Like most people, you’ve probably heard of macronutrient, if it fits your macros (IIFYM), flexible dieting, and everything related to the topic. You’re also likely familiar with the approach’s effectiveness, versatility, and practicality.
But, like many, you’re probably wondering:
“Using a kitchen scale and an app to track my macros feels a bit obsessive for my taste. Isn’t there an easier way to achieve the same effect?”
Let’s see. But first, a disclaimer:
The Importance of Accuracy
Accuracy with your nutritional approach is vital for reaching your goals quickly and with less effort. Even minor inaccuracies can result in progress that slows down or stalls. For example, you might think that you’re consuming 2,000 calories for weight loss but are eating around 2,300 per day instead. An extra 300 calories might not seem like much, but that is enough to erase most of your calorie deficit and prevent you from losing weight.
Using an app and kitchen scale might seem obsessive for some, but it ensures greater accuracy. You can still leverage macronutrient-tracking and reach your goals without these tools but understand that your accuracy likely won’t be the same unless you have years of experience with the practice.
How to Track Your Calorie Macros Without a Scale or an App
1. Write Foods Down in a Notebook
Not writing down foods is what everyone wants. But, if you’re going to calculating macros with any degree of accuracy, you need a log of your food intakes. Doing so is crucial because it’s impossible to remember everything you eat in a day (including snacks), and most people end up underestimating their calorie intake. This is one reason why many people say, “I barely eat anything, but I can’t lose weight!”
Using a small notebook or log is a good option because you can write down things on the go and do some basic calculations with your phone.
2. Eyeball Foods (And Use Your Best Judgment)
Aside from writing down what you eat, you also have to eyeball food quantities and use your best judgment. Doing so will be easier for packaged foods because they come with some basic information. For example, if one serving is a third of the package, you can eyeball your calories and macronutrients more accurately.
Fruits and veggies are also relatively simple to track once you get used to them. For example, a small banana will almost always have 70 to 90 calories. Similarly, the average apple will have 80 calories.
In contrast, cooked foods will be more challenging to track, so it would be better to eat less initially, see how your body responds, and gradually increase your meal prep sizes.
3. Track Only Protein and Calories
The third important tip for macro tracking without a scale or app is to focus on protein and calories. These are your most important metrics, and you don’t have to overwhelm yourself by tracking fats and carbs, too.
So long as you cover these two and eat a moderately-balanced diet, your carb and fat intake will sort themselves out naturally.
Calculating macros is the single most effective way to manipulate your weight, improve your body composition, and reach your goals. But, doing so in the traditional manner might not always be sustainable, which is why a more laid-back approach can be a good alternative.