Flexible “Dieting” for your GOALS
Have you heard the word “macro” going around the gym lately? Wondered what the heck all these CrossFitters are talking about? Well here is a primer on the what, why and how this has become the go-to food plan we are all following. What’s a Macro?
There are three macronutrients, or Macros:
• And, technically, alcohol is a stand-in fourth
Proteins include meats, fish, eggs, etc. and are the building blocks to helping build muscle and/or prevent muscle loss. This is typically the first thing we look at when figuring out how much we should be eating of each macronutrient.
Carbs include fruit, vegetables, grains, many processed foods/drinks, and seemingly everything you obsessively craved if you’ve ever tried a low-carb diet.
Carbs are stored in the liver, brain, blood and muscles as glycogen. Our bodies use carbs for energy.
Fat comes in many forms, but primarily in meats, fish, nuts and seeds, oils and dairy. Fat is an essential macronutrient to our body, and one we must monitor closely as to how much we eat. Most of us do not realize how much fat is in the things we eat daily (i.e., a cobb salad, for example).
Why count macros?
Think of macro counting as your body on a budget. You only have a certain number of dollars to spend in a day, and that number is typically the exact same each and every day. Therefore it requires some planning ahead of time to know how you can “spend your budget.”
Whether you want to gain weight (requires calories above and beyond those that you burn in a day) or lose weight (eating less than you burn each day), counting macros is a very focused means in which to do so.
Most people just resort to counting calories in a day. While that will help you gain or lose weight, it’s not going to do it optimally. If you think about it, I could have a diet of 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs and I would probably do well for myself to maintain or increase muscle size while trying to lose weight. BUT, if my protein is only 15% of my macros, for example, then I will actually lose MUSCLE along with that weight….not what we want if we are looking for a lean physique and/or strength gains at the gym!
Two more reasons to count macros:
1. It’s flexible! You have a certain budget each day, but no one tells you how to spend it. So if you know you’re going out for a couple of beers with your friend one night, just put it in your budget and you’ll still hit your numbers! Or maybe it’s your birthday and you want space for a big piece of cake…well just plan your day accordingly and you can still hit your numbers while eating that savory cake!
2. It works. If you don’t trust me, just check out these before and after pictures of Coach Santiago, Robin and Zoe! These pictures were each after only about 3 months of careful macro counting. Insert handclap emoticon here as these three look INCREDIBLE!!!
If this doesn’t sell you, just do a simple Google image search for “macro before and after” and you’ll be amazed. This could be you too.
How to count macros?
In keeping with our budget example, the key to macro counting is proper planning and an effective “calculator”, in this case a food scale and/or proper nutrition label management. We recommend everyone get a food scale, which can be purchased for $20-25. This will allow you to accurately track your food consumption and take away the chance that you may be off in your assumptions.
In CrossFit, we like science and removing variables to know what we are measuring. By weighing your food, you remove this variable and the only thing left to tweak is the actual macro figures.
The other thing that’s insanely helpful is the app “myfitnesspal”. Download this now. It’s free to start, although I’d recommend paying for the premium membership for at least one month to get you off on the right foot. This app lets you scan barcodes and search for food that users have already entered. And it then tracks your consumption all day, as you enter it.
Finally, you can attempt to calculate your own macros and you should get a decent guess for what the right figure will be, but the truth is, most of us don’t have enough experience in doing this, so hiring someone with that experience is crucial. All of the people at our gym who have seen great results (the above pictures, plus people like Ashley, Holly, Peggy, to name a few) hired a coach. I have personally seen a couple of people trying to calculate their calories and been DRAMATICALLY off. This could even set you back. If you find you are always hungry while counting macros, something is wrong.
Feel free to play around with a macro calculator online though, to see what you should generally be eating.
This was meant to be a brief post on the benefits of flexible dieting/macro counting. We hope you’ve found it informative, but it’s just the beginning of the journey. If you are serious about transforming your diet and physique, I would highly recommend you take one of the spots we have available for our in-house nutrition program starting next week! There are two seminars to go over all the particulars, which will let you ask all the questions you want. The seminar date is Saturday, January 9th @ 1:30pm.
Happy counting in 2016!
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