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Counting Macros FAQ

About two months ago I let you all know that I would be embarking on a new challenge – counting my macros. I wrote about what macros are and why I am counting them in this post

While I certainly haven’t been perfect with my counting, I have learned quite a bit, and more importantly, have been asked tons of questions about the process. I decided to compile a list of questions I’ve been asked the most but before I answer them, here is a little update on my macro journey.

I wish I can say that I have been super consistent but that would just be a lie. I would say I go through phases, where some days I count everything and other days absolutely nothing. The reason for this is if I am not eating all my meals at home, I find it extremely difficult to count – and I will touch on this more in the FAQ.

In the weeks that I do count, I can say right away that I feel leaner and I also see more muscle definition. My macro coach told me this is due to the “honeymoon” phase of macro counting where you drop water weight so your muscles look more sculpted. 

Although I have taken breaks from counting, I do eventually get back to it and that is one of the things I love the most about this concept. If it were a diet and I fell off the bandwagon, I probably wouldn’t get back on. But because this is more of a lifestyle, I find it so much easier to get back on track with counting, even if it’s been days or weeks since I last logged. I find I don’t have an all or nothing attitude with counting.  

Lastly, I have found the more you log, the easier it gets and that is because MyFitnessPal (which I will also touch on in the FAQ) remembers your foods. So it can definitely be daunting at the beginning to measure and count everything but I can attest firsthand that it will get easier.

Now that you have my update, read on for some of the questions that I have been getting the most. Just remember that these answers are based on my own personal experience

What does “counting macros” mean?

Counting ‘macros’ means eating a certain number of macronutrients (carbs, fats + proteins) each day. Read this post for more information.

How do I know how many macros to eat?

Your number of macros depends on so many different factors including your age, weight, sex and every day activity level. While there are calculators you can find online, I highly recommend working with a certified macro coach who will use a lot of personal information including body measurements and a week-long log of everything you eat to analyze and calculate your number. I worked with @yourmacrocoach. There are lots of resources online to find a coach or you can reach out to your local gym and find out if any trainers there are certified in providing this information. 

What are your macros?

I have chosen not to disclose this information as I do not want anyone to go off what I’m eating as a guide. It really should be customized to you. 

How do I track my macros?

I use the app MyFitnessPal on my iPhone to log all my food. I pay for the premium version which gives me a breakdown of the macros in the app. Sometimes I have to weigh my food or sometimes I simply scan a label using the app which is a lot easier. I really like MyFitnessPal and highly recommend it if you are choosing to track your food. 

How do I measure my food?

Measuring food is probably the most difficult (and annoying) part of counting macros. I measure my food with a food scale, (I purchased this food scale off amazon) or measuring cups/spoons. When it comes to deciding how you should weigh, I chose to look at MyFitnessPal (MFP) as a point of reference. Almost all foods in MFP that have been tracked the most will become verified with a little green checkmark next to them which means they are the likely to have the most accurate nutrition breakdown. So when I am eating chicken, for example, I will search chicken in MFP, look for the type (e.g. baked boneless skinless breast) and choose the option with the green checkmark. Then I will see the unit of measure the chicken is in (grams, ounces, cups, etc). Whatever unit of measure shows up, that is how I will measure my own serving on my scale. 

How do I count my macros while eating out at a restaurant?

I wish I had a better answer for this but based on my own personal experience, I will say you can’t. I may get in trouble for saying this but for the most part all you can do is guess. In the US, if you use MyFitnessPal, they do have a setting where you can search some restaurants’ menus and add the food from there. This option does not exist in Canada. In addition, foods such as sushi have so many ingredients and sauces that it really is impossible to know exactly how much fish without weighing, how much rice without measuring and what ingredients are in the sauce. 

If you decide you want to count without deviating at all, there are a few options. You can order the simplest item (as few ingredients as possible) off the menu and eyeball the portion size to log it. Or you can bring a scale with you to the restaurant. You can also look at a menu before you go and try and log all the ingredients you think are in the dish beforehand so you are not on your phone at the meal. 

No judgement to whatever you want to do when you eat out but for me, I have chosen to either guess the macros if the meal is simple enough or, more often then not, not to log. 

Another strategy that has worked well for me is “banking” some of my macros when I know I am going out to eat. This doesn’t mean starving myself during the day but if I know I’m going for Italian, for example, I will hold off on my high-carb foods for the day as best as possible. Based on my experience, I find it only really works for me if I’m going out to eat for dinner. I have found it hard to eat out at brunch or lunch and then try and accommodate the rest of the day.

Will I lose weight?

I believe your macro program should be targeted towards a specific goal, so depending on the goal, either wight loss or weight gain may occur. Personally my goal is to increase strength and focus on fat loss, which means upping my protein and hopefully gaining muscle. I have put on approximately 2-3 pounds.

Will I be hungry?

Once again, this depends on your goal and will also have something to do with what you were eating before starting this new lifestyle. If you are used to consuming more calories and are trying to create a caloric deficit, you may experience hunger. I increased my protein intake dramatically once I was given my protein macro goal so, while I am actually eating less calories than I used to, I am more satiated due to the higher amount of protein.

Can I drink alcohol?

You can eat and drink anything you want and see how they fit into your macro breakdown. Ideally you fulfill your numbers with a nutritious and balanced diet as best as possible.

Do you recommend counting macros?

I would only recommend counting macros if you feel it is safe for you to do so. Counting macros, keeping food journals or any other type of food-tracking system can be triggering for people and may lead to disordered eating patterns. 

Favourite ‘macro’ Instagram accounts?

