Coach Kaytlin here! I’m sharing my view on tracking food. Why you shouldn’t track macros or calories long term, when tracking is appropriate, and more! There is a time and a place for everything. I think it is important to track your macros (especially at the beginning of your fitness journey) so you can see which foods have what macros and what exactly you’re putting into your body. I’ve heard quite a few people say “what? Broccoli is a carb? I thought it was a protein!?” And while there is a small amount of protein in broccoli, vegetables are mainly carbs.
Counting macros also helps you see what a portion size truly is. It is pretty eye opening once you realize that 1 full cookie had 100g of sugar in it and you were only supposed to eat ¼ of it for a serving. 😉 And what you ate in one sitting at that restaurant, could have probably fed 2-3 people. Portions, especially in America, are typically way more than that our bodies truly need.
Why I Don’t Recommend It Long-Term
The thing is, too many people are getting caught up in the macros and calorie counting. Tracking what you eat is not something you should be doing long-term. Tracking macros can easily become an unhealthy habit. When you start skipping meals, get anxious about the thought of eating out with friends or have fears and anxiety about the thought of eating, stop. Your mental health is much more important than tracking your food perfectly.
Counting calories or tracking your macros can help with achieving a goal or boosting your performance but it is not a tool that you need to or should have to do the rest of your life.
I have heard many girls say, “so I have to do this the rest of my life?” Absolutely not. It wouldn’t be much of a life if you constantly had to track what you ate. Soon once you find what is comfortable for you, you’ll be able to eyeball portion sizes, listen to hunger cues and be able to estimate how much you’re eating during the day and be able to know what foods make your body feel good and which foods you only want to eat on special occasions.
Times When Tracking Is Appropriate
To learn about nutrition – Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re just learning what macros are and just starting getting into fitness, counting macros is a great idea. It will teach you what is in the foods you’re putting in your body and how much you’re actually eating.
If you have a specific goal you’re wanting to reach – Whether you’re focusing on fat loss or building muscle, this can be done without tracking and by switching habits, it doesn’t HAVE to be done by tracking. Tracking just makes it easier for some people to do and takes out a lot of the guesswork.
If you have a competition coming up – It’s important to feel your best while you are performing so tracking exactly what goes into your body can help you put the foods in that you need to to perform and feel your best. I personally only track when I have a fight coming up, so I know I am eating foods that will help my body perform during practice, while I am losing weight to make weight for the fight.
*Note that there will be times in your life where you will need to be more strict than others. When workout towards achieving a specific goal you will need to really put your foot on the pedal. Around big life events, say a death or a holiday, it might be okay to relax and take your foot off of the pedal for a bit.
Remember that your mental health is more important than the way your body looks and really focus and emphasize how your body feels when it eats certain foods. Fuel your body with nutritious foods. Be kind to yourself. This is a learning process and you’re not going to do it perfectly.