In order to properly calculate your macros for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, you need to know how many calories you’re currently eating.
There are ways to estimate this, but people get the best results when tracking their calorie intake for a consecutive seven days. It is extremely important to make sure that you track an average week and weekend (i.e. no special events that alter your diet).
I recommend downloading the free app Carb Manager for iOS and Android to track your macros. Carb Manager is advertised as an app for keto diets, but it has functionality for all macro choices! When you install the app, it will have you create an account and select how you want to balance your macros. As you enter foods during the day, it will show you exactly how you are doing!
It is extremely important that you do not change the way you eat during this week. Why? You want to be shocked. Maybe the way you’ve been eating isn’t so bad. In that case, slight tweaks may be all that you need. Maybe your general diet is atrocious. You need to see how that looks in order to jumpstart your brain into making better decisions for your new lifestyle.
Using a food scale or actual measurement tools are also extremely beneficial for this phase. Many people are surprised to see what 5oz of chicken or 1tbsp of peanut butter actually looks like. Remember to track all of the little licks, tastes, and bites that you consume throughout the day, as these can sneak up on you and add up quickly!
When setting up your tracking app, it will have you enter your height, weight, daily activity level, and goals, and it will provide you with a recommended daily caloric intake from this. Take this figure, and use the chart below to figure out your recommended macros from that figure.
I generally consume 1200 retained calories per day, and I typically live in a weight-loss macro. This means that I should aim for 420-600 calories from protein, 300-540 calories from carbs, and 240-420 calories from fats.
Wait? What did I mean by retained calories? Your workouts burn calories, and you get to subtract those calories! If my workout will burn 300 calories, I actually should aim to eat 1500 total calories in a day, which will leave me with my 1200 recommended retained calories.
If I ate only 1200 total calories and then worked out, I would only have 900 retained calories for that day, which is far too low a deficit. This can trigger your body’s starvation mode reflex, which will actually cause your body to store fat instead of burning it normally!
Knowing your macros is one of the keys to success with any health endeavour. “Macros” stands for macronutrients which are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They make up the calories in our food. Most foods are made up of multiple macronutrients.
By knowing the macronutrient breakdown of food, you also know how many calories it has!
For example: If something has 20 grams of carbs, it will have 80 calories because 20g x 4cal/gram = 80 calories
Tracking my macros helped me to understand that there are truly no good foods or bad foods. While it’s certainly beneficial for most of your calories to come from whole foods, there is most certainly still room for treasures in your life like FroYo and waffles 🙂
This is why learning about macros is powerful. It teaches you that you have the ability to include the foods that you love into your diet and still reach your goals. Balancing your macros can also help you to build muscle and lose fat, which will have you looking leaner and more defined.
Tracking macros is a strategy that allows you to gain better insight into the foods that you are eating. It is suitable for any diet, including vegetarianism, Mediterranean, and Paleo.
There is no “best” diet. I learned this the hard way. People are most successful when their approach to eating is sustainable and is something that they can adhere to long-term. In my opinion, if you can’t stick to your current diet long term, then it’s time to find a different approach.
Even if you can’t imagine tracking macros for the rest of your life, you will definitely use what you learn from tracking to make informed decisions about your food moving forward. It has helped me so much!
Vacations are often the kryptonite to a healthy diet. You’re doing good, sticking to your meal plan, counting your calories, and…bam! You go on a trip away from home. Meals consist of grease and deep-fried everything, and you head home bloated and five-pounds heavier just in time to do a 3-day vegan cleanse to repent for your travel sins.
I know this feeling all too well, and I know how disgusting I feel even midway through my trips if this is what my diet has become.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Even though “calories don’t count” while on vacation (or on holidays, or on your birthday, or on your friends’ birthdays, etc.), it is possible to keep up with your daily health and make healthy dining choices on each and every trip. Here are some tips to keep your gut from falling into the toilet during your next vacation:
Plan Your Meals In Advance
This is the most important step to eating healthy while on a trip. My friends and I have always planned our trips around meals, and not necessarily healthy meals. We will select in advance where we want to eat dinner each evening, and then we plan our trip around those dinner destinations.
Since we are in the age of modern technology, this also means that you will have access to each restaurant’s dinner menu before you even leave the comfort of your house. This is important. Pull up the menu for each of your dinner destinations, and create a Note in your phone.
Take a few minutes to look through each menu, and select your meal of choice from that restaurant. Look for grilled options or “healthy selections”. Create combinations of food that promote gut health and heart health. If you fancy an adult beverage with your meals, select that now, too.
In your phone, type the name of the restaurant and your entire meal (beverage and all) underneath it. You can also add the prices.
