Although counting macros is an effective strategy for improving performance and body composition, it does have its shortcomings.

As promised, in today’s lesson you will learn not only about the problems with macro counting but more importantly how to avoid them.

Problem 1- Learning the Macro Language

You’re a human, and you eat food, not macros.

It is not second nature to be able to translate the food that is entering your mouth into macronutrients. With practice, it can become easier, but there is definitely a learning curve.

When you’re first counting macros, it might be hard to hit your targets each day because you don’t yet understand how much fat is in a handful of nuts. Or maybe you overestimated the protein in the meat you eat. Or you didn’t realize that although beans are a good source of protein, they also have A LOT of carbs.

The early errors and learning curve can be very frustrating.

Solution? Keep a food journal.

Food journaling services like MyFitnessPal automate the translation of the food you eat into macronutrients.

All Beyond Macros clients are asked to keep a food journal with MyFitnessPal because it helps them learn the “language” of macros, and so that their coach can check in on their journal and make specific and personalized recommendations.

Problem 2- Macros in Food Are Not Accurately Measured

The way that fat, carb, and protein content of food is calculated and printed on shipping labels has a relatively large margin of error. Because of this imprecision, the FDA allows a 20% error on food labels.

Even if you take the time to weigh and measure all of your food, you still might be consuming up to 20% too much or too little each day.

This means the 150g of protein you were proud of consuming yesterday could have actually been anywhere between 120-180g.

To make matters worse, the way you cook foods can also change their macronutrient content. If you cook a steak well done vs. rare it will have less fat for example.

Solution- Control what you are able to control.

You can’t control the accuracy with which the macronutrients in your food are measured, but you can focus on creating HABITS that allow you to consistently eat the right quantity of food to help you feel fueled and get lean.

Beyond Macros clients are encouraged to weigh and measure their food for one month to form a picture in their minds about how much food they need to be eating per day. We use this measured process as the back bone for creating the HABITS that will make their results sustainable.

Problem 3- Macro Counting Doesn’t Control Quality or Timing

The problem with “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) and flexible dieting isn’t that they don’t work. For most people, they do.

The problem is that if you’re also worried about your health in the long run (and to MAXIMIZE your progress towards your fitness goals), you also have to control the quality of food you consume and when you consume it.

Pounding handfuls of gummy bears or Fig Newtons at the end of the night because you were short on carbs is not good nutrition, and it shows that you haven’t established proper habits that will make your nutrition changes sustainable.

Solution- Gradually replace low-quality foods with high-quality substitutes, and learn about nutrient timing.

At Beyond Macros we first want clients to learn how to reach their macro targets. Usually this happens in the first 30 days.

From there, we help them look at their eating habits and identify high-impact changes to the quality and timing of their food.

Look at your food journal and identify the low-quality foods, figure out what their macros are, and replace them with high-quality foods.

Nutrient timing is an entirely different beast and totally depends on your training. That is an area where it helps to consult an expert as opposed to doing it on your own.

Problem 4-It’s A Diet and 90% of Diets Fail

When it comes down to it, counting macros is a diet. It’s a slightly more advanced form of calorie counting. IIFYM and flexible dieting cultures encourage the use of “vice” foods as long as they fit your macros.

Research tells us that 90% of diets fail and dieters gain back all (or more) of the weight they lost.

If you fail on an IIFYM or flexible dieting protocol, the problem is that you didn’t necessarily learn new, healthy habits. You also were able to regularly eat foods that have high potential for abuse.

Solution- Use macronutrients as a guide on the road to forming better eating habits.

Our company is called Beyond Macros because we use macros as a template, but our coaches get to know you, your habits, your obstacles and your vices so that we can help you identify the high-impact habit changes that will help you reach your goal as fast as possible, and sustain your progress forever.

Coming Up Next

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Learn about what it’s like to work with a Beyond Macros coach and get a sneak peak into some of the best advice past successful clients would give to somebody who wants to improve their nutrition.