Your Macro Coach

I Heart Macros

Butter Your Macros

 

 

 

 

 

5 Meal Prep Staples Every Kitchen Needs

Meal prepping is my second favourite way to keep up my healthy lifestyle all week long. (Working out is number one in case you were wondering). When I have prepared food in my fridge, not only am I making better eating choices at home, but I’m also less inclined to say yes to going out for dinner, brunch or drinks as I don’t want my own food to go to waste. 

Spending a few hours on Sunday or Monday to shop and cook is one of the easiest ways to stay on track, however, the thought of actually meal prepping is so daunting to so many people.

If you are new to meal prepping, it definitely takes some trial and error to determine exactly how much food to buy and prepare and this can differ week to week.  But regardless of how much food I am cooking, here are the 5 staples I can’t prep without:

1. Garlic Powder

My mom and sister who are both chefs are probably rolling their eyes reading this as they are all about the freshest and best possible ingredients for cooking. And I understand where they are coming from, however, my top rules for meal prepping are to make it: quick and easy. Garlic is my favourite seasoning and I use it on pretty much everything I make (protein + veggies) but I save time and avoid the extra clean up by just using it in powder form. Using garlic and other spices is a super easy way to keep your prepped food flavourful but also healthier. For example, next time you are prepping chicken, try swapping a saucy marinade for spices which will cut calories, sugar content and time. 

2. Sea Salt

Speaking of spices, a really good sea salt is key to big batch cooking. Just a pinch to every recipe will add a ton of flavour to even the simplest dishes. When I’m making my salmon, all I use are sea salt and pepper. Again, this minimizes clean up and keeps the fish healthy. Sea salt also contains many important minerals including potassium, calcium and magnesium. And if you are curious about the difference between table salt and sea salt, table salt is just processed seal salt, usually with some additives to give it a consistent texture, which reduces the quality of the minerals in the salt. 

3. Oil Spray 

Another ingredient I add to all my prepared food is oil. Whether seasoning a pan or a tray of vegetables, a spray can of oil is the easiest way to exercise portion control. When roasting my vegetables, I will chop them, lay them on a baking sheet and quickly spray them so they are evenly covered. My favourite spray oil is Chosen Food’s Avocado Oil as there are no added ingredients or propane. No matter which oil you prefer (olive, grape-seed, etc.) try and choose a can that only has one ingredient: oil and watch out for added chemicals. Using a spray also eliminates clean up as you are not using any utensils to measure and distribute the oil. 

4. Parchment Paper

When it comes to easy clean up, parchment paper is your best friend. When prepping my veggies to roast and chicken and salmon to bake, I always put a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet first, for two reasons. Firstly, using parchment paper ensures the food won’t stick to the pan. Most of the time I can simply remove the paper and put the pan away without washing it which saves me so much time with my clean up. Secondly, using parchment paper eliminates the use of extra oil to keep your food from sticking. For example, I used to use oil with my fish so it wouldn’t stick. Most fish, especially salmon, are already oily and full of good fat naturally so adding the oil was fat overkill. Now I just use parchment paper and only season the fish it before I cook. My favourite brand is If You Care which is chlorine-free and pre-cut so there is less waste. 

5. Pyrex Containers 

When all your prep is done you need to have somewhere to store this food. Although I mostly use plastic as I purchased so much of it when I first moved into my home, it really is best to use glass. Once my food is finished cooking, I avoid using extra dishes and place it right in the tupperware and let it cool down before it goes in the fridge. Adding heated food to, or re-heating foods in plastic releases chemicals into our food therefore glassware is your friend. My favourite brand is Pyrex as they have rubber lids that make them easy to use and store. 

 

photos not my own – featured image from Buzz Feed. 

Veggie Burgers

I have to say my meal prep game has been strong and consistent for a few years now. I’ve mastered the act of big batch cooking and it typically sets me up for a successful week.  However, while my prep work does allow me to throw together easy meals, I still do wish I was better at making recipes.

The problem with making recipes for me is that it changes my whole grocery shop and cooking routine. Right now I can mindlessly shop a grocery store getting exactly what I need for the week. But if I am shopping for a specific recipe, for some reason I will be in the grocery store for twice as long, looking for ingredients I don’t normally cook with. 

Therefore, any type of home cooking for me always means the same thing: baked chicken, roasted veggies, cooked grains and hard boiled eggs. Throw them altogether in a bowl and that’s as close to a recipe as I’ll get.

Yet now that I work from home, I feel like my beautiful, dust-covered cookbooks are just staring at me, begging me to open them and try a recipe. So the other day I picked up the Oh She Glows cookbook by vegan master chef Angela Liddon and browsed the picture perfect pages for a recipe that didn’t require me buying a whole new pantry.  

I decided to go for her veggie burgers and changed up the recipe to incorporate what I already had at home. This meant substituting breadcrumbs with my all time favourite snack, Mary’s Organic Crackers. A long with a few other tweaks, the recipe turned out delicious and at the end of the day, it wasn’t too much of a hassle to change up my grocery shopping routine. 

Veggie Burgers
Serves 8
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Prep Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  2. 1 cup chickpeas
  3. 1 cup red kidney beans
  4. 1 cup grated carrots
  5. 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  6. 2 garlic cloves
  7. 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  8. 3/4 cups gluten free rolled oats processed into flour
  9. 3/4 cups Mary's Organic Crackers (or other crackers of choice) processed into "bread crumbs"
  10. 2 tablespoons tamari
  11. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  12. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  13. 1 teaspoon cumin
  14. Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed with 1/3 cup warm water and set aside until thickened.
  3. In large bowl combine all ingredients with flaxseed mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Form 8 patties out of the mixture with wet hands to avoid stickiness.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, flip and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Oh She Glows "Our Perfect Veggie Burger"
Kale & Krunches http://kaleandkrunches.com/