What is it and how to enable it?
If you have been tracking your diet for a while, you may have noticed that your calories are off even when you zero out your macros in the diary. This is due to rounding on food labels as well as the ability for food manufacturers to subtract the calories from dietary fiber and sugar alcohols. You can read more about that here: https://joincarbon.com/help/faq/diary-faq/why-do-my-macros-and-calories-not-line-up/
Not being able to zero out your macros and calories for the day can be frustrating and is why we created the Macro Calories feature. This feature can be enabled in settings by visiting Setting -> Display Preferences -> and tapping “Macro Calories” or “Macro Kilojoules” under Energy Display.
Once this feature is enabled, the app will calculate the correct calories for you, based on the foods listed protein, carbohydrate and fat, without the subtraction of calories from fiber and sugar alcohols, and without the degree of currently permitted rounding on food labels.. For example, if you had 120g of protein, 200g of carbs, and 60g of fat, the app would say you ate 1820 calories (120 x 4 + 200 x 4 + 60 x 9). This will allow you to achieve the following.
By doing the math of calories, you are able to have a lot more freedom with how you track. You are able to more accurately track calories and protein if that is something you want to do. It will ensure that you are always eating the right amount of calories for your goal. If you tried to do calories and protein with using label calories, it would introduce too much variation in the actual calories you are consuming due to the rounding in food label.
Drawbacks/caveats of using Macro Calories
This feature is not without its own drawbacks. If you decide to use this feature, there are a few things you need to be aware of and okay with. They are around tracking of alcohol and using the calorie planner.
1. Tracking Alcohol
If you search for alcoholic drinks in the tracker, you will notice they have calories but basically no protein, carbs, and fat. That is because alcohol is its own macronutrient and contributes calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram but is not included in nutrition information.
Since alcohol g are not included with the nutrition information and these drinks don’t really have many protein, carbs, and fat, you will notice that search results will say they have very low calories. See the example below.
1 can of bud light does not have 32 calories which is what the Macro Calories come out to. Even if you aren’t using the Macro Calories feature, you will still have issues if you track alcohol by searching the database 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 if you have Macro Calories enabled or now. Here is 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 the Macro calories.
- Once you have the calories, you need to track that as either carbs or fat to account for those calories and stay on track with your goal.
- To account for them as carbs, take the label calories and divide it by 4. This will give you the amount of carbs you need to track it as.
- To account for them as fat, take the label calories and divide it by 9. This will give you the amount of fat you need to track it as.
- You can also use a combination of carbs and fats but it involves a little more math.
- To track this in Carbon, you will either need to make a custom food or use the quick add feature. Below are screenshots of what that would look like for the Bud Light Beer.
2. Using the calorie planner
Since we have to do the math to make sure your calories and macros can align perfectly each day, we might need to slightly adjust the calories you set in the calorie planner. Here is an example where I’m trying to set 3000 calories for Friday but it defaults it to 3003 calories. This is needed for the app to be able to function correctly and is a possible drawback of using the Macro Calories feature.
With all that said, we think the Macro Calories features is a net positive and will help people more easily track their diet and use Carbon Diet Coach. If you have any questions about the feature, don’t hesitate to reach out to us as firstname.lastname@example.org.