From Calorie Counting to Macro Mastery: A Seamless Transition

May 17, 2024

Ready to go from Calories to Macros?


Two of the biggest questions I get as a macro nutrition coach are: 

  1. What’s the difference between calorie counting and macro tracking? 
  2. Which is more effective, calorie counting or macro tracking?


So, let’s talk about it! 

First, calorie counting and macro tracking serve a similar purpose—to help you keep track of your nutritional intake throughout the day. However, calorie counting only considers food consumed, whereas macro tracking considers the types of foods you eat.


Think of it as the difference between shopping at a thrift shop and going to Old Navy. Both stores have a wide variety of options. However, at Old Navy, everything is organized by style, type, and size, making shopping much faster and far more efficient.


The same goes for macros. When calorie counting, you get a broad overview of everything (thrifting), but when you upgrade to macro tracking, you get a more specific view of what you’re consuming and how it impacts your body (Old Navy).


Another example?


It's like going from watching black-and-white TV to experiencing high-definition color—a whole new level of understanding and tracking your food intake. Today, we'll explore why this shift is not just trendy but also incredibly beneficial for your personal health and fitness goals.


By the end of this post, you’ll understand the important differences between calorie counting and macro tracking and uncover the many benefits of understanding and tracking macros for your personal health and fitness goals.

The Basics of Calorie Counting


Okay, so calorie counting, for those not in the loop, is basically keeping tabs on how many calories you consume each day. 


Seems simple, right? 


But here's the deal – it's not the whole picture. 


Sure, it's a decent starting point for managing your weight, but it doesn't tell you squat about the quality of those calories. Eating 500 calories of kale is a world away from downing 500 calories of donuts, both in terms of how your body uses them and how you feel afterward.


For most people, counting calories only works for so long. And as they get closer and closer to their goals, it may not be enough.

When I first started my weight loss journey, cutting down on calories was pretty effective. I was able to drop excess fat simply by eating less food, better food, and reducing my intake of things like soda, fried foods, and sugary treats.


However, as I got leaner, I realized that counting calories alone wouldn’t cut it. Not only did my weight loss slow down significantly, but I also realized that my haphazard intake wasn’t giving me the physique I wanted. I discovered I would have to be very specific about the types of foods I ate if I wanted to see specific results.


Enter macro tracking.

Understanding Macros


Now, let's talk macros! To start off,  the term macros is short for macronutrients. 


These are the big three: proteins, carbs, and fats. 


They're the MVPs of your diet, each playing a crucial role in keeping your body ticking like a well-oiled machine. Let’s explore the benefits of each one…


Proteins are like the construction workers of the body, building and repairing tissues. Protein is one of the most important macros when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. It also helps you feel fuller longer which can help you avoid over-eating.


Most women need at least 100g of protein each day so adding protein to every meal and snack is important to make sure you get enough in by the end of the day.


Carbohydrates are your body's main fuel source, keeping you energized throughout the day. Carbs have been cut out of so many modern diets and for absolutely no good reason. You need carbs for energy and fuel…and I love a good sandwich!

Choose complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole wheat bread, quinoa, and fresh fruits to get you through your day, every day. Do not sleep on carbs, my friend!


Fats are the third macro and equally important for your best health. It’s efinitely not the villain we once thought it was…eating fat won’t make you fat. In fact, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and full fat dairy can help with stuff like absorbing vitamins and regulating hormones.


Pair healthy fats in moderation with your protein and carb sources and you’ve got a macro-friendly balanced healthy meal!


Understanding macros isn't just about knowing what they are; it's about appreciating how each one contributes to your overall health and well-being. It's like having a balanced team – you need all positions filled to win the game!

Transitioning to Macro Tracking


So, you're ready to level up your nutrition game and make the switch from calorie counting to macro tracking?


Awesome…Let’s do it!


Start by figuring out your baseline macros – the amount of each macronutrient your body needs to function at its best. 




Let's break it down into easy steps:

  1. STEP ONE: We need to find your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): 
    • This is the amount of energy your body needs just to stay alive, like breathing, circulating blood, and basic bodily functions, without doing any extra activities 
    • You can calculate it using formulas like the Mifflin-St Jeor equation or the Harris-Benedict equation. These formulas use your weight, height, age, and gender to estimate your BMR.
    • Try this BMR calculator: 
  2. STEP TWO: Let’s find your maintenance calories: 
    • Your maintenance calories are your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) or the number of calories you burn in a day, including your BMR plus any extra calories burned through planned exercise
    • To find your TDEE, you multiply your BMR by an activity factor that represents how active you are throughout the day. The activity factor ranges from sedentary (little to no exercise) to very active (intense exercise or physical job).
    • Let’s take your BMR from step one and multiply it by an activity factor to get your TDEE…. BMR X activity factor
    • Activity factors typically range from:
      • Sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR x 1.2
      • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days a week): BMR x 1.375
      • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days a week): BMR x 1.55
      • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
      • Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or training twice a day): BMR x 1.9
    • TDEE Calculation Example Example:
      • Let's say your BMR is 1500 calories and you're moderately active.
      • Multiply 1500 by 1.55 (activity factor for moderately active) to get your TDEE.
      • Your TDEE = 1500 x 1.55 = 2325 calories per day.

