I get a lot of questions on how I track my macros. I’ve already wrote an article on how I calculate my macros, now it’s time to show you how I track them. For me tracking my food intake has been a very important tool to understand the effects of food on my body. I have to admit I was one of those people who really didn’t get it for a long time. I knew the difference between unhealthy and healthy food, but that was about it. In this article and video, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about tracking macros and the effects. Hopefully it helps you too when it comes to creating a healthy way of eating for yourself, let’s go!
Understanding your body
Like many people I was told to count calories. Because that’s all you have to do to eat healthy and lose weight, right!? Turns out that’s not completely and always true. As I’m not a professional doctor or dietician, I always recommend taking responsibility for your health and ask for their help. That’s what I did too, and it helped me understand the effects of food on my body so much better. Now I know that too many ‘bad’ carbs coming from sugar and processed foods, are not the best option for me.
I gain weight fast on a normal to high carb diet. I also get the shakes, feel fuzzy and my eczema pops up faster. Back in the day (2017), I was just counting calories for at least a year. I didn’t even realize ‘bad’ carbs were sabotaging my weight loss. At one point I was eating about 1200 calories a day and I still wasn’t losing weight, I was gaining! This is why I tell everyone to see a professional to understand what happens in your body. Instead of following random advice found on the internet, like I did. Understand your body before you start tracking your food intake for a healthy outcome.
Calories and macronutrients
A calorie can be seen as a unit of energy. Depending on your height, weight and body type you need a certain number of calories a.k.a energy. Even if you’re the same size and height as your friend, you may need more or less calories because your body might react different to food. Maybe you work out more or use less energy during the day. My point is that it’s important to calculate what your number of calories is. Besides that, it’s important to listen to your body. Don’t force a number of calories upon yourself if your body tells you to eat more or less. A number of calories is a good guideline, but every day is different and so is your food intake.
Macronutrients are what calories are made of. The main three macronutrients most people focus on are carbohydrates, fats and protein. For example: 100 grams of broccoli contains about 29 calories which can be divided in 2 grams of carbs, 0,2 grams of fat and 3,3 grams of protein. But 100 grams of milk chocolate contains 541 calories, 55 grams of carbs, 31,5 grams of fat and 9,2 grams of protein. This example helped me understand that eating 100 grams of broccoli versus 100 grams of chocolate, will have different effect on my body. Call me dumb, but years ago I never realized that there would be such a big difference between foods and their calories and macros. I was just looking at the size of the food, oops!
Why I track my macros
The reason I track my macros is because it helps me understand what I’m eating. The most important part for me, is understanding what effect the food I eat has on my body. As mentioned before, I don’t do well on a normal to high carb diet. I do better on a low healthy carb and high healthy fat diet. In my case that means I eat Keto style and low carb as much as possible. This also suits my diet restrictions due to the many food allergies I have. I can’t eat like a regular person, even if I wanted to. Tracking my food has given me insight in what 100 grams of broccoli versus 100 grams of chocolate does to my body.
When I first started my weight loss journey, I was 23 and all I knew was what the media told me: Counting calories is the solution. It doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you eat less calories than you burn. Unfortunately, that resulted in me eating up to only 1200 calories a day and a very high carb diet. That combination turned me into a hangry and fast weight gaining person, who became very frustrated because I didn’t understand why I was still gaining weight while eating so little. This is why I dove into understanding calories and macros. Along with tracking my food intake, I finally started to understand what effects food can have on my body.
How I started tracking my food intake
The first thing I did was download the free My Fitness Pall app in 2017. I tracked my food intake for a week or two without any adjustments. The results were quite shocking to me. I was eating no more than 1200 calories a day, but my carb intake was around 175 to sometimes 250 grams a day. I wasn’t eating enough healthy fats and protein at all. I never realized my calorie and macro intake was so out of balance. That’s why I used all of the calculators in this article to create a baseline for myself. I added the baseline numbers into the My Fitness Pall app and started tracking again. This time the macros were much better because they were balanced out a bit more.
But something was still off, until I started the Keto diet in May 2017. I lowered my carb intake and evened out my healthy fat and protein numbers. Within a week I started losing a lot of water weight and within a month I started to actually lose fat. I felt better and looked better! I finally understood how tracking the right number macros, instead of just calories is better for me. On the Keto diet I eat more calories, but less ‘bad’ carbs and more healthy fats and protein. Along with tracking my food intake in the My Fitness Pall app, I also started weighing my food instead of eying everything. Because I tend to smuggle more unnecessary food if I don’t, haha!
How I track my food intake
Nowadays I still track my macros by using the free version of the My Fitness Pall app. After three years of testing and tracking, I now know what works for my body. I don’t pay much attention to calories. When I eat until my body organically tells me to stop, I’m around 1500 calories a day. Sometimes I don’t eat Keto for a while but when I get back on it, I tend to eat around 300 calories more. However, I always stay under 20 or 50 grams of carbs per day. I try to hit 72 grams of protein and 121 of healthy fats. Again, I don’t really watch my calorie intake but it’s nice to have a guideline.
I track my macros by scanning everything I eat in the My Fitness Pall app. Then I weigh almost everything I eat, unless it’s already portioned sized like a protein bar. Other things like yoghurt, vegetables, meat and sauces I do weigh. The only things I don’t weigh are spices, because it would honestly be a little ridiculous to weigh a few grams of salt every time I cook. The reason why I still track my food intake is because if I don’t, I just look at the size or the amount of food I’m eating. That obviously doesn’t let you know how many macros are in there, and so it’s easy for me to overeat.
Should you track your food intake?
If you want to gain more insight in how your body reacts to calories and macros: Yes, it can be a good idea to track your food intake. It helped me to understand why I was constantly hungry, why I wasn’t eating enough calories and why my macro intake wasn’t balanced. Having all of this information to my disposal helps me eat healthy in a way that fits my body and needs every day. Even if I’m not eating strict Keto, I can still eat low carb without stressing about calories and weight gain. I don’t fear food, I can enjoy it while taking care of my body by eating the right foods. I hope tracking your food for at least a while can do the same for you.
Let me know if it works and what your experiences with food tracking are!