Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Track and Keep Up With Your Macros (Part 3)

I have spoken a LOT on what macros are, why to count them, and HOW to go about counting them. Now, here is the third and final part to the whole IIFYM (If-It-Fits-Your-Macros) process.

I won't lie to you-tracking macros is hard. It will take you a while to figure out what to eat in order to get your numbers perfect, but practicing with each new day will get you there!
But, first, if you are new, you may want to rewind and read these two posts firsts:

Tired of not seeing results or changes in your body even though you are eating the right amount of calories AND exercising everyday? The problem may lie in your macronutrient ratios. If things are out of proportion, it can do your body more harm than good, pushing you away from your diet and fitness goals.

As stated in part one,"a macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous."

The Recommended Daily Allowances for Macros are as follows:
Carbohydrates: 45%-65%
Proteins: 10-35%
Fats: 20-35%

This is just a general guideline, as you can see the percentages vary quite a good bit. People who workout regularly need different amounts of macros than someone who is sedentary or has a desk job. You might be amazed at the number of carbs needed, but CARBS ARE YOUR FRIEND. They are supposed to be your HIGHEST macro because that is what you use for energy! Don't ever totally elimate a macro because this could do your body a lot of harm. 

The best ratio I've found to be effective for regular exercisers is 40% Carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. This builds lean muscle, sparks fat loss, and fuels your body with safe macronutrient ranges. This is a popular and recognized percentage range.

So, after you have completed part one and two of figuring our what macros are best for you, it is time to move onto the third and final step: TRACKING THEM!

The best way to do so is through a free and easy app (and website) called MyFitnessPal. You will also want to invest in a food scale to weigh your proportions. This may sound like a bit much, but you really want to give it your all when tracking your macros-plus, this is something you will be doing daily, so why NOT invest a little? The first step is going to your goals and inputting your macros. I will warn you-this won't be perfect, but try your best to get the right percentages of macros inputted!
Here is what your diet "dashboard" will look like. MyFitnessPal is so awesome that it will let you know how many calories you have left! But don't worry too much about the Summary view and stick to the Daily view as this will track your macros in detail DAILY. Also, you will be adding foods and snacks to your Diary, which you can see on the right. This breaks your meals down into great detail, thus helping you track calories and macros even more.
When you hear of IIFYM, you hear about people being able to eat poptarts, donuts, ice cream, and pizza-everyday. This is so dumb because you STILL want to make sure you are fueling your body with the best and leanest foods out there. Stick to complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Also, try to keep your sugar intake DOWN (less than 30 grams per day).

A couple of key points on tracking your macros accurately while using MFP:

Know your frequent foods. When you input a food, it will show up in your “recent” or “frequent” tab everyday. If you know what foods you will be eating regularly for the week, such as if you were meal prepping and have your meals pre-made, then go ahead and input those foods so that it will make the following days easy to track. This also helps keep you on track so no "surprise" foods pop up ;)

Try to hit the right number. The goal for tracking your macros is to make sure that you eat the set amount-no more than your goal and no less than your goal. This is not very easy to do, but with time, you can do it all! As a general rule of thumb, you want to try to stay within 5 grams of your protein and fat goals such as being over your goal by 5 grams or below your goal by 5 grams-never more or less. For carbs, try to stick within +/-2 grams. MyFitnessPal will track your macros to show you what is under/over daily. Then, you may adjust accordinly and maybe have that little cheat snack after all!
Get SUPER specific. When searching for a food, don't just search for "whole grain toast." There are probably hundreds of brands of "whole grain toasts" out there with different calories and macros in them. Search for the specific brand and product name. There's even a feature now that will help you get to most accurate foods by scanning the package with your smartphone! However, this will be a rare issue you might come across since there are THOUSANDS of brand names and foods already logged into MyFitnessPal's database!
The most important thing to remember when tracking your macros-however you decide to do it- is being accurate and accountable. If you do not use accuracy and track them everyday until you get the hang of it, your weight won't budge and your body will not change. 

It is a pain in the ass at first, but you will get to a point where a scale is no longer needed because you will be able to visually look at your food and say, "Oh! That is 20 grams of protein right there!" It just takes time.

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