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How to count calories & track your macros

Hi! Have you ever wondered how correctly track your calories and macronutrients? Where to find the correct information and how correctly log it into My Fitness Pal? How to make the process easier if it seems overwhelming in the beginning?

If you answered ‘yes’ to at least one question then carry on reading. I have this all covered for you!


I know very well that counting calories and tracking your macronutrients can be very challenging for some people. For some people it can be very triggering, considering their eating habits history. However, it can also be a very helpful tool.

Will calorie counting work the same for every person? Absolutely not.

Should every active person be counting calories? Nope.

Can you achieve your goals without counting calories? Yes!

Can you achieve your goals easier by counting your calories? Yeah.

Can it help to ensure you are consuming enough of each macronutrient? Yes again.

Can it be a helpful tool to ensure you are not overeating? 100%.

What about having different phases – can I track calories just for some time, get used to it and then perhaps eat intuitively? Absolutely yes!

Calorie counting and tracking your macronutrients for a certain period will give you a brilliant report on your body. After some time you will be able to see if a certain amount is enough for your body or if you need to eat more. You can also discover how your body reacts to a certain amount of food at a certain time. What do I mean by that? Well, everybody is different but what I have discovered about myself from tracking my macros is:

  • I need carbs in the morning. I have my breakfast after my gym session and having very few carbs for breakfast just does not work for me. I need loads of carbs in the morning.

  • I do not need that many carbs for lunch though. I feel better after having a little bit fewer carbs for lunch. I prefer loads of vegetables a bit more fat than I would have for breakfast.

  • My afternoon snack is usually rich in fat. Again, it works very well if I add more dark chocolate or nuts to my yoghurt or banana than having just that. I usually crave those things in the afternoon so it simply is easier for me to include them in my snack. And it also makes me pretty happy.

  • Because I do not eat that many carbs for lunch, I enjoy them in the evening. Yes, you can have carbs in the evening. Loads of the time, people tend to sleep better after having enough carbs in their dinner. However, I found out that I cannot have a certain vegetable for dinner. I feel better after having just green vegetable (courgette, cucumber, lettuce) that is easier for my body to process than any other is (like tomatoes or carrot).

I would not know all this if I would not track and review my eating for some time. And let me tell you after I established all this, I feel so much better! I know what works for me, I know what does not work for me at all and I also learnt what to do when I am socialising and eating out. And this all comes with practice.

So first things first.


What are calories and macronutrients and what do they represent?

A calorie is a unit of energy. It represents the energy you get from anything you eat or drink. A calorie is also the energy you need for activity.

You might also know ‘kilocalories’ and ‘kilojoules’. What is the difference?

Kilocalories = Calories = kcal

They are the same thing, just different terminology. A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water one degree Celsius – in nutrition we usually refer to kilocalories as ‘calories’.

Kilojoules = kJ

Kilojoules are just different energy measurements. To get the amount of kJ in your nutrition you need to multiply kcal by 4.18. It tells you the same information, just in different measurements. Something like measuring the distance – to walk 1 mile, you need to walk 1.6 kilometres. It is the same distance, just expressed in different measurements.

Some people tend to use calories, some people tend to use kilojoules. I do like more calories and I am more used to the numbers expressed in kcal rather than kJ.

What about macronutrients?

Again, macronutrients provide us with energy. Each macronutrient provides us with a different amount of calories. (Well, almost).

And what macronutrients are we talking about

Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat, Fibre & Alcohol

1g of Protein = 4kcal

1g of Carbs = 4kcal

1g of Fat = 9kcal

1g of Alcohol = 7kcal

1g of Fibre = 2kcal

When tracking your macronutrients it is best to concentrate on hitting enough Protein, Carbs and Fat. You should also ensure you are getting enough Fibre every day (recommended is between 20g – 30g of Fibre each day) to make your digestive system happy.

I have included the alcohol here just to make you aware that alcohol has quite a lot of calories per gram so you should be mindful of that if you are trying to reach a certain goal but are having untracked alcoholic drinks regularly.

How do I know what amount of calories and macronutrients do I need?

There are few options how to calculate your recommended calorie intake. Did I just say recommended? I did. Why? Do you ask?

Because you can have the best calorie calculation in the whole world but that calculation does not take into account your history and what your body is used to.

What do I mean by that?

Imagine two people. Same sex, same height, same weight, same body fat %, the same amount of activity during the day. Two carbon copies. And the calorie calculator told them that if they want to maintain their body weight, they need to eat exactly 2000kcal a day.

But guess what.

Person A just recently finished a weight loss and ate just 1200kcal a day for the last three months. That person also struggles with the jo-jo effect after each weight loss because of the binge eating that occurs after restricting for so long. And that person is incredibly stressed from eating 2000kcal a day.

On the other hand, person B has had the same weight for the last 10 years, is used to eating that amount of calories. That person never had issues with eating habits and calories are the last thing that can stress them.

