It’s a new year and a new you and finally you decide to give this macro thing a try – seems to be working for everyone you know! You are all psyched up and ready to go – and then you get your numbers…. Now what do I do?! How many carbs are 200g? How much protein is in 150g? That fat number seems kind of low – I probably eat that much for breakfast
My Fitness Pal
Counting is much easier than you would think. You have a great tool at hand, which is My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com). It will work it all out for you so you don’t even need a calculator. Is it full proof? Not always – there may be slight errors in the app’s calculations but if you are unsure you can always run it by your LMN coach (you have one right?). You can also look at the nutrition labels on the foods you eat to double check the numbers.
The first steps
A recommended first step would be to set up MFP according to how you like to eat. Under ‘settings’ you can change your meal names and add up to 6 ‘meals’ per day. So if you like to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks you might label your meals as:
Next, enter in a day of foods that you ate recently. We are creatures of habit, which means that generally we tend to eat the same foods every day. Once you have entered everything in you can see how that compares to the numbers you have been asked to use. I am guessing that for 99% of you, you have hit your numbers exactly and you have nothing to worry about…but for the 1% …oh, so little protein, and so much fat.
Plan Plan Plan
Here’s where the planning comes in: The most successful way to meet your numbers each day is to pre plan what you will eat and drink. If you try to wing it, you will likely end up with too little of a macro or too much of another by the end of the day. Enter into MFP your foods for each meal to ensure that by the end of the last meal, you have met your numbers.
For some people, nutrient timing is a factor – this means you are paying attention to how much of a macronutrient you eat at certain times of the day based on your workout time. For most of you though (especially newbies) focus on meeting those numbers fairly evenly through your meals.
What to eat?
The table below will give you some ideas on food items that are pretty much exclusive to that particular macro. We don’t always eat like that of course. For example, a whole egg would be a source of both protein and fat. It does however help you to get an idea on how to come up or down on a macro that you know is out of range for you.
Putting it together
Let’s look a few meals that might work for you:
Eggs are always a great choice for this meal as they are high in protein and quick and easy to make when you are in a hurry.
You can adjust as needed. For example, if you need more protein, add in a few extra egg whites or maybe some lean meat. If you need more carbohydrates, add an extra slice of bread or some potatoes or a glass of juice.
Lunch and Dinner
There are countless options for meals here but we will go with a basic one that can be easily adjusted to suit your needs. Here are the numbers for a grilled chicken salad
Need more carbs? Add extra sweet potato. Go southwestern and add corn and beans. Add pasta, rice or have a piece of fruit on the side.
Need more protein? Use any type of beans or add extra meat. Egg whites would work too. Add in low fat cheese or regular (if you have fat to use) or add a bowl of lentil soup on the side. Except for the meat, and egg whites you will add in carbs and fat in addition.
Need more fat? Add some sliced avocado or use a little extra olive oil in your dressing.
Snacks are a great way to help meet your numbers without trying to cram everything in to 3 large meals. It provides a burst of energy perhaps pre or post workout. Here are some ideas:
Add food items together to get the numbers you need and adjust portion sizes if you have to.
While not a complete list, this will give you a good start in planning out your meals. Once you have it laid out, you will be able to put a grocery list together and you are well on your way. Be sure to include fruits, veggies and whole grains (if tolerated) into your diet to get your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) as well as the all-important fiber.
Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN Registered Dietitian for Lean Machine Nutrition