There are so many nutrition plans, ideas, and programs out there it’s hard to know what will get you the best results. Many of our nutrition clients ask us what is best for weight loss. Tracking calories or macros?
In a nutshell, the goal of tracking calories for weight loss is to keep your caloric intake at a deficit. For tracking macronutrients the goal is to balance the amount of protein, fats and carbs you’re intaking throughout the day.
This debate is one that will likely span the course of a life-time and both can be argued strongly for and against. There are benefits and drawbacks of both.
Every person is different, every body type is different, and everyone has a different mindset when it comes to tracking nutrition.
In any case, a coach and client need to sit down together and figure out what is going to work best for the client to reach their goals.
What we’ve found to be the most effective, whether you’re tracking calories or macros is to eat primarily whole foods, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. It’s best to keep any nutrition plan simple and within those guidelines. In doing so your plan will be extremely potent and effective.
If you decide tracking calories or macros is the right route for you, we recommend doing so to set a BASELINE for quantities of consumption ONLY. Tracking either for the long term can have detrimental effects on your mental health and your relationship with food.
If you decide to track calories, it can be highly simplistic. You only have to keep track of the amount of calories you are intaking and not worry as much about specific details of the nutrition plan.
It’s also highly effective if you’re eating quality, whole foods consisting of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. When you’re consuming these foods you can often eat a higher quantity of foods because they are generally not as high in calories.
However, there are drawbacks to tracking calories. Food quality often gets ignored because the client is primarily focused on the number of calories in & out. This can lead to poor food decisions and other health issues.
Another drawback is a deficiency in macronutrients. With tracking calories, the balance of protein, carbs and fats can be put on the back burner. The balance of those macronutrients is important for the hormone production that plays a big role in losing weight.
Tracking macronutrients has it’s benefits and drawbacks. Macro tracking is great for the person who loves detail. It can also be highly specific to the client. You’re able to dial in specific numbers of proteins, carbs and fats you need to eat that is specific to your goals.
Macro tracking is also highly beneficial to dial in any deficiencies you may have with the amount of protein, carbs or fats you’re consuming.
With macro tracking, it can be complicated because you’re keeping tabs on three different numbers and measuring food on a frequent basis. It’s also easy to let food quality slip with a big focus on hitting your macro numbers.
Finally, it’s possible to become overly obsessive with your macro numbers, trying to hit each of the numbers perfectly. This can have a negative effect on your relationship with food.
For both tracking macros and calories, it’s recommended that you make your primary goal consuming whole foods and your secondary goal hitting your numbers.
In any case, if you decide to track either. Make it a short term decision until you have a solid foundation of what to eat within those numbers. Your mental health will thank you for it.
If you’re interested in working with a coach to help you wade through all the information out there and assist you in figuring out numbers for tracking, schedule a free consultation with one of our nutrition coaches. SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULT HERE.
COACH PHIL KNIEP
Precision Nutrition L1 Coach
CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
3x CrossFit Games Qualifier