Let’s start with “What are macros?”
All food is made up of macros - they are carbs, fat, protein, and alcohol. Each macro contains a set number of calories and, when added together, they make you the total number of calories in the food.
Carbs and protein = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram
I get asked often if someone should be counting calories or counting macros. When someone says they are counting or tracking macros they are, by default, counting calories too. The difference is in the detail of the specific number of each macro which is set to meet a person’s specific goals.
Most women need quite a bit more protein than they are actually eating so, often, the first change that we make is to add more protein to your diet no matter what your goals are.
Weight loss is dependent on a calorie deficit but there are multiple ways to be in a calorie deficit. Eat less, exercise, increase your NEAT activity, use the thermic effect of food to your advantage, or any combination of these.
Protein burns about 30% of its calories in digestion but you get 100% of the benefits of the protein in muscle repair, muscle retention, muscle growth, cellular repair, etc. Protein also keeps you feeling fuller longer which makes it easier to be in a calorie deficit.
A common way to split your calories is 35% of them to each protein and carbs and the remaining 30% of them to fat. I just want to point out that the about of protein and carbs are equal! Please don’t be afraid of carbs!!!
Before you determine your macros, I always recommend tracking your food as it stands right now for at least 3 days and take a look at your numbers. Learn how many calories and how much protein, carbs, and fat your typically eat. This is a great baseline because the goal is to make this as simple as possible…we want you eating as close to “normal” as you can and only make small changes to meet your macro goals. This will be far more sustainable than major overhauls.
Step 1: Determine how many calories you need for your goals. There are many online calculators that can do that for you but please be aware that those calculators are literally just doing the math, they aren’t accounting for the human that you are so use it as a baseline but don’t treat it as the end all be all. A human coach will be better able to calculate your personalized numbers.
Step 2: Find 35% of that number. This will be the calories that will go to protein and then also carbs. Divide that number by 4 since protein and carbs are each 4 calories per gram. That answer is how many grams of protein and how many grams of carbs you will eat in a day.
Step 3: Find 30% of your total calories and this is the calories that will go towards fats per day. Divide it by 9 since fat has 9 calories per gram and this is how many grams of fat you will eat in a day.
Now that you have your numbers, you know what to be looking for in your food. Go back to your 3 days of tracking that you did before…what adjustments need to be made? Need lots more protein? OK so look up some great chicken recipes, get some low fat Greek yogurt, low fat string cheese, egg recipes, get some beef jerky, etc.
Too fat heavy or carb heavy? Check out some swaps that you can make…switch your regular rice for Banza brand rice (which will also be a nice hit of protein too), change out high fat yogurts or cheeses for low fat, etc.
The big idea is that you are making SUSTAINABLE changes. This isn’t a diet. This is just life. You are learning the basics and beginnings of a healthy lifestyle that has no end. It needs to work for your life long term.
Finally – I leave you with this: GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. You will not be perfect right away and even when you get the hang of it, you will not be perfect everyday…or even most days! Roll with the punches and when things get off track, jump back on track as soon as you’re able. No harm, no foul. Don’t wait until Monday…or the first of the month…or the first of the year! Just get back to it…consistency is key, not perfection.
Want more detailed info on this blog? I did a Facebook Live on this topic in my free Facebook group for busy ladies - come join the group HERE and I'll be happy to tag you on the video post!