Tracking your macros is the number one technique that will help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. It is also the easiest way to become informed about what you are eating. Tracking and manipulating your macros can help you gain muscle, lose fat, or both! Making variations in your nutritional intake can mean the difference between shedding stubborn fat and plateauing.
Intentionally recording your macros reduces the “just one bite” mindset. While 4oz vs 6oz of chicken is negligible, over time “just a little bit” of a muffin or chocolate bar will add up to more then “just a bit” by the end of the day. 50 calories here and there, can easily add up to 300 plus calories. The worst thing you can do while trying to lose weight is to eat back the calories you burnt after your workout.
Getting the correct amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet is important in order to reach your goals. Whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle or both, tracking your macros is for you. Getting too much or too little of any macronutrient can have negative consequences such as reducing your metabolism, lowering your energy, muscle loss, fat gain, or changes to your hormone levels.
What are Macro’s?
Macros, meaning – protein, carbohydrates, and fats- are the three main ways your body obtains energy or calories. Tracking your “macro’s” means recording the number of proteins, carbs and fats you consume in your day. Essentially macros are just the categories particular portions of food fall into and each plays different role in our bodies. By strategically manipulating macros I am confident you can reach your health and fitness goals.
Carbohydrates: 1 Gram of Carb = 4 Calories
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in grains, fruits, and vegetables. Carbohydrates are an important fuel source for your brain as well as working muscles. Carbohydrates prevent protein from being used as an energy source and are stored in the liver and skeletal muscles in the form of glycogen.
Carbs can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are those that contain one or two sugars (aka monosaccharides or disaccharides), such as fructose (from fruit) and galactose (from milk products). Simple carbs can also be found in candy, pop, and processed/packaged foods. In contrast to fruit, these items are “empty calories” and contain no vitamins, minerals or fibre and contribute to weight gain.
Complex carbs contain three or more sugars (polysaccharides). These can be found in starchy foods such as beans, peas, legumes, lentils, quinoa, rice, corn, potatoes, whole-grain breads and root vegetables.
Simple carbohydrates, in contrast to complex carbs, are quick energy sources and cause bursts of energy. Due to this simple carbs are digested and absorbed faster leading to spikes in blood sugar levels, while complex carbs provide longer more sustained energy.
Proteins: 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
Proteins are an essential part of all living creatures. They are made up of amino acids that are the building blocks of our muscles. Protein is especially important for structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen. It also plays an important role in immune responses and protein energy malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide(1). Protein has been shown to improved appetite, satiety and diet quality(2).
Protein can be found in eggs, meat, fish, nuts as well as some plants and grains.
It is important to spread your protein intake out through your day. This is because the body can only absorb and use a certain amount protein at one time. The body uses what it can and then what is left over becomes waste.
Fats: 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories
Fats play a very important role in your diet. There is a misconception that fats will make you “fat” and also negatively affect your cholesterol/lipid levels. This is not necessarily true… it is sugar that is the problem, not the fat.
When you consume less fat you feel less satiated and actually consume more starchy foods and sugar (3). This causes the dangerous small dense cholesterol to increase. Studies show that 75% of people who present to the emergency room with a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels but are pre diabetic or have type 2 diabetes(3)!
To be healthy, you want to eat a variety of real, whole, fresh-foods and healthy fats. Avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and coconut butter all are beneficial. These foods fuel your mitochondria, are anti-inflammatory and won’t case negative changes to cholesterol. Grass-fed, high quality animal products are another great source of fats.
Benefits of Tracking Your Macro’s
- Flexibility: Everyone has different goals, different body types and activity levels. This approach is phenomenal because you can easily adjust your carbs, proteins and fats to focus on your unique goal. Whether or not your focus is building muscle or burning fat you can make tracking your macros work to your advantage. This approach to dieting doesn’t require you to eat one particular food or avoid others. If it fits, then go for it (although I always encourage real, whole foods). There’s really no “cheat” meals which prevents binging and the negative mindset of “bad” or “good” foods… FOOD is just FOOD.
- Sustainability: This is not fad, it is a sustainable lifestyle. This approach allows for day-to-day flexibility. For instance, cycling carbohydrates mitigates the potential negative consequences of a strict low carb, “ketogenic” diet. Having variety also increases the changes you will stick to the plan longterm. Not being confined to strict rules or shopping lists has really made this approach desirable to all people.
- Portion Control: Tracking your macros forces you to quantify everything you eat. HOW MUCH of each macronutrient is very important. Eating enormous servings of “clean” foods, beyond your daily caloric limit, will not allow you to lose weight. In addition, eating only sweet potatoes and avocados will not allow you to gain muscle.
- Educational: Because you are focusing on tracking all your food, you will quickly learn the macronutrients that make up a variety of foods. You will be able to choose snacks and meals more strategically and feel empowered and confident when eating both at home and in restaurants. This method teaches you how to choose the RIGHT foods to provide the RIGHT fuel for your body based on your goals.
- Complementary: Tracking your macros allows you to be strategic and get the most out of your workouts. Your macros should change on a day-to-day basic depending on your workout/activity level. For example when my clients do a heavy weight workout they increase their total carb intake. Increasing your carbs not only is necessary on these days to provide energy, but also to prevent injury.
- It works!: Personally I have seen phenomenal results with the flexible dieting approach. Controlling your food quality and your food quantity is the number one way to achieve your goals.
Cauliflower Crust Pizza Recipe:
For the cauliflower crust:
- 1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed
- ¼ cup each grated Parmesan cheese & Mozzarella cheese
- Herbs: ½ teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
For the topping:
- Your Hearts Desire!
- Mozzarella Cheese, Crumbled goat cheese.
- Tomato, Roasted vegetables, Sautéed mushrooms, Pepperoni, Olives
- *** It is best to roast/cook vegetable toppings first
Preparing your Cauliflower Pizza Crust:
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking oil on a pizza stone or baking sheet.
- Remove the florets from your head of cauliflower and process in the food processor until a sand consistency is reached (2-3 cups).
- Microwave the cauliflower sand for 4 minutes. Then let it cool completely. Do not skip the cool down step.
- Place the cauliflower in a towel and wring it out. This is also an important step. Your crust will not work if you do not remove enough moisture.
- Next throughly mix the cauliflower, cheese, spices and egg together.
- Place the formed dough onto the sprayed parchment paper then place a second piece of sprayed parchment paper on top of the dough ball. Next roll it out into a circle until it is 1/6in thick.
- Remove the second sheet of parchment and bake for about 10 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
- Spread a thin layer sauce over the pizza dough add desired cheese & toppings.
- Bake for another 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes prior to slicing.
Now I’d like to hear from you! Submit your comments below, and tell me what you think. How has changing your diet affected your life? How have you noticed fat and sugar affecting you? I’d also like to encourage you to share this with your friends on social media.
Bogden, John D. and Donald B. Louria. “Aging And The Immune System: The Role Of Micronutrient Nutrition”. Nutrition 15.7-8 (1999): 593-595. Web.
2. Heather J Leidy, Chelsie B Todd, Adam Z Zino, Jordan E Immel, Ratna Mukherjea, Rebecca S Shafer, Laura C Ortinau, and Michelle Braun. Consuming High-Protein Soy Snacks Affects Appetite Control, Satiety, and Diet Quality in Young People and Influences Select Aspects of Mood and Cognition. The Journal of Nutrition. First published ahead of print May 20, 2015 as doi: 10.3945/jn.115.212092.
University of California – Los Angeles. “Most Heart Attack Patients’ Cholesterol Levels Did Not Indicate Cardiac Risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112130653.htm>.