I was introduced to macronutrients through a personal trainer in London, Gordon Greenhorn (go check out his Facebook, it's quite amusing), as I had developed a bad relationship with food. I began cutting my calories between 800-1100 and could maintain that for a week or so and then would have a massive binge.
I was lead to believe through some alternative past coaching that this binge, if only lasted for 3 hours, would be fine. Why three hours? Why such low calories during the week? I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know. All I know is it was a downward spiral. I was cutting more calories; binging more and watching the scales go up rather than down. I was pretty miserable.
Gordon was my life saver. I will always be eternally grateful to the man. He not only gave me my macros every month, he educated me. I wanted to read up on it, understand what I was doing and how it was helping me so much. So he told me what books to buy, what qualifications to get and answered all my questions.
He coached me with macronutrients and introduced me to a handy app on my phone called Myfitness Pal. I was away. I liked looking at the foods that had carbs in, protein in and fats. It clued me into things like, nuts containing protein, vegetables that were high in protein and even vegetables that had more fats in. Ok, they weren’t bad fats or anything, but it gave me a better understanding of the food I ate.
So lets take a step back. Macronutrients are your carbohydrates, proteins and fats. If I was to say to you I am going to put you on a nutrition plan of 2,100 calories these need to be accumulated through your three macros. So, how?
Carbs = 4 calories per gram
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram.
Therefore, if you followed a 35% carbs, 40% protein and 25% fats, it would look like this:
Carbs = 2,100 (calories per day) x 0.35% = 735 calories of carbs a day. Easy.
THEN 735 / 4 = 180g of carbs a day.
Protein = 2,100 (calories per day) x 0.40% = 840 calories of protein a day. Easy.
THEN 840 / 4 = 210g of protein a day.
Fats = 2,100 (calories per day) x 0.25% = 525 calories of fat a day. Easy.
THEN 525 / 9 = 58g of fats a day.
NOW don’t become lost in the above. Its a lot of numbers and seems a bit complicated but its really not. Myfitness Pal makes this EASY! You can insert your calories and % you want to hit on a day-to-day basis. You can scan your foods and input your meals EASILY!
You could scan one full day and follow that one day all week from Monday to Friday. Have a break Saturday and eat foods (within reason) that aren’t scanned or on your plan (this is good mentally to have a break…..but don't binge!!). I always like to start my day Saturday the same as every other day and then in the evening I will have something I have been craving…..roast lamb with roast potatoes and some dark chocolate for dessert.
Then Sunday you get back to scanning and logging your food.
In effect, your only tracking 2 days on myfitness pal. It really doesn’t have to be that complicated or time consuming.
This brings me to IIFYM – If it fits your macros. If you’ve been watching the programme on channel 4 “How to lose weight well” (bunch of crock of a show if you ask me), they touched on orthorexia.
Now IIFYM takes this term out of the equation. IIFYM is designed so that you can eat what you like IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS. If a McDonalds fits your macros then go for it or MacroDonalds.
It will just mean that you wont have many macros or calories left and so could probably only fit in 1-2 meals. It takes away the risk of becoming obsessed with what a healthy food is and what isn't…..orthorexic.
Now, a calorie isn’t a calorie. This means that 200 calories from chips from McDonalds and 200 calories from a chicken breast isn’t used or broken down the same way in the body. Each food will have a different response in the body. A McDonalds will make you feel dehydrated because of the high salt levels which in turn can add to the cravings of wanting more. Also, the large amount of sodium makes it difficult for the kidneys to digest salt, which makes the heart work faster.
Now the chicken will contain protein, some vitamins and minerals your body can use and will leave you feeling satiated (fuller for longer). Your insulin won’t spike and you wont have any crashes or feel sleepy after eating.
Now, I’m not saying eat chicken breasts all day. But what I am saying is be clever with what sources of food you get your macronutrients from. Below is an example of a plan that I would give a client who is looking for fat loss based on the above macronutrients we discussed.
Now, is an example of a plan on the SAME calories and macros but on the basis of IIFYM.
I had to pump out the above menu with protein shakes because I couldn't fit in any more carbohydrates to have a meal (I didn't want to be silly and just put 200g turkey or a tin of tuna to be eaten on its own) and the fats were already over from breakfast and the McDonalds.
Now, this is just simply your macro breakdown. This doesn't include the vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) you obtain from each food source, the responses it has within the body, the PROCESS which the food goes through and what is actually contained in a McDonalds. I'm also pretty sure you don't just want to go home after lunch and have chicken and broccoli for dinner. The human body will break down the second menu a lot differently to the first and you will feel a lot different.
Don't believe me? Try the first menu for the week and then try the second menu for a week. Note down energy levels, sleep patterns and moods. I'd be interested in the results you will find so please get in touch if you actually do this!
I have inlcuded a link to the further calories and breakdown of McDonalds in case you are interested.
What you can tell from just comparing the two menus from sight is that when eating more wholesome natural food sources, you are able to EAT MORE, healthier options that won't make you want to crash and burn. It will also fuel you through exercise, provide weight loss, give you glowing skin, healthy hair, healthy nails, enable you to sleep better, will provide you with the feel good energetic feeling. In addition to this, your insides (organs, tissue and cells) will be a lot happier and healthier.
If it fits your macros can be a really good concept as it calculates your macro percentage for you and gives you the numbers. All you need to do is type them numbers into my fitness pal and you are away. You can have a pop tart for breakfast. You can have a sandwich and crisps for lunch.
HOWEVER…..do it that way and you won't lose the body fat you want to, you won't develop lean muscle mass and you won't have the energy benefits a good healthy lifestyle can provide.
If you follow IIFYM and do it properly, (follow the macros and use good fats, and smart food choices) you will find that you will be full for the whole day, feel good, be providing a good healthy future of a lifestyle for your children and for yourself and still allow yourself some "treats".
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