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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.
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.
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.
After doing lots and lots of research, I found this great (free!) online resource about calculating TDEE and giving you so great information about macros. 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 trying to build muscle now because I’m happy with my body fat percentage and am looking to get a little more shape on my lower half. Here is where I’m at (got these numbers from my trainer, but a 20/30/40 split is pretty common):
Total calories: 2000 cal
Protein 180g (180g x 4 cal= 720 calories) 36%
Carbs 212g(212g x 4 cal= 848 calories) 42%
Fat 48g (48g x 9 cal= 432 calories) 22%
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.
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.
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.
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 at least 4 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Other Miscellaneous Items I Love
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!
After that big long explanation, I wanted to make sure to talk about my Macro-Friendly Recipe Archive. Last year, I had been developing lower fat, higher protein recipes for my Meal Planning service. Since I decided to discontinue that to have more time for family, I thought I would post them here so they would be available for free for everyone. I’m in the process of adding them all (there are a few hundred!) so please be patient. Right now, there are lots to choose from, but will be more, soon.
Anyways, that’s it for now! If you have any questions about macros, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I will answer them as soon as I can. Have a great day, friends!