Macro Tracking For the Win! All of Your Questions Answered

Have you ever tried a new diet, lost weight, jumped for joy, and then gained it all back? Have you ever tried a diet just because it worked for a friend, but it didn?t work for you? Have you ever stuck to a plan so rigidly you went a little crazy and ended up eating 25 Olive Garden breadsticks? Maybe you are doing everything you think is right, but that scale is just not budging! *insert high-pitched angry screams*

The cycle of success, failure, guilt, and starting over is a lot to carry emotionally. How about we set the record straight with a few helpful basics about food once and for all?! As I have recovered from an eating disorder myself, one of my biggest personal goals was to improve my relationship with food. I didn?t want to be afraid of it. I didn?t want it to dictate every move of my life or every MOOD of my life. I can confidently say today that so much of my personal recovery has come simply through educating myself about food and a whole lot of trust in the process!

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*Photo credit: James Patrick (right)

Gosh, it’s hard for me to even believe I was ever that girl on the left. I remember so clearly thinking I had my eating disorder under control when this picture was taken. But c’mon?this picture says it all. I may have been free from my binge/purge behaviors, and even free from starvation, but clearly, the scale still controlled me. CALORIES controlled me!!! Macro counting (in conjunction with carb cycling) truly has FREED me, you guys. “So what is this macro counting thing?” you ask. Simply put, macro counting?allows you to take control of your body composition (once and for all), whether you feel you are too big OR too small, WITHOUT deprivation. In my case, I felt too small and wanted to gain…but this same concept?has been applied to carb cycling and has worked WONDERS for those needing to lose weight as well.

So let?s talk about food. Whether you are a clean eater, junk eater, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, dairy-free, or gluten-free eater, ALL EDIBLE items are made up of 3 macronutrients: CARBS, FAT, and PROTEIN.

Here?s the downright truth: MOST diets fail because of one simple problem?they are not REALISTIC! It?s nearly impossible for even the STRONGEST OF WILLS to commit to an extreme plan that doesn?t account for real life moments like cake at birthday parties, pizza after baseball games, cotton candy at the carnival, handfuls of goldfish, and eating the remainder of your kids? mac and cheese. If you completely deprive yourself of these ?indulgences? for long periods of time, you will either end up in the crazy house OR in a cycle of binge and guilt. So where is the balance? Can you really reach your fitness goals without starving? YES! It?s time to shift our beliefs in food and how it affects our bodies.

I ALWAYS thought that if I ever wanted to see my abs and have nicely defined legs, I would have to consistently eat a perfectly clean diet (think chicken, brown rice, and broccoli), train 6 days a week, and rarely (if EVER) indulge in my love affair with sugar and baked goods. I told myself, sure… abs are nice, but I love donuts. And pizza. And ice cream. What if I told you that you could have abs AND donuts, pizza, and ice cream. Excited? Yeah, me too. Read on.

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Tracking macros basically means consuming a balanced and appropriate ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats every day. An easy ratio to follow is 40% of your calories coming from carbs, 30% of your calories coming from protein, and 30% of your calories coming from fat. To break it down even further, if you need 1500 calories per day, your TOTAL macro intake for the day will be 150g carbs, 113g protein, and 50g fat. But before you start plugging in those numbers, everyone’s breakdown looks a little different according to your needs and goals. We will get there…hang with me.

It?s like working within a budget. How will you ?spend? your macros? To give you an example, I love oatmeal for breakfast! Well, I really love gluten-free lemon cake?for breakfast,?but let?s use oatmeal (my 2nd fave) as the example. Alright?oatmeal alone is mostly just carbs, so I may add some berries (more carbs), some coconut oil for fat, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder. It?s quick, easy, and delish! This meal comes out to be a total of 29g carbs, 14g fat, and 29g protein. That meal gets deducted from my total for the day, and now I have 121g carbs left, 36g fat left, and 84g protein left!


Using an app like MyFitnessPal (my favorite) will automatically track these numbers for you when you input your food items into the app. Easy peasy. Now, everyone has different goals, so this ratio doesn?t always translate perfectly across the board. For instance, due to my goals, existing body type, workout routine, and wanting to put on some serious muscle mass, my coach has me eating 55% carbs, 25% protein, and 20% fat every other day, then 68% carbs, 20% protein, and 12% fat the other days. These ratios help me add lean muscle mass to my frame while keeping my body fat low!

So why track macros?

