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Guidance for Understanding and Hitting Your Macros



Macronutrient targets help us in many ways to eat a huge variety of food but always fall back to nutritional balance for our goals and demands.


At the end of this guide are some scenarios of what they actually look like and how it solves some of those difficult situations.


They mean your eating can include any foods you like and enjoy and can hit your targets for your training style.

Macronutrients provide your body with different types of energy and materials.


They make up total calories and consist of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, alcohol and fat.

  • Protein has 4 k/cals per gram.

  • Carbohydrates have 4 k/cals per gram.

  • Fat has 9 k/cals per gram.

  • Fibre has 2 k/cals per gram.

  • Alcohol has 7 k/cals per gram.

Macronutrient targets are the amount of each macronutrient that you need to eat each day to fuel your workouts, stay healthy, hit your goals and recover properly.


There are a few reasons why it is important:


Eating the right amount of each macronutrient can support your goals, wants, needs and outcomes as each macronutrient behaves differently in the body, providing different stimuli to different hormones and actions.


They improve your performance and help you recover and rebuild tissue from workouts quickly so you can train and repeat the training stimulus.


THE MACRONUTRIENT FAMILIES

The main macronutrient families are:


Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy.


They are found in foods like bread, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables.

Protein:


Protein is essential for building and repairing all tissues in the body, including hair, teeth, bones, joints, organs, hormones and muscles.


We can find protein in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans and grains.

Fat:


Fat is a concentrated source of energy.

It is also essential for absorbing vitamins and minerals.

It is found in foods like oils, nuts, seeds and avocados as well as all animal sources and even in small amounts in vegetables and grains.

Fibre:


Fibre comes from plants, consider it to be the ‘bones’ of the plant. Fibre is undigested material that passes through the digestive system.


We get them from fruits, vegetables, potatoes, grains and legumes but we don’t get any from meat, fish, dairy and eggs for example.

Fibre helps our digestive, immune and detoxification systems healthy.

We get different types:


It helps to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. We need fibres to keep our digestive system healthy. It helps to add bulk to stool and prevent constipation and helps to feed the good bacteria in our gut, which can improve our overall health.

Eat more: oats, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, green vegetables of all kinds, legumes, lentils, nuts & seeds especially flaxseeds and chia seeds.

HITTING YOUR MACROS


Initially, before beginning, start to track your food and see where your macronutrients typically land.

To help you can check out our blog here: https://www.husknutrition.com/post/how-to-track-your-macros-methods-benefits-disadvantages-and-trade-offs

That means using an app or a food diary and then reviewing the macronutrient numbers at the end of each day.

You can easily do this in MyFitnessPal or Nutracheck - here are two videos to show you how to find them.

MyFitnessPal - https://youtu.be/6ExmDSkMz0A


Nutracheck - https://youtu.be/zPHfdbp28BY


Tracking your food intake will help you see how much of each macronutrient you are currently eating.

Assessing your goals.


Don't try to change your diet too drastically too quickly.

Make small changes that you can stick with over time.


Working with us, we may set some goal recommendations based on your dietary review to help show you where your diet can be going, based on your needs and where you’re currently at.

If you find that you’re currently getting too much carbohydrate and fat and not enough protein, then we can help show you ways to get more.


If you find you’re having issues with digestion and you’re not passing stools regularly, we can look at how to get more fibre.


If you find you feel very sick or bloated after eating and/or around training, it might be that you’re getting too much fat, hydrating too much or eating some foods that are tough to digest (high fibre, highly fermentable, high fat, fried or hyper-processed foods) and we can help make things simpler.


Tracking helps you understand the make-up of those foods and then we can refine your nutritional targets.


You can plan your meals ahead of time or eat on the go and top up at the end of the day.


Found protein tough to get from delis, vending machines and eateries? Hit it at the meals you have full control over.


If you know you went over your carbohydrate goals, then you can bring balance at other meals later or even the next day by borrowing some and giving some back.

You can adapt to unexpected changes.


