HOW CALORIES AND MACROS ‘SHOULD’ WORK:
Macronutrients, or ‘macros’ for short are the three nutritional components that make up all the foods we eat. They are proteins, carbs and fats.
What is unique about each macronutrient is the fact that the calories are fixed with each one.
1 gram of protein has 4 calories…
1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories…
1 gram of fat has 9 calories
Therefore, if we have a food with 10g of protein, 10g of carb and 10g of fat; that food would have 170 calories (40 from protein, 40 from carbs, 90 from fats).
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case in MyFitnessPal. More often than not, the numbers don’t seem to add up as they should. However, this isn’t something you should be overly obsessed about and we’ll explain why.
WHY MFP CALORIES & MACROS DON’T MATCH AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T CARE.
MyFitnessPal food database is fantastic; one of the best! Unfortunately, it’s strength is also it’s weakness. Because the database is “open source”, users can add foods as they please. This is good because it creates a rapidly growing database. But, also bad because, no one is going to correct errors. And the next person that comes along and picks the bad data may not know.
You’ve seen foods advertised with “net carbs”. Food companies do this to make their products “appear” to be lower in carbs. How is this done? By subtracting fiber count from the carb count. Yes, fiber is a carb. Yes, fiber has calories. But food companies can get away with this by backing the fiber out of the total calories on their food label.
You may have noticed sugar alcohols on your food labels. These are low cal, sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol. They are carbohydrates and are counted as such on the food label. However, they don’t have the same calorie content (4 calories/ gram) as do other carbs. Therefore the total calorie count might be off.
FINALLY, WHY YOU SHOULDN’T CARE
All the moving parts discussed above, we coach our clients to use the “10% Rule”. You’re NOT trying to zero out your nutrition targets. You’re trying to end up in a calorie/ macro range.
Let’s say your protein goal is 130g. We have our clients aim to land within 10% (over/ under) that goal. That means, if you land between 117-143 for the day you’re good ??.
This helps prevent the anxiety and the OCD behavior that can come from trying to hit your macros “to the gram”. And, after all, aren’t we “flexible dieting”? What’s flexible about trying to make 4 different numbers all equal zero at the same time?!