The purpose of this post is to discuss how to balance calories, macros, and intuitive eating to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Understanding the reasons why this is important is starting to become clearer as increasing amounts of evidence shows that the same foods don’t have the same effect on weight as previously thought.

If you’re hungry trying to lose weight, you’re hungry for a reason. You may be trying to lose weight, or you may just be hungry. In either case, the two are often confused or held together in a common fate, without being given the attention they deserve. Intuitive eating is one way to keep this from happening. Intuitive eating is about simply eating what you want, when you want—the problem is that it’s entirely possible that this sounds like a recipe for failure.

The keto vs. Paleo vs. Primal vs. South Beach vs. Primal Blueprint vs. Whole30 vs. Intermittent Fasting vs. Paleo vs. Keto debate has been raging for a long time. This topic has been widely discussed in online forums, magazines, and news articles. If you’re interested in guidance on which diet is best for you, start with the following: **This blog post was written by the Health Advocate, who will also be doing the reviews. 🙂 How to Start Blogging There are many ways to start a blog, and no one is in the same situation as you. The best way to start is by doing it yourself. Just come up with a name for your blog, and head

There are a few things that almost everyone is aware of. Take this example: in order to reduce weight, you must keep track of everything you consume.

For such counsel, no one needs to pay a coach.

But how do you keep track of your food intake? That is something that customers are in desperate need of. It’s just that determining the right strategy may be difficult.

Some experts advise counting calories or carefully measuring each macronutrient. Others advise you to estimate your serving sizes. Others might want you to “listen to your body.”

The health and fitness sector seems to be split at times.

What’s more, guess what? Counting calories is effective.

Is it possible to measure macros? Also effective.

Do you keep track of your hand portions? Same.

What is mindful eating? Is it possible to eat intuitively? Those, too, are effective.

You get the idea: every technique is effective. (If properly implemented.)

What will work best for you (or your customers) right now is the actual question.

Based on your unique tastes, lifestyle, and objectives, we’ll help you figure out the best approach to control your food consumption in this post. You’ll find the answers to some often asked food-monitoring questions:

  • Is it really necessary to keep track of your calories and macros? Is it the case, and if so, for how long?
  • Is keeping track of hand amounts as precise as weighing and measuring your food?
  • Is it true that techniques like mindful and intuitive eating may help you lose weight? Is it possible that they are overrated?

These responses may be able to assist you (or your customers) in achieving the desired outcomes. And you’ll acquire much more along the way: a healthy connection with food and the skills that make eating well feel easy.  

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The majority of individuals are unaware of how much they consume.

For example, studies indicate that people often underestimate their food consumption, sometimes by as much as 30% to 50%. 1

There are two possible explanations:

1. They are unaware of how high in calories certain items may be. Yes, they may be aware that an overloaded plate is a surefire way to gain weight. But before bed, two pieces of meat lover’s pizza? What harm could it possibly cause? (A thousand calories is a good starting point.) 

2. They often overestimate portion sizes (around two-thirds of the time, in fact). It’s simple to eat much more calories than you planned if you don’t have a convenient reference point.

As a consequence, many individuals have trouble estimating how many calories are in their meals and fail to consume in suitable amounts.

(I’m sure you’re not surprised by this.)

Of course, there is a well-known solution: meal tracking. Namely:

  • Calorie counting
  • Counting macros
  • Tracking portion sizes by hand

These techniques serve as “external guidelines” to help you consume the appropriate quantities of food at the right times for your body. If you do this for long enough, your body will learn to better control the hormones that signal you when you’re hungry and full.

You’ll be able to alter your calorie and macronutrient intake more readily, which is crucial for changing your body weight and composition (or even keeping them the same).

Consider these techniques of meal monitoring as nutritional training wheels.

They provide you (or your customers) with the advice and calibration you need to attain balance on your own.

Some individuals need these training wheels for longer or shorter periods of time, or a mix of monitoring methods in order to establish their balance.

But, in the end, the objective is to get rid of your training wheels—or external guides—and learn to know what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat without having to watch or monitor everything.

