A Beginner's Guide to Tracking Macros

If you’ve never tracked your food intake before, let alone tracked macros, it may seem pretty intimidating.

We get it. There are certain people out there who think people who track their macros, log their food, and count calories are “crazy,” or “restrictive,” or even “obsessive.”

And while tracking definitely isn’t for everyone and there are some people who it would not serve…

There is a ton of validity to the “madness” that is tracking.

Tracking gives us structure. It creates the awareness & education that many of us lack when it comes to how much food & what our food is comprised of day-to-day.

Tracking macros also gives us the opportunity to learn how to remain flexible in our nutrition & learn to include “fun foods” in moderation without restriction, unlike many other “diets.” This is why macros tend to be so popular & why many people gain a better relationship with food while tracking macros.

We crave structure in so many other aspects of our lives. There’s structure in our households, in our jobs, in our routines, in our finances, so why shouldn’t there be structure in our nutrition & eating habits?

I mean think about it. If we didn’t structure and monitor our finances to make sure we had more money coming in than going out, we’d be broke. We couldn’t make house payments, couldn’t pay off student loans, couldn’t save up for the vacation we’ve been wanting to take, so we recognize it’s important to be aware of what’s going on within our bank account.

It’s not that we need to be obsessed with how much money is going in vs. going out, but more so about building the awareness & creating the structure around our finances that is key to obtaining financial freedom.

The same goes for tracking your food intake. Tracking macros works a lot like a budget. Until we can actually see what & how much we ate on any given day laid out in front of us on paper/in an app, we don’t really know what we consumed unless we have the education & freedom tracking gives us under our tool belt.

Although we do advocate for & love to get our clients tracking macros, not every incoming Clar-e-ty client we get needs or will succeed with a full macro prescription right off the bat.

For instance, we might get someone coming to us that has never tracked their food before, has no idea what a carb, fat, or protein looks like, eats out more than twice per day, doesn’t exercise, & eats little to no fruits/veggies.

Giving this new client a full macro prescription isn’t going to serve them with where they’re currently at on their health & wellness journey. Nor do they need to track macros to achieve results with where they’re currently at. In fact, there are multiple steps we would take with this client that would be much more attainable for them & make tracking macros easier for them down the road if that’s the route they want to pursue.

So maybe you’re bought into the macro tracking process but are still unsure where to start.

Or maybe you’ve heard of macros before & find it overwhelming how to figure out how many grams of carbs, fats, & protein you need to consume daily.

Well, today’s blog post is going to dive into 5 steps you can take that lead all the way up to tracking macros. We’re going to teach you how to get to macros if that’s something you’re interested in learning how to do in an easy, user-friendly way.

The key is to start small, master each step, & then gradually move on to the next.

Step 1 Tracking portions

If you’ve never tracked your intake before and don’t know what carbs, fats, & protein are, this might be an excellent jumping-off point for you! In the example provided above, a portions-based plan is probably where we would start this client off here at Clar-e-ty.

Now when I say track portions, I mean tracking portions of carbs, fats, protein, & veggies you’re consuming per day. You can do this via a hand-written food log, in a word document, or an excel spreadsheet.

Exact portions will vary from person to person, but generally speaking, most moderately active men need 6-8 palm-sized servings of protein, 6-8 fists of veggies, 6-8 cupped hand-sized servings of carbs, & 6-8 thumb-sized servings of fats. Most moderately active women need 4-6 palm-sized servings of protein, 4-6 fists of veggies, 4-6 cupped hand-sized servings of carbs, & 4-6 thumb-sized servings of fats.

Examples of protein-rich foods include: beef, chicken, eggs, bison, pork, fish/shellfish, dairy (Greek yogurt, milk, cheese), beans/legumes, protein powder (whey, casein, plant-based).

Examples of carb-rich foods include: ALL fruits & veggies, potatoes, rice, quinoa, bread, pasta, oats, cereal, crackers, beans/legumes, pretzels, tortillas, honey, maple syrup, juice, baked goods.

Examples of fat-rich foods include: Egg yolks, avocado, wild-caught fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, etc.), nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, cold-pressed oils (sunflower, sesame, & flaxseed), olive oil, coconut oil, full-fat dairy, baked goods.

Tracking or logging your meals this way when you first start out will teach you how most of your meals should be structured, educate you on what the three macronutrients are, & lay the foundation for portion control in your diet based on your needs.

Step 2 Tracking in an app