Let’s delve into the intricate realm of tracking—specifically, the perpetual dilemma of whether to track or not. The question looms large, and the nuances of this decision stretch beyond a mere binary choice. Tracking the foods and caloric beverages we consume can indeed serve as a valuable tool to estimate our daily energy intake. However, this practice is not without its challenges and inaccuracies.
As mentioned in the title, it won’t be us from BOXROX giving our take on whether or not you should be tracking your macros. Instead, we lean into the knowledge of Stefi Cohen.
See below what she had to say.
Related: How to Calculate Your Macros
To Track or Not to Track Your Macros? Stefi Cohen Explains
The accuracy and effectiveness of food tracking can be optimized through various methods, a discussion we’ll embark on shortly. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge that tracking is not infallible, facing challenges on multiple fronts. The nature of caloric intake, while predominantly influenced by the foods we eat, is also swayed by the types of food consumed. The body tends to absorb more energy from cooked and processed foods compared to their raw or minimally processed counterparts. This underlines the importance of incorporating a diverse array of wholesome, minimally processed foods, especially for those pursuing weight loss.
Compounding the complexity, food labels often prove inaccurate, with discrepancies of up to 25% in terms of calories and macronutrient amounts. Similarly, restaurants may underestimate meal calories by as much as 18%. Human imperfections add another layer of complication, with studies revealing that adults can misremember and miscount food amounts by a staggering 1,000 calories per day.
Given these challenges, what’s the pragmatic approach? Should one meticulously weigh every morsel and live life-tracking calories to the tee? Not necessarily. The key lies in finding a nutritional lifestyle that resonates with individual preferences and goals in the long run. While a food scale may not be a practical companion for the majority, alternative tracking methods offer increased flexibility.
Let’s explore the “no tracking necessary” approach—an option for those averse to regimented tracking. While it steers clear of specific calorie or macro targets, it comes with fundamental guidelines. Emphasizing lean protein with each meal, incorporating fruits and veggies, avoiding snacking, and focusing on wholesome, minimally processed foods form the cornerstone. This approach promotes mindful eating without the need for meticulous tracking.
For those seeking a slightly more hands-on method, the “protein and calories” approach might be suitable. This method involves daily tracking of protein intake and overall calories consumed, allowing flexibility in the ratio of carbs to fats. Adequate protein intake remains the focal point, with the freedom to customize the remaining calorie distribution.
Macro tracking, a more detailed option, entails weighing and recording the majority of food. Targets for carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are set as specific caloric percentages, demanding mathematical efforts to align with daily goals. However, this method may lead to challenges such as force-feeding or deprivation, prompting the exploration of a range-based approach. Rather than fixating on precise numbers, a recommended range offers flexibility, allowing intuitive adjustments based on hunger and preferences.
The “five days on, two days off” method strikes a delicate balance between flexibility and structure. Clients adhere to a calorie deficit during the week and approach maintenance calories on weekends. While weekends may seem like a free-for-all, maintaining awareness and moderation is crucial to prevent negating the hard-earned deficit.
For those inclined towards a more involved tracking approach, tools like a food scale, measuring cups, and spoons become indispensable. Modern technology has simplified tracking with apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Fitbit, and MyPlate. These apps provide extensive databases, scanning features, and ease of use. However, the accuracy of these apps hinges on precise entries, emphasizing the importance of accurate measurements.
Yet, a note of caution—the pursuit of tracking should never morph into an obsession. If signs of an unhealthy relationship with food tracking or potential eating disorder tendencies emerge, seeking guidance from a physician becomes imperative. In the quest for a balanced and sustainable nutritional approach, the key lies in finding what works best for individual needs, striking a harmonious chord between awareness and flexibility.
Watch the video for a full detailed explanation from Stefi Cohen on whether you should or should not track your macros.
Alright, let’s break down the macros! Macros, short for macronutrients, are the essential components of our diet that provide the energy our bodies need to function. There are four main macronutrients: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and yes, even alcohol.
- Function: Proteins are the building blocks of life. They play a crucial role in repairing and building tissues, supporting immune function, and acting as enzymes for various bodily processes.
- Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Function: Fats are vital for energy storage, hormone production, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). They also contribute to cell structure and insulation.
- Sources: Avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish, and dairy products.
- Function: Carbs are the primary source of energy for the body, especially for the brain and muscles. They can be broken down into sugars, starches, and fiber.
- Sources: Grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and sugars.
- Function: Alcohol isn’t a nutrient per se, but it does provide calories (7 calories per gram). However, unlike the other macros, it doesn’t serve any essential function in the body’s metabolic processes.
- Sources: Alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, spirits.
Understanding these macros is crucial for achieving a balanced diet. The key is finding the right balance that aligns with your health and fitness goals. Protein aids muscle growth, fats provide sustained energy, and carbohydrates fuel intense activities. However, it’s important to be mindful of the type and quality of each macro consumed.