Why You're Not Hitting Your Protein Goal

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For a new macro counter hitting your protein number might feel unreachable. It might look unattainable. But we want you to know you’re not alone! Many women who start tracking they’re macros struggle to hit their protein at first. When starting anything new, there’s a learning curve to be expected, and protein is the first thing on that learning curve in our opinion!

It’s pretty eye opening to realize how much protein your body needs, isn't it?!

But you know what? It makes sense since your body uses protein for almost everything it does!

You burn the most calories digesting protein and staggering your intake through the day helps you feel full and satisfied!

So even if you don’t ️ protein yet—it loves you!

Click here to read a love letter from protein.

In a cut your protein remains high while your carbs & fat are lowered—so you tend to rely more heavily on protein shakes etc. to hit your protein number.

However...when you are eating at a maintenance level your macro ratios won’t be so offset...

...and you will be able to fit in lots of regular foods with lots more ease.

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Water Warning!

Make sure to take your water intake up!

It’s not that protein makes you constipated it’s that it takes more water to digest protein!

So make sure you’re making a dedicated effort to drink more water!

And hit between 25-25 grams of fiber to keep things...well...moving along.

Tips for Hitting Your Protein Goal

If you’re hungry—go for protein!

When you’re sitting to eat: eat your protein first!

Have a high protein source at every meal, 20-30 grams at each sitting!

Always have at least 3 easy grab proteins on hand!

Ordering a sandwich/taco/salad etc? Ask for double the protein! 

Making a recipe? Double the protein!

Wherever you can double up!

Craving something sweet? Answer it with a protein shake or bar!
Both have a rep for being notoriously sweet, so that ought to kick (or at least dent) your munchiness!

Look at protein bars as a macro-friendly dessert—they are not a necessity to hit your protein number, but a treat that's fairly easy to fit into your day!

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Our Favorite Quick Grab Protein Sources:

Some ideas to hit your protein goal!

Rotisserie Chicken (5oz = 37g protein)

Dickey’s BBQ smoked chicken (4oz = 20g protein)

Columbus Herb Turkey luncheon meat (3oz = 20g protein))

Columbus Turkey Bacon (12g protein)

Daisy 2% Cottage Cheese (13g protein)

Chicken patties (20g protein)

Turkey burger (35g protein)

Chobani Greek Yogurt (14g protein)

Cheese Head Light String Cheese (7g protein)

Fairlife Fat Free Milk (13g protein)

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Our Favorite Ready To Drink Protein Shakes:

Premier Protein (30g protein)

GNC Lean Shake (vanilla bean) (25g protein)

Fairlife Core Power Elite (42g protein)

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Our Favorite Protein Powders

IdealFit (use code MACROMOM for 10% off)

PeScience

Optimum Nutrition

Collagen protein powder

High Fitness (use code BUTTERYOURMACROS for 10% off)

Clean Simple Eats (Simply Vanilla!)

Our Favorite Protein Bars:

G2G Bars (use code BUTTER for 20% off)

Fit Crunch

Power Crunch

Square Organics (use code BUTTERYOURMACROS for 20% off)

Rx Bars (some are risky, but the maple sea salt & dark chocolate sea salt are amazing)

Bottom line, is don’t be discouraged by the learning curve in the beginning! With some time, practice, and persistence, you’ll be a pro at protein in no time! You got this!

For a reminder of why protein is so important, read THIS.

XO,

A+H+N

Let's talk turkey!

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Let's talk turkey..specifically, turkey day.

To track or not to track THAT is the question.

We want to emphasize that there is no wrong answer here—deciding what to do is more a matter of knowing yourself than knowing the macros on the menu.

So what feels better to you (a.k.a. gives you less anxiety): tracking or not tracking?

The case for tracking:

There's a lot of advice saying “relax it's one meal”.

First of all: in the history of relaxing no one has ever relaxed by being told to relax.

So that's not a thing.

And secondly if you're a person that struggles with an all or nothing mindset—going in without some awareness could end up with you going all bananas cream pie for a 4-day weekend...

...and ultimately feeling like you put a Brutus-like knife square in the middle of your own back.

So if this is you, make a game plan:

bring a dish yourself,

do some menu recon with your host

or layout a basic pre-plan of what you’re going to have.

