Today I have a “mini master class” it’s a 3-5 minutes read, so grab your coffee/wine/Mimosa (lucky you!) and sit in your favorite chair.
This mini master class will explain and help you put into action the nutrition topic of flexible eating and how it can help get you the results you want. It works whether you want to gain weight, lose weight, maintain your weight, or try clean eating – without following a strict menu plan.
It’s called macro-based eating. Macro based eating is particularly useful if you are struggling to lose ‘that last 5 pounds’ and you can’t seem to shake it.
The term “macro” refers to macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fats. It’s also helpful to include fiber because when you’re getting enough fiber, you probably are eating healthier carbs 🙂
Protein: This macronutrient helps you build, repair, and maintain your muscle mass. Not only that, but it also helps rev your metabolism AND it’s known as the most satiating macro, keeping you feeling full for hours after eating it. Shoot for 10% to 35% of your calories from protein.
Tip: People who work out more generally need more protein to help with recovery.
Fat: Your body needs fat to be healthy. Among other things, fat helps your body convert and use several vitamins and minerals. Experts recommend getting between 20% and 35% of your daily calories from fat.
Carbohydrates: The remaining percentage should come from carbs. Major health organizations recommend you get between 45% and 65% of your total calories a day.
Fiber: This is another number you will want to keep in mind. It’s recommended you get between 25 to 30 grams of fiber from food sources each day.
Each macro gives you different benefits, so it can be helpful to know you’re getting enough of them. Plus, you get to see how your body responds to different macro breakdowns. For example, some people feel better with more carbs and some with less. I know people who don’t eat or drink carbs at all and they are completely fine with that, I know without a shadow of a doubt I would be crawling the walls and atrocious if I did the same!
Planning and tracking your macros lets you get really tactical about choosing the foods you eat to get you the results you want.
It gives you real data, vs. “guestimating” what you’re actually eating.
Note: You will almost certainly want to use an online food journal to do this – check out MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, FitBit’s food journal, or other online resource. It will save you tons of time and effort.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR MACROS:
STEP #1: Set your “daily target calorie intake amount”, all your calculations will depend on it. Perhaps you identified this over the last week or so from the links in the newsletters…
Incase you didn’t, here is a good one: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
STEP #2: Calculate how much of each macronutrient to consume.
Here is an online calculator which will help you determine your macros. Fill in the date and state if you would like to gain, lose or remain the same weight, it also asks you what type of diet you follow.
If you’ve been receiving this newsletter for a while you will probably know, I stick to the 80/20 rule of eating but I have played around with macros in the past and I have also recommended this way of eating to clients who have some stubborn weight to shift, or if they ‘need to be told what to eat’. I have a good friend who is a fitness model (like the ones on the stage with LOTS of fake tan and sparkly bikinis) and she swears by this way of eating. She recommends sticking with a macro breakdown for at least a month or so to see how it works, and then changing it up a little if results stall or you feel hungry/tired/etc. She also recommends the following:
Don’t stress about getting your macros exactly right. Use them as ballpark figures vs. trying to be perfect and hitting them exactly. Think of this as a PROCESS of learning, vs. something you have to master right out of the gate.
It’s easier to plan your meals/macros ahead of time. Otherwise you can be left with a weird configuration at the end of the day, wondering what you can eat to hit your numbers.
STILL WITH ME?
Right, now you might be wondering what this all actually means and how to put it into action once you know your numbers. So, are you ready? It’s time to open up your food journal and map out a day’s worth of eating!
The first few times you do this, it will take a little while but it won’t be long before you can whip up an entire day in just a couple of minutes.
In a nutshell, first you’ll layer in the protein-rich foods for all your meals, then your carbohydrates, and finally add in fats (like salad dressing, butter, etc.), and adjust the amounts once you’ve plugged in all your meals.
As an example, for protein: at breakfast you would enter “eggs,” at lunch, “tuna,” and for dinner, “chicken breast.” If you use protein powder to make a shake for a snack/post-workout meal, enter that, too.
Then, look at how many protein grams that adds up to for the day and see if you’re near the (for example) 150 gram mark – but don’t worry about it if you aren’t!
Next it’s time for the carbs – “starchy” carbs like legumes, quinoa, oats, potatoes, etc. get added in. You’ll find some of your carbs will even bump up your protein number!
Next up it’s veggies & fruits. It can be helpful to shoot for at least one serving at every meal.
Once you’re done with that, it’s time to finetune your plan to get closer to your target macro numbers for the day!
TWEAKING YOUR PLAN:
* A lot of people struggle at first with their protein numbers – they get too little – or their fat numbers – they get too much! The fix: adjust your portion sizes or upgrade your food choices.
NOTE: You’ll get the most benefit out from protein you eat if you spread it out over the course of the day in fairly equal amounts.
* It’s helpful to track fiber. According to the USDA, women under the age of 50 should aim for 25 grams a day and men, 38 grams. Women over 50 should try for 21 and men, 30 grams.
If your fiber is low, check your fruit and veggie choices, and also your starchy carbs – adding a ½ cup of legumes (like black beans) can really help.
* If your fat number is low, try adding some healthy oil like olive oil to a salad or your veggies, or some healthy fats like nuts and seeds.
What if you want to make a recipe? Many food journals (like MyFitnessPal) let you create recipes and break them down into portion sizes!
This may sound like the most awful thing in the world to do, and it is definitely not for everyone, BUT if you are struggling with your weight, one of the reasons may be because you aren’t eating enough of the right food type as well as type of food, so why not dedicate half an hour to figuring this out and giving it a try? You may not have to change the ‘what you eat’ part your diet, just the ‘how much of each macro’ you eat.
Do you already track your macros? Or do you think you will give it a try? I would love to know!
About Zoë Dodds
Life, Health, and Fitness Coach
Zoë has a passion for helping and empowering women to the best version of themselves.
With 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry, she delivers inspiration and wealth of knowledge to her clients, some of which she shares in her blog and weekly newsletters.
Originally from England, Zoë has lived in Seattle for 9 years with her husband, two grown-up children and a Labrador called Jordi.
Click here to read more.