I bought myself a Wonder Woman shirt to wear at the gym.
This is me on the A+ Club wall.
Today, I want to talk about macros and how I follow my nutritional plan in simple terms. In a recent post, "Foods to Try," I talked about several foods I added to my grocery list. Since that post, I have had several inquiries about macros. This post is to explain macros.
Everyone needs certain nutrients: Micro-nutrients and Macro-nutrients.
When I heard the word "nutrient," I thought "vitamins." In the fitness world, these are commonly referred to as supplements and are considered "micronutrients." My doctor recommends a daily multi-vitamin because our nutrition does not typically provide us with enough of the essential micro-nutrients. I take a women's supplement pack from GNC. (Truth be told, I'm not crazy about taking supplements, so I only take them three - four times / week.) Be aware of what you take for supplements. Read up on them if you take them.
When we look at what we eat, it is primarily made of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These are commonly referred to as "macronutrients" or "macros" for short. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle. It also helps with hunger (protein takes longer to digest, so you are not as hungry). Carbohydrates give us energy. We need them to fuel our brain. The third "macro" is fats, which we need to regulate body processes, as a source of energy, to maintain healthy skin, tissues, and for proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Studies have shown that traditional "low-fat" diets do not help with sustaining weight loss.
The trick to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is simply thinking, "Calories in, calories out." If you want to lose weight, you have to expend more energy than you are consuming, or burn more than you eat. When trying to lose weight, we often make the mistake of not eating enough. This is a big mistake! If you are eating only 1,200 - 1,400 calories per day, that is probably not enough and your body will not have enough energy to burn calories, which is what you need to do. Your calories are determined by your height, weight and level of activity. To figure out how many calories you should consume, check this article on BodyBuilding.com: How to Lose Weight.
Take your base calories and divide them up into carbohydrates, protein and fats. Viola! You've got it! The above article recommends 40% for carbohydrates and protein, 20% fat. My macros are divided, just about 1/3 for each. It varies for different people. The key is TRACKING everything you eat. EVERY BITE! I struggled with the macros at first and my trainer encouraged me to not fixate. (I write about him here: Dmitriy Made It Happen.) Get in enough calories (not too many) and try to aim for at least 100 grams of protein. I continue to learn along the way. I found the process to be an immediate success.
There are multiple apps you can use to track your calories and nutrition. They don't always give you an optimal guideline. I use the app from my gym, BestFitness, which I can adjust according to what works best for me. (You have to be a member of BestFitness to use their online food journal.) I did some research and found MyFitnessPal to be an easy (free) app to use. However, it gives you a much lower calorie count than I would recommend and their macros does not include enough protein. I could not figure out how to override the MyFitnessPal recommendations. If you figure out how to set MyFitnessPlan to align more with what BodyBuilding.com recommends, let me know!
Tracking your food takes some getting used to, but in a short time, it becomes an invaluable tool. For me, my biggest struggle has been, and continues to be getting in enough protein. Here is my post (as promised) on my tricks to getting in enough protein: "Protein." Tracking your food works, trust me! I have lost 80 lbs. since January 1, 2014. The first 35 lbs. took a year of doing things my way. Since I started tracking my food in December, I have lost 45 lbs. (six months). I never trust my gut and always log my food, which is why I am Wonder Woman!
Flexin' with my Wonder Woman shirt on.
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