Here are the answers to your questions
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If you’re considering starting your macro journey
What does tracking macros involve / How do I actually track them?
The easiest, most accurate way to track macros is by using a food scale and an app, such as MyFitnessPal. The Get Gritty Nutrition Guide refers to these tools. If you aren’t there yet, I have included a manual tracker and you can measure with cups and spoons. Instead of tracking straight calories, you will track the carbs, fat and protein that make up your food. This ensures you are eating a well-balanced diet.
What kind of exercise am I expected to do?
I calculate your calorie and macro needs based on your current level of physical activity. I currently do not offer workouts or exercise recommendations. I recommend setting and achieving a daily step goal and at minimum, three days of strength/resistance training per week to help retain and build muscle.
Is this going to be a lot of work?
If losing weight was easy, no one would be overweight, right? Changing your habits and adopting a more well-balanced diet will be a steep learning curve for some people, but tracking your macros is one of those things that will be second nature after a little while. If you would like more guidance as you begin your macro-tracking journey, consider purchasing my Grit Squad or Grit Mentor plans.
How soon will I see results?
This is impossible to answer because everyone is different. If tracking calories and/or macros is new to you and you’ve got a fair amount of weight to lose, you may see results faster than someone who has been tracking for awhile and has lower body fat. It also depends on how closely you hit your macros. If you hit your numbers during the week but fall off the wagon every weekend, you will slow down your progress. Consistency is key when trying to lose weight. Lastly, progress looks different to everyone. You can track progress toward your goals in many ways, including: scale weight, how you look in the mirror/photos, how your clothes fit, measurements and body fat percentage.
Will this affect my food budget?
Oftentimes people equate eating “healthier” with more expensive food. This doesn’t have to be the case! Tracking macros allows you lots of flexibility in your food choices, so you can buy the foods that fit within your budget. If your calculated calorie/macro intake is substantially more than you are accustomed to eating, then yes, your grocery bill may increase.
Do I have to give up any of my favorite foods?
Nope! That’s the great thing about tracking macros. If you want to eat something higher in calories, just plan your day around it!
If I register for the Grit Squad or Grit Mentor plans, what can I expect your coaching style to be like?
I know that one size never fits all. When you purchase either of these plans, I will first ask you to think through your goals, motivations and challenges. I can be as hands on or as hands off as you’d like and will adjust my coaching style to fit your needs. The beauty of macros is that nothing is off limits, and I will support you in finding what works for you long term.
If you’re already tracking your macros
What happens if you are under your allotted macros for the day?
The goal is to get within +/- 5 grams of each macro each day. If you go over or under, try to analyze what adjustments you need to make to get closer, and try again tomorrow. When tracking DAILY macros and you miss the mark, just forget about it and try to do a little better next day.Some people track WEEKLY macros in which case you would take your daily macro totals and multiply by 7, then try to hit these numbers over the course of the week. This can come in handy when you’ve got days that you know you’ll under eat or weeks where you have a special event and want to eat more one day. If you try this strategy and want to plan more food for weekend days and less for weekdays, for instance, you’ll have to go into MyFitnessPal at the beginning of each morning and adjust the macros for that day. You could write your weekly breakdown on a piece of paper/in a Word document and have that handy to adjust MyFitnessPal each morning.
If my daily macro goal is: 140g protein, 200g carbs and 65g of fat. Multiple each by 7 to get your weekly total = 980g protein, 1400g carbs, 455g fat. Then split up the weekly total how you wish to account for days you may want less or more food.
Monday-Friday daily macros: 140g protein, 180g carbs, 60g fat
Saturday-Sunday daily macros: 140g protein, 250g carbs, 77.5g fat (round up to 78g)
Is it a problem if I go over on one macro and under on another?
Most people experience a pretty steep learning curve as they start to track macros. The goal is to eat carbs, fat and protein in the right ratios and therefore hitting within +/- 5 grams of each macro. Carbs and fat are somewhat interchangeable. Your top priority should always be to hit your protein target. If you find yourself way over on fat, for instance, it is okay to scale back your carbs to make up for it. Same thing if you go over on your carbs, scale back your fat.
I think I may go crazy if I have to weigh/measure everything I eat. Is it okay to use the “eyeball” method?
Absolutely! As I state in the guide, the mental health aspect of this is huge, in my opinion. Just like you want to find a balance of foods/nutrients that is sustainable for you, you must also find a tracking strategy that is sustainable, not stress inducing. Weighing or measuring food can be EXTREMELY eye opening though. For instance, most people are shocked at how small two tablespoons of peanut butter actually is. I would suggest tracking via food scale and/or measuring cups/spoons for one week. Try to measure and eat the foods you consume on a regular basis. Once you do this and can actually see how big or small a serving really is, you’ll have a better idea when you are eyeballing or estimating in the future.
Can I drink alcohol while tracking macros?
This is something you will to have to feel out. Personally, I would rather eat my calories vs. drink them but if you save carbs/fat for alcohol and feel satiated with the foods you are eating, by all means! Be aware that alcohol, especially beer, can cause bloating and water retention due to the high-carb content, so you may not see as much progress on the scale a day or two after having a couple beers.
IIFYM offers an alcohol macro calculator that helps you figure out how to track your alcohol has a combination of fat and carbs. This tool doesn’t have specific types of beer, so you’ll just have to choose the closest option. Remember, if you enjoy a cocktail, make sure to account for any mix ins that contain calories and add those to MyFitnessPal as well.
It can be hard to fit alcohol in, especially if you’re eating in a larger calorie deficit. But the key is to pre-plan. Put the alcoholic drinks into your diary first and plan around it. Because alcohol has no protein, you may have to fill in with protein-only foods such as egg whites, protein powder, 0% fat Greek yogurt, etc. This may be the only way to ensure you hit your protein target when you consume something with many calories, none of which are derived from protein.
MyFitnessPal gives your nutrition breakdown for the day and tells you how much of any given macro you still need to eat. But it breaks out fat and saturated fat. Which one do I look at?
You definitely want to keep your saturated and trans fats to a minimum, but focus on the line/macro that lists “fat.”
I have been using supplements for a little over a year — a protein shake, vitamins and a patch. Should I continue to use these or take time off while doing your program?
If you would like to continue taking a protein supplement, that will definitely help you to hit your protein target. Whenever I am lacking in the protein department, I rely on a good quality protein powder in a shake or mixed into yogurt. As far as the other supplements go, if you want to keep taking them, it won’t hurt anything! Just remember to track anything that contains calories in MyFitnessPal. Check out my blog post on supplements for more info.