Health, Life, Meals

More on macro tracking/ continued

Sample Check-in w/ Trainer:

Each week I had to check in with my trainer with the following info:

  • Weight today
  • Weight at start
  • Weight change (+ or – ) from last week
  • List macros I actually consumed each day (Protein/ Fat/ Carbs- I tracked daily in My Fitness Pal app)
  • How is your energy?
  • How is your hunger?
  • How is your strength?
  • Overall adherence to training/ nutrition this week

I saved all my forms, and it’s pretty fun to read my entries now! Very interesting.

What really stands out is how GREAT I apparently felt. I see common themes week to week: “so much energy”, “clear mind”, “feeling great in the gym- increasing the weight I’m lifting”, “I’m literally never hungry”, “sometimes it almost feels like too much food!” (remember, I was in a caloric deficit).

Also, I see comments like, “my skin looks brighter and clearer than ever before”. “I can’t believe I’m not craving sugar!” “I love these workouts” etc.


Why would I stop??

It is honestly a bit curious to me now why I would have stopped doing something that overall, was clearly very, very good for me. (I mean this general lifestyle, not the caloric deficit. It is not healthy to be in a caloric deficit super long term.)

Apparently, I was thriving! I felt good, I was looking good, I was strong, healthy, well nourished, etc. Isn’t this what we want for ourselves??

I don’t know. I guess it’s not really that great of a mystery, though- tracking macros takes effort.

You can eat a lot, and you can eat a lot of different foods/tons of variety while tracking macros, but you cannot eat ALL the foods, all the time, either. Especially if you’re in a fat loss/ deficit phase (which again- should be temporary! But it’s more restrictive than maintenance mode.)

A Mickey D’s Macros Example:

Here’s a little example of a meal you can’t easily eat while tracking macros, with some real numbers:

A McDonald’s double cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke.

This is something I would regularly chow down when at the mall when the boys were little. (I’m sorry, this may be total blasphemy/disgusting to some, but I love me a double cheeseburger. And the fries. And the coke. And a lot of ketchup for the fries. McDonald’s was my first job- I ate a lot of McD’s fries and cokes on my breaks as a teen. Old habits die hard.)

However, check out the macros in this meal:

  • Double Cheeseburger: 29 carbs, 25 fat, 24 protein = 437 calories (on the plus side- very solid protein amount!)
  • Small fry: 29 g carbs, 11 g fat, 3 g protein= 230 calories
  • Large Coke: 76 carbs. SEVENTY- SIX carbs, in one large Coke. Yes, you read that right. =280 calories

Doing the math, that equals 947 calories for the meal. And let’s be real, I usually got a refill to go on the Coke. And small fry? It was often at least a medium. So easily >1,000 calories right there.

This is not to say a fast food meal is totally off limits- I could fit parts (or some alternate version) of this meal into my totals without too much trouble.

But remember my macro goals from yesterday? My Fat goal was only 50-55 grams per day! This cheeseburger alone has 25 grams of fat. That’s 1/2 gone for the whole day in just one item!! (And, in something I could probably finish off in like, 6-7 good sized bites.)

Presumably, I would want to eat other food during the day, too, besides just that McDonalds meal. If I decided to “only” eat the McDonald’s meal for the whole day (in an effort to “make it fit my macros”), a) I would be hungry later, b) I would be severely under my protein goal for the day (only about 27 g total in that meal vs my 130 gram daily goal) and c) obviously, very lacking in important micronutrients.

None of this at McD’s 😦

Anyway, my point is, tracking macros is not always for the faint of heart, or those who like to just….eat whatever, at all times.

I think back when I did this, I eventually did struggle with motivation. A few of my later email check-ins are definitely on the “whiny” side, like, “I just want to eat the nachos AND the guac AND the margarita AND the brownies…and…..What’s the big deal?! Waaaaaaahhh.” Basically, I wanted to eat like a linebacker, but look like Zoe Saldana.

