You see this ALL the time on social media “If it fits your macros!” or “I track my macros”… but what does that even mean?! Are they tracking their calories or is it a point system like weight watchers? If you’re an old pro at tracking macros, this won’t be anything new to you. I wrote this to simply introduce Macro Tracking to people who have never tracked before or are just starting out. This is the absolute basics. Nothing crazy, nothing that needs crazy research – just simple information to get you started. If you are BRAND NEW to Macro Tracking, or if you just want to learn the basics to the ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ lifestyle. Then you’ve come to the right place! Keep on reading! 🙂
SO WHAT ARE MACROS?
Macros are your macro-nutrients. They are made up of Proteins, Carbs, and Fats that are in your food. These are the big three nutrients that supply our bodies with the energy that we need, and they help our bodies function correctly. We need these three macro-nutrients for our body to repair and GROW. These three nutrients are the ones that our bodies need in large amounts, each having their own role.
WHAT ARE MICROS?
Micros are your micro-nutrients. These are your vitamins and minerals that your body needs! Minerals being your fluoride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc. Vitamins being your Vitamin C, A, D, E and K, and B-Complex vitamins.
A lot of people who track their macros seem to forget all about tracking their micros as well. Instagram a lot of the time we see people with the ice-cream cookie sandwich’s, or big maple bacon donuts and say “It fits my macros!” However, we can’t forget about getting the proper amount of micros in our diet as well!
The micros that I like to pay close attention to are sodium, fiber, and sugar. Watching these and making sure you are within your set goal, is important. Having too much fiber in your diet you can find yourself uncomfortable and constipated (yeah, I said it!). Too much sodium in your diet can cause water retention and bloating, and taking in too much sugar can ultimately slow your progress down, and can cause your sugar cravings to go crazy! I personally like to keep my sugar below 35g a day.
WHY IS TRACKING THESE NUTRIENTS SO IMPORTANT?
These nutrients, all play a certain role in your body. Each one so specific that you need a certain amount of EACH for you individual self. Everyone’s macros will be different, as everyone’s bodies are different.
If I were to have way too many carbs in my diet than what my body wants, I could gain excess fat and feel sluggish/full. Too little carbs and I will be hungry for more. My muscles would be wanting those carbs for fuel and to grow, and they wouldn’t be getting enough so they can not grow like I want them to! Same goes with protein and fats. We all need a specific amount for our body.
It seems overwhelming and stressful at first. However, once you figure out what your personal macros should be, there is only room for improvement!
HOW TO GET STARTED.
To get started, download an app that helps track for you! I use “MyFitnessPal”, but some others have used “My Macros+”. I’ve heard great things about that app. Both of these apps allow you to input all your food, create recipes and meals, and it remembers the food you input for quick future reference. You can also input your weight, water intake, workouts and add friends to cheer you on.
First, start by plugging in what you would NORMALLY eat in a day. Don’t even think about hitting any goals. I want you to see how many carbohydrates, proteins and fats (as well as sodium/fiber/sugar) you are consuming in a normal day! Do this for 4-5 days and this will help show you on average, what you are eating before you even begin to track your macros.
Knowing your average macro numbers now, will help you in the future after you have calculated what your macros SHOULD be.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR MACROS.
This is where I steer you to Jessie Fitness, and tell you to buy an E-Book! Not even joking. You can pick between ANY of her five books (including a Prenatal Edition one). These books have everything mapped out for you – workouts, phases/splits, cardio routine, rest days, HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR MACROS, rest day macros, peak week, and more. It’s the best investment you could ever make in yourself. $79.99 and you get ALL of that, and more. They ALL have the calculations ready for you and your specific goals. (You even get added to the private Facebook group of over 7000+ woman, to cheer you on and give you awesome tips and share progress pictures with!)
You can also go to Body Building’s Macro Calculator that they have online. Just be aware that they may give you a higher protein amount than Jessie’s books would.
**With that being said, I HIGHLY recommend using a Jessie’s Girls Training Program to help you with your macros and training. **
FIGURE OUT A PLAN.
THIS is where those numbers that you averaged out in the beginning, before you even calculated your macros, will come into play. Now, write those averages down on a piece of paper next to your new calculated macros. Compare those two, and you will see where you are lacking and where you are eating in a surplus.
Once you figure out how OFF you have been eating, you will need to determine whether or not you need to REVERSE DIET.
BUT WHAT IS REVERSE DIETING?
