Should You Count Calories for Fat Loss?

Counting calories.


Just the thought of it makes me want to throw in the towel and sit down with a big bowl of popcorn and an unending episodes of Saved By the Bell. (#guiltypleasure)

Is it really necessary?  Is it going to make that big of a difference?  Doesn’t it develop into a little bit of OCD and food obsession?  Can you even truly estimate how many calories you are taking in, when a serving size is 7 Tortilla chips and every chip is a different size?  How can counting calories even be accurate or helpful in achieving fitness and fat loss goals?

I’m about to answer all these questions and more and offer you my favorite tool to finally end the struggle against calories once and for all.

Firstly, I want you to understand what it is you are counting.  Macronutrients mainly. What is a macronutrient?  
In short, it’s 3 main nutrients that are essential to the human body’s survival and function.  These 3 main components that should make up every body’s energy intake is: PROTEIN, FAT, AND CARBOHYDRATES. 

Yep, carbs are essential to life.  More on this later.

So, this is what you essentially are (or should be) thinking about when it comes to calories. Rather than looking at the label of something and mumbling under your breath in the cookie aisle “Eee gads, 543 calories in one serving 6 cookies,” we want instead (step one, walk away from the cookie aisle) read the breakdown of those calories and see how much fat is in the serving, how much protein is in the serving, and how much carbohydrates as well.

By why, Jodelle, why do I even need to obsess over numbers and macros in the first place? Will it really make that big of a difference?  I start by saying this: Most people come to me, not because they are just simply thrilled and excited about the 30 extra pounds they are carrying around, but because what they are doing is no longer working and they are at their wit’s end about what to do to get the weight off, end inflammation, sleep better, have more energy, get off medication, etc.  So I in turn ask this question, “How’s what you are doing currently working for you? Maybe, just maybe, you haven’t quite paid attention to the amount of protein, or carbs, or fat you have been taking in, and potentially aren’t eating enough, or even eating too much.  And maybe, just maybe, honing in on your macros for a short amount of time could help you recognize what’s not working, what macro is getting a little too much attention, which macro has been forgotten about, and essentially be the key to unlocking the reason why you have tried everything and nothing else is working.”

It’s simply noticing where you have not been noticing that you might want to begin to notice.  

(That was pretty much a Dr. Suess sentence for adults. Stay with me, Sam I am.)

What I mean is, awareness is key.  Let’s break it down.

Body awareness.  What your body actually needs.  You calculate your Macros based on your height, you weight, your age, your activity level, and your goals.  (I.E.  I’m 5’9, 138lbs, 35, Very Active, and looking to continue optimizing my health and my performance).  I use a macronutrient calculater (more on this in a moment) and calculate my caloric needs. Then based on my goals, I use the calculator further to decide that perhaps to optimize my health, I would want to eat according to my cell’s structure so as to give every cell of my body precisely what it needs.  This is something I have been passionate about for quite some time, and have had great results with most every client who I have applied it to.

If we break down the structure of a cell: 50-60% is Fat, 20-30% is Carbohydrates, and 15-20% is Protein.  Now if we apply that to our calculator, we can get the exact numbers  in our caloric range that we need to take in each day to help our cells function optimally and achieve healthy cell function and cellular regeneration in every area of the body.

(There are many other protocols for other fitness and fat loss goals, such as ketogenic diets for Type 2 Diabetes and cancer, low carb approaches for healing insulin resistance, high carb approaches for those looking to gain mass, etc. But for now, I’m just speaking to my favorite approach.)

Nutrient awareness.  So now we have a baseline of precisely the appropriate number our individual body needs of each macronutrient.  But how is one to keep track and make sure that you are noticing what you haven’t noticed that you should be noticing? 

Like, everything in life, there’s an app for that.  


Actually there are many, but the purpose of this article it to bring to light one that I have found is the most solid app with accurate calculations, and easy to log tracking, taking all the guesswork out of counting your Macros.  (Remember, we aren’t really counting calories, so you can shut off Netflix and put away the popcorn bowl.  We are counting Macros! Much more exciting and effective than Zach Morris….well, effective, but maybe not more exciting.)

Is this a free app? Nope.  You have to pay for it.  $2.99 to be exact.  But before you stop reading, let me remind you that like most things that aren’t free, you tend to pay more attention to them, get more out of them, and commit to giving it your all when it comes to using it.  It’s called My Macros+ and it’s one of my favorite apps that has been on my phone for a long time now.

So, Jodelle, really, why would purchasing a macro-counting app help me lose fat/gain energy/heal my inflammation/sleep deeper, and why can’t I just use a free app? 

