All About Macros!

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Let me start off this post by saying I am not a professional. Everything I talk about below is from my personal experience with practicing, using and calculating my own macros. Take it with a grain of salt.

selfie in bathroom mirror

A Little History

I first started counting macros after I had Blake, my second baby, in 2013. I saw a trainer and he introduced me to ‘macros’. He calculated my numbers and helped me workout. I saw great progress, but he was so strict with me! While it worked for me for a few months, I couldn’t keep going at the pace he was pushing me towards, so I quit and life went on.

Then we moved to Idaho and then NYC and I had two more babies. Weight went up and down and up and down. February 2020, I got selected to run the NYC marathon and decided to get into shape since (insert all the swear words here) I had to run a marathon. I used to be a runner, but didn’t love it (and still don’t totally love it!) but wanted to accomplish this huge feat.

After I was done breastfeeding my last sweet babe in March 2020, I started to zero in on my diet and chose to be strict with my food since abs are made in the kitchen (sad but true). I started with my old numbers from my trainer back in 2013 and used those for 4 months and then after doing more and more research on my own, got comfortable adjusting them myself.

Spoiler alert: the marathon eventually got cancelled and I was training for nothing. But it was a good excuse to kick my butt into shape and get me on a good path to health and strength.

And here we are, almost a year later after I started counting, stronger than I’ve ever been, in the best shape of my life, at the lightest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life…even lighter than I was in high school (but, that’s not saying much because I was slightly overweight in high school.) I feel good and proud and confident in my body….things I haven’t ever really associated with my body EVER. So, its been so nice to discover this new area of life and see just how strong I can get.

Gordon and Lauren in front of NYC skyline
Very pregnant with my last baby in NYC

What are Macros?

Macros are the building blocks of a well balanced diet: Protein, Carbs and Fat. “Counting Macros” simply means you are counting the number of grams of protein, carbs and fat to ensure you are “hitting your macros” or basically eating enough of each category to ensure your body is getting what it needs, nutritionally speaking. But basically, it just comes down to counting grams of protein, carbs and fat.

Why Should I Count Macros?

Well, the answer to this question is probably a pretty personal one and will be different for everyone who chooses to do this. But, I count macros because it’s what I’m familiar with and I’ve figured out a way to eat while still enjoying the foods I want to enjoy! I can see myself doing this for the long haul because its SO manageable and I can eat generally what I want and adjust the rest of my macros for the rest of the day. My husband even started counting macros 5 months ago and has seen great progress!

Now before you get overwhelmed a few paragraphs in, take a breath. There is going to be a lot of information given to you in this post. If you’re wanting to count macros, give yourself some grace and some time to get used to this new way of thinking. You’re going to have to learn, but once you’re IN it and you get used to it, it gets a lot easier and you’ll realize there is a lot of freedom that comes with counting macros. With any new thing you try, whether its a diet, a new exercise program, playing the piano (um, Blake) or swim team (hi Brooke) you need to give it a solid two weeks to just get used to it before you throw in the towel. Be in it for the long haul. If you have a bad day, that’s ok! Just pick up the next day. No big deal. You can do this.

Lauren and the kids in the snow
4 Months Postpartum, two months before I started training for the marathon. I weighed close to 150 lbs in this picture.

Calculating Macros

After doing lots and lots of research, I found this great (free!) online resource about nutrition, macros and how to calculate them on your own. I downloaded the whole 145 page free ebook and read the whole thing and was able to calculate them for myself and my husband! I would highly recommend it. But, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, try googling sports nutritionists in your area so they can calculate them for you.

Here Are My Macros

I’m in maintenance mode now because I’m happy with where I’m at but will be doing a cut (lowering my calories to reduce my body fat) right before we go on vacation at the end of February. Once we get back from that vacation, I’ll be upping my calories significantly to gain some muscle. Here is where I’m at:

Total calories: 1750 cal
Protein 140g (140g x 4 cal= 560 calories) 32%
Carbs 175g(175g x 4 cal= 700 calories) 40%
Fat 54g (54g x 9 cal= 490 calories) 28%

It’s important to note that I have one meal that is my cheat meal per week. Usually, that is Friday night because we get pizza and pizza is delicious.

husband and wife posing in front of front door
8 months into counting macros and down 20 pounds!

