Macro Counting 101: The Comprehensive, No-Nonsense Guide

This visual guide to counting macros will teach you how to build meal plans out of foods that you love.

The guide offers an easier and more sustainable method to counting your macros than entering every single food and drink you eat, every day, into a nutritional calculator. The trade-off to this is just a little more thought up front.

→ Join 50,000+ others and download my macro calculation guide here.

How To Count Macros

The Philosophy & Approach

  • Perfection is not possible because inaccuracies in counting are unavoidable.
  • Simplifications make life easier, but we introduce an additional layer of inaccuracy.
  • Inaccuracies (to a degree) are fine as long as we are consistently inaccurate – we can then make relative adjustments to our intake after a baseline has been established over several weeks of consistency.

This guide is based on what I’ve learned guiding clients with this over the last several years. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Tracking Macros: Why Consistency is Important
  2. Simplified Macro Counting Rules
  3. How To Make Your Own Counting Rules
  4. Using Flexible Targets for Easy Dieting
  5. How to Calculate Your Macros
  6. How to Make Meal Plans
  7. Macro Counting FAQ


1. Tracking Macros: Why Consistency is Important

Weighing and counting everything to the exact gram for months on end doesn’t encourage a very healthy relationship with food, and relying exclusively on packaged goods with a nutritional label isn’t a very healthy or tasty way to go either. This is why I suggest that people simplify the way they count their macros rather than driving themselves nuts seeking perfection.

Simplifications will lead to some inaccuracies, however, I don’t believe that inaccuracies need to matter as long as we’re, a) not wildly off from what we thought, b) consistent with our cooking & counting methods so that we don’t have large variances from day-to-day.

Common Counting Mistake 1 – Miscounting leading to energy intake being way off target

Here’s are some examples of how this commonly happens:

  • Your daily lunchtime salad that you thought wouldn’t be worth counting (because it’s mostly leafy green vegetables) actually has 40g of fat in it because of the dressing.
  • You forgot to count the cola/ fruit juices in your diet.
  • You’ve been melting 80g of butter into your coffee each morning because you read that you would burn more fat this way, so you decided not to count it.

Figure 1: What we don’t want: average calorie/macro intake wildly above or below target.

Average daily calorie intake guidelines and what most people don't do


Common Counting Mistake 2 – Miscounting leading to large fluctuations in daily energy intake

Here’s are some examples of how this commonly happens:

  • After tough days at work, you’re in the habit of drinking several beers. You count the carbs but forget to count the alcohol. (More on this below.)
  • Some days you grill your meat, some days you fry it, some days you sous vide it (boiling your meat in a zip lock bag, I hear this is a tasty trend in California). You count the macros as the same regardless of cooking style, forgetting that fat intake will change depending on the method.

Figure 2: Unacceptable vs Acceptable average daily calorie/macro intake fluctuations from target

Graph displaying details of acceptable and unacceptable calorie intake guidelines

It’s too easy for counting mistakes to occur or things to slip in unnoticed into our diets. They quickly add up to big differences, so here’s some homework: Without changing your diet, use a nutritional calculator to count the calories and macros in every single thing except water that you put in your mouth for an entire week. Use one or a combination of these nutritional calculators:

FitGenie (put together by my co-author on The Muscle and Strength Pyramid books) / MyFitnessPal /

Be Consistent With Counting & Cooking Methods So You Can Make Relative Adjustments


It is not necessary to know exact intake or energy expenditure as long as you are willing to track things and then make adjustments.

Figure 3 – A manageable (but not ideal) range of calorie intake inaccuracy.

acceptable calorie intake range

Let’s say we aim for the black line as our target intake, but we don’t know whether we’re over or under 20% of our target – this definitely isn’t ideal but if you track things over several weeks, you can adjust things relatively. Then,

  • If your weight is falling too fast, increase calories.
  • If your weight not falling in line with how you planned, decrease calories.

I know, that’s not rocket science but it’s something many folks seem to easily miss. They make complete re-calculations instead of adjusting from their baseline. Here‘s my free email course on how to do that.

Ah, but what about macros, it surely matters if one is way off compared to the others, right?

Yes, naturally. We’re still counting macros so we’re not going to be way off with any of them. We just want to make things easier for ourselves. The next section covers how.


