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Calculating Calories and Macros: What Should You Do?

07/06/2019
By Sam Davis, BHS, CPT, FNS

Every body is different,  and it takes quite a bit of experimenting to figure out what’s going to actually get you closer to your goals. As a coach, I find many of my clients come to me in a plateau and they wonder what the difference is between calculating calories and macros. Should they be counting calories or macros? Which is better for body composition?

The simple answer? Macros. Counting macros is most definitely better for overall body comp. A calorie is indeed just a calorie, and when you eat in a caloric deficit over an extended period of time, you will lose fat.

Ultimate Diet Hack: The Easiest Way To Calculate Your Own Macros

How to Count Macros

There are three different macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fats. Your body uses each one of these in a different way, all required in different areas of the body to make sure you can regulate hormones properly, muscle growth, and provide energy for your brain to function properly. Basically these are the nutrients your body needs to survive and function at peak ability.

Counting Calories vs Counting Macros

A calorie is just a unit of measurement for energy. When you eat one calorie you are simply giving your body one unit of energy.

However, a calorie is not a calorie when you have specific goals in mind (like having a healthy body composition). Counting macros allows you to hit your physique goals more effectively by consuming the right amount of Protein, Fats, & Carbohydrates for your body and goals.

Counting macros allows you to hit your physique goals more effectively.
Counting macros allows you to hit your physique goals more effectively (Image Credit: Unsplash)

For example, an athlete that trains for strength will eat much differently than an athlete that trains for cross country running. A strength athlete will eat a higher protein diet because they have to recover quickly and grow their muscles to perform properly. Whereas a long-distance runner will need more carbohydrates because they need the fast-acting energy the carbohydrates give them. It’s important to establish what your body composition goals and activity needs are before dividing up your calories into macros.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is when you’re eating for your health and trying to lose bad weight, it is important to eat in a deficit but to fill the calories you are allotted with the nutrients your body needs to thrive efficiently, in and out of the gym.

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