The mystery of macro counting. Should I be counting my food?
What if someone told you that you could be guaranteed to reach your fitness goals if you meticulously counted your food. Are science and sums always right?
The topic of macro counting has been popping up all over my social media, so I thought I would tell you what my OPINION on the subject was.
If you’re not already aware macros are they are the vital nutrients we need to survive. Which are Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. We need carbohydrates for energy, Protein for muscle repair and satiation, and fats for healthy skin, hair, nails, teeth, the list goes on. If you’re not getting enough of one of these vital components you are most likely to have some nasty side effects, like fatigue, bad skin, and digestive problems. However, the big question is how do we know what we personally need? There are loads of government recommendations but as I always say, we are all so unique and our bodies need different things. Some of us thrive off of high-fat diets whilst the rest of us need more carbohydrates. Only you can listen to your body and no calorie calculator is going to be tailored enough to your own needs.
BENEFITS OF MACRO COUNTING?
So although my personal view is that we don’t need to count our food there are clear benefits to macro counting. The best one I can think of is to make sure you are eating enough. People who suffer from eating disorders or lack of nutrients can use macro counting to ensure they are getting enough fuel in their body. When having an eating disorder your mind plays tricks on you and convinces you that certain portions are huge when in fact they aren’t. Having to track what you’re eating may help normalise portion size.
The second (kind of) benefit I can think of is people with extreme specific goals bodybuilding/bikini body competitors need to loose a lot of fat whilst building muscle (which is ridiculously impossible). In no way, shape or form do I agree with these kinds of competitions (blog post coming) but I do understand that they have to be meticulous with their food, counting exactly everything that enters their bodies.
The third benefit I can see is if you are trying out a different way of eating. Most commonly if you decided to go vegan without enough education on the topic, it could go very wrong. Portion size must increase and you must be wary of getting enough B12, protein, and calcium. Using a tool to track how much your actually getting could really help you transition in the safest way. Although, my advice would be to see a professional rather than try and do it on your own.
NEGATIVES OF MACRO COUNTING
Okay, so where do I start. All of the points above are benefits and positives but all three could backfire and turn into a situation where you become obsessive about counting your food. If you have been tracking for a while and then suddenly try stop, it can be a difficult process. I feel that being that particular about what we eat can lead to dangerous thought processes and potentially eating disorders.
It’s also extremely time-consuming and who has time for that? Putting in every ingredient to your app or computer is a complete faff and takes a lot more time than it should. When going out for a meal you don’t need to spend 5 minutes on your phone writing down your food.
Instead of enjoying the food put in front of you, your head may be dissecting and thinking what’s in it. When tracking you could potentially get into the mindset of pulling apart your food and trying to work out how much you have put on your plate. It can become all consuming and unhealthy.
Controlling with your brain rather than your body. I’m a big believer in listening to your body. I know this is hard for some who have had issues with food, in which case you should always seek professional advice. However, food is one of the biggest joys in life and should be enjoyed rather than made into an anxious situation where you are frantically adding up. It can become massively antisocial and ruin meals out with your friends and family.
Yes, there are benefits, they are clear but the negatives completely outweigh. If you want to change your diet or are concerned you’re not getting the right ingredients, call a nutritionist who can work with you on a personal level, rather than a computer guessing what you need. Macro counting serves a purpose but no one needs to do it and I think food should be enjoyed, nourishing and spontaneous.
Let me know your thoughts,