2. Simplified Macro Counting Rules

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Ask yourself, it worth the extra mental headache of counting rice as 71g of carbs per 100g of dried weight, or will simplifying it to 70g suffice? I would say that it’s well worth going with the simplification. Here are some suggestions.

Important Notes:

  • Everything below is a simplification for raw or uncooked foods. Cooked weight simplifications are not given because the water weight they contain will vary depending on the degree to which they are cooked.
  • If something is in a packet with the nutritional information label on it, look at the macro content and make your own simplified rule from that. Most things will be listed ‘per 100g’, others will be ‘per serving’. Make sure you double-check and don’t just assume that it’s to the nearest 100g always or you’ll get caught out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How to Count Carbs

1g Carbohydrate ~=4kCal

Carbs are going to come through your diet in a variety of sources: fruit, starchy carbs, veg and in the other things you don’t generally think about like dairy, sauces, and drinks.

Starchy carbs

These will form the bulk of your carb intake. – (Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.)

  • Raw Potatoes ~15g-20g carbs per 100g weight.
  • Sweet potatoes, ~20-25g per 100g weight.
  • Dried Rice ~70g of carbs per 100g weight. Works for most dried pasta too.
  • Bread – varies (some manufacturers add a lot of butter for flavor). Look at the nutritional label if available or in one of the nutritional calculators.

You’ll see that protein and fat content in the starchy carbs have been ignored in the above simplifications. That’s purposeful to make things easier, but it’s up to you.

Pro tip: Microwavable rice and other similar things won’t conform to the simplifications above because they are partially cooked and have greater water content.

  • Consider one ‘medium’ sized piece of fruit (an apple, a banana, a pear, an orange, etc.) to be 25g of carbs.
  • Other things like berries, melon, etc? Weigh them once and look them up.
  • Unsure, or hate the idea of ‘medium’? Weigh it once, look it up.

Pro tip: Avoid smoothies and fruit juice when dieting. – All the sugar, none of the fiber. Easy to ‘eat’ but not very filling.

  • Count the carbs in starchy vegetables as they are more energy dense. Examples: carrots, peas, corn, potatoes, parsnips. (When looking these up you’ll see that the energy content is relatively high for a vegetable, and fiber content per gram of carbs is low.)
  • Don’t bother counting the carbs in any leafy, green vegetables.
  • Consider ignoring the rest. – Look it up, make a decision, stick to that decision.

For more useful graphics, check out my Instagram.

Pro tip: A can of diced or chopped tomatoes is a great idea, but if the math doesn’t add up on the ingredient label to what it should normally, that’s probably because that particular manufacturer added sugar. You’ll want to count the carb content of this in that case.

Carbs in other things that add up quickly and are easily missed:

  • Drinks (milk, juice, soft-drinks)
  • Dairy
  • Protein powder
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings

Check the packaging, or look it up and count it against your daily target.

Pro tip:Net Carbs” If you come across this, ignore it. You’ll likely find it on protein bars or other healthy snacks if you’re into those things. Count the fiber and sugar alcohols in them against your carb target for the day – they still have energy (though not as much energy admittedly), but you can’t just gorge yourself on these things. Exactly how much energy depends on the fiber type or the sugar alcohol type and is probably a road you don’t want to go down.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How to Count Protein

1g Protein ~=4kCal

  • Uncooked beef/ chicken/ pork/ lamb/ fish 100g = ~20-25g of protein.
  • One large egg = ~8g protein 5g fat.
  • Egg whites = ~4g protein.

The fat content in meat can quickly add up so be careful that your choices of cut don’t add up past your fat macro budget for the day. Here are the leanest protein sources:

  • Chicken breast (skinless),
  • some red meat,
  • white fish,
  • some cuts of tuna,
  • protein shakes,
  • Skimmed milk & other, low-fat dairy.

To say that I am not a fan of supplement companies would be an understatement. However, I do concede that in most countries in the world, the cheapest way to hit your protein requirements is protein powder, so if you’re on a budget then consider this.

For more useful graphics, check out my Instagram.