Is Macro Counting Just Glorified Clean Eating?

Um, sort of but not really. I DO try to eat “clean” as best as I can…meaning getting my fruits and veggies in everyday. But the beauty of counting macros is it’s a balanced diet that allows you to eat a cookie or some chips and guacamole or even bread or crackers. As long as you’re counting the macros for these items (their protein, carbs and fat) and ensuring you’re reaching your overall macro totals for the day, you’ll be fine.

Baked Cheetos and sour patch watermelon are my favorite splurge and I eat them weekly (not daily). The Cheetos are mostly carbs with a few fat grams and the sour patch are straight carbs. So if I have the macros at the end of the day, I’ll enjoy! But I know that all that sugar/processed food WILL NOT keep me full by any stretch of the imagination. So, I mentally prepare for that. The majority of your meals *should* be healthier, whole foods. But it’s ok to have processed items, too. Find a balance that makes your body feel GREAT.

MyFitnessPal

Once you have your macros (via a trainer, a nutritionist, that online calculator, etc..) you can plug them into myfitnesspal (for free!) so you can track what you’re eating. If you don’t have your macros, I would suggest starting to track whatever you’re eating now to see where you land. Typically, everyone needs more protein in their diets, so that is a good place to start. Aim for 1g of protein per pound of body weight. I started this whole thing weighing in the mid-140’s, so I stick with 140g of protein per day, even though I’m 20+ pounds lighter. Protein is good!

To find your macros in myfitnesspal, scroll to the bottom of your daily food log and click the nutrition button. That will bring you to a screen that shows you your macros.

You can see what I’m eating on myfitnesspal: my username is golofamily.

FAQ’s

In this section, I will answer the most common questions I received on Instagram.

Do I Make Separate Meals for Me and My Family?

Very Rarely will I do this. I am constantly in the kitchen developing recipes for the blog, so having to spend MORE time in the kitchen to make sure my kids “like” their dinner is a non-starter for me. Whatever I’m making for my family is what I’m also eating. So, I make sure it is a macro-friendly meal, typically recipes that I adjust to reduce the fat (cut the oil, butter, cheese, etc.. by at least half).

Do I plan Meals Ahead of Time?

Yes and no. I’ll typically have 3-4 planned meals for the week and then the rest of the time I’m flying by the seat of my pants because that is typically when some of my best recipe ideas come to fruition.

Do I really eat all the food I am testing?

Yes, I really do. On all my recipe cards for ALL my recipes, I have the nutritional information listed by serving, so those grams of protein, carbs and fats are my macros for that particular recipe. I just made a chocolate cake and absolutely enjoyed a piece and I regret nothing.

How do you know how many macros are in groceries you are buying at the store?

Just look at the nutrition label! On it, you will see the serving size, total calories and grams listed for protein, carbs and fats (plus other numbers that we don’t need to pay attention to). THESE are the macros you’re counting.

What is my Workout Routine?

I don’t necessarily have a routine because WHEN I’m working out is always changing, based on what my family is doing. Generally, I workout 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes, but probably average 45, using the Peloton App. I have owned a Peloton bike for over a year and LOVE it. But I think I love the strength classes even more. My body does really well on rest days and so every three weeks or so when my body just feels tired, I’ll rest more.

What are Some High Protein Go-To’s?

When you first start counting macros or are simply just trying to increase the amount of protein you eat, I think its important to note that the smaller protein amounts really do add up throughout the day.

