Macro-Nutrient Counting For Weight Loss (Pros and Cons)
Have you heard of macro-nutrient counting to support weight loss? This macro method of working with food to support weight loss (or even weight gain) has gained popularity in the last few years. This article walks you through what macro-counting is and whether or not it would be a useful tool for you and your health goals.
Our clinic has a very sustainable approach at tackling weight loss and achieving optimal health. This article is meant to educate you before you dive into trying something. We encourage you to work with a nutritionist or practitioner to ensure that you are reaching optimal levels of nutrients and supporting your hormonal profile. To book a free phone consult with one of our licensed online practitioners, please head over here.
What is Macro-Counting?
First of all, what are macro-nutrients? Macro-nutrients, or so called “macro’s” are the nutrients that provide energy. They are known as your proteins, carbohydrates and [healthy] fats. In comparison, micro-nutrients are your vitamins and minerals that are found in food.
Macro-counting means that these protein, carbs and fats are strategically calculated and dispersed throughout the day for a greater goal such as weight loss. Normally, a person will calculate their BMR (basal metabolic rate) to see what their energy expenditure is without doing anything. BMR is the total energy needed to sustain basic life.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. There are Apps such as MyFitnessPal that do all the work for you. If you choose this route, we highly recommend that you work alongside a nutritionist that can help ensure you are meeting your nutrient (micronutrient) needs, support your hormones and create a sustainable, healthy outcome. For more questions or concerns, please book a free phone consult with one of our practitioners right here.
What are Your Goals
Write down and acknowledge what you are trying to achieve if you approach this method. What are you trying to gain from it? This is a very important step. Macro-nutrient counting is most effective when used short-term for personal insight.
- Are you trying to educate yourself about nutrition and what works for you?
- Are you trying to learn what a plate or “day of eating” should look like?
- Are you trying to see how much you can eat when you eat well?
- Have you reached a true weight loss plateau and are using this as a tool to overcome it?
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Pros of Macro-Counting
We believe that creating a realistic and sustainable approach is the best route; however, there is no harm in trying something to see if it works for you. Macro-nutrient counting is not meant to be long-term. There are short-term benefits if this is done correctly with the right motives for doing so.
- A Meal-Time Visual. Macro-nutrient counting can be beneficial to understand what a “plate” or day of eating should look like. You may not know what eating for weight loss (or weight gain) should truly “look like.” This method then, can be beneficial as a short-term visual.
- Nutrition. The benefit of using an app to track macro’s in conjunction with your general nutrient intake, is that you can begin to see what a healthy plate looks like in proportion to your goals. This is a wise and successful way of using this method.
- Education. It can be a great tool for educating yourself and keeping a daily food journal. If you choose this route for 1-2 weeks, you should also note how you felt at the end of the day or the next morning. Has your sleep improved? How about bloating or digestion? Irritability or mood? When you reflect back, you can begin to see eating patterns, sleeping patterns, mood and energy and understand what types of foods have been working best for you.
- Patterns and Regular Eating. This can be helpful before working with a practitioner. Essentially, you are recording your meals (aka a food journal). If you plateau or have other chronic health issues, you can show a licensed practitioner and from there, we can gain insight. For more help, click here.
Cons of Macro-Counting
- Food shaming. It can develop a negative relationship with food. Food can become viewed as numbers instead of nutrients.
- Obsessiveness. It can develop an obsessive relationship with food. If you are close to your caloric goal of the day or go over, will you feel guilty? Will you starve? How will you view food or mentally talk to yourself? Will you workout harder? How can this mindset harm you in the long-term? Is it worth it?
- Social eating. Will you pull your phone out and manually enter your meals when you are dining out? Will you be saying “no” when you’re out or will you understand “balance?”
- Ending your macro-counting journey. Macro counting is not meant to be long-term. Is there an end-date? Mentally, how will you tell yourself you can stop? What results are you hoping to achieve in this short period of time (as it should be)?
- Nutrition. How will you be filling your macro requirements? The issue that revolves around macro-counting is the idea that you can eat whatever you want as long as you are within the ranges of your proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You can still meet your macro-nutrient “goals” of the day by eating anything. Will you use this method as insight for eating better and setting yourself up on a sustainable plan once you move forward? How will you use this method to help you long-term?
Tips for Macro-Counting
- Short-Term. Understand this approach is short-term if you try it.
- Work with a practitioner in the beginning. Set up your macro goals properly and don’t follow a generic setting.
- Don’t record your exercise on the apps. This adjusts your daily caloric intake.
- Listen to your natural hunger cue’s. Eat when hungry, don’t eat if you’re not hungry. It’s simple.
- Educate. Use this as a tool to gain personal clarity. Learn about foods, a meal time visual, and personal patterns that develop. Like said above: sleep, mood, energy and eating patterns.
- Weight loss plateau. This can be helpful if you have experienced a weight loss plateau and are looking for more personal insight.
If you try macro-counting to support weight loss (or weight gain) initiatives, this approach should be done under professional supervision or with proper education. Setting up your macro-nutrients properly and effectively will ultimately yield the best results (mentally and physically). Remember, this is meant to be a short-term tool. Approach this method with a specific goal and understand what you are trying to achieve from it. The goal isn’t “weight loss,” the goal is education. Learn what foods work best for you, what a plate looks like that suits your personal health needs and goals and identifying personal patterns as described above.