Updated: Mar 2, 2019
The answer to this question depends on your goals and your progress!
If your goals are related to body composition (i.e. losing body fat, building muscle, etc.), macro tracking can be an excellent tool to facilitate that process!
However, not everyone needs to track their macros to achieve their body composition goals.
So how do you determine if YOU should be tracking your macros?
It’s as simple as asking yourself the following question:
“Am I happy with the progress that I’m making toward my goals?”
If you answered ‘’yes,” then cool! No need to track your macros.
(unless of course you’re already tracking them, in which case it’s probably a good idea to keep doing that!)
If you answered “no,” as in “I’m not happy with my progress - in fact, I’m not even making any progress!” then you can guess what might be a good step to take...
Tracking your macros.
If you’d like a post on HOW to track your macros, let me know in the comments! But for now, let’s talk about WHY to track your macros.
If you are not happy with your progress, or are frustrated with the lack thereof, here are 5 reasons why you should track your macros:
1️⃣ Knowledge is power
Beside any medical/hormonal oddities, we all know that the only way to losing bodyfat is to eat in a caloric deficit, and that building muscle works best in a moderate caloric surplus. If you are merely guessing at how many calories you are eating, you will never truly know if it’s even possible to make the progress you’re seeking. Knowing exactly how much you are eating is an immensely powerful tool.
I think too many people spend way too much time and effort in the “guessing zone.” It’s a very frustrating place that unfortunately ends with giving up so often. Learning how and why to do things keeps fitness/nutrition engaging and ultimately leads to faster progress.
2️⃣ Accuracy matters
The closer you get to your goals, the more work it will be to make incremental progress. If you have 100 lbs to lose, or have never worked out a day in your life, simply taking a step of any size even remotely in the right direction should kick-start your progress. However, you can imagine that a body builder looking to lose or gain the final .5 lb will need a more accurate approach. Depending on which end of that continuum you are closer to will determine how accurate your approach needs to be. Higher accuracy should lead to better/faster results at any level of fitness.
Take this to whatever level is appropriate for you and your current fitness. Not everyone will need to be so exact, but the principle is still the same!
3️⃣ The payoff is enormous
The amount of work that goes into consistently tracking your food is infinitely minuscule compared to the potential benefits. It’s like wearing a seat belt, in that the effort you use to strap yourself in is absolutely worth the safety payoff. This is to say that the excuses of tracking macros being tedious or time-consuming is a direct reflection of you not truly being ready to make progress. Progress takes work, and you will need to make changes at the same magnitude of your goals.
I say this with love, but this is something that requires each of us to take a good, long look in the mirror. “Am I actually ready to make the changes necessary to see real change in myself?” This is an encouragement to set realistic goals, ask for help if you need it, and trust the process.
4️⃣ Playing the short and long game
In this case, your long-term results actually represent the short game. The long game is that tracking your macros is a skill to be learned, and that you will most likely reach a point in which you will no longer have to track them. For example, I personally don’t track my macros most of the year. I enjoy calculating them for meal preps, client meals, and when I run a mini cut or bulk. I have studied and tracked them for so long, though, that I’ve learned how to eat intuitively. That simply means that I’ve learned to self-gauge my meal/appetite to eat about the right number of calories each day without counting them out. This rarely happens without years of tracking practice first.
Sustainable change is the result from a combination of ever-growing skills, such as tracking macros. It’s silly to think that we’ll nail it on the first try, or that we shouldn’t ever try because we aren’t naturally good at something fitness-related.
This sort of ties in elements from all of these reasons put together. If you are tracking your macros and you find that you are not making the progress you had expected, you can rest assured knowing that your nutrition is not the issue. The alternative is to see an issue and have to guess at which variable of your health and fitness is the underlying issue. It could be any combination of your workouts, recovery, sleep, stress, injury, relationships, etc., but you’ll at least be able to remove your nutrition as a suspect. Troubleshooting nutrition can take weeks to diagnose, so it’s much easier to just keep up with it day by day.
Your experience will trump any amount of theory or research. Pick a strategy, try it out for a few weeks, log your progress, and assess what your next step should be. There’s no true rush. Run your experiments from a heart of love for your body. Have fun, and be patient!
I hope you found this first blog post to be helpful, and that it helps point you in the right direction! There are plenty of other fitness/nutrition blogs you could be reading, so I'm honored that you chose to read mine here! If you liked what