Macros or Calories? Which one should you be counting for weight loss?

Ready to ditch the guesswork of counting calories and start seeing real results with your weight loss goals?

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Crystal OKeefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method podcast. I'm your host, Crystal O'Keefe. Today I am joined by MetPro Coach Jessee Davis, and we are going to be discussing counting macros versus counting calories. Jessee, thank you so much for being here today.

Jessee: Hello. Hello. Excited to be here. Thank, thank you.

Crystal OKeefe: Well, I am so appreciative you're here. Before we get into this whole calories versus macros kind of thing, now, how long have you been a coach at MetPro, if you don't mind me asking?

Jessee: Well, gosh, I have to do the math now. I'm going on a decade here next year. It's been that long enough. I've been a client of MetPro longer than that.

I did MetPro, yeah, like two years before I actually made the plunge to come over and just start coaching for them. But I've been a coach for like 20 years. Can't believe I'm that old. I can't believe I'm old enough to say that.

Crystal OKeefe: I think that as we age, we should just leave 20 years out of our vocabulary.

Like even if you've known somebody 20 years, you should just be like, “I've known them a long time.” I've started saying that I don't say how long I've actually known people anymore because it makes me feel old.

Jessee: Let's see. I've known them since school. I just, there you go. School, I like it.

Crystal OKeefe: Alright, so when we dig into this whole calories thing, I feel like since the beginning of time people have always said if you want to lose weight, all you have to do is calories in versus calories out. But now, now you hear people say, I'm counting macros. But there are like a million different ways that you can come up with how you count macros or what macros you should be counting.

So, I guess my question for you is, what does it even mean to count macros?

Jessee: What are we doing? What are we supposed to be doing? Uh, so I mean, and really when you count those macros, what are you doing with that information? Are you trying to create that calorie in calorie out deficit that you're, you know, looking for? Or are you trying to fix your metabolism?

Which is what we love to do, uh, what we specialize in, but, calories are just such a broad term, right? And so you can have all sorts of different calories. Macros are more specific calories, so it's like, well, we can see that the calories in and the calories out isn't working because as a society we're getting more unhealthy, even though we're spending more money on our health.

So we're like, okay, well what's wrong? Maybe it's because we didn't get nitty gritty enough. Maybe we need to go a little bit further in those calories and say, um, not all calories are the same, so let's break 'em down into macros and say, oh, okay, here are the different types of calories that we have.

And then really understanding how your body uses 'em, right? So again, calories are energy, that's what that means. Or the way your body burns energy. And so you can have calories through carbs. You can have calories through protein. You can have calories through fat, right? And so it's understanding what your body needs.

And at any given point, it's changing. Sometimes your body needs more protein, sometimes your body needs more carbs. And then what are your goals? Are you trying to build muscle? Are you trying to lose fat? Are you just trying to have a healthy lifestyle? Are you sick of dieting? You know, what is really that objective?

And then how do you use those macros to get you there?

Crystal OKeefe: If all macros are just energy, you can also look at it as your calories in versus calories out, then why can't you just be like, I'm going to eat X amount a day? Like, why does that not work?

Jessee: That's right. That's, well, there's so many answers to that and I'm going to say it does work. Calories in versus calories out does work. And if my dad listens to this podcast, shout out to you, pops. You know, he's super old school bodybuilder, football player, you know, the eighties mindset of, oh, I just got to make sure I burn all the calories I eat and he's eating burgers and M&Ms and Mountain Dews, you know, um, but a football player.

So he's burning all that food and, you know, he doesn't have an issue. So, growing up I always heard, ah, you just got to burn more than you eat. Just got to burn more than you eat. So, in essence, that is true. If your metabolism is working, if your body is functioning, if you haven't created any damage, then yeah, if you are burning more calories than you are consuming, if you are at a deficit, you will see weight loss.

And in theory, that's kind of what we do when we build somebody up and we're increasing those calories, then we drop 'em and we're like, okay, well your body was used to all these calories and now we're going to make it used to way less so it's going to see that deficit. So, when your metabolism's working, calories in versus calories out can be a good philosophy, which is why it's been around for so long.

Right? The longer it's been around, the more validity, I would say it has. Um, but our science is just showing us so much more about what our bodies are doing and how they're breaking down the nutrients that we're doing. So, you know, granted in the seventies and eighties they didn't have the knowledge that we have now.

And so I think that we've just evolved into, okay, well, calories in versus calories out aren't working because I'm eating 500 calories a day because I'm eating one meal a day because I am literally in starvation mode. And then your body adapts and there is no deficit, no contrast there. Your body adapts to 500 calories a day.

