We’ve spent nearly two years reviewing MacroFactor, tested it against all its major competitors, and had over 100 clients use it to build muscle, lose fat, or recomp.
MacroFactor is a calorie-counting, macro-tracking app created by two of the most respected research reviewers in the fitness industry. It’s built on good muscle-building and fat-loss principles, it boasts a clever algorithm, and it’s impressively precise.
However, there’s more to a good calorie-counting app than good science. How easy is it to use? How much of your time will devour every day? And perhaps most importantly, how does it compare against industry giants like MyFitnessPal?
Disclosing Our Bias
Before making MacroFactor, Greg Nuckols founded Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS), where some of the top muscle-building researchers critically review hypertrophy and strength research. I’ve been reading that research review every month for 7 years now. It’s by far the best in the fitness industry.
I don’t know Greg in person, but I’ve spoken with him a few times over the years, and he’s helped us with several articles. When he launched MacroFactor, he asked me if I wanted to be an affiliate.
I knew the science would be solid, but that’s just one part of making a good calorie-tracking app, especially when it needs to compete against behemoths like MyFitnessPal. I was also skeptical about whether our readers would even benefit from tracking their calories in the first place, especially since most of these apps are so heavily biased toward weight loss.
So here’s what we did:
- I tested the app myself, and I found a small problem for our (naturally thin) audience. It was underestimating how many calories we need to eat to gain weight. The calorie recommendations are self-correcting, but it could still create a couple of weeks of stalled progress. Greg fixed it in the next update.
- One of our team members, Sunny, was in the midst of trying to lose fat. He agreed to test all the popular calorie-tracking apps while doing it. I asked him to take notes and pick his favourite, whatever it was. He wound up choosing MacroFactor. Since then, he’s also used it to help him bulk up.
- We let our newsletter know about MacroFactor, and over 100 guys signed up to try it. I’ve been asking them for feedback for nearly two years now. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, though some common criticisms came up. More on that in a second.
In the end, we agreed to become affiliates. I think MacroFactor is the best calorie-tracking app on the market. So does our team. So do our members. You don’t need to take our word for it, though. If you want to give MacroFactor a try, it has a free trial. You can get an extended trial with the coupon code “b2b”.
MacroFactor does almost everything a little bit better than its competitors. It looks a little nicer, runs a little smoother, and has some handy extra features, such as letting you know if you’re eating enough vitamins and minerals.
However, the main advantage of using MacroFactor is that it will get you the best results. It tracks how the calories you eat affect your weight and then automatically adjusts its recommendations to ensure steady progress. It does this better than any other calorie-tracking app. That’s why we recommend it.
Here’s the full list of advantages:
- Your calorie and macro recommendations change based on your weekly weigh-ins. This is perhaps MacroFactor’s greatest selling point. It’s one of the few apps where you can actually trust the advice it gives you. The algorithm was designed by two of the top research reviewers in the fitness industry (Greg Nuckols & Eric Trexler, Ph.D.). The recommendations will guide you towards steady progress, guaranteed.
- MacroFactor uses your “trend weight” instead of your actual weight.* It looks at all your weigh-ins and attempts to account for meaningless fluctuations, giving you a better idea of the progress you’re making and allowing the app to give you better advice. This may not sound like much, but almost everyone raves about it. It’s a small detail that makes all the difference.
- MacroFactor uses a verified food database. None of these databases are perfect, but verified databases are far more accurate than ones that are purely user-generated. There’s always a margin of error, but MacroFactor does a really good job of shrinking that margin as low as possible. No other app does it better.
- The food database includes all major brands, even internationally. MacroFactor has always worked well in major North American grocery stores. However, Sunny also shops at the local Korean and Chinese grocery stores (In Canada). When he first started testing the app, few of those food brands were in the database. Now they are. Our European members have noticed the same thing about European food brands. The database is already robust, and it’s constantly getting better.
- The food logging workflow is quick and easy compared to other apps. MacroFactor has a barcode scanner, search feature, takes fewer clicks to log foods, and remembers the foods you commonly eat at each meal. Once you’ve been using it for a few days, it’s a breeze to keep going.
- It has an AI tool that lets you describe what you’re eating. It will take a guess at how large the serving sizes are and what ingredients are included, then estimate the macros and calories. AI isn’t perfect, and it will often make mistakes, but those mistakes are easy to notice and quick to fix. It’s a nice feature for logging the occasional restaurant meal.
- MacroFactor lets you track your body measurements and progress photos along with your calories. This makes it a handy app for tracking every aspect of your progress. It’s a nice feature to have if you want it.