If you have been under eating by more than 300 calories, you will have to SLOWLY add in macros, in small increments, over a specific amount of time. If you don’t take that time to slowly reverse, this is where bloating can happen, weight gain, and feeling sluggish/full. Really taking the time to reverse diet correctly can help repair your metabolism the right way, avoid excess weight gain and set you up for an awesome road with macro tracking!
My favorite post about Reverse Dieting, and how exactly to figure out your reverse diet plan, is from Jessie Hilgenberg’s blog! CLICK HERE to check it out!!
CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
Now that you have your macro’s set, and you took the time to reverse diet, you are all set! Tracking macros daily will be the key to success for you, I promise! Consistency is really the key with this lifestyle. It’s not a diet, it’s exactly what I just said – a lifestyle. It is not a quick fix or a fad diet that lasts a few weeks, this takes a lot of time and practice. This will set you up for a lifetime of happiness and help give you an awesome relationship with food again.
Yes, we all fall of the wagon. Yes, we have all been there where we ate WAY too much of that delicious creamy pasta, or chocolate cookie skillet. What matters most here, is that you just keep going. We all have off days! The key to this lifestyle is being CONSISTENT with tracking and just keep moving forward. When you fall off the wagon, or need to get back on track, tracking is always there for you and you now know what needs to be done. You know what you have to eat to get to your goals.
EAT WHAT YOU LOVE!
Another term for I.I.F.Y.M&M. is “flexible dieting”, because it is just that: FLEXIBLE. The joy of macro tracking, is that you can have those yummy treats, or big peanut butter and jelly burger. There’s NO NEED for dry tilapia and steamed veggies all day to hit your fitness goals. You can make the types of food that you love, FIT towards your macro goals. Life should be all about flexibility and having fun. Yes, you should fill most of your macros with nutrient dense food and lean proteins, but we all need to have a little fun sometimes too! Having a big carb-filled meal shouldn’t ruin your day! Make it fit into your macro’s and move on with your day. 🙂
LETS TALK MEALS.
I try to aim for SIX “meals” in a day. I tend to get hungry every two hours, so having 6-7 meals works great for me!
My day looks something like this:
- Pre-Workout Meal
- Post-Workout Meal
- Morning Snack
- Afternoon Snack
- Bed Time Snack
For example, lets say your macro’s look something like this:
- Carbs: 230g
- Fats: 75g
- Protein: 175g
To make it simple, divide each of those numbers by 6 (for your 6 meals) and those are the numbers you want to aim for, for EACH meal. For this example, this would put you at: 38g Carbs |13g Fat | 29g Protein per meal. That is a GREAT place to start.
As you become more comfortable with Macro Tracking (and
if … when you get an E-Book from Jessie Fitness) you will be able to properly learn how to plan your pre- and post-workout meals perfectly. For those meals, we like to aim for little to no fat, and fiber. However, starting out with evenly dividing the macros between each of your meals, is a great place to start.
When planning a meal, I like to start with my carb source because I like to make sure that I hit my carb goal every meal. This helps me to stay on track through-out the day. When I don’t watch my “carb meal goals” I tend to have too many one meal, and not enough in the next meal and it puts me off for the day making it harder to hit my total carb number at the end of the day. Same with my protein – I like to make sure I hit my protein goal for every single meal.
Lets take a look at my lunch! I usually start with either white rice, or a tortilla. I plug it into my app (MyFitnessPal) and see how many carbs that will give me for my meal. I then decide what type of protein I want to have – usually it is chicken or lean ground turkey. Once you plug that in, you can see how many carbs and protein you have for that meal. This will also tell you how many fats you have left for your “fat meal goal”. If you are having turkey, that has some fat as well as protein so you’ll already have a few grams of fat logged. My favorite fat sources to use are Basil Pesto or cheese! They are great, easy fat sources to add to any meal!
GET COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR APP
It’s all about playing around in your app, and manipulating those ingredients to fit your specific macros. Sometimes to fit my macro’s, I have to make something .8 of a serving. Just play around and see what fits!
I also like to plan out my meals in advance, either in my app or at least in my head. Planning ahead makes it easier because you can then plan in those little “treats” that you like to have. Example would be some Halo Top ice-cream, or some cookies! Plan them in at the beginning of the day into your app, and that will allow you to plan around that specific treat. This ensures you that your treat will fit, and you can still hit your macros!
EAT ALL THE FOOD & BE HAPPY!
YOUR BODY WILL THANK YOU!
Fuel your body accordingly and in return, your body will thank you. Your metabolism will start to trust you again and start using that food as fuel for your muscles.
EAT the food, and GROW those beautiful muscles!
Let me know if you have any questions or comments below or on my Facebook Page!