You have NO IDEA how much you’re leaving on the table by not tracking your diet, do you? When I tell my athletes, clients, or God forbid family that I want them to track their meals it might as well be a punch to the nuts. But what these people don’t realize is that the benefits that come along with tracking macros far outweigh any potential inconvenience. In reality it only takes a few seconds while preparing meals or planning ahead before going out. Tracking macros is the key to success when following nutrition protocols. Below are 4 reasons why tracking macros is one of the most important elements to a nutrition protocol:
Reality check on the total caloric and macronutrient intake
3-day food recalls are a standard in many nutrition protocols. While this can be effective, most people have either no idea what or how much/how little they ate or do not eat the same meals consistently. Tracking macros after every meal helps individuals understand the amount of calories they are actually taking in each day.
For most, this can be a reality check, as it shows that the Double Double with fries and an In-N-Out shake they crushed yesterday will indeed take most, if not all, of their calories for the day with terrible macronutrient (Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein) profiles. On contrary many athletes have no idea what it takes to fuel the fire. Thinking they are tuned in with nutrition, athletes also tend to under eat which leads to decreases in performance and body composition. Dr. Loran Cordain states in his research that the typical western macronutrient breakdown is as follows (23): carbohydrate (51.8%), fat (32.8%), and protein (15.4%)(1). On average, protein intake is below what is recommended and in a case of not weighing or tracking macros many people overestimate their protein intake. After 21 days of tracking it becomes second nature and you start to understand what it takes to fulfill macronutrient intake.
Understanding what foods work with you and what foods work against you
Nutrition is directly related to performance, and many individuals tend to forget that this can be the reason they had a shitty training session or a great game. A byproduct of tracking macros is being able to have a solid record to look back on. By tracking your training and nutrition, you are able to find the foods that work best for you and the foods that you need to avoid. Without an accurate recall of intake you have to make assumptions of what food affected performance. Let’s be honest we’re always going to pick the foods we savor if we cannot connect increased performance to another option, it’s human nature. At Power Athlete we eat to perform better; therefore, to perform at maximum intensity at all times we need to know exactly what we are putting in our bodies. By tracking macros everyday we are able to understand how certain foods affects our performance.
Being able to accurately adjust macronutrient ratios and caloric intake for progress
This is the most important point made on why you should weigh and track your macronutrients. When you check in we need to have an accurate recall of what the macronutrient intake has been. Guesstimating will not work when it comes to adjusting diet just as guesstimating your PRs will not help you for competition weights. After an athlete checks in and gives an accurate recall on their intake over the week, coaches are able to accurately assess and adjust the protocol to keep the progress rolling. When @Cali was on Jacked Street she properly dialed in her macros and was able to make the necessary changes when progress slowed. By being meticulous with tracking macros @Cali got absolutely jacked AND lean by shedding twenty pounds while maintaining LBM.
The Social Situation
The biggest payoff to being meticulous with weighing and tracking macros, has to be social situations. At Power Athlete we have two very important sayings “don’t be weird,” and “Never turn down a free meal or drink.” That being said, you don’t want to be the person at the restaurant with the pocket scale, and you definitely don’t want to turn down that date to the steak house. This does not mean go crazy and start slamming Twinkies because they fit your macros BRO, food quality is paramount, make educated decisions and always eat for performance. In these situations, you have been planning, weighing, and tracking macros everyday. So when a social situation pops up you are able track around this meal without going off your plan.
I know that a handful of people will complain that they are “too busy”, do not have time to weigh and track each meal, don’t be this person. You’re not a child, a whole day of tracking will only take 30 minutes out of the time you devote to watching the bachelor. Eventually tracking will not be “tracking” anymore. As is true with all new endeavors, over time it will just a part of the daily grind. You will no longer have to take swings at cutting macros, you will have a solid baseline to accurately increase or decrease macros to help you crush your goals. Not only that, but your margin for error with “guessing” or “estimating” will significantly decrease, so that through measuring and tracking macros you can actually stay more compliant, and continue to be the life of the party rather than the nerd with the pocket scale. In the next article we will touch on a few tips to survive these social situations, as well as how to track efficiently and effectively, betches.
- Cordain, L(2005) Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health , American Journal Clinical Nutrition.
I am the COO of Power Athlete, co-host of Power Athlete Radio, and a Power Athlete Coach. I've been coaching athletes, training clients, and educating 1,000s of coaches around the globe since 2007. I'm a lifelong multisport athlete, but my focus was football up through college where a neck injury forced me to hang it up.
Now I'm a stickler for productivity, and have a burning desire to empower athletes, coaches, and every day people who are striving to be better versions of themselves.
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Fisher’s First Article? There went the neighborhood… Nice work bud.
I started weighing my meals and tracking my sleep in November 2014. Definite game changer but some people need that extra time to take food prep selfies instead of weighing/measuring.
For those of us who eat lots of one pot meals and combination dishes (vs boring servings of single ingredients), how are we supposed to weigh/measure each component?
Hey @lsu05, big fan of one pot meals and full recipes myself, I found that incorporating recipes into my nutrition has helped me stick with it. Long story short MyFitnessPal has a recipe function that you can input recipes as well as URLs of recipes you find on the web ( In my next article I will touch on this subject) . If your interested in specific meals, we are now offering nutrition coaching in which I am creating meal plans with recipes and serving sizes included. Check it out in the nutrition tab
Didn’t know about that function, Fisher. Definitely worth a try!
I use myfitnesspal to input recipes but am just guesstimating the servings as far as how many a recipe makes and how many I’m consuming. Is it as simple as doing something like dividing the recipe into different containers and inputting that I ate 1 if the 6(arbitrary number)
Kevin, there are a few ways of doing this. Yes, the way you suggested will work but stayed tuned by end of the week I will have a post up explaining the optimal ways to do this.
Fisher: good article.