How To Start Macros and Not Be Intimidated

 

img_5092Recently, I’ve been getting tons of questions about my diet regime, specially counting macros (if you need an intro to macros before reading on, head to my other blog post here). One thing I’ve noticed is people say they want to start but don’t know how or feel intimidated by the whole process. So, I’m going to give you some tips on how to start, what to expect, and why to not be scared!

First things first. How do you know what your macros are? Where do my macro numbers come from? Here’s the deal with this. Deriving your numbers comes from a variety of things. Your height, weight, exercise habits, metabolic rate, goals (whether you want to cut, bulk, maintain), and prior/current eating habits (ie. if you damaged your metabolism from restrictive eating, etc). All of these factors are all taken into account.

Now, there are online calculators where you can input very basic information and it will generate a caloric number which is broken down into the amount of grams of carbs, proteins, and fats you should eat per day. I personally am not a big fan of these online calculators. I think that each person is too unique for a computer to generate what I would deem as a very specific and customized number. That being said, I think a professional, such as a certified personal trainer is the way to go. They have the knowledge, education, and experience to give you accuracy. For the past year, Paola (@paosfitworld) has been calculating my macros (and I would highly recommend her!) Feel free to contact her if you’re interested in her calculating yours too–she’s the best ? #butreally

Okay, so yes, that is how you get your macro numbers. Next main question I see people asking is actually more of a concern. I hear things like, I want to start but feel like it will be very time consuming, too stressful, how do I know what to eat? Etc. For starters, like anything, in the beginning it is not easy! It takes practice so to speak.

Let me give you an example. The first day I counted macros, I had less than 10g of carbs left by dinnertime. Ummm. Yeah. As you can imagine, I was like WTF AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT!? For those of you that do not have a frame of reference for how little of an amount that is, lets just say that even a cup of vegetables is more than that (and don’t feel bad, I had no idea that a banana had 30g of carbs before I started counting!) Anyway, I digress. Point being it took time and practice to spread my numbers out somewhat evenly throughout the day so by dinnertime I wasn’t SOL. Basically, for the first two weeks I had to map out my entire day of food that morning. Meaning, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all went into my fitness pal (MFP) before my day started so I could ensure I would hit all my numbers for the day. Yeah, it took a good amount of time and was it was annoying. I was like, wait, I thought the point of macros was to have flexibility? Not feel constrained and tied down to MFP.

However, I told myself I would stick with counting for at least 2 months so I could give it a fair assessment. And I’m so glad I did. One being, inputting food became SO much faster and easier. For a few reasons. MFP saves your most recent and favorite foods so you aren’t having to search constantly for what you ate. But honestly, even if it didn’t save anything, you become so accustomed to inputting items that you become very efficient at it. Like, last night before I went to bed, I was able to input all the food into the app that I packed for work the next day (so everything except for dinner), in literally 1 min. Also, once you start getting accustomed to what your body needs, you aren’t having to put in every item of food before or after every snack/meal. There are many days where I don’t input what I’ve eaten until late afternoon, and I’m still on track with my macros for the day because I now know approximately what my body needs. Ie. I know not to eat two servings of peanut butter in one sitting because that would be like half my fats for the day.

In terms of weighing your food. Isn’t this time consuming? Again, in the beginning yes. But, like anything it becomes second nature and you end up being able to do it very quickly. I don’t even notice that I’m weighing food anymore, I just do it and it’s done! And as a side note, in my opinion, a scale is necessary. You can measure or eyeball things but its not nearly as accurate. Because honestly, if you’re going to take the time do something, you might as well do it right! And yeah, if you’re not at home I’m not suggesting you carry a scale around with you. BUT when you’re at home its a very simple thing to do to really ensure accuracy.

So, yeah, I get that it can seem overwhelming in the beginning. And it can be, I won’t lie to you. If you’re just starting your fitness journey, I would say take at least 6 months to really nail down your exercise habits as starting a fitness regime and counting macros may be too overwhelming at first. But if you are at all genuinely interested, please just try it! It’s not for everyone and I totally get that. I am not here to push macros onto you and tell you that it is the only way you can eat. That would be stupid. I am just sharing my experience, which has been positive. Macros has allowed me flexibility; mentally I am much happier because I can enjoy more of the foods I love while still reaching my fitness goals and not being a social hermit ? And, like I said in my post this week, I finally felt like all the hard work I was putting in at the gym was paying off–I saw the physical changes I knew I was working so hard for.

