Should you track MACROS or CALORIES?
Macros. Well, both to be most precise. Macros go hand in hand with calories. A macro nutrient is a protein, carb, or a fat. These are all nutrients that contain calories. A micro nutrient is a vitamin or mineral. These contain no calories. The only way to change body composition for fat loss or muscle gain is to manipulate your macro nutrients.
There is multiple reasons why you need to track macros instead of calories. You want macronutrient balance, as well as adequate protein intake which can not be accomplished through calorie counting only. Here is the calorie breakdown of each macronutrient. 1 gram of protein has 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs has 4 calories, 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. This shows that if you count macros, you are simultaneously counting calories if you do the correct math.
The macronutrient breakdown helps with fat loss. Take two people who are dieting on 1800 calories a day for example. The first person is only counting calories and at the end of the day his protein and fat intake is very low, but his carb intake is high which makes up the majority of his calroies that day. However, he is unaware of this because he does not track macros. The second person has a macro nutrient break down for the day of 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. The second person will retain much more muscle and lean body mass during the diet compared to the first person. The reason for this is adequate protein intake to keep muscle as well as adequate fat intake for hormonal function. The second person will have a BETTER body composition than the first person at the end of the diet despite them both being on the same amount of calories.
If you are serious about fat loss and feeling healthy long term macros are definitely the way to go! Calories may work in the preliminary stage, but long term it is a recipe for inconsistency and plateaus. Learn what your foods are made up of and do not only rely on calorie counts only.