20 tips to improve your macro tracking experience
20 tips to help you track your macros
Tracking your macros is a wonderful tool that can change your life. It can teach you balance and boundaries. It is a great way to understand portion control and how you can eat foods you enjoy and still hit your goals. It's very easy to make this another diet if you let it. But it's the best way to get long term and quick results, if you do it right.
If you have no idea where to start tracking your macros or don't know what that means. You can check out this blog. But if you have an idea of what it consists of or have just started or been doing it for a long time. Then definitely keep reading.
I have been tracking macros for several years now. I have also coached a lot of people on how to track too. These are some tips that have helped me and others that I have worked with. I Hope they can help you!
Track ahead of time. It’s easy to fall into the habit of tracking everything after you eat it. Or getting to the end of the day and trying to track all of your food. It makes sense that you would go over or be under in hitting your goals. It's hard to guesstimate hitting your numbers by doing it that way. If you’re doing it like that I would guess that you have a harder time hitting your numbers. Instead track the night before or morning of. Even if you end up eating something different as your day goes along. You'll still have an idea of what numbers you then need to fill.
Focus on protein and calories. Whether you are brand new to tracking macros or have been doing it for a while. Focusing on protein and calories can simplify your efforts. Protein is crucial in your progress. For why it's the most important macro, check out this blog. And your carbs and fat are your energy source. So they are interchangeable, everyone has different preferences there. Your protein, carbs and fat equal your calories. So as long as you are hitting your protein and calories you're putting yourself in a good position to see changes towards your goals. So simplify the process and focus on your protein and calories.
Meal prep so you're not eating on the fly. Meal prepping is not just for meat heads. It's beneficial to everyone. Knowing ahead of time what you're going to eat will help you hit your numbers easier. Also having things prepped in your house will help you be able to eat before you become ravenous. It will also help in more than likely making better food choices. When we go to work without a prepped meal our choices of nutrient dense foods are pretty slim. Prepping your food ahead of time will also save you money rather than going out to eat everyday. It will also save you time in trying to figure out what to eat each day. If you need variety then prep a bunch of different things or have some frozen options. Have some chicken that you can have with rice or potatoes or in a salad or in a wrap. Don't be afraid to switch things up.
Repeat meals and snacks. It can be helpful to have a few things each day that you know get you closer to your goals. For example, I have protein coffee with collagen everyday. It gets me 35 grams of protein right away in the morning. I know that without it I have a hard time hitting my protein. So have certain things in your daily plan that you know help you hit your goals.
Be consistent. It's very hard to know if something is working if you're not consistent. So set a goal before you start of how long you're going to track for. Hit daily goals everyday. And then after your goal amount of time you can make adjustments if necessary. But you can not expect changes if you're not consistent. So if you want this to work for you, you must stay consistent.
Track on the weekends(but consider your mental health first). This can turn some people off but hear me out. If you don't track on the weekends thats 2-3 days out of the 7 day work week that could be off the wall. That's almost half the amount of days you're committing too. I'm not saying this could prevent all progress but it could definitely slow it down. Tracking teaches you so much, especially in the beginning. So staying consistent even on the weekends is tremendously beneficial. Also you want this to become a habit and part of your lifestyle. So doing it everyday will help it become second nature. Many people struggle on the weekends. Most say they have a hard time hitting numbers. So imagine if you didn't track at all how far off you could be. You definitely want to consider what is best for you. If you need that break then sure, take it. But if you're brand new or have big goals. I'd encourage you to take the few minutes it takes to track and do it, even on the weekends.
Space out your macros over the course of the day. If you're finding yourself super full after certain meals or ravenous before others. Make sure you are spacing out your meals. Also try to keep the meals balanced. So some protein and carbs in each. This will prevent the super full and super ravenous episodes. So a simple breakdown would be eating a meal every 2-3 hours. This COULD be a good option for those who struggle with ravenous episodes or energy crashes.
