No matter where you start, a macronutrient based diet can be hard to adjust to from the outset. For most people, knowing what a carbohydrate, fat and protein is and what they do is a step in and of itself.
Even harder is the marketing that comes with a variety of today’s products (it’s why you eat whole foods people) that tells us a certain food is high in x,y or z and that’s why we should eat it. But there’s some easy things that will help you get on your way towards hitting your macros with ease each day.
1. Fruits and vegetables are largely carbohydrates. But I thought carbs were bad? (story for another day). But fruits especially can be high in carbohydrates, particularly bananas but all contain fructose which your body eventually converts to glucose (sugar) for your body to use as energy or store as energy (fat).
Eat as much fruit and veggies (greens particularly) as you can in a day, leaning heavier on the veggies side of things. But, at the end of the day if you’re sitting there with 0 g of carbs left, 100g of protein and 10g of fat, you aren’t going to get what you need by shoving a banana down your throat.
2. Pick foods that are simple to enter into your macros. I’m not saying don’t make a recipe for a favourite dish that you enjoy, but maybe don’t do it on day 1. If one of your favourite meals is your mom’s homemade lasagna, maybe you wait until you have things figured out at least somewhat before you’re running around trying to enter all of the ingredients individually or create a recipe on MyFitnessPal.
This means trying to stick to simple things like potatoes, ground meats, steaks, any vegetable, etc so that when it comes to putting it into your macros on MFP, all you have to do is type “lean ground beef 100g,” before entering the amount of servings you had into your day. It’s that simple.
3. Eat as many whole foods as possible. This one is relatively simple to read and but harder adhere to. Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar as much as humanly possible. Why?
Because it’s not only going to help you with your micronutrient profile but filling your fiber intake of 25-35g per day is impossible if you’re filling your macronutrients eating just doughnuts everyday. There’s simply no way you can just go completely on the one side of fitting your macros but abandon quality food.
4. Don’t get lost in the minutia. Countless times I’ve helped start people out on their new tracking measures with macronutrients only to check in with them after one week and they’re worrying about sodium intake, potassium levels--the list goes on and on.
The thing with MFP is that it’s so great it includes virtually everything. So much information that it’s almost impossible to understand everything going on. There’s cholesterol (isn’t that giving us heart attacks?), sodium, potassium, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron just to start with. All of this information can be important for sure, but let’s not start here or get lost in it.
All of that is information for further use once you’ve mastered the basics. Macronutrients are the building blocks of everything and if you’re eating like an asshole with all carbs, fats and no protein, it won’t matter if your potassium levels are king of the world, you’re not going to see results.
5. Think ahead. This one is one that crushes people’s ability to stay on point every single day and is one that can be avoided for absolutely everyone. There’s nothing worse than getting to 7 o’clock at night and having 1,000 calories left to eat and not knowing how you’re going to be able to do it. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail--it’s literally that simple.
This means different things for different people though. For some, it can mean meal prepping on their weekend and putting the foods into containers to be used throughout the entire week. That can work, although that would drive me insane. Personally, I usually rotate between eating mostly the same foods each week so entering my macros on the Monday is usually a good reference point for the entire week.
It doesn’t mean you have to be this way but try waking up in the morning and programming what you’re going to have for the entire day. This provides you a roadmap for hitting your macros and takes the stress out of wandering through the kitchen at any point with the thought, “what the hell am I going to eat?”
A former journalist and sports blogger, I've turned my writing prowess and love of fitness and nutrition into a personal blog where you can find anything you are looking for on the world of health, nutrition and fitness.