So you’ve decided to take the plunge into counting macros. Congrats! Whether you’re an athlete looking to optimize performance or a busy parent who wants to feel more comfortable in your skin, macro tracking is an approach to nutrition that works well for various goals.

As with any new skill, there is a bit of a learning curve. Lucky for you, we’re here to help! Let’s take a look at some of the most common macro counting questions so you can get up and running as quickly as possible.

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Top 10 Macro Counting Questions

What are macros?

Macronutrients, or macros, are comprised of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your body needs macronutrients in large quantities to function optimally—this is opposed to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that you need in smaller amounts.

Each of the three macros has important functions in your body:


  • Muscle repair and growth

  • Lean mass retention while in a calorie deficit

  • Energy

  • Satiety


  • The most readily available source of energy

  • Aids in recovery from strenuous exercise by replenishing glycogen stores in muscles


  • Certain fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D, and K need fat to be properly absorbed by the body

  • Omega fatty acids like EPA/DHA help support joint health, cardiovascular health, and digestion

  • Fat slows down digestion which keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer 



Why track macros instead of calories?

Each macro plays an important role in how your body functions, how you feel in your day-to-day life, and how you perform and recover from training. While creating a calorie deficit to lose weight or a calorie surplus to put on muscle is necessary, the correct macros can give you an edge that you just won’t have while only considering total calories.

Further Reading:

Why Count Macros vs. Calories?
Macros, Calories, Grams & Ounces: What are the Differences?

Is it better to stay under my macro targets?

When people want to lose weight, they tend to undershoot recommended macro targets for their current weight and activity level. If less food means more weight loss, surely dropping down further will get faster results? This isn’t always the case!

When you restrict your total caloric intake, your body becomes more energy-efficient and requires fewer calories to maintain weight. This is what is called metabolic adaptation. The body’s metabolic rate slows down partly due to changes in leptin, insulin, and thyroid hormones.

Leptin is the body’s “stop eating” hormone. It tells the brain when your body is full thus controlling appetite. Leptin also boosts energy expenditure by increasing the rate at which your body burns fat. The greater the calorie deficit, the greater the decrease in metabolic rate. If you drop calorie intake too low, it can quickly become counterproductive to lasting, sustainable progress.

Further Reading:

Understanding Metabolism: How Undereating Hinders Results

What do I do if I'm not hungry enough to hit my macro targets for the day?

Any time you change the types of foods you consume, it can take your body some time to adjust. This is particularly true when you usually consume processed or calorie-dense options. 2,000 calories in fast food is a lot less total volume than if you were to fill that same 2,000 calories with lean protein, veggies, and healthy fats. With that higher volume, considering meal timing and frequency can greatly help.

Start by splitting your protein, carbs, and fat equally between three meals and see how you feel. It could also be adding a snack or two between those meals helps to keep hunger and satiety balanced. This is really down to personal preference, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.

Does food quality matter if I hit my macro targets?

One of the nicest things about tracking macros is the flexibility it provides. Unlike a strict meal plan, you’re not locked into “eat this, not that” and can choose foods you enjoy (which occasionally can mean calorie-dense or less nutrient-rich options).

While there’s nothing wrong with working in some occasional treats, remember that “real food” also fits your macros. And that real, whole food also brings a host of additional benefits like:

  • Higher volume, so you get to eat more

  • Increased satiety

  • Important micronutrients

  • Less dependence on supplements to keep protein intake up

Whether you’re chasing a six-pack for summer or looking to PR your next big lift, ensuring the majority of your intake includes whole, nutrient-rich food will mean your system has the tools it needs to truly thrive. 


Is it okay to use a protein supplement?

Protein is essential for various body processes (like fullness and lean muscle maintenance or gain), and when it’s in check, carbs and fat tend to fall into place much more easily. But getting that number up can be tough—especially when you’re getting started or aren’t used to higher protein intake.

If you’re struggling to hit your protein target, there is nothing wrong with using BCAAs, whey, casein, collagen, or plant-based proteins to help you fill the gap.

That being said, drinking calories will not leave you as full and satisfied as eating them. If hunger becomes an issue, scaling back on supplements and replacing your shake with real chew-and-swallow protein is one of the first things to consider.

What are some good sources of fiber?

As you may have guessed, vegetables and fruit are top-tier options when you’re looking to pull your fiber intake up. As a bonus, these will also add valuable micronutrients to your daily intake and volume to keep you fuller between meals!

  • Apples: 2.5g of fiber per 100g

  • Strawberries: 2g of fiber per 100g

  • Raspberries: 7g of fiber per 100g

  • Squash: 2g of fiber per 100g

  • Beans: 9g of fiber per 100g

  • Broccoli: 3g of fiber per 100g

  • Cauliflower: 2g of fiber per 100g

  • Brussel Sprouts: 4g of fiber per 100g

  • Carrots: 3g of fiber per 100g

Further Reading:

Fiber: What It is and How to Get It
How to Actually Feel Full
Let’s Talk Fiber

Can I still go out to eat?

Yes! Just because you’re tracking macros doesn’t mean you’re relegated to always eating at home and being 100% in control of how food is prepared. With that said, there are some strategies you can use to keep close to targets and minimize the impact on your numbers.

Check out this article for some of our favorite tips: How to Stick to Your Macros When Eating Out.

Further Reading:

How to Order at Restaurants
Macro-Friendly Menu Items
Macro Tracking Tapas & Appetizers
Check out our cuisine-specific guides HERE.

Can I still drink alcohol?

Alcohol is a tricky one. While it doesn’t have macronutrients, it does have calories.

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

1 gram of pure alcohol = 7 calories

And unfortunately, it doesn’t bring anything else to the table. If you’ve ever heard the term “empty calories” and wondered what it meant - alcohol is the poster child.

You can include alcohol in your intake as long as you budget for it. The main question to consider is what specific goal you are chasing. If losing weight and dropping a pants size or two is your focus, then regularly working in a drink or two into your day won’t be a sticking point. But if you’re looking for extreme leanness, increased athletic performance, or very optimal health and wellness, you might consider making alcohol consumption the exception rather than the rule.

Further Reading:

Is Alcohol a Macronutrient? Counting Alcohol in Your Macros
WAG Alcohol Macro Calculator
Our Alcohol-Specific Guides
To Drink or Not to Drink
Cocktail Party Survival Guide

How important is exercise when tracking macros for fat loss?

Your body needs to be in a consistent calorie deficit to lose weight. While exercise does burn calories, the vast majority of your total daily energy expenditure comes from you living your everyday life. The real benefit from regular training comes from increased health and wellness and the potential to add lean muscle mass with the right program and frequency.

Fat loss is about 80% nutritional habits and 20% training. Abs are made in the kitchen. If you have the capacity to train a couple of times per week at 85% intensity while tracking macros, start there and see how your body changes. Who knows, you might even find you have a passion for it!



There you have it! Our Top 10 Macro Counting Questions are answered, so you can start your journey on the right foot and start crushing those goals. If you need more specific support or still have questions, consider hiring a personalized nutrition coach who will get to know you, your goals, and your day-to-day and answer these questions more specific to you.