Tracking your macros rather than just calories alone ENSURES that the calories you are taking in go to all the right places in your body. They preserve lean muscle mass and help rid unwanted body fat. That’s the goal! We are so conditioned to jump on that scale in the morning (totally naked, of course, because we need all the help we can get) and jump for joy if the scale goes down. But what if some of that weight loss is muscle mass? Your body just became slightly less efficient at burning body fat. Boooo! So, tracking those macros and being sure that our calories are distributed appropriately can allow us to rest easy and know that weight lost is the weight we WANT to lose?that extra fat jiggle.

What about calories? Do I have to track those too?

NOPE! Crazy enough, 1 gram of carbs always equals 4 calories (yes, whether it?s a gram of sweet potatoes or a gram of white sugar), 1 gram of protein always equals 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat always equals 9 calories. Interesting, right? So, if you are tracking your macros and hitting the same numbers every day, you will also be reaching roughly the same calorie goal each day.

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Can I track my macros AND carb cycle?

YES!! This is just a more DETAILED way to focus on your overall composition and goals. On high carb days, your macro goals may be set to 200g carbs, 120g protein, and 39g of fat, but on your low carb days, maybe you get 125g carbs, 120g protein, and 60g fat. Again, these numbers are just examples, but in short, carb cycling (like in Extreme Transformation) and macro tracking actually work synergistically for maximum results!

The best way to get started on your own is to input your information and goals into a macro calculator, and I’ve got you covered there! Click HERE for an awesome one I found. Then, start tracking using an app like MyFitnessPal. It will take a little while to get the hang of it, but long-lasting and true results are what we are all after, right? Here’s the kicker: Online calculators can be off and not as precisely customized as a plan that comes from a real-life macro coach. The macro coach is going to cost more than ?free? online calculators to get started, but it’s the BEST investment I’ve made for my health and fitness EVER. Doing things on my own has proven to have me going in circles, and having a coach has truly been life-changing. For anyone interested, here are links to my own coach’s team…they are amazing, and I trust them with your plan completely:

Pro Physiques, or @theprophysiques on Instagram, or email them at?[email protected]

I also LOVE my good friend, Cori Baker…who many of you may already follow. She is incredible, is coached by the same coach I am, and is working wonders with her own clientele.?She’s?@cori_fit on Instagram, and her site is


Did it scare me to hear my coach say I needed to eat WAY more carbs than I was eating? YEP! Did I doubt it would really work for me? YEP! Was I afraid that eating carbs AND lifting weights would make me “bulk up? or gain weight in places I didn’t want to? ABSOLUTELY. What kept me going was the ability to be consistent on a plan, enjoy foods I always thought were on the naughty list (because they fit into my macros), and? drum roll please… THE RESULTS!! I could not have transformed my body the way I have this past year if it wasn?t for understanding HOW macros affect my body composition. I?m happier than ever, not afraid of food (or the scale), NEVER hungry, and flexible with how I eat. It?s a life I wish for everyone!

Now here’s something crazy…MOST people who need to lose weight actually are coached to INCREASE carbs or other macros when they begin following a macro counting plan. Here is my good friend, Kacey Luvi Pearson.

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She increased her macros (and calories by about 500 a day) over the past 6 months with the help of a macro coach and shredded down to this!! Insane, right? True story. And one story I will be featuring in the upcoming months.

Here are some of my favorite MACROS I always keep on hand!

grilled chicken
extra-lean ground turkey
eggs/egg whites
Greek yogurt (nonfat, plain)
cottage cheese (low-fat)
protein powder (I use whey, but adjust according to your own food sensitivities)

brown rice
white rice (yes, I said ?white,? believe it or not)
sweet potatoes
red potatoes
white potatoes (there?s that ?w? word again?I?ll save my why for another post)
KIND granola
Udi?s gluten-free bread
Kodiak Cakes pancake mix (not gluten-free?but was a fave of mine before I pulled gluten. The Power Cakes are high in protein too!)
cereal (yes, I can eat cereal again!!)
brown rice powder (Quest is the only brand I know of that makes this. Great for shakes and baking gluten-free)

olive oil
cream cheese
shredded cheese
coconut oil/butter
peanut butter

Be happy, healthy, and never go hungry!



Related reading:

Carb Confusion
The Power of Protein
Carb Cycling 101
Heidi-Approved (& Macro-Friendly) Fast Food Picks
Ask the Powells: How Do I Gain Healthy Weight?
The Extreme Cycle | Meal Planning Tips
Eating with Macros: A Day in the Life

*This blog was a collaborative effort with my good friend, and fellow macro counter, Kacey Luvi Pearson. Thanks, Kacey, for lending your experience, and for spending time putting our brains together and pen to paper on this one!