- MacroFactor is slightly cheaper than other premium calorie-tracking apps. You’re looking at $6 or $12 per month, depending on whether you sign up for a full year or pay monthly. Its competitors will run you $7–20 per month.
- The app itself is snappy and aesthetically pleasing. It looks nice, runs well, has a dark mode, and is enjoyable to use.
*Here’s an example of what your “trend weight” looks like. It smooths out your weight fluctuations, allowing it to make better calorie adjustments and giving you a better idea of how you’re progressing. It won’t make or break your results, but this attention to detail runs all through the app. Every feature is a little bit better than its competitors.
MacroFactor fixed my only major issue during one of the first updates: it now works well for skinny guys who are trying to bulk up and build muscle. They also tackled the most common complaint we got from our members: it’s now much better for international users.
Here’s the complete list of cons:
- Fixed: MacroFactor wasn’t very good for helping skinny people build muscle. The algorithms use body weight and body fat percentage to give calorie estimations. Skinny people weigh less, so it was giving them lower calorie recommendations despite skinny people tending to benefit from higher calorie intakes.
- Fixed: MacroFactor wasn’t very good for people living in countries outside of the United States. Bigger, more established apps got around this by relying on user-generated food databases. MacroFactor was slower to expand because it uses a verified food database. It’s now quite good internationally, but it took almost two years to get there.
- MacroFactor doesn’t have a social component. I used to enjoy that about MyFitnessPal, especially since I’ve always bulked up with a community of other guys. It was fun to be in it together, sharing recipes. We have our online Bony to Beastly community for that, but most people won’t, and it’s not as fun to do this alone.
- MacroFactor isn’t very good at upregulating calorie recommendations when weight gain stalls. That isn’t a problem for most people, but some people have unusually adaptive metabolisms. Most of our members said they had to overshoot MacroFactor’s calorie recommendations by 100–200 calories to gain weight at the pace they wanted. Fortunately, that doesn’t break the algorithm. Everything still works fine.
- Tracking your calories can be a pain. Some people find it fun. Most people don’t like it. I’m happy I tracked my calories for a few months, but I’m glad I don’t need to anymore,
- MacroFactor is a premium app. Some of the alternatives are free. Of those, the free version of MyFitnessPal is the best. Still, you get what you pay for. It isn’t nearly as good as MacroFactor or the other top calorie trackers.
MacroFactor VS Other Calorie-Tracking Apps
There are plenty of good calorie-tracking apps out there. Sunny tested the ones with the best reputations: MacroFactor, MyFitnessPal, Carbon Diet Coach (by Layne Norton), and RP Diet Coach (by Mike Israetel). I’ve had friends try a few others, but they weren’t very good, so we didn’t bother going deeper.
Carbon Diet Coach and RP Diet Coach are both better than the premium version of MyFitnessPal. MacroFactor is the best of all. Here’s why:
- MacroFactor has the best algorithm. MacroFactor’s algorithm is more scientifically rigorous, adaptive, and flexible. For example, if you miss a day, it will assume you ate the amount of food you normally eat, and the app will keep trucking along just fine. For another example, if you eat a bunch of salt and gain a few pounds, or if you go on a jog and sweat out a few pounds, MacroFactor understands that these are just temporary fluctuations in water weight. It will use your trend weight instead.
- It uses a verified food database. This database isn’t unique to MacroFactor. It’s a premium database all calorie-tracking apps can pay to access. Many paid apps use this premium database, which is great. Note that MyFitnessPal doesn’t.
- MacroFactor tracks your vitamin and mineral intake. This is my favourite part. It will tell you whether you’re consuming enough micronutrients. You can plug in a recipe to see how nutritious it is. You can strategically adjust your diet until it checks every nutritional box.
- It’s designed for both fat loss and muscle growth. Many calorie-tracking apps are just for weight loss. MacroFactor is designed for people trying to improve their body composition. It works well for bulking, cutting, and everything in between.
- MacroFactor’s UI is modern and streamlined. It looks and feels much better than its competitors. It also has the gentlest learning curve. It takes about 3 days to get into the swing of it.
- The app is surprisingly deep. It has tons of customization options and features. They’re actively working on it, too. It’s gradually becoming even more robust.
- MacroFactor will teach you about nutrition. Many calorie-tracking apps are riddled with nutrition myths and misleading ads. You’ll feel like you’re learning, and you are, but there’s bad information mixed in with the good. MacroFactor was made by people who review fat-loss and muscle-building research for a living. If you use it for a few months and then move on, you’ll leave with a better understanding of nutrition. You’ll keep that knowledge forever.
