Macros, a more in depth look
Flexible dieting, otherwise known as If It Fits Your Macros, is what we are talking about this week. So, what are macros, or macronutrients? These are the 3 main components of any food you will eat. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They all burn differently in the body to create the energy that you use. If you read Austin Ray's article we posted, you got an idea of what flexible dieting is and how it could work for you. You can eat the things you want... IF they fit in your profile that day. This means that you can plan ahead for that ice cream or doughnut on Saturday and still fall within your calorie range AND your macronutrient profile. Why is the macronutrient ratio important? You need a certain level of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to function normally and, honestly, to perform optimally in life or the gym.
Most nutritional guides will put you in a split of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat for an easy balancing act. My ratio is a little different tailored for more fat loss in my body type. I am going for 25% of my calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 35% from fat. I get around 2600 calories a day while I'm cutting weight right now. I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track EVERY BITE of food I take in. "Doesn't that take a lot of time?" Yes and no. It takes time when I prepare foods to make sure I measure the right portion sizes including weighing out portions on a food scale, but entering it in the phone is quick. (GET ONE OF THESE FOOD SCALES, THEY ARE CHEAP AND THEY KEEP YOU ON TRACK) Now, where was I? You will need to give time to prep your foods, even planning the week ahead and possibly cooking ahead of time. (Tiffany has an article due to drop in the next couple of weeks on prepping meats ahead of time.) So I track each bite and plan my meals to make sure I get my 2600 calories in on the dot and my macro ratios are on point. "How is that flexible?" you may ask. Well, I work for a city fire department full time, and I don't always get to pick what I eat. Even so, I am able to pick which portions of what they've cooked I eat and in what quantities. I also work on a rescue truck that sees the hospital a good bit, which happens to be right by one of the best snow cone stands in the area.... so I make sure I can have my snow cone from Summer Snow each shift if possible! If I mess up and run low on carbs early in the day, my supper will need to consist mostly of proteins and fats and stay low on carbs. This is the flexible part... I can get my carbs from brown rice OR I can get them from a doughnut. I prefer to keep the foods clean, but sometimes it can't be helped! It's life, you only live one time, so have some of the cake... or ice cream... you pick your poision! Just make sure it fits your macro profile on the day and you should be able to hit your goals in spite of that sweet tooth!
So how do you calculate what you need? Click HERE to go to our article on calculating your calorie needs. Once you know your daily needs, cut it by 500 to lose 1 pound a week. Now you will need to break down your calories in a percentage fashion. If I get 2000 calories, 40% is 800 calories. How'd I get that? 2000 multiplied by 0.4 gives me my 40% answer of 800. Now, remember carbs are 4 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram, and fat is 9 calories per gram. So if I get 800 calories in carbs I am going to divide 800 by 4 to come up with my daily allowance of 200 grams of carbs. Do the same for 30% on proteins and fats and you will see 150g of protein and about 67g of fat. It's simple to follow and you can easily stay on track even when you are on the road or have to eat out!