Know Thy Macros
Foods generally fall into one of three categories:
These are called Macronutrients. They are like Jesus: the same yesterday, today, and forever. No matter what diet is popular, a food will be classified into one of those three categories.
An important key to long-term health is keeping your macronutrients balanced. I have found that many people get too many carbs and not enough protein or fat. This can create a lot of problems in the body which leads to health issues and weight gain.
Tracking your macronutrients for a few days is a quick and easy way to determine if you’re keeping things balanced. I especially love to use the Track Your Macs challenge to help Sugar Detoxers transition out of detox mode and start adding back in some of their Heck Yeah foods. You don’t have to have completed a Sugar Detox before doing the Track Your Macs challenge. But if you’ve never done a Sugar Detox, I do highly recommend it at some point. Learn more about how The Sugar Detox for Christians can improve your health.
To do a Track Your Macs challenge, simply follow these steps:
1. Download the My Fitness Pal app
This is a free app that lets you journal your food for you to see how many fats, proteins, and carbs you are getting in a day’s time.
2. Determine Your Calorie Needs
Unfortunately, My Fitness Pal defaults to a 1200 calorie goal which is NOT appropriate for everybody. Your daily calorie target depends on several things including your current weight, height, age, activity level and health goals. In order to determine the right calorie target for your individual needs, go to this post HERE.
3. Set Your Macronutrient Goals
Again, My Fitness Pal has a default set of macronutrient ratios. You will need to manually change your macronutrient goals. To do this, go into My Fitness Pal and hit the MORE button in the bottom right hand corner. Then hit the GOALS button. This is where you can set your current weight, goal weight, daily calorie target, and macronutrient goals.
I generally tell people to shoot for the following:
Carbohydrates: 30% – Fats: 40% – Protein: 30%
(Clients: stick to the individualized ratios I set for you).
4. Journal Your Food
Start entering everything that you eat into the app. Yes, this can be a little high maintenance and tedious at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be efficient and quick about it. At the end of each day, check your macronutrient ratios by hitting the MORE button and then the NUTRITION button. This will show you a pie chart so you can easily see the ratios of fats, proteins, and carbs for the day. From this you will know if you need to tweak in one category or another.
And that’s it! You can do this for a few days or for a few weeks. Whatever it takes to help you become more intuitive about your macronutrient ratios. Tracking Your Macs is a great tool for self-correction. Any time you feel like you’re getting “off” – track your macs for a few days to see where you are.
Do you know why else I love this challenge? Because I’m a licker and a plate picker. I’m always picking off the leftovers from my kids’ plates. These are bad bad habits of mine that I often need to “check myself” on. I’ve found that tracking my macs is the best way to do that because you can’t accurately input licks and picks and bites off plates into My Fitness Pal. This is when the tediousness of journaling food can be really effective. This is one of the only things to snap me out of it. And when I find my bad habits creeping back in I know it’s time for another Track Your Macs challenge.
The only tool you might need for this challenge is a food scale. Because you need to be somewhat accurate in the amount of food you enter into My Fitness Pal, a food scale can be very helpful…especially for measuring protein. I use this scale from Amazon but you can find food scales in most big stores like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and even your grocery store.
Two more things:
If challenges like this make you kind of crazy and fanatical….don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It’s not healthy to be obsessive about calorie counting and macronutrient ratios. This is meant to be a helpful exercise, not one that overtakes your brain.
On a more fun note, please make sure you are a member of The Christian Nutritionist Community on Facebook. We are always doing challenges together: sharing encouragement, food ideas and helpful tips. I am very active in that group answering questions and guiding you along the way. Click here to join.
Thank you for being here! Good luck with the challenge. Let me know how it goes.