To track or not to track (macros)? That is the question. Should we track macros/calories to make a difference to our body composition and help us achieve our goals? The answer is in the question: our goals are personal, and therefore the approach to achieve them should be personal too, but we can figure out which one we need. For every individual, it is necessary to look at their unique personality and environment to choose the best approach for them.
When recommending a dietary control methodology to an individual, Personal Trainers often forget that the environment and psychology in which their client lives is a crucial part in the success of the completion of the protocol assigned to them. Counting calories or macros is a choice that should be made based on the needs of the individual and their lifestyle. Goals should be set based on the person’s availability of time, stress levels, resources and mental attitude towards macro or calorie tracking.
There are plenty of apps available nowadays to make tracking very easy, however, using these apps can still have an impact on a person’s daily life and stress levels. If someone is already extremely busy, they don’t want another stressor affecting them – the added stress of logging all foods eaten will be annoying to them and interfere with their social lives. This means that they will not be able to stick to it for a long time. On the contrary, someone who has a positive attitude towards tracking and knows that it will not stress them out, will do very well long-term on macro-tracking.
For some individuals, tracking can be a breath of fresh air and allow them more freedom in their food choices. Someone who has been on diets for years and has now realised that they can actually eat anything they like in moderate portions, will find tracking a great relief. Tracking for a couple months can actually help a person learn about portion sizes and make a step towards intuitive eating. Understanding the macronutrients of foods is a very helpful tool in eating healthier and finding balanced, without having to track consistently. Before getting that freedom, it is essential to educate oneself by engaging in macro tracking for some time.
To conclude, there is no one-size fits all, but if you don’t try you will never know if tracking is for you or not. Nowadays, with a variety of apps macro tracking is not much different from calorie tracking, but the difference is in your personal goal. You need to try different types of tracking, see what works for your goals and choose a method that you can sustain long-term. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you individually.
Note: This article is not written for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating. Please, contact a medical professional or dietician to get help, if you feel you need help. This article does not aim to give medical advice and is not of prescriptive nature.