Counting macros: is it really worth it?

Macronutrients or ‘macros’ is a term used to describe the three key food groups we all require for our bodies to function: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

If you’re not already familiar with the term, tracking your macronutrients (or “tracking your macros”) it basically involves monitoring the grams and/or percentages of your diet that come from carbohydrate, fat, and protein. 

It’s often referred to as a more sophisticated way of tracking your calorie intake. But is tracking your macros really all it’s hyped up to be? Perhaps in the short term, but it’s not necessarily the best way to achieve long-term results. In this post I’m going to explain 3 reasons why.

It can encourage unhealthy eating

The method of tracking your macros focuses on the quantity of protein, carbs and fat without considering how nutritious those foods are. What that means is that it doesn’t take micronutrients into consideration. Micronutrients are your vitamins and minerals that are also vital to overall health. 

When you count macros there are no foods off limits, essentially you can eat anything as long as it ‘fits your macros’, which means your diet could consist of nothing but processed foods and refined carbohydrates. And while this may keep you feeling full, you’re actually likely to be starving your body of the nutrition it needs from healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables. When it comes to your diet, it really is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Read: 4 simple ways to turn mindless snacking into a healthy habit

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It prevents you from listening to your body 

When you’ve weighed out your meal and sit down to eat it you might feel like you have to eat the whole thing even if you don’t feel like it, or that you can’t eat anymore even though you’re still hungry. Tracking your macros can very easily lead to feelings of guilt, which can take away the pleasure of food and make it a stressful experience. In fact, talking of stress, leads me onto my final point….

It can induce stress and an unhealthy mentality

Counting macros can take a lot of time as it means you have to track and weigh everything you eat. This can lead to stress when you’re eating out and don’t have the ability to track your food, it can also lead to anxiety around food choices. The stress created by tracking macros can actually end up working against your weight loss goals because chronic stress can increase cortisol levels which are likely to prevent you from losing weight and encourage your body to store fat.

If you do decide to track your macros, be mindful of the common pitfalls I mentioned above. In my experience, it’s often a more effective, long term solution to eat mindfully and focus the majority of your diet on eating unprocessed, whole foods.

Remember, if you are unsure of anything, want advice or just to share your progress I’m only an email away. You can get in touch with me at [email protected] and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Alexia Clark