A common misconception when people are trying to lose weight is that they have to count calories. They think they can eat anything they want as long as it fits into their caloric deficit calculation for the day. But, that’s not entirely true. Most of the time, when people only count calories, their bodies are still missing a ton of nutrients to support their weight loss or maybe weight gain, goals. Let’s take a more in-depth look.
What Are Calories and Macros?
All food is measured in calories. A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy.
When you eat a calorie, you are giving your body a unit of energy. We all need the energy to survive and, therefore, require calories. Age, weight, and height are some of the determining factors regarding how many calories you should intake daily.
Calories are significant for normal body functions. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories that the body needs to stay functioning at rest. Even sitting and watching TV requires calories because your body is always using energy.
Macronutrients are also commonly referred to as macros. There are three types of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The body needs all three for different reasons. You cannot use one macronutrient as a substitute for another.
Carbs are the best source of energy for the body. Carbs such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, starches, and sugar, are beneficial. The body breaks them down into glucose, which is a driving force for some body processes.
One gram of carbs contains four calories. Carbs are used as energy for the body. Too many carbs are stored as body fat for later use when you have exhausted your carb supply.
Your body requires protein. In the same way that carbs are broke down into glucose, protein is broke down into amino acids. Amino acids are essential proteins that assist necessary functions, including repairing muscle tissue, transcribing DNA, and creating digestive enzymes.
Just like carbs, one gram of protein gives you four calories. The significant difference between carbs and proteins is that the body cannot store protein for later use. Instead, the body breaks protein down into different substances and then stores those substances.
There are many inaccurate assumptions about fat, which leads us to think we need to avoid it. However, healthy fat is beneficial. Fat provides energy if you are low on carbs.
Fat also forms fatty acids and cholesterol. Both substances help protein do its job, insulate organs, and act as messengers through neurotransmitters and hormones.
One gram of fat contains nine calories, as opposed to carbs and proteins, which have four calories. Fat has the highest caloric count for macronutrients.
Difference between Counting Calories and Tracking Macros
Now that we know what a calorie is, and what macronutrients are, what is the difference between calorie counting and tracking macros?
Calorie counting is based on a single number calculated by factors like age, weight, and height to determine how many calories you can consume in one day to either lose weight, maintain or gain weight. This allows you to believe that as long as you eat within your calories, you are healthy and nurturing your body. But, that’s not very precise.
Tracking macros provide more accurate data in calculating how many calories for each macronutrient your body needs to lose weight, maintain or gain weight. A lot more goes into macronutrient calculations than calories. By tracking your macros, you can eat the right type of foods, at the right amount each day.
Calorie Counting Can Be Problematic
- Its counts are not precise
Various worldwide agencies, such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, believe that there is no accurate method to determine the composition of calories in food, and in fact, believe that it varies. As a result, food labeling may or may not reflect the correct data.
- Its counts can only reflect what we will absorb
Another major issue in calorie counting considers the quantity of food we might consume. The fact that a gram of carbs is four calories, a gram of protein is four calories, and a gram of fat is nine calories, is a gross oversimplification. It is challenging to know the exact amount of energy a body might need to absorb.
Why Counting Macros Are Better
As mentioned above, each macro has an exact number of calories per gram. Each macro is essential to nurturing the body properly. The right balance of these three macronutrients greatly benefits the functions of the body.
Protein preserves lean muscle tissue and helps build muscle. Fat assists with hormone function. Carbs are responsible for fueling the body by producing glycogen.
Understanding the dynamics of macros can help you make wiser meal choices. Find out your recommended daily macros here!