Here are ballpark macros of likely foods you’ll run into:

🦃Turkey, dark meat with skin ((2-3 slices) F18 P65

🦃Turkey, white meat with skin (2-3 slices) F12 P65

NOTE: (subtract about 6 grams of fat for losing the skin)

🐾Stuffing (1 cup) F18 C42 P2

🥒Green bean casserole (⅓ cup) F9 C17 P3

🥔Mashed potatoes (1 cup) F9 C35 P4

🍮Gravy (¼ cup) F16 C8 P7

🍒Cranberry sauce (1 slice) F0 C22 P1

🍞Cornbread (1 3x3 piece) F5 C28 P4

🍠Sweet potatoes with marshmallows (1 heaping scoop) F9 C132 P2

🍰Pecan pie (1 slice) F27 C64 P1

🍰Pumpkin pie (1 slice) F14 C41 P6

The case for NOT tracking:

If you decide not to track, we support you!

You can still play it smart by sticking to serving up smaller portions, eat your protein first and eat plenty of it.

Taste everything but only eat what you really love! Stick to one plate!

One meal won’t wreck you physically.

Research shows that for every 1000 calories you consume above your total daily calorie burn...

the average person will only gain 1/5 of a pound..

(that's not a lot).

The scale might register higher of course because of all the factors we've mentioned before (sodium intake, undigested food in your stomach, water retention etc)...

But we're talking 1/5 - 1/2 of a pound of fat gain--

IF you really dedicated yourself to overeating.

So once again—one meal won’t wreck you physically...

but it can wreck you mentally...

IF YOU LET IT.

If one untracked meal turns into an untracked day...

and then an untracked weekend.

But even then...what is the answer?

Just get right back to it.

No matter what damage you think you've done—

we're playing the LONG game here!

Every day is a new day: so just get right back to it.

Whatever you decide to do...

Make sure to hit plenty of protein early in the day (especially if you're not a big turkey fan) and try not to go in super hungry.

Going in super hungry can lead to more indulgent choices--you can curb your appetite with a protein shake or similar so you have a clear head!

Drink plenty of water, engage in conversation and get up and walk around--it doesn’t have to be totally and completely about the food.

And most importantly of all ENJOY YOURSELF.

Be deliberate

Like any other occasion, mentally plan for it.

Tracking isn’t just to make sure you don’t overeat, it’s also about making sure you get what you deserve!

It can be used to provide a perspective that is sometimes hard to see between the pie and potatoes.

We know that the intensity of family and traveling can be daunting--but it doesn't have to be.

Trust yourself...

and remember that this Holiday is about being grateful...

...it's about enjoying our lives and our favorite people!

Be deliberate about your choices...

decide to track or not to track...

decide to not make it a 4 day event,

decide to enjoy yourself and enjoy the Holiday!!!

Happy Thanksgiving from The Macro Challenge!!!

XO

heidi // ashton // natalie


And if you haven’t joined our Free Mini Macro Challenge, we’d love to have you! It starts December 2nd!

All participants get our exclusive, 22-page Beginner’s Guide to Macros E-book!

How to Travel & Count Macros

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We are honored today to have a guest on our blog! One of our very own Macro Challengers, Madison, is going to share how she has made macros work with her lifestyle!

She travels a lot for work, and we thought these could come in handy for not only those who travel for work but for anyone who is traveling for the holidays! You’ll want to read ALL of this. PURE GOLD!


Traveling Tips & Tricks

I’m Madison Butterworth, Macro Challenge Alumni and Professional Domestic Traveler. I was asked by our coaches to provide some of my tips/tricks that I have learned for counting macros while traveling.

A little about my background so you know where I’m coming from. I currently serve as an Emergency Preparedness Health Analyst for the Federal Government where I essentially design worst-case scenarios and attempt to improve the nation’s preparedness and response efforts for natural, chemical/biological/nuclear/radiological, and man-made disasters…NO PRESSURE WHATSOEVER.

With my job, I travel roughly 50% of the time which is usually a combination of planes, trains, and automobiles (yes, I have some crazy travel stories). Even though I traveled 4/8 weeks of our challenge, I was able to lose 18 lbs and 3” off my waist. Of note: I do not have kids; I usually travel alone or with colleagues; and I normally stay in hotels.


Food:

First and foremost, ALWAYS pre-log your food while traveling.

Before I even head out on the road, I plan what my travel days could look like—plug in a few of your favorite snacks and see how a day could shape out. Typically, I try to control my breakfast and lunch as I tend to go out with coworkers or clients for dinner. Keep in mind your day should be flexible in case you encounter any travel delays or plans change.

