The question I get asked time and time again, it’s almost like it haunts me, “Do I HAVE to track my calories and macronutrients?”
In short, no. You don’t HAVE to do anything, aside from eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. But really, aside from a dad joke level response, there aren’t many things in the fitness realm I regard as an absolute, 100% of the time yes.
You can make plenty of progress at a lower level of specificity, just keeping a food journal. Some people, depending upon lifestyle, habits, genetics, food choices, etc. can just, “clean up” their diet and be down a few pounds by the end of the week without even writing anything down.
MyFitnessPal, food journals, weighing food, are all just tools, NOT sacred religious text. You don’t have to abide by them. You can make progress without them.
And now, the BUT everyone was waiting for..
Why wouldn’t you track your macros? Especially if you know this small extra step (albeit odd and monotonous at first) will act as a guide in your fitness journey.
- If you want to become financially stable, you probably need a budget.
- If you want to travel and get somewhere specific, you probably need a map.
- If you want to build whatever you wasted a few bucks on from Amazon most recently, you probably need instructions.
I encourage the majority of my clients, in-person and online, to at least keep a food journal. Depending where they are in they’re journey, they might be at a point in which they’re tracking just calories and protein, just keeping a food journal, or tracking all three macronutrients plus some micros (shout out to my fellow type As out there)!
I believe that at least having a conscious moment during your day to record and acknowledge the things you’ve consumed is an easy starting point anyone can accomplish. After you’ve mastered that skill, see if you can build upon it. Start tracking calories, maybe your protein too.
Much of the necessity of this is dependent upon your goals and your current situation.
If you’re a hyper-beginner, barely been in the gym, don’t overwhelm yourself trying to create the perfect macronutrient split. Your time is better spent building good habits inside and outside of the gym.
If you’re an intermediate or on, and you’ve plateaued, time to lock-it down and be more precise. Take notes, record weigh-ins, track macros on whatever level you see to be feasible. Create yourself a roadmap so that you aren’t mindlessly wandering and hoping for progress. In short, the farther along in your journey and the heftier your goals become, the higher the necessity of specificity in your food regimen.