I went on a major birthday shopping spree yesterday. It was one of the best shopping experiences I’ve had in a very long time!! There are a few reasons why.
#1. I had a bunch of birthday money to use. Shopping stinks when you don’t really have much money and are trying to stay within a budget. It becomes fun when you don’t really worry about money and pick things you really like.
#2. Despite my first point, I still managed to get like 15 things for just over $100. Forever 21 & Target for the win, baby!
#3. I actually felt good in everything I tried on yesterday. If you are a girl, you know that sometimes trying on clothes can be discouraging or disheartening. Sometimes you feel like all your flaws are magnified as you try on your ideal dress size just to find you can’t zip it up. I usually feel that way. Yesterday, for some reason, I just felt so comfortable in my skin. I didn’t care about sizes but rather how the clothes made me feel. It was the first time I’ve experienced that in a long time!
If you are into fitness or health at all, and especially if you follow other fitness & health fanatics on social media, you may have been noticing recently that there’s lots of talk about “counting macros” or “IIFYM” (IIFYM stands for “If It Fits Your Macros,” just FYI). This may be confusing since it’s yet another thing to consider when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. You may be wondering things like “Why do people count their macros?” “Should I be counting my macros?” “How do I know how much of each I’m supposed to be consuming?” And so on and so forth. I wanted to take some time this post to maybe help you answer some of those questions and share my experience with counting macros.
First of all, the term “macros” stands for macronutrients. The three macronutrients are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. When people talk about counting their macros, they are talking about keeping track of how much of each of these macronutrients they are consuming per day and if they are reaching their goals. When you hear someone talking about macro goals, they will usually say a percentage (like 24% fat, 38% carbs, and 38% protein). This means that they want 24% of their calories consumed to be from fat, 38% of calories consumed for carbs and protein. To keep in mind- each gram of fat is 9 calories, and each gram of protein or carb is 4 calories.
Why do people count their macros? Well, most of the time people keep track of their macros if they are trying to reach a certain goal. The truth is that not all calories are created equal. We may have a calorie budget of 1800 a day, but if we are eating 3 slices of pizza only per day and meeting our budget, then is that really helping us meet our energy requirements, refuel, build muscle, and stay lean? Probably not. Usually athletes, people focusing on building muscle, or people trying to stay lean/lose weight track macros because it helps them get the nutrients they actually need, rather than just reach an ambiguous calorie goal.
Should I be counting my macros? Well, I think that’s a personal decision and one that needs to be dealt with lots of wisdom, discernment, and counsel from others. Counting your macronutrients can provide great health benefits and be really eye-opening at how greatly our standard diet lacks in certain essential nutrients. It can also really help us reach our fitness goals and become aware of certain foods we need more or less of in our diet. It also helps majorly with portion control. However, counting macros can be time-consuming, draining, and even become obsessive. If you have dealt with disordered eating in the past, I would not recommend taking on the task of counting your macros. It will just become another outlet for disordered views on eating and counting calories.
How do I know how much of each macronutrient I’m supposed to be consuming? Well, that depends on your goal. If you are wanting to build muscle mass while staying lean, then I would suggest a 35% carb, 25% fat, 40% protein breakdown. If you are doing hardcore training for an event like a marathon or triathlon, I would suggest 50% carbs, 30-35% protein, and about 20% fats. Some people who are really trying to lean down for fitness or figure competitions get down to something like 15% fat, 30% carbs, and 55% protein. So…think about what your goals are, then adjust percentages accordingly. The best way to track macros is through a fitness app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt! I suggest the latter- it has a great breakdown of macronutrients as a focus of their app.
If you are supposed to be consuming 1800 calories, then multiply the 1800 by your different percentages, then divide those numbers by 9 for fat and 4 for carbs and proteins. That will give you the amount of grams for each macronutrient you need. For more about IIFYM, check out this site.
My experience with counting macros: I have downloaded the LoseIt! app for a few days at a time and track what I eat normally…so no trying to “eat well” or do anything out of the ordinary. Then I looked to see the trends & my percentages. Honestly, it was SHOCKING. In a normal day, about 50% of my calories were from fat, 40% from carbs, and like 10% from protein. That was explaining a lot of why I was tired and not recovering well from workouts (I teach spin twice or even sometimes three times a day!). I continued to use the app for a couple more days and tried to reach my goals of 24% of my calories from fat, 38% from carbs, and 38% from protein. This helped me see how it felt to get my percentages right. I was having to consciously eat a lot more protein than normal!
Since I do have a background in some disordered eating, I don’t keep up with tracking my macros on a normal basis. If I feel off energy-wise, then I will do it again to help me stay on track.
One of my biggest issues is portion control, so I feel like tracking macros helps me see what right portions need to be. Overall, when I keep mostly in these percentages, I feel awesome and like I’m able to recover and build muscle, while maintaining good energy. However, in a season where I’m not working out as much or training for something, I will probably just eat normally and not worry about my macronutrients.
In Summary: If you have a serious fitness goal or have reached a plateau in your fitness, then counting your macros might be helpful. However, if you are just trying to get healthier, don’t complicate things even more. Just eat real whole foods, exercise, and you’ll be good to go! I hoped this help answer some questions. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions…I would love to help where I can!
Other fitness professionals- do you have anything to note or add? I wanna hear everyone’s input on this topic!!
**Note: I am not a registered dietician, health coach, or medical professional. The explanations on this post are purely from my own personal research and experience. Seek medical help if you have any serious conditions.
- 6 pieces of bacon (I used turkey bacon, but the kind of bacon is up to you!)
- 2 whole eggs + 6 egg whites, OR just 8 whole eggs
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- some salt & pepper to taste
*Optional- about 6 oz pork or turkey sausage
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cook strips of bacon in a pan over medium heat and set aside. **If adding sausage to this recipe, cook the sausage in the pan after the bacon, grinding it up with the spatula as you go. Once it’s cooked through, drain grease and set aside.**
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your egg and egg whites, until egg yolks are fully incorporated.
- Add the spinach, tomatoes, garlic, and spices to the mixing bowl, and mix ingredients together well with a spoon. **Also add turkey sausage bits if you cooked them earlier**
- Grease a 8″ glass pie pan, and place 6 pieces of bacon along the bottom of the pie pan, like a crust!
- Pour the egg mixture over the bacon. Sprinkle with more pepper on top. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes. **25 minutes if adding sausage**
- Remove from heat, let cool, then slice up and enjoy!