Recently, I’ve been getting tons of questions about my diet regime, specially counting macros (if you need an intro to macros before reading on, head to my other blog post here). One thing I’ve noticed is people say they want to start but don’t know how or feel intimidated by the whole process. So, I’m going to give you some tips on how to start, what to expect, and why to not be scared!
First things first. How do you know what your macros are? Where do my macro numbers come from? Here’s the deal with this. Deriving your numbers comes from a variety of things. Your height, weight, exercise habits, metabolic rate, goals (whether you want to cut, bulk, maintain), and prior/current eating habits (ie. if you damaged your metabolism from restrictive eating, etc). All of these factors are all taken into account.
Now, there are online calculators where you can input very basic information and it will generate a caloric number which is broken down into the amount of grams of carbs, proteins, and fats you should eat per day. I personally am not a big fan of these online calculators. I think that each person is too unique for a computer to generate what I would deem as a very specific and customized number. That being said, I think a professional, such as a certified personal trainer is the way to go. They have the knowledge, education, and experience to give you accuracy. For the past year, Paola (@paosfitworld) has been calculating my macros (and I would highly recommend her!) Feel free to contact her if you’re interested in her calculating yours too–she’s the best #butreally
Okay, so yes, that is how you get your macro numbers. Next main question I see people asking is actually more of a concern. I hear things like, I want to start but feel like it will be very time consuming, too stressful, how do I know what to eat? Etc. For starters, like anything, in the beginning it is not easy! It takes practice so to speak.
Let me give you an example. The first day I counted macros, I had less than 10g of carbs left by dinnertime. Ummm. Yeah. As you can imagine, I was like WTF AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT!? For those of you that do not have a frame of reference for how little of an amount that is, lets just say that even a cup of vegetables is more than that (and don’t feel bad, I had no idea that a banana had 30g of carbs before I started counting!) Anyway, I digress. Point being it took time and practice to spread my numbers out somewhat evenly throughout the day so by dinnertime I wasn’t SOL. Basically, for the first two weeks I had to map out my entire day of food that morning. Meaning, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all went into my fitness pal (MFP) before my day started so I could ensure I would hit all my numbers for the day. Yeah, it took a good amount of time and was it was annoying. I was like, wait, I thought the point of macros was to have flexibility? Not feel constrained and tied down to MFP.
However, I told myself I would stick with counting for at least 2 months so I could give it a fair assessment. And I’m so glad I did. One being, inputting food became SO much faster and easier. For a few reasons. MFP saves your most recent and favorite foods so you aren’t having to search constantly for what you ate. But honestly, even if it didn’t save anything, you become so accustomed to inputting items that you become very efficient at it. Like, last night before I went to bed, I was able to input all the food into the app that I packed for work the next day (so everything except for dinner), in literally 1 min. Also, once you start getting accustomed to what your body needs, you aren’t having to put in every item of food before or after every snack/meal. There are many days where I don’t input what I’ve eaten until late afternoon, and I’m still on track with my macros for the day because I now know approximately what my body needs. Ie. I know not to eat two servings of peanut butter in one sitting because that would be like half my fats for the day.
In terms of weighing your food. Isn’t this time consuming? Again, in the beginning yes. But, like anything it becomes second nature and you end up being able to do it very quickly. I don’t even notice that I’m weighing food anymore, I just do it and it’s done! And as a side note, in my opinion, a scale is necessary. You can measure or eyeball things but its not nearly as accurate. Because honestly, if you’re going to take the time do something, you might as well do it right! And yeah, if you’re not at home I’m not suggesting you carry a scale around with you. BUT when you’re at home its a very simple thing to do to really ensure accuracy.
So, yeah, I get that it can seem overwhelming in the beginning. And it can be, I won’t lie to you. If you’re just starting your fitness journey, I would say take at least 6 months to really nail down your exercise habits as starting a fitness regime and counting macros may be too overwhelming at first. But if you are at all genuinely interested, please just try it! It’s not for everyone and I totally get that. I am not here to push macros onto you and tell you that it is the only way you can eat. That would be stupid. I am just sharing my experience, which has been positive. Macros has allowed me flexibility; mentally I am much happier because I can enjoy more of the foods I love while still reaching my fitness goals and not being a social hermit And, like I said in my post this week, I finally felt like all the hard work I was putting in at the gym was paying off–I saw the physical changes I knew I was working so hard for.
And as usually my posts are much longer than intended, BUT I hope this helps answer some questions! Feel free to leave any comments, or email me. My email can be found in my IG bio.