Let’s talk about whether should you track macros or not.
Because this habit can extremely helpful for some people. But it can also cause more harm than good for others. It really depends on one determining factor that I’m going to break down in this video.
Should You Track Macros?
This is a very common question I get asked all the time. What do I think of tracking macros and calories?
Do I personally track my macros? Yes, every once in a while. It really depends on what my goals are. How much I’m training. It depends on what’s going on in my life. Then I make the necessary adjustments from there.
In a perfect world, the ultimate goal for everyone in my opinion is to be able to eat intuitively and maintain a lean physique. Because you’re metabolically flexible and your hormones are balanced.
Which means you’re easily able to tap into your fat stores and burn it for energy in between meals. That’s the definition of metabolic flexibility. And your hormones are balanced because you’re eating the right kind of foods. You’re eating foods that activate your satiety hormones for example.
Tracking your macros and hitting specific numbers is an unbelievably efficient way for you to achieve metabolic flexibility. Because what gets measured gets controlled.
BUT, do you really want to be weighing every single gram of food you put in your body for the rest of your life? No. That’s just not fun. So the goal is to track your macros to achieve your goals and switch to intuitive eating to maintain your results moving forward.
Should you track macros? How to do it properly
Having said that, there are levels to this. For example, there is so much value in tracking your macros when you’re just starting out. You learn so much about yourself and how much you’re actually eating which will allow you to get results faster.
Think of it when you’re working out. You don’t just want to do random stuff at the gym hoping it gets you to your fitness goals. You don’t want to be the jack of all trades, master of none. Free styling won’t cut it.
But if you start tracking your workouts. You become more intentional about it and you start focusing on compound movements like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. You start logging in your reps and lifts, you’re going to start seeing results a lot faster. Same concept applies with your diet.
So, does that automatically mean tracking macros is for everyone? Should you do it? This is gonna sound lame but it depends. Because every person is his or her own special unicorn.
It depends on your goals, it depends how much training you’re doing. it depends what’s going on in your life.
Your relationship with food MATTERS
And this is a big determining factor. It depends on your relationship with food. Like I said earlier, tracking macros can be extremely helpful for some people. But it can also create more harm than good for others.
Let’s start with the potential negatives of tracking your macros and calories. My number one issue with it is it can be extremely tedious.
You’re always weighing or measuring everything. It’s just annoying and I don’t want to live like that.
But then some people take it to the next level and they become obsessed about it. Their OCD kicks in to the next level.
I know someone who weighs their wine, for example. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
But again you just get into this lifestyle of having to log every single gram and item on your food tracking app. It just starts to control your life.
You start to attach strong feelings and emotions towards hitting certain numbers and macro ratios. And if you don’t hit your calories, or worse, you go over your calories for the day. You start to feel like a failure.
So you obsess about hitting your daily macros and you start measuring everything down to the last milligram.
You become one of those people they despise at restaurants. Or maybe you know someone who’s like this. Ordering becomes a whole ordeal because you have to add up all the calories you’re about to eat before you order.
Maybe they don’t have the calories listed and you start freaking out at your server. So you just order a plain chicken breast with no oil and no skin. Maybe you don’t even eat at all.
Or worse, you start bringing measuring spoons and measuring cups with you. Maybe you break out the food scale at the table. That’s just not cool. It just takes out the joy out of eating at that point. It basically becomes a chore.
That way of eating can just become so restrictive. You basically become a prisoner to your diet. You start to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
The UGLY side of tracking macros
And the ugly side of this is it can lead to you going off on your diet the other way, when you’re having a bad day for example, and you just start eating everything. You go on the “See Food Diet.” You see food, you eat.
Because human beings are not wired for self control. We’re just not. The more you tell someone they can’t have something. The more they want it.
You start to feel bad if you go over your macros for the day. And it leads to the all too familiar all or nothing attitude. That since you already messed up, you might as well go all the way. And this can start a vicious cycle.
The other thing about obsessively tracking macros is it leads to the oversimplification of food. We just start looking at food and the calories attached to it.
This behaviour then can lead people to start looking for shortcuts. You start looking for low fat and low calorie versions of foods. Which isn’t food anymore. It’s fake food. You start drinking diet coke and use artificial sweeteners because it’s zero calories.
You start avoiding fat especially because it’s calorically dense. Even though it plays an important role when it comes to satiety. You start missing out on a lot of fat soluble nutrients that the body needs because it doesn’t get absorbed properly due to the lack of fat in their diet.
Obsessively tracking calories and macros can also fuel a super restrictive mindset. You start thinking that always keeping your calories low is a good thing. And I’ve made tons of videos why excessively cutting calories is a recipe for disaster.
But that was me before. I think I was eating 1,000 calories or even less. And it became my goal to see how low I can get with the amount of calories I was eating every day. That’s not healthy.
Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom.
The BENEFITS of tracking macros
For example, if you’re someone who doesn’t have the tendency to go to the extreme and obsess about every single gram or calorie. You have a good relationship with food. Tracking your macros can be unbelievably beneficial to your health and wellness goals especially if you’re just starting out.
Because it teaches you so much about what you’re putting in your body. It can also be a reality check for some people. It becomes a great accountability tool at your disposal.
The people who’s never tracked their macros before are usually hit with a dose of reality when they start logging in how much food they’re actually eating. Versus what they think they’re eating.
They think they’re just having 3 meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When in reality, it’s so much more than that. Little things add up like that latte you always have mid morning. That’s not zero calories. People don’t count their mid afternoon snack.
They don’t track their pre-workout or BCAA they’re sipping on during their workout.
They don’t track that little nibble here and there. Maybe there’s free candy at the reception and every time you walk by it, and you do this a handful or times every day, you grab a few pieces.
Another common thing is when you’re preparing food for your kids, you have little bites here and there. That all adds up.
A lot of people don’t realize those things. Because they do them out of habit. There’s no off switch when it comes to their food consumption.
This is how so many people put on a couple of pounds every year without even realizing it. 5 or 10 years later, somebody sees you that you haven’t seen in a while and the first thing they mention is that you’ve gained weight.
When you start tracking all the food that’s going in your body, you start to become aware of your daily fat, carb, and protein intake.
You find out if you’re getting enough protein. Are you eating too much carbs? Are you getting enough healthy fat?
Knowing your numbers gives you a proper baseline
Once you have those numbers at hand, no matter how bad they are, you can start making small changes and start moving things in the right direction.
Again, depending on your relationship with food, tracking your macros can be extremely restrictive to some people. But it can also be freeing to other people because it can prevent under eating.
You don’t have to be so scared of food anymore. And that was the problem with me before of eating intuitively is I had an unhealthy relationship with food.
I was so scared of getting fat. So it became a competition of how little food I could eat every day.
I started thinking, “I ate this much today. Let’s see if I could eat even less tomorrow.” It was messed up. I looked like a malnourished child.
I definitely wasn’t eating enough protein, I avoided fat like it was the plague, I also ate a lot of rice chips and low fat dairy because that’s what my intuition told me to do. Because it was low in calories without considering the quality of the food I was eating.
This is also when you see people eat celery sticks and salad. They eat like a rabbit.
When I started tracking my macros, I realized that I could actually eat more food. In fact, my body would greatly benefit from eating more nutrient dense food that I would normally avoid because it was high in fat.
I learned that I didn’t have to eat skinless chicken breast all the time. That was all I ate back then.
I literally ate the typical bro diet of skinless chicken breast, no oil or nothing, steamed broccoli, egg whites, and turkey bacon because it was lower in calories.
I drank diet coke like it was water and I ate pop tarts for dessert. Because for some reason, pop tarts were lower in calories. And I was hungry the entire time.
Tracking macros gives your insight
When I started tracking calories the right way and saw that I actually had so much more wiggle room when it comes to the amount of calories I could eat.
That’s when I started eating nuts even though they’re higher in calories. I started eating avocado, butter, and pork belly. I didn’t feel bad eating full fat cheese and fatty cuts of meat. It was extremely liberating.
My relationship with food started to improve. I actually started losing more weight while eating more food because my body wasn’t in starvation mode anymore.
Tracking calories with the right intention finally allowed me to not be scared of food. This is what helped me learn how to fuel my body properly. I started hitting my daily protein target for the day which helped my body build muscle.
My body didn’t hate me anymore. I remember I got sick at least once a month when I was barely eating anything.
It made me realize that I didn’t have to be in such a massive calorie deficit where my metabolism just started shutting down. It just helped me so much when it comes to gaining a deeper understanding about the human body.
The key to tracking macros: Metabolic flexibility
The most important thing is that it taught me how to become metabolically flexible. And I talk about metabolic flexibility a lot on my channel and how it’s key to long term weight loss success and improving your overall health.
And you achieve metabolic flexibility by eating a diet that moderates your insulin levels. The best way to do that is by eating a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet comprised of single ingredient, mostly unprocessed, nutrient dense whole foods.
I started to discover that when I became metabolically flexible, when I was fat adapted, I wasn’t as hungry. I had more energy. Because I was fat burner, my workouts were better.
I was less likely to go off on my diet because I was happy with it. I actually liked the food I was eating and I was always satiated. Feeling deprived is finally a thing of the past.
If I hadn’t been tracking, I’d probably still be eating less than 1000 calories every day and I’d be skinny fat.
And guess what? Now that I have a great relationship with food, I know my body well, I can eat pizza and ice cream and not lose sleep over it.
Now, do you need to track your cheat meals? I personally don’t because I know that it’s a one off. It’s not something I do every day. I’ll just choose to enjoy myself and stay present in that moment and enjoy whatever treat I’m having.
Plus, I’m just going to feel bad when I see the amount of calories I just ate if I obsessively track it. That’s like going through your significant other’s phone. You’re probably gonna find something you don’t like. So don’t do it.
The other side of that is as long as it doesn’t trigger negative feelings, you CAN track your cheat meal macros.
Maybe you plan ahead and do it beforehand. You do it before eating. And maybe that way, it’ll actually allow you to not over indulge.
It really depends where you’re at. Again, this is why I said it depends where you’re at with life.
One last thing, if you’re tracking your food and you’ve been on point. But then one night you finish eating dinner and you’re just hanging out. And you notice yourself feeling hungry. Drink a glass of water first because maybe you’re just thirsty.
But if you’re still hungry, go eat something. Don’t just be like, “I can’t. I’m already at my maximum calories for the day.” No. Listen, if you’re actually hungry, that’s a sign.
Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before, maybe you’re going through a lot of stress. Maybe you changed up your training routine and your body just needs a little bit more food that day. Then it’s okay to eat something.
If you’ve been training really hard and you’ve been lifting heavy, this could also be a sign that you’ve put on muscle and it actually takes more calories now to maintain your weight. Which means that you can actually eat more food and not get fat.
But again, you don’t gain that perspective if you don’t track your calories to begin with.
Long story short, tracking your macros can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to reaching your goals by getting a grip on your numbers. You just have to do it properly.
But more importantly, you have to come at it with the right intention by making sure you have a good relationship with food to begin with.
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!
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