Why do our Strive Fitness and Performance clients count macronutrients?
Why should you?
With any nutrition or diet goal, calories are king, they are the cornerstone of losing weight and gaining weight. The other measurement to consider is where those calories come from. The quality of food that makes up the calories determines what weight is lost.
Filling your daily calories by eating fast food and ice cream is not equal to filling up on whole, unprocessed foods like grass-fed meats and veggies. If you have performance or body composition goals, you will benefit from breaking your calories into macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats).
We do not expect our clients to always need a food scale or the myfitnesspal app. That is not the point of tracking what you eat. The goal is to put the control of nutrition/dieting back into the hands of our clients.
So many people depend on programs and meal plans that when they move off of them, they are lost and gain the weight they lost back.
Knowing how many calories you are consuming can be valuable info to know for sure if you’re fueling your lifestyle or workouts properly. And taking that a step further, wouldn’t you want to know how lose weight while still fitting in time with friends, family and pizza!!!
Tracking your macros may seem hectic and chaotic at first, but the benefits far exceed the small learning curve.
Here are my favorite benefits of macronutrient counting:
BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU ARE EATING
Tracking your macronutrients is the only way to know exactly what’s going into your body and it can be seriously empowering! You will be surprised if you are mindlessly eating your snacks. What foods cause you to feel bloated? What foods give you the most energy for your workout? Tracking macros also educates you on what foods are high in fat and which foods are high in protein only. For example, lean protein sources like chicken breast have just trace amounts of carbs and fats whereas whole eggs contain almost equal amounts of protein and fat. If you see that you’re high in fats for the day, then you would reach for chicken as your next protein source.
Any “clean eaters” out there that have plateaued and can not find out why? Tracking your macronutrients will show that while you’re likely grossly under eating carbohydrates and protein, you’re overeating fats. No matter how healthy the source, fats still pack a punch of 9 calories per gram. Dialing in how many fats, carbs, and protein to eat each day will take out any guesswork and help get to your goals faster.
LEARN HOW TO ADJUST YOUR PLAN
When you TRACK YOUR MACROS AND FOOD LOG, you will be able to look back at it and see what needs to be adjusted to make the perfect plan. Each week is a learning opportunity, where you look at weeks past to see how you can become better overall. Maybe your breakfast can be better, or maybe you are always eating pizza on Tuesdays and Thursdays because you have no time. By tracking your macronutrients, you will be able to see the holes in your plan and come up with a better plan in the future to achieve your goals.
Overall, hitting your daily macronutrient recommendations will lead you to make more balanced food choices. Keep in mind the big picture of health and wellness and fill up your macros with a variety of whole, unprocessed foods.
This is a biggy!!!
The problem with restrictive meal plans is that they restrict your foods and your food timing. They force you to fit your lifestyle around a certain plan. Instead, by counting macro nutrients and adjusting your plan as you go, you can fit your plan around your lifestyle so it works for you.
Want to watch your waistline while still being able to go to happy hour with friends? Macro counting is sustainable because it can be so flexible. Personally, I couldn’t stick with other diets I tried in the past because there were too many foods I felt like I wasn’t “allowed” to eat. With macros, there is always a way to make tracking work for your lifestyle. Depending on the timeline of your goals, you can track macros and eat any food you want as long as you count it towards your daily totals. So, yes, you can have that scoop of ice cream or slice of pizza, just log whatever you eat and drink and count it towards your daily macro goals. The catch-22 is that you may have to be a little bit more cautious on the other meals during the day.
Tracking macronutrients is not only flexible in terms of what you can eat, but also with how strict you want to be. If you don’t think you can handle logging your food every single day, try tracking just Monday through Friday and give yourself a break on the weekends. This is what we call LIFESTYLE MODE and is the overall goal we want our clients to achieve….The opportunity to maintain the goals they achieved by using their knowledge to make good decisions while still living their lives (instead of always restricting their eating)
SO WHERE SHOULD YOU START?
- Download My Fitness Pal or a different macro tracking app on your smartphone (watch this video for a tutorial on MFP)
- Grab a Food Scale from a local store or order one on Amazon
- Without making any changes to your current eating habits, record what you eat and drink every day for at least five days
- If you are unable to measure a food, use your best estimate on the serving size in MFP
- Pro tip: use the barcode scanning feature on MFP to save time or if you have trouble finding a specific food
- Focus on Your Protein First:, take a look at your nutrition summary and make adjustments to your protein first.
- Are you eating about 1 * your body weight in grams of protein each day?
- If not, either add another meal or increase your portions little by little.
- Next focus on your fats: Are you getting a mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats from healthy sources?
- Saturated: animal fats (eggs, dairy, meats, butter, cheeses, etc), coconut oil, palm oil
- Monounsaturated: macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado
- Polyunsaturated: fish oil, hemp seeds, algae oils, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds
- Focus on your carb intake
- Are you completing high intensity workouts (i.e. Crosffitters)? You probably need at least half of your calories coming from carbohydrates.
- Are you insulin sensitive or have PCOS? A more high fat approach would be more beneficial
The above steps should set you up for success as you start your macro counting journey. Macro counting is flexible, empowering, and sustainable and I urge you to try tracking your macronutrients at least once in your life. No matter if your goals are to lose fat, build muscle, or just to learn healthy eating habits, macro counting can be of use to you!
You will learn exactly what you’re putting into your body, how you respond to different foods, and how to best fuel your individual fitness and nutrition goals.