The best tips for counting Macros
Have you tried counting macros?
The truth is that there is no perfect diet. Whether your goals are to lose 20 pounds, gain muscle, or lose your belly fat, there is no magic pill or sacred secret that will get you to your fitness goals overnight.
But wait a minute, if you’ve never counted macros before, you’ll want to keep reading.
After six years of following dieting myths, I discovered the world of counting macros, also known as flexible dieting.
Flexible what? Just listen, flexible dieting isn’t anything new; in fact, it was introduced to the fitness industry over ten plus years ago by a guy named Lyle Mcdonald and through the power of social media, and through its incredible results, counting macros has blown up.
BUT HERE’S THE THING:
Once you find out about flexible dieting, you’re going to find a million macro calculators on the internet telling you how much to eat to lose weight, maintain your weight, or build muscle.
And as a beginner, it’s hard to trust the numbers some of these calculators spit out. You begin to question a lot of things.
How long should you stick to these macros?
Are these macros working for me?
Is your protein supposed to be this high?
My carbs are way too high, and this can’t be right! At this point, you’re ready to throw your hands up in the air and say screw it.
Which is why…
You need to know how to simplify counting macros.
So let’s dive into some of my best tips when it comes to counting macros.
What is flexible dieting?
Counting your macros is also known as flexible dieting. And if you’ve ever heard of people counting their calories, it’s sort of the same thing but broken down a bit more.
See, macros are made up of protein, carbs, and fat, and the three of these put together makeup calories. With flexible dieting, you’re learning how to fuel your body for the goals you want to achieve by tracking your protein, fat, and carbs.
Why should you count macros?
There may be a learning curve in the beginning. But in the long run, you’ll be able to learn how to really enjoy yourself without feeling guilty for enjoying your favorite warm apple crisp donut in the fall (ok that’s my absolute favorite), you’ll stop spending crazy money on “healthy groceries,” and you’ll have a better relationship with yourself and food.
What tools do I need to get started?
You won’t need anything but two tools.
An app to use as your food journal and a food scale to weigh your food.
Download any app that will track your food intake. My favorite app and one I’ve been using for years is Myfitnesspal, but there are plenty more out there.
How do you calculate your macros?
Ah, the biggest question of them all. You can find any calculator online that will give you this answer.
And what these calculators do is give you an estimated amount of calories you burn a day based on the information you entered; your age, activity level, height, and weight.
But I must tell you that these are all just estimates because everyone is different.
Let’s say we have two twins who are the exact same everything, weight, height, but two completely different days to days.
One works from home, and one is on her feet 12 hours a day. Despite being identical, these two ladies will burn and require different levels of energy (calories) to go about their days.
I recommend using the calculator and eating at maintenance for two weeks. If you lose weight, then we know that your body actually fuels off more calories than what the calculator gave you.
And if you maintain the same weight, we know that you have a great starting point for your goals.
How do you know your macros are working?
Track your progress before you get started
As the weeks go by, nothing screams victory like watching the scale go down, right? Well, not exactly you see, and it took me a while to understand this, but the scale is not the only way to track your progress.
While the scale may be telling you you’re not dropping weight, there are other forms of tracking your progress, such as:
- Taking pictures
- Taking your measurements
- How your clothes fit
Here’s an example of the scale, not meaning anything. On the right, I weight around 145, and on the left, I weigh about 144.
Don’t move your macros around so much
I know we are in a time where we have very little patience for anything. We can literally have anything a touch of a button, but hear me out.
I know not seeing any progress can kick you in the butt, but when it comes to counting macros, you’ll want to give it some time before you start changing anything. It’s the only way you’ll know if your macros are working for you. Two weeks is usually good.
How do you start tracking my macros?
Stick to Staple Foods for a while
Trying to get crafty with recipes sounds amazing, but it can get confusing and expensive. I’m all about saving money here, haha.
Track some of the same foods when you first get started. Over the next couple of days, Myfitnesspal will begin to recognize some of the foods you eat almost every day, and you won’t have to go keep hunting for it.
And you’ll have a better eye for serving sizes.
Be flexible and not obsessive
Maybe this should’ve been the first thing on my list. Yes, tracking everything is great, but what happens you can’t track everything?
Loosely track in the beginning to give yourself peace of mind, if you’re too hard on yourself, in the beginning, the likelihood of you sticking to it will not be good
Focus on meeting your calorie and protein goal first.
Careful with the sauces and oils
I know I said to be flexible, but let me warn you about sauces. Ketchup, BBQ, dressings, soy sauce, oils…
Some of these have over 100 calories per tablespoon and can easily throw you out of you caloric deficit if you’re trying to lose weight, that’s insane.
Opt for lower-calorie sauces or ditch the sauces overall.
If you’re not used to counting your macros, you may have noticed after the first couple of days that you either eat less or more than you thought.
The night before planning a couple of meals, you know you’ll have the next day.
How do you stick to my macros
Plan your fun night out ahead of time
This is the best part of flexible dieting. You can still go out and have a great time without feeling guilty. But just like you planned your meals for the next day log in what you think you’ll be enjoying later, and if that includes a drink, log it in.
Sneak protein in every meal
Protein seems to be the macronutrient most of us never really pay attention to.
Aim to sneak protein in every meal to reach your protein goal, this way you’re not trying to make up for it at the end of the day. One of my favorite things to do is also make protein smoothies.
aim for less processed foods
Yes, you can pretty much eat anything and still reach your goals, but because there are no restrictions on any foods, this doesn’t mean you should put healthy foods like vegetables on the back burner.
Next time you visit the grocery store, limit the number of processed foods you buy and stick to whole foods. You still want to get in as many vitamins and minerals as possible.
Track it even if you feel guilty
Ok, I’m guilty of this. When I first started counting my macros, I would never track the junk I ate. I just pretended like it didn’t exist, haha.
But after a while, I realized that this was causing me to have a lousy relationship with food. And I didn’t want to feel guilty about anything I ate if I enjoyed it.
So please don’t be scared, track it. Plus, you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you thought. Tracking what I thought was bad helped me mentally, I hope this makes sense.
How long does it take to see results from flexible dieting?
Beginners usually see results in their very first week, but while we all come in many shapes and sizes. Our goals are different from one another, and if you want to see results fast, you must be consistent.
Flexible dieting and counting macros are something I will stand by for pretty much ever. Yes, there is a learning curve in the beginning, but after giving you some of my best tips, I hope you feel confident and can stick to macro counting.