Macro How To

Macros Masterclass Q&A

For our Free Macros Masterclass a couple weeks ago, we didn’t get to a FRACTION of the questions that were submitted, so we hope to continue to answer those questions in a series on the blog as well as doing more Macros Masterclass Q&A’s for you!

Macros Masterclass Q&A Continued

 

I want to be sure I’m eating enough but not to much. Especially with proteins since I am nursing and exercising. How do I do that without tracking macros? I love the idea of balanced meals and enough of each, but don’t want to go to the extreme (for me) of tracking. Thank you!

 

If you’re not interested in tracking macros, it’s 100% possible to still have a healthy relationship with food and eat enough to fuel your body! We have two tips for living a healthy lifestyle and building healthy habits to sustain you for your life! These tips can and should also be implemented with anyone who is doing macros!

Eat when you’re physically hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. There are some hunger scales out there that you can use to help gauge your hunger if you feel out of touch with your hunger cues. If your milk supply starts to drop, then add a little bit more food into your day!

The second tip is to eat foods that you enjoy! If you’re not eating foods you enjoy then how can you expect it to be sustainable!? Plan your day around foods that sound filling, nourishing, and satisfying to the tastebuds. Foods that please taste, texture, temperature, etc… No need to eat mediocre food!

 

Can macros help with preventing weight gain at any age, specifically around the age of menopause?

 

Absolutely! The beauty of macros is literally it’s tracking your food intake to use as feedback for how to move forward in reaching whatever goals you have. Macros can be effective for women of all ages, sizes, stages of life, etc… For more information on what flexible nutrition (tracking your macros) is about, read up on our blog post “What is Flexible Nutrition?”.

 

If you are wanting to cut body fat, should you keep fat % low and protein % on higher side?

 

Not necessarily! Successful fat loss is all about an adequate protein intake (anywhere from 0.8-1.2g protein per lb body weight) and being in a calorie deficit. That is the bottom line! Whatever you feel is best for you and your body as well as what you can be most consistent with, that’s the key to successful fat loss! You can’t spot fat loss, and there definitely aren’t magic macro numbers. The magic comes from CONSISTENCY, your ability to learn as you go, and adjusting your numbers based on your progress. It’s important to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions when making adjustments to your macros. And you can only make outcome-based decision if you’ve been consistent with your numbers to know if they’re working for you in the first place!

 

When should you reevaluate your macros? I’m thinking it’s time for a change!

 

This is a pretty loaded question!! So many things to take into consideration…

  • What kind of change do you need?

  • Are you currently cutting, in maintenance, or bulking?

  • What’s your current level of consistency in tracking?

  • Are you having a hard time hitting your numbers?

  • Do you need a break from cutting?

  • What are your goals?

  • What do you want to get out of tracking your macros?

The more specific you get with your goals, the more specific you can get with how you want to approach macros and what kind of plan you want to create for yourself! If you want advice about reverse dieting after doing a cut, make sure to read up on our “Reverse Dieting FAQs” blog post!

 

I’ve been counting macros for 3 years, and lost about 30 pounds total, but as of the last year and a half, I have completely plateaued. This has been a bit discouraging. Sometimes I wonder if I need to change my macros? Or maybe I’m not eating enough? How do I figure this out to keep moving in weight loss? My original macros were 1450 calories, 80 carbs, 125 protein and 56 fat. Then my nutritionist changed it to 1406 calories, 53 carbs, 78 fat and 123 Protein.. I started in June 2016 at 160 pounds.

 

If you’ve been in a cut for 3 years then it’s most likely time for a reverse gal! Your body needs a break!!! It appears your nutritionist has you on a very low carb diet which if that is successful for you and what you enjoy then keep on doing your thing. Your only options when you plateau are theoretically to keep cutting calories or to REVERSE. And girl…you need to reverse! Make sure to read up on our blog post “Reverse Dieting FAQs”!

 

What equation do you all use to calculate your macros?

 

We use a combination of the Katch and Harris Benedict formulas to find your BMR. We then multiply by an activity multiplier to figure out your TDEE. Then we decide based on your goals what calorie deficit to put you in (if your goal is weight loss). Once we figure that out, we then figure out a balance of macros that we feel is best suited for you based off of your height, weight, age, dieting history, medical history, commitment, activity, and body type. We use our education and experience from working with over 1000 women on how to best. move forward with you and your goals!

