As a dietitian, I often give my clients tips for tracking their macros. There are a few reasons why someone might want to track their macros.
Maybe you’re trying to lose weight and want to make sure you’re eating the right amount of calories and nutrients.
Or maybe you have a health condition and need to track your food intake closely. Tracking macros can also help you maintain your current weight or even gain muscle.
Tips For Tracking Macros From A Dietitian
Tracking macros can be an effective way to help you reach your goals. Here are a few tips that I always recommend to my clients:
- Set a goal and determine the reason why you want to achieve that goal. Without a clear purpose, it can be easy to get off track.
- Start planning by developing recipes, snacks, grocery shopping, and time for prepping your meals. This will help to make tracking macros simpler and more streamlined.
- Maintain accurate portion sizes, so be sure to weigh and measure your food carefully. This is especially important when first starting out with tracking macros.
- Track your progress and make adjustments as needed. This will help you to see what is working and what isn’t so that you can make necessary changes along the way.
- Build staple meals and recipes that will streamline your planning, meal prep, and tracking. Having some go-to options that you know fit into your macro goals can make the process much easier overall.
It can be hard to stay on track with your diet, especially when you don’t have a lot of support.
That’s why I want to share with you some tips for tracking macros that have helped me and my clients.
What are tracking macros?
As I am sure some of you are aware, tracking macros is a way of monitoring the number of macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats – that you consume.
This information can be used to help you achieve a specific goal, such as weight loss or gaining muscle.
By keeping track of your macros, you can ensure that you’re hitting your target numbers and getting the calories and macronutrients your body needs.
If you are new to counting macros, read Counting Macros for Beginners.
Set a goal
Having a clear goal and a strong reseason why you want to achieve this goal, gives you the path to success. It is a lot harder to give up on your dreams than it is to give up on your wants.
Setting goals is critical when it comes to tracking macronutrients. Not only is it important to have a goal, but you must also have a clear understanding of why you’re going after whatever you set to do.
This will help you in two areas: making the hard choices and staying motivated.
Start with a large aim in mind, which may be anything from losing a few pounds or competing in a marathon. From there, you can break down those goals into smaller, more achievable ones.
A strong why is critical since it allows you to make decisions that are consistent with your long-term objectives.
So take the time at the beginning of your journey to figure out what your goals are and why you want to keep track of macros.
This will pay off dividends in the future.
With a clear goal and path, planning is the second tip for tracking macros. By identifying your calories and macro targets, meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, it is just a matter of time before you hit your goal.
Once you have set a goal, it becomes much easier to plan out what you are working towards.
The first step to planning is to determine your calories and macros. This can be done by using an online calculator or working with a dietitian.
Once you know how many calories and the macro ratios you need to consume each day, you can start choosing foods to fulfill those needs. The Ultimate Macro Food List is a great place to start. guide
Make sure to include a variety of nutrient-rich foods in your diet, such as lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. The Macro Meal Planning blog post is a great resource for this step.
Once you have an idea of what you should be eating, it’s time to create a meal plan. This doesn’t have to be complicated – simply choose a few meals that you can rotate each week.
If you’re short on time, meal prep can be a lifesaver. Simply make a larger batch of one of your go-to meals and portion it out for the week.
Last but not least, stick to your plan! This can be difficult at times, but it’s important to stay on track if you want to achieve your goals.
Tips for tracking consistently
If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up – just get back on track and keep going.
If you’re struggling to stick to your macros, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
1. Find a friend or family member who is also tracking macros and support each other.
2. Join an online community or forum for people who are trying to lose weight or improve their fitness.
3. Work with a dietitian or nutrition coach who can help you create a plan that fits your lifestyle and goals.
Having a clearly defined plan allows us to take action and witness progress. By tracking this progress you will be able to see the trends over time. This is a key to staying motivated.
Another piece of the puzzle is tracking your progress. This is important for two reasons:
1. It allows you to see how well you’re doing and make necessary adjustments
2. Seeing progress, keeps you motivated to keep going.
There are a few different ways to track your progress. The most common is to weigh yourself regularly and take measurements (such as waist circumference or body fat percentage).
You can also track how you feel – for example, energy levels, mood, recovery from workouts, etc.
Another helpful way to track progress is to take progress photos. This can be a before and after photo, or simply pictures at different intervals (e.g., every week or month).
Progress photos are great because they allow you to see the changes in your body that might not be as apparent on the scale.
Portion size/ weighing your food / measuring your food
The gold standard for tracking your macros is to weigh your food. That is not always going to be an option so relying on measurements and protein guides is also useful.
If you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health, tracking your macros is a great way to do it.
But it can be difficult to know how much of each food you should eat to reach your goals.
That’s why portion size, weighing foods, and measuring food are all important tools to have in your arsenal.
Portion size is a simple way to control how many calories you consume each day. Using the hand fist module is a great way to estimate portion sizes.
For example, a serving of protein should be about the size of your palm or a deck of cards, while a serving of vegetables can be roughly the size of two fists.
Weighing and measuring foods is a bit more involved, but it’s still relatively simple.
All you need is a food scale and some measuring cups/spoons.
Some of my favorite kitchen tools:
Food scale: Renpho Digital Food Scale 19.99
Weighing food will give you a more accurate idea of how many calories and specifically you’re consuming while measuring will give you a better sense of portion size.
All three of these methods take a bit of time and effort, but they’re worth it if you’re serious about reaching your goals.
Building out staple meals and recipes
If you’re trying to eat healthier, one of the best things you can do is to create a repertoire of staple meals and recipes.
Having a few go-to meals that you can fall back on will make it much easier to stick to your healthy eating plan. Not to mention, it’ll save you time and money in the long run.
When it comes to staple meals, choose ones that are relatively simple and easy to make. Think about what you typically eat in a week and identify the meals that you could make ahead of time or that don’t require a lot of prep work. some examples might include:
– Roasted vegetables From another dietitian Debbie!
– Baked sweet potato fries: From another dietitian Marisa Moore!
As for recipes, again, choose ones that are relatively simple and quick to make. There are tons of healthy recipes out there that fit this criterion. And if you’re short on time, you can always find quick and easy recipes online.
Frequently asked questions
Why is counting macros so hard?
The most common challenge that people have when trying to track macros is partly due to not knowing how to do it correctly and lack of consistency.
How can I track my macros without being obsessed?
When you’re first starting out, it’s important to be patient and understand that it will take time to learn how to track your macros effectively.
What macros should I track for weight loss?
If your goal is weight loss, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking your macros in a way that is conducive to that goal.
For example, you may want to track your calories and make sure you’re eating a deficit of calories each day.
You may also want to track your macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) and make sure you’re eating the right balance of those nutrients.
And lastly, you’ll want to track your water intake and make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.
When it comes to tracking macros, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.
First, start by setting some goals. This will help give you direction and will also help you stay on track.
Next, plan ahead. This will make it easier to make sure you have the right foods on hand and that you’re hitting your targets. Plus, having specific meals and recipes on hand may make things simpler.
Tracking progress is also important; it can help you see where you might need to make some adjustments.
Finally, portion size and measuring foods are key when it comes to tracking macros. This can help ensure that you’re hitting your targets each day.
All of these tips for tracking macros take a bit of time and effort, but they’re worth it if you’re serious about reaching your goals.
Best of luck on your macro journey!
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
Noah Quezada is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in Denver, Colorado. Over the course of more than a decade, he has gained extensive experience in helping clients manage their weight through in-person sessions. Noah is also the 2023 President of the Colorado Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.