Tracking macros not for you?
Hey, I get it – tracking macros isn’t for me either. It’s not that tracking macros isn’t an efficient and effective means of losing body fat (it is). And it’s not that tons of people haven’t used it to create dramatic changes in their physiques (they have).
It’s just that for some reason, the thought of having to log everything I eat – mixed with the fact that I hate math and get hungry thinking about food all day – immediately turns me away from it.
And, if you’re reading this article, it probably turns you away as well.
But, fear not, for you don’t have to track macros in order to lose body fat.
In fact, there are plenty of ways to regulate – and adjust – your food intake that DON’T require the use of a smart phone app, and I’ve outlined some of the most effective ways of doing so down below:
1. Stop Drinking Your Calories
This is first on the list because it’s going to have the largest impact for those who regularly consume sugar-loaded beverages.
Monster energy drinks?
Those are all LOADED with empty calories.
Just to give you an example, any one of those beverages is about the caloric equivalent of a medium sized baked potato (without all of the nutrients and fiber). If you drink 5 sodas in a day, that’s not only five medium sized baked potatoes (or some other food source) you could have EATEN, but it’s extra calories you were able to fit in to your daily routine – around your normal meals and snacks – because beverages don’t make you full.
Not good, especially if you’re trying to lose body fat.
Instead of drinking a bunch of useless junk, try limiting your beverage intake – at least the majority of the time – to water, coffee, milk, tea, or diet soda (*gasp*).
Trust me, it’ll make a MAJOR difference. And although you may miss those sugary beverages – at least for the first couple of weeks – you won’t miss the extra poundage that comes rushing off of your body.
2. Eat a Protein Source with Each Meal
Protein is the building block of muscle tissue. Muscle tissue increases your metabolic rate (it requires a lot of energy to maintain). And an increased metabolic rate increases fat loss.
BOOM… start eating more protein.
Now, on top of being the foundational element of every jaw-dropping physique, protein is also the most satiating macronutrient. In other words, protein keeps you fuller, longer, and as anyone who has ever dieted can attest to, staying full is your top priority (well, top priority after staying healthy).
By eating a protein source at each meal, you not only ensure that you’re getting close to the protein intake required to maximize muscle growth – or muscle retention (.8-1g per pound of body weight; maybe a little more, maybe a little less) – but you also ensure that you’re maximizing fullness which will decrease the total amount of food you consume on a daily basis (it’ll reduce snacking).
I’m not saying protein is really important.
I’m just saying protein is EXTREMELY important, and if you want to lose body fat, adding a protein source to each meal is a good way of going about it.
3. Keep Snacks to Either a Protein Source or a Piece of Fruit (and Make Sure it Fits Within the Palm of Your Hand)
This is a tip I heard from Strength Coach Jordan Syatt. Snacking on a protein source or a piece of fruit ensures 1.) You’re consuming something that provides significant benefits to the body (both are loaded with nutrients), and 2.) You’re consuming something that will keep you full, focused, and that doesn’t contain a lot of calories (but still provides a descent amount of food).
This is just another way to create a caloric deficit, which ultimately leads to fat loss.
4. Fill up Half of Your Plate with Veggies
This probably doesn’t need too much explaining. Veggies are nutrient powerhouses. They contain an extremely low number of calories for an extremely high quantity of food. And they taste freaking amazing (when prepared right).
Oh, and they also limit the amount of starchy carbs (rice, potatoes, oatmeal, etc.) you can fit on to each plate. If you start eating fewer carbs, you’ll probably put yourself in a caloric deficit without thinking about it too hard.
And if you’re in a caloric deficit, well, I think you know the rest.
**This is not meant to say that starchy carbs are bad. They’re NOT. It’s just that most of us need less carbs than we think we need, and because protein and fats are essential nutrients, carbs are generally the most manipulated macronutrient when someone starts trying to lose body fat.
5. Eat a Majority of Nutrient Dense Foods
This is important whether you’re auto-regulating your food intake or not (health matters guys!). Nutrient dense foods not only contain a ton of nutrients (ha, probably self-explanatory), but they also contain more volume for a lower amount of calories (i.e. they have great caloric density).
Therefore, they’re much harder to overeat than their less nutrient dense counterparts (although it can still be done), and if you’re someone who consumes a lot of junk food – but then starts to eat more nutrient dense foods – you’ll indirectly create a caloric deficit.
6. Drink Lots of Water
Not only is water essential for like, every process in the human body, but it also keeps you full. And, like I’ve said way too many times in this article (I hope I’ve gotten my point across), staying full is extremely important. Not only that, but most of us seem to be really good at confusing hunger with thirst.
We need to work on that. And a good way of doing so is by making sure your water intake isn’t a limiting factor.
7. Reduce or Eliminate Alcoholic Beverages
If you haven’t read my article on alcohol and fitness yet, I suggest you do so (you can find it HERE), as I take a VERY simple and straightforward approach to it. But, just to provide a quick recap, if you’re reaching your current fat loss goals, keep drinking.
You’re obviously doing something right, even if that something includes alcohol.
But, if you’re not reaching your current fat loss goals, ditch the alcohol.
Alcohol provides no nutritional benefit to the human body – and contains a crap ton of calories – so when it comes time to make an adjustment to your current nutritional program, alcohol should be the first to get cut.
8. Don’t Deprive Yourself
The is last on the list, but it’s certainly not the least important – arguably the most important.
I don’t care what anyone says, food is not just fuel. Food is also one of the greatest pleasures in life, and as such, there’s no reason to deprive yourself of such an amazing gift. If you want a cookie, eat a cookie. If you want a bowl of ice cream, have a bowl of ice cream. If you want pizza, eat some pizza.
You need to learn to fit the foods you enjoy in to your daily routine (and fitting them in does not require you to have a set number of macronutrients) because if you don’t, it will only lead to extreme cravings and uncontrollable binge sessions in the long run.
Eat what you want, just do so in moderation.
Trust me, balance over time will take you much further than being extremely strict for a short period of time.
Like I said in the beginning guys, there’s nothing wrong with tracking macros. But, there’s nothing wrong with not tracking either.
If tracking macros is your thing, keep doing it. I’m sure you’ll make incredible progress. But, if tracking macros isn’t for you, don’t do it.
Every nutritional strategy is just a different path to the same destination. The path you choose is 100% up to you.
Photo courtesy of howmuchdoesmysandwichweigh.tumblr.com and, for the record, weighs 16.25 oz.