How To Guide To Counting Calories & Macros For Beginners

How To Track Your Calories
Written by The Protein Chef

The solution for losing weight, gaining weight, and even maintaining weight can all be found…right on your phone! Counting calories is one of the best habits you can learn and one of the easiest. Today I’m gonna try to simplify how to track your calories as much as possible.

To start you need to know how many calories you need to eat and there’s a million ways to figure this out online nowadays. To keep to try to simplify this part of the tracking process, we created a Guide To Understanding How To Lose Weight which you can check out here if you haven’t already.

Now if you find you use one of these resources and you’re not seeing any progress after a couple weeks then you’ll probably need to modify your intake a bit. Everyone is different and part of being successful in this game of health and fitness is being able to learn and listen to your body. In my experience, most of these estimators are fairly accurate as long as you’re honest with them.

Alright, you figured out how many calories you need to eat to reach your goals. Next you’ll need to find a way to track those without carrying around a notebook and doing math all day (unless of course you don’t mind being a food accountant). Here’s my 2 favorite methods:

#1. Using a calorie tracker. With todays technology this is without question the easiest and quickest way all while being in the palm of your hand…or on your computer if for some reason you don’t have a smartphone.

As long as you can browse a website or download an app, you’ll be well on your way to success. There’s more than a handful…and by handful I mean THOUSANDS of great sites but I’m a big fan of MyFitnessPal (this is not an ad) and have been using it for years so we’ll use that as my example.

What you do to track your calories on here is simply add the food that you eat and that’s it, we’re done here!

No, not really. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and if it was I probably wouldn’t be writing this article so lets go over some things I’ve learned throughout the years that I think will benefit you.

  1. If you have a food scale, going by grams will give you the best results and is the best method for portioning and recipes.
  2. Don’t be scared to estimate. Eating a few bites of a Greek yogurt container on-the-go? Punch in 1 or 2 ounces or say .25 of the container!
  3. If you don’t feel like typing in the food or can’t seem to find it, this app allows you to scan the barcode. If you still can’t find it, you can also enter it in yourself in a matter of seconds.
  4. Aside from adding in your foods you can also set your calorie and macro goals so you know how much of each you have left (super helpful when choosing what to eat throughout the day), you can have different graphs like weekly or monthly goals, and you can add or change the name of your sections from Breakfast to say Meal #1 or whatever else you want.
  5. Here’s where these apps can sometimes fail. With such large databases mostly made by users, not all foods are alike and sometimes things change or are entered incorrectly. You may scan a barcode and another food item will pop up or the right one will pop up with the wrong calories or serving size. The solution to this is to just keep an eye on what you’re adding and also give the macros a quick scroll to see if they match up. Don’t overthink this too much, if something is off by 1/2 a gram or so I wouldn’t worry about it. Yes, this part of tracking can be a bit annoying but chances are you eat a lot of the same things so the next time you add them it’ll be that much easier.

#2. Meal Prep everything. For those of you that are a bit more strict or have a crazy schedule, this method might prove to be best for you. All you’re doing here is finding your daily calorie goals and preparing all of your meals for that day based off of those goals. If these put you at 2,000 calories a day then you’d times that by 7 or however many days your preparing for and prep your meals accordingly for that amount of days.

  • 10 ounces of chicken turns into 70
  • 100 grams of rice turns into 700
  • 20 almonds turns into 140

The only things that are flexible here would be the day that you meal prep and how many meals or recipes you’re gonna have per day. There are also plenty of companies out there that will meal prep for you based off your goals if you can afford that kind of thing since it is pricey.

MEAL PREP TIP: You can make most recipes a “meal prep recipe” by multiplying the ingredients (if a recipe makes 3.5 servings and you need 7 then you would times it by 2). You may need to adjust your cooking times to compensate for the larger quantity of ingredients but this should work for almost everything!

Most people will incorporate both of these methods. They’ll meal prep 1 or 2 meals then give themselves flexibility to eat other things throughout the day by tracking their calories, which will help with cravings.

With that said, creating a new habit can prove to be a difficult experience no matter the level of difficulty. If you get lazy for a few days, don’t fault yourself too much. Eventually it’ll stick and become routine. For only a few minutes a day…you’ll wonder why you never picked it up sooner!

I’m always here hanging out so drop me a comment or question below if you have any.

About the author

The Protein Chef

Derek Howes is a personal trainer and chef with over a decade of experience in the gym and kitchen. Derek, who is also known as The Protein Chef on his blog and YouTube channel shows his viewers every week that food doesn’t need to be boring or repetitive, it’s all about balance, moderation, and having the knowledge to change things up. His recipes which have been featured in the news, magazines, and on TV are cheap, quick, AND delicious! His motto in life is “everything in moderation” and is without question the most important habit he follows.

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