As a macro coach, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of counting macros, however, I am not an advocate for tracking macros forever (unless you really want to, of course). Macro tracking is not required for weight loss, however, macro awareness is a valuable tool that you can use to leverage your weight loss.
Macro awareness is having an understanding of what your foods are made up of. It’s being able to identify what foods contain protein, carbs, and fats. This knowledge and awareness will take you a long way.
All that being said, I fully understand and recognize that there are many people who want nothing to do with tracking macros. They just want to know what to do to eat healthy and lose weight. If that’s you, then this article is going to give you a ton of information on how to get started on your weight loss journey without ever tracking a single macro!
15 Ways To Eat Healthy, Lose Weight - All Without Tracking Macros
1. Define “Eat Healthy”
Traditional diet culture has taught us that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, right? We generally know what to avoid and what to gravitate towards when we’re trying to lose weight. But there’s a big problem with this mentality: it’s not sustainable. And when something is not sustainable it means that it might work for us for a while, but eventually, when we go back to eating regularly and including those “bad” foods, we’ll be right back to where we started.
Before you embark on this journey, take a moment to define what eating healthy means to you without including strict rules or eliminating entire food groups. Some examples include; prioritizing consuming enough protein in your diet, practicing an 80/20 approach to nutrition, focusing on enjoying all foods in moderation, etc.
Eating healthy means, in my definition, that you’re consuming foods that nourish and fuel your body while also enjoying foods that you love. It also means that you can practice moderation and are in tune with your body enough to know when you’re full.
2. Know your targets
No, you don’t have to track macros to lose weight, but having an understanding of what your body needs is going to really be beneficial as you work towards your weight loss goal. I highly recommend using an online calculator or hiring a macro coach to give you a one-time macro count so that you can your calorie and macro targets.
These numbers will help you navigate your food quantity choices and know what will be required of your body to lose weight. Depending on your starting weight, activity level, and various other factors, you might need to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight or you may need to eat 1500 calories per day to lose weight. While I know that the goal is not to track calories or macros, it’s still important to know what your targets are.
3. Set a meal frequency and timing schedule
When weight loss is the goal and you don’t want to have to meticulously track every bite of food, giving yourself at least a loose schedule for your meal timing and frequency can give some structure to your diet and can help eliminate one of the biggest culprits of a lack of results: BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes!).
When we approach our nutrition with a willy-nilly attitude, we can sometimes end up grazing all day instead of being intentional about our food choices. I like to build my schedule around what works best for me, my preferences, and my hunger levels.
There are so many ways to plan your meals, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some examples include eating 3 meals and 2 snacks, 3 meals and no snacks, 4 meals 1 snack, etc.
Take some time to determine when you feel hungry, how often you prefer to eat, and what works best for your schedule, and then give it a try!
4. Use the “build-your-plate” method
Once you determine how many meals & snacks you plan to eat per day, take a plate-building approach that’s balanced and macro-minded. What I mean by this is to divide your plate into sections that allow you to balance your meal with protein, carbs, and fats.
As a general rule of thumb, we should aim to get around 30g of carbs (pasta, rice, quinoa, potatoes, cereal, whole grain bread, etc.), 30g of protein (chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, eggs, lean deli meat, protein powder, etc.), and around 10g of fat (cheese, yogurt, butter, mayo, nut butter, oil, etc.)
5. Start with protein
Whether you’re tracking macros or building your plate, always start with your protein source. Protein is going to be key for weight loss. Protein keeps you full, supports your metabolism, helps you build lean tissue, and so much more.
When you’re building your plate, start by determining what your protein source will be and then finish the meal by adding your carbs, fats, and fiber. So many women struggle with hitting their protein goals, and this is one of my best tips for making it easier! Aim to get 30g of protein with every meal and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your target.
6. Focus on whole, natural foods first
Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by processed foods, and while I’m not against eating them, I do think there needs to be a focus on making sure the majority of our foods are whole (grown from the earth or walked the earth).
This is another situation where the 80/20 nutrition rule comes into play. I tell my clients to aim for around 80% of their foods coming from whole food sources with the remaining 20% being processed or “fun” foods.
7. Pre-plan your treats or “fun” foods
I’m of the opinion that all foods can fit into your diet when trying to lose weight, but you need to be intentional about quantity and frequency. Instead of white-knuckling a strict diet plan that eliminates all fun foods and treats, incorporate them into your daily or weekly nutrition plan.
For example, I almost always crave a sweet treat after dinner. Knowing this, I always plan ahead and pre-track one into my day. Even if you aren’t tracking macros, you can still have a plan to eat a treat, just know that you might need to make some allowances or adjustments in your day to fit it in. Most treats are carb and fat-heavy with little to no protein content, so make sure that your remaining meals and snacks prioritize protein so that you can ensure you’re still hitting your target.
