If you're serious about leading a super healthy lifestyle or want to significantly change your body composition (whether it be losing weight or building muscle) sadly just being really into fitness, isn't going to cut it.
As the saying goes, "you can't outrun your fork" (and believe me, I've tried).
So you've accepted that you need to be at least ‘food aware’ in order to maximise your chances of getting great results and a healthy life. Easy.
Next up, it's time to find a way to become more 'food aware’. Though not something we would advocate to do for the rest of your life, tracking your food intake can be a good way to get educated on foods fast. So how do you track what you're puting in your mouth...not so easy!
For a long time the dieting industry solely focused on counting calories and the notion that weight loss and gain purely came down to calories in vs calories out. Now the wonder of the internet and social media means we get access to huge qualities of unfiltered information...most terrible, some good and some great. Through this a more diverse range of opinions has surfaced, including the fact that not all calories are created equal and we should be paying more attention to what kind of calories we are putting into our bodies as opposed to how many.
So if you're confused as to what on earth a macro even is then don't sweat it, we've compared the two basic fundamental methods to help you work out what's best for you, in a quick 2 minute read.
Counting calories is pretty simple and effective if your only goal is to shift some weight. How many calories you should consume depends on multiple factors such as you weight, age, height and how sedentary your lifestyle is.
1. Calorie counting is fairly easy and provides structure to your diet
2. You can see results quickly which can be very motivating
3. It makes you aware and mindful of what you're eating
1. It can be easy to become obsessed with the number on the scale
2. It doesn't take into account the bigger picture about the effect different kinds of food can have on your body
3. High calorie food isn't always bad for you, but is often restricted whilst calorie counting. Likewise low calorie alternatives can often be full of additives which aren't good for your health.
More complex than counting calories, macronutrients are the three nutrient groups that are required to create energy to keep our bodies working. These are fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Counting macros works by creating a macro split in your diet, for example you might decide to make your diet up of 40% carbohydrates, 40% protein and 20% fat. Find out how to create your macronutrient split here.
1. It's a more educated approach to food. You can gain a great deal of knowledge about calories, macronutrients, food quality, vitamins, minerals and fibre, allowing you to feel in control of your food choices.
2. It allows for a degree of flexibility. For example, if you really fancy a few slices of pizza and can make it fit your macros, you can do this guilt free, without the risk of bingeing and going completely off track.
3. It can promote a healthy relationship and attitude towards eating, as nothing is off limits
1. Counting macros is complicated and requires a lot of dedication.
2. There's no magic formula when it comes to counting macros. There's a lot of trial and error involved and it's worth noting that different body types suit different macro splits.
3. If you set yourself impossibly high macro spilts you could find yourself favouring supplements over real food in order to "hit your macros".
Obviously this isn't an extensive list of the ins and outs of calorie counting and macro counting, but if it's something that you're interested in exploring, hopefully it will give you a general overview of the two options. Ultimately the aim is to be more educated and the best method for you is the one that you can maintain as a healthy lifestyle in the long term.