  • Fairlife Core Power Elite protein drink is 42g of protein per serving and it tastes delicious! They are expensive but I’ll buy one here and there if I’m out shopping and need a snack. Gordon and I like the chocolate best. Cheapest we’ve found is at Walmart.
  • Fairlife fat free milk- this milk is 13g protein per serving- cheapest price is at Walmart! I only buy this for Gordon and I. The older kids get regular fat free and Porter still drinks whole.
  • Dannon light and fit yogurt- toasted coconut and vanilla are my favorites; is 13g of protein per serving.
  • Fresh Additions Chicken- comes in 3oz portions from Costco. Tastes great and I’ll add this into anything for a quick protein boost. Is 21g of protein per serving.
  • Premiere Protein- 30g of protein in drink form. Go get a few boxes while they’re still on sale in January! Been digging the caramel flavor.
  • Mediterranean Chicken Skewers- from Costco. These are precooked and are pretty low in fat. I’ll microwave two for lunch with some veggies and crackers.
  • Canned Chicken- I love the kirkland signature canned chicken in a pinch for chicken salad. I know I’ll get a lot of crap for this, but I really do like it (as long as you’re stirring other stuff into it). By itself its just ok, but with extras it makes it so much better.
  • 99% fat free ground turkey- I have been buying this a lot week to week and can adapt just about any beef recipe into a turkey recipe without a lot of added fat.
  • Low fat or fat free cottage cheese- I actually don’t LOVE cottage cheese, but am coming up with new ways to enjoy it.
buffalo chicken cottage cheese

Extra foods that I buy a lot that are good for macros!

  • Grandma Sycamore Bread- the white bread has 0g fat per serving, plus this tastes like a treat.
  • Pretzel Crisps- these are 0g fat per serving and taste great dipped into something like a tuna or chicken salad
  • Kirkland Signature All Natural Peanut Butter- I am really careful with my fat grams most of all, so at the end of the night, I do like to have a spoonful of this if I have the extra fat grams.
  • Artichoke, Jalapeno & Parmesan Dip- from Costco! This stuff is the bomb and I love it. But have to portion it out because I can eat the entire container.
  • Low carb tortillas- I like buying low carb items because it just means I can eat more of them. Haha!
  • Bolthouse Farms Salad Dressing- All of these dressings taste great and are low in fat. Avocado Cilantro is my favorite.
  • Olive Garden Low Fat Salad Dressing- tastes just like the original.
  • Laughing Cow Cheese- great in place of cheese on a sandwich.
  • Amino Energy– This is a great pre-workout drink. It has a little caffeine in it with amino acids that help with muscle recovery. Plus I think it tastes great. Grape is my favorite but Gordon prefers the Blue Raspberry. I used to drink spark but that got way too expensive, so I get this instead and I like it better.
lady flexing in bathroom mirror

Other Miscellaneous Items I Love

For my birthday in December, I got the FitTrack BMI Smart Scale and have LOVED it. It gives you not just your weight but your BMI, Body Fat Percentage, Muscle Rate, Body Water percentage, Bone Mass Density, BMR (how many calories you burn at rest) and more! It is such good information to have, especially because when counting macros, a lot of time the scale doesn’t budge, however, LOTS OF THINGS are still happening in your body, like muscle gains! It’s so nice to have because it makes you realize again and again that there is so much more to body weight than just a number. Currently, it’s 50% off, so if you’re thinking about getting this scale, I’d do it sooner than later to get the lower price.

I do weigh food from time to time and this is a great food scale. It was one of the cheapest ones off Amazon, but its been working perfectly for us (and even came with an extra battery which is a steal considering it was $12!)

For Christmas, I got some really awesome Puma Sports Bras from Costco (I love me some Costco clothes) and they are the bomb. Really comfortable.

The Wunder Train High-Rise Crop Workout Pants from Lululemon are incredible. I linked to the 21″ cropped because they are basically like pants for me and all us shorties, but they have other lengths. I love love love these because they look brand new, even after washing them weekly for 7 months straight. I own three pairs and they still look new. Yes, they’re more expensive than ones off amazon, but the quality is amazing. I wear these for workouts, but also just every day with a tshirt because they are so comfortable. I wear a size 4.