So even if you have two people that look exactly the same, they are never the same. And that is something that calorie calculators cannot know. That is when a coach or your experience come in place and help you with it. But hey, I don’t want to just scare you out from this. Person A and B was just an example to show you how INDIVIDUAL nutrition is.

Now let’s get some practice and let me tell you how to count your recommended calorie intake and how to split and track macronutrients in your nutrition. It is fun, I promise!

I have seen loads of online calculators, but I find this one the most accurate and you can also decide the method you want to use. I recommend using and using the Katch-McArdle method in Settings. That is the only one that considers your body fat % which is crucial. You can choose there if you want to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight. Everyone has different goals. I would just not recommend losing weight too quickly because it will get harder to maintain so do not lower your calories too much.

So now you know how to calculate your calories. How to split macronutrients?

When splitting your calories into macronutrients please only include Protein, Carbs and Fat. Including Fibre there is not that important as Fibre is essentially part of carbohydrates.

How would I recommend splitting macronutrients?

I would stick to 1.25 – 2g of protein per body weight. If you are in a deficit do not be afraid to have a higher protein intake, you do not want to lose muscles and protein prevents that plus helps you build a new muscle mass and important enzymes. I personally have 1.75g of protein per my body weight.

You also do not want to have too low a fat intake. Fat is important for the correct functionality of hormones and enzymes. I would start with 1g per body weight and you can always lower it gradually if that would be too much for you. Now I have a little bit lower fat intake than 1g per body weight but that is something that works well for me. Do not be afraid to adjust your macro split to what feels best for you.

And the rest of the calories will be cover by carbohydrates.

This is roughly how you can split your macros. Is it important to stick to this every day? I would not say so. You definitely should keep an eye on hitting your protein intake as often as you can. Then, if you have occasions where you eat more fat (for example) you can compensate it from your carbohydrates and just make sure you hit overall calories for that day. Consistency is a key factor here. One day every now and then with a different macro split will not affect anything.

Where do I find the nutrition information about food I want to eat and how do I log it?

The best place where to find nutrition information will be the food label.

It tells you how many calories the food contains and what is the macro split.

The majority of food labels will give you the information per 100g so then, if you are using just for example 80g of product, you will use just a certain percentage.

How to calculate it? Very easily. Bread from the image above has 235kcal per 100g. Imagine you would eat 80g of that bread.

235/100x80 = 188kcal or

235x0.8 = 188kcal

You would then use the same process for counting macros.

Okay, this seems a little bit difficult, is there a simpler way?

There is! It’s called My Fitness Pal. (Or any other preferred app)

You can download it for free, set up your daily calories and macros there and start logging your food. It is very easy and much quicker, and the majority of the food is already there so then you can just scan a barcode, enter the amount you will have and voila, the job is done.

Just please do not use the My Fitness Pal calorie calculator. It very often underestimates your daily intake and very often is not accurate at all!

It all seems so overwhelming; how do I make it easier?

I know it might seem all a little bit overwhelming at the beginning but take this as a learning process. It all becomes so much easier with practice. In the beginning, you need to establish your goals and get the calorie intake from the calculator. Then you need to split your macros and log into My Fitness Pal. Then you can start tracking your calories.

How to make it a little bit easier?

Well, you can always plan ahead! You can sit down every few days and plan what roughly you want to eat next days. Then you have a plan and if you wake up feeling like you do not want to eat a certain food, you can just log something different to the already existing plan.

Also, if you eat certain meals often (like for example porridge for breakfast that is the same almost every day) you can create a meal in MFP (= My Fitness Pal) and save it as a meal. Then you can just click on the saved meal, and it is already there for you.

Plus, this whole process will only get easier, I promise you that. After few days you will be able to tell what you need to eat to hit your macros and on the other side, what does not work for you at all. The mindset here is especially important – if you deceive in the beginning that this is such a great new learning opportunity for you and that you will enjoy this, you will. If you decide that you hate this and how annoying this is, it will be like that.


Tracking your calories and learning what each ingredient gives to your body is very important. It can teach you what you are fuelling your body with and also show you what you really do not need to be eating regularly. And with that I mean large coffee for breakfast, Chinese takeaway for lunch and pizza with ice cream for dinner will probably not fit into so many people’s calories and macros.

Even if in the beginning it might seem like loads of work, from my personal experience I know that after few weeks it will actually start saving you time. You will discover meals that work very well for you, and you will just carry on eating them. Because why should I not want to eat something I feel so great after? And this will save you so much time on preparing your meals because you can always prepare it all for the next few days or at least have 1 or 2 meals ready in the fridge for each day.

Tracking calories and IIFYM (= if it fits your macros) method is not just about how to fit the most of junk food into your daily calories. It is all about balance, eating proper and fuelling food and enjoying the journey. And no, you do not have to track every single bite all day every day. Go and enjoy life.

Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

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