I feel like a broken record at times when I talk about macro counting, because someone asked me just this weekend “if I eat ________.” The answer: YES. Even in prep, NO FOODS ARE OFF LIMITS…yet.
Despite the fact that I CAN eat ANYTHING I want as long as it fits my macros, when I start to explain it to some people and they hear the words “weigh my food,” their eyes start to glaze over. “Suit yourself” I think, as I dip into my nightly dessert.
Let’s review a scenario. You wake up one morning and you go downstairs for breakfast. Today you are having oatmeal. How do you measure your oatmeal? Do you just pour it straight from the bag into the bowl, add water, and heat? If you do, then more power to you. I am sure that is some delicious oatmeal especially if you are winging the water part as well. Can you sense my sarcasm? Maybe you take out a ½ cup measuring cup like most mortals who are not as skilled at eyeballing said oats. You measure ½ a cup, add water, heat and enjoy. Well counting macros is actually easier than that. Put your bowl on a scale. Turn the scale on. It will say 0g. Pour in the oatmeal (no measuring cup needed) until the grams on your scale matches the grams on the serving side of the bag – usually 40-48g. Add water, heat and enjoy.
We are all having the same oatmeal for breakfast.
But instead, people make judgements about macro counting in the same way that I make judgements about people that “eat clean” all the time or who do 7-day juice cleanses.
Let’s review another scenario. Say you REALLY want a burger for dinner. And I’m not talking about that 93% lean crap that I have been eating lately. You want an 80/20 badly. Think 5 Guys. Well maybe not 5 Guys, but close. I think 5 Guys is more like 60/40, and maybe that’s why it’s so damn delicious. Great. As a macro counter you can have it, and it’s not even a cheat meal. It’s not a “BAD FOOD” in our world. It’s just protein and fat. That 6 ounce, 80/20 burger has about 34g of fat. For me, I can’t have that burger because I am only eating 33g of fat each day, but if your “fat macro” is higher than 34g a day (mine was 61g before prep), then you sure can have that burger as long as you make lower fat choices for breakfast and lunch.
Let me repeat. As long as you stay within your macros, no foods are off limits.
I used to see foods as “good” and “bad,” but now I just see foods as the macros that they are made up of:
Pizza: lots of carbs and fat and a little protein
Chocolate Chip Cookies: lots of carbs, fat and sugar
French fries: carbs and fat
Delicious Ruth’s Chris filet: protein and fat
Apple: carbs, fiber and sugar
Popcorn: carbs and fat
Broccoli: carbs and fiber
Now, am I going to crush some chocolate chip cookies everyday? No. Just because they aren’t “bad” doesn’t mean that they make me FEEL good. Before I really started learning more about nutrition, I ate whatever. I did not realize that there is a REASON that a sugary treat gives me a severe sugar hangover after I eat it. I didn’t realize that I was sluggish after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon because when the white flour and sugar is not paired with fiber, your body sets off a series of events that make you feel like you got run over by a train by the drive home from brunch.
Now that I understand that my body feels like crap after a lot of white flour, white sugar and a heaping bowl of dairy, I choose them a lot less. Yes you will still find me at the Iron Rooster eating a pop tart on occasion, but I usually eat a few bites for breakfast after my egg white omelette (protein) and fibrous carbs (oatmeal).
So what do I eat? Well, 90% of my diet is “clean” because when I eat clean I feel better. Lots of lean meats, veggies and minimal fruit. You can refer to my old post about my phase one prep diet here. I LIKE good for you food. I crave salads. I love treating my body well, because it takes such good care of me each day. I put it through grueling workouts 6 days a week, so I HAVE to use food as fuel or I won’t be able to perform.
Macro counting takes practices. Luckily technology is very sophisticated these days, and there are several tracking apps that make it very easy to record our food. My Fitness Pal has a bar code scanner feature that allows you to easily scan anything you eat that comes in a package. For things that don’t come in a package, like fruit, vegetables and meats, those foods are already populated, and all you have to do is search for them in a large directory. You can even import recipes from your favorite food blogger and search your favorite restaurants for their nutritional information.
The biggest learning curve for most people is the education around what macros make up certain foods. Many people think they are eating a lot of protein when they are eating cheese and nuts, when really they are eating a lot of fat and a little protein.
Macro counting is a high protein way of life. During prep, I am eating close to 200g of protein each day. My diet is made up of egg whites, chicken, ground turkey burgers, protein bread and protein powder. I also get to eat a LOT of carbs, close to 230g to be exact. That’s the equivalent of 20 slices of BREAD. Yes, BREAD! No grain-free lifestyle going on here. Pass the toast and jelly please. My fats are a bit lower than I’m used to, but I can still have 4 tablespoons of peanut butter a day if I really wanted. Peanut butter is my love language. Well, that and pizza.
Does everyday of my life fit my macros? In my normal life, no. I usually take a break from counting from time to time. During prep, I am on point, with usually one treat meal per week that doesn’t fit.
So before you go rolling your eyes about my gram scale, think about how you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits. I literally wake up every morning and plug in my dessert before I get out of bed. I am a night eater, and I cannot go to bed HANGRY. Think about how you can enjoy a slice of pizza and some cake WITHOUT the guilt. That is the biggest selling point of IIFYM and why the women I coach in this lifestyle have so much success on the program. NO GUILT. We are so hard on ourselves in so many areas of our life, that it’s nice to be more relaxed about food. My next macro coaching group starts in a few weeks if you’re interested in learning more about this lifestyle. I hope you’ll open your mind up to the idea of abs and pizza together in a beautiful harmony. I promise you that once you get a taste of the flexible dieting life, you’ll get hooked. Pass the bread basket.