Counting macros is a completely new word for me. I always called it ‘food tracking’ and assumed this new word ‘macros’ was a new fad for a diet related to cutting your carbs down and that it would die down a few years back.It’s not about cutting food or dieting at all, it’s literally just tracking what food you eat and what percentage is carbs/fat/protein (your most important intake). So when I started food tracking last week I was in total shock that it had a name.
Macros. It’s not a trend or a fad it’s just a term for food tracking.
Macro=Important food or as google says;
A type of food (e.g. fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the diet.
I flip flop between diets and guidelines so quickly it makes my head hurt but I was paleo for 18months and I’ve been vegan for 6/7 months so they’re pretty stable diets. The only issue was I had studied calories and nutrients for Paleo for so long, a diet that has ridiculous amounts of proteins and barely any carbs. I knew nothing about carbs at all!
Knowing little about your diet means you’re probably not fuelling it correctly, which is exactly what I was doing. At the beginning of the year I was suffering with vegan deficiencies and when I wrote about my vegan diet and losing my hair as a result of not eating the right foods.
How do I find out what I’m eating and if I’m eating enough of the right things?
A food diary.
I’d done it before, in 2011 this site was a food diary. But I needed to find out all the nutrients and percentages I needed to. Luckily we live in a technological age and all of that information was readily available on the app store. I did a quick search of ‘food tracking’ and my fitness pal came up. Well, you know my thoughts on that, but I was in need of an index of food and a log to track it so it was the best choice.
That’s when I discovered macros.
Again, they’re just the term for parts that make up the whole food chain. So you have 3 ‘macro’s for each food item. Whether it’s fruit or a chicken drummer.
Carbs; The majority of your foods that contain carbohydrates (You should aim for 40% on a healthy – muscle building weight loss diet)
Fats; The majority of your foods that contain fats (You should aim for 20% on a healthy – muscle building weight loss diet)
Proteins; The majority of your foods that contain proteins (You should aim for 40% on a healthy – muscle building weightloss diet)
Find out what macros you should be eating
To work out what macros you need for your best interest. You need to workout your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) which is the rate in which you burn calories doing nothing at all. To work that out you need to measure your weight and height. The equation goes like this;
BMR = 66 + (13.8 x weight in kg.) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
For example, mine is; 1,328 which means I will burn 1,328 calories if I do absolutely nothing in my day. I have 1328 calories to ‘play with’, any additional exercise or any fewer calories should result in weight loss. Remember theres 3,500 calories in a pound of fat so you want to reduce your caloric intake and up your expended calories to reduce fat.
*Reducing calories to less than 1,300 is never a good option for reducing fat, increase your exercise in addition to calorie tracking.
Using My fitness pal to help you with this – The App Breakdown
I wanted to look at a breakdown of my intake, find out how many carbohydrates I was eating. The my fitness pal app goes into the diary section, which breaks down each food item and highlights the macros; it also shows each item’s calories and how each meal with those items has counted up. Because yeah – Milk has carbs. Who knew?!
So your fruit, bread, butter and that coffee? It will explain how each part and the meal as a whole adds up in calories and how many you have left for the day. But, the most two important sections; The Nutrients & the macros.
But, the most two important sections; The Nutrients & the macros.
The nutrients section has been a really important part of tracking my protein and carbs as it tells you the protein you’ve eating in the whole day. Once you’ve eaten breakfast you’ll see it ads up to 16g of protein total. Whereas at lunch time it tells you both breakfast and lunch proteins (It’d be nice to see individual breakdowns per meal) where as…
The macros section will only tell you the percentage of protein vs carbs vs fat so it’s hard to tell your actual intake. However it can be great to see a comparision of how much protein to carbs your eating so it’s a great too WITH the nutrients section. If you’ve had a heavy carb day your protein looks lower but you could have had a higher grammage intake which is why you need both sections.
Where I was going wrong before; Not knowing what I was intaking!
I thought I was eating around 100g of carbs and 150-200g of protein per day. Like I had done when I was on the paleo diet; rich in meat & low carb. Little did I know that my vegan diet was super low in fat & protein it was bursting with carbohydrate & sugar and I wasn’t getting any of the essential vitamins I needed. Macro tracking with my fitness pal really highlighted the issues, due to my poor diet,that needed addressing I had bought myself Iron, B12 and some protein-rich nuts, spirulina, pulses and powders to boost my energy during my deficient weeks.
Personally; I will never be able to do a 40/40/20, Carbs Protein and Fat Split on a healthy vegan diet. I’m finding it really hard to reduce your carbs when most of the veggies and protein foods have a tonne of carbs so (please if you know the secret answer to this, let me know!). Hence the need for my super protein waffles that are low carb.
I typically intake 55-25-20.
The app has really helped me re-learn what I need to know about food and hopefully can help you to learn about your own diet. I have a new world of carbohydrates and proteins to learn about and my fitness pals Macro tracker has been a life saver for helping me adjust to such a big change. Do you know how many carbs are in a banana? How much of it is sugar? I didn’t. I was in taking over 80g of sugar just in fruit!
I really would not be healthy without this tracker. Hopefully, once I’ve learnt what a healthy vegan diet is, I’ll be able to go back to eating without worry about how many carbs and sugars are in my meals but for now, it’s a necessity.
I have started eating as paleo-esque as I can, eating non-processed foods and eating as natural as I can but It’s really hard to get my protein up to where I want. I’ve started eating basic meals or mono-meals. Eating huge breakfasts and huge dinners and eating very small lunches. Hence the change in my Instagram.
Breakfast has 3 options; protein porridge (with mango/berries or mixed fruit, nuts and bananas or peanut butter for the fat) Protein waffles with similar options or I’ll go light with a smoothie.
Lunch is normally; a smoothie or a salad or a sweet potato salad wrap.
Do you know how many carbs, protein or fat you have in your diet? – Perhaps you should check!