 

If you are losing weight, do you need to recalculate your macros? If so, how often?

 

We recommend recalculating your macros for every 10-15 lbs lost or if your weight is the same but you’re body fat percentage is decreasing. If you’re making progress in either of those areas, we’d say that every 2-3 months you might want to re-evaluate, but honestly what’s MORE important is making OUTCOME-BASED decisions. Gauge your progress and if you need to make any adjustments based on if you’re seeing the results you want with the numbers you’re using.

 

With so many different tools out there to calculate macros, each giving you a different result, what's the best way to find what is best for you?

 

With so many calculators and coaches out there, you’re totally right. It can be confusing and overwhelming. Which is why when it comes down to it you need to understand that there are NO magic macros to give you the results you want. You can honestly find success with weight and/or fat loss with different macro ratios. This is because what matters MOST is overall calorie intake and adequate protein. The best approach is to stick to ONE set of numbers for at least 3 weeks, AT LEAST. Then (barring that you’ve been super consistent with those numbers) after the 3 weeks, take a look at the PROGRESS you’ve made. Use data that you’ve tracked (inches or lbs lost, PRs in the gym, pictures, how you’re feeling, etc…) to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions about how to proceed. Theoretically and put VERY simply, if you’re gaining weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie surplus. If you’re losing weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie deficit. If your weight stays the same, you’re in calorie balance.

 

I haven't been tracking for a couple of months now... luckily for me, I haven't gained. So I assume I've been eating at maintenance #'s. I think I'm about ready to cut and shed a little more fat. Not sure if I need to adjust my macros. Should I start tracking my current eating habits to see what my real intake is? And for how long?

 

Starting to track and see where you’re at is a great move for a couple reasons: make the transitions in phases vs. a tear out the closet let’s do ALL the goals...which can easily come from an all-or-nothing, let’s tear out the closet and start all over, white knuckle it until you burn out kind of place.

Start tracking for 3-4 days. How do you feel? What are you noticing? Are you eating as low or as high as you thought? Make sure you’re tracking things like this! Maybe that’s jotting them down in a note on your iPhone or maybe that’s getting a separate little journal to keep track of how you’re feeling.

Second cuts that did not include a reverse can be tricky depending on where you left off. Were you in a plateau—meaning had your metabolism downshifted? If you haven’t pushed your metabolism back up through a reverse it could still be functioning at a lower level which will obviously cause a problem when you try to cut again!

 

Can I save some macros in my macro bank to use the next day (or save a few for a few days) to use the next day (or within a few days) if I know I’d like to eat over my macros at a party/restaurant?

 

So, this is a loaded question. Theoretically, yes you could absolutely do this, treating the week as a complete bank of calories. And strategically organizing your days to accumulate calories for whatever day you plan. However, you’re also opening a huge messy can of worms—as well as some pretty intense mindset challenges.

It’s tricky for a few reasons. Even though we like to set up our weeks M-F, we all know that weight loss isn’t on a schedule. So with impending hormones, stress, etc, you never truly know until later if it’s an effective strategy to employ. Also, using this as a tool to have your events also works the other way. If you go over one day, are you going to inflict lower calories on yourself to “make up” for it, like a plan in reverse? This gets dangerous and becomes no different than a yyo diet, where you restrict and go big and back and forth.

Are you secure in your mindset and abilities to tackle this kind of strategy? Can you plan your week effectively and only use it as a strategy instead of a lifestyle? Prolonged under eating and then overeating WILL affect your metabolism, where your body will adapt to the lowest calorie balance it can rely on and with a surplus can use it as fat gain. It also depends on where you are in your goals and learning. IF you are new, I would advise NOT to do this. Some of you are working with a very low calorie balance already. Utilizing 500 one day and dropping 900 or even less is a dangerous strategy. This will create hunger as well as mood fluctuations. Not worth it for an evening out. The goal is to have balance, our bodies performing in the most ideal scenarios. Fat loss happens in a moderate deficit, not a severe one.

Our recommendation? Have an untracked meal. Plan for it. Eat plenty of protein, save your carbs and fat, do the best you can. You’ll feel empowered by strategies, not deprivation.

And that’s a wrap for this week! Hope you enjoyed this Q&A! But we have some questions for you…

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Too much to process?