As my trainer once told me, “No one “accidentally” has an amazing body- some effort is inevitable.”

Ultimately, after 6 months or so of tracking, I transitioned over to intuitive eating, which is actually much easier to do once you’ve tracked macros for a bit. But that is a whole other post, though. 🙂

My main takeaway(s):

  • If you are frustrated not being able to lose weight, or wish to change something about your body’s appearance, OR you want to gain strength, I’d suggest giving macros a try, even for a while.
  • If you are tired of always “dieting” (you want to eat/maintain intuitively, ultimately), I’d also suggest giving macros a try (temporarily).
  • I feel like everyone could benefit from at least a couple rounds of macro counting.

The lessons you take away from it are pretty life-altering. You learn how to actually estimate portions (most people have NO IDEA how much 4 oz of chicken really is), and you learn how different foods affect your body.

Certain things just can’t be unlearned! Once you dive into it, you keep those lessons for life. It’s impossible for me to view certain foods now without having a rough idea in my head of what their macros are. It enables you to make more informed food choices forever.

I like to relate it to learning about $$ budgeting/ where you’re spending your money, but with food. “A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” Same idea. So just like tracking spending/ budgeting can help someone get out of debt, I do think tracking food intake/ macros can help someone finally lose weight.

It also helps to clear up common misconceptions. (A big one- peanut butter is not a great protein source!!!! I hear people claiming it is all the time and it drives me nuts. Delicious, yes. Worth eating? yes. But an average “serving” of peanut butter (2 Tbs.) = 190 calories (high). 8 g carbs, 16 g fat (this is quite a lot of fat!!) and only 7 grams of protein. For comparison, 1 single egg has 5-6 g protein, with only 5 grams of fat. The egg is the much better “deal”!! There are dozens of foods that contain just as much or more protein as PB, but with WAY less fat/ calories. To get a good, 20 gram serving of protein from PB, you’d need to eat like, almost 600 calories of it. How do I know this, off the top of my head?? I’ve tracked macros! 😉

So yummy, but much more accurate to consider it a FAT source versus a PROTEIN source.

Finally, here are a few pros/cons I thought of re: tracking macros:

Pros:

  • #1 hands down: VERY EFFECTIVE for fat loss/ improving body composition
  • Pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it
  • Can eat a large variety of foods- can make most things fit into your “diet”/ nothing is truly off limits
  • Flexible. Allows for eating more/less depending on the day, if needed. (Can have a higher carb day one day, and lower the next, for example.)
  • No strict meal plan = pretty easily adapted to eating out, at a friend’s house, etc.
  • No need to purchase specially prepared packaged meals, like South Beach or whatever those are
  • You can just eat what you like! For example, I hate yogurt. Lots of people eat a ton of Greek yogurt, because it’s high protein. It’s a big pass for me, so I found other options. (I do wish I liked it….makes a great snack. I tried repeatedly to make myself like it, but nope.)

Cons:

  • Pretty good sized learning curve. Takes a while to get used to measuring/ weighing your food. (Eventually, more eyeballing can be done, but it’s best to be strict at first while you learn about portion sizes, etc.)
  • May be tricky to set and adjust your own macros without a trainer. (Though there are many great online macro calculators, so this is definitely not impossible to do on your own! Don’t let that stop you.)
  • May feel restricting to some- often requires thinking ahead to what you’ll eat for dinner, for example. I usually would plan my meals in advance and plug them in the night before.
  • Could be triggering for people with a history of eating disorders.
  • You have to eat a LOT of protein!! Which does make a huge positive difference for your body composition- but can be very challenging for most people at first, who are used to grossly under consuming protein. You have to make a real, conscious effort to get all that protein in. Also, it can mean increased animal product consumption in many cases.

