Counting your macros is one of the most common tools used to reach your fitness goals. If you’re unsure what this is, it simply means you are keeping track of the number of grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats you are eating. If you are one of many who count macros, you must be wondering when you should stop. Well, just like almost everything in life, it depends. It depends on the reason you started tracking macros in the first place.
Are you trying to lose weight and look good?
Are you competing in a bodybuilding competition?
If you answered yes to one of those questions, then keep counting macros until you reach your end goal. But if you are counting macros for no reason other than the fact that someone told you it was good for you to do; you should probably reconsider your “why”.
Some people have no problem weighing their food on a scale every day and counting their macros. But for most, this way of eating is very restrictive. I’m going to give you 3 big reasons why you should eventually stop tracking your macronutrients.
It’s Not Accurate
The first reason is the simplest. Counting your macros is not accurate. Unless you are consistently cooking and weighing your food on a scale, your numbers won’t always be right. Let’s say you don’t have time to cook food and decide to grab a burrito from Chipotle. Chipotle’s macro guidelines may be completely off from what the worker is serving you. For all you know, they could be giving you twice the amount of rice and beans they are supposed to. This is because it is not exact, it is only an estimated portion size. That will always throw your specific macronutrient goals off and you’ll have no way of knowing how much you ate.
It Leads to A Poor Relationship with Food
Tracking macros can sometimes lead to a poor relationship with food. This is simply the most important reason why you should eventually stop tracking the big three. It is very easy to fall into an obsession with food. Why does this happen? For one, you are putting yourself in a very restricted calorie setting. You don’t have the flexibility to explore different foods and eat foods simply because it brings you joy. It takes way more time and planning to have fun and make different meals each day if you’re tracking. Each new meal you decide to make you have to weigh every ingredient and calculate how you can fit this meal into your day. Therefore, it is common to see people who track macros eating the same meals every day. It’s just easier. They don’t have to think too hard if they are eating chicken, rice and broccoli every single day. But what fun is that? If you are no longer enjoying your food, this is a red flag. When you’re so focused on figuring out what you can and can’t eat, everything else in life may become less important...Your mental health, your relationships, your career...they are all no longer a priority. No diet or way of eating is superior to your well-being (mentally and physically).
It Becomes A Crutch
To be clear, I am not saying that tracking your macros is bad. You may have heard the Mind Pump guys talk about how it can be a very effective tool in weight gain and weight loss. But it’s just that, an effective tool. It’s not meant to be used as a crutch forever. It’s common to become myopic with counting your macros because of how helpful it is. The problem is some people have so much success with tracking that they forget to listen to the greatest tool we have...our bodies! It’s important to listen to your body’s natural cues. Our bodies know what nourishes and keeps us healthy, but we need to become more self-aware to listen correctly. Tracking your macros should only be used as a tool in your toolbox, nothing more. It shouldn’t become your way of life.