The term “macros” is getting a lot of buzz in the diet and nutrition world. Many people who are tracking their macros are posting photos online of brownies, ice cream and cereal and claiming that they can eat anything they want and still reach their nutrition goals.
It’s causing a lot of conversation and argument and this post will serve as my opinion and advice when it comes to the macro debate.
First, a little explanation: macros are macronutrients – protein, fat and carbs. The correct amount of each macronutrient can be calculated and tracked so that you can reach specific goals, be it gaining weight, losing it or impacting performance. This approach has been called different names like “flexible eating” and IIFYM (if it fits your macros).
Does tracking of macros work? ABSOLUTELY! It allows you to add precision to your diet so that you maintain the correct caloric balance to reach your goals. I’ve actually been tracking my macros for more than eight months straight and I’ve never been leaner or stronger.
The biggest barrier to success in tracking macros is that it requires weighing and measuring EVERYTHING you eat and drink on a DAILY basis and logging it into a diet app to make sure you hit your totals.
Say that it is determined that you should be eating 275 grams of carbs, 150 grams of protein and 45 grams of fat on a daily basis. Then, you must specifically hit those totals, within a few grams, CONSISTENTLY. Not two days of perfection, then go off plan for three days, come back for a couple of days, then blow it on the weekend. That will not work.
Tracking your macros has everything to do with being honest with yourself. If you decide on dessert…log it. If you go out for drinks…log it. Log EVERYTHING. Don’t be in denial about what you put in your mouth. Life happens and won’t hit your numbers 100% of the time. But, know that the less you hit your target numbers, the less success you will have.
I’ve tracked every single day without fail for 248 days and I hit my macro totals using real food 95% of the time. Notice, I said REAL FOOD.
This brings me back to the aforementioned posts on social media where your friends are claiming that they can eat anything they want as long as they hit their totals. They are eating donuts, cereal, candy, etc. and they are losing weight. Sure, you can eat those things to reach your goals and you can lean out (after all it’s about calories), but are you really fueling yourself for performance and long-term health?
One of the biggest benefits of tracking macros is that you CAN work in indulgences – wine, pizza, cake, etc – on occasion and not go over your totals. It’s a checks and balances system. But, 275 grams of carbs from potatoes, bananas, rice, sweet potatoes and plantains is not the same as 275 grams of carbs from straight up sugar. For one, you are going to eat far less and be hungry. For two, it’s not proper fuel, fit for an athlete. And for three, you will miss out on micronutrients you get from real food.
I know for a fact the people who are glamorizing tracking macros by posting photos of ice cream are also eating whole foods most of the time. But, posting photos of chicken and broccoli isn’t sexy.
So, do I think that people should and can be tracking macros. YES! But, I believe greatly in food QUALITY. And realize the magic lies in hitting those numbers and achieving the caloric balance. If you don’t hit them, it won’t work. I’ve worked with at least 30 people at CFVB on this and maybe 15% have actually done it day in and day out. And guess what? They achieved or are in process of achieving their goals – leaness, strength, whatever.
My last message is this: macros, Paleo, Zone, Renaissance periodization, South Beach, Atkins, flexible eating…any diet plan for that matter may work for one person and not another. Everyone has different metabolisms, hormones, and some people are on medication that may hinder weight loss. Worry less about what other people are doing and more about what is right for you.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop wondering why this person or that is eating crap and looking good. Do what’s good for your health and performance and the aesthetic results will come!
PS: if anyone wants assistance in calculating their macros, feel free to contact me. I’ve create a “how to” sheet. But remember: it’s up to you to do it!
Coaching Update: Kristi’s commitments as a teacher have multiplied, so she will no longer be coaching regularly at CFVB. I guess with “Teacher of the Year” comes more responsibilities! Kristi is a CFVB original member, who eventually became a coach known not only for her inspiring training style, but also for her choice of music! Today’s 4:30 and 5:30 PM classes will be her last, although she will still be here working out and you may see her as a sub from time to time. If you are attending this afternoon’s classes, be sure to make some dance requests.
Workout of the Day
*heats of 10, stagger start
100 calories on Air bike
1000 m run
Lower Body Mobility:
3 sets of:
:20 couch stretch for quad, psoas, hips (each leg)
:20 pigeon stretch for hip (each leg)
:20 calf stretch (each leg)
Post your scores to the Whiteboard.