May 12, 2016

If you’ve been around the fitness or nutrition scene for any length of time, you know that every once in a while comes along a new workout craze or nutrition craze that seems to catch fire.

There was Bill Philips’ Body for life, P90X and Insanity… Adkins, Zone and Paleo… currently the hot trend is flexible dieting – aka “Macros“.

Don’t believe me? Jump on your favorite social media platform and search #macros. You’ll be surprised what you find. But, here’s what’s interesting; macros is (are) nothing new. In fact, it’s virtually the OLDEST method for tracking your daily eating habits you might find. Someone was simply clever enough to put a name to it… and BOOM!!! Why didn’t I think of that?!

Well, what are “macros” anyways!?

Macros is short for macro-nutrients.  Simply put, macros are the 3 major (macro) ingredients in food that supply us with calories.  They are: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates.

OK?!  So, that was no major reveal… what’s so special about them?

Well, when consumed in the right ratios (percentages), they can be extremely beneficial to fat loss.

OK?! Still not impressed…?!

Here’s the magic… with macros, you can be more flexible with your food choices. There are virtually NO “off-limits” food choices. So, in essence, it makes the diet easier to adhere to long term.  And, therefore, more consistency (less cheating) means better results.

AHH!!!! There it is… So, I can eat what I want and still drop body-fat?!

YES!!! Within reason.  With macros, its like playing Food-Tetris (I’ll take partial credit for that analogy… smile). You have a goal number of grams, per day, for each of the 3 macro-nutrients.  And, since each of the macro-nutrients contains a fixed amount of calories you don’t have to track calories.  Because, by tracking macros, you ARE tracking calories.

Are you saying, I can eat “unhealthy” foods and still lose body-fat?

While I am not advocating that you eat (nothing but) junk food while following macros; I AM saying it is OK to consume foods that would normally be off limits. I’d advise anyone following macros to stick to Pareto’s principle, or the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time, you should be eating “healthier” choices (Meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch and no added sugar).  And, 20% of the time…eat what you want.

How am I going to reach my goals by doing that?

Well, here’s the catch… you need to track your food intake. And, for those that are most successful on a macros plan, you also need to weigh and measure your foods.

Dang it!  I knew it sounded too good to be true!

Yeah, I know. It can be burdensome to track, weigh and measure your food.  But I promise, the results will be well worth it.  And, when you get to eat most of what you want in the process, you’ll be the one laughing in the end.

So, how do I track my food?

Great question! There are several, food tracking, mobile apps available for FREE on the market.  My favorite, the one I use, and probably the most popular is My Fitness Pal.  With the app, it’s simple. But, again, for best results, you’ll need to weigh your foods for accuracy.

To track on MFP,

  1. Pick a food – Apple.
  2. Pick the weight – 160 grams.
  3. Press Add food and you’re done

The app will calculate your total protein/ carb/ fat ratios and total grams so you can make sure to stay within your daily targets.  What’s REALLY cool about MFP is the fact that is has a bar-code scanner for easy entry of food.  AND, you can add your favorite foods/ recipes for easy add later.

Lastly, it is a wiki database, which means the data is constantly updated by the community of users like you.  This can be good when the data is accurate and bad when it is not.  Just be careful to always check when you are adding food to see if it looks funky.

But, how do I know how many grams of protein, carbs and fat I need?

The golden question. And, the cliché answer: “everyone’s needs are different”.