I get asked a lot of questions about tracking Macros. Just to clarify, I am not a certified nutritionist or personal trainer and I am definitely not a macro genius! I am just sharing what I have learned and what has worked for me 🙂
I have always had a smaller body type, but when I do gain weight it goes straight to my belly and love handle area so I wanted to give it a try and see what my results would be. I have always eaten healthy, but my problem is portion control. I LOVE to eat lots of food! Counting macros is a great way to learn portion control.
What is “Counting Macros”?
To keep it simple, counting macros, also known as flexible dieting, means to keep track of how many carbs, proteins, and fats you are eating in a day. Once you figure out the ratio of carbs, fats and proteins that you should be eating to achieve your goal, whether that be to lose fat, increase muscle, or maintain, you plan your meals to fit your macros. The amazing thing about “Counting Macros” is that you essentially can eat whatever you want as long as it “Fits in your macros”. Of course it is important to make healthy choices so that your body can get the nutrients that it needs, but if you are craving chocolate, this diet does not restrict that! That is why counting macros is a great long-term “diet” if you even want to call it a diet.
Is flexible dieting for me?
For some, counting macros is way too much work. It depends on what your goal is. If your main goal is to create better eating habits and to be more healthy, then counting macros might not be the place to start. Try just eating clean, whole foods & avoiding added sugars (Post to come soon).
However, if you are looking to lose the stubborn 10 extra lbs, increase your muscle, or even just tone up, then counting macros is definitely worth it!
For me, it is worth the work because of the amazing results I have seen. Plus I enjoy it…most of the time 😉 And like I said before, I needed help with my portion control. This will teach you that! I used to eat tons of carbs and fats and hardly any protein and I would be bloated and had no idea why. Until now! 👌🏻
How do I get started?
First step is to calculate your daily caloric intake need. I like the formula from the following website. It seems complicated, but just follow the steps and trust it!
Another article that explains the amounts of macros to try starting out with is this one from Bodybuilding.com. This one is much more simple if you already know your caloric intake.
Side note, there really is no magic formula for calculating your macros. These are suggestions and basically a place for you to start and see how your body responds. Counting macros takes patience! Which can be hard when you want quick results.
I am breastfeeding & working out about 5-6 times a week & weight 121 lbs. I aim for 1900 calories a day. 35% Carbs (166g), 35% Protein (166g) 30% Fat (63g). In all honesty, I never did any calculations to figure my caloric intake out. A friend from the gym told me that I should try starting with 1900 calories & I decided to try starting out with those % to see how my body would respond to it. When I first started counting macros I weighed 127 lbs. I was wanting to lose some fat around my stomach area and just lean out a tiny bit more. After doing these % strictly for 4 weeks (meaning I hit my macros almost every day), I lost 10 lbs and 3% body fat. Everyone is different so the percentages that worked for me, may not be best for you. Also, not everyone will lost weight that quickly. That’s okay! BE PATIENT with yourself.
If your goal is to LOSE WEIGHT try starting with 35% Carbs 35% Protein 30% Fat.
If your goal is to GAIN MUSCLE try starting with 40% Carbs 35% Protein 25% Fat.
Next, input your calorie and macro goals into MyFitnessPal. Click on “More” on the bottom right hand corner, then select “Goals”, then “Calorie & Macronutrient Goals”. Type in the amount of calories and adjust the carbs, proteins and fats to where they need to be.
How many calories, carbs, proteins and fats do I have left for the day?
Click on More, then click on Nutrition. You can either view the Nutrients screen or the Macros screen. The Nutrients screen shows how many of each macro you’ve eaten under the column Total, then your macro goals under Goal, then how many you have remaining under Left.
On the Macros screen, it will bring up a pie graph to show you how close you are to your % of macros for the day. If it says 50% of protein under the column Total and your goal % is 30%, this just means that you’ve eaten more calories from protein than the other macronutrients for the day so far.
You still with me?
Now a few essentials while counting macros.
Food scale. I got THIS one for $10 on Amazon and it works great. Its small but you can place a plate on it before turning it on and it will zero it out so that you can place food on it and weigh it that way if you need to.
Partner in crime. Someone to keep you accountable is super helpful while counting macros. Your spouse preferably, but if they aren’t sold, try to get a friend to do it with you!
