Macronutrients: A step-by-step guide to tracking (Macrotracking)
Myfitnesspal app: the easiest way to track your daily macronutrient and calorie intake.
1. Our example
Macronutrients – Step by step guide will be made for the following example:
Age: 26 years old
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Activity level: low
Purpose: fat burning
This person calculated their daily caloric needs ( see calorie article ), went through the process of determining macronutrients by purpose ( see macronutrient article ), and got the following macronutrient target:
Protein: 175 gr
Carbohydrates: 200 gr
Fat: 56 gr
Total Caloric: 2004 kcal
2. How do I track my calories/macronutrients daily?
The most important factor in optimising results is tracking daily macronutrients and calories from food. At first glance, this seems like a complicated process, but thanks to technological developments, we have apps that do this for us directly from our mobile. Personally, it takes me no more than 5 minutes a day to weigh and enter the food I eat into the app. I am of the opinion that any person can sacrifice 5 minutes of their day to know approximately how many calories and what ratio of macronutrients they consume daily.
By reaching your daily calorie target, anyone can optimise their results, consistency is the most powerful tool anyone can use.
One of the fastest options, which I have personally used for over 4 years, is the MyFitnessPal app. You can download it directly to your mobile phone, it is available in IOS/Android version.
I downloaded the MyfitnessPal app and created a test account, directly from my phone, to guide you step by step on its configuration, taking into account that this app is not available in Romanian.
Step 1: After downloading the app on your mobile, click the Sign Up button to start the sign up process
Step 2: We choose Maintain Weight , MyfitnessPal does some initial calculations that are not always efficient, that’s why we will initially configure the app for maintenance, but these settings will be “optimized” after our account has been created.
Step 3: Choose Not Very Active, same idea as Step 2, no matter the initial application configuration, it will be changed after account creation.
Step 4: Choose your gender, in our case it is Male, enter your birthday, location: Romania, and a zip code (you can enter any zip code).
Step 5: Enter the height (the calculator on this website automatically converts from cm to feet, so for our example we have a value of 5 ft 10 inches at 178 cm), enter the weight (can be chosen as u.m kg, so for our example we have 80 kg)
Step 6: Enter your email address, desired password, and username, these are required to create your account and to have your own. database within the application. You will receive an email for account verification. Check the box to continue.
Step 7: Choose if you want to receive email notifications, in this case, I do not want to receive additional emails.
Step 8: As you can see, we got a maintenance requirement of 2190 kcal, but this value does not count, we will change it in the next steps. Click the Start Tracking Now button
Step 9: After pressing the Start Tracking Now button, the app will ask you what was the last meal you ate? Select Breakfast, although it doesn’t matter, you can select anything, the goal is to get to the menu for setting up your macronutrient/calorie needs.
Step 10: Press the Back arrow to get to the Home menu
Step 11: Press the Menu button (the 3 lines at the top left)
Step 12: Select Goal from the main menu
Step 13: Select Calorie and Macronutrient Goals, to be able to change your daily calorie target as well as Macronutrients
Step 14: Change the daily calorie target according to your calculations, in our example, we change from 2190 to 2000 kcal
Step 15 + 16: Change the ratio of Pro, Carbo and Fat according to the macronutrients previously established. In the free version of the MyfitnessPal app we use, the macronutrient weight can be changed only by changing the percentages. Our example needs 175gr Protein i.e. 35% of daily calories to come from Protein, 200gr Carbohydrates i.e. 40% of daily calories to come from Carbohydrates, and 56 gr Fat i.e. 25% of daily calories to come from Fat. Press the save button (top right).
Step 17: We go back to the main menu and see how the values have changed according to the changes made, now we have a requirement of 2000 kcal.
We start adding the food we have eaten, weigh it using a kitchen scale and add it to the “log”. In the example above, we want to add food eaten for breakfast (click + Add Food under Breakfast).
