One day, I posted in my instagram story a snack I was eating on the go and I posted the corresponding macros. My friend from school sent me my story and said “What even is a macro... Can you teach me how to macro?” This one's for you Jules.
There was a period of time in high school where I was doing the whole Paleo thing (caveman diet), which is basically eating foods that could be attained by hunting and gathering. I definitely lost some weight, but I didn’t feel my best. I felt deprived and guilty if I ate one ‘restricted’ food. I’m not knocking Paleo by any means, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the fact that there’s no restriction on the amount you’re eating. You could eat however much you wanted as long as it wasn’t one of the restricted foods. I knew I had to find something that worked better for me. I was ready to be serious about my nutrition because I wanted to optimize my performance. I started researching and I came across individuals sharing their experiences about counting macros. I decided to give it a try.
So what is a macro? There are three main macronutrients: Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. All three macronutrients do something for your body, and counting your macros basically means eating the correct amounts of each macronutrient that is specific to you. This made so much sense to me! Instead of depriving myself of one specific macronutrient, I just had to eat the right amounts of each. I contacted a registered dietician to get the baseline numbers I should be hitting based on the hours I spend working out and the intensity of those workouts. I follow basically the same numbers today, but just tweak it on my own if I need to because I know my body very well by now. You don't need to contact a professional; there are a bunch of online macro calculators based on your height, weight, activity level, and lifestyle like: https://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/
In one gram of protein there are 4 calories, in one gram of carbohydrates there are 4 calories, and in one gram of fat there are 9 calories. So inevitably if I hit my macro goals, I also my caloric goals.
Yes, I weigh my food. Some people think that’s extra, and others laugh when they see me weighing all my food, but it works for me! I am a super Type A person; I like to be organized and have a routine to everything that I do. You don’t need to weigh your food, but for me it was extremely helpful because sometimes you think a serving size is much more than what it truly is. For example, the picture below is a real serving of cereal vs. what most people call a serving of cereal. (And we all know you can’t stop at one bowl of cereal...let’s be real)
I would recommend weighing your food for a week and you’ll be amazed at what serving sizes really are. This is the scale I have: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-Round-Digital-Kitchen-Scale/43729156 It was only 8 dollars! It doesn't have to be a fancy one.
I don't weigh every single thing I eat because what college student has the time for that?! I usually eyeball the spinach and mushrooms I add to my breakfast scramble. I eyeball certain things that I know I could. Weighing most of my food makes me feel assured that I am staying on track. After weighing the food I am going to eat, I just insert that amount of that specific food into an app (I use My Fitness Pal), and the app displays the corresponding macros. For example, if I was eating 4 oz. (112 grams) of grilled chicken with 50 grams avocado, I just insert that into My Fitness Pal, and it would display that I ate 10 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein, and 4 grams of carbs. It takes a little practice to be able to hit your numbers everyday. I realized I was eating significantly less than I should’ve been eating. After about a month of upping my carbohydrate intake and lowering my fat intake a little, my body fat percentage went down and my skeletal muscle mass went up. My energy levels were INSANE. You can ask my sister; I was a new person. To put this into perspective, I’ll share my numbers: everyday I try to hit 54 grams of fat, 140 grams of protein, and 190 grams of carbs. WOAH, so many carbs right?! I was terrified to eat that many carbs. I was like there is no way this could work. I was eating way more, but was getting better results than I ever did in the past. And I was happy. Isn’t that the most important part? It’s funny how everyone is so afraid of carbs, as if they are the worst thing you could possibly consume. I once thought that too. I’m not saying everyone should go out and be eating 190 g of carbs each day, those numbers are specific to me because of the volume and intensity of my workouts. Everyone’s numbers are different, I can’t stress that enough. My fat number may seem low, but that’s because my goal is to gain muscle and improve performance. Fats take the longest to break down, so I surround my workouts with carbs and some protein, and then I’ll catch up on my fats at night because my practice is in the morning. For example, my pre-practice/workout meal is always plain old-fashioned oats, PB2, some siggi’s nonfat greek yogurt, and half a banana. That meal has minimal fat content, so during my practice those carbs can provide energy to my muscles and make me feel good and energized. If I were to consume something higher in fat, I might feel sluggish because the energy in my body would be trying to break down the fat instead of providing my muscles with energy.
Counting your macros isn’t just about hitting your numbers. Quality > Quantity. I do eat a lot of carbs, but I get my carbs from great sources. I’m talking sweet potatoes, jasmine rice, oats, fruits, and vegetables. None of that super processed crap! I hate how counting your macros has this stigma to it that you could eat whatever you want as long as you hit your numbers. I strongly disagree. I feel my best when I’m hitting my numbers with quality food choices. We all know that processed foods are bad. We all know the less ingredients in something, the better. I shop the outskirts of the grocery store first and that’s where I buy the bulk of my food because it’s fresh.
If you were to try this, it doesn’t have to be stressful. At first I stressed out if I was out to eat and trying to roughly estimate the macros I was consuming. I truly believe in enjoying life and not always stressing about what you’re eating. Yes 95% of the time I hit my macros because it makes me feel the best, but if I’m out to eat with my friends/family, sometimes I just put My Fitness Pal away for the day and start fresh the next day. One day doesn’t kill you!
Lastly- I haven’t weighed myself in over a month. I don’t really like to weigh myself, because it’s one number and it usually doesn’t mean as much as people think. I have no idea how much I weigh, and I really don't care because I feel amazing. I go off of how I feel. How you feel is more important than one number on a scale.
I hope this was helpful! Now that I explained how I eat, my next few blogs will include my favorite recipes and the macros that go along with them- with just a sprinkle of Jordan :)