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Counting Macros… Should You?

Over the years, we have learned that nothing strikes more fear in our nutrition clients than talking about counting macronutrients.  During our first nutrition meeting with a new client we can visibly see the waive of relief wash over them when we tell them that we will not be asking them to weight and measure everything they eat.  But, what does it mean to count your macros?  Additionally, are there any advantages to this kind of dieting?  After all, if you’ve ever met someone who has successfully counted their macros, there is a good chance they’ve seen a lot of success with losing weight, reducing size, gaining muscle, and/or increasing their athletic performance. 

What Is Counting Macros?

Counting Macronutrients, or Counting Macros, is a dietary program that involves a focus on daily caloric intake and counting the grams of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates you eat each day in an effort to stay within a predetermined calorie ceiling.  Unless it has been chemically altered, everything you eat has a caloric value.  Calories are a measure of energy contained in good.  Calories come from the three macronutrient:  Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates.  When you move through life every day, your body uses calories for energy.  The more you move, the more calories you burn.  VERY basically speaking, if you eat more calories than you burn, then you gain fat because your body will transform your excess macronutrients into stored fat.  Thus, the only way to gain complete control over weight gain, loss, or maintenance is by controlling your caloric intake.  This is Counting Macros.  

The Ultimate Control

By weighing and measuring everything you eat, you are able to determine how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you are eating every day.  Once you know your grams, you are able to calculate your calories.  If you want to lose weight, you simply reduce your calories.  If you want to gain weight, you increase your calories.  If you want to increase your muscle mass, you increase your calories and focus on increasing your protein gram intake each day.  It is the ultimate diet control. 

Should You Do It?

So, why does Counting Macros cause so much anxiety?  Because it is hard.  You have to be prepared to make all of your own food.  You will constantly have a pen and pad, or your phone, next to you to record what you are eating.  It forces you to really look at your diet and understand everything you put in your mouth.  There is a learning curve and burnout is real.  Very few people have the long term motivation and discipline to count macros for a prolonged period of time.  Thus, if healthy habits are not first developed, Counting Macros simply becomes another fad swing diet that will only bring you short term success.  

Because of these pros and cons, we never start a nutrition client with Counting Macros.  In fact, we may even discourage it.  We focus first on developing healthy eating habits that are sustainable and fit with your lifestyle.  We once saw a guy on social media who was using Counting Macros to eat hotdogs for every meal every day.  That’s not healthy and not long term sustainable.  Focus first on making sure you are eating all natural foods in general quantities to sustain your activity and a healthy weight.  Then, if you want to focus on a specific goal for a predetermined amount of time, we can teach you to gain complete control of what you are eating.