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Is Counting Macros Sustainable?

By Joe Talarico on Apr 29, 2024 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


Counting macros can definitely be a useful tool to keep you accountable and on track. It is by no means, a one size fits all solution. For most, it can also be very hard to keep up with in the long term. After all, who wants to track their food their whole life?

Focus on the Basics

Here are some tips for those who don’t want to count macros:

Focus on an INCLUSIVE Diet - The first step is to try to ADD things to your diet rather than REMOVE things. I have found that with most clients, the moment you tell them to take something away, it’s all they end up thinking about. So why not add stuff? The goal here is to focus on eating more protein and veggies. For those who don’t want to weigh their food, you want a protein source that is the size and thickness of your palm with each meal. For veggies, go with 1-2 fistful servings of veggies with each meal. By focusing on this, you will naturally reduce overeating of the more calorically dense foods, as protein and veggies are very satiating. Protein aids in muscle building and is a harder macronutrient to convert to fat versus carbohydrates and fats. This method also allows you to remove stuff from your diet. You can still enjoy the foods you eat, just prioritize doing this first.

Focus on Mostly Whole Foods - The other problem with counting macros is that it doesn’t always focus on food quality. There is a difference, believe it or not, from just taking a protein shake to eating a steak. You are getting a host of vitamins and minerals from the steak that the shake doesn’t provide. Of course, shakes are ok when in a pinch, but just don’t make them the focus of your diet.

Focusing on mostly whole foods will also help you get fuller easier. I don’t want to demonize any type of food (even processed) because to me, it gives the wrong message. Life is about balance, and you should be able to enjoy the foods you want. What we should be learning however, is processed foods are DESIGNED to make you overeat. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can make it nearly impossible for you to stay within your calories. Whole foods, on the other hand, will cue your body's natural satiety signals. The example I always use is potatoes versus a bag of chips. A bag of chips roughly equals 4-5 potatoes. If I told you to eat 4-5 plain potatoes, your body will naturally get full before even finishing all of them. Give you a bag of chips and I bet you’ll be able to crush that bag. It’s those types of situations that can make you feel like you “suck” at dieting. It isn’t your fault. Processed foods are designed to tempt you, so don’t feel bad. Save yourself the temptation and go for the whole foods. Also, for good measure, whole foods are packed with way more nutrients than processed.

Build a Healthy Relationship

The other thing you want to keep in mind is your relationship with food. If you get obsessed with tracking because you found success with it, you might find you become overly concerned with every little thing you eat. This happened to me for a while. I was SO concerned about MAXIMIZING my caloric budget that I didn’t want to drink, or waste calories on anything when I could spend it on food instead. My food became bland so that I didn’t waste calories on dressings and add-ons. It wasn’t healthy. You want to make sure when you approach this journey, you are doing it to better yourself and your life. It isn’t all about moving the scale and looking good.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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