Struggling to get all of your carbs, fats, and protein in every day to see the results you want with your physique? In this article we explain how to get started tracking macros like a pro!
By Coach Makenzie and Coach Sue
Maybe you’ve started tracking macros recently, or even done so for a long time, and still have issues with hitting your numbers.
Your day starts off on a great note, but by the time it comes to a close, it ends up being just another day of not tracking altogether or struggling to track.
We hear all the time from clients and people we talk to on social media that macros aren’t working for them or that they’re too hard to hit.
But we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems, and you CAN see physique results from consistent macro tracking when done correctly!
In this post, we’re diving into the questions commonly asked about macros and how to master the basics of macro tracking. Ready to learn how to hit your macros consistently with little to no stress?
What is Macro Tracking and Why Does it Matter?
If this is an entirely new concept for you, macro tracking refers to keeping track of how many grams of each of the three main macronutrients – carbohydrates, dietary fats, and protein – you consume in a day.
Our clients get a certain number in grams to hit for each macronutrient, which they keep track of in MyFitnessPal or various other macro tracking apps available (MyMacros+ or Cronometer, for example). These numbers are determined based on your goals, typically falling into fat loss, muscle gain/massing/building strength, maintenance (or maintaining your weight), etc.
We do this for many reasons:
- Consistency with calories and macronutrients yields the best results for specific physique and performance goals.
- Your numbers will never be the same as someone else’s because we all have different genetics, goals, body types, age, weight, height, training protocols, etc. Macros are highly individualized.
- It helps us notice trends and changes that occur with weight or body composition change over time.
- It’s much less restrictive because you can fit whatever foods you like and prefer into your macro numbers rather than sticking to a set meal plan. This flexibility helps increase adherence as well.
Now, we will say that tracking macros isn’t for everyone, and we want to be clear that it isn’t the only way to see results, either. It’s simply something that we’ve used for a long time and seen results with both ourselves and now with Physique Development clients.
How to Track Your Macros Consistently
The number one thing we like to hit home with people who are either new to tracking or have a busy lifestyle is to PRE-PLAN your macros for the next day.
So, when you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV or scrolling Instagram, use that time to also input your food for the next day, so you’re prepared and less likely to miss your numbers. No more standing in the kitchen wasting time trying to figure out what you’re going to eat, either!
We rarely see anyone miss their macros when they have their day already laid out in MFP or whatever app they’re using.
It sucks when you get to the end of the day, and you feel like you can’t get to your goals, but we can’t have such high expectations for results when we aren’t matching our efforts to those. But this one small task of pre-planning your macros can make all the difference. Plus, it takes all of 10 minutes!
Mastering The Basics: A Step-By-Step Guide To Tracking Macros
These are the steps we recommend to clients and follow ourselves to get to the point where you’re taking the guesswork out of tracking macros and hitting them with ease on a day-to-day basis. It might seem like a big claim for us to say that it will be easy for you to hit macros eventually, but if you put the time into following these steps, you will get there.
STEP 1: PLAN OUT A FULL DAY OF FOOD WITH EASY-TO-TRACK AND SIMPLE MEALS THAT FIT YOUR MACROS.
If you are new to macros, doing something more advanced like a recipe with a ton of ingredients can be frustrating. You can do this eventually, but it can get confusing and time-consuming.
When you are cooking for multiple people, set something aside for you and continue to cook for others as you usually would. It won’t be like this forever, but for the sake of learning how to track in the beginning, this will make things less complicated.
TIP: Evenly distribute your macros throughout the day. The easiest way to do this is to take your macros and divide them over the number of meals you want to have that day and use those as your target macros for each meal. Ex: You have 100 grams of protein and plan to eat 4 meals – that’s 25g of protein per meal. Do the same for your carbs and fats!
STEP 2: EAT THE SAME MEALS FOR 2-21 DAYS
Yes, this sounds like an enormous range, but this is going to be very person-dependent. If you’re someone who’s been tracking for a little bit and just having a hard time resetting, you might not need as many days. If you’re newer, you might need to do this for longer, maybe even a month.
Now, this is TEMPORARY until you get a better handle on the pre-planning and hitting your meals each day. The more you do this, the more it will feel like a habit or routine to do so, and you’ll be more confident mixing up your meals using the same macros breakdown for your meals.
STEP 3: LEARN HOW TO COOK BASIC FOODS (SO THEY ACTUALLY TASTE GOOD)
Many people choke down their “healthy” food or don’t eat it at all because they aren’t enjoying their meals.
This is where we’d like to remind you not to underestimate the power of seasonings and condiments! They truly change how palatable a meal is, especially when it comes to cooking chicken, ground turkey or beef, rice, fish, vegetables, etc.
STEP 4: ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN MOVING FORWARD
You’ve heard it before: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
We cannot hammer that home enough. If you don’t know what the day holds, make a loose plan with what you can and make provisions for anything that comes up. It’s going to happen, so use it as a learning opportunity.
STEP 5: TRACK WITH EASE
Now you have a base of how to navigate counting macros consistently!
Final Tips For Ensuring Success with Macro Tracking
- Meal prep and/or make foods in bulk. This is particularly important if you have a busy lifestyle. If food isn’t made, you either don’t eat or opt for the quick option that isn’t always what you want to be eating.
- Have a base grocery list of foods you want to have in your fridge every week. This could include rice, chicken, eggs, spinach, squash, bananas, rice cakes, sweet potatoes, ground turkey, ground beef, etc. With these as your base foods, you can create multiple different meal combinations and add in new or other items as you like. This will help with variety and ease of planning throughout the week.
- Enjoy your food! This means take the time to make foods that you actually like and will eat. Don’t eat chicken if you’d rather have steak. Try different combinations of foods, and remember, no foods are off-limits, but that also doesn’t mean shoving your face with junk food. We want primarily whole foods rich in nutrients and vitamins/minerals (think proteins, fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates) and treat yourself in moderation.
I (Sue) always like to say that flexibility first requires consistency. I am a firm believer that you have to earn that right to be flexible by showing you can be consistent. And how do you get consistent? Master the basics.
Start with simple meals and single ingredients, and as you go, you will learn and gain traction with tracking macros – THEN you have a sturdy foundation to add in more flexibility.
Give it the time and effort it deserves and you will see results with your physique to match. And we’ll leave you with this:
Consistency will trump perfection. Every. Single. Time.
Love what you’re seeing from us at Physique Development? Make sure you check out the full podcast here and other episodes to help you achieve your fitness & nutrition goals!