Calories, Macros, and Micros: Why You Should Track Them All

It’s easier than ever to keep track of the food that you consume, but prioritizing what you monitor has hit a height of confusion. Rather than choosing which of the big three to keep track of, this article will fill you in on why it’s important to keep track of them all.


It’s not an either/or proposition anymore. If you want to optimize your fitness and health, you should be keeping an eye on your calories, macronutrients (macros), AND your micronutrients (micros). It’s no longer about just looking good on the beach anymore. If you want to live a long, healthy life–while still looking great in that bikini–then all three should be monitored with care.

This article’s intent is to show you why each of the big three plays such a large role in your overall health, and then how you can keep an eye on them to ensure that you’re doing right by your body. By the time we’ve finished here, you will be ready to keep track of calories, macros, and micros like a rockstar and be on your way to the healthiest version of yourself yet!

Calories
Why Should You Track Them?
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain the weight you were at, then calories were the star of that show. The number on the scale largely comes down to how well you manage your calories. A calorie is a unit of energy, with each piece of food representing potential energy that your body could use. As you exercise, you burn calories and release them from your body. Any calories that go unused then get stored in your body, and as more and more calories get stored, your weight will begin to increase. So, in essence, the better you balance the relationship between calories in vs. calories out, the less you’ll have to stress about gaining weight out of nowhere.

Now, don’t fret if you’re sitting there thinking, “But I eat 2000 calories a day and only workout for an hour. There’s no way I’m burning all of that off!” Your body burns calories without you even knowing as you walk around, do the dishes, or walk through the mall with your friends. You don’t have to burn them all off at the gym!

How Should You Track Them?
There are plenty of apps out there that will scan barcodes of labels and fill in the nutrition facts into your daily eating diary, letting you know how many calories you have left to consume for the day. Find one that works for you and be as honest as possible as you log what you’ve eaten. If for nothing else, use this exercise for the awareness that comes from using a food tracking app. You may realize quickly what your Achilles heel has been (wine apparently has calories, too).

Macros
Why Should You Track Them?
The food that you consume packs a ton of nutrients, but the big ones (hence, macro) are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Each of them serves an important purpose, so keeping tabs on all of them is pretty important.

For instance, if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, then you’re doing your muscles a disservice. Protein builds and restores the muscles within your body, so without it, no amount of squats will help your backside grow. Carbohydrates are one of your body’s major energy sources, so if you’re avoiding them completely, you may be running on fumes by the end of the day.  And despite the campaign against fat in the late 20th century, there are actually many benefits to consuming a fair amount of fat in your diet. One of the major functions of fat is that it helps your body store important nutrients and minerals. So, if you’re deathly afraid of eating anything with fat in it, those nutrients aren’t being utilized to their fullest potential.

Aside from all of the reasons listed above, knowing more about your macros will also help you get a better grasp on where your calories come from. Both protein and carbohydrates are worth 4 calories per gram, with fat coming in at 9 calories per gram. So, if you’re eating a high-fat diet, you won’t be able to consume as much actual food since the calories will rack up much faster.

How Should You Track Them?
Most food tracking apps also have a macronutrient feature tied into their interface. One of simplest apps to use for both calorie and macro tracking is MyFitnessPal, but it’s certainly not the only app that works. Find one that works for you!

Micro
Why Should You Track Them?
Although the volume of micronutrients that you need to consume isn’t very high, the importance of their consumption might rank highest on this list. Micronutrients have the greatest effect on your overall long-term health, as they help prevent disease and keep many bodily functions up and running. Without them, you could be making yourself more vulnerable to illness down the road. These vitamins and minerals that are found at the bottom of most of your favorite food labels should be at the top of your priority list.

How Should You Track Them?
Many of these micronutrients can be found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. Do your best to get a good portion of either on your plate with each meal. Often times, more color equals a higher density of micronutrients.

There you have it! The more aware you are of each of these things that you’re consuming every day, the better you can serve your body, inside and out. Take this information, run with it, and let us know about your progress!

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