Snacks are by far your best friend when traveling so take things you like and that you already have programmed into your app.

When I fly, I pack a ton of snacks for my carry on and my checked bag. Just be mindful of the liquids rule if you are flying. One of the best things to do is to find snacks that have a high number of one macro because you’ll always find that you’re missing more of one at the end of the day.

Go high on protein with your meals, as I’ve found this is the trickiest one to fulfill through snacks.

A huge lifesaver has been to pack some sort of Tupperware with a meal. For example, if I travel in the afternoon, I pack lunch—this saves time having to calculate what you can eat and money. If flying, take a wrap or anything that will keep (nothing soggy).

As I’m a planner in my day job, I tend to research my hotels quite extensively. I book hotels with dining options close by, typically near shopping centers or strip malls, and those that have restaurants inside.

All hotels must be able to provide guests with a mini fridge so if your room doesn’t have one, call and request it.

Non-sponsored PSA ahead, I’m a loyal Marriott member and have a high status. All hotel chains have a loyalty program so sign up for all of them. When you can, stay at the same hotel brand because when you reach status, you get access to their lounge which has free breakfast (hard boiled eggs, yogurt, coffee, etc.) = SAVING MONEY.

If you do not have a rental car and you are not staying nearby a grocery store, grab things from the airport before you leave.

I’ve found that Hudson News and similar stores, have some great snacks (little pricey). I typically grab items that I was not able to bring on the plane (perishables) like yogurt, cheese sticks, hummus/veggies, etc.

Sitting out at a restaurant can be a little overwhelming but just remember that you can make modifications to the food.

I tend to ask for sauces/dressings to be removed or on the side and stick to basic proteins and carbs (steak/chicken/fish and potatoes).

As I am usually the only millennial in the group traveling, my boss/coworkers look to me to find restaurants….

PICK WHERE YOU GO.

This allows you to look at the menus ahead of time and pre-plan what you’ll eat. Also, program a glass of wine/beer at social settings typically have some sort of drinking involved. If you don’t drink, you can always use those carbs for gummy bears or chocolate later!

Another life hack, always remember that you can order food from restaurants that are not nearby.

I recommend using apps like UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, Delivery.com, Caviar, Seamless, goPuff, and Yelp. Fast Foods are usually pre-programmed into the MFP app, which is a lifesaver. I sometimes feel this is easier than going out and feeling overwhelmed with a large menu and trying to account for things not listed on the menu (butter, oils, etc.).

My top place that I eat out at is Chick-fil-A. The grilled 12 piece nuggets and fries are where it’s at especially when you’re low on protein and carbs.

So what do I take?

Here are my go to items that I take when I travel:

packs of tuna or salmon

Nuttzo 2go nut butter

almonds

gummy bears (perfect for hitting carbs)

protein powder (weigh powder and put portions into individual baggies then place all baggies inside shaker to save space in bag)

chomps turkey jerky sticks

apples or apple sauce

perfect bars

cheese sticks

animal crackers

yogurt (buy at a grocery or Starbucks since they’re usually everywhere)

pre-weigh chia seeds and hemp hearts that I put in my yogurt

dark chocolate bars

If you have the ability to drive somewhere, you are lucky and your life will be much easier.I live and die by traveling with my Yeti cooler (Tundra 50). If you have a family, you can pre-make meals and freeze them ahead of time. My yeti, when filled with ice, will keep things cold for a week if not longer.


Water:

MAJOR KEY ALERT! Take a water bottle with you everywhere. TSA will always ask if it’s empty but nowadays there are water bottle stations as soon as you get through security. Also, almost every hotel gym has filtered water so do not buy bottled water or use tap (unless you prefer tap).


Exercise:

I find that exercise is the best thing to help with jet lag and overall travel stressors. I typically workout in the morning before my meetings which includes a combination of cardio and weights. When I’m not traveling, I follow a HIIT regimen and translate that to a travel workout.

If you are looking to do the same, download an app called Seconds.

The app allows you to create a free HIIT timer so you can track your “go” and “rest” intervals.

If the hotel or place you are staying does not have a fitness center…

YouTube has a ton of workout videos and content that you can do with body weight.

You can also use your luggage for some workouts (chest press, squats). Get creative! The best thing to do is just keep moving.


