Counting macros or tracking macros, means tracking the precise amounts of the macronutrients–protein, carbohydrates and fats consumed each day. Because each macronutrient plays a different role in the body, tracking them in prescribed ratios can be a more effective way to “count calories”. Macro tracking gives you more control over where your calories come from, not just the total calories eaten. Counting macros also ensures you eat a balanced diet!
Counting macros requires you to pay attention to detail. This usually includes measuring or weighing food items, especially until you are able to accurately estimate or eyeball your serving size. It is amazing how quickly you will learn what a 4-ounce piece of chicken looks like!
It is also helpful to have a method for entering all the data into a tool such as an app like My Fitness Pal, in order to keep track of your daily totals. Tracking macros requires a certain level of effort, planning, and consistency in the form of meal prepping and/or planning out meals. The reason this method works so well is it keeps you ahead of the game so that you aren’t scrambling at the end of the day, trying to fit in extra food to fit your macro goals. It is normal to be initially overwhelmed by the idea of preparing and planning out your meals or to have some resistance to doing it.
Macro tracking is not for everyone, nor is it the ONLY way to be successful with reaching nutritional goals. Different goals require different levels of dedication and adherence and making sure your actions and expectations align is the best place to start.
ALTERNATIVES to Macro Tracking:
- Set Simple Individual Meal Goals
This could look like a goal of eating protein at every meal or eating veggies with at least two meals a day.
- Build a Balanced Plate
This means making sure your plate has protein, carbs, and fats on it for each meal. This also means learning how to categorize different food items, for example, many foods contain more than one macro nutrient., but learning “how” to count these items can help you to create these balanced meals!
- Use a Meal Template
For those of you that don’t want to think about creating meals or deciding what to eat. Following a meal template can help you come up with infinite ways to pair different foods (macros) for your meals, this is what we utilize in the Rejuv 8-Week Challenges.
- Start with a Goal for One Macro
If tracking everything feels overwhelming, I will have clients start by try tracking ONE macro instead of all three. I will typically start with protein as it is the macro most often under eaten. Protein also keeps a you to feel more full and will help stabilize their blood sugar which will decrease cravings for other foods that may not “fit their macros”.
- Track General Intake, without Hitting Specific Goals
When I begin working with a client, even if they do not have experience tracking their food at all, I will have them keep track of what they eat over the course of a few days. No specific goals to hit, this is done simply to start to learn how to track, and also can be quite eye opening to what you are taking in!