'Macros' is the new buzz word at the moment, with many celebrities and trainers adopting this new way of tracking your food but what is a 'Macros Diet'?
Sarah Prestedge is a Level 3, REPs certified Personal Trainer, along with Online Nutrition Coach, making her a perfect person to give us a little guide...
What are Macros?
Whether you are looking to shed weight, or gain muscle mass then macronutrients (also known as macros) can help you reach various health goals.
Macronutrients are the building blocks of our diet. They consist of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. Most people like to count their macros so they can build flexible and sustainable diets without restrictive unhealthy behaviours.
How do you get into Macros?
First of all you will need to workout your own Macros. This is a calculation that is unique to you. It is dependent on factors such as your age, gender, height, weight, your current physical activity level and your goal, such as weight maintenance, weight loss, or muscle gain. You can do this using an online calculator such as https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator or you can contact me via Instagram or Facebook and book yourself a free 20 minute consultation. Once you have your own unique breakdown of percentages, you can then start to monitor your food intake.
Weighing your food and working it all out on your own can, understandably, feel like a complicated process for some, so to make things a bit easier, there are app’s to help you monitor your daily intake. Apps such as My Fitness Pal has a great free version and allows you to enter and save foods and recipes that you eat on a regular basis so you don't have to waste your time adding in your favourite curry recipe every time you cook it…. just click and add once.
Your daily carbohydrates should be around 45-65% of your daily calorie intake. Carbohydrates are found in foods such as grains, starchy vegetables, beans, dairy products and fruits. They contain around 4 calories per gram.
Protein, like Carbs, contains 4 calories per gram and should comprise of 10-35% of your total calorie intake. Examples of protein rich foods are eggs, poultry, fish, tofu and lentils.
Fat has the most calories of all of the macronutrients providing 9 calories per gram. Fats should be approximately 20-30% of your total calories per day. Fats are found in foods like oils, butter, avocado, nuts, meat and fatty fish.
Can anyone follow a macro diet?
You will be pleased to hear that anyone can follow a macro diet. A macro diet is not just for the gym rats or the nutrition geeks amongst us, it’s for anyone who wants to hone in on making smart food choices that will fit their goals, whether you are looking to lose weight, build muscle or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Is macros something you build in to your lifestyle for a long-term solution or usually a one-off?
Absolutely it is, but, it also mentally exhausting. It works, don't get me wrong, but, are you going to do it for the rest of your life? If the answer is no, then don’t introduce the behaviour. Not only will it not give you long term results, but, when you break the habit, it will only go to reinforce to yourself that you’re the sort of person who doesn’t commit to the promises they set themselves – and that’s a slippery slope. If you are looking for long term results and you can’t see yourself doing this for decades to come then this might not be the right approach for you.
But, of course, if you are looking for a short term change, such as a wedding coming up and want to feel amazing in that little black dress, then this may be a great strategy for you! Just bear in mind that nothing comes for free, and short term strategies leading to short term success almost always result in long term failure. If you are after a short term fix then this could be great. But after that, I would advise you to follow something that you are going to stick to for years to come so as to avoid any broken promises of commitment to yourself and your diet.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of monitoring your macros are so that you can reach your goals by sustainable and flexible dieting, without restrictions or compromising all the yummy things you enjoy eating. It is a much more sustainable way to eat what you want, whilst still being able to reach your goals without restricting yourself. The acronym IIFYM is commonly referred to in this flexible dieting structure.
This stands for ‘If It Fits Your Macros’. Basically, what this means is that you can eat anything you want, providing it fits in with your daily macro percentages. So yes, you can have that piece of cake….if it fits your macros!