And speaking of t-shirts, these $8 Target t-shirts are amazing! I have white, blush brown, teal and black. These are the universal threads brand…not to be confused with the other target t-shirts available on the website. They are not all created equal. Several colors are on clearance right now for under $5!

A New Meal Plan?

So, after 2000 words all about macros, here lies my dilemma that you can help me sort out. I am thinking about expanding my meal planning service to offer all new Macro-Friendly recipes for those who are looking to count macros OR who would just like low fat recipe ideas. It would be a minimal monthly fee for these new recipes. While I couldn’t give you 7 dinner recipes every week, I could do 12-15 all new recipes per month. Would you be interested in something like this or should I not even bother? Please let me know in the comments below.

That’s it for now, folks! Hope that was helpful. And if you have any questions that I didn’t answer, leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Updated: Macro Meal Plan is here!!

I’ve been working hard with my developer to get this up and running and she’s finally here! Get 20 all new macro friendly recipes every month (5 new recipes published every Friday), that are exclusive to the macro meal plans. Learn more here!

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36 Responses
    1. Lauren

      I always check the website or app for the restaurant before I eat out so I know what I’ll be ordering. My go to is the grilled chicken sandwich from chick-fil-a with a diet coke and a medium fry (but I only eat half with half a container of sauce). I don’t drink alcohol, so its a non-issue for me. But check the labels on what you’re drinking! Most of the time you just have to watch the carbs in it!

  1. Lacie

    I already signed up for the meal planning service because my family and I love your recipes. I have tracked macros on and off for a year and I would love some macro friendly meals and total bonus points if they are family friendly.

  2. Lauren T

    Thanks for your post. I just recently started this same journey. Post baby, though still breastfeeding. I’ve done this all before so I was really surprised to see just how much I really was eating (especially the bad stuff!!) when I got back on myfitnesspal. Hollaback for my current 9 day streak 💃🏻. Made a lot of changes to my ole reliables and am already seeing results. I plan to go a little harder (especially on the exercise front) once I stop breastfeeding too. Also, thanks for your food tips! We love fairlife milk too, so I’m excited to try the drink you mentioned.

    1. Lauren

      Yeah, I really gradually introduced healthier eating when I was still breastfeeding, but once that baby was done, I was full speed ahead! 🙂

  3. Carolyn Cheeseman

    Great information! You’re doing awesome. I’d definitely be interested in the macro friendly meal plan. However, I currently count macros and I find your current meal plan recipes to be a great fit and very customizable!!

  4. Autumn

    I would definitely be interested in macro friendly recipes/plan! I just started counting so I’m still learning and I often do end up making separate meals for my family 😬 We have six kids and I would love to learn how to count macros and make just one dinner!

  5. Sarah

    Would definitely be interested in 10-12 recipes per month. I think it would be real helpful when trying to get used to counting.

  6. Casey

    I would definitely be interested in the Macro-Friendly recipes as I have no idea where to begin. I’d like to be able to make recipes that, like you do, feed both my family and myself!

  7. Anonymous physician & mom

    This whole post is such a bummer to me. I stopped following you before when I started my recovery from disordered eating and started intuitive eating, because your posts were too triggering. I started following again and even am using the meal plan (yum!) But I just don’t know if I can withstand much more. You are a smart, driven, caring person. It would mean so much to me if you’d read about intuitive eating, fat phobia, health every size and eating disorder/disordered eating and consider making your content more friendly in that way. I know you have a huge audience wanting weight loss /”healthy”/macro type advice, but you could put a trigger warning or say skip this post if you’re not interested in focusing on weight / calories…. Just some ideas. I hope you respect that I’m not just another hateful/disgruntled commenter and that I want to continue following and supporting you, but I would love if you would respond to one of my many messages so far about this topic.