Feel like you’re swimming in nutrition information and not quite sure what to do with it?

We hear you sister.

And we want to help.

We were there too!

Sign up below for our FREE Macros Masterclass where we share the 7 foundational things you need to understand about successful weight-loss and how to keep it off for good.

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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

How to Read a Menu

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Here are some of our best tips for navigating a menu when you don't know the nutritional info!

CHECK AHEAD.  Scroll through @butteryourmacros_restaurants for nutrition info on 50+ restaurants! If you don't see the menu macros you need, check the restaurant website to find out if nutrition info is available.

GUESS HIGH.  When guesstimating restaurant foods err on the high side--generally it will cost you more macros than you want it to!

READ descriptions carefully to spy the high cost ingredients. Typically the more simple the description = fewer components = the lower the macro-cost.

LOOK FOR words like grilled, baked, raw or boiled.

AVOID words like fried, breaded/crusted, creamy, buttery (except us).

THINK SMALL BITES. Ordering an appetizer as your entree can be a smart move for built in portion control (and totally worth doing if it makes fitting in dessert a little easier).

SALAD is not always the safe bet! Creamy dressings can be hideously high in fat & carbs so:

 

Order dressings on the side. Don't forget the fork dip trick!

Save precious fat grams by choosing grilled proteins over fried. Opt for a fat-free dressing before a vinaigrette or creamy dressing.

Salad toppings can end up costing you MORE than a hamburger and fries! Beware of cheeses, nuts, dried fruit, avocado & any crunchy add-ins like tortilla chips, wonton strips & croutons.

 

BREAD. Just because it has bread doesn’t mean you should avoid it!! Sandwiches can be super satisfying...& you can see the ingredients pretty clearly. Pick off any unnecessary toppings & if you need to cut carbs, enjoy your sandwich open faced!

WATCH those sneaky sides! Mashed potatoes (carbs! butter!), macaroni salad (carbs! mayo!), loaded baked potato (carbs! fat!), fries are all gonna cost you crazy macros. SO: Opt for steamed veggies when possible & always ask for sauces & dressings on the side.

BUT please don’t forget: YOU’RE GOING OUT TO EAT! Be strategic and do your very best to make your food choices align with your goals (you've been working hard!)-- but don't pass up the chance skip kitchen duty and share in some company!


How to be a House Guest

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This week my sister had her beautiful baby girl.....TWINS!  She lives about an hour away from us, so the kids and I packed up our things and were on our merry way!  We helped watch her other three kiddos, while she was in the hospital.  5 kids you say? You're brave you say?  Well I have two words for you...

PJ Masks.

Saving moms everywhere, one happy, distracted, completely zoned out toddler at a time.

Now let's cut to the quick...if you're tracking macros and on a plan, it can be really daunting to head out of town for a few days or longer into the unknown.  It's pretty obvious that you have a heck of a lot more control over what you eat and when you eat in the comfort of your own home.  Planning and adjusting to your day is a lot easier because you know (for the most part) what to expect day in and day out.

But to throw a random trip in the mix?  Perhaps a work trip?  Or a bomb vacation?  Or visiting your sister?  Being someone's house guest in general?  That calls for a little creativity and a little extra preparedness.  Because guess what?!  You can still nail your goals!  You may have to be more flexible and it might not go exactly as planned, but you can still have a successful trip without feeling like you've backtracked!  Let's talk about how!

With summer almost here, it's the season for traveling and togetherness!  Like we mentioned, it's tricky to take counting on the road and adapt to different situations whatever they may be.  Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your macros on the move, while still taking time to ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

What's your game plan?

The first step should be to decide what you want your commitment to be.  What's realistic?  Taking a break?  Focusing on protein and overall calories?  Estimating the best you can?  Gonna wing it?  Deciding BEFORE will commit you.

Be honest with yourself and your situation.  If you feel like it's feasable, GO FOR IT.  We think you might surprise yourself with what a little pre-game planning can do to set you up for success!  In the same breath, maybe this trip is a legit vacation with family.  You know ahead of time that the focus is truly memories over macros.  If that's the case, we say ENJOY YOURSELF.  Here's some of our advice for heading into that unknown territory feeling confident and empowered that YOU GOT THIS.

Plan to log.

