Start with Macros
No matter what your goals are, nutrition is paramount. Nutrition is the foundation of our day. It doesn't matter if you chase your rug rats all day or sit behind a computer from 9-5, food is what fuels us. Macronutrients give us life. Whether you want to feel energetic all day, gain muscle, lose weight, maintain your weight, train for a marathon, or be a physique competitor, how many macros you are consuming is going to make you or break you.
Macronutrients, or macros, are fats, proteins and carbs. Each macro has a calorie count: fat = 9 calories/gram, proteins = 4 calories/gram, and carbohydrates = 4 calories/gram. (It's also worth it to mention alcohol = 7 calories/gram.) In addition to having a specific calorie count per gram macronutrients have specific functions. Their functions are so diverse that I won't attempt to describe each one's physiological affects. Nevertheless, it is vital to get a balance of all three for optimum health.
Many websites have calculators to determine your daily calorie and macronutrient needs based on specific needs or goals. I use bodybuilding.com's macro calculator, simply for ease of use.
I do find that bodybuilding.com's fat ratio can be a touch low. In my personal opinion, it's ok to increase your fat intake to 20-30% as long as you adjust your carb and protein ratios to meet your caloric needs. (*Remember, I'm not a dietician or nutritionist. I am simply a person who is enthusiastic about teaching others how to reach their goals. I encourage everyone to consult a certified nutrition professional when starting a fitness and/or nutrition program.)
I typically eat a 40-40-20 split, 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat, with a total of 1800 calories. This combination helps me reach my vitamin and nutrient requirements, makes me feel satisfied, and provides me with enough energy so I can tackle my day. However, a maintenance diet and a bikini prep diet are two different plans. To prep for my show I am eating closer to a 43-42-15 split, with a total of 1500 cal.
As you can tell, I track everything. That is the nature of bodybuilding and physique competition. An athlete has to be in tune with their body; striving for the right balance between calories and energy expenditure. But what if you just want to lose weight or train for a marathon? I still think it's worth while to track your nutrition for 30 days in order to know where you stand.
Last November I tracked everything I ate for 30 days. It was shocking!!!! I typically eat very well. I'm a egg whites and oatmeal kinda' girl. However, I have a weakness for pizza and doughnuts. I live less than two miles from Krispy Kreme! Tracking my nutrition helped me realize how many treats I was actually having. I always thought my "chicken and broccoli" intake was in balance with my junk food intake. My fitness journal revealed a different story.
I use DietMinder Personal Food and Fitness Journal. I purchased it from Amazon and I swear by it. It has everything I need to track my food intake including daily pages, calorie count estimates, and useful tidbits. Another great resource is the app MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is an online journal that can track your macros and give you a wonderful pie chart depicting your ratios. If you are having trouble reaching your goals I suggest buying a DietMinder Journal or downloading MyFitnessPal. Tracking my meals has been invaluable to me on my road to gaining more muscle and increasing my vegetable (thus nutrient) intake.
I mention vegetable intake because it's important to realize not all "macros" are the same. If It Fits Your Macros, IIFYM, is a diet approach that tells the dieter that it's ok to eat what you want as long as it "fits your macros." While I agree with this approach it's also important to note the dieter has to also have common sense. Too many people want an easy answer to health and fitness. Too often people corrupt healthy diet strategies with uneducated or irresponsible justifications. IIFYM doesn't mean you will be healthy eating candy bars and fast food. It simply means you don't have to feel guilty indulging a little, as long as you keep a healthy macro ratio. Remember, once you know your macro goals, eat a variety of fruit, veggies and lean protein every day. Eat your rainbow!!!!!
I know this all sounds way too involved for the average person. But I assure you it only takes a little extra effort for 30 days to get into a groove. After seeing what fits your macros and what doesn't fit your macros you will learn simple meal combinations that set you up for optimum health.
It never hurts to try.
Cheers to becoming your best self!!!!
STF can help you establish your macronutrient needs. Contact STF today!