With summer basically here (yesss!), I’ve been dialing down my nutrition in a last ditch effort to shed a few pounds. Workouts are my jam, but so are chips and salsa! Nutrition is the hardest part of the game for me and since it’s KEY, it was time for me to start following my macros. What are macros and why should you count them? Keep on reading!
What are macros?
Macro is just short for macronutrient, which is basically where all your calories come from. Calories are a measure of energy and you need them to survive. The food you eat is made up of different macronutrients, which contain different numbers of calories.
Carbohydrates and proteins are 4 calories per gram and fat is 9 calories per gram. If you like to drink, alcohol is 7 calories per gram.
So let’s look at the breakdown of a pop-tart:
It has 5 grams of fat—> 5x 9 calories=45 calories of the pop tart come from fat.
it has 2 grams of protein–> 2×4 calories=8 calories come from protein
It has 38 grams of carbs–> 38×4 calories= 152 calories come from carbs
Total calories in one pop-tart= 200 calories
The macros on it will read–> 38c/5f/2p
What do you think, is a pop-tart a good breakfast choice? (please say no!) It’s not about how many calories are in your food, but what kind of calories are in your food. Ideally you want the bulk of your calories to come from proteins and the rest from a good ratio of carbs and fats. You honestly never want to rule out a category because all of them have significance. So if you come across a plan that wants you to eat 0 to little carbs, find a new plan.
Can you eat pop-tarts? Sure….as long as they fit YOUR macros. Treats are ok every now and then and I’ve found it helps keep me from bingeing. If I know I can have an oreo here and there, I’m less likely to eat the entire bag when it is my “cheat” day.
Here is a great graphic from jcdfitness.com to help with what is in each category—save it to your phone right now!
How do you determine your macros?
- There are several free websites out there to help you figure out your numbers. IIFYM.com is a good one and so is bodybuilding.com
- Once you have your macros, you need to start tracking them. This seems like a giant pain in the neck at first, but eventually it becomes like second nature. I love the premium version of MyFitnessPal because it let’s you input your macros, save recipes, break down all nutrients, and follow friends. The premium version is $50 a year, or you can use the free version as well.
Why should you count your macros?
- The biggest takeaway for me is being AWARE of what I am eating. If you are a parent, you understand how easy it is to eat bites, licks, and tastes all day long. Even just the leftovers from my son’s dinner could easily add 500 calories to my day! Or that Starbuck’s drink you get each morning? Yea….that adds up. The awareness of what I was eating, when I was eating it, and what is contains was eye opening.
- Accountability—-if I know I have to track it and SEE the impact on my numbers, I am less likely to eat that bag of chips late at night. It’s just a fact for me. I need that extra layer of accountability to keep me focused.
- I realized how little protein I was actually eating. In order to build muscle, you must eat protein! My new favorite drink is Protein Infused Water. It has 15g of protein and is delicious!!You can find it here on Amazon–>
TIP: focus on having protein at EVERY meal!
- Ever have a big meal and feel like crap afterwards? I’ve found that by tracking my macros, I’m more aware of how I feel after I eat. A few weeks ago I decided to save my carb macros for Papa John’s pizza with the kids. I honestly looked forward to it all day long! After I ate my two pieces, I really felt gross and bloated. It made me realize that some junk food just is not worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy chocolate and chips/salsa, but I’m more aware of how much I’m eating and how I will feel if I eat too much.
- Weight loss! I almost forgot to mention, if you follow your macros correctly….you will lose weight. 🙂
Ok, if you have read this far, I appreciate it! Hopefully this gives you a quick run down on what macros are and why they are important to follow. Let me know if you have any questions!