One question we hear all the time from people: is counting macros better than counting calories for weight loss? You’ll be happy to know that both methods work extremely well, but in this article, we’ll dive into the details and explain the differences! Let’s first start off by explaining the most important piece.
Counting Macros vs Calories
If you’re counting your macros, you’re indirectly or inadvertently counting your calories as well. This is because a macro (short for macronutrient) is a term that refers to carbohydrates, fats, and protein – the constituents of the food we consume.
- Bread, for example, is composed almost entirely of carbohydrates.
- Meat, for example, is mostly protein (as well as fat, but the amount of fat depends on the source of the meat).
- Olive oil, as a third example, is entirely fat.
Each of these macronutrients has calories, and we measure the calorie content of these per gram.
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.
- 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.
- There is actually a fourth macro that we should mention, and that is alcohol. Per gram, alcohol contains 7 calories.
Now that we’ve defined macronutrients and taken a look at the calorie content per gram, let’s dive into some real-life examples!
An Example Macro Ratio For Weight Loss
If a person’s goal is to lose weight, they might be given a calorie allowance of, for example, 1500. This would be the amount of energy (calories) this person would need to consume in order to ensure they are expending more energy during their day than they are bringing in.
We can then take these 1500 calories and break them down into the three macronutrient requirements. For example:
- Protein: 95g
- Carbs: 190g
- Fat: 40g
These macros total up to 1500 calories. If you track each macro as you log your food throughout the day and hit these targets by the day’s end, you will have consumed 1500 calories. And remember, 1500 is the number we don’t want to exceed if our goal is to lose weight.
If you want to calculate your own ideal macro ratio, head over to our macro calculator to get started.
Why Thinking About Your Macros Is Important in Weight Loss
Now, you might be thinking: if calories are all that matter for weight loss, why should we care about the macronutrient breakdown? Great question!
While it is true that hitting your calorie allowance is crucial for weight loss, we want to lose fat, not muscle. We also want to feel our best while dieting and losing weight. To achieve these goals, paying attention to the macronutrient breakdown is important.
- Protein: To ensure we spare as much muscle as possible while losing weight, we need adequate amounts of protein.
- Carbohydrates: Generally, a high amount of carbohydrates is beneficial for fueling our workouts, avoiding lethargy, and providing the body’s preferred fuel source.
- Fat: We also need adequate dietary fat for optimal cell function, hormonal function, and optimal absorption of micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals).
Counting Macros vs Calories: The Optimal Approach
So, is counting macros better than counting calories? Both methods will get you to your goal weight in the same amount of time, provided that you’re not exceeding your calorie allowance with either method.
However, if you want to be as efficient as possible, feel your best, and look your best during and after dieting, counting your macros is a more optimal approach than simply counting your calories without paying attention to where those calories are coming from.
By counting macros, you can ensure you’re meeting your protein, carbohydrate, and fat goals, which supports muscle preservation, energy levels, and overall well-being. It allows for a more balanced and holistic approach to weight loss.
At the end of the day, pick the approach that suits you best. But for the reasons mentioned in this article, we definitely recommend the macro counting method!
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