Depending on where you are with your macro journey, you’ve likely thought to yourself, “do I have to track macros forever?” There is no clear-cut answer, and it all depends on what works best for you.
It’s common for individuals to move through phases, depending on their current goals and priorities. Remember, flexible dieting means choosing the right tools for your circumstance.
Although at first glance macros represent a few number goals that you strive to hit each day, it goes far beyond that.
Tracking macros diligently is one of the fastest ways to learn about what’s really in your food. It forces you to deliberately practice recognizing portions and gaining an understanding of what a balanced, nutrient rich diet looks like for you!
In the same way that you may choose to eat mindfully on vacation rather than track diligently, you’re able to make educated decisions about the food you’re choosing. If there isn’t chicken breast available, you know that having a grilled white fish is a better option than a ribeye steak, or that an appropriate portion of ice cream is a single scoop rather than a triple.
Spending time being diligent with your macros gives you invaluable tools to reference for the rest of your life. Even if you choose not to ‘track macros,’ you will be able to undoubtedly make informed choices!
Before we move on to discussing moving away from the diligent tracking you’re used to, it’s important to understand that there are plenty of reasons that you may choose to track diligently and that’s fantastic too. Flexible dieting is about finding the best way to manage your nutrition!
For many, the daily routine of planning and logging food is a comfortable part of their day. In the same way some people thrive off of using daily organizers to map out their day, some people like to do the same with their food!
The amount of accuracy needed to maintain a body fat percentage that is easily achieved by your body is very different than looking to stay shredded. Tracking macros provides the accuracy and diligence to ensure that your body composition is at its best.
So maybe you decide that although tracking macros has been great, it’s just not for you over the long term — no problem! Here are some considerations if you’re looking for more of an intuitive approach post-WAG.
The number one most important thing here is to remember that your food choices matter, whether they go into My Fitness Pal or not. A common mistake is to stop tracking and resume old habits, which will quickly undo your hard earned progress.
Going from rigid tracking to no structure at all can be overwhelming and you might feel a little ‘lost’ in terms of your nutrition. If you’re wanting to move away from tracking, start with one untracked day per week, continuing with your normal foods and portions. If you continue maintaining your weight and composition for a few weeks, add in another untracked day until you’re intuitively eating seven days per week.
Before you call it quits with tracking, make sure that you have a true idea of what portions of protein, carbs and fat look like. Rather than putting all your attention to your macro goals, aim to be able to build balanced meals and doing away with mindless snacking.
Everyone is going to go through periods where making memories is more important than obsessing over macros. Perhaps you went on a once in a lifetime trip and wanted to enjoy the diverse cuisine, scrambled through a busy life transition or have simply been a little looser than you would prefer. Jumping back to diligent tracking is the easiest way to keep accountable, tighten up your composition and reset your balanced habits.
If you’re an athlete that sits fairly comfortably a pound or two over your weight class, being able to save yourself stress and guesswork by tracking diligently a month or two out from a meet ensures that you won’t have any last minute surprises for weigh-ins while fuelling your body to rock it on meet day.
There are occasions where you want to look your best and getting back to tracking for a few months can help you dial into your dream physique.
Remember, just because you’re not tracking doesn’t mean that you need to rely on restrictive diets, use a flexible, moderate approach to look your best, happily and healthily!