I have said for years I am not a fan of diets and do not advocate counting calories. Neither of these are good for me. I get obsessed with the whole calorie thing and if I am told that I am on a diet I immediately obsess about food and want to “cheat”. That’s why I have always advocated a healthy lifestyle gained by eating whole foods, meaning the majority of the foods should have a mother or be in the closest state to natural as possible.
Of course, this isn’t always realistic, but as long as it is in the 80/20 range I feel that’s a good day! Recently, though, I have been all over the board and do not feel as if I have been getting the right amount of the right foods or nutrients at the right time. So, as usual, I use myself as a guinea pig and decide to give the whole macro counting thing a try. I have been asked about this from clients and since I have never really focused on counting macros could not give any advice or perspective.
I have been doing this for two weeks now, tracking with the My Fitness Pal App, and it is getting easier and I feel as if I am really learning more about my foods and my own needs to feel my best.
So, if you are wondering what I am talking about or what the benefits are, here you go . . .
Macro is short for macronutrient, of which there are three: protein, carbohydrates and fats. All foods are divided up into a combination of these macros, and that’s how the calorie content is made up. To track macros means tracking the number of grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats consumed during the day.
I am one of those persons who seems to always fluctuate anywhere from 2-5 pounds on the scale. I’m not saying that in a whiny way because I know in the grand scheme of life that’s not much and should not cause me to worry. I am not stressed about it – it is what it is – but when you are not very tall and your weight goes straight to your middle AND you have reached the 50 year mark, even those 2 pounds can be a little nagging. So, in order to pay better attention to what I am eating, what I am not eating, and how much of the right nutrients I am eating, I am tracking my macros.
This is how Heidi Powell explains it:
Tracking macros basically means consuming a balanced and appropriate ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats every day. An easy ratio to follow is 40% of your calories coming from carbs, 30% of your calories coming from protein, and 30% of your calories coming from fat. To break it down even further, if you need 1500 calories per day, your TOTAL macro intake for the day will be 150g carbs, 113g protein, and 50g fat. But before you start plugging in those numbers, everyone’s breakdown looks a little different according to your needs and goals. We will get there…hang with me.
It’s like working within a budget. How will you “spend” your macros? To give you an example, I love oatmeal for breakfast! Well, I really love gluten-free lemon cake for breakfast, but let’s use oatmeal (my 2nd fave) as the example. Alright…oatmeal alone is mostly just carbs, so I may add some berries (more carbs), some coconut oil for fat, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder. It’s quick, easy, and delish! This meal comes out to be a total of 29g carbs, 14g fat, and 29g protein. That meal gets deducted from my total for the day, and now I have 121g carbs left, 36g fat left, and 84g protein left!
What I am interested in with this method and am seeing is that tracking macros ensures that I am getting the right kind of calories that will go to the right places in my body. I do not want to fill up on calories, good or bad, that will give me unwanted body fat. I am going to stay off the scale and focus on what nutrients I am giving my body and how I feel.
This is NOT a restrictive way of eating. Treats are allowed – or it wouldn’t be worth doing! The treats simply fit within the macros for the day. I am still a work in progress with this and am finding that the more practice I have the better I am becoming.
If you are interested in taking a look at what your personal macro breakdown would be, simply put your information and goals into a macro calculator