Right. I know Angelo has a great, uh, TED Talk for those out there that haven't heard him on his TED Talks, um, about that same thing, the person that's 300 pounds and the person that's a hundred pounds, and how their caloric intake can be the same based on just kind of how their metabolism's responding.

So, um, that's why I would say that it doesn't, doesn't work. Macro counting works a little bit more, so it's getting a little bit more hype. And if you do it right, if you know what you're doing, you can see great success by monitoring those macros and creating the contrast that way.

Crystal OKeefe: So then walk me through, how do you know if you're doing it right? Like what's, what's doing it right?

Jessee: Well, are you, are you on MetPro?

Crystal OKeefe: Okay. Well, pretend I'm a listener asking. Yes, I know the answer.

Jessee: So, I mean, the number one, the number one walk away is that you have to eat enough. So, no matter what you're counting, if your macros aren't meeting your body's needs, then you are not thriving.

And if you're not thriving, your body's not going to lose that stored fat that it has for a rainy day, right? So, I like to tell my clients, the more you eat, the more it knows you're going to eat and the less it's going to store because it's no longer worried about when it's going to get its next meal. It knows you've got it trained, right?

So, it's just like training your workouts the more you do it. The better you get, right? The more you eat, the better your metabolism gets. So, for those that kind of don't really know, when we talk about metabolism and your calorie burn, right, that's your body's ability to burn calories. So, when we say your metabolism's not very fast, that means your body's ability to burn calories is not very fast.

It's not efficient. And so, every client that comes to us that's trying to lose weight doesn't have an efficient metabolism 99% of the time. Now, obviously, we have our athletes that have a revved metabolism and they need to eat more food. So that's like a, you know, everybody's in their own walk of life.

Crystal OKeefe: So, there's a lot of different ways that you can figure out like what macros you should be eating. How can somebody at home know what they need to be doing to eat properly?

Jessee: Yeah, that's a great question. So, and I know there's like tons of resources out there and calculations that you can put in your gender, age, height, and weight. And then it'll give you your expected calorie burn or your macros that it thinks you need, and then it's going to ask you if you work out maybe, possibly if it's a good one. There are so many out there, so I wouldn't really say there's a certain one that's better than the others.

You have to listen to your body. I really do believe that we are all our best advocates, and we know what's right for our bodies. So, if you're eating something or your body doesn't feel right, um, then whatever you're doing needs to be changed because the objective is so that you feel good. And so, understanding the macros is number one, you know, if you're going to macro count, you have to know what is a carb.

Why do you need 'em? What's the protein? Why do you need them? What is the fat and why do you need them, and why do you need all three of 'em? So, a lot of our education is around. Healthy eating and leveraging contrast through our food by counting our carbs and saying, Hey, you know, if my body's burning a hundred grams of carbs in a day and then I'm not seeing weight loss.

How do I feel? Do I feel like I can eat less? Then maybe you can go to 80. Like we know our boundaries. It's like you can't go any lower than what's healthy, right? And so those are kind of the ranges at MetPro. We do say around 80 to 90 grams of carbs is a super ballpark, right? Is as low as you really want to go when you're looking at your carbs.

And you can get those carbs through butternut squash and sweet potato and green beans and tomatoes, you know, so when we talk about carbs, there are the vegetable carbs, and then. There are the starchy, the more dense carbs. And so just knowing that balance, you know, and then the protein's super important.

That's what your body needs for those muscles and liver and kidney and all of our functions in our brain, we, that protein's what we need and it can't get absorbed into the bloodstream without those carbs and fats. So it's just really important for people to know when you are counting your macros, really making sure the best way to do it is to have all three of 'em together.

Little bit of each all together, not a big bounce of carbs, and then later a big bout of protein, and then later a big bite of fat. You know, it's not functional.

Crystal OKeefe: It's interesting that you say that because so many people, um, I, again, these days these are just kind of fad things that you hear, but, you know, carbs are bad.

So, you're saying no, carbs are not bad. You're saying we need to eat the carbs.

Jessee: Yes. And again, this is where it goes back to the calories, right? So, I wanted to just kind of give people a picture. So, we say a cup of blueberries, a cup of berries. Just pick all those fresh, oh, those strawberries are so delicious right now.