Because, let’s face it, calorie and gram counting is a lot of effort. And, although it may be helpful for a short amount of time, most individuals do not want to do it on a long-term basis.

This is when the term “internal guidelines” comes into play. Mindful eating and intuitive eating, in particular.

These techniques are essential for tuning in to your body’s hunger cues. They assist you recognize when you’re really hungry and when it’s time to quit eating. Self-regulation is the term for this ability. 

No of how much milk or formula is left in a bottle, babies automatically self-regulate and stop when they’re full. Most adults, on the other hand, have forgotten how to use this skill. 

This ability may be regained via mindful and intuitive eating. These techniques also improve the outcomes of food tracking. (And the other way around.)

Based on a mix of factors, all of this helps you better control your food consumption.

  • Cues of hunger and fullness
  • understanding of nutrition
  • figuring out what works for you on a personal level

This is where the majority of us aspire to be. However, no one achieves this overnight. It’s a talent that takes time to master.

We’ll teach you (and your customers) how to get there with our guide. 

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Select the appropriate technique.

Choosing the best technique boils down to selecting the proper instrument for the task.

You may do so by inquiring:

“How can food tracking assist me in resolving a problem?”

Consider why you wish to control your eating habits. Perhaps you’d like to…

  • Lose weight and improve your health.
  • Learn more about your eating habits.
  • Examine how your eating habits influence your athletic performance.
  • Make a better impression.
  • Aim for a certain body fat percentage.
  • Make your connection with food better.
  • Work on improving your eating habits and being more conscious of what you’re consuming.

One method may be more suitable than another depending on what you want to achieve.

However, no one technique is likely to operate indefinitely.

In fact, mixing methods over time will provide greater outcomes. To figure out which technique to use, use the following guide:

  • makes the most sense in terms of your present objectives
  • it seems possible
  • fits into your daily routine

Calorie and macro counting are the first two methods.

You have a predetermined amount of calories to consume each day depending on your height, weight, age, exercise level, and objectives when you use calorie counting.

Calories are split into three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat during macro counting. (Alcohol is a macronutrient that may be monitored if needed.) You keep track of how many grams of each macronutrient you consume rather than calculating calories. (Because macronutrients make up the calories in food and beverages, this also monitors calories indirectly.)

Though calorie and macro counting are somewhat different, they are comparable in that they both take a lot of time. With either approach, you should weigh and measure your meals at almost every meal using a food scale and/or measuring utensils (cups, spoons).

You’d also be looking up the nutritional worth of what you’re eating in a calorie database (like MyFitness Pal or Cronometer). You may also manually calculate your consumption using nutrition labels.

What are the benefits of calorie and macro counting?

It works, according to research. According to studies, tracking calories and macronutrients may help individuals lose up to 5% of their body weight without any additional dietary advice. 2 That’s a 10-pound weight reduction for someone who weighs 200 pounds.

It ensures utmost accuracy. Calorie and macro monitoring aren’t perfect, but they’re the most accurate options outside of a lab. Important note: This technique becomes less accurate if you estimate serving sizes instead of weighing and measuring your food.

You learn how to count calories. You become more conscious of how many calories are in everything you eat and drink if you monitor macros or calories. For example, an 8-ounce margarita has 450 calories, and your favorite restaurant salad contains more calories than two Big Macs.

Calorie and macro counting are effective tools for…

Use for a limited time. For a couple of weeks, track your calories or macros to understand more about your present eating habits. It also helps you realize what portions are acceptable. Once you’ve mastered it, you may move on to hand portions and, ultimately, self-control.

Individuals with special needs. For more exact objectives, greater accuracy is required. Let’s suppose someone has to weigh precisely 125 pounds to fit into their weight class, or they need to have exactly 8% body fat for their job. The most efficient method to get there is to track calories and/or macros.

People who are interested in numbers. Some individuals find the process of gathering calorie and macronutrient data, then tracking changes in weight, body size, and health indicators like blood pressure and cholesterol to be very enjoyable. They’re typically emotionally removed from the statistics, seeing them as data rather than assigning “good” or “bad” values to them. Tracking calories or macros may seem liberating for some individuals.