I’ve actually decided to do a little pre-summer round of macro tracking myself again to see if I can, um, fit in my pants again better. And get rid of some persistent bloating issues I’ve been dealing with. I will be back tomorrow with a rundown of what I’ve eaten so far this week, so you can get an idea of some sample macro-tracked meals!!

Drop me any questions about this stuff! *Not a certified trainer, just an enthusiast who has learned a lot over the years!* 🙂

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for reusable water bottles. And, this lovely farm view on the way to swim practice with Asher last night. And for anyone who actually read this ridiculously long post. 😆

10 thoughts on “More on macro tracking/ continued”

  1. I find these posts super interesting as it’s an area I don’t know much about. I think it’s something I would have found more appealing in my single days when I lived alone since I could just plan meals for myself and not consider anyone else! It would be harder for me to do now! I think I’d get quite a bit of whining from Phil. 😉 What I’ve done that works well in terms of weight loss is weight watchers. It has some similarities in that nothing is off limits – it’s all about working within your points budget, and the higher the protein/the lower the carbs, the lower the points. So it kind of gets you eating a better combination of macros. You can have unlimited amounts of fruits and veggies, and you ‘earn’ points for consuming non-starchy vegetables. So overall, it was a great way for me to sort of ‘reset’ my diet last fall and then once I hit my goal weight, I cancelled my membership and have been able to maintain. In the beginning I had to do a lot of measuring and weighing, too. But I was always able to find recipes that were WW friendly but things Phil would still enjoy. So I could probably also make a macro program work, I would need to wait until I’m in a stage of life where I have more bandwidth again! But it’s interesting to hear about and I can see how it’s extra interesting to you as a nurse!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is all fascinating. Like Lisa, I’ve never learned much about macros, and you’ve been so thorough in your explanation. It sounds great!

    I’d love if you could post a little cheat sheet, of sorts, where you run through more examples of several days of an eating plan (no pressure, of course…just if you’re looking for specific topics on this theme). Like how you went through the Big Mac, but 2-3 days of what EXACTLY what you would eat and the amounts! I’m a visual learner and to see concrete examples (and even how you timed your consumption of specific foods) would be fascinating to me.

    I only do cardio at this point, have no easy access to a gym and don’t like weights, but after reading your post yesterday, I’m determined to do more weightless strength training (lunges, jump squats, pushups). It would also take a lot less time than long walks/running. The latter are great for my mental health (and I tend to exercise with others, so it’s also a form of social interaction), but they definitely don’t do much (for me) in terms of toning/weight loss.

    These posts are so interesting, Kae!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The older I get, the more I come to the depressing realization that weight loss/ maintenance isn’t about a short term goal. It needs to be a total lifestyle change that you follow for good. And it gets harder and harder to maintain each year due to the inevitable slowing of the metabolism.

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  4. I just started tracking macros and working with a coach a week ago and I can relate so much to this! I have so much more energy and my mind seems so much clearer! BUT it is more effort and definitely takes advanced planning! I only have a few pounds to loose but want to work on body composition and athletic performance. I’m curious to see how it impacts my strength and running over the new few months!

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    1. You sound similar to me! It is definitely more effort. That is for sure the biggest “issue” with macro tracking… Would you mind sharing your coach info? Is it an in-person coach or online? Another reader was looking for recs.

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      1. I’m using PLT Nutrition (https://www.pltnutrition.com). It’s pricey, but I had been (very loosely) trying to do macros on my own and this helped me gain direction and advice (and discipline!). The coach also set up my macros for my goals which were different from calculators I used online. It has only been a week or so but I’ve been happy with the experience so far.

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  5. This is exactly what I would like to take away from macro counting for a while: learning some lessons and being more aware of the food we put into our bodies.
    I am a huge advocate for intuitive eating, but even that is something that you need to learn to get it right. I think most people on an American diet don’t even know what it feels like to feel “good” after a meal because they never had that sensation (only the short satisfaction after whatever they ate that their hunger was gone).

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