    1. Lauren

      First of all, thank you so much for your continued support online and for becoming a meal plan subscriber! I do really appreciate it! I also wanted to say I’m so sorry you have dealt with an eating disorder and that this post was triggering to you. This post was meant to be more informational and I’m really not trying to throw this diet information in people’s faces. It doesn’t show up on my homepage intentionally and I feel like I gave enough warning on my instagram and facebook posts that if it was triggering to you, you would know to not to read. Regardless, in no way am I saying everyone should go on a diet and it’s the only way to feel good about your body. Of course not! Different people do different things to help their bodies and minds feel healthy. The way you approach wellness is different to the way I approach it, and that’s ok! For me personally, counting macros makes my body feel awesome and using food as fuel to reach goals is not a bad thing! I truly hope you can recognize that the vast majority of my content has nothing to do with diets or macros or anything of the like…quite the opposite! 99% of my recipes are just regular dinners and desserts because that is what the majority of my audience wants. Much love to you. xx

      1. Anonymous physician & mom

        Thank you for the thoughtful response! I easily could have avoided this post, I should have mentioned that I came to it specifically to comment here, rather than Instagram where I might start a stupid comment war! I can see you’re putting a lot of thought into how you were doing this, and I really appreciate it. Probably more what gets me on the day-to-day basis are the titles of recipes and things that I used to think are normal to say, but now I find really triggering like guilt-free, or healthy swaps, or other diet culture type language. Those little things send messages to the masses that can be harmful. That said, I’m going to stick around because I reallydo love your recipes and I’m actually enjoying them so much more now that I’m intuitive eater and not having to worry about every little thing! Thanks for what you do, and by the way welcome back to PDX – I live in Vancouver!

    1. Anonymous physician & mom

      Thank you for the thoughtful response! I easily could have avoided this post, I should have mentioned that I came to it specifically to comment here, rather than Instagram where I might start a stupid comment war! I can see you’re putting a lot of thought into how you were doing this, and I really appreciate it. Probably more what gets me on the day-to-day basis are the titles of recipes and things that I used to think are normal to say, but now I find really triggering like guilt-free, or healthy swaps, or other diet culture type language. Those little things send messages to the masses that can be harmful. That said, I’m going to stick around because I reallydo love your recipes and I’m actually enjoying them so much more now that I’m intuitive eater and not having to worry about every little thing! Thanks for what you do, and by the way welcome back to PDX – I live in Vancouver!

  8. Nicole

    Yes! I would love a macro friendly/low fat recipe meal plan! I have been counting macros for the last 7 months and am burnt out on grilled chicken 😝 And not having to look for recipes?!? Take my money! Yay!

    1. Lauren

      I drink them from time to time. Maybe a can of diet coke every other day. Considering I don’t drink alcohol, I’m ok with this one “treat”. I know some people don’t like to have diet soda because its not a clean food or *insert reason here*, but I’m ok with it for me personally.

  9. Brittany Etheridge

    Hey Lauren, I’ve been following you for awhile on social media. Love your little(big) family! Who has 4 kids these days?! ✋🏻

    I on kid number 4 and love breastfeeding BUT I’m very ready to have my body back. Never had a problem with stress eating and always loved working out. Baby 4 or age 30 changed this. I’m sleepy and I eat. I’m grumpy and I eat. I’m stressed and I eat. I’m hungry and I eat.

    Well I could tell you the ole life story but here’s the nitty gritty. 5’6” 165 (biggest ever without a bun in the oven). Size 10. Breastfeeding 11 month old (in a few days) who hates formula and anything but mom. 80%+ comes from boobs😋 No gyms open nearby with childcare. Proud owner of 3 businesses. Process of moving BUT in an 1200 apartment with 6 people and 2 dogs. Really wanting energy and to kick these lbs in the butt without complicating mealtime for the rest of the fam.

