If you’ve been on Instagram for more than 10 minutes you have probably come across the terms “macros” or “tracking macros.” To be honest, I had no idea they were until maybe 2 years ago. I don’t know if its just me, but it seems like they have been making a huge appearance recently, which, isn’t necessarily bad. However, they can be misleading (i.e. tracking macros for weight loss) and even intimidating. No fear, I am here to clear all of that up for you. So lets jump right in!
What are Macros?
First of all, what the heck are macros? Macros refer to “macronutrients” which contain the 3 largest sources of energy (hence the name macro).
- Carbohydrates (bread, grains, pastas, starchy veggies).
- Fats (oils, butter, avocados).
- Protein (meat, eggs, soy products).
These 3 nutrients are what gives our bodies energy and are absolutely vital for healthy bodily function. Carbs are essential for giving us energy and aid in muscle recovery. Fats are super important for our skin, hair and hormones. Protein is very important for muscle growth and nerve health.
This isn’t super duper in-depth but I think you get the picture, they are all important.
How Does Tracking Work?
I have seen a lot of fitness coaches promoting their plans online and charging enormous amounts of money for cookie cutter meal plans (although there are no actual cookies involved…not cool…and don’t try to tell me protein cookies are cookies because they aren’t) and “customized” macros.
So basically, they tell you to eat a certain amount of carbs, fat and protein based on your fitness goals. There are all kinds of calculators online that will give you all sorts of numbers. Crazy thing, they are usually all different. That’s one of the first things That irks me but, more on that later.
Once you get your “customized” macro plan you then keep track of all of your food and the carbs, fat and protein (macros)
that those foods contain. You can do this by writing it in your phone and adding it as you go or using a food tracker.
Sounds kinda extensive huh? Yeah. I’ve done it and it does get easier as time goes on but it’s not what I recommend. We’ll get to that in a sec. Let’s talk about where these magical macro numbers come from.
Where do The Numbers Come From?
Here’s what annoys me the most about macros. I think their role is misleading and I think a lot of coaches in the fitness industry capitalize on that.
Most of them just plug your weight, age and activity level into a calculator and a computer generated formula pops up with your “personalized” macros.
We then think that we have the secret to our future bod in our hands and we just have to be sure our food stay within the confines of our macros.
What isn’t taken into account is how you FEEL. Do you prefer eating more fat or more carbs? Are you diabetic? Do you have insulin sensitivity? What’s your dieting history? Do you have a history of restrictive dieting? You see what I am saying? There’s more to this puzzle than sticking to a number of carbs, fats and protien (although hitting your protein target is important…more on that in a minute).
Fitness and health is not a one size fits all. What works for me probably wont work for you. We have different genetics, metabolisms etc.
So…Does Tracking Macros Help With Weight Loss?
So… to answer the question you probably came here for, does tracking macros help with weight loss? The answer is a little tricky.
Tracking macros can be a powerful tool for those who have very specific goals. I would really only recommend macro tracking for people who are experienced or have medical conditions where they need to be eating certain macro nutrient ratios.
In my personal experience, tracking macros allowed me to become more aware of how I was eating. I noticed that my fats were usually pretty high, I consumed moderate carbs and pretty low protein.
I think this education and aware could potentially inspire people to be more mindful of their food choices thus influencing weight loss. However, there is really only ONE sure fire way to lose weight…*drum roll*
What DOES Work?
Calories. Yep. I said the dreaded “c” word. Being in a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight. This means that you burn more calories than you consume.
In my experience, the only way to consistently achieve this is through calorie counting… the dreaded double “c.” Here’s the thing. I used to majorly judge calorie counters and thought they were “obsessive” but now, I think that they are actually just smart.
Counting macros is just glorified and over complicated calorie counting. It kinda blows my mind that macro counters are looked at like these fitness gods but calorie counters are “obsessive”.
I am NOT saying that there is no place for macro based diets. They can be useful for specific goals.
My recommendation, and what I personally do is, I just count my calories, hit my protein goal and monitor my macros. That’s it. no more weird numbers from a calculator that knows nothing about me. I like to monitor my macros just to stay in a happy medium.
Note on protein: I do find it important to meet your protein goal everyday. Protein is crucial in muscle development and overall health. Regardless of your goals (lose fat/gain muscle) protein is a priority.
So, lets recap.
- Macros are: carbs, fats and protein.
- All macros are essential for healthy bodily function.
- Don’t trust all “personalized/customized” macro plans.
- Diet should be based on feeling better not meeting certain carb/fat/protein ratios.
- Meeting daily protein goals are super important.
- Counting macros can make people more aware of their food choices (wow who knew 3 Swedish fish as 15 carbs…I don’t know if that’s factual but probably) which could inspire weight loss, however, only one thing leads to weight loss.
- Calories. Weight loss is all about calories.
- I track my calories, hit my protein goal and monitor my macros.
That’s it! I hope you found this helpful! Let me know if I can help you with anything further 🙂