A Beginner’s Guide To Counting Macros

Protein. Carbs. Fats. The holy trinity of your clean and lean diet. But when it comes to food many of us simply make a guess at what we ought to be eating and when.

The fittest of the fit, however, do not. They track macros.

It may seem a little like micro managing and excessive, but the simple act of counting how much protein, fat and carb you eat in a day can really help you up your fitness game.

For instance, say you’ve just chewed down a pizza with a glass of red and a few spoonfuls of B&J Cookie Dough for good measure. By the end of the week, you’ve lost weight, look leaner and, my goodness, built a bit of muscle?

Too good to be true…

Well, actually, if you start tracking macros you can literally have your cake and eat it too without fear of the guilt wave threatening to crash over your junk food party.

Here’s why…

Get the holy trinity balance right (protein – builds and repairs muscle – carbs – provides you with energy – and fat – helps keep you feeling full) and you’ll not only lose weight, but your body will be more effective at burning fat and building muscle.

So how do you strike the perfect balance? Firstly, it’s important to recognise that all calories are not created equally – 10 calories of protein will be used in a different manner than 10 calories of fat.

It’s also not a matter of one size fits all. Your body will react differently to certain ratios than others. So if you want to know your perfect ratio, read on…

The Breakdown

Before you begin calculating your ratio, take the word “diet,” wrap it up in some cotton wool, douse it in petrol and set fire to it. With macros, the term “diet” doesn’t exist because this is a lifestyle.

Essentially, counting macros removes the temptation of so-called “bad-foods” (FYI, no food is bad food) and adds a little pep to your daily food intake.

And let’s face it, how many of you actually know where your calories are actually coming from?

Tracking macros helps you strike balance.

First of all, you need to find out what your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is. This is the rate your body burns calories to simply stay alive.

After you’ve worked that out, take into consideration your activity level. Once you’ve worked out these two simple calculations, you will have a daily calorie target, which can then be split into the holy trinity.

The thing about this, though, is your calorie target will most likely be higher than you’d ever expect…

How you use this information is entirely up to you, so if you really want that slice of pizza and it fits with your macros – have at it!

The Catch

Unfortunately, tracking macros doesn’t give you the green light to eat rubbish 24/7.

Wholesome food packed with micronutrients and fibre is the best way to ensure your body is healthy. It’s also really important to note that counting macros is NOT a wonder cure and the 80/20 rule still applies here – 80% wholesome food, 20% naughty.

However, what counting macros DOES do is give you a clear strategy about your calories and food choices. It also means you’re less likely to binge on your rest days because you haven’t banned yourself from eating that square or two of chocolate.

Plus, if you do happen to overindulge a little, who cares? One less than perfect day is not going to ruin your long term progress.


Macros are governed by two things – your weight and activity.

The simplest way to track these is with an app – My Fitness Pal is great as it has a massive database of foods with macronutrient ratings.

Fitocracy Macros is also very simple to use and free!

It takes a bit of trial and error to find a ratio that will work for you. A simple place to start (if you’re wanting to lose weight) is 40% protein, 20% carbs, 20% fat and tinker about from there. But once you’ve found your perfect balance you’ll never look back.

Lewis Love

I'm the Head of Technology here at musclefood. I love technology and the positive impact it can have on our lives. I'm always looking for ways to make your experience with musclefood that much better!