Macros and Intuitive Eating
Macros? What is that? It sounds like some sort of computer term or something right? But understanding macros is actually a key factor in achieving your wellness goals
Macros (short for ‘macronutrients’) refer to carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are the three basic components of every diet, and these three things are not created equal! It is helpful to realize that your body requires these macronutrients to function. According to Amy Lawrenson for Women’s Health Magazine, “Get the right balance of these and you’ll not only lose weight, but you’ll also be more effective at burning fat and building lean muscle.”
How does this all work?
THE BREAK DOWN:
Carbs provide energy. Proteins help you repair and build muscle. Fats keep you satisfied and full and stabilize your hormones.
Now you understand that your body needs these three key food groups to function, how much do you eat? How do you keep track? There are a few different strategies, but they aren’t all equally effective.
KIND OF EFFECTIVE:
Some people use a calculator to figure out their caloric goal, and then use a general percentage of each food group to calculate their macros. Usually this entails following a 2,000 calorie diet that is 25% fat, 45% carbs, and 30% protein. But because this plan is so generic, it often doesn’t support your personal goals. Everyone’s body is completely different!
There are several calculators online that you can try out. The most accurate ones will ask you about your goals, daily physical activity, height, weight, age, etc. All of these factors are taken into account when calculating your macros. This definitely beats a “guess-timation” based on percentages, but still lacks in some areas.
Because there are so many factors that a calculator just can’t take into account, I believe the most effective methods is working with a coach or trainer who will be able to assess factors in conjunction with your fitness plan and lifestyle to calculate your personalized macros.
After your macros are calculated, the easiest way to stay on track and meet your macros each day is honestly with an app. MyFitnessPal is a great option with a free version that is very effective, but there are several apps out there to choose from!
For the first few weeks, constantly tracking and logging all your food will feel like it takes a lot of effort. My advice: find a few options that fit into your day and meal prep! Plan ahead! Set yourself up for the next few days, know exactly what and how much you are going to eat, and forget about the app until you begin meal prepping again. Every time you encounter foods that you have never tracked before, plug it in and see what comes up!
And yes, you could technically have pizza every day if it fits your macros. But that will limit a lot of other options for your day, and you will find that healthy fats and carbs will leave you feeling a lot better in the end and give you significantly better results!
Eventually, you will begin to know what you need to fuel your body each day without the app and you will have moved on to what is called “intuitive eating”—trusting that you know when to fuel up, when to stop, what to eat, what you are lacking, etc. This is when you will have gained the knowledge to sustain this as a lifestyle and stick to it! Feel like you are getting off tack? Pull out that app and keep yourself in check!
All in all, the BEST diet for you will be the one that you can keep up long-term. Why not choose one that gives your body what it needs, while allowing you to eat all the foods you actually enjoy?