To anyone enthusiastic about fitness and nutrition, the big question that sticks in the mind is usually ‘what is macro counting’? Is it of any benefit, or just too time consuming? Is it superior to other dieting protocols like crash dieting and clean eating for instance? Trying to stay on a strict dietary protocol and having a social life can be really difficult. With most dietary protocols, your choices are limited, your diet does not fit your social life, and your not prepared to go to the length of bringing along your personally prepared food to the Mexican Taqueria. With macro counting, you can track your intake whilst still participating in a social gathering. But that’s just the beginning when counting macros.
Macronutrient (macros) are the three basic macronutrients that make up our energy needs in the diet. These are proteins, carbohydrates and fats; also including alcohol as a stand-in fourth. They are the main source of calories from out diets. Each macronutrient yields a certain number of calories. 4 calories from a each gram of protein, 4 calories from each gram of carbohydrate, 9 calories from each gram of fat and 7 calories from a gram of alcohol. The easiest means of macro-counting is with food products with a nutrition label. Just take 30 seconds to look at the label, write down the sizes of the macronutrients in grams and that’s all bearing in mind that the information listed on a nutrition label is for one serving. With macro counting using a mobile app or a food diary, it offers one the opportunity to learn about the dietary values of foods of choice.
For one to truly optimise body composition, performance and health, consumption of macronutrients must be tracked. Counting calories and macronutrients is an effective means of tracking and monitoring your dietary habits while simultaneously assessing your progress in your desired goals. Bearing in mind that weight gain or loss all comes down to calorie input as against calorie output first before you talk about dietary protocols that mostly ensure food quality.
Clean eating just like other similar dietary protocols ensures the consumption of non-processed, whole foods and trying to stick to foods that are organic. This basically implies that if the food is plant based and very natural then it’s very much acceptable in the clean eating dietary protocol. People who embark on strict dietary protocols usually have a fixed approved food list to choose from while avoiding anything that’s not in the list except on few occasions.
Why Macro Counting May Be A Better Option:
In addition to all that have been said, counting macros creates room for one to evaluate progress in body weight and performance progress desires and goals. The whole point of counting macros is to enable one achieve desired aesthetic goals while still maintaining one’s quality of life. Keeping track of one’s intake of macronutrients will ensure the consumption of the appropriate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats as well as their calorie supply. This helps the body achieve the desired body composition goals and maintain good health. It is one step up from calorie counting. Crash dieting is a big NO for those that want to lose weight because I personally, I have seen people who are starving and still make themselves very miserable on a weight loss campaign. Then they revert back to old negative behaviours once they can no longer handle the strict dietary regime. This approach is to consume less calories as you burn in your daily activities. This can only be guaranteed by knowing how much you really take in., which most people don’t when they are on a diet. They often consume way too little calories causing under-recovery from training and therefor muscle wastage. Additionally, for people who desire to build some muscle mass, the best option would be to approach nutrition in a calculated and controlled manner to ensure muscle gain and maintenance whilst still losing body fat. This is also referred to as increasing metabolic wealth.
A typical case scenario would be “If I’m tracking my macro intake, is it fine to eat some low fat ice cream or pizza if it fits perfectly into my macros limit for the day?” This is very okay as it will remove the feelings of deprivation and restriction while simultaneously giving my body the appropriate amounts of needed calories. This is not an attempt to say that daily pizza intake is wonderful, but occasional consumption won’t hurt.
I myself have experimented with this macronutrient calculating and made some shocking observation. I personally found out that sticking with a rather too small list of clean foods chosen in accordance with the clean eating dietary protocol, leaves me craving more unhealthy foods in the long run. Possibly, if I focus more on my macro counting method, I find having small enjoyable treats along the way leaves me less inclined to binge on a weekend and more inclined to stick to it for longer (5 year running). Most individuals disobey their dietary rules because of feelings of over restriction, and guilt after a binge. However, with tracking macros, one can create room for few squares of chocolate or a small bowl of ice cream in the diet and still arrive at the desired fitness destination.
So if you want freedom from boredom, restriction, yo-yo dieting, feelings of guilt and an unhealthy obsession with food, why not give this tracking thing a go?
Over to you, challenge yourself, challenge your body and see what happens!
Need real nutritional help click here for my Starter Macro Guide