    One more side note, my husband weighed 350, 6’2” only 4 months ago. Eating a version of Atkins diet (no working out yet) he has lost almost 60 lbs and the doc took him completely off insulin🙌🏼 I’m so proud and a teensy but jealous.

    Thanks mom of 4 ❤️ Mom of 4

  10. Jill

    I have been trying to figure out this whole macro thing for my husband and I, so this was perfect timing! I would love the meal plans!

  11. Julie Chang

    I would absolutely subscribe to one of your meal plans for macro counters such as my family is. I struggle with making my own because not everything is in myfitness pal so I guesstimate. I would love to just add your meals to MFP and call it a day❤️

  12. Jessica J

    Yes, definitely interested! I have found that counting macros is the only thing I can do to lose weight and still eat what I want. My husband counts too so having macro breakdowns for dinner recipes would be great for both of us. My kids always love your meals so I have no doubt they would eat these too. I appreciate these posts and they help to keep me motivated!

  13. Brianna

    Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for the info. You look like you feel great btw! I have been tracking macros for awhile now and have always been using about 1600-1700 calories for my goal. I entered my info and it gave me around 1350 calories so now I am even more confused. I am 5’6” 160ish. So if I shoot for 160 protein grams my carbs are around 100grams per day. That seems kind of low to me. Just wanted to hear your thoughts. Again thanks for sharing your tools:)

    1. Lauren

      160 grams of protein does seem high! And 1350 calories seems really low. Was that calculation just your TDEE? You have to add more calories to your TDEE, based on your activity level. I might adjust the percentages so protein lands around 140g. And I feel like 1600-1700 is fine. Not an expert though! Have you been seeing success with the current numbers you have?

  14. Christina Gorski

    Yes, I would love this. I actually just re-read this whole Macros but because I was intimidated. Then I went into learn about Beachbody Pyramid.. and realize 21days is not sounding promisingly maintaining. I have only about 15 lbs to lose, would take more but not necessary. I have had my 4th baby who just is turning 2. I have always kept my pregnancy weight gain to 35 and help onto 10 to 20lbs for nursing. I would love to lose the extra fat I have and look leaner. I am 5ft 2 and at 133. I would love to be 120… Maybe less 🥰
    I have uses Myfitnesspal For Calories counting many time.. and it has worked!!!! I just spent today learning about Macros after my coworker (we are RNs) said she had success with. I reread your post and now understand it better!! I still have more to learn in how to count but also keep from gaining … I have heard this happen.

  15. Christina

    Oh, and I wanted to write and say that I think in no way are your titles of recipes bad. I love to see healthy choices and swaps, it is what I look for. In no way does it say other foods are bad, but we sure do know that some very indulgent meals like Fried Chicken, Broccoli Cheese Soup and or Lasagna are louder with calories. With today’s generations of cakes cookies and obesity we need to be more aware and that doesn’t mean there is an intention to create a body image issue. I look for recipes that I can create with less calories cheeses facts or gravy’s and there is nothing wrong with making meals healthy with healthy swaps!! I’ve been doing this for years with banana bread, using applesauce and greek yogurt! In no way does it taste like cardboard and I still add chocolate chips!! Keep on keeping on! I have tried this macros and barely eat fat .. I see mine come from avacados and my coffee creamer!!

  16. Jamie

    Hi Lauren, this is all great info and so helpful as counting macros is new to me. You noted you don’t use a scale often. When entering your foods into your tracker, do you eyeball how much protein, fruit, veggies, etc you are eating? Or do you use measuring cups/spoons instead of a scale? I’ve been on a weight loss plan and I’ve found using the scale is so much more accurate than measuring cups/spoons, as I’m supposed to have a specific amount of protein and veggies. As I’m moving away from that plan and will focus on macros, I’m just wondering how you know how much of each food to enter into MFP. Thanks!

    1. Lauren

      For my meats, I will use a kitchen scale. But for other things like crackers, dips, peanut butter, etc.. I’ll use measuring cups and spoons.

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