If your schedule changes, you can change your meals accordingly and make it up later.

If you can only get a sandwich and crisps at lunch, then by tracking your macros you can make that up at night with a delicious protein-rich meal such as protein desserts or dinners.

HOW WE FIND MACROS IN FOODS


When we eat food, our bodies break them down into their parts.

We’ll keep it simple with the three main nutrients.

Protein

Carbohydrate

Fat


For example:


Chicken goes in and chicken is made up of mostly protein, some fat, very little carbohydrate and fibre.


Beans go in and they are made up mostly of carbohydrates, fibre, some protein and little fat.


The amounts of which, make up the food’s total calories.


Food > has macronutrients > they make up total calories.


Please don’t get confused and believe that 20 g of protein means 20 g of chicken or 20 g of carbohydrate means 20 g of bread.

Every food has different amounts of macronutrients, which, every food has different amounts in its make-up.


Food Labels

This is where food labels come into play as they show you the balance of macronutrients and total calories that specific food has per 100 g and per serving.

Per 100 g of raw chicken breast:

Calories 120 k/cals


Total Fat 2.6g

Saturated Fat 0.6g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g

Cholesterol 73mg

Sodium 45mg

Total Carbohydrates 0g

Dietary Fibre 0g

Sugars 0g

Protein 23g


We can see this food gets most of its energy from protein as we get 0 g of carbs, 2.6 g of fat and 23 g of protein.

This would be a great food to hit your protein target but you would need a lot of it to hit a fat target and it would be impossible to hit your carbohydrate goal with this food.


Per 100 g of peanut butter


Calories 588 k/cals


Total Fat 50g

Saturated Fat 9.5g

Polyunsaturated Fat 11g

Monounsaturated Fat 21g

Cholesterol 0mg

Sodium 476mg

Total Carbohydrates 24g

Dietary Fiber 5.7g

Sugars 6.5g

Protein 22g


Although this food has the same protein amount per 100 g (around 22 g of protein), the calories are 5x higher and we can see this food gets most of its energy from fat. We get 24 g of carbs, 50 g of fat and 22 g of protein.

Although peanut butter has protein, it also has carbohydrates and fat that make the energy intake (calories) much higher.


Therefore, if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, whilst hitting your protein macro target, peanut butter might not be a good source to do it with but would be great for your fats and could use less protein-rich foods in that meal.


The reality is, a lot of us eat meals like spaghetti bolognese, soups and curry.


We can find the macronutrient profile on the back of a meal item, in recipe books, on a tracking application or by collecting the recipe ingredients and creating a meal in your tracking application.


MyFitnessPal - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n5C3p9LwUsw

Nutracheck - https://youtu.be/rNqFJfsuFGw


METHODS TO GET MORE


PROTEIN


For clients working on increasing their protein intake, the strategies usually are:

  1. Include protein where you usually don’t (e.g. high carb breakfast or snacks) - adding a protein food or using protein items are valuable.

  2. Increase the serving size where you already have protein (e.g. three egg scramble, not one egg scramble).

  3. Use a protein-rich side dish served as a side to the main protein source (chicken, beef, eggs). Puy lentils in tomato sauce, cooked quinoa, Niçoise salad and Panzanella with sourdough and anchovies are great examples.

  4. Enhance your high-carb sides with protein inclusions such as adding beans to your eggs or mashed potatoes, adding cottage cheese to your pasta, using the lightest cream cheese in your pasta sauce or even building a salad of edamame, cucumber and tomato topped with chicken, that’s an extremely high protein content meal.

  5. Find high-protein desserts such as ricotta berry cheesecakes, Greek yoghurt bars, protein pancakes or mug cakes and bakes.


HEALTHY FATS


For clients working on increasing their fat intake, the strategies usually are:


  1. Use oils when you cook if you’re used to low-fat cooking or dress a meal with fresh olive oil or dressings.

  2. Increase the serving size where you already have fat (e.g. 1 tbsp of butter, not 1 tsp of butter).

  3. Use the full-fat versions of meal items such as full-fat dairy, full-fat houmous and fatty cuts of animal protein over trimmed lean cuts such as streaky bacon over medallions.

