Many people come to me confused about how much they should be eating.
"How much fat is too much fat? And will it make me fat?"
"Do I need to eat more protein? What's the best form?"
"Should I be afraid of carbs?"
"What the heck is a macro???"
Let's start off with the easy question- What are macros?
Macronutrients, often referred to as macros, are what make up the caloric content of our food. They are categorized into fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, each of which have specific roles in our bodies. We need them all to perform optimally, but in the right amounts and in the right forms.
We are ever changing beings so our macro needs will change as well depending on how much you are moving, your current hormone situation, stress levels, digestive power, how much you’ve slept, gut health…and so many more variants.
This is why I stress balancing your body out by removing some of those foods that trigger cravings, making sure you don’t have an overgrowth of yeast or parasites (those buggers are going to call out for sugar all day long) and being mindful when eating. Once you have these covered, you can tune in to the true needs of your body, eat intuitively and ensure you are getting the macro ratios YOUR body truly needs.
NUTRITION OVER CALORIES
It’s important to recognize that your body does not crave just calories, it craves NUTRITION, so focusing solely on calorie counting is not going to get you very far in your health journey.
Foods that are processed, low-fat, and poor quality don’t nourish your body, leading to imbalances, cravings, and fat gain. Think about it. How will your body react to 500 calories worth of Mickey D’s french fries versus 500 calories worth of wild salmon or leafy greens? Your goal should always be to focus on foods in their most nutrient dense form- whole, organic, and locally grown when possible.
We are each unique due to our genetic makeup, individual diet and lifestyle choices, and the stress load we carry. This means everyone responds differently to macronutrient ratios and specific foods, so what works for one person may not work for another.
I recommend starting with a 40-30-30 ratio for calorie intake (40% carbs from mostly non-starchy vegetables, 30% protein, 30% fat) and then making adjustments based on how you are feeling.
Are you crashing throughout the day? Try increasing your fats and proteins, especially at breakfast.
Struggling through your workout? Try adding in some starchy veggies post-workout to replenish your glycogen storage.
Are you constantly craving sugar? Try cutting back your carbs (starchy veggies, grains and legumes) and upping your fats at every meal.
Are you moody and hangry? Adding more protein and fat and removing some of the non-veggie carbs will help.
MYTH: GRAZING BOOSTS YOUR METABOLISM
Aim for 3 meals a day, with about 4 hours between each one, and one snack if you need it. Grazing interferes with the digestive process and causes a constant release of insulin which impedes fat burning, weight loss and can lead to other health issues. Grazing can also cause you to lose track of the calories you've consumed. Plus, you're left feeling unsatisfied by small grazing sessions which can lead to overeating later on.
MACRO ROLES AND HEALTHY OPTIONS
Support the growth and repair of muscles, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Best eaten with all meals, especially breakfast, and as a post-workout snack.
· Pasture raised eggs
· Organic Poultry
· Grass-fed beef and bison
· Wild caught fish
· Nuts (preferably soaked and sprouted)
· Beans (preferably soaked)
Support the growth and repair of cells, hormones, and are an excellent source of slow burning fuel for the body. Fats are our friends in spite of the bad rap they’ve received in the past. They keep us full, are fuel for the brain and heart, and help balance blood sugar, which means less fat storage.
Best eaten with all meals, especially breakfast, to help balance blood sugar from the get-go.
· Coconut oil
· Butter from grass-fed cows
· Ghee (clarified butter)
· Animal fats (from grass-fed/pastured animals)
· Olive oil
· Avocado oil
· Nuts (preferably soaked and sprouted)
· Nut butter
· Fish oils
· Fatty fish
· Oil from these seeds
Protein shakes are okay if you just don’t have the time to prepare a meal, but keep in mind that not all protein powders are created equal. Make sure they are from grass-fed cows, or if vegetarian, are non-GMO and organic. Vital Proteins, Rootz, VegaOne, and Garden of Life are all good options.
TIP: Remember to chew your shakes and smoothies. Carbohydrate digestion begins in your mouth.
Important for intestinal health and waste elimination. Convert to fast burning energy which also results in energy crashes so make sure they are eaten along with a fat or protein.
Low-starch vegetables should be eaten with every meal, but the higher carb options like starchy veggies, fruit and grains are best with lunch and dinner versus first thing in the morning.
· Vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc)
· Sea vegetables
· Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, parsnips)
· Non-gluten grains (preferably sprouted and in limited amounts)- rice, millet, quinoa, oats, teff, amaranth
· Legumes (preferably soaked and sprouted)
Be open to experimentation when figuring out the best macro ratios for your body.
Need help figuring this out? Check out my RESTART workshop where we focus on getting the body back in balance, while tuning in to our body's needs and eating mindfully.