You may have heard the term “macros” thrown around if you’ve been following anything relating to dieting or weight loss. If you aren’t familiar with what it actually means, it’s okay….you can admit it. We’re all friends here.
“Macros” is short for “macronutrients.”
I know, now you’re saying “oh….that TOTALLY clears it up for me!” (I can hear that sarcasm, young lady!)
There are 3 macronutrients as part of our diet: Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates. A macronutrient-based plan, or a “macro plan”, is a food plan that is based on eating specific amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. You may not realize it, but when you tried that low-carb diet last year….that was a macro-based plan. A low-fat diet is another macro-based plan. See? You know what this is and you’ve likely already tried it.
Where most people get lost is HOW to alter macronutrient intake so it results in weight loss, increased performance, increased muscle mass, etc. That’s right, how much of each macro you should eat depends on your goals – which adds another layer of complexity to the equation.
Down in one, up in another
The tricky part about coming up with a macronutrient food plan is knowing which of the three should be decreased and which of the three should be increased to compensate for the drop in calories. Stay with me here…I promise I’ll make this easy for you!
Let’s pretend you eat a 1200 calorie diet and that diet consists of equal parts fats, protein, carbs (33.3% for each). You decide you want to try that “crazy low-carb” diet that everyone is talking about. Your plan takes your carbohydrate intake from 33.33% of your calories down to 20% of your calories. You now have 20% carbohydrates, 33.3% fats, and 33.3% protein. If you add those up, it comes to only 86.6% of what you were eating before.
You can keep this lower intake if you wish, but now your total calories have dropped to 1040 because you reduced the percentage of carbohydrates you are eating. If you want to stick with a 1200 calorie diet, you’ll have to INCREASE the percentage of fats or protein (or both). But which…and how do you choose?
Embarking on a macro-based eating plan is commonly done without a whole lot of thought. But, that’s exactly what needs to take place first – thought.
First – identify your goals. What are you wanting to accomplish with this new plan? Weight loss? Better marathon time? Heavier bench press? Pinpointing exactly what you are wanting to get out of the diet is essential to getting the macronutrient ratios right.
Second – establish your baseline intake. If you don’t know what you’re doing now, how do you know what changes to make? Perhaps you are already eating a low-carb diet. Perhaps you need to increase your protein. The only way to know these things is to keep track of your food intake over a few days.
Third – seek the help of professionals. Believe it or not, everyone needs something different. There are specialists who do just this this! Responsibly setting up your meal plan is essential for your success, regardless of your goals. Not only will professional guidance lead to better results, it can help save you time and money by cutting out all the guesswork.
Where to start….
If you do a Google search, you’ll find lots of plans that may be able to help you set up a macro-based route. You are bound to find some local, in-person help. But, you are also likely to find many online options. One such option that I recently came across is Macros Made Easy – a program by Krista Moreland.
I actually reached out to Krista recently to get a bit more information. It was so refreshing to find someone with the same passion that I have for this stuff! I know that sounds completely geeky – and it is. Point being….I don’t recommend a lot of things because I can’t always guarantee the intentions of people or programs. Actually, in 4 years, she’s only the second person I’ve ever sent people to. So, I couldn’t wait to share this with you. She has a real fire inside her for helping people get this set up AND helping them succeed. I was truly impressed. Now, while my own book discusses macro-based plans – it’s not as in-depth as Macros Made Easy. I go over them as an option, she implements! So, go meet this rock star of a coach!
My ebook Weight Loss that Works: Secrets to Restoring Confidence and Reclaiming Your Body is now available here! Coming in 2019….an intensive, online program!