Calories. Carbohydrates. Proteins. Fats.
Let’s talk about how this is just one aspect of nutrition and recognition of how foods nourish our body’s is just as important as the number of calories or energy you eat.
Counting macros and tracking calories absolutely has helped quite a few of the athletes I have worked with in understanding serving size versus portion size and identifying potential gaps and areas to improve in when it comes to meeting their goals. But often the recommendations for calories and macros calculated by these apps are way off base when it comes to an individual athlete’s needs. There is such variance in an athlete’s nutrition needs that these apps cannot effectively capture all the variables that contribute to estimating an athlete’s actual RMR; in addition to the energy needs to support training and competition. This is where working with a dietitian or using Critical Reload’s Calculator can help you capture and guide you through what those nutrition needs look like and how those can vary throughout the year, month-to-month, and even day-to-day based on your training and competition schedule as well as your goals.
However, What I have found is that most of us (and most of my athletes) find this tedious and time consuming, and totally doesn’t jive with their learning style and helping them create better habits. There are other ways to ensure adequate nutrition needs are being met without having to track.
Tracking can become obsessive and often lead to us overthinking or ignoring what our body actually needs. Food is much more than the calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats they contain.
We could be hitting all these numbers and still be malnourished. It begs the question, what are these apps missing?
In 3 Ways to Get More Vegetables Into Your Diet (which outlines some awesome ways to up your intake of nutrient dense foods) we compared sport performance to an award-winning feature film. To orchestra such a feature requires more than just the “main” stars – calories and macronutrients. A solid script, production team, and director are key roles – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and zoochemicals – that give direction and that spark for that award-worthy performance.
To choose foods solely on calorie or if they are low-carb without thinking about the other nutrients it contains – we would be missing out on some of the best food choices to support performance and recovery (and don’t forget mentally and socially)!