260 Responses

  1. Hiedi, Help!!! I’m pretty much going insane with the dieting yoyo, and while I have lost 75 pounds I still have 56 to go. I’m so tired off counting calories, counting carbs, using special containers, special drinks and pills uuugggh! I need a more sustainable program. Where do I begin with something healthy.
    Help please!!!

  2. Hi Heidi. Thanks so much for all of your information for health. It’s so “health-ful” – Ha! Quick question…..the MACRO calculator you recommended shows 1796 calories for me (187C, 149P and 50F). How would this work with Carb Cycling (Easy…for now)? Would I do 1796 on HC days and (?) on LC days? How would I determine the connection between counting MACROS and HC/LC requirements? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Curran: If you’re doing the Easy Cycle, Chris and Heidi have figured out all your macros for you. On this cycle, women eat 1200 calories on low carb days and 1500 calories on high carb days. Men eat 1500 calories on low carb days and 2000 calories on high carb days. Here are the percentage breakdowns for this cycle: High Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 40%, Fats: 20%. Low Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 20%, Fats: 40%. And you can also follow the portion size guide (there’s one in this post for your convenience: Hope that helps – you can do this!

  3. Can you point me the right direction for calculating my macro needs. I have used iifym calculators online and they all give me something different and have drastically different carbs and fat ratio suggestions.

    1. Hi Ashley: Heidi did add a link to a macro calculator in this post. If you’d like to find out the best macro counts for you and your goals, a macro coach would probably be your best option. We wish you the best!

  4. Hi Heidi, I like following the 2 low carb days followed by 1 high carb day, I skip the cheat day. I was looking at the ewl club. Is the type of cycle I am following supported in the plans offered in the club? Are there workout videos I can follow along with each day or are they only instructional in nature? I want an easy eating and exercise plan that I can just follow without a lot of thought πŸ™‚ Please let me know. Thanks!

  5. I did not see how to sign up for macro diet planning. I see that the pro physiques offer personal training along with the diet planning.
    I live in Colorado and I am very interested in the Macro tracking.

    1. Hi Jackie: I believe that Pro Physiques will work with you at a distance, and I’m sure they’d be happy to answer any questions you many have. We wish you the best!

  6. Hello!

    When you went to a higher carb diet, did you slowly increase your carbs to that amount or go all in at once? Also, on low carb days, do you want to still be eating the same amount of calories just with a different macro breakdown or is it key to have a lower caloric intake on low carb days? I hope I am explaining that correctly πŸ™‚

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Tori: You count them per meal, and then subtract them from your daily total that you’re aiming for. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m on low carbs diet for 5 months now. Do I have to make a transition to go with your macro counting and carb cycling ?

    1. Hi Laetitia: You can check out the nutrition part of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program here: It should answer any questions you have – it’s full of lots of great information!

  8. Hi. I see many people on macro diets showing what they eat and it’s usually so much sugar like donuts, poptarts, cookies Etc. That can’t be a healthy way to eat even if it fits into your macros for the day, right?

    1. Hi Kim: It’s not about filling your day with “junk” foods, but it’s about eating healthy foods and allowing for those “real life” moments that always seem to come up like Heidi talks about in the post. πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Heidi,
    Thank you for your post it did shed some light into this Macro confusion of mine. Forgive if the question will sound stupid but you mentioned the oats you eat and the equivalent percentages of carb fat and protein but how many grams oats yield those percentages?? I have always had trouble with quantity and while doing chose to lose for 7 months I must have been doing it the wrong way because I didn’t lose as much weight as I was hoping HOWEVER I will say that itnwas he only “diet” regime that had me in a perfect mental state of mind, never feeling deprived, sleeping better, better skin, better energy both physical and mental and better everything really. I made the mistake to give it up a few months ago and I am runnng back in circles again so it’s been a week that I am back on it and already feeling better but I would love to combine it with the macro counting concept so that I also see significant weight loss ( 15kg is the goal) .

    Thank you to anyone who reads this rant and apologies in advance:)

    Tatiana from Greece

    1. Hi Tatiana: I’m not exactly sure how much oatmeal Heidi’s talking about, or how many berries she added, but based on her macro count for the meal, it’s around 3/4 cup cooked. Here are some macro percentages for the Classic Cycle (in “Choose to Lose”) that should be helpful: High Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 40%, Fats: 20%. Low Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 20%, Fats: 40%. Hope that helps!

    2. Hi Angel: Here are some general macro recommendations: High Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 40%, Fats: 20%. Low Carb Meal: Protein: 40%, Carbs: 20%, Fats: 40%. Hope that helps!

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