The Basics of Macros Tracking!

…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

This is what we are going for!

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 😉  

5 Steps to Finding Food Balance!

Wait. Is there such a thing as FOOD BALANCE?! YES!! Did you ever think to yourself, “I’d love to eat better, feel better, drop some pounds, improve my health, and not be miserable while I do it!?! There IS a way to find food balance!

I know I have, and still do!  Hello, pizza and beer!! The path to a healthy lifestyle is not linear, but rather, up-down-right-left-backward and upside freakin’ down sometimes. It takes patience, education, and most of all, TIME.

So how do you get started? Let’s start with FOOD. #Duh.

In order to find food balance, let’s talk about a lovely little tool we like to call the “Green, Yellow, and Red” lists! Here’s how to use it!

Each macronutrient (Carbohydrate, Fats, and Proteins) has its own list of foods to eat “MORE” of, eat “SOME” of, and eat “LESS” of. You can find more on Macronutrients here!

I’m sure you can guess, the “eat more list”, or the GREEN list, are the wholesome, minimally processed foods. Think of those that come from the earth or animals, in their most wholesome forms (i.e. chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and nuts). Remember, GREEN means GO!

The “eat some of”, or the YELLOW list, are a bit more processed, but still somewhat wholesome and will certainly help to fuel our bodies. (i.e. protein powder, rice or granola, and nut oils).

And you guessed it, the “eat less of” list, or the RED list, are those foods that aren’t the best for us overall, but are still ok in moderation. These could also include foods that just don’t agree with us and we may need to avoid altogether (ahem…#cabbagefarts) (i.e. fried chicken wings or hot dogs, french fries, or butter and processed cheese).

So how do we get started?!

Step 1–the Food Balance Lists!

  • Look at ALL the lists! Find the printer-friendly list here and the device friendly version here! Identify what foods you find tasty, are willing to try, and/or know how to prepare. If you are willing to try the foods but aren’t sure exactly what they are or how to prepare them, do some research! #pinterestisyourfriend 😉

Step 2–Plan a Balanced Week!

  • Make a plan! How can you incorporate each list into your daily life? Can you make recipes? Can you cook these foods for your family? I make a simple Word document, with ideas for the week, and start building from there! Think outside the box here and give it your best shot! Again, #pinterestisyourfriend

Remember—stick to those foods you like and don’t try to incorporate things just because you think they are “healthy”. If you already know you don’t like them (for me, mushrooms and cauliflower rice are OFF the table… #barf) there is no point trying to gag down foods that you just HATE. Nothing will make you say “to hellllll with this” faster than eating foods that you can’t stand, but that is “good” for you. Do your best to get rid of that “good, bad, ugly” food mindset and focus on FOOD BALANCE!

Step 3–Shop for the Goods!

  • Next step—go shopping!! Take that plan you made and put it into action. Maybe that means you are making your grocery list based on the meals and snacks you have planned for the week. Take a look at what you have already, then get out there and get what you need to set you up for success!

Step 4–Get Prepped!

  • Wash and Prep! Does your chicken need to be portioned out/frozen? Veggies need cut and washed? Do nuts need portioning? Prepping also takes away excuses for throwing in the towel during times of stress! After a long day, it’s much easier to face a meal with half the work that needs to be done!

Step 5–Stick to the plan!

Finally, be sure not to OVERPREPARE. Sometimes our ambitions to hit the ground running can result in all the prep going to waste. This can lead to feelings of defeat and frustration! #lessonlearned

You can always go BACK to the store! Take It Easy Sis…one day, one step at a time. Go back to Step 2—what’s your plan?? Now stick to it.

To Summarize…

Step 1: Look at all the LISTS!
Step 2: Make a PLAN!
Step 3: Go Shopping!
Step 4: Wash and Prep!
Step 5: Don’t OVERprepare!

Remember, the key to finding FOOD BALANCE is to rid your mind of the “Good, Bad, and Ugly” foods, in order to still enjoy a flexible lifestyle! This takes time, practice, and consistency!

Still feeling overwhelmed or in need of more support? Check out The Mother Lovin’ Struggle for Nutritional Coaching!