Using MacroFactor to Burn Fat
Most calorie-tracking apps are designed to help people lose fat, and MacroFactor is no exception. At their hearts, these are tools to help you eat in a consistent calorie deficit, allowing you to steadily lose weight.
Macro-tracking apps also track your macros—the proportion of protein, carbs, and fat you eat. That can help you eat enough protein to maintain your muscle mass while losing weight. It can also help you adhere to niche diets like keto, where you need to radically restrict your carb intake.
Finally, MacroFactor also tracks your vitamin, mineral, and fibre intake. This is especially important when losing weight. After all, you’re eating less food and thus eating fewer nutrients. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet becomes all the more important.
If you combine MacroFactor’s diet recommendations with a good hypertrophy training program, you can burn fat while maintaining or even gaining muscle. That’s true of almost any calorie-tracking app, but MacroFactor does it slightly better and makes it slightly easier.
Using MacroFactor to Build Muscle
One of the reasons I like MacroFactor is that it’s made by guys who care about more than just weight loss. These are guys who professionally review hypertrophy, strength, and fitness research. It’s one of the few apps that’s actually good for people trying to build muscle and bulk up.
When you sign up for MacroFactor, it will ask you about your goals. If you say you’re trying to build muscle, it will give you diet recommendations based on the best hypertrophy research. If you say you’re trying to bulk up, it will recommend a slight calorie surplus, and it will help you adhere to that surplus, allowing you to bulk up more leanly.
As for macros, you don’t need to track them to build muscle, but it can still help a little bit, sometimes. Maybe you could benefit from eating a little bit more protein. Maybe you could benefit from eating even more carbs.
Most people trying to eat a good bulking diet will get enough vitamins, minerals, and fibre. That may not be true for dirty bulkers, but dirty bulkers aren’t the sort who track their calories anyway. Still, it’s nice to have MacroFactor by your side, letting you know if you could use a bit of extra magnesium or fibre.
The one downside to MacroFactor is that it isn’t quite tuned to the skinniest of skinny guys. Even if you rev it all the way up, choosing to bulk as aggressively as possible, it might still underestimate your calorie needs.* You may want to exceed the calorie recommendations by 100–200 calories. You’d track those calories just like normal. It won’t break the algorithm. Everything still works great.
*Greg Nuckols helped me write that article. He’s aware that variations in calorie needs are a thing. No calorie-tracking app can account for those variations perfectly. Of all the apps we’ve tried, MacroFactor does the best job of it.
Using MacroFactor for Body Recomposition
Body recomposition is when you burn fat and build muscle at the same time. It can work well among new lifters, overweight people, and people trying to rebuild lost muscle mass. It doesn’t work very well for people who are skinny or lean.
My personal opinion is that if you aren’t trying to gain or lose weight, you don’t need to track your calories. You can simply eat according to your appetite, letting your weight drift as it will, building muscle on the way up and losing fat on the way down. It works just as well as tracking your calories, it’s far easier, and most people greatly prefer it.
However, if you’re curious about how balanced your macros are or want to see how nutritious your diet is, you could use an app like MacroFactor to track your macros and micros.
Using MacroFactor to Eat a More Nutritious Diet
As mentioned above, one of the coolest things about MacroFactor is that it goes beyond mere weight loss and weight gain. You can also use it to track macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. If you’re curious about whether you’re eating a nutritious diet, you could try tracking it for a few days, improving as you go.
For another example, I have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, meaning I benefit from eating less saturated fat and more fibre (among other things). MacroFactor tracks both of those nutrients, allowing me to build a diet that suits me better.
MacroFactor Review Summary
You don’t need to track your calories to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle, or bulk up. Tracking your calories, macros, and micros is entirely optional. There are many different ways to get great results.
If you do decide to track your calories, all the top calorie-tracking apps can work. If you have a strong preference for one of them, you can use it. I personally prefer MacroFactor, our team prefers it, and our clients prefer it. It’s among the most accurate, it has the best algorithm, it’s rooted in the best science, it has the best customization options, and it’s the most enjoyable to use.
I tracked my calories for a few months many years ago. I learned a ton of valuable information about my eating habits. I’ve benefitted from that knowledge all these years. If you invest a few months into MacroFactor, I think you’ll get many years of benefit.
If you want to try MacroFactor, it comes with a free trial. You can double the length of that trial with the affiliate code “b2b”.