Should I count calories? Calorie counting vs. macro counting vs. not counting

calorie counting vs. macro counting - a beginners guide!

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If you are on a health and fitness journey, you have probably wondered about counting calories. There has been a lot of recent talk about macros in the health community, and many wonder the differences between calorie counting vs. macro counting. Please keep in mind that this is just my opinion and what has worked best for me. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. I always advise doing a little trial and error and figuring out what works best for your personal heath and fitness journey.

Calorie counting vs. macro counting

In my opinion, if you’re brand new to eating healthy, brand new to fitness, you should be counting something. Why? You need to know where you’re at right now. If you aren’t used to tracking your intake, you may be eating either too much or too little. It is important not to overeat, but under-eating can be just as detrimental to your health. Your body needs fuel! I recommend using an app like MyFitnessPal to track your food intake for at least the first couple of months. Once you’ve been doing this for a while, you can figure out what works best for your body and your goals. You don’t have to track forever, but it’s a good starting point. Another thing that I love about MyFitnessPal is that it connects to my FitBit. I manually enter gym workouts, but I let my Fitbit track my steps for the day and it syncs directly to the MyFitnessPal app.

The amount of calories or macro percentage is going to be based on several things. Using an app like MyFitnessPal or throwing your info in a macro calculator can give you a good place to start. If you are very sedentary, a lower carbohydrate approach is a good place to start. If you are active and do a lot of anaerobic activity, you are going to need more calories and more carbohydrates than an inactive person. Again, using a calculator is just a baseline and some tweaking may be required, but it is a great place to start.

What are macros?

When I refer to macros, I am talking about the macro-nutrients that make up your food. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your body needs all three of these macro-nutrients. I am going to say it again, your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Following an ultra-low calorie, ultra-low carb, or ultra-low fat diet are not good for your body in the long term. Some people do well on a lower carbohydrate diet. The key to a successful low-carb diet is making sure the replace the carbohydrates by including more dietary fat. Fat is absolutely essential in a healthy diet. It is important to pick healthy fats rather than processed junk. My favorite forms of healthy fats come from nuts and nutbutters, healthy oils like olive oil or coconut oil, and foods like avocados.

I am not advocating following a strict macro counting diet.  All that I am saying is that eating a diet of 90% carbohydrates isn’t healthy, even if you’re eating a reasonable amount of calories during the day. I recommend that at least 20-25% of your daily calories come from protein. Beyond that, you will need to play with your fat and carbohydrate ratios and see what works for you. Again, start with lower carbohydrates if you are less active and go from there.

Calorie counting vs. macro counting. What should you do? A beginners guide of where to start on a healthy eating journey.

Help! I am still confused.

If you’re still lost, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment. I’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have! The best way to start is using an app to track your intake, it might surprise you! Make sure that you’re eating enough – but not overeating, make good choices with your food, and get some exercise. The small changes really do make a difference!

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  1. Hi I have been calorie counting for awhile i am at 1360 calories I like to go on long walks when I have time I work 2 part time jobs I burn a lot of calories when I walk and work in the same day but 1360 calories with very little bread or starch to me is a lot of food I am not left hungry or dissatisfied I eat 6x a day small meals but everywhere I turn it says I am not eating enough I am 144lbs trying to get to 130lbs. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Hey Angela!

      I’m not an expert, but it does sound like you may not be eating enough. If you get a lot of exercise, you do need more calories to keep your body out of starvation mode. There are several other factors, such as hormones, that can play a role in your body being resistant to weight loss. If you’ve tried everything, I recommend chatting with your doctor to see if a hormone issue could be causing the problem. However, I’d try eating a bit more for sure! 1300 sounds quite low if you’re active.

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