…and what you need to know to get started!
What are Macros?
First, you may be thinking…What the HELL are Macros?!
Or you may have heard the term Macros, Macronutrient, or Flexible Dieting, “IIFYM” or “If It Fits Into Your Macros”.
Macros, as we will refer to them, are present in basically everything we eat and drink. These are Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates.
Each and every one of us has a magical macro breakdown that, followed consistently, can help us to lose, gain, or maintain weight! These numbers are very simple to determine and are based on your current age, sex, weight, activity level, and goals. These numbers can change as your weight and goals change! More on how to find YOUR numbers in a bit…
What do I EAT??
Now—here’s where the key to progress is: The foods that you “fill” those macros which are totally up to you. HOWEVER, the more nutrient-dense, wholesome foods you eat, the MORE you can eat. Filling your macros with highly processed and sugary foods can leave you very hungry and sluggish, very quickly.
Let me give you an example. Say you have 20 grams of carbs, 15 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein left for the day. You could fill these with an egg/egg white sandwich on whole-grain toast, with some cheese (Mmmmmm). Or you could fill this with a glazed donut (Mmmmmm), exceeding your carb amount, meeting your fat, and not even coming close to your protein. You’d also be adding about 13 grams of sugar.
But What About Goodies??
Now that doesn’t mean that there is no room for glazed donuts in this life because…THERE IS! However, meeting our numbers as consistently as possible is the key to success! You’ve got to decide that 80/20 balance! More on that here!
This diet is FLEXIBLE #hencethename
However, the more consistently you can stick to those wholesome, minimally processed foods, the sooner you will be where you want to be! While no foods should be off-limits here, do your best to stop thinking of good/bad, healthy/unhealthy foods and find BALANCE instead. This relationship with food is NOT something that will happen overnight.
Also, because it allows you to eat literally anything you are craving as long as it is done within the parameters of your daily macro allotment, it alleviates the “binge day” or “cheat day” that is so often found on other diets.
Often, people can go a bit overboard during a “cheat” day, which can end up really screwing our progress, not to mention feeling pretty bad physically. While we think we are in a caloric deficit, we are offsetting it by binging on those cheats, putting us into more of a maintenance phase, when that’s not our goal! #nobueno
How Do I TRACK??
So how do we track all of this stuff? My Fitness Pal has just about every food under the sun entered into it. All you have to do is enter the food and portion you’ve eaten under the correct meal/snack for that day. I highly recommend a food scale for accuracy eventually, but getting started without one is totally doable. Some other great apps are Macrostax (paid app) and Macros +. These all do just about the same thing.
The key to success is PLANNING! Pre-enter your food the day before, so all you have to do is eat it. This takes the guesswork out of your day, and you’re not stuck staring into the abyss of our cupboards and fridge, wondering what to do. Will a little planning, prepping, and organization, all of this pain-the-ass work WILL be worth it in the end!
Remember, we are trying to meet our macros nutrients and caloric intake by eating clean, healthy foods, but by still allowing for our favorites, as long as it “fits” into our day!
Educate yourself on the best foods to fuel your body, plan your day to include awesome, heart-healthy, muscle-building goodies, and you should usually have room for that bowl of ice cream, a snack here and there, and lots of other things that make you feel like a human!
Remember, check out more info on Finding Food Balance if you need some help to get started and making choices in the right direction!
Pinterest has some awesome ideas on macros calculating, or IIFYM. You can also check out my Pinterest Boards to get started!
Obviously, the more consistent you are with tracking, and the more you track everything you eat and drink, the close you will get to your goals. I also want to point out, that unless you are an athlete or have a very time-specific goal, I would not recommend tracking long-term. The key is to get used to tracking to give you an idea of what’s going into your body. Then move to other methods, such as eye-balling or using a hand measurement system!
Take your time, remember progress, not perfection, and DO. YOUR. BEST. You’ll quickly learn just how much nutrients are in your food (or isn’t in your food…)! It’s a real eye opener!
So, here are the basics of macros and macros tracking! Ready for your next step? Click here for your FREE Macros breakdown, as well as other choices for additional support and extra accountability! We all need it through this Mother Lovin’ Struggle 😉