Counting Calories vs. Counting Macros

There’s a misconception that eating healthy is all about calories in – calories out. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Your total number of daily calories is only the baseline number that tells you how many macronutrients you need to eat. But what does that mean exactly? We asked Fitmark Ambassador Megan Rigby for her expert advice.

Counting Calories vs. Macros

Fitmark Ambassador: Megan Rigby aka The Macro Mini
Lifestyle: Pediatric GI Nurse Practitioner, Nutrition Consulting, Fitness Athlete, Pro Physiques Director & Online Trainer
Fitmark Meal Bags: the Envoy Backpack

As a nurse practitioner with a speciality in family obesity, Megan works with families in the treatment and prevention of underweight and overweight children, helping them to improve their overall health.

Her medical background, nutrition training and knowledge as a fitness athlete has a huge impact on her online training and the nutritional programs she offers. Here’s what Megan told us about counting macros vs. counting calories:

Macro Counting for Beginners

Let’s first start with the different macros and how they convert to calories:

  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram. If something has 10g of protein, it contains 40 calories
  • Fats contain 9 calories per gram. If something has 10g of fat, it contains 90 calories.
  • Carbs contain 4 calories per gram. If something has 20 of carbs, it contains 80 calories

DONT FORGET…….Alcohol contains 7cal/gram

As you can see every gram of protein, carbs or fat converts into a calorie. Even with macro-counting you will get an end calorie count, but that’s just the surface number. The macro numbers delve deeper and determine the body’s true needs.

Start Tracking Your Food

As a beginner, I recommend finding a good app for tracking food. I use
Before you can figure out your ideal numbers, you must first track their food for a week.

DO not change your eating habits. Give yourself a real-life view of what you eat.

From here you can either find a macro coach like me – or search for a macros calculator online. Based on your current weight and fitness goals, a macro calculator will help give you a starting goal of how to divide your macronutrients and how many calories you should consume a day.

Compare this to your original eating patterns that you tracked earlier. This will tell you if you are undereating or overeating for your body type. To fully understand how macronutrients help the body, there are many eBooks out there that you might find helpful.

Create a Menu Plan

This is the next important step. Use your calculated numbers and macro split to plan your foods for the day ahead. Mapping out your foods the night before or in the morning will help give structure to your new macro diet, making it easier to follow. Without a plan leading into the day, it’s very easy to get lost and overeat.

Envoy Backpack

Top Meal Prep Tips From The Macro Mini

  1. A great way to add variety to meals is to come up with a few ideas and then make a shopping list. Do it on the weekend to set yourself up for the week ahead.
  2. Go shopping for only the foods you need. Keep extras out of the house to prevent side-track eating.
  3. Food prep and portion out meals every Sunday.
  4. To give yourself grab-and-go options, pre-package some meals ahead of time and use a sharpie to write down the MACROS – Protein/Carbs/Fat – according to your numbers.
  5. Use the search function to find the macronutrient breakdown of any food in
  6. Initially try to keep foods and meals simple before jumping into complex recipes.

Here’s an example of a daily menu plan:

Breakfast – eggs, Kashi waffles and bacon
Snack- yogurt and almonds
Lunch – sandwich with lunch meat, fruit and cheese
Snack – protein bar
Dinner – ground turkey, pasta sauce and zoodles or pasta

All of these food items are very easy to measure and track. You can scan the specific product and enter it into Myfitnesspal in the morning or plan and prep over the weekend.

For more meal prep tips and diet and fitness advice, you can follow Fitmark Ambassador Megan Rigby on Instagram @macro_mini

Sport Your Lifestyle
The Fitmark Team


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