Pro tip: The trade-off to drinking our food is that it is less satisfying, more easily digested, and we get hungry quicker than if it were eating regular food. Casein protein is the most filling type of protein powder due to the slow rate of absorption. For those bulking, liquid food like this or fruit juices can be your friend.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How to Count Fat

1g Fat ~=9kCal

In contrast to vegetables, fat is highly energy dense. Generally 1g of weight = 1g fat = 9kCal. As the energy content can add up quickly I’d suggest that you consider counting the fat in everything.

How many grams of fat are in that cut of steak? How about after it’s grilled and some fat has dripped off of it, should I weigh the fat and deduct from the total?

Here’s the most sensible strategy – look it up in a nutritional calculator, make your best, educated guess at the fat content, and then forget about it. You’re likely to eat the same cuts of meat again and again so it won’t matter because you’ll be following the ‘consistency rule’.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How to Count Alcohol

1g Alcohol ~=7kCal

It is difficult to make simplifications for alcohol, especially beer, as each drink will vary. Here is a rough idea:

  • Beer @5%: ~150kCal, ~12g carbs, ~14g alcohol (per 12floz/350ml can/bottle)
  • White wine @10%: ~200kCal, ~7g carbs, ~25g alcohol (250g glass, 1/3 bottle)
  • Red wine @10%: ~210kCal, 9g carbs~25g alcohol
  • Spirit shot @40%: 70/84kCal (25ml/1fl.oz)
  • You can look up your favorite beer (or other alcohol) here.

Most generic spirits will be 40% alcohol with no other macro content. You take the amount you drink, multiply by the alcohol content, then multiply by the calories per gram of alcohol.So if you have 4 European shots (25ml) that’s 100ml, 100g; 100×0.4×7 = 280kCal. Deduct the carbs from your allowance for the day.

Alcohol isn’t part of your three macro targets, but it is going to count towards the daily calorie balance which needs to be maintained, so reduce your carb and fat intake accordingly. If you’re going to binge drink then see here.

Pro tip: Zubrowka mixed with apple juice. Tastes awesome, thank me later.

Vodka intake guidelines for calculating calories


3. How To Make Your Own Counting Rules

That above was not an attempt at an exhaustive list. The idea is to give you examples so you can learn how to make them on your own, for the foods that you like.

Have a look at this label for 100g of dried pasta. Dry Macaroni Nutritional InfoHere are some examples of simplified rules we can make:

  • 100g of dry pasta ~= 70g carbs, 0g fat, and 0g protein.
  • 100g of dry pasta ~= 70g carbs, 0g fat, and 10g protein.
  • 100g of dry pasta ~= 75g carbs, 0g fat, and 10g protein.
  • 100g of dry pasta ~= 75g carbs, 0g fat, and 15g protein.
  • 100g of dry pasta ~= 75g carbs, 2g fat, and 15g protein.

Actual: 100g of dry pasta = 73g carbs, 2g fat and 15g protein.

In all but one of the above examples, calories will be underestimated. You’ll see that they range from least to most accurate top down, with the last barely being a counting simplification at all.

How accurate you wish to be with your rules is up to you. Clearly the trade-off to greater accuracy is more complication, however, I’d say that it’s better to underestimate and over-consume than vice versa. Here’s why:

Fat is slow to gain but can be quickly burned off. Muscle takes a lot of effort to gain, but can easily be lost if there is an excess calorie deficit, inadequate training intensity, or inadequate protein intake.

If we verge on the side of undercounting rather than overestimation it’s better for lean mass preservation, and a safer long-term strategy overall.

Figure 4: Target area of intake to think about when constructing counting rules

Acceptable calorie intake guidelines

When dieting, it’s better to underestimate and over-consume than vice versa.

The green area in the figure above represents the target area. Think about this when constructing your simplified rules. Be on the black line or slightly above.


4. Using Flexible Targets for Easy Dieting

Ok, so we’ve made our lives a lot easier. We know we’re a little inaccurate, but we’re in the right range and we’re being consistent. Within the counting framework you’ve created to make life easier, are you now going to shit it all up by aiming to get exactly 67g of fat, 173g of protein and 266g of carbohydrate each day? I certainly hope not – this is exactly the all-or-nothing mindset we’re trying to avoid. So this begs the question, how accurate should we be?

In my experience the following works very well:

Goal: Shoot for 10% either side of each macro target for the day, 90% of the time (as long as the other 10% of the time isn’t total binge eating) and you’ll be fine.

