Tracking macros and carb cycling are two huge trends in the health and fitness world right now. It's something many people have heard of, but not everyone is sure what it actually means. Thanks to apps like MyFitnessPal tracking macros is SO easy and really helps keep you accountable for what you are eating.
What are macros?
The term macros is short for macronutrients. There are three macros: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Protein and carbs each contain 4 calories per gram, and fat is 9 calories per gram.
If you look at the calories in any food, or meal, they will be made up of those three macros. You'll frequently see macros written as Carbs/fat/protein so a 3 Muskateers bar is 42 C/7 F/1 P.
A premier protein shake is 5 C/3 F/30 P.
Most people who track macros are trying to hit certain goals like 50 C on a low carb day. If that was the case which item above would you rather eat? The chocolate shake! It only has 2 net carbs when you take out the fiber (which MyFitnessPal would calculate for you.)
There is an approach to dieting/counting macros called "if it fits your macros" or IIFYM. For those people following this plan you can literally eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros. So, want a 3 Muskateers bar on low carb day? That's fine, but you will probably eat nothing but egg whites and lettuce the rest of the day! (You'd be amazed how many carbs are in everything you eat. 50 carbs goes quick!)
I don't think IIFYM is a good approach for most people to take. Losing weight and getting fit isn't just about eating less food. The type of food you are eating will make a dramatic difference on how quickly you can lose weight, and how likely you'll be able to keep it off.
A woman eating 1500 calories a day of processed Frankenstein foods will have a much harder time losing weight than the woman eating 1500 calories a day in whole, real foods. That woman will also feel better, sleep better and be more likely to keep the weight off.
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How do you track them?
MyFitnessPal! It's such an amazing FREE app. You just enter in the food you're eating, and the majority of the time it's already in their database so you just have to hit "add" to your day.
If you are eating something homemade you will have to take the time to add up all the macros to enter it into MFP yourself, but if it's something you eat regularly you just have to do it one time and it's so easy.
For example, I make this miso split pea soup at least once a month. Since it wasn't in MFP already I had to write down all the macros for the ingredients, count how many cups the soup made, and find how many macros per cup. I created an entry into MFP and now it's saved so whenever I have my delicious homemade soup it's in there. I'd say 80% of what I eat is already in their database so it's very easy.
What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is the idea that there are health benefits to be gained by varying the amount of carbs you have every day. One day might be low carb, than high, and then a regular carb day. Figuring out how many carbs to have a day, and how to vary them, depends on your weight loss and fitness goals.
Want to know more? For access to my FREE Benefits of Carb Cycling handout with 20 low carb meal/snack ideas (with links to recipes) just enter your email below!