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?