Here is a one stop shop for (almost) everything you need to know about macros!
What Are Macros?
Macros are short for macronutrients. The List of macros are- carbs, fats, proteins and alcohol if you want to count that. Then there are micronutrients, which are your vitamins and minerals. Do you know what a calorie is? It is a unit of energy our body uses to function. Macros MAKE UP calories. 1g of carb is the same as 4 calories. 1g of fat is the same thing as 9 calories. 1g of protein is 4 calories, and 1g of alcohol ia 7 calories. So maybe you have counted calories, or maybe you have heard of people counting calories. They are counting the units of energy they are consuming. But they ARNT counting WHERE those calories are coming FROM.
Why Are Macros Important? Macros Vs Calories
Where calories come from is just as, or more, important than counting calories. Why? Our body digests and utilized macros differently. For example. Carbs (i.e.: bread, fruit, pasta, etc) are used primarily as fuel, meaning it is our bodies "go to" source for energy, because it turns to ATP so easily (the molecule actually used for energy). Carbs can't be turned into muscle. Protein isn't great for being used as energy because it is so difficult to turn into ATP, but it IS used to help rebuild muscles. So 20g of carbs and 20g of protein ARE NOT THE SAME. Yes, they are both 80 calories, but they aren't utilized the same. Counting your macros is a sure fire way to tell what "works" and what "doesn't work". We can pin point exactly what to change if you aren't losing weight, you're losing too much weight, can't put on muscle, etc. It honestly takes the guess work out of dieting. It's science, not a shot in the dark.
Cool Nikelle! So How Many Macros Should I Be Eating!?
Good question! Unfortunately, it's not a one size fits all plan. BUT! I do have a free macro calculator PDF Here. I also calculate macros for free. It is based on... your gender, height, age, weight, how many times you exercise, the intensity of your exercise, and how much you move throughout the day. So as a 22yo female, 5' 3", 135lbs, working out strenuously 5 days a week and moving all day everyday, MY PERSONAL MACRO COUNT FOR ME WHEN I AM TRYING TO DROP FAT... is 150g protein, 170g of carbs, and 50g of fat. Each week, as I drop more weight, my macros decrease. Because as you lose weight and drop overall calories/macros, your metabolism slows down. So to find YOUR starting macro count for YOUR goals (i.e.: fat loss, muscle gain, etc) Email me! Or check out the free PDF.
If you're not into that, here is an overview. First you find your BMR (basil metabolic rate), which is how many calories you burn AT REST during 1 day. After that, you use the Harris Benedict formula which tells us your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), how many calories you burn doing your actives/exercise. Then you subtract 20-25% of those calories to create a caloric deficit (if you're goal is losing weight). THEN you break those calories into macros! The macro split I find that works best and I like most (and so do my clients) is 1g of protein per pound of lean body weight, (normally between 135-155g), 25% of overall calories for fat, and what is left over after you find your protein and fat needs, is going to be your carb intake.
How Do I create A Diet Using My Macro Count
Awesome! You got your macro count! Now what? (If you're feeling overwhelmed by now, email me and we can talk one on one about having me create a diet for you!) When I first started, I just ate things that had a nutrition label, and wrote them on a sheet of paper and added them up as I ate throughout the day. This quickly showed me what was IN each type of food. I googled a LOT. Like "nutrition info in 6oz of chicken" or "100g strawberries nutrition info". If you're wondering, yes. This means you weigh your food. Why? Can't I just guess? YES! You can! But when you're first starting this journey you don't really have an eye for what 4oz of turkey looks like, or what 1 REAL TBS of peanut butter looks like. TIP: it's not an actual tablespoon when you weigh it by grams on a scale. You could measure it with a tablespoon and be overeating your peanut butter by up to 6g of fat on accident, which is 54 calories. If you do that all day at every meal, you can end up with an extra 500 calories you didn't; think you ate. Not to freak you out, but that is the reality. But I digress.
After you look at the back of some boxes of things you eat and their SERVING SIZE, you start to list of what you're going to eat for that day. I always do 3 meals, 2 snacks, and 1 dessert.
So here is an example.
Breakfast: Protein Muffin
Snack: 2 rice Cakes and a peanut butter sandwich
Lunch: 6oz of deli turkey
Snack: 3 pieces of thoroughly cooked bacon & greek yogurt
Dinner: 6oz of 97/3 ground beef, 1serving rice-a-roni, 130g garbanzo beans
Dessert: 75g enlightened ice cream
I added up the macros as I wrote all this down, and made sure the end total was what my macro needed to be for that day.
All the meal plans I make for myself I either write in the morning or I just write my macros as I eat. I know that if I eat up to 10g of fat, up to 30g of carbs, and as much protein as I want, i'll stay within my macro limit for the day. So my suggestion to creating a diet? Sit down and write out what you normally eat (w/ serving sizes) and the corresponding macros and add/subtract foods until you get the numbers you need. This may sound tedious, so this is where it may be nice to have someone else create a plan for you. Hey, look, here I am ; )
What To Do When You Go Out To Eat
Don't be afraid to go still! Remember how I said I know I can eat within 10g of fat, 30g of carbs, and unlimited protein? That applies to going out. So I always just quickly google "insert restaurant name" nutritional info. And almost all restaurants will have a nutritional information menu, you can choose from there what fits your macros. Of course, this may take some planning, but my point is, it can be done. Because I do it. Even when I am prepping for a show.
What To Do When You're High In One Macro and Low In Another
I get this question and I also struggle with this problem from time to time. Like Ive eaten all my carbs for the day, but somehow still have 15g of fat. Or GOD FORBID! I max out my fat and carbs and still have 50g of protein to go (Hi. This is me today..) I made a short list of things you can reference when this happens.
Low in fat but maxed out carbs? Here are some low carb higher fat options
Homemade PB cups (coconut oil, Penautbutter, and coco powder)
Low in carbs but maxed out fat? Here are some higher carb low fat options
Bread (if youre like me, I can just eat sourdough)
SOME potato soups
Chicken noodle soup
Rice cake and honey
Low in protein? Bless your soul....
Protein Powder in water or muscle milk
My awesome protein waffles (email for recipe, too long for here)
Sliced Deli Meat which is my fave Steak
I hope this answered a lot of your questions or put you on the right track to finding more answers. I truly believe if it fits your macros is one of the best (if not THE best) way to still eat good foods with variety and scientifically calculate how to change and track your body. PLEASE email me if you have any questions about anything macro related or questions about any of my macro programs!