You’ve figured out how to read ingredient labels and nutrition facts and make wise choices. You’ve figured out what supplements (if any) you can use. You’ve figured out how to calculate the calorie and macro requirements best suited to your goals. You now need to figure out how to stick to those macros by tracking them. There are people that say tracking isn’t necessary and they may be right, if all you’re going to be doing is eating chicken, broccoli and rice. But that’s not something I could ever do. I like to add in a treat or two on a daily basis just so it doesn’t feel like a chore and I can do this while still hitting my macros most effectively by tracking my macros. Further you tend to realise that some foods are just not worth it, when you see how calorie dense and nutrient sparse they are (doughnuts for example). So I highly recommend tracking your macros, it doesn’t take much time once you get the hang of it and it works well for my personality (it may not for yours).
I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track my macros. There are free versions available for iOS and Android and you can also login via a web browser but I find using the app the most convenient. Once you download the app, sign up and login to your account, hopefully the tips I have listed below will help you make tracking your macros less of a chore.
1. Setting up
Fill in personal details such as age, height, current weight, goal weight etc. The app will create your calorie and macronutrient goals by itself. I tend not to use these values, instead I customise these values based on what I’ve calculated by myself. There is a limitation in the free version that you can increment each macronutrient only in increments of 5% but this is mostly fine for our requirements. See the below screenshots to see what this looks like in iOS and Android.
Another thing I don’t like to use in the app is the exercise tracking feature. This varies the calorie and macro values on a daily basis, making it more complicated. Instead, I stick to the same daily calories and macros irrespective of exercise. If for example you’ve done some extra cardio on a particular day you can allow yourself to overshoot your target by just a little bit if you like.
2. Ease of tracking
As of writing this post, I prefer using the app on iOS, mostly because it has some convenience features like being able to swipe to copy yesterday’s meal for today, as well as being able to copy a meal from another day too. Considering that when on a diet, most people generally tend to eat the same or similar meals, this feature makes it a lot quicker and easier to log and track your macros.
3. Massive Food Database
What really sets MyFitnessPal apart is the huge and ever increasing database of foods available. Since a lot of the foods are crowd-sourced, some may not be accurate. So if you’re adding a new food for the first time, take a few moments to look at the nutrition so it seems reasonably accurate. If for example you see an entry for a doughnut that has a 100 calories, 1 gram of fat and 10 grams of carbs, you can be reasonably certain that it isn’t accurate. But the good thing is that, since the database is so vast, you will almost always find something that’s close enough. This goes for a lot of Indian foods as well. Plus the more you use the app, the easier it gets because the app remembers and suggests your most frequent and recent foods.
4. Add to the Database
If you do find yourself in a situation where you can’t find the find you’re looking for, that’s where the feature to add your own recipe or food comes in. You can add a food in the My Foods section by scanning the barcode (doesn’t work as often with Indian products) or by entering the details in the nutrition label. If you have a homemade recipe, you can create the recipe in the Recipes section by adding all the raw ingredients for the recipe. It really is as simple as that.
5. How much and what can I eat?
At the bottom of your MyFitnessPal Diary, you will see a Nutrition button. Hitting it will give you an overview as to where you are with your macros and other nutrients for the day. I find this particularly useful to plan my next meal. For example if I have managed to hit my protein macros for the day and have carbs and fats left, it means I could possibly fit in a dessert or some fun food depending on how many calories I have left.
Hope this helps you get started with MyFitnessPal. If you have any questions, hit me up on the comments section and I’ll try and answer them to the best of my ability.