If you’ve heard anything about the macro diet trend, it was probably from that friend of yours who’s a total gym rat, really into nutrition, or constantly looking for ways to improve their health.
And sure maybe your friend’s over-the-top, robust ways is eye-roll worthy but turns out, they might be onto something!
Macro dieting can actually benefit almost anyone who’s looking to focus on making smart food choices that fit their goals, whether they’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or maintain a healthy lifestyle. So listen up! Because we’re breaking down everything macro, so you don’t have to.
What is a Macro Diet?
A macro diet goes a step further than your typical calorie counting diet. You count the macronutrients—grams of proteins, carbs, and fats—you’re eating within your calorie goal, and in what ratios.
Counting macros can help you make smart food choices. For example, instead of a 200-calorie snack of Oreos, you’d need to choose a protein and healthy-carb packed snack to meet your macros—one that wouldn’t just help you restrict your calories but will help give your body the fuel it needs.
What are the Benefits of a Macro Diet?
Counting macros (or macronutrients) offers several nutritional benefits. For the dieting newbie, meal planning by counting macros is a good way to get a handle on portion control. It helps people understand where their calories come from and what impact they have on the body. And it also helps you make good, informed choices, such as whole food over processed food.
It’s totally customizable for your goals and body type, and adjustable according to the macro diet results you’re seeing, which is why it’s also referred to as “flexible dieting”.
Bonus: a successful macro diet promises to keep hunger at bay, balance your energy levels and curb sugar cravings. Sounds pretty ideal, right?
Macro Diet Meal Planning
Sticking to a macro diet depends on having a good meal plan in place. Planning ahead is always a good idea—this way, you can feel confident that you will more easily reach your goals for the day.
Each day, you’ll want to eat about three meals and two snacks. That’s 21 meals and 14 snacks per week. Eating a balanced meal every 3 ½ to 4 hours will help keep your blood sugar steady, which helps prevent you from getting too hungry. And you’re more likely to cheat when you feel starved.
Choose whole foods, opting for lean proteins from organic sources whenever you can. Keep dairy products and sugars to a minimum to avoid empty calories.
Things to Consider When Meal Planning
Sure, it can be time-consuming to have to prepare macro diet-friendly. But many people say it’s worth it—and that after a while, it becomes a habit that seems to take no time at all. Here’s how you can squeeze macro dieting into your busy schedule.
- Buy/prep in bulk. To save time, prepare foods that meet your macros in bulk. Make regular oatmeal or overnight oats in bulk for a few days to grab and go in the morning, or make pre-packaged portions of lunch.
- Use a macro dieting app. There’s no need to do time-consuming math when you have the technology to do it for you. Since you always have your smartphone with you, so there’s no need to write things down and then transfer notes later.
- Find macro-friendly restaurants. For those nights you have to work late or don’t have time to prep lunch, it’s good to have some health food restaurants on speed dial. Your local health food store may also have prepared foods on hand for those time-crunch days.
It’s a myth that junk food always costs less than healthful food. There are some ways you can buy foods that fit your macros and not spend a fortune.
- Buy in bulk. Bulk buying will also help you stay within budget while you stick to your macro diet plan.
- Get to know your grocery store. The local store put out flyers advertising each week’s specials. Becoming a “store member” can sometimes get you discounts, as can clipping coupons or finding them online. Try to shop around the perimeter of the store—where you’ll find meats, produce and seafood—rather than in the aisles, where you’ll find mostly packaged and processed foods.
- Comparison shop. There are some standby macro-diet friendly foods that are always good deals. For example, dried beans are healthy, budget buys, as are sweet potatoes.
- Eat out less. When you prepare foods yourself, not only will you be able to adjust them to better meet your goal macro ratio, but you’ll also likely spend less total money.
- Freshen up. To amp up the flavor, use fresh herbs and spices in your cooking. These are health-promoting, anti-viral, anti-fungal and full of flavor, which makes for satisfying and appealing meals.
- Get creative in the kitchen. Experiment with fun, healthy substitutes for your favorite foods that will help you better meet your macros. Examples: cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini lasagna, and Greek yogurt chicken.
- Occasionally indulge. No, you don’t have to eat grilled chicken and steamed veggies in every meal. It’s okay to eat french fries or ice cream occasionally. Enjoy it! Just count it in your macro dieting app, make up for it in future meals, and move on. You’ll feel less deprived if you don’t cut out anything completely from your diet.
- If you're hungry, add more protein as it is the most satiating nutrient. More fiber is also filling.
- If you're tired, add more fibrous veggies to ensure sufficient energy from carbs.
- If you're not losing weight, lower your carbohydrate intake, especially with dinner.
- If you have sugar cravings, balance your blood sugar better with more protein and fiber and remove all sugar.
- If you are losing weight too fast, add 5 to 6 bites of starch, such as sweet potato, oatmeal or squash, with one meal per day.
- If you are losing muscle mass, add more protein—ideally, an extra 5 to 6 bites of protein per day—and add strength training to your workouts.
Like starting anything new, a trial and error period may occur when you’re first testing the waters of the Macro diet. Be patient, get creative, and listen to your body. We promise the benefits will happen!
Have you tried a Macro diet before? Drop a comment below and let us know your tips, tricks, and recipes!