Short answer? No. But, in all fairness, I do think that out of all the food-tracking tools, tracking macros is the lesser of evils. However, I still don’t recommend tracking macros the way everybody else is doing it, and here’s why….
#1. It is too rigid
Counting macros typically means following a specific pattern of eating every single day. This way of eating isn’t practical, and it doesn’t teach you how to eat when things need to be moved left or right. Which they often do! Our body’s energy needs can change daily depending on a lot of different factors. We need to be able to rely on our hunger and fullness cues (as well as other biofeedback) to make sure that we are adjusting these needs appropriately.
# 2. It can create an unhealthy relationship with food
Tracking macros, similarly to tracking calories, can cause you to have an unhealthy relationship with food and cause you to view food as numbers rather than nutrients. Eating to hit a certain number, whether it be calories or macros, really isn’t beneficial – this isn’t how our bodies work! I’ve said this before…we aren’t calculators. I know that it can feel really safe to track food or follow a precise plan because it can make you feel like you are doing all the “right” things, but an app or food plan isn’t how to sustainably achieve this.
#3. It is still calorie focused
What I mean by this is macro counting is based on overall calories. You take your target calories and divide what percentage of those calories is going to be coming from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This isn’t so bad when calories are set to an appropriate amount, but the problem with traditional macro counting is that it is usually used with a large calorie deficit. This often means that the overall percentage of calories that you are allowed to have coming from fat is almost always too low. This is especially true for women.
So, what should I do instead?
Instead of traditional macro counting, I recommend being mindful of macros and, specifically, the macronutrient breakdown of your meals. Understanding what foods qualify as protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber (something traditional macro tracking leaves out) and how to adjust all of these within a meal to best nourish yourself is extremely helpful – and in my opinion, your key to success!
This is where PHFF comes in handy. If you don’t know by now, PHFF stands for Protein, Healthy Fat, and Fiber. Incorporating these macronutrients into your meals will help to keep you full and energized and ensure that you are getting adequate nutrient intake. The starting points for PHFF for each meal are 20-30 grams of protein, 10-30 grams of fat, and 5-10 grams of fiber. The best part about PHFF is that this is a skill you can build up and use without ever having to track anything.
The most beneficial thing that you can do for your long-term health and wellness goals is to understand food and what exactly it does for your body, as well as how to adjust these different nutrients based on your individual needs!
And since I get this question all of the time – I will address it here! If you need to spot-check or track every now and then to see what your intake is like then that is fine! BUT you first need to make sure that you have a rock-solid relationship with food, and it should mostly be done with the intent of ensuring that you are eating enough food, rather than too much food.
If you want to finally understand (rather than fear) the different macronutrients and what each of these does for you, then make sure to sign up for our next round of Metabolism Makeover where we will dive deep into just this! If you need more of a high-touch 1:1 nutrition coaching experience then VIP is going to be a perfect fit for you!