So, I am guessing you heard about this “macros approach” and thought to yourself, “OMG this is so great! I can eat whatever I want and STILL see fat loss as long as I hit my prescribed macros each day.”
If you found macro tracking through this lens and somehow stumbled on my website, great! I am so glad you’re here. Much of the time, “counting macros” becomes synonymous with “fat loss,” when in reality, the macros approach can be used to achieve a number of goals.
Here are 6 reasons to track macros that have nothing to do with fat loss.
count macros to support athletic performance
If you’re the type of person who looks forward to that one hour a day spent being physically active – and you love to nurture your inner competitive side through your sport of choice, you should eat to support that! Tracking your macros can be one way to ensure you bring energy to your workouts, as well as recover appropriately and fully. Proper nutrition could be the difference between showing up to a workout feeling like a total badass or feeling completely faded.
Use macros to “reverse diet” out of a low calorie intake
You might benefit from a strategy called, “reverse dieting” if you’ve been unintentionally or intentionally undereating for a while. A reverse dieting approach is one where calories and macros are increased slowly over time to combat the metabolic adaptation (or the down regulation of metabolic rate) which occurs as a result of dieting.
Reverse dieting is best implemented in those people who have yo-yo’d the same weight over and over again, can’t seem to lose weight or body fat despite being at a low calorie intake, or those who are not seeing any real measurable physique improvement despite engaging in challenging strength training activity.
Using a macros to reverse diet is a great way to track and monitor on your way up to a higher, more bearable calorie intake. By coming slowly and methodically out of a calorie deficit, you may better be able to minimize body fat gain while improving metabolism.
Track macros to fight portion distortion
Portion distortion refers to the growing portion sizes that people call “normal”. Many factors contribute to increasing portion sizes such as reduced relative cost of ingredients, value sizing and wanting more for less, the creation and availability of cheap, hyper palatable foods, and advanced production methods that make food able to travel farther and more shelf stable. In addition, the increasing size of cookware, plate size and utensils in the past several decades has led to bigger and bigger typical portions.
While what is perceived as a “normal portion size” has increased over time, many people have learned learn about nutrition through the lens of a diet or wanting to lose weight. They might be cutting out types of food from their diet or eliminating entire food groups, significantly reducing portion sizes, or by capping calories at a certain limit each day. What results is a stark contrast between what is considered a “normal” or “acceptable” portion size and how much you think you should be eating.
Tracking macros provides a barometer for how much food is appropriate for you, personally, because the target protein, fat and carbohydrate grams are tailored to your unique needs.
Support hormones by tracking macros
Manipulating macro intake can change the hormone picture. For example, someone who has blood sugar stability or insulin sensitivity problems could use a macros approach to build meals with balance or limit carbohydrate consumption. They might start to learn which carbohydrate food sources to emphasize or deemphasize because focus is shifted the carbohydrate content by volume. Coupled together, these changes could influence and improve the blood sugar stability and insulin response.
Hormones like cortisol, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can get out of whack for many reasons. Tracking macros could be helpful to ensure enough fat is consumed to actually make hormones, enough protein is consumed to support strenuous training activity, and enough carbohydrate is consumed to replenish glycogen stores after intense cardio activity. Eating enough macros ensures the body’s needs are met and hormones are supported.
Use macros to eat enough, but not too much
You love the way you look, feel and perform and you don’t want anything to change. Maybe you have a history of undereating, but you’re over that now and understand the importance of eating enough to support your metabolism, hormones, and overall activity. You lost a significant amount of weight by making lifestyle changes but you’re afraid of “slipping up” or “sliding backwards”. Counting macros may help you get a great understanding of how much food is appropriate for you – and by aiming to just “get close” to macro targets most days of the week will support maintenance of your current body shape and size so you continue to feel great!
count macros to gain weight in a healthy way
There’s no shortage of information (read: opinions) about how to lose weight but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of healthy weight gain outside the “just eat whatever you want” mentality. If you’re looking to gain weight, you’ll want to do it in a slow, methodical way to ensure more of that weight gain supports lean body mass (like muscle), rather than fat mass.
Coupled with consistent, heavy strength training, tracking macros can be one way you maximize lean muscle weight gain. If you’re in this camp and tired of people telling you to just “eat whatever you want”, or people rolling their eyes at your goals because they “wish they had your problem”, consider counting macros as a solution to wanting to change your body through weight gain.
No matter what your reason for wanting to track macros, you’re welcome here. I aim to make the macro approach easy by providing practical advice so you can take action right away. Check out some of my macro resources here or find me on Instagram @emilyfieldrd to learn how to better use this approach.