That's it! Now you have a rough estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight based on your current activity level (not what you plan to change to). 

Using this, you can figure out a general baseline for your daily macro intake. How many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you need each day to keep you healthy and move the needle forward on your goals…whatever they may be!


These numbers may change over time (this is why hiring a coach is a helpful part of the process) but for now, knowing your TDEE, BMR, and maintenance macros is a great start.

Setting Macro Goals


Now that you've found your baseline, it's time to set some goals. 


But hold up – we're not talking about generic, one-size-fits-all goals here. Generic, computer-generated, cookie-cutter macro counts are why so many people struggle to succeed. We're talking about setting macro goals that are as unique as you are. 


Whether you're aiming to shed some pounds, bulk up, repair your hormones, improve fertility, or just feel healthier overall, your macro targets should reflect that. 


And here's the kicker – you might need to tweak those targets along the way based on how your body responds and your fitness goals at any given moment. Again, this is where hiring a coach comes in clutch!

Tools and Tips for Effective Macro Tracking


Alright, so, now you're ready to dive into macro tracking headfirst. But where do you start? 


Lucky for you, there are tons of tools and apps out there designed to make tracking your macros a breeze. 


The best part is, these apps do all the heavy lifting for you, so all you have to do is log your food and watch those macros add up. My favorite macro tracking app is MacrosFirst (code Eve10)  and the free version is great!


My best tip is to pre-log your meals (meaning start your day with a plan in mind, pre-log the meals and snacks you’re going to eat, then, stick to the plan). This should only take 10-15 minutes and once you get really good at it, that time will get shorter and shorter!


Another important tool to invest in is a good food scale. Measuring your food in grams as compared to cups can make a major difference when it comes to your overall intake. Especially if you’re wanting to lose weight.


Though it may be tempting, eyeballing portions just ain't gonna cut it when precision is key.

Navigating Common Challenges


Making the switch to macro tracking isn't always smooth sailing. You might hit some bumps along the way, like struggling to hit your protein target or dealing with cravings for your favorite carb-loaded treats. But fear not – we've got solutions aplenty! 


First, experiment with different meal types and food combos until you find what works for you. Your meals and snacks need to fit your macros but more importantly be enjoyable. If you don’t like eggs, don’t eat ‘em! Choose other protein-rich foods you love and enjoy eating. It shouldn’t be drudgery.


Also, be intentional about meal prepping. You don’t have to do it all on a Sunday. You can do two prep sessions a week (or even more if needed!) to break it up. But you’ve got to do it. Fail to plan, plan to fail!


Next, when in doubt, protein first. If you’re out and about and find yourself without your trusty meal prep or you simply didn’t have time to do it, always choose a protein-forward, meal or snack option.


Hard boiled eggs, jerky, grilled chicken on a salad, a protein bar or shake, all great, easy-to-find, easy-to-grab options. Protein first!


Or check out these macro-friendly fast food options!


And finally, always remember, progress isn't always linear. You will not lose weight overnight and some weeks it may even feel like you’re going backwards. Sustainable weight loss is slow and steady (a marathon, not a sprint). And it’s never ever perfect. 


Give yourself grace because it's normal to stumble – just pick yourself up and keep on truckin'. You’ve got this!

Beyond the Numbers


Here's the thing – while tracking macros is super important, it's not end all be all of a healthy diet. Quality matters just as much as quantity. Just because ‘it fits’ doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you.


Yea, I can make a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fit here and there (and I do!) but I always prioritize healthy, whole, macro-friendly foods first.


So while hitting your macros is great, you’ve got to make sure those macros are coming from whole, nutrient-dense foods whenever possible. Think lean proteins, colorful veggies, and healthy fats. 


Then add in the fun stuff! 


Think 80/20 - 80% healthy & whole, 20% fun for you. This way you are moving the needle forward, nourishing your body, and supporting your hormonal health without feeling restricted or miserable.

So, there you have it!


The journey from calorie counting to macro mastery in a nutshell. Fun, right?


I promise you, transitioning form calorie counting to macro tracking will make all the difference in the world…especially if you’ve been calorie counting for a long time with little results to show for it.


Remember, it's not just about what you eat; it's about understanding how it fuels your body and optimizing it for your goals. So embrace the change, roll with the punches, and get ready to crush those health and fitness goals like never before.


Macro tracking was a game-changer for me, has been a game-changer for the thousands of clients I’ve worked with over the past 8+ years, and I know it’ll be a game-changer for you too!

Next Steps


Ready to plunge into macro tracking? 


We’ve got you! Just click HERE to get my FREE How to Track Macros Guide. 


And hey, if you’re ready for high-touch coaching support, expertly calculated macros, and supportive accountability, learn more about our one-on-one macro nutrition coaching with one of our Macro University Expert Macro Coaches, we can help with that too. 


Click HERE to learn more about our one-on-one coaching program.


Together, we’ve got this!