Tracking Macros & Micros

If you’ve ever talked to your gym’s resident meathead, you’ve probably heard them drone on and on about hitting their “macros” and getting their “micronutrients” in. You may have told yourself that trying to stick to strict nutritional goals like this would be insanely difficult. You may have even told yourself that you simply don’t have the time to prepare and track your food the way some other people do. But, what if your resident meathead is onto something that could lead to one of the biggest breakthroughs in your health journey? Would you give it a try?

Disciplined nutrition plan tracking is life changing. Today, I am excited to share with you just how fitness gurus tackle tracking their macronutrients and micronutrients.

What to Track

To start—let’s break down what you should be tracking. Macronutrients include the carbohydrates, protein, and fats we eat. Read below to understand the benefits of consuming all 3 macronutrients (often referred to as macros) in your diet.

Carbohydrates
Why you should eat it:

Carbohydrates are stored in the form of glycogen within our bodies for energy.
Our bodies are wickedly smart. If we don’t have enough of these glycogen stores for energy, our bodies will convert our very own muscle into glucose as the energy source.
When our bodies have to do this – we lose muscle mass.

Summary
:
If you want to maintain your current muscle mass and/or grow your muscles, incorporating carbohydrates into your diet is critical.

Healthy Examples of Foods Containing this Macronutrient:
Potatoes, Rice, Oatmeal, Vegetables

Protein
Why you should eat it:

Eating protein helps us repair and create new cells.
Eating proper amounts of protein also protects your muscles from atrophy, as well as aides in the hypertrophy process (increase in size of muscle fibers).

Summary
:
If you want to maintain your current muscle mass and/or grow your muscles, incorporating protein into your diet is critical.

Healthy Examples of Foods Containing this Macronutrient:
Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Eggs

Fats
Why you should eat it:
Our bodies use healthy fat to help us process and absorb certain vitamins and minerals (micronutrients).

3 types of dietary fats:
Trans Fats
When you hear the term “trans fats”– run!
Foods with trans fats have no nutritional value and will not help you achieve your fitness goals.
• Partially hydrogenated oils (processed form of trans fats) are added to foods to increase their shelf life.

Saturated Fats
Think, eat on occasion when you hear the term “saturated fats”.
A diet high in saturated fat has the potential to increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels.
This in turn leads to increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Unsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated – These fats may help lower our risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Polyunsaturated – These fats help our bodies with muscle movement and our ability to clot blood.
Omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) – This polyunsaturated fat is fantastic to support heart health
Omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) – This polyunsaturated fat are essential for you in moderation, as inflammation protects us from infection and injury.
It is advised that we consume more Omega-3 fatty acids than Omega-6 fatty acids, as this reduces the risk of disease in our bodies.1

Healthy Examples of Foods Containing this Macronutrient:
Ex Trans Fats: Fried Chicken, French Fries, Onion Rings, Chips, Cookies, Brownies, Pie
Ex Saturated Fats: Fatty meats like beef and lamb, Cream, Whole Milk, Butter, Shortening, Cheese, Coconut, Palm Oils
Ex Unsaturated Fats: Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, Avocados, Nuts, Seeds
Ex Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Fatty Fish, Edamame, Flax Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds
Ex Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Walnuts, Safflower Oil, Avocado Oil, Almonds, Eggs, Tofu, Peanut Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds

What’s a macro split?
A macro split is simply the percentage of carbohydrates, protein, and fats you eat in a day. Check out a few sample macro splits below.

50% Carbohydrate, 30% Protein,  20% Fats
40% Carbohydrate, 30% Protein, 30% Fats
15% Carbohydrate, 25% Protein, 60% Fats

How do you know which macro split will work best for you?
This is best determined in collaboration with your nutrition coach/trainer if you are new to tracking food. Working with someone who is tried and true will ease your stress levels, as well as ensure that you are not being too strict or too lenient with your diet.

What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals that are needed in smaller amounts, as denoted by the name. We can ONLY obtain these from foods we eat or supplements we take. Most fitness gurus make sure to consume optimal micronutrients by eating healthy macronutrients, as well as by supplementing with a women’s or men’s multivitamin. It is notable to share that fitness gurus draw complete blood panels frequently to ensure that they maintain normal ranges. This way, if they do have a deficiency, let’s say in Vitamin D, they can ensure that they supplement their multivitamin with extra Vitamin D and a trip or two outside a day.

What could this potentially look like?
Please view the sample macro split below. This is what you should receive when you work with a qualified professional.

Daily Macros + Micronutrients for 130 lb Female Working to Build Muscle
150 g carb = 675 calories
182 g protein = 819 calories
37.5 g fats = 337.5 calories
Total = 1831.5 calories

Macro Split = 37 C/45 P/18 F

Micronutrients = Women’s Multivitamin + Probiotic

From here, you would plan your meals accordingly, so that they fit into your macro split.

Sample Day of Eating
With the macro split above, the following meals could be consumed in a day of eating.

Meal 1: 30g C/25 g P/7.5 g fat – 1 serving of 25 g protein powder + ½ cup oatmeal + 15 g peanut butter
Meal 2: 20g C/30 g P/7.5 g fat – 3.5 oz ground turkey + 3.5 oz sweet potato + veggies
Meal 3: 40g C/34g P – 4 oz sirloin beef + 7 oz cooked brown rice + veggies
Meal 4: 20g C/34g P/7.5 g fat – 4 oz ground turkey + 3.5 oz sweet potato + veggies
Meal 5: 25g P/15g F – 1 serving of 25 g protein powder + 30 g peanut butter

How to Track
Fitness gurus tend to fall in 1 of 2 camps of thought. They either track every meal religiously in an app or in a journal. Or they eat the same meals for the entire week that they prep—so they don’t experience decision fatigue and risk falling off of their plan.

I highly recommend tracking your calories in an app, if you are looking to eat diverse meals each day. This allows you to ensure that your meals meet your macros.

Meal Tracking Tips
Plug in the exact serving size you consumed. You will need to have a food scale to do this accurately when you first start. After you learn your portions, you can eyeball it occasionally.
Plug in all ingredients used. Toppings, seasonings, cooking oils should be noted, as these directly impact your macro ratio. Adding a few extra grams of fat or grams of carbs with your meals is bound to catch up with you at some point. Being diligent is the key.

Conclusion
Fitness gurus prioritize their nutrition with concrete, actionable macro/micronutrient plans. They swear by taking the guessing game out of the nutritional process, and you can do the same. Because fitness gurus know when they will eat each day, what they will eat, and how to easily track what they’ve eaten, they succeed. You are entirely up to you. Make positive choices, and you will see positive results. Fail to plan, and you are most assuredly planning to fail.

Works Cited
1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-count-macros#step-by-step

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About the Author: Courtney Alcala-Herrera, MS

Courtney lives in Texas with her husband and their two dogs. Courtney is a clinical research and health education expert whose life mission is to spread health and lifestyle modifications to the public. When she’s not traveling across the country monitoring research studies, you can catch Courtney counseling her fitness clients, prepping for her next bikini competition, or racing off to explore with her husband.

 

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.