Let’s set the scene
You download a tracking app. You enter your weight, height, age, sex, activity level and adjust the settings for “weight loss” so the app calculates your calorie needs as such.
You begin logging your food and soon see a drop in your scale weight during the first weeks as you restrict calories and under eat what your body needs.
Thinking you can hack the system a bit, you quickly figure out which foods are low in calories to maximize the amount of food you eat in the day. So far, so good!
But, then… After a few more weeks, your progress seems to slow down to half, you’re struggling through workouts and you aren’t even sleeping well.
Sounds familiar? If you’ve ever turned your focus to calories for weight loss, I bet you know exactly how this feels…
The truth is that tracking calories only works to an extent because there are other factors at play that deserve your attention.
Good news, though! There is another way: tracking macros.
Tracking macros is a whole-body approach that can help you look, feel and perform your best. Here’s why:
IF CALORIES ARE "SPLATTER POINTS", MACROS ARE "PAINT BY NUMBERS"
Do you want a generic meal plan OR do you want a way of eating that is highly personalized?
Yes, calorie counting can get you part of the way—just like splatter paint effectively colors a canvas. But if you want better, more accurate results, you really need the strategic approach that macro-tracking offers. Because macro-tracking involves a tailored balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, you will have the tools to create a nutrition plan that works for you today and years from now.
Put another way, macro tracking allows you to give your body gentle direction through the food you eat. It allows you to direct several metabolic, hormonal, body composition and performance variables.
CALORIE COUNTING DOESN'T GUARANTEE THAT YOU'LL BUILD MUSCLE, BUT TRACKING MACROS CAN
The biggest way to influence fat loss is to gain lean muscle mass.
Read that again.
The more lean muscle mass you have on your frame, the leaner and more defined you look and the stronger you are. And, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be so you can burn more calories all the time.
Focusing your efforts on eating enough, especially protein, better ensures that those calories go to building muscle, which results in a leaner, stronger body composition. If you’re simply counting calories, there’s less of a guarantee that you’re eating enough of the right stuff to build muscle.
COUNTING CALORIES ONLY INFLUENCES BODY WEIGHT
“Calories” refer to the overall energy a food contributes. Manipulating calorie intake influences only one thing – body weight, whether that’s gain, loss or maintenance.
“Macros” refer to the composition of a food or where the calories in the food originate. Manipulating macro intake influences many things:
>> lean muscle gain, lean muscle loss
>> body fat gain, body fat loss
>> feelings of hunger and fullness
>> blood sugar balance and stability, hormone balance
>> stable, consistent energy, energy for high intensity activity
>> cravings for sweet, salty, or crunchy foods
and so much more!
If your goal is weight loss, then tracking total calories may work for you for a certain amount of time. But, if your goal is fat loss, lean muscle gain, steady blood sugar, etc., tracking macros is the superior approac
TRACKING MACROS CAN REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR AND INFLUENCE CRAVINGS
If you’re tracking calories with no regard for what macros make up those calories, you may be including meals or snacks that are very carb heavy or even eating carbs alone. Who hasn’t sat down for a lazy dinner of sugary cereal? A bowl of popcorn?
Meals and snacks like this send blood sugar levels to a sharp spike and then a sharp drop, which will leave you feeling pretty crappy and craving all the ice cream, cookies, chips, and crackers – not celery and carrots.
The body is really smart and it knows that carbohydrates are the macro that will get blood sugar levels back up the fastest and fat is the macro that provides the most calories per volume, hence the cravings for very carb and fat heavy foods. (See how this is a vicious cycle?!)
Tracking macros might encourage you to create meals and snacks that are balanced with protein, fat and carbs—aka “PFC balanced”—which will keep blood sugar levels steady all day long and prevent cravings.
FUEL YOUR WORKOUTS BETTER BY TRACKING MACROS
Eating the macronutrients in a certain combination before a workout can absolutely impact how you perform—for better or worse.
Eating a high fat or high protein meal or snack close to a workout might leave you dragging because fats and proteins take a long time to digest. Carbs, on the other hand, will provide the energy and go you need to power through a tough workout.
This is because carbohydrates are the body’s preferred and quickest form of fuel, which is why they are important pre-workout. Similarly, eating carbohydrates post-workout as a part of mixed macro meal with protein and fat is key for aiding recovery (think building and repair!).
There’s no guarantee that happens, at least to degree that it could, when your focus is only on calories. This leaves you feeling like you’re dragging some days and flying high on others!
The major downside to counting calories is that it typically only works for a finite amount of time because your body and metabolism adjusts to accommodate you eating less. Tracking macros, however, ensures that you’re eating enough to support your metabolism, hormones and activity levels, while still yielding fat loss — if that’s your goal!
If you’re totally new to this concept and need a STEP-BY-STEP guide to tracking macros head to this blog post. I’ll break it all down there so you can start reaping the benefits of this superior approach.