Since bringing in the addition of Macro based nutrition, we’ve had a tonne of questions about everything macro-related.
So I thought now was the time to tackle the most frequently asked questions, so that if you’re unsure about whether you should give this a go, or even just want to learn more about it, then you’ve got all the answers you could need 🙂 I’ll be ‘to the point’ after the first question and if you want to find out more on any of them, just ask!
What is it?!?!
Let’s cover what Macro tracking IS first, then get down to the nitty gritty, skip ahead if you understand this bit.
Ultimately, we are a machine that needs energy and certain ‘stuff’ to survive.
There are 3 tiers to this ‘stuff’:
Calories – This is a measurement of potential ENERGY, which your body will spend as currency in order to; move, think, power your organs, build muscle etc. Everything that your body digests will produce this energy.
Macronutrients – Macronutrients can be broken down into three categories (there are more but let’s not confuse things!) Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. Protein are the ‘building blocks’ for your body to repair and develop new organic material. Fats (different to ‘body fat’) are used for energy as well as in various functions of your body, such as omega 3’s + 6’s that are essential for brain and heart function. And Carbohydrates are a fast acting energy source for your body, all carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars as fuel.
Micronutrients – Not many of these are recorded through MyFitnessPal, but there are a tonne of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body to work at it’s best. We’ll talk a little more about why this is important later!
The method of tracking your Calories is to ensure we don’t over-consume on energy. If you consume more energy than your body needs, it will store it as body fat, regardless of the source that it has come from.
It can then be taken one step further by setting yourself a target for each of the three macronutrients, which is to ensure you’re eating enough of each for your body to function optimally.
As an example of why this can help; If two people could eat the exact same amount of total calories, and the first eats all of theirs purely from carbohydrates and fats with little/no protein, while the second has a higher intake of protein with a lower intake of carbohydrates and fats – They may both lose the same amount of total bodyweight BUT the second will become stronger and more toned over time as a result, because the first is not getting enough of the building blocks to recover and re-build their muscles (assuming that they are doing some training).
Why is this better than clean eating?
It’s not. There are many pro’s and con’s for both and if you’re unsure just let us know and we can point you in the right direction. Remember that results speak for themselves, if you’re going the way you want then keep doing it! If not then macros may well be the next step.
Macronutrient tracking simply adds another level of accuracy.
Is it a diet?
No. With the craze of weight watchers or slimming world using ‘points’ systems for their diet plans, it’s easy to think that this follows the same logic, but it couldn’t be further away from it!
Macronutrient tracking can apply to people looking to lose weight, gain weight or maintain their weight, because it breaks down exactly what fuel your body needs and you can then you find the intake that matches your goals.
Won’t it mean I eat less ‘good’ foods?
It shouldn’t, you should always aim to eat plenty of veggies and whole foods to meet your macro needs. This is why we teach the 5 habits of nutrition first, because your aim should always be to eat whole healthy foods, because they will make you feel 10x better with more energy. This is because they contain the most micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals, you need to feel healthy and energised, as long as you make sure to fit these in you’ll still feel great!
How do I record this?
The preferred method is through the mobile app My Fitness Pal, we’ve got a video tutorial on it too. It’s got the biggest database of foods stored from all of it’s users, which makes adding your food in quick and easy.
But you could record it in any way you like, I used to record mine in a spreadsheet on an old Blackberry!
How do I find out what’s in my food?
Some foods are easy, follow the nutritional info on the pack and make sure that it matches the portion size you’re having. If it gives you the nutrition in 100grams and you’re going to eat 50, make sure you’re dividing those numbers!
If there’s no label you’ll need to search for the food as accurately as possible, you can do this with google or through MyFitnessPals search.
What about home cooked meals?
Any meal that you cook at home should be calculated as accurately as you can, the best way to do that is to add together all of your measured ingredients, then divide by portion size. It means weighing out and following the nutrition guide for each one. If you’re following a recipe, you may be able to find it again either through MyFitnessPal or online.
BUT, after the first time you cook it, as long as you save the figures, you’ll be able to access it every time after!
Won’t it take me forever to track like this?
There is a trade-off, some time spent for the accuracy in return, and we know the more accurate we can be the better we can track our results. But it absolutely shouldn’t make you a slave to your nutrition.
To start with, it may take a while to get used to, which is going to mean you’re spending a little longer scratching your head to try and fit everything in. But once you’re used to it and once you’ve learned which foods give you the nutrition you need, you will work through it a lot quicker.
So I can eat what I want as long as it fits?
Yes and no. The brilliant thing about macros is that, if you feel like it, you can put in some ‘off plan’ foods as long as they fit into your calories, protein, fats, carbs.
But at the same time, it’s going to be tough to get ‘bad foods’ to fit, since they typically won’t have a great balance of the nutrients – So you’ll have to be ‘on it’ through the rest of the day to make up, in which case, you will have deserved it!
Well, there you have it! I’m sure there are a MILLION other questions on the topic of macro’s, so again, if you’ve got any then just get in touch and we’ll point you in the right direction. If you’ve been tracking your food for a while and thought about stepping into macro counting, hopefully this has answered some of the questions you might have had about it! 🙂