Calorie and macro counting aren’t the best options for…

The majority of individuals. The typical individual, given our experience coaching over 100,000 customers, will not stick to it for long. This applies to everyone from professional athletes to grandparents in their sixties. They don’t want to deal with calorie calculations or keeping track of everything they consume.

Even individuals who enjoy this technique tend to abandon it over time, according to studies. 3,4 One possible explanation is that it may detract from the pleasure of eating. For example, you may be so concerned with meeting your macros that you are unable to enjoy the social elements of dining. (It’s similar like having a delicious dinner with family and friends.)

Furthermore, this kind of meal monitoring may be harmful for certain individuals. According to preliminary research, calorie and macro monitoring applications are linked to three kinds of disordered eating. 5,6,7

  • Binge eating is defined as a strong desire to devour as much food as possible, as quickly as possible.
  • Cognitive dietary restriction is the sensation that you’re always trying to cut down on what you eat.
  • Moralizing food entails categorizing what you eat as “good” or “bad,” as well as associating your self-worth with your eating choices.

People who are excessively critical of themselves, are prone to disordered eating, or have had an eating problem in the past are at the greatest risk.

This isn’t simply a study result; it’s what many coaches, nutritionists, and counselors see in their daily work. (Which is why it was investigated in the first place.)

That’s why we generally advise counting calories and macros for just a few days at a time. Or to individuals whose job requires them to meet extremely precise body composition objectives.

Keep in mind that a tool is only as excellent as the task it does. So, what if:

  • You will find that macro counting is very beneficial to you.
  • You take pleasure in it;
  • You find it energizing and fascinating; and
  • You’re effortlessly and effectively achieving your objectives with it…

…then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.

On the other hand, if:

  • You feel befuddled, worried, distracted, disturbed, or any other unpleasant feeling when you count macros;
  • It is difficult, time-consuming, and exhausting for you;
  • You’re giving it a lot of thought, resulting in an unbalanced existence;
  • You’re devoting more time to it than to the activities that will help you achieve your objective… 

…then think about alternative choices and strategies (like the ones that follow). 

Method #2: Portioning by hand

You utilize your hand as a customized, portable portioning tool in this method, which was created by. You’re not really measuring your meal; instead, you’re gauging portion size with your hand. This technique also counts calories and macros for you since each hand part corresponds to a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, or fat. 

Macros-vs-Calories-vs-Intuitive-Eating-What039s-Best

  • Your protein servings are determined by the size of your palm.
  • Your veggie servings are determined by the size of your fist.
  • Your carb portions are determined by your cupped hand.
  • Your fat portions are determined by your thumb.

It works like this: just input your gender, weight, goals, exercise level, and food preferences into the Calculator. The calculator then shows you how many calories and macros you should consume to achieve your target.

The numbers are then converted to corresponding hand parts. To obtain the required amount of daily servings, all you have to do is use your hands. (To help you get started, the Calculator also provides a free customized report and dietary advice.)

Why do you need to keep track of your portions by hand?

It’s practical and simple to comprehend. Everywhere you go, your hands are with you. They’re always the same size and proportionate to your physique. As a result, they may be used as a reference point without the need of measuring cups or a food scale.

The process of personalization is straightforward. All you have to do if you’re not getting the results you desire is change the amount of servings you’re consuming. You might, for example, eliminate one cupped hand of carbohydrates and one thumb of fats from your regular diet and observe what occurs.

It’s also simple to change the settings to suit your needs. A handful of carbohydrates may be swapped for an additional thumb-sized portion of fats, and vice versa.

Furthermore, you may use this method to adhere to any chosen eating pattern, including Paleo, keto, Mediterranean, and plant-based.

It’s accurate enough. It is not essential for most individuals, even those seeking physical change, to measure or weigh their meals precisely.

Hand portions are 95 percent as precise as meticulously weighing, measuring, and monitoring, according to our own study, but require much less work and time. 

And, given that calorie databases—the most common method for tracking calories and macros—can be as much as 20% wrong, the five percent variation here is insignificant for most individuals. 8

Make no doubt about it: Macro tracking is more precise than hand parts. However, they are precise enough to help you monitor your food consumption and achieve your objectives on a regular basis. And that’s all that counts.

