Should You Start Tracking Macros?

So, you’ve been hearing a lot about “macros” and “flexible dieting.” You’ve seen the transformation posts on Instagram and have been hearing “grams” more frequently than a drug dealer. You’re wondering if this is an eating style that fits into your life. Just like with any change, there are pros and cons; weighing these (a little macro pun) can be helpful before you start. Here are a few questions to consider:

1. What are your goals? How close are you to your goals?

With goals like weight loss, it’s easy to get sucked in when you hear words like “diet.” Will this be the one? Maybe this is that one thing that’s going to help. Flexible dieting involves some steps that can be overwhelming for someone just beginning to start their weight loss journey. In general, there are usually other habit changes that will take less effort and still yield great results and progress. As someone gets closer to their goals or sits in a plateau, it can be helpful to start looking at the foods and amounts you’re eating more closely. If this is you, flexible dieting might be the next step.

2. Are you currently consuming mostly healthy and whole foods?

The glamorous side of flexible dieting means that you can make treats fit into your eating routine weekly, and sometimes daily. However, some people have a difficult time making sure most of their meals include foods like lean protein, vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and healthy fats. Jumping into a half gallon of ice cream just because “it fits” is not going to lead to better health. This can look appealing to someone who is coming from a very restrictive diet or for someone hoping to lose weight or improve their body composition while eating junk food. In these cases, it would be best to take some time to increase the healthy foods in your daily life and use hunger cues to gauge your portioning. If you’re currently consuming most of your meals (80% or more) with healthy options, flexible dieting might be useful for optimizing your nutrient intake and allowing treats in moderation.

3. Are you currently using a food tracking app or database to record your intake?

Flexible dieting is a more detailed way of calorie counting. In addition to looking at your overall calorie intake, you’ll also be looking at your daily intake of the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In many cases, you’ll also be looking at your daily intake of fiber, sugar, and micronutrients. Using an app takes some practice and an early step to flexible dieting can be to practice recording your intake as closely as possible for several weeks. Using a food log or app can be useful if you want to know more about your overall food intake and calorie intake. If you haven’t tried tracking, take some time to practice logging your food before worrying about meeting specific macronutrient targets.

4. Are you prepared to weigh and measure most of your food items prior to consuming them and while planning your meals?

One of the possible “cons” of flexible dieting is the detail that goes into planning and preparing your meals so that they fit your macronutrient and calorie goals each day. This is something that gets better with practice and becomes easier, but it does take time and commitment to learn a new skill in the beginning. It’s important to remember that with any form of tracking, it is not perfect. There will be errors with weighing, measuring, logging, the database, the user, etc. Flexible dieting aims to minimize those errors as much as possible by being precise with logging your portions of food. A food scale will become a staple in your kitchen and you’ll become accustomed with using grams and milliliters as measuring units. Since getting used to this can require practice, this may lead to less variety in your daily meals since keeping the same routine foods and portions will make tracking easier. If this practice isn’t something you feel confident you can do at least 80% of the time, it may not be the best use of your energy trying to hit precise macronutrient numbers each day. There are other ways that weighing and measuring foods can be beneficial, especially for developing awareness and portion control, so consider beginning this practice with moderation foods, such as chips, ice cream, etc. There are also other ways to measure portions, like using your hand or plate, that can help you optimize your nutrients.

5. Do you have a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder that may be triggered by weighing and tracking your food intake?

With flexible dieting, there is weighing and recording food items. If you have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating, please consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your current eating style or treatment plan.

6. “I heard there would be carbs. Will there be carbs?”

Yes, there will be carbs. How many carbs will be dependent on your goals, body type, activity level, and palate preference. There are no magic macro numbers. There are recommended ratios based on a few characteristics, but ultimately, the calorie amount and macronutrients provided will be adjusted based on the feedback and data you provide. As your coach, you and I will communicate together and establish progress measurements to determine if your calorie amount and macronutrients are helping you progress or if they need to be altered. At the start of nutrition coaching, I’ll get a snapshot of your current eating habits and ease you into a flexible dieting plan that gradually makes adjustments as you progress.


I offer several different approaches in my one-on-one nutrition coaching program. To learn more about what approach would suit you best, check out the program overview that gives you a sneak-peek into these approaches and how I can help you reach your goals.

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