So this is quite a controversial topic and one that is being talked about a lot at the minute in the health and fitness industry so I thought it would be good to share my opinion on it. Remember this is just my opinion... there is no right or wrong so please do not take my opinion as fact!
So, on the one hand you have the 'macro-trackers' who input everything they eat into a calorie counter such as My Fitness Pal in order to know exactly what foods they are eating and to understand the ratio of protein/fat/carbs they are consuming. And on the other hand you have the 'intuitive eaters' who don't count calories or macros but just eat healthy, natural foods most of the time and enjoy the odd treat here and there whenever they fancy it.
So how are we supposed to know which one to follow?
The pros of tracking your macros is that you can fit the foods you enjoy to eat into your daily calories and macro goals (IIFYM - 'if it fits your macros' or flexible dieting). How? Well, say you fancy eating a burger and chips for dinner one day, all you have to do is work out how many calories will be in the burger and chips and then adjust your diet for the rest of the day to allow for it. For example, if you normally eat 2000 calories a day and you know your burger and chips is going to be 1000 calories then you know you have 1000 calories left over to eat real, wholesome food (and probably lots of veggies). In a less extreme example, say you fancy treating yourself to a bar of Cadburys milk chocolate after dinner, then all you have to do is have about 200 less calories in the day (probably from your normal carbs as milk chocolate is mainly sugar) and you won't go over your calorie or macro goals for the day. As you can see, this way of eating is great for allowing flexibility in the diet but it can very quickly become tedious having to input everything you eat into the computer. It also makes it difficult to go out and enjoy yourself if you don't know exactly what's in your food (see photo above - imagine not being able to indulge in healthy snacks at a healthy afternoon tea by Teresa Cutter!!). In my opinion, this way of eating also encourages obsessive behaviours over food, especially if you are someone who likes to work with numbers.
Then we have intuitive eating. The pros of this is pretty obvious - there are no strict rules so it allows you to be a lot more relaxed around food. The general idea is to cook from scratch, eat a portion of protein, veggies and carbs and/or fats with every meal and listen to your body - if you're genuinely hungry (and not just bored)... eat! And then on the occasions when you fancy a treat or just want to indulge a little then you can go for it because you eat well the majority of the time - one unhealthy meal won't make you unhealthy just like one healthy meal won't make you healthy! At first glance this seems like the obvious way to eat because why bother going to the effort of tracking all your calories and macros when you can just eat intuitively? Well, as a generalisation, tracking your calories and macros TENDS to produce better results in terms of weight loss/muscle gain because you are being stricter with what you are eating.
Taking all of this into account, I am going to share with you my opinion on the matter. In short, I think whether you should track macros or eat intuitively completely depends on your goal. If you are training for a specific competition such as body building or fitness modelling, then tracking your macros will probably be the better option because you are more likely to see the best results. But for the majority of people who just want to feel good and look good naked then eating intuitively is all you need to do - I don't think most people need to be as extreme as tracking macros. Speaking from experience, I also think that tracking macros is dangerous for mental health - it is so easy to become obsessed with the numbers and you can easily lose sight of the fact that life is to be lived and enjoyed! However, I do also think that knowing roughly how many calories are in certain foods is a good thing so you can ROUGHLY track what you are eating in the sense that you know you are not eating too much for your activity level.
So there's definitely a fine line between the two. What are your thoughts on this? I would love to know!! Comment below :)