Hand portion tracking is effective for…

People who live hectic, chaotic, and complicated lifestyles. In other words, everyone. Hand portions, as opposed to scales and monitoring applications, making it much simpler to accurately measure how much you’re consuming.

The majority of body composition objectives. Hand portions can get you where you want to go unless you’re pursuing extreme outcomes against a non-negotiable deadline—for example, you get paid according on how your body appears or performs.

Hand servings aren’t the best choice for…

Those having the most aggressive objectives. Professional bodybuilders and models may need a more exact approach. Athletes who need to lose weight or achieve a particular body fat percentage, such as in preparation for a UFC bout, are in the same boat. Keep in mind that these individuals are being paid to eat in this manner. It’s a requirement of their position. And there are costs associated with it.

Method #3: Intuitive and mindful eating

Mindful eating entails paying attention to your eating experience, emotions, and sensations. Mindful eating includes techniques such as eating gently and until you’re 80 percent satisfied. Rather than concentrating on specific foods or quantities, mindful eating teaches you how to control your food intake by paying attention to how your body and mind feel while you eat.

Intuitive eating is a method that is similar to intuitive eating, except it rejects “diet” message and culture. Intuitive eating was designed to enhance your entire connection with food rather than to attain a particular body composition objective.

Both methods include learning how to determine whether you’re hungry or not, when you’ve eaten enough, and how to feel at peace around food.

What are the benefits of mindful and intuitive eating?

These methods promote a positive connection with eating. You may enhance your capacity to self-regulate by practicing mindful and intuitive eating. You’ll be able to enjoy greater flexibility and independence while remaining on track when you remove the training wheels of external guides—calorie counting, macro counting, and monitoring hand portions—over time.

Self-efficacy—the conviction that you can achieve your goals—has been proven to be strengthened by mastering certain self-regulatory abilities. 9 This may boost your self-assurance, drive, and determination to achieve your health objectives. (It’s also extremely useful in daily life.)

The concepts may be used at any time and in any location. You can always eat slowly and thoughtfully, no matter what food choices are available. It’s a lifetime talent to know what it’s like to be hungry, satisfied, full, and/or bloated. These techniques allow you to practice.

You realize that hunger isn’t a life-threatening situation. When you’re hungry, it’s natural to feel panicked and want to devour everything you see. However, if you start paying attention to your hunger signals, you’ll realize that you’ll always be hungry at some point. And you figure out that it’s OK.

If you don’t eat right now, nothing terrible will happen. You may even discover that the sensation fades. Or that you aren’t very hungry. It’s possible that you needed food to deal with grief, humiliation, guilt, or stress. (Emotional eating is the number one dietary issue for 63% of our customers.)

You may also notice that you are very hungry. You’ll have more time and space to make more deliberate food choices if you realize that hunger isn’t an emergency.

This is frequently cited as one of the most beneficial aspects of our coaching program by our customers. Do you want to know more? Check out Conquer Your Cravings: Breaking the Cycle of Overeating for more information.

Eating mindfully and intuitively is beneficial for…

Anyone who wants to improve their connection with food as a priority. These are people who don’t want to lose weight or change their body composition (at least not right now). Instead, they just want to be more at ease with their eating habits.

Other people are keeping track of their meals in other ways. (Or are prepared to move away from them.) Mindful and intuitive eating have a mixed track record when it comes to weight reduction. 10,11,12,13 We strongly suggest them, though, since they help individuals develop basic eating habits that they may apply for the rest of their lives.

It’s the best of both worlds when mindful or intuitive eating is coupled with a technique like monitoring hand portions, calories, or macros. External recommendations are provided to assist you in being more aware of your surroundings and making better decisions. By paying attention to how food makes you feel, you may learn to better self-regulate your consumption.

What should I do next?

Step 1: Begin where you are now.

Choose the strategy that best suits your (or your client’s) lifestyle, objectives, and preferences. For the most part, this entails a mix of approaches.

