Nutrition Tip of the Week: Avoid Common Macro Tracking Pitfalls

Macro counting, while a potentially amazing tool, is not for everyone. It is one of many ways to monitor and adjust your intake to meet your needs and reach your goals. It works best for people that are highly consistent with it and have little variety in their diet. These pitfalls usually cause macro tracking to be more stressful than helpful.

Nutrition Tip 10-8-21

Avoid Common Pitfalls in Macro Tracking

Have you been tracking macros and not seeing the results you had hoped for? It’s more than likely that you are making one or more of these very common mistakes:

Not logging your portions correctly

If you are going to use a macro tracker, it is absolutely necessary that you know the precise serving size of your food. Was it really a true tablespoon of peanut butter? Was that 6oz steak or really 10oz? You are wasting your time “counting macros” if you are not weighing and measuring your food.

Logging a substitute food instead of what you actually consume

Oftentimes when we use macro tracking apps, it is easier for us to input a similar food than the one we actually consume. This is especially true when we make a mixed dish of multiple ingredients in a batch that is several servings. What do many people do? They find a similar option in the app of an already prepared food and use that one instead. For example, you make a homemade chili but choose to use Hormel or Wendy’s chili instead on your tracking app.

You are paying more attention to hitting your targets than to the quality of your food choices

I see this time and time again. What are the easiest foods to track? The processed foods that have food labels that can be scanned in with ease. It’s easy to pull up the nutritionals on your phone for a meal at a popular fast-food chain. For instance, you can pull up your macros for your Chipotle bowl in seconds. If you made a similar (but healthier) Mexican dish at home, tracking the ingredients would be a much more time-consuming and intensive process. I have actually seen the habit of tracking macros deter people from cooking healthy dishes that they love and drive them to choose packaged foods.

You believe that all macros are created equal

A carb is a carb, right? Not true. What you eat matters. You could hit your macros by eating nothing but gummy bears, chicken fingers, and french fries if you wanted to. Counting macros alone misses the bigger picture. I have seen many people over the years “nail” their macro counts and not eat a single vegetable, fall way short on fiber, be deficient in tons of micronutrients and consume mind-boggling amounts of sodium, refined sugars, trans fats, and preservatives. There is a reason why competitive bodybuilders, generally regarded as the leanest of all athletes, eat specific foods and do not rely on macro counting alone.

Missing days of tracking or not tracking everything that you eat

This tool only works if you track everything that you put in your mouth. Forgetting to enter your snacks, or not entering your dinner because it was “too hard to track,” results in inaccurate data. Often, someone will tell me that they are not getting results with macro tracking or that their macros are set wrong. The first question that I ask is if they track their intake on the weekends. Frequently, I will find out that their tracking is sporadic at best.

Macro counting, while a potentially amazing tool, is not for everyone. It is one of many ways to monitor and adjust your intake to meet your needs and reach your goals. It works best for people that are highly consistent with it, have little variety in their diet from day to day, enjoy numerical goals and precision, and eat relatively simple foods (think a plate with chicken breast, rice, and broccoli versus a multi-ingredient casserole or a chicken pot pie).

If macro counting is more stressful than helpful, it is not the right approach for you.

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