WEIGHT LOSS SERIES: The Best Diet That's Ever Worked for Me
The diet industry is a money pot. Seriously, doesn’t everyone want to lose some weight? And if you’re like me, you’ve probably thrown more money than you’d like to admit at diet plans, supplements, weight loss programs, and other packaged promises. My dieting journey spans from SlimFast to Acai Berry to dangerous juice cleanses to diarrhea tea—all diets that promise quick, sustainable results. They’re NEITHER quick nor sustainable! But I’ll spare you this diet industry rant for another time. Today I want to talk about the single best diet I’ve ever tried—and guess what—you don’t have to buy a thing to get started. Are you ready?
In all it’s glory! Counting Macros! There are many reasons I love counting macros; here are a handful of them:
There’s no need to cut your favorite foods out of your life
No need to eliminate your favorite foods—I need to say that again (!!!)
Counting macros is sustainable for months or years; it’s not a crash diet
You can fit your existing diet right in (if you’re paleo, gluten-free, vegan, etc)
Counting macros educates you about nutrition and gives you total control
It’s completely free!
So What is Counting Macros?
Let’s start with what macros are: they’re the molecules our body uses to create energy and there are three of them:
Carbohydrates, Fat, and Protein
To start tracking macros, first you need a calculated gameplan. There are many macro calculators out there; I think the IIFYM Calculator is a great start! You’ll need to provide your email and some information about your lifestyle, then you’ll be sent a caloric gameplan for macros and fiber.
Now that you have your macros calculated, download the My Fitness Pal app!
I would take my macros calculated from IIFYM over the pre-set information from My Fitness Pal, they've served me better in my experience. Now, this is where the work comes in. In My Fitness Pal, you’ll need to start logging what you eat every day.
This is a screen grab of my breakfast and lunch today (01/05 is when I'm writing this). I did not include my morning coffee because coffee is 0 cal, but I did log my coffee creamer and collagen that I put in my coffee.
Yes, it’s a pain in the beginning. But in a short amount of time, you’ll start to get the hang of it. My Fitness Pal is super savvy these days, it saves the foods you eat often for quick adding and you can import recipes right from the website where you found them. Super cool!
[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="http://www.fuelingfunction.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/finalVideo.mp4"][/video]
Best of all: you’ll start to truly understand what’s going into your body and small changes to hit your macros will eventually pay off in a BIG WAY.
Macro Tips for Beginners
If you’ve never counted macros before, these are a few tips for gettng started:
Set your protein intake to your body weight x 0.8 (it should be relatively close to what was calculated by IIFYM)
Achieve your set calories and protein every day. Carbs and fat are less important for beginners as long as you hit calories and protein.
Measure your food for the first few weeks with a measuring cup and/or a food scale. I know it’s an extra step but it’ll ensure that your serving size is accurate. Most people are eating more than they think in a serving!
No foods are off limits, just hit your set calories and protein and don't lie! Track every bite!
If you find these tips are attainable and want to take it a little further…
Try intermittent fasting while counting macros. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple: Eat all of your food within an 8 – 10 hour window (I eat between 8 am – 4 pm). I'll post more about intermittent fasting in the future!
Holy Protein! I’m Discouraged
You may find it difficult to hit your recommended protein intake because most people who start dieting aren’t eating that much. Stay tuned! I’ve got an upcoming post on how to sneak up to 50 grams of protein into your day without trying (and no, it’s not all red meat and eggs!)
The reason most weight loss diets advise upping the protein is because protein suppresses hunger longer than carbs or fat. Protein also contains the amino acids to form and retain muscle, another reason it’s important.
How Long Do I Have to Track?
Tracking will get much easier over the first few weeks. My Fitness Pal will even save meals you eat regularly for easy input. But back to your question: Try it for 6 weeks. Six weeks is enough time to familiarize yourself with daily food intake and get a feel for what 200 (or 300 or 2000) calories looks and feels like. Six weeks is also enough time to start seeing the results of your hard work. I think you’ll be surprised with your results—as long as you’re not cheating the app or yourself.
Day-to-day, I no longer count macros regularly but I pull the app back into my life every 6 months or so. Just because over time portions get bigger, meals get more lax, and I need to reel myself back to my ideal diet.
I’m going to track macros all through January to give myself a hard reset. Want to join me? Let’s do it together!
What about Cheat Meals? Cheat Days?
Hell, let’s do a post about cheat meals! (You already know I love my cookie dough and nachos.)
For now I’ll say: “cheat” meals shouldn’t be called that because they are so beneficial for overall progress. I love my “cheat” meals and I’ll never give them up. They should be called “rewards” or something. But let’s talk more about cheat meals in an upcoming post, k? Stay tuned!
Got Questions about Macro Counting?
I'm here to help! Send over a message, leave a comment, pick your preference. If you’re looking for recipes to help hit your macros, I got you! Scroll though my “Meal Prep” section; nearly ALL of my meals are high in protein, full of micronutrients, and many do not contain any refined carbs or sugar.
Boom, you got this! If you're going to try counting macros, let me know! Seriously, tell me you're on board and let's follow up on your thoughts and progress. I'm going to share my own 6 weeks of progress in the middle of February for you all. Stay tuned!