The Non-Macro Way: How to Track Your Food Intake Without Obsessing Over Macros

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Nutrition

You’re ready to shed the pounds,  

Get rid of stubborn belly fat,  

And get lean and toned like you were way back when… 

But then you remember… 

That means you have to track 😱

And you are NOT mentally in a place to start tracking macros! 

So does that mean your hopes of losing weight are gone? 

To some coaches, yes.  

On the Complete Performance Team, we strive to meet you where you’re at.  

But there’s one harsh reality we need to clear up… 

If you’re serious about losing weight and stubborn body fat, you NEED to track your weight and what you eat at the same time.  

That’s the only way to ensure you stay in a calorie deficit (the #1 thing you need to lose fat).  

Let’s dive into the different ways you can track WITHOUT tracking macros.  


Food Journaling 

Tracking your food intake in a food journal can be a valuable tool for increasing awareness of your eating habits, identifying patterns, and making informed choices about your nutrition. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively track your food in a food journal:


Choose Your Format: 

Decide whether you prefer a physical notebook, a digital app, or a spreadsheet to keep your food journal. Choose a format that works best for you and that you’re more likely to consistently use.



Be diligent about recording everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Include meals, snacks, beverages, and any condiments or toppings. Don’t forget to jot down portion sizes and quantity as well! It’s important you’re as specific as possible, so include the type of food (e.g., apple, chicken breast), how it was prepared (e.g., grilled, steamed), and any added ingredients (e.g., olive oil, spices).


Be Honest: 

Don’t omit or underestimate the amount of food you eat. It’s important to be honest with yourself in your food journal to get an accurate picture of your eating habits.


Review & Reflect: 

Take time to review your food journal regularly. Look for patterns or trends in your eating habits, such as certain times of day when you tend to snack more or specific triggers for emotional eating. Use this information to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle.  Don’t forget to include feelings and observations! Use your food journal to note how you feel before, during, and after eating. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, energy levels, mood, and any physical symptoms or reactions to certain foods.


Remember, the goal of tracking your food in a journal is not to judge or criticize yourself but to increase awareness and make informed choices about your nutrition. Use your food journal as a tool for self-discovery and empowerment on your journey toward better health and well-being.


Portion Size 

Using portion sizes to track your food intake is a practical and intuitive approach to managing your nutrition without the need for detailed calorie or macro counting. Here’s how you can effectively use portion sizes to track your food intake:


Learn Portion Sizes: 

Familiarize yourself with standard portion sizes for different food groups. You can use general guidelines such as the palm of your hand, your fist, or common household items like a deck of cards or a tennis ball to estimate portion sizes.  Be aware that portion sizes can vary widely, especially when eating out or consuming packaged foods. Use your best judgment to estimate portion sizes based on the guidelines you’ve learned.


Pay Attention to Hunger and Fullness: 

Use portion sizes as a guide, but also listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eat until you’re satisfied, not overly full, and stop when you no longer feel hungry.


Keep a Food Journal: 

Yes, back to this one again 😉

Record your food intake in a food journal, noting portion sizes along with any other relevant details such as meal times, locations, and feelings or observations about your eating habits.


Adjust As Necessary: 

Pay attention to how your body responds to different portion sizes and adjust as needed. If you find yourself constantly hungry or unsatisfied, you may need to increase your portions slightly, whereas if you’re feeling overly full or sluggish, you may need to decrease your portions.


Be Patient: 

Remember that tracking portion sizes is a skill that takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself and be flexible in your approach as you learn what works best for your body and your lifestyle.


By using portion sizes as a guide for tracking your food intake, you can develop a balanced and sustainable approach to managing your nutrition without the need for strict calorie or macro counting. Focus on making nourishing choices that support your health and well-being, and trust your body’s signals to guide your eating habits.


