You’ve spent the last 11 weeks tackling awesome nutrition challenges, including eating five meals a day, expanding your veggie repertoire and creating a weekly cheat meal. Tracking your macros, or macronutrients, is the final challenge.
If you’re not ready to think about it yet, that’s OK. But if you’ve hit a plateau or you’re ready to take fat loss and muscle gain to the next level, bringing your macros into balance is an important next step.
A well-balanced meal plan should have a good ratio of all three macros. If your diet is too low in carbs you’ll feel very low in energy and could eventually suffer from a slow metabolism. If your diet is too low in fat you could suffer from hormonal imbalances and you’ll probably be really hungry. If your diet is too low in protein you could lose muscle, which can result in a slower metabolism and flabbiness rather than a lean-looking body.
The ratio that is usually a good starting point is 40/30/30. This means 40% of your calories come from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from fat. Notice I said percent of your calories, not percent of your portions.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a 200-lb woman whose BMR is 1,800 calories. Your breakdown would look like this:
- Carbs: 40% of 1,800 calories is 720 calories. Each gram of carbs has 4 calories. Divide 720 calories by 4 and you have 180g carbs.
- Protein: 30% of 1,800 calories is 540 calories. Each gram of protein has 4 calories. Divide 540 calories by 4 and you have 135g protein.
- Fat: 30% of 1,800 calories is 540 calories. Each gram of fat has 9 calories (you’ll see that’s quite a bit more than the calories in protein and carbs). Divide 540 calories by 9 and you have 60g fat.
So our 200-lb example woman should have 180g carbs, 135g protein and 60g fat. Check out the guide below to learn more about each macro.
Challenge Week #12
You figured out your calorie target in Week 5. In Week 7 you planned out your meals. Today I want you to plug your meals into whatever tracking app you’re using and just see where your macros stand. Then I want you to adjust them until the amounts get within 5g of your targets.
If your protein is too low, increase your meat in your lunch and dinner. If your carbs are too low you can try adding rice cakes as a good low fat/low protein options. Nuts are a great option to get fats up if you need it. Once your macros are where they should be, stick to that meal plan for at least five days!
A Guide to Macronutrients
Carbs are your body’s preferred and most efficient source of energy, very important in fueling exercise.
- Made up of simple sugars
- Broken up and absorbed quickly by the body
- Can more dramatically affect blood sugar levels
- Examples: soda, candy, cakes, snack foods, white bread products and even fruit and honey
- Most simple carbs (with the exception of fruit, honey, etc.) should be avoided most times of the day, but can actually be beneficial during the pre and post workout meals (see nutrition challenge #3)
- Take longer to digest and absorb
Help stabilize blood sugar levels and avoid spikes
- Contain important vitamins and minerals
- Examples: vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes
Fats are an essential nutrient, another source of energy and they slow digestion so they help us feel full longer.
- Boost heart health, lower cholesterol, boosts skin, hair and cellular health, lower blood pressure, help prevent blood clots and strokes, boosts hormone production
- Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, even some saturated fats such as coconut and coconut oil
- Avocado, nuts, nut butter, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish, flax
- Man-made through a process called hydrogenation
- Increase “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol, increase insulin levels, and possibly lead to diabetes
- Present in most snack foods, chips, margarine, cookies, fried foods, and even some seemingly healthy foods such as crackers, some salad dressings and some “healthy” cereals.
- Look for the words “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list and if you see it, avoid it at all costs!
Complete protein info can be found in Challenge #8
Track Your Results
After five days, evaluate your results. If you didn’t lose any weight, try dropping your carbs by about 10g the next week. Evaluate each week dropping either carbs or fats until you find the sweet spot where you’re feeling good and not feeling hungry, but you’re also seeing good results that keep you motivated and happy in your journey!
See if tracking your macros helps you…
- Get a more balanced ratio of macronutrients in your diet
- Have consistent energy and stay satisfied longer after meals
Questions? Let me know!