While counting calories has become a commonplace way to kickstart weight loss and maintain a healthy overall weight, counting macros is a lot less common—but could be way more efficient than the former… if you’re doing it properly.
Essentially, counting macros consists of noting down exactly what you’ve been eating in terms of fat to carb to protein ratios and making sure that they balance out properly. It sounds like a lot of work… and that’s because, well, it is, but the benefits suggest that for some, it could be worth it.
According to a Healthline report, properly counting your macros can lead to faster weight loss, a higher quality diet, greater energy, and makes it easier to gain (and maintain) lean muscle mass—even if you’re trying to slim down.
Here’s exactly what happened when I followed a strict macro-counting diet for a week—and why I could have cried with relief when it was finally over.
Most foods have two different macronutrients—and if they have too much a given macro, they’re considered to be off-limits if you want to properly stick to your ratios.
For example, sweet potatoes and kale are packed with protein but are largely off-limits due to their high carbohydrate content. As a strict plant-based eater, this makes it extremely difficult for me! I spent the first day eating cheese and almonds.
Counting macros is not easy, but I found using a macro app helped a little bit. Because I’m vegetarian, I’m not able to indulge in chicken and other meat products that are usually go-to items on a macro diet, but I did stock up on a lot of cheese.
I mainly eat local cheeses though, which made it hard to know exactly how much protein and fat I was getting—but I figured a near guess would be fine.
What do people eat on this diet!? It’s been so hard for me to find the right kinds of food to ensure I hit my ratios and I can’t imagine doing this during normal life.
It seems like it would be impossible to track and balance every single macro—let alone find allowed foods—if I were eating in restaurants, traveling, or going to bars with friends. By today, I’ve become quite tired of cheese and vegan lunch meat and am already looking forward to regular salads, bagels, fruit, and processed snacks, if I’m being honest.
Today’s when I noticed I had definitely started feeling more lean—which is so weird because I’ve basically been surviving on cheese boards, dijon mustard, and gherkin pickles.
I weighed myself and noticed I’d already dropped two pounds but I was mainly impressed by how less bloated I looked… by filling up on cheese? I mean, I guess I’ll take it.
By the end of the week, I was actually grateful to be finished with this diet. I’m not a math person, or a strict-diet person, and I found this diet to be extremely limiting and time consuming.
I ended up spending way too much time trying to calculate what I had to eat and what I had to avoid and I found I was constantly thinking about what I was supposed to eat next.
I also found it to be extremely hard to meet the proper ratios as a plant-based eater. I don’t feel that my diet (which consisted mainly of cheese and processed vegan lunch meats) was very healthy or sustainable.
That being said, I did lose three pounds in a week’s time and I enjoyed being able to eat more calories than I usually do, but I definitely prefer old-fashioned salads and fresh fruit when I’m trying to drop a few pounds.