What do I think about counting macros and calories? Here are my honest and sometimes sassy thoughts on counting macros. By the way… I’m doing 5 days of sassy posts on topics you suggested. I really like to hear your thoughts too so please comment them on this post! Whether you agree or disagree with my opinions, I don’t mind. This community is what it is because we all have a love for looking and feeling better but we might do things just a bit differently (and that’s amazing!)
For those who aren’t familiar, “counting macros” is a nutrition approach in which individuals track the grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates ingested in a given day. There is typically a target for each of those macronutrient aka macros that one will aim for. For example: 100 grams of protein, 50 grams of fat, 150 grams of carbohydrates. Don’t get excited… those aren’t my suggested macros or anything close; I simply picked pretty numbers.
Now, here is what I think about it all!
I ACTUALLY DID COUNT MACROS FOR AWHILE (MY BACKGROUND)
Been there. Done that. Many of you know that in college I began focusing on nutrition. I experimented with calorie counting, tracking macros, carb cycling, intermittent fasting, plant based eating, etc. I picked and chose what I liked from all of those when I created the meal plan I currently use.
So, yes, I’ve actually tracked macros and I did so for about 4-6 months. Quite frankly… I didn’t see any special results. I spent a lot of fricken time counting things. I was always looking at nutrition labels and googling “carbohydrates in _____” I even had some app I logged everything in. Butttt, I pretty much looked and felt the exact same after those 4-6 months as I did when I began tracking.
Let me start with what I liked about counting macros…
YES, YOU DO NEED TO KNOW MACROS (HERE’S WHY)
Counting macros was my first real meal plan if that’s what you want to call it. What I mean is that prior to tracking macros, I was just doing “general healthy eating” (haha I totally overuse that term but that’s exactly what it is). I would grocery shop for healthy foods but my meals had no rhyme or reason. I would graze on healthy things all day long but it never got me anywhere.
Tracking macros taught me that there is a big benefit in a systematic food approach and that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. For instance, almonds are a great source of fat but (like I did!) if you eat a whole bag of almonds in a day, you could have easily just eaten 300 grams of fat. WUTTT!
Counting macros taught me a lot about how much In my meal plan, I refer to this as a “macro mindset.” I think it’s important to be able to look at something and from a nutrition standpoint and understand the macros. Like I don’t look at a banana and worry about fat. I know a banana is a going to predominantly contain mostly carbohydrates and approximately 25-30 grams. THAT information is foundational for healthy eating.
Yay to the best thing macro counting taught me!
ONE MAGICAL MACRO NUMBER… REALLY?!
Onto the thing that I truly believe is the silliest part of counting macros… the magical number. Please remember this is just my opinion. It sure as heck isn’t a fact. Butttt, I call BS that there is some magical number (or set of 3 magical numbers) that is just perfect for me to lose fat or gain muscle or whatever the goal is.
Further, if you really look into nutrition labels and how much companies can get away with inaccurate numbers it’s borderline scary. When the box of crackers or granola bar say X g of fat and carbs… it’s likely not. So, there goes that magic number.
And, like who the F wants to let numbers run their lives?! That was my biggest beef with macro counting. What was supposed to help me eat healthy became so mentally unhealthy that it was too much to ignore.
If I were to sit and add up how much time I spent adding up macros on my phone calculator, studying nutrition labels, googling things, tracking in an app, I would bet it exceeded an hour per day. That doesn’t sound like a ton of time but my goodness… do you know how many things I rather do with an hour of my time?! Call my girlfriend who I haven’t spoken to in a week. Kiss on my sweet baby. Enjoy a phone-free meal with my man. Sit on the couch by myself and relax. NOT write down numbers that didn’t seem to make much of a different to me.
That was just it… I felt like I could have gotten the same results without counting every. single. damn. macro. Hence, why I created my meal plan! ((also, I truly don’t want this to be me plugging my meal plan – I just want you to know that if macro counting seems like a lot of work, find a different and dare I say “easier” way to eat well like I did))
Instead of a very specific and magical number, I pretty much believe that there is a general range most women fit into and then I basically think it’s up to us to intuitively eat a bit more or a bit less. But, one magic macro number?! Not for me, thank you.
IIFYM DOESN’T MEAN EATING JUNK
This is not what counting macros is about but it seems to be what it has become. IIFYM stands for if it fits your macros. When counting macros, you can have some fun play in there. For example, if you want a pop tart … work it into your macros. Craving pizza? Go for it, girl… just add up what’s in there!
Let’s be verrrry real… I talk about balance on the daily. You see me indulging. I promote enjoying treats and not “a nibble of dark chocolate” type of treats <- are people F-ing serious when they say that?! lol.
I DO eat pizza, pop tarts (well, to be honest it’s been a few years since I’ve had a poptart but I enjoyed a donut a few days ago). Anyways, you get my point. I enjoy normal treats.
BUT, my staples are nutrient-dense foods. Counting macros sometimes lends itself to indulging too much and I know a lot of women who track macros that struggle with crazy cravings because they’re working too much junk food into their regular meals.
Overall, counting macros is a no go for me. The actual counting and tracking is too time consuming for my lifestyle. It also quite honestly became a very unhealthy mindset. I want a return on my investment and I felt like I put to much into eating than what I got out; bottom line… I found an easier way to eat well and see results.
With all of that said, there’s a benefit in understanding macronutrients and about how many grams of carbs are in half a cup of oatmeal or rice.
This is just me. My husband will occasionally track his macros; he says it just helps him stay a bit more focused with nutrition.
If you follow my meal plan, you know that I take macros into consideration but have a verrrrry easy to follow way to eyeball the portions so you’re eating enough without the excess. That’s what works for me and while I could see some macronutrient manipulation in my future, I probably will never go back to macro counting.
PS – how hungry are you now after those scrumptious cookbook photos?! lol