I’m sure you’ve heard the word “macros” recently – it’s the newest buzzword on all the health blogs. Well, I’m here to discuss them today, too. No, I’m no health experts. If I had to choose one food to live on the rest of my life it would be french fries – hands down. I prefer pasta and bread to fruits and veggies and I’d kill for chocolate cake.
However, a few months back, David came home from work and showed me a new app a co-worker had him download to start counting calories and macros. He and I have never really focused on what we eat. We live a fairly active lifestyle, but we had about 4-5 recipes that we’d circle through each week and basically cook to survive. But David came home excited to start tracking our macros – and because I’d been stuck with about 5 extra pounds of baby weight, I decided to give it a try, too.
Since the beginning of May, David has lost over 30 pounds, and I’ve lost about 9. How? By counting our macros, and adding a little more exercise into our daily routine.
What Are Macros?
Macros, or macronutrients, are molecules that our bodies use to create energy. Typically, these are found in fats, proteins and carbs. There are varying amounts of calories per gram for protein, fats and carbs.
Proteins are essential for the body to build and maintain muscle. Protein is a key element in your macronutrient intake, but overeating protein will not magically make your body bigger and bulkier. There is a healthy balance that needs to be at play.
Carbs, often thought of as the enemy in many diets, are essential for health, performance, and body composition. It’s vital to have carbs in your diet, because if there is an absence of them, the body will break down the protein and muscles you have to use as glucose. Carbs are fine – but just make sure to eat the right amount and don’t overdo it!
Lastly, fats. There is good fat and bad fat. Fat is an energy source and a backup fuel source and also helps with hormone production. Plus, fats have the most calories per gram out of all the macronutrients, so eating the right amount of the right type of fats can help you feel fuller, longer.
Macros vs. Calories
Like most girls, I was always aware of how many calories I was putting into my body, but it wasn’t until I was counting my macros that I realized I had been eating a lot of useless calories just to feel full. When I calculated my ideal calorie intake, my body only needs about 1360 calories a day to maintain my current weight. That shocked me at first! I could eat that much in one sitting!
Once I started measuring out my meals (yes, I use a measuring cup to make sure I’m getting 1 cup of chicken, etc.) I was shocked at how much I could still eat if I was getting the right stuff. There are even days where I leave calories on the table because I don’t feel hungry.
So How Much Do I Need?
Each body is different so it’s important to figure out what combination of protein, carbs and fat work for you. I started with a higher protein intake and my body was in pain. I felt sick to my stomach and bloated. When I ran the right calculations, I realized that my body actually needed more carbs and less proteins. Since then, I’ve been losing about a pound every two weeks and I feel energetic and full all the time!
Here is a helpful calculator to get you started.
Some Helpful Hints:
I’m no expert, but from personal experience I have a little bit of advice if you decide to start counting macros:
- Download the My Fitness Pal app. It’s an incredibly easy way to help count and manage your macros, plus it has a ton of other tools to help you with an ideal diet and exercise regiment.
- I try to stay as active as possible, but I really wish I had more time to exercise. The more active you are, the more calories you will need. Be sure to take this into account when you are counting.
- Of course I have cravings! And I totally have cheated. However, when I was craving fried food in about week two of this new lifestyle, I decided to get some chicken fingers and fries for my cheat meal. Big mistake! I was down for the count… for like 3 days afterwards. I realized it just wasn’t worth it anymore and, although I still have cravings, fried food just doesn’t even sound appealing after that fiasco.
- I also have a soft spot for chocolate chip cookies, so I found The Complete Cookie – it has 16g of protein in it! And it’s delicious! Obviously, eating these daily isn’t the smartest move, but when I know I need a little cookie in my life, I move around my macros from the day to make sure I have room for one.
- Don’t try to keep up with you husband/boyfriend/guy friend. David’s body allows for more caloric intake just because he is bigger than me, naturally. If I tried to eat as much as him – portion size and everything – I wouldn’t be doing myself any favors. Your body is unique to itself, so treat it that way.
- Meal plan! Every Sunday we buy a family pack of chicken breast and put it in the crockpot. Usually that gets us through the week. We can use the shredded chicken for countless recipes! Being prepared is the best way to keep yourself on track.
Good luck! Feel free to ask me any questions or leave a comment with you own experience counting macros. I’m really new at this whole thing, so I’m also open to any advice you may have.