What's all the fuss about macros, does counting them really work and do I need to do it to reach my fitness goals?
Before I start, I just want to let you know that counting macros isn't for everyone, some people feel restricted by it, some people who are recovering from an ED might also find it too stressful, so I'd only recommend you do this if you feel it aligns with your way of doing things. There are other ways to ensure you're eating the right food whilst still reaching your health & fitness goals!
Macros, short for macronutrients make up the calories in your food. These are comprised of protein, carbs and fats --> carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram.
Why is it so important to hit my protein macros each day?
When you're eating in a deficit (burning more calories than you're eating) it's important to feed the body with the right nutrients to preserve muscle
And what about fats and carbs?
Carbs are what give you the energy to workout, repair your muscles & metabolism and fats balance your hormones.
Your weight, height, activity level (i.e sedentary job, active job walking around most of the time), age, your goals (fat loss, maintenance, muscle gain), how much you workout a week (days/ hours per session) and you'll receive a certain amount of GRAMS per MACRO i.e 150grams of carbs, 60 grams of fat and 120 grams of protein with X calories as your goal for each day. Once you get these numbers, you're ready to get started!
Tracking your macros can be overwhelming in the beginning, so I've put together a little check-list & how-to for you to follow that should help!
1. Download MyFitnessPal on your phone, you can use the free version, or pay for the full version (I started out using the free one, then I needed to change my macros and I couldn't do it accurately with the free version).
*To set up your macros in MFP go to 'More > Goals > Calorie & Macronutrient goals > add them in there
2. Buy yourself a set of good quality digital scales! Weighing your food can be time consuming, and you definitely find quicker ways of doing it so be patient, you'll be pro in no time!
3. Before I focussed on hitting my macro goals, I tracked what I was eating for the first week just as I had been to see where I needed to make changes. I'd recommend doing this, even if you do it for 2-3 days to get an idea.
4. Weigh everything, have a note book in your kitchen, play with MFP. I always check my nutrients in MFP (Diary > Nutrition at bottom of page > Nutrients) ignore 'Macros' as this is a % that changes after each time you add something. When I do my meal prep I write it down as I go i.e for three meals I might do 300 grams of chicken which I will weigh raw, then cook it, then weigh it again and divide that by three into the three meals I'm having it with.
5. Save meals and recipes you use regularly, that way you can add them in quick + easy and know the amount of grams you should be adding of each thing when you make another batch.
6. Meal prep saves time + energy. I do this each weekend, I write my grocery list, buy my groceries, then get home and get prepping! It can be a big task but it ensures I'm hitting my macros and don't get stuck hungry and snack on something that throws them out. I'll do another post on meal prep cause this is already getting quite long!
7. I allow 5% over or under my macros as being ok! If i'm under I'll eat something to hit them i.e low on carbs by the end of the day, I'll have some rolled oats with berries and almond milk. You can also search which foods are the highest of the fats, carbs and proteins to see what you need to eat more or less of (Diary > Nutrients > Macros, scroll down).
When I started, I was on a super low cal macro diet because I wanted to blast the fat rapidly over a short period of time (I wouldn't recommend doing this for more than 3-4 weeks), I then upped the cals and macros to still be in a calorie deficit and burn fat which is where I'm at now. I'm also building muscle at the same time. I'm happy to share what my macros are, but I cannot stress enough that just because it works for me, doesn't mean it's the magic formula that works for everyone. Macros are VERY specific to each individual - every body responds differently to the calculations, everyone has a different lifestyle in terms of how active they are in their day jobs, how many hours they put in at the gym etc..
When I first started I was on 1450 cals, 118 grams protein, 59 grams fat, 111.8 grams carbs
Now I'm on 1600 cals, 113 grams protein, 56.5 grams fat, 160 grams carbs and I'm planning on going up again soon as I'm building my booty at the moment.
I'm going to do more thorough blog posts covering things like how exactly to use MFP, meal prep, recipes etc.. As long as you're enjoying what you eat, hitting your macros as closely as possible and I also suggest getting them re-done every 3-5 weeks depending on your goals (fat loss, muscle gain).
Happy counting! Feel free to ask any questions via email or Instagram DM me!