The most common form of dieting has long been calorie counting. However, the practice of counting macros, primarily used by bodybuilders and competition circles, has come more to the forefront.
If you’re just starting out on your health, nutrition and fitness journey, deciding whether you should count calories, macros or anything at all can be a little bit confusing so we thought we’d look at both sides for you! But first, let’s go back to basics with a couple of definitions…
What are calories?
Put simply, a calorie is a unit of energy which can be derived from any food source, whether fats, proteins, carbohydrates or sugars. The daily recommended calorific intake to maintain weight is 2500 for a man and 2000 for a woman.
What are macros?
Macros, (short for macronutrients) are the three basic components required for any diet: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. A healthy balanced diet requires specific amounts of each macro for distinct bodily functions. The amount of macros a person should be consuming in order to lose weight is calculated based on age, weight and gender.
Soooo, what’s the difference between the two?
Calorie counting involves having a set calorie goal each day that is typically a calorie deficit, which means less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. It’s an easy, one-step system… determine the number of calories you need to eat per day and simply keep track of the food you eat in order to meet this goal by the end of the day.
The general guidelines for determining the number of calories you should be consuming to lose weight is based on your age, weight and the average amount of daily physical activity.
So, what’s the benefit of calorie counting over macros counting?
A key difference between macro and calorie counting is that the latter is much easier. Today, almost all food labels specify exactly how many calories are contained in a serving and are increasingly becoming displayed on restaurant menus. Numerous websites and apps have been created to generate calorie data for users as well as help keep track of daily food and exercise, the most popular of these being MyFitnessPal. This app is free and can be accessed through all computers and smartphones.
Okkkkkk, and are there any drawbacks to calorie counting?
A key issue with calorie counting is that it doesn’t take into account exactly what you’re eating. For example, if you’re on a diet which requires you to eat 1800 calories a day, you may be eating meals which are high in saturated fat (fast food for example), and still reaching your recommended daily calorie intake. As such, although you may be reaching your daily calorie intake target, you may be doing so eating the wrong foods!
Calorie counting has long been the staple measurement and monitoring technique for those looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. Straightforward and easy to calculate, calorie counting has remained unchallenged in the mainstream health and fitness world over the past few decades, until the recent emergence of macronutrient counting.
Macro-nutrients are made up of three parts: proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Counting macros is typically split 40/40/20 concept – 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. The amount of macros a person should be consuming in order to lose weight is calculated based on age, weight and gender. This amount is converted into grams.
So, why should I count macros if counting calories is easier?
With macronutrient counting, you know exactly what’s going into your body, so you know that you’re getting the right amount of all proteins, carbs and fats to meet your specific goals. This is particularly beneficial if you have a specific weight/fitness goal in mind.
And is it as simple as calorie counting?
Macro counting is known to be time consuming! If you’re counting macros yourself, this requires you to measure each component of your meal individually to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of proteins, carbs and fats. For someone who is new to dieting, this can be a daunting task, whilst for even the most experienced and dedicated fitness fans, this may become a little too tedious.
Counting calories vs counting macros – which one wins?
Having compared both calorie and macro counting, to determine which is best suited for a person depends on the individual and their lifestyle. For someone who leads a busy lifestyle, being constantly on the go, needing to weigh out each component of every meal is not at all convenient.
At 80/20 Health Bar and Kitchen, all your macro breakdown and calorie content have been pre-prepared for you in both the dishes on our restaurant menu and in our frozen meal service.
In addition to this, all dishes in our frozen meals are MyFitnessPal ready with their own unique barcode, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your health and fitness journey!