In a world where the term ‘diet’ is synonymous with cutting out entire food groups, the concept of macro counting feels like a breath of fresh air. Also known as IIFYM (if it fits your macros), the way of eating encourages you to eat whatever your heart desires (including ice cream, chocolate and nachos) — so long as the amount fits into your designated macronutrients. Read: the exact amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat you need to reach your body composition goals, whether that’s losing fat, gaining muscle or both.
Sounds amazing, right? So what’s the downside? Well, you need to be accurate with the amounts you’re eating — like ‘carry food scales around in your handbag to weigh your food’ level accurate. This tactic is also used by some people who count calories to lose weight. As most food tracking apps list the calorie content of food based on their weight, this makes it easier to keep on top of your portion sizes.
Food weighing is a popular strategy amongst bodybuilders and fitness models, who are constantly tweaking their diets to improve their body composition. It poses the question: does the average person need to weigh their food to lose weight, or is it okay to just ‘eyeball’ your portions? Women’s Health consulted registered dietitian Justine Roth, director of the nutrition department at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Here’s what she had to say.
If you’re a bodybuilder and you need your calories to be exact, a scale might be helpful to have more accuracy. If someone feels like [using a scale] is a way to have an accurate sense of what they’re eating, and they’re in a healthy mindset, then I’m not against it. I think there’s a very small number of people who can do this without becoming obsessive. There’s this idea that losing weight is a perfect science and really, it’s not. In reality, you can get there without being obsessive. When you’re filling your body with natural, good foods, you’ll lose weight. If you eat a lot of processed foods and huge portions, you’ll gain.