For those on a deadline – magazine shoot, competition, etc. – and are already <10% body fat, tighten this up to 5% either side. This is more for the psychological security that it will bring, in case you have to wait for a whoosh for example, than anything else.

Practice this for a week or two little and when you can start getting within that +/-10% accuracy target, start tracking.

As much as you think your diet may be varied, the foods that you actually cook from and eat will not be that numerous, so it won’t take long to look everything up in one of the nutritional calculators I listed above once. (Just do it when you get home from the supermarket over the next week so that it isn’t a chore.)

Make a note of any new foods on a memo sheet (‘cheat sheet’) and pin it up on the fridge in the kitchen. Put together a few meals out of your favorite foods, and put these meals together so that you have a set of meals for your training days and rest days that fit your macros, then rotate them. Build on this number over time to bring variety to your diet. From here you don’t need to recalculate things, you just refer to the cheat sheet up on your fridge.


5. How to Calculate Your Macros

Stick your email address in the box below, I’ll send you my free, 100-page, mobile-friendly ebook covering the theory and application of calculations and meal timing… which you are of course free to skip and just download the spreadsheet. The link is at the end of the introduction chapter in the book.


6. How to Make Meal Plans Out of Your Macros

Creating meals we enjoy doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult, we just need to apply the simplified rules we learned above, and convert them into meals that we enjoy so we can rotate them throughout the week.

Training Day Meal Examples


  • You have calculated your daily macros (using this guide) to be: 175g of protein, 250g of carbs, and 60g of fat.
  • You are going to train fasted in the morning (well, actually you’ll have a 25 g whey shake) and have two big meals for lunch and dinner, split 50-50. (More on timing options in that guide also.)
  • Therefore, you need to make two meals, each with 75g of protein, 125g of carbs, and 30g of fat. 

(Note: It doesn’t have to be an exact 50-50 split but let’s just roll with this for the example.)

Example lunch for a training day

What we have here is 300g of shredded lean beef, 180g of couscous, and a couple fists of vegetables.

Using our simplified rules, the math on this is simple:

  • We need 75g of protein. There is ~25g in 100g of uncooked meat, so we need 300g of meat. (75/25)*100
  • We need 125g of carbs. There is 70g in 100g of dry pasta/couscous, so we need 180g of dry pasta/couscous. (125/70)*100
  • 30g of fat = Estimate 10g of fat per 100g of lean beef.

Note: Vegetables were grilled so no fat has been added to the count. If you stir-fry these or add any oil to the cooking process, add that into your numbers. Fat can very easily be overlooked and will mess up your calculations if you don’t pay attention.

Example dinner for a training day

The first meal was easy enough, right? Let’s try the second meal of the day.

We still need the same quantity of protein, carbs, and fat. We’re going to choose a leaner cut of meat like turkey, rather than steak, as we only have 30g of fat to work with and let’s say we want to feel really full with potatoes.

Here’s how that would look:

What we have here is 300 g of turkey steak, around 500 g of potatoes, and a couple of fists of vegetables.

Using our simplified rules, the math on this one is also simple:

  • We need 75g of protein. There is ~25g in 100g of uncooked meat, so we need 300g of meat. (75/25)*100
  • We need 100g of carbs. There is ~20g in 100g of dry potatoes, so we need 500g of dry potatoes (2 medium or 1 very large one). (100/20)*100
  • We need 30g of fat. Turkey is very lean so we have created our rule of 0g of fat per 100g. The fat calculated here comes from a couple of tablespoons of oil used to cook both the mushrooms and the turkey. 

Tip: Reduce the fat used for cooking if you are trying to lower your numbers in any meal.

Rest Day Meal Examples

Now, let’s say you are having a lower calorie day, with lower carbs and more fats. Something like: 175 g of protein, 75 g of carbs, and 80 g of fat.

What’s the simple adjustment you might make?

Well, just choose a slightly fattier protein, and then drop out the majority of your starchy carbohydrate. 

You might begin to see a pattern here, the ‘star’ of the show is your protein portion which we then complement with veggies, carbs & condiments, depending on our goals.

Example meal for a rest day

Boring salads? Here’s what a salad can really look like:

The macros in this, including dressing, are 80g of protein, 0g of carbs, 45g of fat.

Let’s break those numbers down:

  • 80g of protein from 300g of chicken breast, 1 whole egg, 30g of bacon, plus the 15g of cheddar cheese.
  • 0g of carbs. Yes, there are almost 500g of vegetables in this but, since it’s mostly greens, we make our lives easier by not trying to figure out how many grams of carbs are in lettuce, tomato, spinach, etc… You can choose to count them of course, just be consistent with whatever you decide to do.
  • 45g of fat from the tablespoon of olive oil used in the dressing, the fat in the egg, those 30g of bacon and the 15g of cheddar cheese.

Trust me when I say that you will be full after eating all that volume.

When in doubt, remember:

  1. Pick your protein.
  2. Add veggies.
  3. Condiments and seasoning for flavor.
  4. Complete with carbs and/or fat depending on your macros/preferences.

Do that with 6–8 different set meals you can rotate during the week and make it easy for yourself to hit your numbers.

Then as you get more experience, add in some more meals.

Start small and simple, then build.

Let’s look at what a day might look like rotating those meals

Plenty of vegetables and protein, adequate fat and carbohydrate. You can even add a small portion of whatever you like to help with consistency.

How To Count When Eating Out

We know that being perfect isn’t the goal, but trying to stay consistent when eating out can be a challenge, too.

Bear in mind that restaurants don’t care about your macros and the chef usually wants you to enjoy delicious food so you recommend them and come back often.

You can still enjoy meals out whilst maintaining progress, you just have to be smart:

Eating out can be easy to navigate if you apply simple rules. Be wary of fatty cuts of meat, oils, etc…

  • Try to replicate what you created at home as much as possible. Visual memory should help here with portion sizes, choices, etc… Use your hands to estimate!
  • If you are trying to keep calories low, it might be a good idea to exaggerate the numbers in the meal in front of you, especially the fat count.
  • Adjust the rest of the day around this event. Similarly to our alcohol guide, you can try to get your protein in early in the day so you can be a bit more relaxed when going out. Careful though, making this a daily occurrence will most likely have an impact on your progress. Keep that in mind.

“This is all great, Andy. But how do I count macros on things like burgers, pizza, etc…? Should I even bother?”

Excellent question. Here’s another example:

How can we estimate those macros?

Just like we have done at home, all we have to do is break it down into smaller steps.

The more you cook at home, the more you’ll learn about these things, and the easier it will be to estimate them for you.

  • Look at the menu. A burger is simply meat, bread, cheese and whatever condiments the restaurant chose to make it tasty. With that in mind, our first step is to try and learn the quantities that the restaurant serves. This can be easily done by paying attention to the menu in front of your eyes, it usually states the weight of the meat and a list of the ingredients used to create your burger.
  • Use your simplified rules. If you see “150g of pure Angus beef” on the menu, create a rule for yourself on how much fat content that type of meat has. Once you have created that rule, use it everywhere you go, it will keep things simpler and will help you stay consistent.
  • Choose wisely. Ask for sauces to be served separately so you can control how much you add. They are usually mayo based, so go with the macros of mayonnaise here.
  • Add it all together. After deciding what you want and the simplified rules you are applying, you could use an online calculator to add all the ingredients up once, and see what the numbers approximately are. If you are cutting and want to be on the safe side, overestimate the fat macros by 5-10%. Again, be consistent here, remember that this is not a daily occurrence so we are trying to make things as simple as possible.

Here’s a screenshot of my simplified calculations for the burger above, note that I added no sauce at all (I asked for it to be removed) to it and used my 15% fat content rule with the meat. 

The meat could very well be 30% or 8% fat, but I will not stress about it since I’m trying to be as consistent as possible and can always adjust at a later stage if I see my numbers are all over the place, or I’m not making the progress I had anticipated.

I suggest you do something similar and make it as easy as possible to not stress yourself when eating out.

Prioritise cooking at home and you will learn the proper skills to navigate your life outside the comfort of your kitchen. is also a great tool to plan out meals, quantities, etc…


Macro Counting FAQ

What if I don’t wish to count at all?

