Tracking your macros. Everyone’s talking about it but what actually is it and should you be doing it? I thought I would do a post explaining the basics of tracking macros and my experience of it so far.
So, what does it mean to ‘track your macros’?
Tracking your macros (or you might have seen IIFYM) is basically setting daily macro nutritional targets, so that’s protein, carbohydrates and fats, based upon your goals (whether that be weight loss, weight gain or maintaining weight) and meeting them with the food you eat. This means whipping out the scales and monitoring everything you eat. It sounds like a lot of hassle, and it is at first, but after a while it becomes second nature.
How do I know when the macro balance is right?
When you set up the app (I use MyFitnessPal), it will ask you your goals and give you targets. These are not always right. It takes a lot of experimenting and patience to work out what is right for you. Tracking macros is by now means a quick fix but rather a long term process. I found that MyFitnessPal had set me on far too little calories for the exercise I was doing and too many carbohydrates. I started off on 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein which was giving me no results. Now I am on 40%, 30%, 30%, which works far better for me.
Has it helped you?
I’m not going to sugar coat tracking your macros. It’s not easy at first and it’s really tempting to just call it a day. However, it has really helped me ensure I am eating enough and of the right things. Before my portion sizes were way off and I was eating an excess of carbohydrates and either too much and too little fat. I know have more balanced and more frequent meals and have not felt hungry or unable to eat certain foods. Physically, I have seen progress but it has been more of a mental progression for me and my relationship with food is far better now.
Do you track your macros every day?
Consistency is key and so it is important to be tracking your macros as often as possible if you want to see results. Of course, I do go out for meals which sometimes means sacrificing my macros, but that’s okay. I would say I track my macros 80% of the time and I am still seeing progress. Also, on days or meals when I don’t, I have become far more food savvy and so I am able to make better, more nutritious choices.
Should I track my macros?
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this. Many people see progress without. For me, tracking my macros has been a healthy way of monitoring my food and helped my develop a positive relationship with food, however this may not always be the case. Although it’s important to be precise, tracking your macros should not become an obsession and, if it does and that is leading to you having an unhealthy relationship with food, than maybe it is not the best option for me. Also, you might not see results! What works for one person might not work for another and, although you can keep trying to adjust your macros, if it becomes realistic it might be time to leave MyFitnessPal behind. What I will say is don’t let the hard work put you off. Yes, tracking your macros means planning in advance and might mean some meal prep, but if you do get results it is worth it. It has meant that I am not missing meals or binge eating and make me far more organised. Prioritising yourself is not a bad thing.
Where should I start if I want to track my macros?
I downloaded MyFitnessPal (it’s free and really easy to use!), and then did a bit of research. It took a while of experimenting but stick with it. You might want to weigh yourself whilst doing this to ensure your progress is heading in the right direction.
I hope this helps a little and if you have any more questions just comment below!