To learn how to do the following, use the nutritional training wheel approach: calorie counting, macro counting, and hand portion monitoring.

  • Measure portion sizes more accurately.
  • Create high-quality dishes.
  • Enhance your progress.

To keep track of your food consumption, you’ll need to figure out where you want to start.

Enter your information into the Calculator to do so. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or just eat for better health, this will give the calories, macros, and hand quantities to consume to accomplish your chosen goal.

Then utilize the targets that correspond to the tracking technique you’ve selected. This is your starting point. For the next two weeks, stick to this strategy as much as possible.

Combining meal monitoring with intuitive/mindful techniques, such as paying attention to internal signals, eating gently, and stopping when you’re approximately 80% full, is ideal. (Remember how we said that?)

Step 2: Keep an eye on things and make adjustments as needed.

When it comes to food monitoring, precision is a myth.

All monitoring methods, even the most meticulous calorie counts, are in some way incorrect. (Here’s why.)

Fortunately, precise precision isn’t what drives outcomes when it comes to meal monitoring.

What matters most is consistency. 

This is why: You obtain a consistent measurement of your food intake when you monitor what you eat, regardless of whatever method you choose. Even if the calorie counts aren’t 100% precise, you’ve created a reliable and consistent baseline.

After that, you keep track of your progress:

Are you (or your customer) trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight? 

Then, if necessary, modify your food consumption using your chosen monitoring technique to get your desired result.

This occurs regardless of how precise your meal monitoring system is. What’s more, guess what?

It’s impossible to know exactly how many calories your body requires each day. Even the most advanced calculators only give a rough approximation.

Consider it an experiment. Make tiny adjustments until you notice improvement if you don’t obtain the results you desire.

Let’s suppose you’re trying to lose weight and the Calculator recommends that you eat:

  • If you’re counting calories, you’ll need 2,500 calories each day.
  • If you’re tracking macros, eat 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbohydrates, and 100 grams of fat each day.
  • If you’re counting hand portions, that’s 7 palms of protein, 6 fists of veggies, 6 handfuls of carbohydrates, and 7 thumbs of fats each day.

But the scale hasn’t moved in two weeks.

What’s your next move? You may cut down on your consumption by doing the following:

  • If you’re counting calories, you should consume 250 calories each day.
  • If you’re calculating macros, that’s 30 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of fat.
  • If you’re monitoring hand portions, 1 handful of carbohydrates and 2 thumbs of fat

(Alternatively, if you’re aiming to gain weight, you may increase your consumption by those quantities.)

Monitor for another two to four weeks, then modify using the same procedure if necessary.

You’re now making adjustments based on your progress rather than your original estimates. This is how you tailor your dietary intake to your specific requirements.

Step 3: Figure out where your sweet spot is.

You may completely switch to self-regulation after you’ve achieved your objectives.

This isn’t to say you should ignore calories, macros, or hand portions. In reality, you’ll keep using the abilities you’ve developed to get here.

As an example, you may now:

  • Gain a better understanding of how many calories and macronutrients you’re consuming.
  • Recognize proper portion sizes.
  • Have a better understanding of food quality

You can still use your palm to figure out how much protein to place on your plate, but you won’t have to keep track of it. You’ve effectively absorbed these external guidelines.

So you’re utilizing what you’ve learned to plan your meals with care (without moralizing food). However, you do so only when you are physically hungry. (Unless you’re deliberately eating something when you’re not hungry.) Then you consume these meals slowly till you’re satiated.

But keep in mind that if you want to make substantial bodily changes, you may discover that using external guidance is helpful—even essential. If the necessity arises, the methods are available to you.

Also, don’t forget to consider things other than food.

Food is essential, but it isn’t the only factor to consider. Even if your aim is to lose weight, this is true. Not only will a well-rounded program concentrate on nutrition, but it will also include:

  • obtaining more restful sleep
  • regular movement
  • stress reduction
  • enhancing your attitude and perspective

So that you (or your customers) achieve optimal health in all areas.

Isn’t it the sort of profound health you’re seeking, at the end of the day?

