“Macro Trackers” are so hot right now.
Everyone has their favorite.
Belly up at a restaurant, and all of a sudden, someone is pulling out their smartphone, logging onto My Fitness Pal, and trying to estimate how many macros are in their bacon cheeseburger.
While electronics have kept our generation “plugged in” more than ever before, our independence seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate.
Can you imagine finding car directions without your GPS?
If you needed to find a tow truck, could you manage without Siri?
When an online client starts with us, many of them will ask us which online tracker they should use.
We don’t give a specific recommendation.
Instead, we give a few “warnings”.
There are a few, glaring reasons “macro tracking apps” could be hindering your progress.
Be careful and mindful of these shortcomings.
6 Problems People Face With Macro Counting Apps
Problem #1: They promote dependence.
When solving a problem, a good strategy keeps the “end” in mind.
When you are dieting, what does your “end” look like?
You don’t want to be measuring tablespoons of peanut butter for the rest of your life to hit your fat macros.
Eventually, you will want to move to a more mindful approach, without being overly obsessive about hitting specific grams on a regular basis.
Using macro trackers can begin to strip you of your mindfulness. You aren’t reflective and analytical about your choices. You simply plug in the data and see what numbers you have left.
When you don’t have access to your macro app, what will you do?
When faced with in-the-moment decisions, you want to be able to access real world experiences where you have adequately estimated portions and made proper decisions. How can you practice these moments if you never are presented with them?
Your ultimate goal should be independence and the ability to eat intelligently without gaining fat.
Macro trackers often make this independence extremely difficult to obtain.
Problem #2: They have inaccuracies.
Unless a food is highly processed and has a standardized nutrition label, there will be variances in it.
This is even more true for meats and produce.
I’ve seen lots of numbers on macro apps which just didn’t seem right.
- One pound of chicken breast having 20 grams of fat. (too high)
- 4 ounces of ground beef having 4 grams of fat. (too low)
- The nutritional information on quinoa. (too gross – nobody eats that shit)
The variations in measurements will leave you scratching your head, wondering what to do.
It’s a better idea to use Google to find out the approximate measures in the foods you eat regularly and create your own database of foods.
Problem #3: You should use your own simplifications.
As creatures of habit, most of us eat close to the same thing each day.
If we are consistent dieters, the odds we are eating the same thing each day will go up even further.
You will notice, if you weigh your food enough times, that the macro grams in your favorite foods are almost always within a few grams of each other.
“Good” macro compliance is considered +/-10% accuracy. “Exceptional” is considered +/-5% accuracy. Getting any closer than that is a statistical impossibility due to slight fluctuations and variances.
Instead of relying on a tracker, you should weigh one of your favorite foods on 3-4 different occasions. Take the average of those numbers – and then use the numbers from there on out. No reason to keep weighing.
Your simplification will be “close enough”. The Law of Averages will take care of the rest.
A few simplifications we use with our clients that are “close enough”:
- 1 pound (or 400 grams) of lean meat equals 100 grams of protein and no carbs or fat.
- One piece (or one cup) of fruit equals 25 grams of carbs.
- One baked potato equals 75 grams of carbs.
We highly suggest you create your own simplifications based on your personal preferences. This will allow you to be a whiz at macro calculations on the fly, instead of needing to break out your iPhone to count for you.
We have lots of simplifications for you to use in our free fat loss course, if you want some help.
Problem #4: They drain your mental power.
Meal prepping is incredibly important when dieting for fat loss.
The true power of meal prepping has little to do with the prep and has more to do with taking the guesswork out of your meals.
When you know what you will eat in advance, you no longer need to make “in the moment” decisions.
When you rely on a macro tracker, you are more prone to “wing it” rather than plan ahead. After all, you have a “macro app”! You can do anything, right?
You then get into scenarios where you’re furiously trying to match up macro grams at the counter of Chiptole like some sort of a Tetris-wizard.
Using that kind of mental power and decision making energy will tap your resources and leave you prone to a mess up later in the day.
Conserve your energy for more important things.
Problem #5: 99.9% of the time, the problem isn’t accuracy, it’s compliance.
I have a small confession to make: When someone asks me to look through their diet, I roll my eyes just a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s AWESOME that they are trying so darn hard to hit their numbers, and it nearly always means they’re on top of their game and are going to CRUSH some crazy results.
The reason I roll my eyes (just a bit) is because I’m a “big picture” kind of guy.
There are almost zero situations where your specific tracking parameters are going to cause you go stall out on progress.
There are many, many, many situations where not sticking to your plan WILL cause you to stall out on progress.
The problem isn’t that you mis-tracked 7 grams of fat.
The problem is the 24 chicken wings and 6 IPAs you had on Saturday night.
Be sure to keep that in mind.
Problem #6: You should aim to put your fat loss on “autopilot”.
The best dieters in the world can smile all day, remain relaxed, and chill out when on their diet.
They don’t “stare at the marshmallow”, and others barely know they are dieting.
They eat simple meals, they don’t stress their foods, and they rarely feel deprived.
In short, they go on “autopilot”. Yeah, it sucks for a bit of time, but they know it’s only temporary.
Using a macro tracker nearly takes away the ability to go on “autopilot”.
How can you automate things when you’re updating your damn smart phone 10 times per day?
Have a plan, execute, relax a bit, and let the hands of time do their thing.
Step away from your smartphones.
Macro trackers are incredibly popular. Some people swear by them.
In our practice, we advise our clients to take a more personal approach to their counting strategies.
And we suggest you do the same.
Yours in counting,