Get a big old cup of berries. See that? See that cup of berries in front of you? And eat that cup of berries and feel how full you feel. And then realize that a cup of berries is only 84 calories and about 15 grams of sugar. The best kind you can have with lots of fiber and really natural. Then you're going to take that whole cup of blueberries and compare it to two tablespoons of sugar.

Literally, get your little tablespoon out, and scoop it twice. Look at how much sugar that is, and that is more calorically dense than that full cup of blueberries. So, it's like, how is that equal? That's, those are, you know, so you're like, okay, well I can't even get two tablespoons of sugar, but I can have a whole cup of blueberries for the same amount of calories.

Right. Give or take. So that's just something that really, I think education needs to be made. Yeah. If you're hungry and you're macros are telling you that you need to have, you know, have a certain amount, then look at what quality calories you're having. And so if they really do kind of go hand in hand, if you wanna do it right.

Crystal OKeefe: Yeah. If you're comparing the different nutritional values of carbohydrates, for example, and you said sugar versus blueberries, so maybe something like a regular white potato compared to a sweet potato.
How are those different? Why are they not the same?

Jessee: You want to think about your food. And if you can get in all the rainbow colors, if you can get in red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple.

You can eat all those veggies, all your colors. That's how you know you're doing it right. So, Sweet potato. That's great. Think about the color in that sweet potato. You can get a yam, which is white, right? Sweet potatoes and yams are, are pretty similar. Um, a regular potato that comes out of the ground just like the sweet potato.

They just all have different nutrients. And so, some are higher glycemically than others, and so that's one reason why people would tend to go to it. I am not going to say that somebody who eats a baked potato for dinner every night and somebody who eats a baked sweet potato for dinner tonight isn't going to see the same result.

They are still both getting in their carbs. It's just understanding maybe if you're having a lot of one style of food to just mix it up. We call it a lateral shift. But that's usually what I say. If you're counting your macros and you're eating the rainbow and you know, you're probably getting in everything that you need.

Crystal OKeefe: Okay. So, what do you feel like people need to know the most about counting macros versus just simply counting calories?

Jessee: Well, I think you have to understand why you're counting your calories. Why you're counting your macros, right? I know a lot of people use their resting metabolic rate or their basal metabolic rate.

So for those that don't know, the BMR is when you're lying there. No exertion. You're just awake. And then the resting metabolic rate, the RMR, which is what most people talk about, is that's what people get tested on because you have to be up and about and walking low effort, things like going to the bathroom, stuff like that.

So when you're looking at those actual tests and you say, okay, my body is functioning on 1600 calories, 1800 calories. That's important for you to understand that that's a moving target. And so, I've had so many clients go get those tests and it says your RMR is 1875. And I know exactly what they're eating and I know that they're eating 1350 and I know that they're exercising on top of that.

And I know they have seen zero weight loss. That's what I know. Those are facts. So, it's like, that's why you have to just kind of understand what it is that you're looking at and what is your objective. So, if your objective really is to lose weight, whatever you're eating, if you're not losing weight, most likely you're undereating and you have to start eating more.

You have to start creating contrast and then vice versa. If your goal is performance, then you're probably not eating enough, and you need to eat more. So that's usually what it is, people think the food is bad. They think that we need to stay low and really only when the metabolism's working, the metabolism's working, then yeah, drop those calories, drop those carbs, and lose that weight if that's your goal.

But if it's not working, you can bang your head up against the wall, and cut those macros all you want. But if your body doesn't see that contrast, it's not going to do anything.

Crystal OKeefe: So, is there anything that we haven't covered about this that you want to make sure people know?

Jessee: Um, let me look at my little to-do list. I know we want to talk about the types of calories and the type of carbs or macros, so those are just super important. And then just knowing, you know, like when you look at processed food or you look at high sugary foods. So just try to stay away from sugar. I think sugar's the enemy. Can I say that?

Yeah, that's a macro, cut that sugar out.

Crystal OKeefe: Well and it's interesting because sugar is in a lot of things that people don't know sugar is in. I mean, I remember when I first started MetPro, I was like, there's sugar in Ragu. What? Why is there sugar in Ragu? What is happening?

Jessee: That's so funny. Your Ragu is my peanut butter. I remember like, even when it says all natural. For those listeners out there that have all-natural Skippy peanut butter, because your kids love it, they add sugar to it and peanuts already have sugar. So, you don't need to add sugar to something that already has sugar in it. It's like they already sweetened it up.

Crystal OKeefe: Are there any tips for how to avoid sugar?

Jessee: Read those labels. Read your labels. If you really want to know how to eat better and you want to look at your macros, look at those protein bars that you have. Make sure those grams of sugar are less than three.

