As I'm doing my in person consultations in Shelby or if I'm doing a talk on macros, I realize that there are many things that maybe just don't come up by coaching online that I think that maybe people even go about confused on and then ask these questions later down the road. I'd love to go through a few of them that I could think of and explain simple solutions to these issues.
1. Now that I have my macros, what are my calories.
Calories are the same thing as macros. Macros means macronutrients which are things that your body needs in a large quantity for survival. Interestingly enough, ethanol is the fourth macronutrient apart from carbs, fats, protein but they didn’t find this essential to life therefore the amount of ethanol in products is left off the label.
But if you have macros for example that are 120g P 150g C 50g F then you just add it up. There are 4 calories per gram in protein and carb and 9 calories per gram in fat. That means that if you take (120g of protein x 4cal/g) + (150g of carb x 4cal/g) + (50g of fat x9) = 1530 Total Calories ! Do that math one time so that it makes sense
2. But my macros don’t match up to my calories on myfitnesspal?
This is due to a few reasons. One of which is just user error of people entering things into myfitnesspal wrong and you may have clicked on one that’s off. Another is due to fiber. For example, 100 calorie packs and quest bars. If you were to look at the nutrition label of 100 calorie packs, many times they will say 22g C 2g P 0g F which if you did the math would total 96 calories. There are others that may say 0g F 0g P 26g C which is 104calories. This can be confusing when starting the macro process, which is why you should ignore the calories and just follow the macros for this time period. They are going to put 104calorie pack.
They are just going to put 100. Quest bars for example get away with their label due to the fiber. They have extreme amounts of fiber in them, therefore the label states that the macros are 8g F 21g C 21g P in a chocolate chip cookie dough bar. This totals 240 calories but the bar might say 190 calories. They are subtracting calories due to the amount of fiber in the amount, but do not pay attention to this as it’s all marketing in my personal opinion. The bar has 240 calories and the macros should be followed as they are listed. Do not count net carbs!
3. Should I add in more calories on the days that I exercise vs not?
This 100% depends on your goals. When you come to coaching with me for general weight loss, you are going to have macros added in with an activity factor. This is all taken into consideration with the knowledge that you are working out consistently every day with one or two rest days. You don’t need to get crazy with changing your numbers every day because weight loss is simply an energy expenditure and over the weeks, this is more sustainable and makes the most sense.
If you are an ironman athlete, this is a totally different ballgame. You definitely should never have the same amount of intake on your long run days as you do your short swim days. You are expending far more energy and need a lot more calories. This is something that I would calculate for you each day (and just recently started my Advanced Endurance Athlete Coaching because I feel it’s really important if you have a sport to have individual nutrition for each day.
4. If I’m hungry at the end of the day, do I finish off my macros?
Yes and no. It again depends on your goals. If you are someone that is binge eating or is restrictive in your dieting then yes, you need to do what is told to you because I think that girls tend to restrict which leads to binge eating and they don’t even realize that they are doing it day to day. They say they just “aren’t hungry” when they have just trained themselves to think that. It’s a mind thing.
If you are someone who is looking to lose weight, and you have like 20g protein left to fill at the end of the day, you aren’t hungry at all, should you stuff 5 egg whites down the hatch? Absolutely not. That’s disgusting, and just more calories. You should aim to fill out your macros each day so that might mean that you plan better the next day, but with my mom, she always made sure to stay within her carbs and fat. This usually led her to be below on protein, and if she was hungry at the end of the night then yes she had protein items instead of her nightly ice cream. It’s all about sustainability too. Chugging a protein shake at the end of the day is NASTY, so don’t do that.
5. How close should my macros be to the gram?
I’ve noticed that I started telling people that they just needed to be close to their numbers and that we don’t need to get too caught up in the perfectionism of hitting exact numbers but I have recognized that this sometimes gives people the liberty to be ALL over the place with sometimes 50g over on protein and then some days like 15g over on fat. This is going to really get you no where, and you aren’t going to know how to adjust things if you aren’t getting results. You need to be consistently hitting relatively the same numbers every day to know how to adjust and move forward, and I say a 5g window is best.
6. Do I need a food scale?
Yes and no again. It depends on how strict you want to be. I do recommend it though. In macro counting, you will get more out of it if you weigh things. You will find that ¼ cup of oats is not the same as 20g oats as it claims on the label. When you weigh out ¼ cup of oats, this might come out to as much as 25g in weight. That is 3.5g of carb off. This doesn’t seem like a big deal (and it’s not HUGE) but if you are doing this with every single thing, then you are going to end up with some really off macro counts by the end of the day.
I weigh everything now including greens. This morning I had 100g of zucchini in my oats. I just put my bowl on the scale, tear it, and then add in the amount that I want.
7. Grams of protein VS weight of protein in grams?
I actually had confusion between this for the first time yesterday and I was like LIGHT BULB MOMENT! I have never realized how confusing this must be.
If you have 3 oz of chicken, then 3 oz in WEIGHT is 84g of chicken. This is what you would weigh on the food scale. However, this is NOT 84g of protein. This comes out to 27g protein and 1-2g of fat.
8. What about sodium and sugar?
I have done a blog on this already, so I’ll refer you to this, but do not worry about this unless you have a specific medical condition that requires you to be worried about it. It just provides confusion and if you are eating a balanced diet, then you do not have to count sodium grams. As you lose weight and get in shape, your blood pressure will come down.
9. I have no idea what foods to fit into these different grams
This takes TIME. Please give it time, and don’t just give up because you find it overwhelming. You will learn just like anything else in life what is in foods. If you are coached by me, I will give you charts with different foods in the different macro areas, but it’s not as overwhelming as it seems. Start looking at labels in the grocery store. You’ll start seeing that some things are heavy in carb, and some things are heavy in fat or protein. It gets easier and easier.
10. What exercise is best with macros?
This doesn’t matter. You can use macros for any lifestyle, any workouts, or any food allergies. Macros are not some fad diet. They are just general nutrition.
11. Should I count my food cooked or uncooked? (protein specifically)
SUCH a common question!! Whatever the label says that have in your hand is based on the weight that is in the actual bag as is. So, for example, if you have some French fries in a bag to throw into the oven, then the weight of the bag is those French fries frozen! The bag label and nutrition is calculating this based on the frozen French fries (unless of course it says cooked which is rare). That means that you need to weigh BEFORE you cook to be accurate. Most things lose water when being cooked therefore the weight will drastically change. It all depends on how you track it in myfitnesspal.
The easiest way that I’ve found for something like chicken is that I prep these things ahead of time, and weighing raw seems kind of weird to me. Therefore, I search “Cooked Chicken breast” in myfitnesspal to enter the correct information, therefore I know that when I weigh it cooked, I’m referring to the right thing.
I know that this doesn’t even grace the surface, but I hope that this helps those that are getting started, and if you have any newbie questions, feel free to comment those below!