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

  1. J. Trabulsi and D. Schoeller (2001). Double labeled water, a biomarker of habitual consumption, was used to test dietary assessment tools. Endocrinology and Metabolism, American Journal of Physiology, 281(5): E891-E899.
  1. M.L. Patel, C.M. Hopkins, T.L. Brooks, and G. G. Bennett (2019). A randomized controlled study compared self-monitoring methods for weight reduction via a smartphone app. 7th International Journal of Medical Internet Research (2).
  1. G.M. Turner-McGrievy, C.G. Dunn, S. Wilcox, A.K. Boutte, B. Hutto, A. Hoover, and E. Muth (2019). Defining and evaluating adherence to mobile dietary self-monitoring across time: Within two distinct mobile health randomized weight reduction programs, tracking at least two eating times each day is the greatest marker of adherence. 119(9): 1516-1524 in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  1. M.C. Carter, V.J. Burley, C. Nykjaer, and J.E. Cade (2013). Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial comparing weight-loss adherence to a smartphone application against a website and a paper diary. 15(4): e32 in Journal of Medical Internet Research.
  1. My Fitness Pal tracker use in eating disorders, Levinson, C.A., Fewell, L., and Brosof, L.C. Eating Behavior, vol. 27, no. 14, pp. 14-16.
  1. Messer, M. Linardon, J. Linardon, J. Linardon, J. Linardon, J. Linard (2019). Men’s use of My Fitness Pal: Relationships with Eating Disorder Symptoms and Psychosocial Impairment Eating Behavior, vol. 33, no. 13, pp. 13-17.
  1. C.C. Simpson and S.E. Mazzeo (2017). Associations between calorie counting and fitness monitoring technologies and eating disorder symptomatology. 89-92 in Eating Behavior.
  1. Food and Drug Administration of the United States (as of September 20, 2018). Guide for Developing and Using Data Bases for Nutrition Labeling is a guide for industry.
  1. E. Sairanen, A. Tolvanen, L. Karhunen, M. Kolehmainen, M. Jarvela-Reijonen, E. Jarvela-Reijonen, S. Lindroos, K. Peuhkuri, R. Korpela, M. Ermes, E. Mattila, R. Lappalainen (2017). In acceptance and commitment therapy treatments, psychological flexibility promotes changes in intuitive eating control. 20(9): 1681-1691 in Public Health Nutrition.
  1. K.L. Olson and C.F. Emery (2015). A comprehensive review of mindfulness and weight reduction. 59-67 in Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 77, no. 1.
  1. Ruffault, A., ,Czernichow, S., Hagger, M.S., Ferrand, M., Erichot, N., Carette, C., Boujut, E., Flahault, C. (2017). The effects of mindfulness training on weight-loss and health-related behaviours in adults with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 11(5 Suppl 1): 90-111.
  1. J.M. Warren, N. Smith, and M. Ashwell (2017). A systematic assessment of the efficacy of mindfulness, mindful eating, and intuitive eating in altering eating habits, as well as the possible processes involved. 30(2): 272-283 in Nutrition Research Reviews.
  1. C. Dunn, M. Haubenreiser, M. Johnson, M. Nordby, S. Aggarwal, S. Myer, C. Thomas, M. Haubenreiser, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson, M. Johnson (2018). Weight reduction, weight maintenance, and weight return all benefit from mindfulness methods. Current Obesity Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 37-49.

If you’re a coach or wish to be one…

It’s both an art and a science to guide clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a manner that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.

Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.

Right now, most of us are eating to live, and it’s a formula that works. But what if there was another way? What if you could eat to live, but you don’t have to be hungry to do it? What if you could eat to live, but you could still enjoy eating to live? The other day I saw this picture of a girl eating an apple and it made me think. Why not try to find a way to eat like that? If I can do it, why can’t you?. Read more about macros vs calories bodybuilding and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to go by calories or macros?

It is better to go by calories.

Can you track calories with intuitive eating?

No, intuitive eating is a diet that focuses on self-regulation of food intake. It does not track calories or macronutrients.

Should I count macros or just eat healthy?

It is best to count macros and eat healthy.

Related Tags

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