2-4 weeks of consistently hitting your targets, check on your progress:
- Weight: your weight should be very similar to when you started.
- Photos: compare photos in the same clothing and same poses as when you started: are your clothes fitting better than before? Do you see more muscle definition?
- Measurements: some measurements will go down as you lose body fat (your waist) and other measurements will go up as you gain muscle (your biceps).
- Body fat percentage: using calipers, a smart scale, an InBody scan, or a DEXA scan, check to see if your body fat percentage is going down.
Continue to assess progress every 2-4 weeks.
Step 6: Adjust As Needed
Based on the results from your assessment (step 5), make adjustments if needed:
- If you’re making steady progress toward your goal, keep going!
- If you’re losing weight, you will need to increase your calories and adjust your macros for your new calorie goal.
- If you’re gaining weight, you will need to decrease your calories, and adjust your macros for your new calorie goal.
- If your measurements or body fat aren’t changing, you might need to push harder in your workouts to give your body the stimulus it needs to build new muscle tissue.
- 10 Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight Counting Macros
- Is It Better To Hit Your Macros or Calories? (What’s Best)
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About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.