YES, counting macros is imperative if you want to achieve your ideal body or compete (figure/fitness/bodybuilding), and even more so if you going to be competing drug free. Check out our article on drug testing in fitness and bodybuilding shows here.
We are not saying you cannot make good progress by changing your diet to a healthier equivalent. What we are saying is that counting your macros will allow you to make more sustainable, efficient and far more optimal changes to your physique.
A few analogies from LB: not perfect, but gives you a good idea of what we’re trying to explain!
“If you were a Formula 1 car in a race, the total distance being 100 miles, you wouldn’t put in a random amount of fuel and hope for the best- you need to know the cars miles per gallon (your metabolism), and the right amount fuel you need to put in, so you don’t run out of fuel short of the finish but didn’t carry extra, unnecessary fuel that would hamper your results (the amount of food you need – your macros).”
“If you were building a house (your body), you wouldn’t guess the amount of materials (macros) you need- you would calculate and measure them out beforehand to make sure you had the right amount.”
Why you need to count macros whilst trying to reduce body fat and maintain muscle mass:
To reduce body fat you have to be in a caloric deficit relative to your total energy expenditure (If you burn 3000kcal in a day, you need to eat less than this amount). To know how many calories you are consuming you need to be tracking your intake of calories from food and know roughly your total daily calorie expenditure. This shows you don’t have to count macros to lose weight, but it won’t all be the right weight.
The Problem with Counting Calories:
A calorie is not just a calorie. The different macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) have different effects on the body when consumed and digested. The main effects we are concerned with are:
- Anabolic effect of consuming protein- eating protein causes your body to increase muscle protein synthesis– the building/maintaining of new muscle tissue (within reason).
- Insulinogenic effect of consuming carbohydrates- eating carbohydrates causes your body to secrete insulin, transporting blood sugar to muscle and fat tissue- this hinders fat oxidization but also spares muscle tissue from being broken down.
- Fat has markedly less effect with respect to muscle anabolism and fat oxidation- it is a very dense source of energy that in the absence of carbohydrates becomes the body’s primary energy source, without significantly elevating plasma insulin levels.
So if you want to achieve steady and sustainable fat loss whilst maintaining muscle mass, knowing how much and when to eat is paramount.
Macronutrient Amounts and Timing:
Referring back the house analogy; you wouldn’t just give the builders (your cells) all the materials (macros) they needed at once- they would be overwhelmed and a lot of the materials would lie around unused (you would get fat). To optimise the process, you would give the workers more materials (but the right amount) during periods of high activity (around your workout) as they are able to work faster!
How do I Track My Macros?
But Can’t I Just Eat ‘Clean’ Foods?
Some coaches will have you believe you don’t have to track macros and can just eat ‘clean’ foods to achieve a great body. As we discussed above, all food contains calories, and by consuming more calories than you are burning you will gain weight- even if the extra calories come from ‘clean’ foods!
But My Plan Doesn’t Contain Macros?
Some coaches will tell you don’t need macros and you can ‘learn what your body needs.’ Unfortunately you will never ‘learn what your body needs’ unless you learn to track macros first, as you will have no idea how many calories and protein/fat/carbohydrates you are eatingA The main reason coaches avoid macros in their plans because he/she doesn’t actually understand nutrition and how to apply macros correctly!
But this Professional Muscle/Fitness Model Doesn’t Track Their Macros…
We can assure you, the top level bodybuilders and natural bodybuilders are tracking their macros. The more serious fitness models probably are too, but you can bet those ‘natty’ bodybuilders & fitness models who don’t track their macros are least tracking the amount of other substances they are putting in their body!
In conclusion, tracking your macros may seem long-winded, time-consuming and pedantic- but after a few weeks (or days), you will become adept at it/adept at using MyFitnessPal (takes literally 30 seconds to input your meal). From here you will learn how much you are eating, and be able to reduce or increase it in small and effective increments, to help keep progress consistent and sustainable- rather than the less reliable method of guestimating that your food (energy) intake falls short of your total energy expenditure.
The LDNM Way:
All our Guides; the Bulking BibleV2, Cutting Guide V3 and the Bikini Guide V3 incorporate macros and flexible dieting, increasing the likelihood that you will make good progress towards your goal, and learn how to work training and nutrition into your lifestyle in a sustainable manner!