It’s actually possible to get shredded without counting anything if you are prepared to eat the same meal combinations over and over again. I had two very successful cuts before I knew what I was doing, using that method. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. You’re going to need to cook most of your meals at home. Be sure you are consuming protein at each meal. Create a schedule based on your meal preference and stick to it.
  2. Track your body measurements and ensure your data is moving downwards.
  3. If you need to make a reduction, don’t bother counting it, just remove a fist-sized portion of carbohydrates from your food each day.
  4. This should keep the scale moving in the right direction. Each time the fat loss stalls, remove another half-fist of carbohydrates from your meals. You should do this as few times as you can, though, so that you’re eating as much as possible while still losing fat.

Then, Bingo! You’re shredded.

For more useful graphics, check out my Instagram.

Using this method, technically your fat intake will remain pretty much unchanged throughout your cut, which isn’t optimal – carbs are important to fuel your training and you don’t want to go too low on them – however, that’s a small trade-off to make in order to utilize this very easy method.

It also helps to not have a girlfriend or be dating during this. For obvious reasons.

Why is it safe to not count most veg?

Vegetables are not very energy dense. With the exception of the few starchy ones (such as potatoes and carrots), it’s tough to eat so many that it makes a significant impact on your calorie intake.

100g of raw tomatoes: ~3g carbs, 1g protein, ~=16kCal 100g of spinach: ~3g carbs, 2g protein, ~=20kCal
100g of butter =100g fat, ~= 900kCal

Even if you choose to eat a truly huge amount of vegetables each day to keep yourself full, 1.5kg/3.3lbs for example, and choose not to count any of it, at the worst case we’re only talking a ~300kCal increase above what you were counting – if your digestive system were as efficient as a cow that is.

In reality, the energy availability of that veg will be lower than the standard 4kCal per 1g for carbs because it will be mostly fiber, which our bodies are not very good at taking the energy from. Also, it’s likely that your gut won’t be able to handle such a high amount of fiber anyway, and the severe bloating and/or diarrhea will get you to limit yourself naturally.

In a nutshell, fibrous (non-starchy) vegetables aren’t something we need to worry about counting. (My fiber and intake guidelines.)

Are large swings in calorie intake from day to day fine if they lead to the same average intake over time?

No. The bodyweight change would be the same in both situations, however, this isn’t optimal for workout recovery or nutrient partitioning so you’ll be fatter, with less muscle in the ‘wild swing’ condition (see: ‘common mistake 2’ diagram). This is why binge-starve cycles don’t lead to ripped physiques.

Why do you say under-counting is less common?

People tend to auto-correct. Hunger intensifies and eventually leads to binges followed by more strict adherence.

What about eating out?

See the graphic above to make things easier but please know this:

If you’re eating out in restaurants all the time, and/or partying your ass off all the time, then no matter how much of a cheat-sheet I give you, you’re not going to have success with counting macros so forget it. Diet adherence goes out the window after a few drinks anyway, and it’s easy to wake up surrounded by kebab wrappers.

It’s difficult to guess what macros are in foods at restaurants (particularly hidden fat), so while you can do your best to eyeball the foods (if you have experience from home cooking to base this on) your diet is not going to be accurate enough overall if the frequency you eat out is too high. – Nobody said there wasn’t a tradeoff.

Why not use one of those macro calculators forever?

You can do that, but I don’t see it as being a long-term sustainable strategy.

What about [insert food here]?

Look it up in a calculator, make an executive decision on what you deem to be a reasonable simplification for this food, stick to it and that way you have the ‘consistency rule’ covered. If this worries you, press this button and come back.

Oh but I live in country x and the food is very oily.

Excellent. The least fatty cuts of meat will probably be the cheapest ones in your supermarket. Rejoice, friend. The food is weird you say? Come try the supermarkets in Japan. I have to skip past the octopus, whale, & cod semen to get to the meat & poultry section every day.

I live in a country where the nutritional information is not typically listed on food packets or in restaurants?

Your best bet is to cook at home. Rice, pasta, potatoes, quinoa, etc… these basic carbs have the same nutritional info everywhere, so even though it may not be listed on the packet in your supermarket, just weigh it and then google it in English to get the nutritional information. Same principle with vegetables and meat also. You just need a small kitchen scale which may cost you $10.

I prefer to count everything. Is this ok?

That can be absolutely fine. However, it’s also an indication of a slightly OCD personality, and for that reason, you may benefit from letting go to reduce stress.