  4. Snack on nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, coconut, dark chocolate and cheeses.

  5. Add fish oil or omega-rich plant oil to your daily routine.

CARBOHYDRATES


For clients working on increasing their carbohydrate intake, the strategies usually are:


  1. Include carbohydrates at all meals and especially in a post-workout shake such as maltodextrin, dextrose, juices, oats or cereals.

  2. Increase the serving size where you already have carbohydrates (e.g. three slices of toast instead of two).

  3. Use carbohydrate-rich side dishes such as rice, potatoes, cous cous, roasted vegetables and sauces.

  4. Snack on high carbohydrate snacks such as dates, bananas, fruits, date loaf, bagels, rice cakes and Ryvita

  5. Find high-carbohydrate healthy desserts such as rice pudding, apple crisp, Greek yoghurt and jam, date loaf and meringue-based dessert.

HOW IT MIGHT WORK FOR YOU | PRACTICAL APPLICATION:


You do not have to be laser accurate every day, these are ballpark figures that you can easily go 5-10% either way on the macronutrient totals but always assure they land in the same total calorie range.


Here are some examples of how they might help.


Scenario 1 - IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

Say you don’t like eggs and vegetables at breakfast and instead want Pop-Tarts crushed into Greek yoghurt and peanut butter, you can make that fit.


Say you have:


2 egg omelette with spinach and peppers on two slices of toast with butter and ketchup on each slice.


Target

  • Calories: 350-400

  • Protein: 25-30 g

  • Fat: 18 -22 g

  • Carbs: 20-30 g

In Fage 5% Greek strained yoghurt, peanut butter and strawberry Pop-Tarts, you can hit that exact same number.

200 g 5% Fage Greek strained yoghurt

10 g fat

6 g carbohydrates

18 g protein

1/2 Strawberry Pop-Tart

2.9 g fat

22 g carbohydrates

1 g protein

15 g Peanut Butter

7 g fat

2 g carbohydrates

4 g protein

Target

Calories: 350-400

Protein: 25-30 g

Fat: 18-22 g

Carbohydrates: 20-30 g

Totals

Calories: 375

Protein: 23 g

Fat: 20g

Carbohydrates: 27 g


Whichever method of eating you prefer, IIFYM helps match the numbers with foods you like and prefer whilst providing flexibility for all foods.

Scenario 2 - Adapting On-The-Go

Say you can only access Gregg’s, Subway or Costa for lunch because preparing and storing food is very difficult for you or you have. No cooking skills or facilities.


Eat what you can get access to throughout the day and then make up for anything missing later.


Say your daily totals are:


Target

Calories: 2400

Protein: 200 g

Fat: 90 g

Carbohydrates: 200 g


Breakfast @ Costa


Black Americano

Bacon Roll


Lunch @ Greggs

Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad

Sausage Roll


Snack from the vending machine

41 g Snickers

Up to this point we now have left:


Target

Calories: 2400

Protein: 200 g

Carbohydrates: 200 g

Fat: 90 g


Totals

Calories: 1433

Protein: 52 g

Fat: 72 g

Carbohydrates: 142 g


Remaining

Calories: 967

Protein: 148 g

Fat: 18 g

Carbohydrates: 58 g


We have a lot of protein to find and a fair amount of carbohydrates and fat.

For dinner, I might have:


Pizza Chicken with Jacket Sweet Potato

  • 300 g raw-weight chicken

  • 1/2 ball (60 g) mozzarella

  • 1 tbsp (20 g) tomato puree

  • 220 g raw-weight sweet potat

Meal Totals

Calories: 690

Protein: 89 g

Fat: 16 g

Carbohydrates: 50 g


Then as a dessert:


Protein Goo with Cream and Jelly

  • 75 g protein powder mixed with 75 g water mixed into a paste and frozen for 30 minutes.