Even if it's only breakfast.  Maintaining the tracking habit will make it easier to dive back in when you get home!  Plus to be honest: isn't it worth it just to keep your streak # of days logged in MFP?

Go to the store.

Being a guest in someone's  house allows you more wiggle room room than a hotel or a camel.  You don't need to take over the fridge but grab some essentials to get you through!  Think protein bars, shakes, frozen dinners, etc...

Snack bags.

Sometimes having a handy dandy bag of pre-portioned snacks to grab and go on a whim is helpful!  For example, when I went to my sister's house this weekend, I grabbed a grocery bag and filled it with some grab and go snacks for myself and the family.  Here are some of the things that went in that bag:

Ziploc bags for fruits

Strawberries

Blueberries

Mangoes

Apples

Bananas

Oh Yeah One bars (glazed doughnut & blueberry cobbler are favs)

G2G bars (Use code BUTTERS20 for 20% off)

RXbars

Premier Protein shakes (from Costco)

Beef jerky

Fruit strips

Bai drinks

Gum

Popcorn bags

Keep hunger desperation at bay.

Don't know what the heck the plan is when traveling or staying at someone's house?  Keep hunger from reaching an all-time high with some snacks like a protein bar, apple, or shake.  Keeping us from getting "hangry" helps us make more educated decisions.

 

Plan meals with your hosts & cook with them!

Try: "I've made this wowza ______ (salad/chicken, etc...), and I'd love to make it for you!"  When we visit in-laws, we usually cook for them! Take initiative and make what comes out of the kitchen great for all.

 

At a gathering? Deciding when to splurge?

Divide foods into 3 groups.  Foods that:

You want (drool-worthy)

Are healthy

Should ignore/avoid

Eat more "healthy" and enjoy the "wants" in moderation.  Remember that creating food & feeding people is true love to many of us.  So if momma is spending time in the kitchen recreating childhood faves, be kind!  They don't want to mess with your goals, even if it seems that way.  So have a small or big taste of that banana pudding and savor the love!

Keep perspective.

One visit won't make or break your goals unless you let it.  Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to try again.  "Memories over macros" right?  IT'S TRUE.  You won't look back and remember what you ate (well unless it's a food trip then by golly go balls to the walls will ya?).  So cheers to making memories with those you love!

Manage Your Mind.

What you have to remember is that when you're out of your element and life throws you these curve-balls in the middle of you trying to slay your goals, is that YOU ARE IN CONTROL.  Your mindset going into any trip or vacation whether it's spur of the moment, a planned vacation, or for work is going to be the thing to beat.  We often throw caution to the wind in these circumstance because we think it's out of our control to be in control.  How ironic is that?

We totally identify with the "give an inch take a mile" mindset.  The all or nothing trap!  You're either all in or you're all out.  It's black or white.  There seems to be no in between!

Which is when it's CRUCIAL to remember that you're looking for CONSISTENCY over PERFECTION.  One night out will not hinder your overall progress.  One week will not hinder your progress.  Time with friends and family is precious and valuable!  If you go into the experience with high anxiety because you don't know the macros, you're missing the mark!  You want a lifestyle that is SUSTAINABLE.  If you feel paralyzed in a situation where there's not nutritional information OR when friends or family ask you out to eat spur of the moment and you're unsure of how it's going to "fit", then our suggestion would be to remind yourself that YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE OUTCOME. 

Think about each day of your trip ahead of time and do some low key planning.  Come up with a few snack/meal options you feel excited about and comfortable with and walk into each day EMPOWERED.  Tell yourself that YOU are in control of the day.

My advice would also be to not make food the focus of the experience.  Focus on your friends and family and enjoy the company!  And when you DO go out and know that you're going to be enjoying a good meal and the foodie inside you is ready to soak it all in, then MAKE food the focus of the experience!  Enjoy it!  Sit and take pleasure in each bite.  Savor the food experience!  But be in tune with hunger cues.  Listen to your body and its signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry.  Observe the signs that show that you're comfortably full.  Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes and what your current level of hunger is.  Be conscious of your eating experience!  Don't feel obligated to clean your plate and don't feel obligated to NOT clean your plate.  Be in control of the outcome and know that if you walk into the situation fearing that you'll go over your macros, your level of anxiety about the food might increase unnecessarily!  Enjoy yourself and enjoy your company!  BOTTOM LINE.