Setting up your macros is one thing. I detailed that process in an earlier post, and would strongly recommend checking it out before diving too deep into tracking.
Tracking macros is a whole other task, and it’s one that will be part of your daily routine if you choose to go the route of flexible dieting. Thus, learning how to track your macros is going to be of the utmost importance (at least until you get familiar with measuring, estimating, etc.).
Here, I’ll try and help you get started with some basic tips and tools that make tracking easy. And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to use the comment section below or reach out to us via Twitter or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In order to accurately track your macros, the following three items will provide you with just about everything you need to get started. You can get all of these for right around $20, which will be money well spent.
- Food scale
- Measuring cups
- My Fitness Pal
A food scale is what you’ll use to weigh out just about everything for your meals. The exact scale I use every day is pictured above (and can be purchased on Amazon for $12).
Initially, weighing out food will probably seem like a hassle or appear to be extremely confusing. Hopefully I can ease some of that by giving you examples of how I use my scale on a daily basis.
I meal prep over the weekend for the majority of the food I’ll be eating each week. I cook up my meats (usually chicken or ground turkey) and my carbohydrates (almost always a big batch of rice) and put them into tupperware containers. I’ll detail the whole food prep process in another post.
Each morning I pull everything out of the fridge, get the food containers out that I take to work, and weigh my food out for the day. This will take some prep work ahead of time to know your macros and understand how many calories/macros to assign to each meal. Once you get into a groove, this whole process will become second nature.
When on a bulk, I usually weighed out about 8.5 ounces of white rice for each meal and added in 4 ounces of whatever meat I’m working with on my food scale. That got me through the work day and gave me a ton of calories to fuel my evening training sessions.
There will be other instances where a food scale doesn’t quite fit the mold for what you’re measuring, and normally measuring cups can fill in those gaps.
I often find myself using measuring cups for my breakfasts. Whether it be measuring out two cups of cereal and one cup of milk, or if I’m having protein pancakes and I want to add 1/4 cup of maple syrup, having measuring cups at the ready makes the process easier.
Most foods will have their serving size listed in cups, fractions of a cup, ounces, or grams. Between a food scale (most measure in ounces, grams, and a few additional metrics) and measuring cups, you’ll be all set to track just about anything.
Now, how do you keep track of all of the calories? Do you have to tally these up on a pad of paper every day?
No. If you have a smart phone, download the My Fitness Pal app. In it, you can scan just about any food barcode and have it show up automatically in the app. From there, you can select the serving size, number of servings, and view the macronutrient breakdown for everything you eat.
If it weren’t for My Fitness Pal, I don’t know that I’d have tracked macros just about every day for the last two years. It makes the task super easy.
A couple of tips I’d throw out there are to pick easily measurable foods to start, if you’re new to tracking, measuring, weighing, etc. Also, buy in bulk and meal prep ahead of time.
I’ve always found rice and meats to be very simple to measure out and weigh, and they’re easy to buy in bulk, cook in bulk, and store.
Measuring out a few cups of rice to boil and cook is simple. Storing rice is simple. Weighing a specific amount of ounces of rice to eat is simple.
You can’t get much easier than that.
Same goes for chicken, turkey, etc. You can slice up an exact amount you want to eat in any sitting and put the rest back in the refrigerator for next time.
When you’re cooking foods that have a lot of ingredients to them, it gets harder and harder to track. For instance, if you’re layering together a lasagna or cooking a vegetable soup from scratch, you know there will be a lot of elements involved. Measuring out all of this is not something I’d recommend to start.
Start with some simple items, tailor them towards your diet, and then build from that as you get more comfortable.