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Recently, we wrote about an intriguing dieting process that allows its user base to reach their fitness goals with a flexible plan. Easily enough, the process is called flexible dieting, and we particularly focused on IIFYM (if it fits your macros). The idea behind this diet is to allow users a flexible approach in losing weight or tacking on muscle by providing a freer choice of calories to consume. By counting your macros, a combination of calories, proteins, and carbs, you should be able to effectively and efficiently reach your goals. In the last article, we described the process and its potential benefits should you have found interest in the diet plan. Today, we’ll take a look at the process of counting macros, what it means, and some aids with which to properly track your counts.
In order to track your macros, you’ll need a few things. One of the best sources to begin your flexible dieting journey is to start at the IIFYM website (www.iifym.com). There, you can freely calculate your macros based on a small set of data. They’ll ask you about your current physical states – like weight, height, age, and goal weight – as well as your exercise habits, job environment, and type of macros you’ll need. I signed up for a fairly standard weight loss set of macros and plan, and the process is easy (you’ll just need to drop an e-mail address to view them). Once you have your count in hand, IIFYM suggests signing up for Under Armor’s myfitnesspal account (it’s free, and I tried it myself). My macros from IIFYM and nutritional goals from myfitnesspal varied slightly (which could be a result of slightly different questions and goal setting). By combining IIFYM with myfitnesspal, you’ll be able to use a thorough and free system in order to track your exercises and activities, as well as count your macros. If you’re like me and prefer the free route (and don’t mind signing up an e-mail), this route offers all you need for free.
At myfitnesspal, you can track every food you consume, and the site will break it down into each specific macro category. For example, this morning I ate a real healthy Entemann’s Little Bites Blueberry Muffins pack before rushing out of my house to work. The breakdown went like this: 190 calories, 26g of carbs, 8g of fat, 2g of protein, 200mg of sodium, and 15g of sugar. I was able to add that to my breakfast bar with ease, and the best part is that it shows the total you’ve consumed to that point, your overall daily goal, and the remaining macro count to reach your goal. Each category – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks – are available for your daily usage to add your food consumption. For me, the best part is the extensive library of foods and drinks available for you to easily find what you consumed. I even tested it out to see if it recognized some rare allocated beers to see if it had them in its database – and it did. Tracking via mytfinesspal is my preferred method.
Now, if you’re cooking home made food, myfitnesspal obviously can’t freely calculate your meal. In order to accurately track that, IIFYM suggests the purchase of a digital kitchen scale, which range from approximately fifteen dollars or more. Once you’ve weighed your food in grams, you can then enter it into your calculator to reflect your meal. But what do you do if you’re on the go? What if you and the significant other eat out or visit friends and/or family during a holiday? You’re probably not planning on carrying a diet notebook with you (all the more power to you if you do, though), so a mobile means of calculating your macros is all the more necessary. Fortunately for all of us, the app stores at both Apple and Google Play offer a number of highly rated macro tracking apps.
The first app I’ll spotlight is the mobile version of myfitnesspal. It’s a free macro counter that you can link with your online account in order to seamlessly transfer data back and forth. If you’re like me and are always on the go or rarely near a computer during the work day (or can’t use your work computer for personal needs), this companion app won’t let you down. Myfitnesspal contains a restaurant logger that allows you to request menu information and stats from restaurants near you, as well as provide you with your macro information on the menus it already has. Now, myfitnesspal does have a premium option available if you’re a data hound and really want all the information you can find. For $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year, myfitnesspal offers a nutrient dashboard, food analysis, file export, calorie goals by meal, goals by day, exercise settings, meal levels for macros, a quick track option, unlimited access to your reports, priority customer support, no ads, and exclusive articles and tips. With all that said, the premium option is, of course, just an option and not necessary to effectively track your macronutrients.
Of course, there are other means to counting your macros outside of myfitnesspal. MacroTrak is a free app that counts your macros and calories on a daily basis. If don’t want to disseminate some of your personal information to IIFYM or UnderArmor, MacroTrak doesn’t store your personal information. With MacroTrak, you’re able to fill out similar questions as IIFYM while tracking your counts in a similar, albeit less pretty, fashion. The overall experience isn’t nearly as extensive as the first two, but the developer continues to update the app, and it has a 4.6 rating with over 350 reviews on App Store. This one is also enhanced for iPads. I’d also be remiss, however, if I neglected to share information on My Macros+ | Diet & Calories app. It’s a $2.99 purchase, but it offers pretty much the same, extensive amount of information and foods/drinks that myfitnesspal does – for significantly cheaper than the premium. Of course, you’ll miss out on the tips and articles and some of the features from myfitnesspal, but you’re gaining a hefty majority for a one time, three dollar purchase. The best part of this one, at least in my opinion, is that it comes with a barcode scanner should a food or product you want or consume not be on its readily available list of over 5,000,000 items.
There are, of course, plenty more calculators and apps available to aid you on your flexible dieting adventure, so be sure to find the one that’s right for you. I’ll be testing out myfitnesspal for a while to see if I can obtain my goal by the time I set and will update accordingly. IIFYM’s are easy to get lost in, so be sure to prepare yourself for the adventure in order to maximize your results.