min read
November 17, 2022

A Guide To Tracking Macros

Why do we track macros, particularly protein, and not just calories?

The reason is that we see WAY better results that way and biofeedback (hunger, hormones, recovery…) is much better too.

Calories are the determining factor for whether weight goes up or down.

Macros determine where that weight comes from (fat or lean body mass) and how well our body runs when there is a shortage of certain things due to the calorie deficit.

The problem is that while finding out where your macros should be can actually be pretty simple, counting macros and making meals out of them can be a pain.

But in our opinion it greats easier and easier, it’s well worth doing and with this blog we aim to simplify the process a bit for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. The Problem With Macro Counting
  2. The Importance of Consistency When You Count
  3. Macro Counting Recommendations
  4. Using Flexible Macronutrient Targets for Easier Weight Loss
  5. How To Make Meal Plans Out of Your Macros
  6. How To Count Macros When Eating Out
  7. Macro Counting FAQ


Before we begin, I’d like to point out that I don’t believe the overweight or obese, general population should try to count their macros as the first step to getting healthier.

There are much easier-to-implement lifestyle changes most people can and should make to get results.

(Eating more vegetables and protein, reducing highly processed things, getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol, getting sufficient sleep, etc.)

However, past a certain point, counting calories and macros is a great catalyst to drive further change from a place of knowledge and education.

But the majority of people do not think about the nutrition labels on foods until they attempt to do so. And when they do, it can be overwhelming.

Let’s say you’ve just calculated your calorie and macro target. Now what? How do you best hit these new targets?

If you walk into the supermarket and look at the nutrition panels of foods that is a great step to learn, but unfortunately especially many of the foods we should be eating more of don’t have a label (like fresh veggies). You might be thinking “Can someone just give me a meal plan?”. But the truth is you’d be bored with that after a month and you still wouldn’t know what your portions should look like, what’s actually in your food and how to fit in your favorite foods in moderation…

You could start from here

  1. Start by just logging everything you are currently eating without aiming for specific targets.
  2. Then use simplified rules to help make building meals you love easier, and rotate them across the week.

We actually often even see some progress by simply recording what you are currently eating.

Why? Because it brings awareness to people and people realize what they may not have been accounting for.

Here are some common things people forget to count:

  • The 40 g of fat in your salad dressing. (350 kcal)
  • The two large glasses of wine you have every night. (250 kcal)
  • The 30 g of butter that was used to cook your steak at the restaurant and the sauce to go with it (270 kcal)
  • The calories from milky coffee, soda, alcohol and fruit juices.


It’s important to acknowledge that no matter how accurate we attempt to be with how we count our calorie and macro intake, we will never be perfect — there are food labelling errors and the estimations built into the nutrition calculators we use and that is okay.

It’s not meant to get obsessive. But it is a great educational tool.

What is more important than trying to get it perfect though, is consistency (like with everything else).

It is better you log everything roughly every day and all the time, than tracking 5 days of the week and then skipping the weekend.

Keep that in mind and move away from the classic all or nothing thinking.

Nonetheless, here a few pointers to help you get more accurate without any added effort.

RAW vs Cooked 

You should pay attention to this, because water is gained or lost through the cooking process. If you cook a steak for too long, it loses water and weighs less. The fat and protein content is the same, but it weighs less. Similarly, if you cook rice or pasta for too long, it goes mushy because it holds more water and weighs more. Therefore, it is most accurate if you weigh your food before you cook it. However, we are well aware that this is not always practical. Therefore, it’s absolutely okay to track your food cooked from time to time, just make sure you LOG IT THE WAY YOU WEIGH IT. Meaning, if you place something on the scale cooked, search for it in the data bank as “rice cooked”.

A few side notes:

  • It can be helpful to avoid smoothies and fruit juice when dieting. They have all the sugar, but none of the fiber, so they are easy to consume but not very filling.
  • If you come across something labeled as “net carbs”, it is recommended you ignore it. It’s labelling trickery. Count all the carbs as carbs (net carbs means total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols).
  • The fat content in some protein sources can quickly add up, so I would recommend you look up the fat content for all. Some cuts of meats have vastly higher fat content than others. This can push you over your fat macro budget for the day very quickly.
  • The trade-off to drinking our food is that it is less satisfying, more easily digested, and we get hungry quicker than if it were eating regular food. Avoid liquid food when dieting. But for those bulking and struggling to get in enough calories to hit your targets, liquid foods like protein shakes or fruit juices can be helpful. On that note, if you do drink some calories, it might be helpful to know…


1 g Alcohol = ~7 kcal

Alcohol isn’t part of your three macro targets, it is neither carb, nor fat or protein, it is something called ethanol.

But it is going to count towards the daily calorie balance, which needs to be maintained, so reduce your carb and fat intake accordingly, and as long as you stay within your calories and hit your protein goal you are good.

And don’t forget, as mentioned above, alcohol will likely leave you feeling hungrier than if you ate the equivalent of calories through food…


Ok, so let’s assume you have figured out your calorie target (through a calculator or by monitoring your average intake) and you have set your protein goal at 0.8-1.2g per pound of body weight (if you want to learn more about the ideal protein level, check out our blog HERE). 

This is the most important part. If you stopped right there and always ensured you were onto your calorie and protein target you would already be very successful.