XO, Madison

Madison is a valued member of our Macro Challenge team, and she is now a part of our Alumni program.

Our Alumni program is a monthly membership with weekly check-ins you join once you have done The Macro Challenge.

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To learn more about The Macro Challenge, join our FREE Mini Macro Challenge.

By joining the challenge, you’ll not only get a taste of what the real thing is like, but you’ll also get our FREE Beginner’s Guide to Macros (a 22-page guide chock full of info to teach you all you need to know about macros).

PMS (ugh)

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This isn’t news to any of us, but Premenstrual Syndrome can definitely impact our fitness goals—it hits us with a double whammy…

  1. Food cravings that drive us towards carb & fat laden foods

2. Bad moods, lack of energy & bloating that encourage us to say “To hell with it!”

But a week’s worth of worth of indulging cravings, comfort eating and skipping exercise can overshadow the hard work we’ve put in hitting our numbers! The result: we don’t lose any weight—or worse still, actually gain a little.

So what can we do???

Here are a few ideas/ useful facts!

TRACK YOUR CYCLE

If you have a regular cycle, mark out the last week in your calendar so that you are mentally prepared for what is about to happen. SO many times we have been caught off guard asking:

Why do I feel like this?...Why am I so hungry... Why do I just want carbs? Why is my digestion off?

A few days later… oh that’s why…

(maybe you can identify lol…)

PLAN AHEAD & MANAGE STRESS

Knowing when Aunt Flow is coming to town can help you gameplan. Avoid planning stressful activities during this *special* times...anything that exacerbates stress fuels yearnings for high-calorie comfort foods. Prioritize stress management with the following tools:

Meditation and/ or deep breathing

Yoga

Get enough sleep & rest

Get a massage

Don’t over commit yourself

Make time for fun & relaxation

Connect with others or spend time alone!

Avoid becoming overly hungry, eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Skipping a meal will only make you more irritable as blood sugar levels plummet.

EAT PLENTY OF COMPLEX CARBS

Opt for foods that release glucose into the blood slowly and steadily to help prevent dips that can make symptoms such as irritability, cravings, poor concentration and tiredness even worse. When you feel the grumpies coming on, grab a snack high in complex carbs! Good choices include:

Whole grain cereals & breads, whole wheat pasta,oatmeal, brown rice. (Better still, these foods help boost serotonin in the brain & may help to reduce bloating, breast tenderness and mood swings

Most fruit and vegetables.

FILL UP ON FOODS RICH IN FATTY ACIDS

The body uses the amino acid called tryptophan to make serotonin, and fatty acids can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Good sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.

AVOID SALT & DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

A high-salt diet makes fluid retention worse by encouraging the body to hold on to water. Flavor meals with garlic, herbs or spices rather than salt and eat fewer salty foods. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in oz’s of water (or more) to help flush the body out and reduce bloating (this may sound counter-intuitive, but a bloated body is holding on to too much water, likely because of too much salt).

TACKLE FOOD CRAVINGS WITH EXERCISE

Any physical activity, from swimming to running, that gets the heart going will raise serotonin and lower cortisol levels. It can be tough to keep to a regular workout schedule when you’re not feeling your best, but even a 10-minute walk will put a serious dent in your cravings (plus if you sweat a lot, you’ll get rid of water and feel less bloated)!

CONSIDER SUPPLEMENTS

Consider taking one or more of the following supplements (As always, tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking to avoid any possible drug interactions, and let her know if PMS is causing you a lot of problems).

A fish oil supplement

A daily multivitamin

100 milligrams of vitamin B-6 a day*

600 milligrams of calcium carbonate with vitamin D daily, along with at least one calcium-rich food serving

400 milligrams of magnesium oxide*

*Taking B-6 and magnesium at these levels may temper mood changes, and magnesium may reduce water retention.

OTHER TIPS:

  • Cut back on refined sugar, salt, caffeine (coffee, tea, and soft drinks), dairy, and alcohol. These are all inflammatory in the body and worsen PMS symptoms.

  • Increase fiber — fruit, veggies, legumes, seeds, and grains. Fiber can help with cravings, balance hormones and absorbs the excess estrogen in the gut- preventing it from going into the blood and causing inflammation.

  • Up your intake of broccoli and cauliflower. These veggies sweep out excess estrogen.

  • Make sure to include protein with each meal. Consuming protein — and snacking smartly — can help you beat cravings.