Controlling your diet is extremely important for reaching any kind of fitness goal. It’s widely known that calories and macronutrients are forming the baseline of this process.
Unfortunately, most of us pay more attention to calorie counting than macros. Yet, this approach is wrong. It can leave you hungry and even lead to overeating. Why? In contrast to nutrition density, calorie-dense foods are always not filling. Therefore, it’s time to swoop things around! Here is why you should pay more attention to your macros.
A very common trap that makes people fail to reach their fitness targets is eating. There is a myth out there, which suggests that if you exercise enough, you can eat whatever you want. Well, unfortunately, this is a lie. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, your exercise goals will not be fully accomplished without proper nutrition. Therefore, whatever your goal is, you’ll need to take your eating habits seriously.
All of us have heard about calories before. Even those who have no interest in fitness whatsoever know that calories fuel the human body with energy. Furthermore, it’s also common sense that ‘calorie tracking is the base of a diet.’ On the other hand, tracking your macros is not such an extensively recognized concept. This is why, generally speaking, macros tend to lose attention against calories.
It’s important to note that calories and macros are just like diet and exercise. They don’t exist without one another. Macronutrients make up calories, which makes them inseparable. The three basic macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. As a general rule, they contain the following amounts of calories.
So as you can see, tracking your macros is impossible without calorie counting, which is not a bad thing at all, especially if you aim to lose weight. However, here are some facts, which suggest that tracking your macros should be a higher priority than calorie counting.
It is worth noting that if you want to get serious about tracking your macros, you should look through our Ultimate Tracking Guide.
200 Calories of Broccoli Doesn’t Equal to 200 Calories of Sweets
Every calorie is seen as one unit of energy. However, what happens to that unit of energy largely depends on the type of food it’s coming from. Your body can either use the calories consumed or store them as fat. The second option is indeed what’ll make you gain weight.
The calorie counting approach fails to take anything into consideration, but calories. This can create misleading thoughts, such as an extremely sugary food has equal effects on our body as vegetables of the same calorie amount. This is, of course, not true. The latter is likely to be used, but the first one will probably be stored.
While calorie counting fails to give a full picture, tracking your macros will teach you what certain foods are made of. This will lead to a clear mind about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Gaining a more comprehensive knowledge about foods will improve your judgment and, ultimately, your diet.
To start controlling your diet, you’ll need to calculate the calorie intake you need. This is the target level that your body requires to function in a healthy way. As the equation is based on your weight, height, age, and activity level, your fitness goals aren’t taken into account. Thus, you can end up eating the same stuff while having completely diverse goals.
I don’t think anyone believes that someone with muscle-building goals should have the same diet as someone with weight loss goals. It’s just simply not enough to calculate your recommended calorie intake. Specific goals and exercises require specific macronutrients. This is why it’s necessary to move a step further and focus on your ideal macros as well.
According to Precision Nutrition, you should have these macro intake ratios for the following fitness goals.
As you can see, one size doesn’t fit all. This is why calorie counting on its own is not satisfactory. After calculating your ideal calorie intake, you should determine your macro ratios based on the desired outcomes. Otherwise, it will be really hard to reach them.
It’s Not Only About What You Eat, But Also When You Eat It
Another factor that is lacking attention from calorie counting is timing. It has been scientifically proven that nutrient timing is a crucial concept. Note, timing here is not connected to the actual clock time, but to the time of your training. Your body’s tolerance of macronutrients varies based on when you exercise. Therefore, tracking your macros can help in crafting an ideal time-based diet.
Based on the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition‘s study, post-workout is the most critical period. What you eat after training impacts the ability to rebuild damaged tissues and the recovery of energy used. Additionally, it affects your body composition and the final outcome of your exercise too.
It’s also crucial to pay attention to what you eat before your workout. If you fail to do it, you might end up losing your muscle mass. Hence, it’s important to consume the right macro ratios at all times.
Typical Macro Suggestions Based on Timing
You should not eat immediately before the workout. Your body will be challenged by trying to work its muscles and digest at the same time. This has possible negative effects on workout performance. Simple carbs are the most important to energize your body. Additionally, you also need protein for your muscles.
You should eat 45 minutes the latest after you finish your workout. After a workout, protein is more important, but complex carbs are also needed. They help to recover your muscles.
The bottom line is that exercising will not have pay-offs without proper nutrition. Even though it’s also important to monitor your calorie intake, you should pay more attention to your macronutrients. Tracking your macros will provide you with better judgment and a more balanced diet. It will help to adjust what you eat according to your fitness goals and the timing of exercise. If you want to maximize results, don’t just count calories, track your macros as well!
Tracking your macros will provide you with better judgment and a more balanced diet. It will help to adjust what you eat according to your fitness goals and the timing of exercise. If you want to maximize results, don’t just count calories, track your macros as well!