MacroTracker 2.0

I decided to take a break from my SLAM project to give MacroTracker some much needed attention. MacroTracker was started immediately after I graduated college. I wanted to start working on side projects and was obsessed with powerlifting and nutrition. I had a powerlifting meet coming up and I wanted to be as lean as possible for my weight class. After expending the effort to track my food and macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fat), I became frustrated with existing nutritional apps. They focused so much on tracking calories and paid very little attention to macros that I felt like they were perpetuating an inappropriate focus on calories. In MacroTracker, I made macronutrients the primary focus.

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A Quick Story

While working on a group project in college, a girl on my team said she was hungry. I told her we could break for dinner but she explained that she could only eat ~300 more calories that day and didn’t have enough left for a full meal. She then whipped out some nutritional bar and explained that it had only 200 calories and quickly consumed it.

Whatever diet plan this girl is following has put a large focus on calories which has influenced her to think all is well as long as she hits her calories goals. Assuming the girl is eating below her maintenance level, she will most likely lose weight. She’s achieving her goal, so why does it matter if she’s tracking calories or macros? If her only goal is to see the weight on the scale drop then she will likely succeed. However, I think those that are nutritionally concious are either seeking health benefits or aesthetic improvements. In both cases, tracking macros will serve them better.

Why Macros

Not all calories are created equal. 1 gram of protein or carboyhydrates is 4 calories. 1 gram of fat is 9 calories.

If you set goals for your macros, then you are also simultaneously setting caloric goals, and thus if you achieve these goals you will achieve the caloric goals automatically. However, it’s not quite the same the other way around. If I set a caloric goal, there are an infinite number of macronutrient profiles that can achieve this goal. Not all calories are created equal and eating different macronutrient profiles for the same calories can have different results (body composition, energy levels, etc..), which is extremely important to consider for those who care about their health or looks (basically anyone who is tracking calories in the first place). Focusing on calories results in a signifigant loss of information that is detrimental in the long run. People need to explore and learn about what sort of foods and macros work with their bodies and goals especially when considering the long-term maintainability of your diet. Simply tracking calories won’t help you learn.

Short Term Macro-Tracking Will Improve Long-Term Health

For those seeking long-term health improvements, your exercise regimine and diet have to be sustainable. Tracking macros or calories is cumbersome and can be stressful. In fact, I would not reccomend using MacroTracker forever. However, it is a powerful educational tool. If you begin to track macros, you will begin to learn what sort of macronutrient profile works for your body and fitness goals. Let’s say you’ve discovered that eating roughly 200g protein, 150g carbs, and 70g fat keep you where you want to be. This is great, but more importantly, you’ve gained knowledge of the macronutrient profiles of different foods. You can now go in a restaurant, look at the menu, and pick something that will fit your target macro profile. You also probably avoid sugary drinks because you have realized that they mess with your macros with little benefit. Overtime, you’ve learned to eat well-rounded meals that you probably had to cook because you discovered the macronutrient profiles of pre-packed or processed foods do not align with your goals.

Tracking macros will help you learn about yourself and the foods you eat while driving you towards a healthier, sustainable lifstyle. If that girl in my class had been tracking her macros, she probably wouldn’t have eaten that bar in lieu of a well-balanced meal.

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