Step 18: We use the “search” function (you must have internet access), in our case we search for the words “wholemeal bread”, and we find wholemeal bread produced by Velpitar. Next to the search part we see a BAR CODE, this is extremely useful, with this option you can scan the bar code on the food box using your mobile phone camera. The result is compared to a global database of millions of foods, so the chances are extraordinarily high that you will find the exact nutritional values of the food you scanned.
Step 19: Weigh using a kitchen scale the amount of Velpitar Wholemeal Bread we want to consume, in our case 50 grams, check the Serving Size, in our case it is 100 grams, so we enter 0.5 in the Number of Servings field, so we get 50 grams.
Step 20: In addition to Velpitar Wholemeal Bread 50 grams, I added 120 grams of boiled eggs, 3 egg whites, getting a total of 380 kcal for Breakfast.
As you can see, the app automatically subtracts the calories introduced at each meal, so our example can still consume 1620 kcal.
Continue adding all meals using the same principles: use the kitchen scale to scale each food, select one of the meals where it was eaten (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Snacks), search for it in the database or use the barcode scanning option.
At the end of the day, when you check the Nutrition section of the main menu, you need to stick to your personal macronutrient target.
3. Personal advice and observations
The most common worry is: Evil, this is no way to live! Do I have to weigh my food and enter it into this app for the rest of my life?
Over time, everyone gets used to it and creates their own cooking habits. I have been using this app for 4 years, almost 90% of the time, it takes me 5 minutes a day to enter, maybe another 5 minutes to weigh my food before I eat it. My opinion is that every person has an extra 10 minutes they can devote to this. The moment I go into my defining periods and want to optimize my fat burning process I use it 100% of the time, weigh and enter absolutely everything I consume.
My suggestion is to try using the app for 2 weeks, you will actually realize how much you are exceeding your macronutrient targets, thus stopping or slowing down your results yourself. If you don’t know approximately how much and what you consume daily, how can you expect to get the results you want in the shortest time? With time, it becomes a habit, you will be able to estimate the calories in a meal just by looking at it.
Think of macronutrient tracking as a flashlight to help guide you in the dark, without this flashlight, the chances of finding your way out are pretty slim.
A few tips I can offer after so many years of using the app:
- Meat and eggs should always be cooked/baked/broiled.
- Cereals, pasta, rice, beans, etc. should always be cooked. The nutritional values you have on the box of rice, for example, are per 100 grams of uncooked rice. By the time you boil them from those 100 gr can become 200 gr cooked, or 250 gr cooked if you let them absorb more water. For this reason anything that boils and absorbs water is weighed uncooked.
- The nutritional values on a box/bag are valid for the product in its packaged state. When boiling/cooking the weight may increase or decrease. A good example is frozen vegetables. If you take a bag of frozen broccoli that has 400 gr with a value of 30 kcal per 100 gr, it means that if you consume the whole bag you will get 4 x 30 = 120 kcal, even if from 400 gr of frozen broccoli only 200 gr remain after boiling.
- Check your macronutrient calorie needs after each meal so you know roughly how much more you can consume. As a rule, let dinner be your last meal, no snacking afterwards, if it is known that you can still consume 600 kcal with x, y , z gr of pro, carb, fat, you can cook dinner in such a way that you can successfully fill the rest of the macronutrients left on that day without skipping.
- DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE THE OIL used. You have no idea how 3 extra tablespoons of oil can mess up your daily fat requirements.
- DON’T FORGET TO WATCH YOUR FLUID INTAKE. Water and coffee contain no calories, but if you drink 500 ml of fizzy juice, you exceed your daily sugar requirement and can easily exceed your daily calorie needs. One rule I follow as often as possible is to save calories for solid food. Rather than drink 500 ml of juice that I know doesn’t give me vitamins or minerals, I’d rather eat fruit or save those calories for one of my next meals.
- The biggest impact on results is the types of food used. Always try to choose healthy sources, avoid processed foods even if they fall under macronutrients. If 90% of your macronutrients are taken from healthy, vitamin and mineral dense food sources, the remaining 10% can be used for when you need to eat out or are in an area where you only have fast food alternatives.
SOURCES and SPECIALIZED STUDIES: