Today I hit my macros perfectly. Im good, right?
What if you were extra active today? What if you were so stressed that your stomach locked up, and therefore couldn’t digest food properly? What if you filled your carb intake with food sources that don’t sit well with your body, just to hit that number? What if you don’t even need that many carbs?
When focusing on numbers, it is easy to neglect HOW you’re actually feeling.
I asked many of you why you track macros. The common responses were to make sure you don’t over or under-eat, to avoid eating junk food, for accountability and because you don’t trust yourself to eat “intuitively.”
I want to start by saying it is OKAY to track macros. They can be very effective. But it is not the only way.
Here are 3 easy steps to eat for your goals, without the numbers:
Step One: Create an ingredients log
Do you feel amazing after getting healthy carbs into your system? Are you tired after having a large portion of meat? Do you have no idea how you feel because you’ve been paying attention to numbers rather than the foods that make up those numbers?
Instead of logging “55g” of post-workout carbs into your My Fitness Pal - write down WHAT you ate, ingredient by ingredient. Keep a note in your phone. Write it in a journal. Ignore those “goal numbers” for a week.
Logging your ingredients will make you more aware of what you’re putting in your body (i.e. real food vs. "junk") and it will provide a record to look back on when you need to tweak things for your goals AND to feel better.
Step Two: Aim for energy balance
If you eat your post-workout meal and find yourself hungry or tired, you probably need a little more. If you eat and are so stuffed that you want to lay down - you probably need a little bit less or a change of ingredients.
Meals should leave you feeling satisfied and energized.
Not sure where to begin? Start with balanced meals. This means each snack or meal should include a healthy carb, fat and protein. THEN you adjust. If you notice you often crash in the afternoon for example, adjust your intake in the meal prior to “crash time” so that you stay satiated. If you wake up starving every morning, you may need to make your dinners a bit heartier.
When you aim to FEEL good throughout the day - your body will work optimally and all of those physique goals will fall into place.
Step Three: Tweak your portions
Tracking macros is not the only way to control portions for your weight loss or weight gain goals. In fact, you can hit your numbers “perfectly” and still not achieve them. Why? Because macros don’t account for lazy days, stressful days, hormonal fluctuations, illnesses etc.
If logging numbers becomes overwhelming, tiresome or simply stops working - try planning meals based on portion sizes that your body can digest well.
Portioning is as easy as a “palm sized” piece of chicken breast, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a fist size serving of sweet potato etc (see image for examples).
Know that portioning is a starting point from which you can adjust to your specific needs, digestive limitations and/or goals. Also know that it is completely normal to not need the same intake every single day. That is where listening to your body comes into play.
If you notice your body slipping from your physique goals, your energy dipping, or your digestion suffering - tweaking “macros” is as simple as taking away or doubling that tablespoon of peanut butter.
Don't over-think it. Your body knows :)