Really? I mean, five, you're stretching it tens. Absolutely no. Uh, look at the protein in the protein bars, right? If it has less than seven grams of protein and it's a protein bar, that doesn't count. Like you need protein in your protein bar.

Crystal OKeefe: And is that all sugar or is that added sugar? All sugar or added sugar?

Jessee: Great question. That is added sugar. So, say, for example, your protein bar has fruit in it, right? Say it has dried blueberries in it, or it's got, you know, raisins in it. So you can see in the ingredients it's going to say, almonds and dates, right? Egg whites, right? If it's an RX bar, you can read those ingredients.

That's another, that's the second tip. So, first kind of look at the nutritional facts. See what you're working with. If it's delicious, look at the sugar content. Um, you know, protein powders are the same way, right? You think you're doing something healthy. I hate to knock on Arbonne, but that was one of my favorite protein powders.

It was so delicious. And then I was like, oh, look at, I think seven or eight grams. And again, there's just no need for that. And there's sugar in everything. So, if you can cut those little areas and don't have the sugar, sugar is an addicting thing in your brain. So, the less sugar you eat, the less you're going to crave it.

Um, so it's just, it really does, it just kind of comes back to reading that label and making sure your food is balanced. So, if you're grabbing something at a gas station, see if it has a little bit of fat, a little bit of carb, and a little bit of protein. And it's usually easy to find carbs and fat. So, what are we looking for?

Protein, right? Right. And jerky. You can't get jerky because they add too much sugar to it. Yeah. Yeah. So, you got to read those labels. So, the intention is there to go into the gas station and grab my jerky and grab my almonds and walk out. But if you grab the honey-roasted almonds and the sweet teriyaki jerky, you have failed your body because it's going to have too much sugar.

Um, so just be mindful.

Crystal OKeefe: Yeah, that's, that's a really good point. And when you talk about, the cravings craving more sugar, it is an endless cycle. Even if you're eating and you're keeping your weight if you're constantly fighting that craving, are you really winning?

Because like you, you get used to eating food without the sugar in it. It tastes great after a while, and then whenever you eat something it does have a ton of sugar. You're like, whoa. So much sugar.

Jessee: Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. I know you guys are out there that eat cleaner and then you're like one bite of the ice cream.

You're like, wow, if you really like, that's all I really needed. Exactly way too sugary. I think if I, what just made me think if it was also your meal timing, so people that do their macro counting or calorie counting and or both. You know, that meal timing is another part. I think that people really, um, I don't want to say they forget about, cause I think they're very mindful when they say, I'm going out to dinner tonight, so I'm going to save all my macros and I'm going to save all my calories.

Right? And so that's one thing that I'm definitely talking a lot to my clients about is get that mindset out because that's not how your body works. Your body doesn't say, oh, I'm going to now burn 3000 calories in one sitting. Even though I only can functionally burn maybe 300 to 500, you know, so you have to know that if you can give your body the food that it needs every couple hours, take that a hundred grams of carbs that you get through your day and eat 25 and 25 and 25 and 25.

Now your body's able to break down those carbs way more efficiently throughout your whole day and your body's fueled versus waiting all day, being on starvation, energy banging, and then all of a sudden your body's like boom, a hundred grams of carbs. Like, think about how hard your body has to work now.

That just sounds common sense to me. It's like, yeah, I'd rather give my body a little bit over time versus just smashing my metabolism, because then, of course, it's going to burn what it needs. And it's going to store the rest. That's why kind of the way we do it, it's just like your body only needs about 30 to 60 grams of carbs, 30 to 60 grams of protein, and even 10 to 30 grams of fat at each snack meal.

That's a super ballpark. But like if I have my clients that are going on maintenance and we have their metabolism fixed, and it's just about, you know, sustaining their hard work and keeping that weight stable, which is. The second part of the battle, how do we maintain? Um, that's what I'll say. You know, have those ranges, and as long as you stick to those ranges, your body's going to be fueled.

It's going to have what it needs and listen to it. If it's hungry, eat. If you're sick, don't eat, like, I mean, you know, you don't have to worry too much because you know that you've cared for your body every day with every meal. And that's what it's about, that consistency.

Crystal OKeefe: I love it. Well, Jessee, thank you so much for your time today, and listeners, that's all for this week.

Thank you. You can find all of the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to MetPro Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what they can expect. You can also learn more about MetPro at I'm your host, Crystal O'Keefe, and I'll be back next week.

Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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