And as usually my posts are much longer than intended, BUT I hope this helps answer some questions! Feel free to leave any comments, or email me. My email can be found in my IG bio.

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22 Comments

  1. Maegan Pinelli
    January 14, 2017 / 10:25 pm

    Hello! What if you want to lose body fat but gain muscle? Is it possible to calculate macros for that?

    • January 17, 2017 / 3:32 am

      This is difficult to do, but it can be done sometimes! You would start off with your maintenance macros and go from there.

  2. Myranda
    January 15, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    How would you start to plan your full day of meals? Would you start with supper or breakfast, then fill in the gaps? I really liked this post because its simple and gets right to the point. Thank you!

    • January 17, 2017 / 3:37 am

      aw thanks! glad it was helpful. and in the beginning, I started with my meals and then would fill in the gaps with snacks and tweak here and there as need be

  3. Ally
    January 17, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    I love that you’re so honest about getting into the groove of macros 🙂 If I’ve been using IIFYM and haven’t seen any results with those numbers, do you still recommend Paola? I love the structure of macros and I’d like to give another person’s opinion a shot, but I don’t want to spend the money if I’m going to get the same numbers/no results – ya know?

    • January 19, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      yes, I 100% recommend her. Ive had nothing but positive results with her and if you like the structure of macros I’d definitely give her a try!

    • January 19, 2017 / 6:17 pm

      Its your choice. You can either do a 1x consultation or continual with her. If you sign up for continuous, I believe the price becomes lower than the initial consultation. I would have her clarify though

  4. Irene
    January 19, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Out of curiosity, what do you do when you go to a restaurant or when someone else is cooking? Thank you again 🙂

    • January 19, 2017 / 6:19 pm

      When I go to a restaurant, I try to see if they have a menu online with their nutritional information. If not, I try to order something with ingredients that are easy for me to separate and log (for example, I usually don’t opt for something with melted cheese because I wouldn’t be able to even guesstimate how much is used). When other people cook for me, again I just try to guesstimate portions and insert them into MFP that way. Guesstimating is better than nothing!

  5. Court Mare
    January 20, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    Hello! Great post. This is a somewhat random question, but what do you suggest in regards to spot reduce? I know that’s kinda hard to do and that everyone has a different body shape, but my legs are stick thin but I carry all weight in my stomach (aka baby pouch and no abs). What do you suggest?

    • February 14, 2017 / 12:48 am

      hey! thanks so much! well, abs are really made in the kitchen, so my advice would be to focus more on diet, not so much exercises. for example, I just do ab exercises 1x a week…diet is what really makes a difference!

  6. Anonymous
    January 27, 2017 / 12:22 am

    I know you’ve gone over counting alcohol in your macros on your IG. Could you refresh my memory? I know I can take it out of fat or carb numbers but how much?

  7. Ali
    February 26, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    Hello! I love your ig + blog. A couple of questions 🙂 do you use the premium mfp or just the basic? also — with macros: do you hit them exactly each day? i’m just getting started but working on finding the right foods for if i’m under in a given category as i near the end of the day.

    • March 17, 2017 / 4:44 pm

      hi! I just use the basic! and I hit protein exactly and I stay within +/- 5 g for fat and carbs =)

  8. Gabriella
    April 11, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    This is incredibly helpful! Would you by any chance be able to share your macro goals? That’d be really useful for my own reference 🙂

    • April 12, 2017 / 12:37 am

      Hey! So I usually don’t share my macros because
      Everyone is so different that my macros wouldn’t work for you and vice versa. I never want to share my numbers are they could deter your progress if you followed me! If that makes sense

  9. Irene
    April 18, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    Hi Claire !
    It is really difficult for me to hit my carbs intake without exceeding my fiber intake … I’m actually “bulking” and eating a lot of carbs.
    Did you have the same problem?
    Thank you for your answer

    • May 10, 2017 / 3:21 am

      I actually don’t look at my fiber intake eek! Sorry I’m not more helpful

  10. Kaylee Ferguson
    September 5, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    Hi Claire! I have been eyeballing my portion sizes for far too long, and have finally decided to get a food scale. There are so many to choose from….which one do you use?

    • cguentz.gofit
      September 6, 2017 / 12:15 am

      Hey! I use the CJ-4000. I got it off amazon 🙂

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