Despite Greg Glassman’s famous statement about diet in the CrossFit Journal back in 2002, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat,” the whole institution known as CrossFit does not advocate a specific type of diet. For a while there was a lot of talk about The Paleo Diet and The Zone Diet, and these days, the buzzword you often hear is macros.
In short, the purpose of counting macros is to use math to determine, based on your weight and activity level, how many macronutrients your body needs to function well. This requires being honest about how much you actually get to the gym in a week, what you want your goal weight to be, and how willing you are to pay attention to what you eat. The term “macronutrients” refers to the three main ways your body uses food to create energy: with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. There are a lot of macro calculators online, and strangely, they often compute wildly different numbers. When I was initially shopping around for information on how to get started, I found that my numbers from Eat to Perform were very high, while my numbers from Own Your Eating were very low. Whichever route you choose to pursue, the next step is to download a nutrition app (My Fitness Pal is popular; Better Human is a new one) to measure and count the number of grams of protein, carbs, and fats you eat in a given day.
I’ve stuck with this style of living for a few reasons. First, I like that there are a thousand ways on any given day to negotiate your meals to make your numbers fit. Second, I love to food prep, plan, and find new recipes, and third, I don’t have to give up donuts. Tracking your macros doesn’t necessarily ask you to give up what you normally eat, it is just requires you to change how much you eat.
All in all, counting your macros is just one way that you might make a life change for the better. I have heard many people rave about their success stories while others say it doesn’t work for them or feels unmanageable. Certainly there are many ways to do a thing well, and counting macros in your diet is just one of them. It all depends on how it makes you feel, and if it is a manageable process for your lifestyle.