To mac track or not to mac track, that is the question?
I am going to start off by saying that food tracking is NOT for everyone. If you are neurotic, have a pattern of disordered eating, are slightly obsessive compulsive, hate preparation, have a god given six pack, hate rules and regulations, can get away with eating whatever you want or just don’t give a f**k….than, it’s probably not for you.
If you are looking to dial in your diet, lean out your physique, gain lean muscle mass, meet performance goals or figure out why you can’t drop that extra 5lbs of heft than macro tracking just might be the answer.
Counting “Macros” seems to be all the rage these days, but what does it even mean?
What it means is, spending a little extra time planning ahead, figuring out portion sizes and tracking what goes into your body. What is doesn’t have to mean is trotting around like a total d-bag with a cooler full of tupperware filled with pre-portioned boiled chicken and broccoli. #depressionfood
Macro is short for macro-nutrient, which is an essential nutrient in which we require the largest (macro) amount such as protein, fat, carbs and alcohol. Micro nutrients are vitamins, minerals and sodium which fill in the gaps in our diet; however, only macro’s yield calories.
Macro tracking vs calorie counting?
The difference between counting macros and counting calories is that, if you reach your macro-nutrient goals you will inevitably reach your calorie goals because ALL calories come from macro-nutrients. And yes, its true that if you create a calorie deficit you will in fact lose weight. However, the quality of weight loss will be affected by your macro intake.
“For example, inadequate protein during a calorie deficit will cause you to lose muscle. Inadequate fat intake will negatively impact many of the hormones that help your continued weight loss. And inadequate carbohydrate intake can negatively impact training performance in many instances.¹”
So, counting calories works for weight loss but counting macros is next level shit and is beneficial for both body composition and performance. We don’t want to be skinny, or at least, I don’t. I want a good lookin’, athletic, healthy body…preferably with a booty.
How it works
Each macronutrient yields a certain number of calories –
- One gram of protein yields 4 calories.
- One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories.
- One gram of fat yields 9 calories.
- One gram of alcohol yields 7 calories.
What matters most is that you are eating according to your needs, and there are numerous ways to decipher this.
How to track
The best way is to pay a professional like myself to figure this out for you 😉 using your lean mass, height, weight and activity levels as a baseline. BUT, in lieu of shelling out yo dolla dolla bills, here is a pretty awesome website. Now… setting your ratios?? This is the tricky part, and it may take some experimentation to nail down what works best for your body.
I tend to lean towards a lower carb breakdown for myself because my body responds best to a high protein diet: 30% carbs – 40% protein – 30% fat. BUT, a lot of people thrive on a ‘Zone diet’ breakdown of 40-30-30. I will leave this in your hands to research and play around with, everyone will be different.
The easiest way to track your macros is using: http://www.myfitnesspal.com
To custom set your goals in grams – install this plugin. This will let you easily and accurately track everything.
NOW – with ALL that being said, I don’t think you NEED to count macros. I think it’s a great skill to have in your arsenal so that you understand what is going into your body. However, it’s no way to live your life. Use it as a tool to understand what you’re eating and what your needs are, track for six to eight weeks and you will have a pretty good grasp on the matter with the ability to maneuver your way around a healthy diet with little effort.