Our 20 guidelines for macro counting success!
- Eat foods in their real form, and reduce your consumption of processed foods. If it has a label or makes health claims, then it’s best to skip it. If it was ever alive or came from the earth, then we’re getting somewhere!
- Stick to lean cuts of meats, such as chicken, turkey, and beef that’s 90%+ lean.
- If you’re a plant-based eater, all of these guidelines are no different, of course with the exception of (2). Your protein options will, of course, look different. A good nutrition coach will adjust your macro ratios appropriately so that you have a realistic protein target!
- Limit restaurant meals.
- TRACK YOUR MACROS ON WEEKENDS
- Track even those seemingly small bites of food. The handful of Goldfish crackers on the way to the soccer game, the single caramel chocolate when you “just wanted some chocolate,” the dressing in the salad, the vanilla sweetener in the coffee… this is where many diets get derailed. Track it! Even just the act of tracking will help you become more mindful of what you’re eating throughout the day.
- Use a food scale. For best results, measure food raw (before you even cook it).
- Invest in a protein powder (or two). Many people are shocked by the amount of protein they should be eating on their macro plan. A protein powder really helps to fill those gaps. I recommend a whey protein near your workout and a casein protein at nighttime before bed. For plant-based eaters, a good vegan protein supplement will work just as well!
- DECIDE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU: Do you do better with 5-6 small meals or 3-4 big meals? When it comes to weight loss, total caloric intake reigns supreme over both meal timing and the size of your meals. Be less concerned with “eating too close to bedtime” or eating smaller meals because you heard it “helps with weight loss,” and just try to focus on hitting your macros. Pick a schedule that works for you.
- Be willing to work with a coach and make adjustments as you go. It’s not uncommon to need to adjust your macros after a couple consistent weeks of tracking. Let your coach know how you’re progressing so they can help you make adjustments as needed.
- Read nutrition labels closely. Pay close attention to the serving size! You might have to do some simple arithmetic to determine the macro count of what you actually ate versus what the serving size states.
- PLAN AHEAD! Over the next six weeks, if you’re willing to give this your all, you will most likely find yourself spending more time thinking about where your next meals will come from, and you’ll probably be prepping more food than ever before. You will also be doing more dishes than ever before! The best anecdote for hard work is to think positive and have some fun with it. 🙂
- If you think your macro plan is TOO MUCH FOOD (“how could I possibly lose weight eating all these carbs?!”), be PATIENT and still follow your macro plan for a minimum of two weeks before we start to think about adjusting your macros. This is extremely common, so give it some time before abandoning it!
- Track your bodyweight and body measurements along with taking progress photos. It is also very common to assume your macro plan “just isn’t working,” but that’s because we’re not always very good at recognizing and acknowledging slow, steady progress.
- Your macros are partly based on your activity level. So, if you significantly ALTER your activity level, meaning you increase or decrease how much movement and exercise you’re getting in a significant way, your macros may need to be adjusted accordingly!
- Many foods consist of a majority of just one macronutrient. For instance, bread is mostly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. A chicken breast is all protein. And so on. But, some foods have almost an equal amount of two macronutrients. For instance, cheese contains almost an equal amount of protein and fat. Yogurt can often have a noteworthy amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. And treats we think of as very high in carbs usually contain high amounts of fat, too, like ice cream and doughnuts. Just a reminder to be aware of foods that are high in more than one macronutrient!
- Use measuring spoons and cups. Turns out “eyeballing” a tablespoon of peanut butter often yields much more than a tablespoon!
- OUT OF MACROS FOR THE NIGHT? Treat yourself! To… a hot bath. A hot (decaffeinated) cup of tea. Read a book. Call a friend. I’m not against eating before bedtime, or even capping the night off with a casein hot chocolate topped with a dollop of Halo Top (that fits your macros, of course). But, if you’re maxed out in macros for the night, consider breaking the urge to use food to pass the time or to congratulate yourself on getting through a hard day. There are other activities that are just as restorative, rewarding, and grounding.
- Might this be a good time to say it’s also a good idea to invest in some kitchen essentials, especially for storing and transporting food?! Your best bet is using reusable microwave and oven safe glass containers, but plastic works too as long as it’s BPA-free and not cracked or damaged. Mason jars, shaker bottles, and of course, a reliable water bottle are all must-haves!
- Remember that macro counting is not for life, nor should it be. Macro counting is just one tool we can use to accomplish a goal. Keep the big picture in mind that our goal is long-term success, not short-term gain! The real change is made in learning, applying, and developing habits, lessons, and skills. Of course, we want results, too, but just remember: your daily actions are contributing to something life-changing, and that’s where the real results occur.
This is part 3 of a series by Clandestine Strength. Our Ready For It Challenge begins October 1st.