Yeah, that's right. It's not all gravy.
Tracking calories and macronutrients can be good. It can also be bad.
You would never know it by looking around the internet though.
The way the fitness industry is looking, you would think it's the only way to chiseled abs. Figuring out how anyone got in shape before MyFitnessPal is like trying to figure out how they built the pyramids.
How they do that without Auto Cad?
Tracking macros can be very effective in some cases. Here are a few reasons why I would recommend everyone tracks their macros at least the majority of the time.
Gauge Where You Currently Are
You don't know what you need to fix until you know exactly where you are starting from. Tracking your macros can really open your eyes to a few things.
"Holy shit, I eat 900g of carbs a day!?"
This type of realization can be powerful. Creating this level of awareness allows you to make some very educated decisions on what changes you need to make to your nutrition.
Learn New Habits
Once you are aware of your current macronutrient intake, tracking your daily macros allows you to make the changes necessary to re organize your diet and practice these changes each day.
Eventually you will develop a nice nutritional groove based on your calorie and macro needs. Your food choices and meals become automatic. This is the point when these changes become a habit.
Yes, the claim to fame. Tracking macros allows you to have some flexibility in your diet without you having to think too much about it.
Have a party that night? Tracking macros allows you to 'save' some carbs for later by scaling back on your intake earlier in the day.
It also allows you to work in some less-than-nutritious foods while still staying within your macro goals. Flexibility is important. After all, we aren't diet robots, nor should we strive to be.
Flexibility also allows you to limit the things you need to focus on. 'Hit your macros' is simple (not always easy), but it doesn't leave you with a lot of rack your brain over. Simply track your meals, and make adjustments along the way to get the fat, protein, and carbs that you need. Beautiful.
Sure, it is effective, but for some people it becomes exhausting.
I know, this is the fitness industry. If you want it, suck it up and do it! While I agree that at some point buckling down and tracking macros is necessary, it isn't necessary for everyone right now. It can be a little too much too soon. If someone feels overwhelmed by the process, the chances of them sticking around long enough to see any appreciable results is slim to none.
Tracking macros works, but it can't come at the expense of adherence. Eventually anyone can track macros and see fantastic results, but if someone is just dipping their toe in the water that is this new lifestyle, tracking macros can be the equivalent of pushing them off the boat. Either they'll learn to swim really fast and thank you for it, or they'll go to their room and vow never to swim again. Is that risk worth it?
The big advantage of macro tracking is it allows you to gauge where you are with your diet, and make some educated decisions on how to improve it.
Eventually you develop a new way of eating and generally eat the same meals, or types of meals, each day. Once that happens, tracking your intake becomes redundant.
Taking a break from tracking macros can be beneficial. It serves as a nice mental breather and allows you to just keep on doing what you're doing.
If you crave variety and like to try new recipes and restaurants, this approach may not work for you. If you are a creature of habit and eat the same things every day, then this will work fine for a limited time.
Note: if you drop macros and find yourself loosening up or suffer from the 'horse out of the barn' syndrome, then getting back into the habit of tracking would be a good idea.
To the point; not everyone has a very healthy relationship with food. For some, tracking their macros becomes an obsessive behavior very quickly.
In this case, I recommend you drop macro tracking and replace it with a habit that doesn't feel like you are micro managing your life.
Let me slip you a secret: there aren't any macro calculators or formula's that will REALLY tell you how much you need to eat. What these formula's spit out is a good guess.
With that in mind, nailing your macros with precision isn't really the point. The idea is to get close and land in the ball park.
When the act of tracking macros becomes obsessive to the point it really bothers you if you don't hit your macros on the nose, then it's time to drop them like a Skrillex beat.
Track macros when....
Take a break from macros when....
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