Now, when you are in the moment, smelling those crispy fries in the air, you won’t decide to just say “screw it” and order the fries. You can pull up your Notes app, read off your order, and feel sweet relief in knowing that you are eating the best meal for you.
Bring Healthy Snacks And Meals In Your Luggage
This is the second-most-important priority in planning your trip’s meals. You’ve already planned out your dinners, but what about breakfast and lunch?
Look at what each day has in store for you, and bring snacks and/or meals to fill you up for those.
If you will be at a conference or in an environment where you can go to your room for lunches, ask in advance to have access to a refrigerator and a microwave, or bring amenities like a coffee pot or a rice maker. Bring healthy breakfast and lunch options to eat in your room. This keeps you from running off to the food court for each meal. Even most TV dinners are far healthier than the standard food court meal (and they are a lot cheaper, too).
If you will be on-the-go, bringing full meals isn’t an option. Instead, load up with healthy options like granola bars, sugar-free Jell-O, and homemade kale chips. Snack on these throughout the day, and that will prevent you from pigging out when you finally are able to grab lunch.
Making Healthy Drive-Thru Decisions
If you are on the go, a fast-food drive-thru will likely be a given, especially while on a road trip. Since drive-thru experiences are typically spontaneous, there is not a way to plan that meal in advance. However, there are still some methods to the madness to make the best out of the instant window.
Look at the menu for grilled chicken options. If you’re not one for chicken, look for lean beef. Whatever you select, it needs to be unbreaded and come with fresh veggies on the sandwich. Order this.
Most meals come with fries. Instead, order your grilled sandwich as an entree, and look for options like fresh fruit, a side salad, or granola to substitute for fries. Select a medium-sized beverage that is uncarbonated like water, lemonade, or unsweetened tea.
When you receive your meal, remove the top bun from your sandwich and throw it away (or feed it to some ducks or something). Eat your sandwich with only the bottom bun. This leaves just a small piece of bread, grilled protein, and fresh veggies…which is a helluva lot less calories than a normal fried meal contains.
Bottom Line: It’s Not Just For Travel
These tips are not just for your next vacation; they are great for everyday practice as well. Plan out your meals in advance, whether they are homemade or in a restaurant. Knowing what you plan to eat before it is time to eat helps to keep you on track for your goals.
Once you know your dinner (a.k.a. the major meal of the day), plan your breakfast and lunch around it. If you know that your boss is taking you to a company lunch, select your breakfast and dinner to complement that meal.
And should you find yourself in a fast-food drive-thru, start selecting the grilled options and remove the bun! And select fruits, veggies, or nuts instead of fries. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will all thank you for selecting healthy options for your everyday living, no matter where you dine.
Many yummy meals are made with fresh vegetables. These meals are not only delicious, but they are healthy for you, too! Nobody likes having pesky seeds in their food, but it can be aggravating to de-seed some of today’s most popular veggies.
We’ve noticed that many recipes call for chile peppers, zucchinis, and cucumbers. Here are the easiest ways to de-seed these three vegetables to get them onto your dinner plate faster than ever:
While bell peppers and banana peppers contain no true danger, handling hot peppers—such as chile peppers—can be a daunting task. Soaking your hands in their juices leads to a painful experience. As such, the safest way to de-seed a chile pepper is to first slice off its top.
Slide a teaspoon down into the chile pepper, and rotate it around several times to dislodge the seeds. Dump out the seeds, and then spin the spoon around again. Continue doing this until the chile pepper is emptied.
Now, rinse the chile pepper under running water for a few seconds, and you’ll be all set for cooking!
Zucchinis do not carry the same spicy juice risk as chile peppers provide, but de-seeding them can still be tedious. The quickest way to de-seed a zucchini is to slice off both ends of that zucchini. Next, slice the zucchini in half crosswise—that is, straight across the middle—to expose its core. This is where all of the seeds are located.
Now, stand one of the zucchini halves upright vertically on your cutting surface. Place your knife onto the left-hand side of the zucchini and slice downward. With the zucchini still standing upright, do this on the other three sides. You will be left with a rectangular-shaped piece of the zucchini core. This is where the seeds are located!
Throw this away.
Repeat this process with the other zucchini half. You now have eight long, curved strips of zucchini that are ready for chopping and cooking!
Cucumbers are the easiest of these three vegetables to de-seed. Start by scrubbing the cucumber under cold, running water.
Next, use a knife to slice the cucumber in half lengthwise. This will expose the cucumber’s seeds. You can now use a teaspoon to gingerly scoop out the seeded core of the cucumber.
Make sure to avoid scraping off the flesh, too…we want to eat that!