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Why We Don't Track Macros in FAT LOSS LIFESTYLE SCHOOL

"Do you recommend the use of trackers like My Fitness Pal or do you lean more towards Intuitive Eating?"

I received this GREAT question today on Facebook.


For women who have tried many different programs and approaches to meet their fat loss goals, it’s a logical and common question.


If you have fat loss goals, you’ve probably tried calorie counting, or it’s more sophisticated cousin: macro tracking. And when/if that didn’t work, you went looking for another option.


AH! Intuitive eating! That sounds so nice! No tracking! No rules! No limits! I just listen to my intuition and eat what and when it tells me.


And when THAT didn’t work, well…here you are:


Feeling very lost and confused, wondering why you can’t make yourself fit into either of these two, diametrically opposed camps.


If you’ve ever wondered…



"Do we have to track macros in FAT LOSS LIFESTYLE SCHOOL?"


THE ANSWER IS NO.



If you don’t want to track macros, and intuitive eating didn’t help you achieve your fat loss goals, then I have very good news for you:


We use NEITHER of these approaches in FAT LOSS LIFESTYLE SCHOOL.


We believe both of these systems are inherently flawed for learning how to eat for sustainable fat loss - which is what we teach in FLLS.


There are other options besides these two methods for learning how to eat in a healthy, sustainable way that results in optimal health and body composition.


Here are 3 reasons we do not use macro tracking in Fat Loss Lifestyle School:


1. Macro tracking is a numbers-first approach that focuses mainly on food quantity and hitting numbers.


Food is more than calories or macros; food is information for the body.


Every time you eat (or don't eat), you impact the hormones that control metabolic sensations like hunger, cravings, energy level, mood, etc. Without an understanding of how foods impact hormones, many macro trackers spend their daily budget on "fun foods" instead of nutrient dense foods, leaving them even hungrier and craving more high-calorie foods.


For example, sweet potatoes and bread are both sources of carbohydrates.


However, you’ll feel much differently after eating sweet potatoes as your carb source at meal time vs. eating a slice or two of bread as your carb source - even if the grams of carbs in each food are exactly the same.


(And yes, this is still true EVEN IF you believe you’re eating the “healthiest” homemade, whole grain, low carb, high fiber, or low calorie bread on the planet.)


The amount of fiber, the ratio of fiber to starch, the water content, the nutrient content and density - all of these factors play a role in how you feel in the hours after eating a carbohydrate food (more/less hungry, more/less satiated, more/fewer cravings, etc.) AND how your body composition will change over time.


Don’t misunderstand:


The point of this example is not “Sweet Potatoes = good. Bread = bad.”


It’s that over-simplifying foods as just “macros” (i.e. proteins, fats, or carbs) ignores a big part of the equation.


2. Macro tracking can create more anxiety and stress around food.


For macro trackers, unknown foods - "I don't know the macros for that!" - can often become a source of fear and a reason to avoid foods or situations where macros can't be tracked.


Unless you remain holed up in your house where you can weigh and measure and control all of your food intake, macro tracking can quickly become impractical.


Travel, holidays, and social engagements are all part of life, but they present big problems for macro trackers.


As a regular lurker in macro tracking groups on Facebook, it’s not uncommon to see conversation threads with questions like:

  • “What’s everyone doing for the holiday? Are you going to estimate macros and try to stay on track or just say SCREW IT and get back on track afterwards?”

  • “Do you guys track macros on vacation? I’m nervous about all the food at our all-inclusive resort and scared I’m going to blow my macros every day.”

  • “My family gives me crap for bringing my food scale and weighing everything, but I have goals!”

  • “How do we calculate macros for cocktails and alcohol?”

When you understand the impact of your food choices and learn how to fuel your body, you have the skills and knowledge to eat for your goals any time, anywhere:

  • Even while traveling…

  • While on vacation…

  • During the holidays…

  • While staying with friends and family…

  • When you can’t scan a food label or enter macros into an app.


3. Macro tracking ignores this principle truth about metabolism: it is an adaptable, reactive mechanism.


Tracking macros treats the body and fat loss like a math problem to be calculated, but the metabolism doesn't work like that.


It works more like the thermostat in your house; it's designed to regulate and respond. In other words, it's not a static, predictable mechanism that can be calculated like a math equation.


You cut calories and increase exercise, and it responds by slowing the metabolic rate, increasing hunger signals, and making cravings more intense - the OPPOSITE of what you want if you’re trying to lose fat.


How we look, feel, and perform is about more than macros or calories in/out.


Calories absolutely matter and you do need a calorie deficit for fat loss, but hormones matter, too.


If we learn how our bodies work, and how food intake and exercise impacts our hormones and metabolism, many of the health consequences from restrictive dieting and weight re-gain could be avoided or minimized.


In our signature program, FAT LOSS LIFESTYLE SCHOOL, we believe you, your fat loss results, and your overall health will be better off in the long run by FIRST learning the basics of nutrition, fat loss, and metabolism - not tracking macros.

We are not saying "macro tracking doesn't work."


Macro tracking absolutely works, and it works for many people or it wouldn't be so popular! It may even be a tool you use later in your journey. The RFT Coaches and me use it ourselves from time to time, on a temporary basis, when we have a specific goal or event coming up.


However, for the vast majority of people we work with, macro tracking is not the best place to start.


We believe macro tracking is a tool to be used if desired, temporarily, later on in the fat loss/lifestyle change process. It can be a very helpful tool for troubleshooting if fat loss is not occurring, and it can help you see how much fuel you need when/if your goals change (i.e. from fat loss to muscle gain or performance).


Here at REAL FITNESS TRAINING, macro tracking is a tool - not a lifestyle.


Have you tracked macros before? What was your experience like? We'd love to hear your thoughts! And if you want to learn how to achieve sustainable fat loss without tracking every bite you eat in My Fitness Pal, check out Fat Loss Lifestyle School:



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