Whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, or become a beast in the gym, tracking macros is going to get you there faster and more efficiently than any other method.
When you know exactly how much you’re eating each day – like we discussed in Part One of this article – it becomes easier and easier to make adjustments and drop body fat, improve performance, and pack on lean muscle.
I will admit though, tracking macros can seem overwhelming if you’ve never done it. Hell, even for someone experienced like me, it can be annoying sometimes.
Which is why I’ve started following what I call, an Flexible Macro Counting approach – as a way to simplify macro tracking, and make it more of a sustainable part of my lifestyle.
You can use this in conjunction with what we discussed in Part One to help you hit your macros consistently, while following an enjoyable, flexible nutrition plan that doesn’t control your life. Here’s how it works…
1. Unless I’m packing away a 20-oz well-marbled ribeye, or putting down a rack of ribs, I treat all non-fatty cuts of meat the same. Meaning proteins like chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, lean cuts of beef or pork – I count them all the same; about 25g of protein, and 0g of fat.
Why 0g of fat you ask? Well…
2. I don’t get my undies in a bunch over trace macros. General rule of thumb is, if something has less than 5g of anything, don’t count it.
3. Eating the same foods/meals every day makes this much, much simpler and more effective. By keeping things simple and consistent, you drastically reduce variables and margin for error. This is what allows you to not worry about trace macros – because if they’re the same 95% of the time, then they’re not variables.
An example of this for me is the protein I eat, which consists of 96% lean ground beef, flank steak, ground turkey, and chicken thighs. My carbs are sourdough, fruit, cereal, rice, and tortillas (because, tacos). Fat is cheese, butter, and eggs. These make up 90% of my meals. And because of that, I have very few variables I need to account for in my tracking – which means that my trace macros are always the same.
Even more important though, is this allows me to stay on track, without tracking. Say life gets super busy, or I’m traveling for a week or two. By eating those same foods for 90% of my meals, I go those entire two weeks without tracking and not hurt my progress – because I simply just replicate those meals as closely as possible and fall in line with my daily calories.
The more variables you remove from your diet, the better your results will be.
Speaking of variables…
4. Use 1 TBSP of fat when you cook – preferable this olive oil – and don’t track it.
Again, this is not a variable. You’re using it every time you cook, so you don’t need to track it.
Still measure though. Fat can be easy to overeat, so while you don’t need to track it, you want to make sure you’re not getting heavy-handled with the pour.
5. Veggies – don’t track them. Eat as many as you want.
6. Don’t track condiments. BBQ sauces, mustard, ketchup, salsa…you don’t need to count these. You also don’t need to slather everything in condiments either. Again, stick with a tbsp, and don’t worry about counting it.
7. Be as consistent as possible. The reason this system works, and works so damn well, comes from keeping things as consistent as possible with your food choices and your habits. This eliminates most variables, and more importantly, eliminates the stress of feeling like you need to count every damn macro – so you can spend less time counting, and more time enjoying your food while seeing better results in the progress.
Now, if you’re someone looking to step on stage in bodybuilding or physique competitions, or get shredded for a photoshoot, this is not the approach I’d recommend. For those specific goals, your tracking needs to be on point, with everything counted.
However, if you’re in the majority of people who just want to lose fat, build muscle, and look great naked, this approach will absolutely get you there without having to be as neurotic or meticulous.
Give this a try for the next couple months and let me know how it goes.
Jorden is a cookie-loving former fat kid turned online fitness consultant; who lost over 80 pounds and has now helped over 600 of men and women get in better shape and improve their lives. You can find him on Instagram musing about fitness, life, and cookies. For coaching inquiries, you can contact Jorden here.