What’s more important Calories or Macros?
Calories or macros? We always say chase your macros, meaning don’t worry about anything else! Calories, sugar, fiber, sodium etc., down the road will all be other factors of your nutrition that you might want to explore, and we will talk about all of those. But for right now we only want you to focus on the big picture. That’s fueling your body with the right amount of food by hitting your macros – your protein, carbs, and fats.
There’s no dispute that if you’re hitting your macros, you will also be hitting your calories. It’s pure math! Remember, protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram. The reverse statement however, is not necessarily true – if you hit your calories I can’t assume that you also hit your macros. Think about how easy it would be to hit 1200 calories made up primarily of carbs and fats and little protein – half a box of delicious mini donuts anyone?!
By now however, you may have noticed that sometimes when you hit your macros your calories are off…what gives? If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, be sure to watch our Beginner Video for our formula and for a brief discussion on this topic.
Inevitably, you will see out of the corner of your eye in your MyFitnessPal diary dashboard the calories. Sometimes they might be a little off, maybe by 100 or so calories, and sometimes they may be WAY off, like by hundreds of calories! I know you’re wondering just like I did, how is it possible that they’re off at all?! Hit your macros and you should be hitting your calories right!?
Here’s a few explanations as to why your calories might be off even if you hit your macro goals.
1. FDA Rounding Rules
Look no further than this complicated chart of the FDA Rounding Rules! To sum it up, food labels are allowed to round to the nearest 10 calories. So, while something may truly have 98 calories, the food label can list it as 90 or 100. Doesn’t sound like much right? But if you track 8-10 foods over the course of your day and each one rounds to the nearest 10, that’s a lot of rounding!
2. Did you drink alcohol?
If so, make sure to track it as we recommend in our Beginner Macro Video. Also, check out our other post about drinking with flexible eating.
3. Is one of the foods you plugged in wrong?
There’s no such thing as a magic zero calorie donut…but if you happen to find one, please call us ASAP and we will be right over! Seriously, look through your foods and make sure something you plugged in with 30 carbs and 10 fat isn’t reading as zero calories, or vice versa, make sure all of your foods have macros and not just calories.
So as you can see, it is somewhat important to have an awareness to your calories to make sure you avoid any errors with your tracking. However, the bigger picture is that you are meeting your macro goals at the end of the day. By default, notwithstanding the reasons mentioned above, if you hit your macros, you will be hitting your calories too!