Let me just start by saying......macros are so hot right now!
I have been personally tracking macros on and off for almost 4 years and have coached thousands of women through tracking their macros for the past year and a half.
They are quite the buzz word these days and for good reason!
Tracking macros is a fantastic tool to use to really dial down and get your physique right where you want it. If you haven’t heard of macros before let me just do a real quick Macros 101 crash course for you:
"Macro" is short for Macronutrient and your macros fall into 3 categories:
Carbs (carbohydrates): Carbohydrates are foods that get converted into glucose, or sugar, in our bodies during digestion. Glucose is a main source of fuel for our body. It is especially important for the brain, which cannot easily use other fuel sources (such as fat or protein) for energy.
Fats: Fat is a major source of energy. It helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.
Proteins: Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. At least 10,000 different proteins make you what you are and keep you that way.
Protein is made from twenty-plus basic building blocks called amino acids. Because we don’t store amino acids, our bodies make them in two different ways: either from scratch, or by modifying others. Nine amino acids—histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine—known as the essential amino acids, must come from food.
As you can see ALL 3 macronutrients play a vital roll in our bodily functions and when manipulated correctly can produce amazing muscle building, energizing, or fat loss results!
Your body is in either one of 3 phases:
It is either in fat loss, mass gain (either muscle of fat), or maintenance.
Contrary to popular belief you cannot technically build muscle and lose fat at the same time. So you are either in one or the other but not 2 at one time or all 3 at one time. There is something called the "beginners edge" that has been studied to show that people who are at the beginning stages of their fitness journey they can build muscle and cut fat at the same time but that wears off quickly and then you fall into the 3 phases and make adjustments as needed based on your goals.
Nutrition has always been pretty cut and dry. Eat 3 meals a day, make sure there is some protein in there and eat your veggies. Through experimentation by bodybuilding athletes this simple way of eating was morphed into a method to achieve drastic fat loss in the fitness competition world. Since that time we have watched nutrition and diet shift and become molded into many different things but calorie and macro tracking became the go to way of life for fitness/bodybuilding competitors starting in the 1980's. Now, it seems to be everywhere, and in almost every household. Some have tried it a love it, some don’t even know what i'm talking about, and some tried it and quickly stopped.
That being said, there are 2 very big mistakes I see being made across the board that I want to bring to light:
Mistake #1 everyone jumps RIGHT into tracking.
We set these shiny new macro numbers with out consideration of where we are starting and jump right to the new macro numbers on Monday and, for many people, come Friday you feel bloated, too full or you are STARVING and you think, this isn’t for me and you stop.
So what went wrong?
There was no tracking of what you have ALREADY been consuming prior to tracking the new goals. If you are looking to track macros for a particular reason, you need to first establish what that reason is. Is it fat loss or muscle building (remember you cant do both at once!) or do you just want to make sure you are eating enough for the physique you currently have?
If you chose fat loss great! Lets make sure your body is in the right place to do that for you. So go ahead and just track an ordinary week of foods you would eat. The good, the bad and the ugly! Track it all, take note of what macros you are highest and lowest in and where your fiber and sugar is.
Once you have that week under your belt and you have a good idea of what your body is accustomed too, go ahead and see what those goals look like when you put in your specific info. Now, i'm going to be honest with you, MFP can be a bunch of BS in terms of the goals. Its a bit to generic so if you really want to get down to brass tax, find a professional to calculate some macros for you and plug them into your MFP on your own.
Now that you have your goals, compare them to your week that you tracked. If you need to drop or raise a macro by more that 10g do it SLOWLY. Set a plan to add or remove 10g per day or per week, whatever feels best for you. We need to stop being in such a hurry and let our bodies adjust to what we are throwing at it. Make sure you drop your sugar slowly and (I guarantee your fiber is low sister! Raise it slowly and I don’t think I need to explain why;)
Mistake number 2 staying in a fat loss phase for TOO long.
We tend to think that the answer to all of our problems is just less food and more movement and while there is a bit of truth to that, we nee to stop living life on 1,000 to 1,200 calories! That gives you nothing but instant gratification followed by plummeting hormones and putting all the weight back on as soon as you sniff a muffin.
So instead of looking at “fat loss” as a life long event. We should look at it in phases. So if you start with your week of macro tracking and you are WAY over the recommendation, a fat loss phase is a great place to start and just SLOWLY bring those macros/calories down to where they need to be over time.
If your goals say you should be eating 1,800 calories and you have only been eating 1,200 you need to reverse diet slowly OUT of those macros and up to the 1,800 and then (bear with me) hang out at you maintenance calories for a little bit and let those hormones catch back up and your metabolism to come out from under the rock that its been hiding under!
No one wants to hear that, and they don’t want to take the time because we are a “want it now” fast paced society, BUT I promise you if you start right, and do it right, your body will thank you for it and you will reach and surpass your goals!
If you are looking for support on your journey to figuring out all this “fitness” mumbo-jumbo that is out on the world wide web I would love to have you join the FREE Fit Chick Society face book community. Click HERE to get on the wait list and I will see you on December 26th so we can ROCK 2020 confusion and “diet” hopping free!