Reflect on your days and see what changes you could make to hit your numbers better. Sometimes we can spend weeks falling short or going over in numbers. We don't understand why but we hope for tomorrow. Instead of hoping, try to improve it. So at the end of the day whether it's a day you were spot on or a little off. Look over the day and see what helped you hit your goals or what may have thrown them all off. Maybe there's some swaps you can make. Or something that went well and to remember it for next time.
Use a food scale. When tracking you need to know the amounts of food you're eating. To be the most accurate you should use a food scale. How Could you expect to know how much you're eating if you've never been taught what 4 or 6 ounces looks like. Just like we'd use a tape measure for projects or a scale to weigh ourselves. It's so easy to be inaccurate, so use a food scale to get better at knowing. Eventually you may not need the scale at all but it's such a useful tool for now.
Have a list of go to foods that you always have in the house that help you hit your numbers. Like I said before with repeating meals. You'll see certain things help you hit your numbers where others may throw you off. Have a list of 2-5 things for each macro that help you hit your numbers. Always have those things available to you. For me my protein options are: chicken, protein shake, protein bars and egg whites. Carb options: wraps, fruit, pretzels. Fat options: peanut butter, trail mix. Create a list of things you can always have around.
Create recipes in your tracking app that you can quickly add for next time. In the app I use to track you can create recipes that you can then quickly add for next time. If there's a lot of ingredients or a meal that you have often. Create the recipe and it will be easier for next time. This is the app I use to track.
When out to eat use the palm of your hands as four ounces and half a cup. Don't give up when you go out to eat. Using a food scale at home will help you get better at eyeballing when you go out to eat. But also use the palm of your hand as a reference.
Don't drink your calories. Be mindful of alcohol and juice. These things can so easily be all your calories for the day. I'm not saying don't have them. But keep in mind all the calories they'll use.
Be mindful where you're using a lot of your numbers and ask yourself if it's worth it. You may find when you're reflecting on a day that the lunch you're having takes up a lot of calories. Maybe there's a swap you can make. Or consider finding another option if it's constantly derailing you. The MIFIT app freebie for February will have a lot of great swap ideas. Download the app here and upgrade to gain access to that freebie!
Use an app. It can be really hard to know if your numbers are accurate if you're just writing it all down. That will also increase the amount of time it takes to track. This is the app I use to track. This app will also tell you what your macros should be. If you select me as your advisor I can walk you through what tracking macros are and how you can start hitting your numbers.
Don't feel like you have to take your food scale with you or do this forever. A scale Is a great tool, not a ball and chain. So utilize this at home but don't feel like you need to bring it with you. You also don't have to track forever. But how can you expect to know how much to eat without ever being taught? Or how to hit your protein without ever trying to in the past. Just like having training wheels on your bike. It's to make you better.
Focus on progress not perfection.one step at a time. Try not to beat yourself up if you're not hitting all your numbers in the first few days or even the first few weeks. There should definitely be improvements but not perfection off the bat. Start with protein then calories and try to get closer and closer every day. Remember before this you weren't paying attention at all. So little adjustments now, are a big difference.
Keep your meals simple- don't add a million things. If you have 100 different things thrown into your lunch it will definitely be harder to track. You can group things together as carbs or fats or proteins. It will be easier if instead of having black beans, salsa, corn, onion, lettuce, peppers and rice in your burrito bowl pick two or three of those. Or group them all together and track it as one thing. This won't be as accurate like tracking it individually but it is a great option.
Instead of sauces go with spices. When seasoning your chicken or having a little add on to your lunch. A spice may be a better option than bbq sauce or ranch. You can have them. But remember they need to be tracked too. So maybe go for a swap, a clear tablespoon or swap for a spice! Montreal chicken seasoning is a fav of mine for my potatoes or chicken.
Be flexible-allow it to enhance your life not limit it. Tracking macros is a tool. Use it to reach your fitness goals like losing fat, getting stronger, getting more toned or maintaining your physique. Use it to find balance and create healthy habits. I hope it changes your life like it changed mine.
If you want to learn more about tracking macros or get started but want some help. Book a call and we can discuss some options that may best suit the goals you're trying to reach. Book a call here. Or save this blog and use the tips to help you master this tool.