Ah, but now I can’t throw my macros up onto a forum to ask if they look right. What say you?

Sure, but do you want multiple unqualified opinions on whether your macros are ‘correct’ or is that going to just confuse the situation? You can read my calorie and macro setting guide to see if they are in the right ballpark yourself. From there, “Are these macros right?” is the wrong question to be asking, it should be, “How are these macros working for me?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alright, I think that’s enough for today. Let’s talk about using ‘balancing foods’ to get to within those 10% targets another day.

I hope you found it useful. If anything doesn’t make sense just hit me up in the comments. – Andy

Get The Starter Kit:

Complete diet set up guide 3d cover small 1

Subscribe to our updates and get access to:

1. Macro calculator
2. 'The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet' book
3. Email course on the 5 biggest set-up mistakes people make.

(Yes, it's all free.)

I take your privacy seriously. No spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

The Last Shred 3D Cover - Large

Find my 'Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet' book useful?

↓ Take your physique to the next level ↓

The Last Shred: How To Adjust Your Diet Like A Pro To Achieve Single Digit Body Fat

Stop second guessing yourself.

→ 77 pages, Real data from 5 clients guided to shreds

You owe it to yourself to at least take a look →

About the Author

Andy Morgan

Hi, I'm Andy, co-author of 'The Muscle and Strength Pyramid' textbooks and founder of This site is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing full-time, online, for the last seven years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation. (You can read more about Andy here.)


  1. Katherine says:

    Hi there Andy,
    Thanks so much for all the info you post. Great stuff. I had 2 quick questions.

    1. I calculated my macros using the calculator on your website, and the difference between training and rest day calories is about 600 calories. When you say above in this article that large swings in calorie intake from day to day aren’t good even if they lead to the same average intake over time… Would this 600 cal difference on training and rest days be considered a “large swing” in calorie intake? It feels large to me, but maybe that is not significant in this context.
    2. If I am training 4 days/week, do you suggest doing training M/W/F/Sun for example, with an off day in between each one or does it not matter the days I choose? Guess I am asking this from a carb cycling type of standpoint if it matters how I stagger my training and rest day macros.

    Hope these makes sense. Thanks so much!

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Hi Katherine. Please put these questions in the comments sections of related articles. This keeps the comments on topic for other readers.

  2. Chris Sanders says:

    Hi Andy , I was thinking of supplementing collagen hydrolized in my diet for joints and skin . Do I count the protein from the collagen serving towards my daily total ?

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Count anything that has calories.

      1. Great , thanks Andy for all the helpful info .

  3. Andrew says:

    Hey Andy hope this is the right place to ask about macro set up. So I’ve been on a cut, started at 184 lbs. My goal is 155. I got to 170, only problem is I reached that on about July 1st and I’ve been stuck there since.

    This weekend I finally went into the nutrition set up guide and calculated what my macros should be – and bas actually be higher. Can that be right? Should I really be upping my protein intake by 20g? I didn’t expect the solution to be “eat more”

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      No. As you read in that guide, calorie balance is what determines whether weight is gained or lost. So the solution to a weight loss stall is never to eat more.

      What you may have found out there is that you were undereating protein on what might be considered ideal. You’ve calculated this to be 20 g. How big of a deal is that?

      Recall from the article that the functions of protein when dieting are muscle mass preservation and satiety. Thus, you may be marginally missing out on these things. I say marginally because there are diminishing returns.

      Here’s a good explanation from my instagram:

      Protein Intake Marginal Returns

      Consider “muscle gain” interchangeable with “muscle preservation” and “satiety” in the context of dieting. So, you might be consuming ~15% under what you should have been, but the drawback will be less.

      Thus, could you increase your protein intake by 20 g here? Yes, but you’ll want to reduce your carbs (by 20 g) or fat (by ~10 g) to maintain the daily caloric balance. But don’t expect there to be any noticeable difference day to day, and don’t expect this to fix your weight loss stall. For that, you’ll likely need to make a reduction to your caloric intake. My guide on how to make macro adjustments when dieting is here. I’d also recommend you read this so you understand what is going on, ‘Why You Need to Make Adjustments to Your Macros as You Diet’.

      Knowledge is power. 👊🏻 Hope that was helpful, Andrew.