Nonetheless, addressing carbs and fats can be that extra step to help with energy, sleep, performance, muscle growth and hormones. Where your exact carb and fat targets fall depends on your activity level, hormone health and personal preference. Generally speaking, you should keep your fats at least at 25% of total calorie intake (you can read more about the importance of healthy fats HERE) and you can fill up the rest with carbs (of bring fats substantially higher if you are working on improving hormone health or are going through menopause etc).

Once you have set the targets in your tracking app, address the question of how accurate you feel like you can be.

I’d recommend that you aim to be within 10% either side of each macro target for the day, 90% of the time. (As long as the other 10% of the time you aren’t abusing it by binge eating.)

For those who are already sub-10% body fat and destined for the stage, tighten this up to 5% either side. For those of you only getting started, as I mentioned, protein and calories alone might be sufficient.

As you work on tightening up that accuracy, keep in mind that much as you think your diet may be varied, the foods that you actually cook and eat are often largely the same which will immensely speed the logging process up from day to day.

Initially or in a dieting phase, it is also helpful to enter what you are GOING TO EAT into your tracker ahead of time. This will prevent you from ‘running out’ of macros midday!

As you start out, you also want to keep things as simple for yourself as you can. It often pays off having 2-3 staple meals for your breakfasts, lunches and snacks and then keeping a bit more variety in your dinners or weekend meals if as you fancy.


We know that being perfect isn’t the goal, but trying to stay consistent when eating out can be a challenge, too.

Bear in mind that restaurants don’t care about your macros, and the chef usually wants you to enjoy delicious food so you recommend them and come back often. This means that restaurants tend to serve large portions and have a lot of hidden (but delicious fats). The average restaurant meal is high in calories.

You can still enjoy meals out whilst maintaining progress, you just have to be smart:

  • Try to replicate what you created at home as much as possible. Visual memory should help here with portion sizes, choices, etc… Use your hands to estimate!
  • If you are trying to keep calories low, it might be a good idea to exaggerate the numbers in the meal in front of you, especially the fat count.
  • Adjust the rest of the day around this event. Aim to get your protein in early in the day so you can be a bit more relaxed when going out. Careful though, making this a daily occurrence will most likely have an impact on your progress. Keep that in mind.

“This is all great, but how do I count macros on things like burgers, pizza, etc…? Should I even bother?”

Excellent question. Here’s another example:


Just like we have done at home, all we have to do is break it down into smaller steps.

The more you cook at home, the more you’ll learn about these things, and the easier it will be to estimate them for you.

  • Look at the menu. A burger is simply meat, bread, cheese and whatever condiments the restaurant chose to make it tasty. With that in mind, our first step is to try and learn the quantities that the restaurant serves. This can be easily done by paying attention to the menu in front of your eyes, it usually states the weight of the meat and a list of the ingredients used to create your burger.
  • Use your simplified rules. If you see “150g of pure Angus beef” on the menu, create a rule for yourself on how much fat content that type of meat has. Once you have created that rule, use it everywhere you go, it will keep things simpler and will help you stay consistent.
  • Choose wisely. Ask for sauces to be served separately so you can control how much you add. They are usually mayo-based, so go with the macros of mayonnaise here.
  • Add it all together. If you are in a dieting phase and want to be on the safe side, overestimate the fat macros by 5-10%. Again, be consistent here; remember that this is not a daily occurrence, so we are trying to make things as simple as possible.
  • You can also use a restaurant log such as “Cheeseburger with bacon and mayo” instead of logging the individual meal items. However, this is likely a bit less accurate since the size of a burger can vary a lot depending on the restaurant!


What is a macro?

Macros refer to the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Calorie intake determines whether weight is gained or lost, but the macronutrient content of the calories you eat has a significant effect on whether that change is fat or muscle mass, how you feel, perform, and how easy your nutrition plan is to stick to. 

What to eat when counting macros, i.e. flexible dieting?

Your diet should be high in vegetables, have sufficient protein, some fruit, starches, grains, nuts, seeds, and be predominantly fresh and unprocessed foods. It is the same as any other “healthy” diet; the difference is that people have daily carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake targets which affect the specific food choices. This guide is here to teach you how to build meals out of your macros.

What should I do if I can’t count macros?

It’s possible to get shredded without counting anything if you are prepared to repeat the same meal combinations. Here’s how it could be done:

• Cook most of your meals at home. Be sure you are consuming protein at each meal.

• Create a schedule based on your meal preference and stick to it.

• Track your body measurements and ensure your data is moving downwards.

• If you need to make a reduction, just remove a fist-sized portion of carbohydrates from your food each day. This should keep the scale moving in the right direction.

• Each time the fat loss stalls, remove another half-fist of carbohydrates or tsp of oil from your meals. Do this as few times as you can, though, so that you’re eating as much as possible while still losing fat.

Using this method, technically your fat intake will remain pretty much unchanged throughout your cut, which isn’t optimal – carbs are important to fuel your training.

Note though how this approach does not allow for much flexibility and hence is not sustainable for most.

Are large swings in calorie intake day to day fine if they lead to the same average intake over time?

No. The bodyweight change would be the same in both situations, however, this isn’t optimal for workout recovery or nutrient partitioning. This is why binge-starve cycles don’t lead to ripped physiques.


So to bring it back to baseline - we are of the opinion that not only tracking calories, but particularly protein is of high importance when it comes to achieving body composition goals. Most of the time, you don’t need to be super diligent when it comes to hitting carbs and fats, but if you want to optimize sleep, performance, energy levels etc. it can be helpful to keep them in somewhat of a range.

If you have any questions about this macro counting guide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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