The Most Effective Way to Calculate Calories When Releasing and Tightening Muscles

There are two types of assessments and adjustments that are needed to successfully release and tighten.

The first involves evaluating your initial calorie calculations and adjusting them if you need to. I will cover this for both bulking and cutting in this article.

The latter is the ongoing adjustments needed to continue making progress. You can see more in How to Adjust Calories and Macros when exercising to lose weight.

The most important advice I can give is to wait patiently before evaluating your initial calculations. You have to wait long enough for a trendline in weighting data to develop, otherwise, you are just guessing

Calculate to adjust your initial calorie intake when tightening

The first week of the diet can be super exciting, but then the reality begins. The blue line is how you can expect your body weight data to look like:

Body weight changes at the start of a cut can be confusing, even when plotting a weekly average.

The initial large drop you see is due to the loss of food, water, and glycogen stores. — Eating less food means lower average intestinal content. Your carb intake will be lower, which means your glycogen stores (and therefore water) will be lower.

Then your first week’s data will be pretty useless. Data from the second week onwards starts to become useful, but it takes several weeks to gauge the trend.

Also, if you’re new to calorie counting and macros, you might make some mistakes during the first week or two, which will add noise to your data.

Women need to wait four weeks for them to compare at the same time in their monthly cycle.

For this reason, I recommend always omitting the first or second week’s data before attempting to gauge your progress.

Find a way to adjust the initial calorie intake appropriately when tightening muscle

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Let’s say you are aiming to lose 0.5kg per week and your weight data is as follows:

Initial weight 72kg
After week 1 70kg
After week 2 69.5kg
After week 3 68.4kg
After week 4 67.9kg

The rate of weight change will equalize after the first week, so discard that first data point.

Looking from the end of the first week to the end of the fourth week, it is clear that you are losing an average of 0.5kg per week. Since this aligns with your goals, no adjustments are needed.

This also means that of the 2kg you lost in the first week, 2kg can be explained by changes in the amount of food in the intestines, water and glycogen. You can expect to get these back when you gain weight or take a break from dieting.

The expected trend only becomes apparent if you give it time.

But let’s say your rate of weight change is higher or lower than your goal. How will you adjust?

Well, we know that we need a deficit of about 500 calories daily to lose 0.5kg of fat, so here is the formula we can use:

Daily Calorie Adjustment = (Actual Weight Loss Rate – Target Weight Loss Rate) x 500

  • If your weight loss rate is 0.2kg slower than your goal, you need to subtract 200 kcal per day.
  • If your weight loss rate is 0.2kg faster than your target, you need to add 200kcal per day.

(Water fluctuations occur with hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle. For this reason, I advise women to wait another week so they can compare their weight data. I am at the same time in my monthly cycle without losing weight in the first week)

So now the next question is, “How should I change the macro to achieve these calorie changes?”

If you’re going to ask this question, you’re in the right direction.

How to choose a macro to adjust calories when tightening

We wanted to choose the least impactful way to reduce calories from our diet. Recall from my nutrition setup guidelines the broad function of the three macronutrients:

  • Protein is important for feeling full and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Carb intake is important for maintaining the quality of a workout.
  • Fat intake is important for hormonal function and to keep your diet from getting boring.

You might think that the most important of the three is protein, right?. Unless you’ve set your protein intake higher than I’ve suggested, I recommend keeping your protein intake the same and cutting calories from a combination of carbs and fat.

Reduce your calorie intake by this ratio when tightening.
Reduce your calorie intake by this ratio when tightening.

If you’re following my macro picking guidelines, you’ll almost always have more room to cut carbs than fat.

Therefore, I recommend reducing calories that come from somewhere between 1:1 and 2:1 ratios of carb and fat calories respectively.

Keeping in mind that 1g of carbs contains 4 calories and 1g of fat is 9 calories, here’s a quick reference on how to reduce calories differently.

An example of macro adjustment according to the amount of Calories when tightening

Calories change

(calorie unit)

Chia Macro


Extra Carbs


Only Fat Only carbs
~100 C: 15g – F: 5g 10g 25g
~150 C: 15g – F: 10g C: 25g – F: 5g 15g 40g
~200 C: 25g – F: 10g C: 40g – F: 5g 20g 50g
~250 C: 30g – F: 15g C: 40g – F: 10g 30g 60g
~300 C: 40g – F: 15g C: 50g – F: 10g 35g 75g
~350 C: 40g – F: 20g C: 55g – F: 15g 40g 90g

Note: I always round off daily macro goals to the nearest 5g.

So, if you need to reduce your calorie intake by ~250 calories, I recommend achieving this by reducing 30g carbs and 15g fat or 40g carbs and 10g fat per day.

If you need to increase your calorie intake by ~200 calories, I recommend 25g carbs and 10g fat, or 40g carbs and 5g fat per day.

If you cycle your macros as you decrease (or increase) calories, feel free to adjust your macros on training and rest days independently.

So, if you need to lose ~250 kcal of calories, you can achieve this by reducing 30g carbs and 15g fat on rest days, and 40g carbs and 10g fat on workout day.

What do you need to do if you do Macro rotation?

