When to stop tracking macros

Macro tracking has been a hot topic these past few years, and in a previous post we covered situations in which tracking might be a good strategy.

However, there can be some significant drawbacks. I strongly urge you to tread lightly if:

  • you have a history of disordered eating

  • you have an addictive personality or are such a perfectionist that put pressure on yourself to do things “perfectly”

  • you are just getting started with nutrition (there are lower hanging fruit that you should go for before macros)

  • you want to be healthy but don’t have aggressive athletic or esthetic goals in mind

For this post, let’s assume that your goal is to maintain your weight. You may have other sports or physical activity goals, but overall you are not looking for drastic body composition changes.

Beyond the caveats that I opened with…

it may be time to quit macro counting if:

  • You are turning into a hermit

Here’s a little story I’m not proud of… At some point last year, I got so obsessive over counting my macros that I would turn down social events and meals out because it would have been either “untrackable” or it would have put me over my daily allotted macros. If this sounds like something you would do, for the love of sushi, please snap out of it. Please reach out, I’d love to help.

Losing sight of food quality is a problem. Losing sight of coffee quality? Also a problem.

Losing sight of food quality is a problem. Losing sight of coffee quality? Also a problem.

  • You have lost sight of food quality

It can be easy, after you’ve been tracking for a while, to look at food as numbers, rather than as nourishment. For example, a banana and a tbsp of nut butter has very similar macros to 3 Oreo cookies, and if you are putting both options on the same plane nutritionally, you may have lost sight of food quality. Time to step away from the numbers game, friend.

  • You lost touch with your hunger cues

If you don’t really know what hunger feels like anymore, and are just eating to meet your target macros, you need to take a hard look at your situation. Hunger and fullness are natural signals that our bodies send that should be used to regulate our food consumption, and if we can’t recognize those signals and honor them we are setting ourselves up for bigger problems down the road.

  • You are sick of reaching for your phone come meal time

I know it does not require a herculean effort, but tracking still takes effort. And if you are sick of making that effort, then it might be time to let go.

  • Tracking is taking mental energy away from being present with your loved ones

If you are checking MFP under the table while on a dinner date, you need a break (from the app, not your date). Along the same lines, if you can’t enjoy a meal and be present with your family in a time of celebration, you need to step away from your tracking app. Ya feel me?

  • Someone else cooks for you most of the time

If a partner, parent, sibling, roommate, etc. is generous enough to cook you some food, the last thing you want to do is play detective and try to work out just how much rice they served you, or just how much frozen peas they put into the casserole.

Now what?

If you recognize yourself in any of those situations, you might be asking yourself “OK, so maybe I should take a break from My Fitness Pal, but now what? How do I even do that?”

I get it, the thought of taking the training wheels off and figuring out your own nutrition can seem daunting and downright scary. You will have to relearn to trust your (literal) gut, and you will likely mess up along the way. But trust me on this, the result is SO worth it! Feeling in control of your food decisions is so empowering, you won’t even believe it.

If it sounds like you are ready to give macro tracking a rest, I invite you to sign up for my FREE program, Breaking Up with My Fitness Pal. I will take you through the process step by step so that you feel supported every step of the way.

Got any questions? Please reach out!