Something as important as nutrition should be simple… so why is it so complex? Options. When it comes to food, many of us are overwhelmed with options. While this is something to be thankful for (after all, not everyone is fortunate enough to have options), it leads to information overload.
What should you be eating? How much should you be eating? When should you be eating? Should you be tracking your food? Should you be counting your macros? Macros? What are those?!?! I’ll make it simple for you.
Macro is an abbreviation for macronutrient, of which there are 3: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. All are important (yes… even carbs).
Proteins are most often derived from meat, but also come from a variety of other sources. Proteins provide our body’s structure, regulate body function and immune system health, aid in hormone regulation, and much more. Calories from protein should comprise about 30% of your daily caloric intake.
Carbohydrates (carbs) vary depending on the source, but these are things like fruit, sugar, vegetables, and much more. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for your body, especially your brain. You might be surprised to learn that carbohydrates aid in the oxidation (breakdown) of fat. Calories from carbohydrates should comprise no more than 40% of your daily caloric intake.
Fats are derived from plants (olives, avocados) and animals (lard). Fats are a component of our cell membranes, aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and serve as a source of fuel for your body. Calories from fat should comprise about 30% of your daily calorie intake.
Now that you know a little bit more about macros, all of which are part of a healthy diet, let’s answer the question that led you to click on the link for this article. should you be counting macros?
Should You Be Counting Macros?
Counting macros requires you to log your food to ensure that your diet is comprised of specific portions of each macronutrient. For example, you may want to ensure that you consume 30% proteins, 40% carbs, and 30% fats. In order to hit those numbers, you have to track your food and “count your macros”.
Establishing and maintaining a healthy diet is all about building sustainable habits. Logging food and counting macros will provide you with helpful information regarding your diet, but rarely is this a sustainable habit. Do you really expect to log everything you eat for the rest of your life? I know I don’t, which is the main reason that I don’t count my macros. It’s also the main reason that most of our nutrition clients don’t count their macros.
Now, I’m not suggesting that counting macros is bad and you should never do it. It can be incredibly helpful over short periods of time. But you need to develop successful nutrition habits without counting your macros because, again, you’re probably not going to count your macros for the rest of your life.
An alternative strategy that we share with our nutrition clients is called The Plate Method, which is a sustainable way to measure your portions for lunch and dinner. Here’s a quick summary:
- 50% of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, asparagus)
- 25% of your plate should be filled with lean meats, or another lean protein source (chicken, fish, tempeh)
- 25% of your plate should be filled with starchy vegetables (brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa)
- Cook food using plant-based fats (olive oil, avocado oil)
If your plate looks nothing like what I described above, don’t make a drastic change tomorrow – that’s not sustainable. Start consuming at least one vegetable as part of both lunch and dinner. I don’t care how much of each vegetable you eat, just get used to eating vegetables.
If you need help taking the next step toward healthy nutrition habits, just click the link on this page to schedule a free intro. One of our nutrition coaches will be happy to learn how we can help you.