    2. Andrew says:

      By the way this is a follow up to my comment from Feb 12. Per your suggestion I stuck to it for more than 4 weeks and the weight started to drop.

      I forgot about the rest of your advice though- I will follow what you said back then. Thanks!

  4. Nathan says:

    Hi Andy,

    Have you ever thought about doing a recipe section or writing a cookbook with the macros listed?

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      I may do at some point.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Andy.

    About 5 years ago I signed up for your 12-week personal training course. The macros you gave for me were 140p/265c/50f on training days and 140p/50c/75f on rest days. I was 157 lbs.

    Now, at 29 years of age, and about 25 lbs fatter (I’m 182lbs), adhering to these macros is not losing me any weight.

    Do I need to change my macros for age and for “cutting”?

    Thank you.

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Hi Andrew, great to hear from you!

      You need to make an adjustment downwards. Take your average weekly weight loss over the last four weeks in pounds. Subtract that from your target weight loss. Then multiply that number by 500. Reduce from your calorie targets each day.

      So, let’s say you were targeting 1lb per week of fat loss but you don’t have any movement currently, reduce your macros by the equivalent of 500kcal. More on this here.

      Make sure you’ve waited for a full four weeks first as there will be fluctuations on water and glycogen weight when starting a diet.

  6. Matt B says:


    If on a carb cycle, are there pros and cons to “trading off calories” at the end of the day if I wanted to do so?

    Ex: I have 0 carbs and 90g fat remaining for the day. On occasion, would it be ok to intake 200 carbs instead?

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Yup! The key word you used there is on occasion. Refer to the hierarchy of importance for muscle growth and fat loss for where this fits in in context. (Second layer.)

  7. faith says:

    Hi andy,
    i was wondering how can i manage with damaged metabolism
    im 170 and trying to lose fat,
    i crash dieted and messed up my macros so currently at 130C/170P/55F (macros 1)
    after reading ur book
    it gave me around 357C/187p/60F (macros 2)

    So my question was should i increase slowly to my first macros 1 or direct hit macros 2 which gave me from all the calculation

    Thank you

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      You haven’t damaged your metabolism, so don’t worry. Keep with what you are currently using, adjust based on how you progress.

  8. Evoryan says:

    I was waiting for this portion! I have been using the Diet Adjustments Guide with no issues and stellar results and this is the icing on the cake. Best No Nonsense info around! Thank You!

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Welcome and thank you, Evoryan!

  9. Dean says:

    Hi Andy, former client and long-time reader/fan here. Hope you’re well.

    I have been using IF and macro counting on and off for three years now. I use the ‘Calorie Counter – Macros’ app to track my intake rather than the simplified rules; while it is a little more obsessive, I find reassurance in the fact that I’m being as accurate as is practical, which helps me to have confidence in the tracking data, and so I’m more relaxed. Plus, once you’ve entered the macros for everything you eat, after a few weeks it just takes seconds to input what you’re eating.

    I have a question.

    I find it difficult to eat only meat as my protein source, partly because of the practicalities of preparing/transporting/reheating meat-based lunches when working, but also because of how limiting it is; I like a varied diet. So I’ll often base my lunches around things like a pot of Skyr (P: 31g C: 12g: F:1g), nut-based protein bars (P:12g C:10g F:10g) and low-carb bread products on rest days. Are these protein sources going to be less effective than meat or should I not worry? Meat often makes up only half my protein intake.

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Perfectly fine.

      The key here is that you’re eating a varied diet. Although the protein isn’t as high quality as meat (the amino acid profile is poorer), it won’t make any difference.

  10. Simonne says:

    I need help settling this debate once and for all: when measuring my foods for macro counting purposes, do I measure my meats cooked or uncooked?? Is the nutrition label on the back of the meats going off cooked or uncooked portions?

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Hi Simonne,

      If it’s a cooked meat product, then cooked; if it’s raw, then uncooked. For the latter, the weight will change depending on the degree to which you cook it because water will evaporate, so weigh it before cooking.

Questions welcomed. (Over 16,000 answered)

For the sake of other readers, please:
  • Keep questions on topic,
  • Write clearly, concisely, and click reply when responding,
  • Don't post diet calculations or full training plans asking me to critique them as it depends too heavily on context.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.