Despite having consistently tracked my macros at various times over the years for different reasons, I will be the first to agree that tracking your macros is hard work. It can feel very time consuming, annoying and inconvenient. However for me and many others if you are serious about achieving your nutrition and body composition goals, it is the best way to do so. I talk you through how to track your macros in great detail in the flexible dieting section of my book “Eat Well” which is sold as part of my health and fitness program “Lean & Well”. You can find out more about it here. Here are five tracking hacks which I think make it much easier and less time consuming.
1. Track your food the night before.
This is my biggest tip for how to make it through a day successfully hitting your macro goals. If you track the night before you have a plan in place. During the day you may run out of time to track. I love waking up knowing I have a plan to follow and I don’t have to think so hard about what to eat. All my food decisions were made when I was feeling happy and relaxed. This eliminates the risk of making poor food choices when stressed, sad or tired. Throughout the day you will probably just have to make minor adjustments in My Fitness Pal (MFP) rather than spending heaps of time at every meal entering every single thing. If you don’t feel motivated in the evenings you could try tracking all your meals for the day ahead in the morning when you’re feeling energetic and fresh.
2. Eat the same meals often.
Keep as many meals the same during the week as you can tolerate. This way when you go to fill in the next day in MFP you can simply select ‘copy meal’ for a few of the meals. This literally takes a few seconds. Plus when it comes time to actually make up the meal you’ll be really quick from only making it the day before. Some of the meals I personally love and repeat over and over again are fried eggs on buttered toast with coffee for breakfast, homemade granola with Greek yoghurt, berries and banana for morning tea and a Proud & Punch icy pole for dessert.
3. Recognise dinner is a danger zone.
It is hard to eat well at dinner. You are tired by the end of the day and your will power is running out. To prevent throwing in the towel at dinner time and wasting all your hard work throughout the day, enter your dinner as early as possible (see tip #1).
4. Don’t track things which are 5 calories or less.
This is a rule I personally follow. Some flexible dieters would disagree but it works for me. My approach to health and nutrition is that it’s more important you do what is sustainable than what is optimum. Not tracking lettuce leaves, black coffees, herbal teas, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drop of apple cider vinegar in my water or ice in my smoothie saves me a lot of time.
5. Don’t be a perfectionist.
I am naturally a perfectionist and prone to OCD tendencies so I have to keep reminding myself of this! Otherwise I get worn out from tracking and can’t keep it up. If you try to be 100% perfect it can cause you to have the all or nothing approach. Here’s an example of what I mean. Say you’re eating out at a friend’s house for lunch and they serve you spaghetti bolognese. A person with a perfectionist mentality thinks, ‘I don’t know exactly what is in this since I didn’t cook it. I’m just going to have to track it as a generic spaghetti bolognese which could be quite inaccurate. What’s the point of tracking today if it’s not accurate?” Instead you should do your best to guesstimate the portion size and choose the closest match in MFP. Otherwise you will start always making excuses because you can’t be accurate enough. You just need to be consistent not perfect. This is not brain surgery just eating food!
I really hope these tips help save you time and help you successfully stick to your macro goals!