Here’s a number of reasons, Mrs. Skeptical-Pants:

You have to be honest.  By logging every BLT (Bite, Lick, Taste) and meal that passes through your pie-hole, you truly begin to notice which macro is getting a bit out of hand, not mention, noticing how much fiber you are getting, if you are eating too much sugar, and more.  For example, let’s say “Susie” is looking to lose about 25 extra pounds fast before her highschool reunion, so she reads online and decides to try a ketogenic diet plan where she is supposed to eat mainly fats, moderate protein, and minimal carbs.  Unsure of how many exactly, oh well, she just eats loads of butter, mac trucks of nuts, and gallons of heavy whipping cream.  In addition, she chows down on cheese, chicken legs, and grass-fed beef like a T-rex.  After a bout 2 weeks, she hops on the scale.  She has GAINED 8 lbs, yet her friend Sally who told her about the ketogenic diet plan lost 14 lbs in her first 2 weeks.   GRRRR! She thinks to herself.  At this point she may want to throw in the towel  However, what if she instead had the My Macros+ app and used the app to calculate her caloric needs, then used the ketogenic recommendations from her friend of 75% Fat, 15% Protein, and 10% Carbs to calculate her macros within the app, and began to follow it, noticing that she was very much over her fat intake of necessary grams, and way over in her protein as well!  She could then dial in the nutrients and by this time next week, not only did she lose the 8lbs she had gained, but she’s also down 2 more pounds!

You get what you pay for. Sure, there are many apps out there that count your macros/calories, and as a nutrition educator and coach, I have tried them all at one time or another, and always felt inadequacy in the calculations, or the app itself.  But an interesting aspect of the My Macros+ app is that it was skillfully developed by a professional bodybuilder himself who also was finding so many inadequacies in the nutrition apps that were out there that he decided to build one that would actually do an adequate job of not only calculating your needs, but letting you customize it to your exact specifications, your exact foods with a handy bar code scanner, and even verifying the foods other people have logged into the food database so you can be sure that the macros you are logging each day are accurate.  There is no other app that offers this to my knowledge.  Jason Loewy (go ahead and google-image him and you’ll find a guy in tip-top shape instead of just being made by a corporation looking to make money off of unending ads on their free app).

And another thing: no ads whatsoever! Part of the cool thing about actually getting what you pay for when you actually pay for an app is no annoying ads, or banners for my clumsy trigger fingers to click on.

If you are a creature of habit, you will love it.  Tend to eat the same meals or foods often?  The app lets you save your meals, save your custom and favorite foods and quickly add them.  I have found this app to be the quickest to enter my macros, and get in and out of the app and on to other things (like my paddle-board!) Other apps I had used in the past were so technical that I would spend 15 minutes or so at the end of the day logging my food, but with My Macros+ I find that I spend no more than 3-4 minutes each day entering everything! And, as I tend to cycle my macros depending on my activity level, the app gives me the freedom to quickly swipe a separate pre-set macro ratio to match my caloric needs for that particular day.  After all, no day is every truly the same when it comes to how many macros you need.  For example, you wouldn’t have the same macronutrient needs for sitting at a desk all day as you would hiking 8 miles, right?

Other features include:  

  • Over 2,500,000 food items to choose from
  • Log your food and weigh on any device
  • Add as many meals as you choose, without being restricted to Breakfast Lunch Dinner and Snack
  • Detailed insight on how your diet impacts your goals
  • Ease of entry, and you can get started within seconds of set up!
  • No internet access required! So you can be on vacation without wi-fi in a foreign country and still log your food.  (Actually shame on you, no playing on your phone on vacation.)

And finally, it’s not forever.  Using the app for just a short amount time, such as really logging every single thing for two straight weeks can tell you a lot about where you are missing out on key nutrients, where are you might be going overboard, and even what foods you tend to do a bit too much that might be causing you issues.  (With the app you get a weekly detailed email of precisely what foods you are tending towards the most and I really like this feature.  It helps me learn to be more versatile). After you use the app and notice where you could notice that you weren’t noticing, eventually you are able to see the trigger foods, the overabundance of sugar, or perhaps even the under-eating you might be doing that’s keeping you stuck in a plateau.  At that point you can just keep the app around to check in and see if you are on track every now and then, or use it when you have a specific date and goal up ahead to prep for.

Phew, if you’ve made it to the end of this article, good for you, AND you obviously should for sure purchase the app since you’ve invested all this research into it.

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have pertaining to it and as with any app, there may be a few foods missing in the database that you have to enter yourself or a few bugs to still work out, but for the most part I will say that I have had an easier, more pleasurable experience with this app than any calorie counter or macro counter than every before, and I think you will too.

Click the link below to read more about it and purchase today!

*Note: I share my love of this app how of just wanting to help you achieve your goals. I make no income off of this, or any incentive whatsoever.  Although, if Jason is reading this, I am not opposed to a free t-shirt or something. Just sayin.

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