What are the beenfits of Macro Counting vs Calorie Counting? So much has changed in the last decade or so of the health and fitness industry. Truth be told I’ve not worked in the industry for even a year, we all know this is a journey for me, but I know very well of some of the changes that have happened in mindset:
Fat’s were previously vilified and yet have now been proven and discussed as being essential to our bodies.
Carbs were seen as the devil and attributed were accused of causing weight gain, especially in excessive amounts. This has now been shown that previously ‘excessive’ amounts can now be the norm and low-carb diets really don’t assist in anyway you think it does.
Now there’s the significant change of people counting calories moving towards now counting macros, that is – the amount of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates in your diet.
As the days and years go by new research is discovered about nutrition and how it specifically affects our bodies, and so it’s understandable how when we understand the specifics of nutrition then we can really influence the direction we want it to go.
Here I’ll discuss the benefits of counting macros and why you might think to give it a shot, but also show you how calorie counting comes into play as well.
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I had lunch a bit later today so I made it a bit smaller in order to not be full for a snack pre workout. # Here I had a protein bagel with ham, peanut butter and kale, love making sandwiches myself as I can proper deep fill it and make it tasty! Peanut putter is the BOMB!
Calories and macros go together hand:
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Straight away you can see how a calorie-controlled diet can severely differ from one dictated by the amount of macros. For instance, 2000 calories can come from consuming purely 500g of carbs (2000/4 = 500). It could also come from 250g protein and 250g carbs (1000 + 1000 calories). If you EVEN wanted you could eat purely 222g of fat ALL day, and you’d eat 2000 calories (2000/9 = 222g).
The opposite side of the story is also appropriate. If you knew you could trigger certain bodily responses by fine tuning the amount of certain macros in your diet you can structure your diet around those macros. A specific 2000 calorie diet for a female looking to build muscle and lose fat could be 160g Protein, 88g Fat and 140g Carbs. This is a fictional person and not something you should just try, but this also equals pretty much 2000 calories, with rounding.
So you’re asking WHY is it beneficial to consider the Macro approach?
We’ve said our bodies are so fine tuned but do you know HOW much? For instance, when you consume carbohydrates you trigger an insulin hormone response, the intensity of which is dictated by your ability to digest that carbohydrate. A diabetic individual will digest it differently to a non-diabetic, as well as between two perfectly healthy individuals. This insulin response, if occurring, will then crash and then result in a following bout of hunger – your body’s way of trying to influence ingesting MORE carbohydrates in order to restore normal hormone levels.
Not only do specific amounts of carbohydrate influence hunger but macros also dictate your level of performance and recovery in sport and general life. Your digestion is massively influenced by the amount of protein, fat and carbs running through your body. An example being eating too much protein: Too much running through your intestines will throw it off-whack, either racing through your system and not being digested in any way, or slowing digestion down completely say if too much fibre is being consumed. Either way, your body is a very specific thing – you’re UNIQUE. It’s completely understandable how your body will respond better to certain amounts of carbohydrates, fat and protein…
Trial and error is a wonderful thing. By experimenting and measuring your body’s response to specific amounts of macros, we can really assess whether that amount of carbohydrate really DID assist your workout, or whether that specific amount of daily fat really DID help keep balanced energy levels all day. Trial and error can be the difference between knowingly adding a few more carbs to sit in a calorie surplus and finally start driving muscle building.
A calorie controlled diet is, admittedly, a very simple one in contrast to counting macros. All you want to do is eat more or less calories than you burn in order to put on or lose weight respectively. Eating more calories than you burn quite simply will add weight. Eating less calories than you burn will drive weight loss, either from loss of fat OR muscle. You can see from the previous calculations how you have close to zero control or knowledge what the individual macros are doing towards your body. The hormonal differences every day may differ due to eating different macros every day, there’s no true hormonal baseline to work on as opposed to a specific macro approach.
I certainly believe following a calorie-based diet is very effective for driving one or two of those options of building muscle or losing fat, but sadly you remove the fine-tuning dials that macro-counting can influence in your body. I definitely believe that if you’re a beginner looking to influence either of these options in a basic state that this is a perfect entry point to starting weight loss or weight gain, what that weight exactly is is not specific… You need to be careful too, following a calorie based diet you may become trapped in the cycle of fixation – chasing the calories and potentially driving them lower and lower when weight loss slows down – you only have one dial to turn as opposed to a multitude of potential tools that come in the macro box.
The truth about fat loss though is that it isn’t linear though – it doesn’t follow a constantly decreasing or increasing path. Our hormones fluctuate as do the stresses in our life. These changes influence weight on the scale and there are certain times when eating a big surplus can at times occur with a weight decrease the next day and vice versa, it may go up the next morning after eating naff all the day before. I don’t want to get too complex here, so I’ve literally wrote that down and will come back to that in an article some time soon! 🙂
The point I’m trying to drive home is that both macro counting and calorie counting are a patient game. BOTH require discipline and time in order to make good changes and not drastic ones in an attempt to chase the scale or dream physique.
BOTH require discipline and time in order to make good changes…
I could go on and on, and on, and ON about the benefits of macro counting vs calorie counting, but instead I want to keep it brief and outline the basics first… 🙂
Choose macro-counting if you believe you have the discipline and patience to drive certain goals as it gives you a swiss army knife of options and tools to drive both performance and physique goals. It requires a degree of trial and error on your part, or a coaches, but you can amplify the results quicker AND faster than via a calorie-controlled approach.
Choose calorie-counting if you’re either new to the nutrition world and fancy a dabble, or just want a simple option when choosing to lose or gain weight. You can’t expect specific changes, however, when you don’t MAKE the specific changes and calorie counting is not quite specific but very easy. Simply eat more or else than you burn.
Whatever you do though, choose a good nutrition approach and choose what’s right for YOU!