Calories and macros rotate on higher-carb, lower-fat workout days; On days off, there are fewer calories from carbs and more calories from fat.

You can set up your diet to have more calories on some days than on others. This is sometimes called calorie rotation. Since you can’t calculate rotational calories without changing the macro, it is often referred to as a macro rotation.

  • If you feel that the Rotation Macro unnecessarily complicates your diet and you find it harder to stick to, I recommend avoiding it.
  • If the Rotation Macro breaks the monotony of the diet and thus makes it easier for you to stick to it, then I suggest you take that into consideration.

The simplest and most common way to cycle macros is to adjust carb intake. — For example, if you have a four-day training week, instead of consuming 200g per day, you can consume 275g on training days and 100g on rest days.

You can also choose to fluctuate your fat intake and this is what I often do with clients. But this is because the clients I work with have experienced counting their calories and macros, and appreciate variety in their diets.

Calculation of initial calorie adjustment when Muscle Release

We’re going to do roughly the opposite of what I wrote in the Squeeze section above. But there are some differences you need to pay attention to.

Changes in body weight at the start of a muscle release can also be confusing.

Your body weight data (indicated by the blue line) will look almost the opposite of what it did when starting to squeeze.

However, this trend may take longer to become apparent as your target rate of weight gain may be lower than your target rate of weight loss.

(Keep in mind that the recommended rate of weight loss is typically 0.5-1% per week; the recommended rate of weight gain is 0.5-2% of body weight per month.)

Again, the first week’s data will be pretty useless, and the second week can be too if you’re restricting your carb intake and because your glycogen stores will take a while to fill up.

This means you should wait six or seven weeks before making any adjustments to your batch calculations.

Yep, you didn’t read it wrong!

I sometimes make changes earlier than this to clients, but I have a lot of experience spotting trends in data. And you are not. Premature tuning increases data noise and makes your data harder to interpret. Please be patient.

See more: What is the best thing to eat to lose muscle?

Find a way to adjust the initial calorie intake appropriately when losing muscle

Let’s say you’re aiming to gain 340g per week (~1.5% of body weight per month) and your weight data looks like this:

Initial balance 72.5kg
End of week 1 74.8kg
End of week 2 76.6kg
End of week 3 76.8kg
End of week 4 77.1kg
End of week 5 77.2kg
End of week 6 77.5kg
End of week 7 77.7 kg

It is clear that the rate of weight change will increase steadily by the end of the second week on, so discard the first two weeks when you have glycogen, water and gut levels that mess up the data.

From the end of the second week to the end of the seventh week, you gained 1kg, which means you gained an average of 0.25kg per week. This is a 1kg per month rate, which is slower than your goal. You need to make an adjustment. But how?

It takes about ~2500 calories to build 0.45kg of muscle and ~3500 calories to burn or store 0.45kg of fat.

While some of these people do better than others, on average, I see clients gain fat and muscle in a 1:1 ratio during the lean phase. So if we take this as an assumption and also assume a month has 30 days, then we will need 100 calories of excess calories daily to gain 0.1kg of weight per month.

However, there is an increase in energy expenditure from NEAT whenever we increase our calorie intake. We can’t predict how this will happen, but we know it’s going to happen to some extent and I’d recommend adding 50% to solve it instead of postponing everything. things unnecessarily.

This gives us the following information:

To gain 1kg of weight per month, add 330 calories per day.

Choose which macro to adjust when exhausting

When it comes to muscle tightening, our concern is to reduce the macros in a way that is least damaging to the quality of our workouts and our ability to maintain muscle mass.

When it comes to muscle loss, our focus turns to optimizing for muscle growth without gaining too much fat.

Muscle doesn’t grow so fast even if you gain more protein. Therefore, like cutting, the calorie adjustment will come from adjusting the carb and fat intake.

Add your calories in this proportion as you gain muscle.
Add your calories in this proportion as you gain muscle.

I recommend keeping your fat intake within 20-30% of your total daily calories when building muscle. To maintain this, I recommend increasing your calorie intake by increasing your carb and fat intake somewhere between 3:1 and 2:1, respectively.

Here is a revised reference table for different ways to increase calories:

Calories change

(Calories unit)

Extra Carbs


Chia macro Only Fat Only Carbs
~100 C: 25g – F: 0g C: 15g – F: 5g 10g 25g
~150 C: 25g – F: 5g C: 15g – F: 10g 15g 40g
~200 C: 40g – F: 5g C: 25g – F: 10g 20g 50g
~250 C: 40g – F: 10g C: 30g – F: 15g 25g 60g
~300 C: 50g – F: 10g C: 40g – F: 15g 30g 75g
~350 C: 50g – F: 10g C: 40g – F: 20g 35g 90g
~400 C: 65g – F: 15g C: 55g – G: 20g 40g 100g
~450 C: 80g – F: 15g C: 55g – F: 25g 45g 110g
~500 C: 90g – G: 15g C: 70g – F: 25g 50g 125g

If you need to increase your calorie intake to ~150 calories, I recommend achieving this by adding an extra 25g of carbs and 5g of fat per day.

If you cycle your calories and macro consumption, tailor your workout and rest days to the same amount of calories, but feel free to choose different macro adjustments to achieve that goal.

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