  • Top with 1 tbsp (12 g) single cream before eating.

  • 1 Sugar-Free Jelly pot

Dessert Total

Target

Totals

Calories: 305

Calories: 2400

Calories: 2428

Protein: 61 g

Protein: 200 g

Protein: 202 g

Fat: 5 g

Fat: 90 g

Fat: 93 g

Carbohydrates: 5 g

Carbohydrates: 200 g

Carbohydrates: 197 g


Conversely, you can eat a meal at the table with the family at night, if you work in the same method backwards:

If you have a situation where you want to eat with the kids, they’re having Kyiv’s, oven chips and peas, plan ahead, look at the amounts you would need and then readjust the food in the day to compensate. It does mean weighing out food and having proper portion control in place which can be difficult, but once it’s been done a few times, you will be able to eyeball those amounts pretty well or even find a method such as using cup measures or a plate portion to guide you.


1 chicken Kyiv

28 g fat

13 g carbohydrates

16 g protein


200 g peas, cooked

1.6 g fat

10 g carbohydrates

7 g protein


150 g oven chips, cooked

7 g fat

53 g carbohydrates

5 g protein


Meal Total

Calories: 808

Protein: 35 g

Fat: 38 g

Carbohydrates: 85 g


Target

Calories: 2400

Protein: 200 g

Fat: 90 g

Carbohydrates: 200 g


Remaining

Calories: 1592

Protein: 165 g

Fat: 52 g

Carbohydrates: 115 g


Again, this means planning ahead and working backwards through the day to assure you can find, acquire and navigate to foods that hit those macronutrient goals.


Scenario 3 - The Flex Bowl

Some people enjoy filling up their macros at the end of the day with the food they would usually miss from other types of restrictive diets. They may enjoy eating delicious salads and whole food meals during the day but then have a little sweet tooth fix at night.

The goal of a ‘flex bowl’ is to use up the remaining macros for the day using whatever foods you want in your bowl.

The base of a flex bowl can be anything you want but typically they may be:

  • Greek yoghurt

  • Cooked and cooled oats

  • Baked and cooled sweet potato

  • Cereals

  • Pancakes & Crumpets

  • Rice, quinoa or cous cous

When you have your base you can choose additional toppings:


  • Protein powders mixed with a little water into a paste

  • Cocoa powders mixed with a little water into a paste

  • Powdered peanut butter mixed with a little water into a paste

  • Cooked frozen berries into a compote with sweetener

  • Nut butter, snacking nuts and seeds

  • Dark chocolate, favourite chocolate bars or favourite biscuits

  • Cream, single cream, creme fraiche

  • Roasted vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, courgettes

  • Fruits such as sliced bananas, raisins, dates, apple sauce

  • Proteins such as bacon, eggs, baked beans and cheeses

Example Combinations

Combo 1

Greek Yoghurt

HobNobs

Maple Syrup


Combo 2

Oats

Powdered Peanut Butter

Dairy Milk Chocolate


Combo 3

Sweet Potato

Banana

Honey


Combo 4

Cous Cous

Bacon

Eggs

Of course, the pre-requisite is that you must hit your macronutrient totals.


Scenario 4 - Looking Forward to a Weekend Meal


Plan the week ahead to reduce a few calories to save some for a bigger meal at the weekend or sometimes called ‘calorie banking’.


If we save a few hundred calories at the beginning of the week, we can make wiggle room for a lot of flexibility at the weekend.


Monday

Target 2400

Banking - 400

Outcome 2000


Tuesday

2400

- 400

2000


Wednesday

2400

- 400

2000


Thursday

2400

- 200

2200


Friday

2400

0

2400


Saturday

2400

+ 700

3100


Sunday

2400

+ 700

3100


Same weekly calorie total of 16,800.


—-


Macronutrient-based diet tracking is therefore inclusive of every style of eating (paleo, clean, keto, vegan, carnivore, any!), flavours, food preferences and eating situations and allows total control and full flexibility whilst working on your goal.

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