by Aimee Wojtowecz
No it’s not some secret cult, it’s the acronym for the “If It Fits Your Macros” movement. The premise being that the path to health and fitness relies solely on counting macronutrients: weighing and measuring everything before it passes your lips.
As nutritionists we often get asked about tracking, journaling, counting macros or “points”; whatever label you want to put on it, what it comes down to is accountability. Tracking our foods can absolutely be a useful tool, but maybe not in the ways you expect. There are many reasons to track that aren’t just about calories. You can track protein, fat or carbohydrate intakes, maybe you’re watching your sodium levels and need to track that, or you’re tracking your vitamin and mineral intake to make sure that you’re getting all the needed nutrients. You can track the QUALITY of the foods you’re taking in because maybe you’re trying to cut back on processed foods or maybe you are indeed tracking the calories as a means to reach your goals; not because those calories somehow increase or decrease your value as a human being but because you’re an athlete with goals that sometimes require certain calories.
The important takeaway here is that we want to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and sometimes tracking can be a beneficial tool for that but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes tracking can lead to an obsession with food, or “clean eating”, or alter our relationship with exercise. If you know that tracking isn’t for you but you want to stay on track with your training and nutrition plan, what do you do when everyone is screaming at you that you must count macros?
Keep. It. Simple.
We often recommend the plate method (1/2 plate non-starchy veggies, 1/4 lean meat and 1/4 complex carb) as a way to estimate portions and make sure that you are balancing meals with a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, while also ensuring that you get plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. It’s simple and effective. But if that seems overwhelming, start even simpler. Try starting by including a vegetable at most meals and snacks. Or start by having a single glass of water with every meal and snack.
You can make massive improvements to your health and fitness with the smallest of steps when it comes to your nutrition and as we all know, nutrition is the foundation upon which our fitness is built.