8. Drink your water
I know drinking water isn’t necessarily an “eating healthy” tip, but it’s so critical to your diet and overall health that I can’t leave it out! So often we confuse hunger with thirst and end up eating more food than what our body needs, when you might have been able to drink some water and alleviate those cravings.
Plus, drinking water between meals helps you to stay feeling fuller so you’re not constantly tempted to walk into the pantry or open the refrigerator and graze. Set a water goal for yourself and make it a daily habit as it’s an integral part of a healthy diet and lifestyle that will ultimately help you lose weight and stay lean.
9. Turn off the snacking switch
How many of you feel like some days you’re just grazing all day long? That handful of goldfish we sneak when portioning out some for our toddle, those mini candy bars you grab every so often as you’re walking through the office…all these small, insignificant snacks throughout the day can actually add up big time and negatively impact your weight loss efforts.
When I’m in a dieting phase, I like to think about turning my snacking switch off. I have my set meal and snack times, and during those in-between times, I simply choose not to eat. This can be difficult to adjust to at first, especially if this is your first time really focusing it, but with some practice and time, you will get the hang of it.
10. Eat large, satiating meals
This tip might seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight, but hear me out. We often shoot ourselves in the foot by trying to eat as little as possible at meal times because by the end of the day, we’ll be ravenous and likely to go off the rails with nutrition. Eating in this fashion is also a main culprit for random snacking and grazing throughout the day.
When we utilize the build-your-plate method and ensure we’re consuming enough protein and a balanced of carbs and fats with every meal, we’re far more likely to feel fuller for longer, thereby reducing the occurrence and temptation of snacks which can lead to weight gain. Don’t be afraid of bigger meals!
11. Stop eating when you’re full
Yes, we want to eat large meals to keep us fuller for longer, but we also don’t want to stuff ourselves to the point of discomfort. Many of us are really out of tune with our hunger cues from years of overeating. We lose sight of the innate ability to listen to our hunger cues and know when we’re full.
One way to slow down and acknowledge your fullness is to eat at a slower pace. Instead of wolfing your food down the second it sits in front of you, practice intentionality by chewing and savoring each bite. Put your utensils down between bites and allow your body to guide you. Slow down, practice moderation, and watch as your weight loss efforts become easier.
12. Eat meals you love
We don’t need to eat boring “diet” foods to lose weight. Eating healthy doesn’t mean we’re eating bland, tasteless foods! If you enjoy pizza, pasta, and ice cream, make sure those foods are incorporated into your meal plan!
One of our key missions here at FHM is to help women just like you to eat healthy, but delicious and filling foods, while also losing weight and accomplishing your goals. We achieve this by taking your favorite dishes and putting a slightly healthier spin on them. We crank up the protein and make some easy swaps to ensure you’re getting to enjoy the foods you love all while seeing results.
13. Use recipes that have the macros and calories pre-calculated for you
While you don’t need to track macros to lose weight, it’s really helpful to know the macronutrient breakdown of the foods you’re eating so that you can be in the ballpark of where you need to be to lose weight and reach your goals.
All FHM recipes are pre-calculated for you and pre-logged into MyFitnessPal and MacrosFirst if you ever find the need to track on occasion.
14. Acknowledge the learning curve
Whether this is your first attempt to lose weight or you feel like you’ve tried it all, acknowledge that losing weight in a sustainable way that doesn’t involve tracking macros will require adjustments and a learning curve.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s really helpful to have a basic understanding of macros and what your foods are made up of prior to trying to lose weight. It’s also important to know what your calorie and macro goals should be so that you have a reference point. If this is all brand new to you, that’s ok! It’s going to take some time, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
15. Be in it for the long term
Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy body weight should be a life-long pursuit that shouldn’t be pushed into the box of a “30-day shred” or “21-day fix.” The truth is, that losing weight and building healthy eating habits are the product of time spent doing it repeatedly for years, not days, weeks, or even months.
My number one goal is to help people learn how to eat in a way that’s both sustainable and enjoyable and that the habits and skills they learn will stick with them so that they’re not coming back to me a year later in the same scenario.
If you want to eat healthy, lose weight, and be able to maintain your results, please know that it will be an investment of your time and you should not expect to see quick results, especially if you’re already relatively lean or have a history of dieting.
How We Can Help
I hope these tips will help you get started on a healthy eating journey that allows you to lose weight without the need for tracking every calorie or macro. While there’s nothing wrong with macro tracking, I do understand that it’s not for everyone.
With some time, patience, and commitment to the process, those who want to lose weight without tracking macros can be very successful!
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to make sure you have access to meals and snacks that are macro-balanced, healthy, and easy to make - which is exactly what you’ll get from our Macro Recipe Membership! We have dozens of ladies inside who don’t track macros but simply appreciate our healthier spin on classic favorites that prioritize protein while keeping it simple.
Learn more about our recipes, meal plans, workouts, and community below. We can’t wait to see you inside!