First things first… what is “tracking macros”?
There are three main macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats. Tracking your macros involves setting specific goals for these three macronutrients and trying to consume a certain number of grams of each one per day. This is done through weighing and measuring your food and logging it using an app such as MyFitnessPal.
Do you need to do this?
Yes and no. Let me explain.
Tracking macros allows you to be very specific with your nutrition. As a result it is a great approach for individuals such as athletes, bodybuilders and bikini competitors who have very precise goals. These individuals need to ensure that they have complete control over everything that passes their lips and this approach allows them to do that.
Tracking macros is also really useful if you’re someone who is totally new to healthy eating and wants to get to know more about what is actually in foods, learn what a portion really is and become aware of how much they’re eating. It can be an eye opening experience and enable individuals to realise whether there are any areas of deficit or excess in their diet.
It is also valuable for certain people who are just extremely interested in body composition and enjoy the use of numbers and calculations. It can provide them with a specific approach which gives them a degree of flexibility but also allows them to reach their goals.
However, I think that tracking macros is not a technique which is appropriate for 90% of the population in the long term. Firstly, it can take a lot of time and effort, especially in the beginning. You have to weigh and measure all your food and can become absorbed in meal planning and tracking. Many people just simply don’t have the time or inclination to do this.
Secondly, for some people it can become obsessive or destructive. Tracking macros can allow them to exert a level of control over their diet which can lead to destruction and deprivation and ultimately poor eating habits and disordered behaviour surrounding food.
Finally, you can’t do it forever. Can you imagine being in a zimmer frame asking your care worker to weigh out your mashed potato? Me neither. In reality, we can’t track our food for the rest of our lives. We need to be able to eat intuitively and understand our body and its needs without having to track every gram of food that passes our mouths.
There is a time and a place for tracking macros. I personally don’t track them 90% of the time. I only really use this approach when I have a specific goal such as a big photoshoot or if I want to check in with myself and make sure I am not over or under eating. Ultimately it is personal preference whether you think that this technique is one which you would like to use. However, I do have two recommendations if you decide to give it a go. The first is to seek expert advice and guidance when calculating your macros. The second is to regularly take breaks; be sure to spend time eating intuitively and learning to listen to your body, to ensure that you don’t become dependent on tracking.
What are your thoughts on macro tracking? Leave me a comment below!
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