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Macro-Tracking Made Simple

​Tracking is a fantastic awareness tool that I encourage most of my clients to trial for at least a few weeks. As touched on in a previous article, macronutrients, or ‘macros’, are nutrients that your body requires in large amounts. There are three primary macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat.

​To make food (calorie) tracking more straightforward, try these steps below:

Step 1:
Tracking can be a daunting prospect especially if you’re new to it. To make life a little easier why not focus on counting calories and protein only as opposed to tracking all three macronutrients.

For fat loss, a change in mass is determined by energy balance. As such, calories are the most important factor – the magnitude of your energy (calorie) deficit over time will determine how much body fat you lose. We’ll work out your optimum calorie intake to achieve a specific amount of fat-loss (to the nearest 500g) in a fixed amount of time. That’s the conclusion to Bodyscan’s Baseline DEXA Scan with post-scan Consultation. Once you’ve had a scan you’ll be able to use the DEXA-input calorie calculator for yourself. Until then, you can get an estimate here (but beware if you have low muscle mass, as explained in this DEXA information video about calories).

Step 2:
A secondary focus should be towards protein intake. Protein’s primary role in the body is to promote growth, development and to help repair cells. Higher protein diets can also be a fantastic tool if you want to lose body fat due to its effects on muscle mass retention and appetite control.

​The mix of carbohydrate and fat that fills the remainder of your calorie allotment can be left to personal preference. A sensible approach would be to avoid skewing it too far in either direction.​Step 2:
Being flexible within your approach can provide even greater freedom. For example, I am an advocate of encouraging a weekly calorie total to aim for instead of shooting for an exact daily intake.

This weekly “bigger picture” approach means you have the option of some higher calorie days (eg, when having a meal-out or socialising) offset by some lower calories days.

For protein, I recommend aiming for a similar daily protein target range but hitting an exact number is not necessary for most. A standard recommendation for fat loss is often around 2 grams per kilo of total body weight – this may vary depending on muscle mass, body fat levels and activity.

Take-home:
There is no need to overcomplicate your tracking. Sticking to a fat-loss programme while trying to juggle work and family commitments can cause enough stress. Read this post about over-complicating things and ‘paralysis by analysis’.

But if you love detail, numbers and spreadsheets (as many Bodyscan customers do!) and want to track all macros (plus fibre and micronutrition), then go for it.

Most, however, will get great results following a weekly calorie and daily protein count only. If you’ve had difficulty or get stressed attempting to meet too many daily targets in the past, I’d suggest focusing on calories and protein and set flexible ranges that lead to the greatest adherence – the best diet is the one you stick to!

Kevin Garde
Nutritionist and Bodyscan Consultant

Check out PRISM Nutrition here

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