Handful Method

The Handful Method is a simple and intuitive approach to managing portion sizes and controlling calorie intake without the need for meticulous calorie counting or macro tracking. Here’s how you can use the Handful Method to track food and support weight loss:


Understand the Concept: 

The Handful Method involves using your hand as a guide to estimate portion sizes for different food groups. Each part of your hand represents a different food group, making it easy to visualize and measure your portions.


Handful Guidelines:

  • Protein: Your palm represents the portion size for protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, tofu, or lean meat. Aim for a portion size that is about the size and thickness of your palm.
  • Use your fist to estimate the portion size for vegetables. Fill your plate or bowl with vegetables until it’s roughly the size of your closed fist for crunchy veggies and 2 fists for leafy greens.
  • Your cupped hand represents the portion size for starchy carbohydrates like rice, pasta, or potatoes. Aim for a portion size that fits within the space of your cupped hand.
  • Your thumb represents the portion size for healthy fats like oils, nuts, seeds, or avocado. Limit your portion size to about the length and thickness of your thumb.


Put to Use When Building Meals:

When preparing meals, use your hand as a reference to portion out each food group. For example, if you’re making a stir-fry, measure out a palm-sized portion of chicken, fill half your plate with fist-sized portions of vegetables, and include a cupped-hand portion of rice.  When dining out or eating pre-packaged meals, use your hand to estimate portion sizes based on visual cues. For example, a serving of protein should be roughly the size of your palm, and a side of vegetables should fill about half your plate.


Keep a Food Journal: 

It’s a theme 😉 Record your meals and portion sizes in a food journal to track your progress and stay accountable. Note any deviations from the Handful Method and reflect on how they may have impacted your hunger levels and overall satisfaction with your meals.


Be Consistent & Patient: 

Another theme 😉 Consistency is key when using the Handful Method to track food and lose weight. Stick to the portion size guidelines and be patient with your progress. Weight loss takes time, and small, sustainable changes can lead to long-term success.


By using the Handful Method to track food and portion sizes, you can develop a balanced approach to eating that supports weight loss while still enjoying a variety of foods. Focus on making nourishing choices that align with your goals and listen to your body’s signals to guide your eating habits.


Calorie Counting 

Tracking calories is a common method for managing weight loss as it involves monitoring the number of calories consumed and expended to create a calorie deficit. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to track calories to lose weight effectively:


Set a Realistic Calorie Goal: 

Let me start by saying this should be done with the guidance of a coach, health professional or registered dietician.  


To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you expend.  Aim for a modest deficit of 500 to 750 calories per day, which typically results in a safe and sustainable weight loss of about 1 to 1.5 pounds per week.  Avoid extreme calorie restrictions, as they can be unsustainable and may lead to nutrient deficiencies or metabolic slowdown.


Choose a Calorie Tracking Method: 

Use a food tracking app or website to log your daily food intake and track the calories consumed.  Alternatively, you can keep a handwritten food journal and use food labels or online resources to calculate the calorie content of each food item.



Be diligent about recording every meal, snack, and beverage you consume throughout the day, including portion sizes.  Use measuring cups, spoons, or a food scale to accurately measure serving sizes, especially for calorie-dense foods like nuts, oils, and grains.


Monitor Your Progress: 

Regularly track your weight and measurements to monitor your progress over time.  Adjust your calorie intake as needed based on your weight loss results and any changes in your activity level or metabolism.


Stay Consistent: 

Consistency is key to successful calorie tracking and weight loss. Make it a habit to log your food intake every day.  Be flexible and allow for occasional treats or deviations from your calorie goal, as long as they fit into your overall daily and weekly calorie budget. 

By diligently tracking your calorie intake and creating a sustainable calorie deficit, you can effectively lose weight and achieve your health and fitness goals. Remember to focus on making healthy, balanced choices and be patient with your progress.


If you’re serious about shedding the pounds and dropping the stubborn body fat, but don’t want to track macros, you aren’t alone! 

CLICK HERE to grab this FREE guide to get started with the Handful Method for Tracking!

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