Meal Planning. My husband and I like to think of it as a puzzle. We are nerds. Sometimes we sit in the kitchen at night, or even while we’re laying in bed, and put all of our meals in for the next day to make sure they “fit”. This is very helpful to do at first so that you can get an idea of what amounts of food you need to be eating for every meal in order to hit your macros by the end of the day. If you go onto MyFitness Pal on a desktop you can split the meals into 6 different meals. This makes it easier to stay organized. You can even rename them. For example, I named mine— Breakfast, Snack 1, Lunch, Snack 2, Dinner, Snack 3.
If you know that you will be going out to lunch, or dinner, or that you will want to eat a big piece of chocolate smothered in peanut butter at night, then input that first and plan your days meals around it! 🙂
If you are going to be gone all day, it is super important to measure out all your food the night before and input it in your phone. Yes, it is a lot of work, but if you want it that bad you can make it happen! No excuses right?! My husband does it every.single.day.
Keep your meals simple.
Here is a sample of a normal day for me.
Breakfast: Cold oats & eggs
- 1/2 c rolled oats mixed with 1 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 2 drops of liquid stevia & 30g frozen wild blueberries
- 1/2 c liquid egg whites with 2 slices deli turkey
Snack 1 (post workout): Protein Shake
- 1 scoop protein mixed with water or almond milk
Lunch: Buffalo Wrap
- 1 La Tortilla Low carb tortilla or ProteinUp Flatout Wrap
- 1TBSP avacado & 1 TBSP greek yogurt whipped cream cheese
- 1 c spinach
- 3 slices of deli turkey or 2 oz of shredded chicken,
- drizzled with Franks buffalo sauce.
Snack 2: Greek Yogurt Parfait & rice cake
- 1/2 c fat-free plain greek yogurt (Kirkland brand), 30 oz frozen wild blueberries or 50g strawberries, 2 drops liquid Stevia, 2 Tbsp pumpkin flax granola
- 1 rice cake spread with 1 Tbsp natural Peanut butter
Dinner: Turkey Burger
- Turkey Burger wrapped in butter lettuce with ketchup & mustard
- 3 oz roasted diced sweet potatoes
- 3 oz asparagus
Snack 3: Whatever I want that fits in my macros!
My go to these days—-
- Blend 1/2 c almond milk with 1/2 c crushed ice and 1 scoop protein powder until thick like ice cream. Stir in 2 Tbsp granola.
- 1/3 c Kodiak Cake mixed with 1/3 c almond milk, pour into waffle maker. Top with peanut butter (if you have enough fats), or greek yogurt watered down, strawberries & 1 tsp agave nectar.
- 1/2 c Arctic Zero Icecream mixed with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
What if I want to eat more complicated foods?
One of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow is @cleansimpleeats. She sells an amazing meal plan that has recipes with the macros already included! Sometimes we get bored with plain meat and veggies so we like to mix it up by making some of her recipes.
How do I track my macros if I want to go out to eat?
You can actually find many large restaurants on MyFitness Pal if you type it in when adding your food. If you can’t find it then don’t stress! When we know that we are going to go out to eat, or have a big family dinner, we eat more protein and less carbs and fats throughout the day and save plenty of Calories (mostly carbs and fats) for dinner.
Do I have to track every single day?
We like to have one day during the week where we don’t track. That usually ends up being Sunday. We still try to eat good throughout the day, just without tracking every single thing we eat. This usually helps to motivate us to get strict again on Monday.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed with macro counting. You don’t want it to consume your minds all day long. It happens to me sometimes! When it does, I try to plan better. If I put the food in the day before I don’t stress as much about every single thing I eat.
And if you continue to stress about it, it might not be the right eating plan for you right now. Instead focus on eating lots of veggies, more protein than you normally would, and cut out processed foods and snacks.
Do I input my exercise?
No. Do not input any exercise you do! It should already be included in your caloric intake that you calculated at the beginning. Even if you don’t work out one day, keep your calories the same that day.
What if I’m hungry all day?
Listen to your body.
If you are overly hungry, first make sure you are drinking enough water. Drink at leats 1/2 your body weight in oz.
You also may need to increase your calories a little.
What if I don’t hit my macros and I’m not hungry?
Try to hit them anyways for the first week, and see how your body does with it.
This is all I can think of for now, but if I forgot something or if you can think of other questions, put them in the comments and I can see if I can answer them! 🙂