If you've tracked for a while, you may have noticed that calories don't always line up with macros. Why is that? This is due to rounding on food labels and the ability for food manufacturers to subtract the calories from dietary fiber and sugar alcohols.

Not being able to zero out your macros and calories for the day can be frustrating, which is why we created the Macro Calories feature. You can turn it on by visiting Setting -> Display Preferences -> and tapping "Macro Calories" or "Macro Kilojoules" under Energy Display.

Once enabled, the app will calculate the correct calories for you based only on the macros and without rounding or subtracting calories from fiber and sugar alcohols.

For example, if you had 116g of protein, 168g of carbs, and 49g of fat, the app would say you ate 1577 calories (116 x 4 + 168 x 4 + 49 x 9). This approach will allow you to achieve the following.

By doing the math of calories, you can have more freedom with how you track. It will ensure that you are always eating the right amount of calories for your goal and open up the possibility to just focus on hitting your calories and protein. If you tried to do this while using label calories, it would introduce too much variation in the actual calories you are consuming due to the issues outlined earlier.

Things to be aware of

1. Tracking Alcohol May Be Harder

If you search for alcoholic drinks, you will notice they have calories but usually no protein, carbs, and fat. That's because alcohol is also a macronutrient and contributes to calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram but is not included in the displayed nutrition information. Since alcohol grams are not included with the nutrition information and these drinks don't have much protein, carbs, or fat, you will notice that search results will say they have very low calories. See the example below.

One can of Bud Light doesn't have 32 calories. Even if you aren't using the Macro Calories feature, you will still have issues if you track alcohol because you need to track it as either carbs or fat to account for the calories you are consuming.

We recommend you track alcohol completely differently regardless of whether you have Macro Calories enabled or not. Here's what we recommend.

  • Search the food in the database and find what the label calories are (make sure you are reading Label Calories and not Macro Calories)

  • Once you know calories, you need to track them as either carbs or fat to account for those calories.

  • To account for them as carbs, take the label calories and divide them by 4, giving you the grams of carbs you need to track.

  • To account for them as fat, take the label calories and divide them by 9, giving you the amount of fat you need to track.

  • You can also use a combination of carbs and fats, but it involves a little more math depending on how you want to split it.

  • To track this in Carbon, you will need to make a custom food or use the quick add feature.

Here's what it looks like for the Bud Light beer:

2. The Calorie Planner May Adjust Slightly

Since we have to do the math to make sure your calories and macros can align perfectly each day, we might need to adjust the calories you set in the calorie planner slightly. Here's an example where I'm trying to set 3000 calories for Friday, but it defaults to 3003 calories.

This is needed for the app to function correctly and give whole macro numbers without decimals. This is a possible drawback you need to be aware of when using the Macro Calories feature. With that said, we think the Macro Calories feature is a net positive and will help people more easily track their diet using Carbon Diet Coach!

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