BODY POSITIVITY + HOLISTIC LIFESTYLE CHANGE

The Number's Game: Counting Macros vs. Counting Calories

Posted on March 10 2016


Blog written by Alejandra Enriquez 
@ale.lujah

 

When it comes to fitness, we all have that moment of realization: that aha-moment where we realize we will strive to be the best version of ourselves. For me it came in the Spring of 2014 right after I joined my first Fit and Thick class. OK fine! It came after I followed Nicole Mejia on Instagram and realized “I want abs like that!” Giving myself the motivation to go to the gym had been challenging but being surrounded by like-minded women with similar goals was the social support I needed to really make the step out of the comfort zone and into the sweating zone!

First order of business, ABS.

A quick Google search provided me with everything I needed to know about revealing my very own set of abs: the age-old art of counting calories. Basically, if you consume X amount of calories dependent on your  age, weight, height, and activity level, you will see Y results.

Great! I felt like I had just found the Holy Grail of summer body hotness. Using an online calorie calculator, I found my recommended daily calorie intake was 1,600 to lose 1 lb a week. The encouraging part about counting calories is that it is easy. You just keep track of your daily caloric intake and apps like MyFitnessPal make it easy to do that throughout the day.

For the most part, I was hitting my 1,600 calories everyday, but I still wasn’t seeing the results that I had hoped. I didn’t get it… I ate those 2 donuts for breakfast but I made up for it going light on my lunch and dinner (and I ordered the light beer at Happy Hour)! In my own naivety, I thought I was being health conscious. But the reason why my abs weren’t coming in was because counting calories is only half the battle. This method encourages you to keep track of calories and disregards where they are acutally coming from. 

Let's use those donuts for example:

A quick look at the nutrition label for donut shows you that while I was eating only 380 calories for breakfast, I was also consuming 42 g of carbs, 22 g of fats, and 4 g of protein. 

After a visit to my primary care physician’s office for my yearly physical, I found my glucose and insulin levels high. I attributed this to my diet and realized I had to do something about it.

Insulin is a hormone that slows down the fat-burning process. Simply put, the more carbs we eat, the more insulin we release. In order to synthesize the body’s fat-burning hormones, you need a balance of protein, fat, and carbs in your meals. These three are what we call the MACRONUTRIENTS! 

Calories are energy and are important to keep in mind, but counting macros ensures that you’re getting enough of each group to meet your goals.

Now let’s talk macros.

There are three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly:
- Carbohydrates (4 calories/gram)
- Protein (4 calories/gram)
Fats (9 calories/gram)

These nutrients provide our body with calories or energy and are crucial for our growth and metabolism. After looking back at that nutritional label of the donuts and some simple math we see that:
21 g of carbs x4   +   2 g of protein x4   +   11 g fat x 9   =    191 calories!
Another substance that provides us with calories is alcohol. Each gram of alcohol gives us 7 calories, so keep track of those mojitos at Happy Hour!

Let's apply this knowledge

In order to meet my goals, I try to stick to 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat. Since my daily recommended calorie intake was 1,600, that would mean that I would have to consume 640 calories or 160 g of protein, 640 calories or 160 g of carbs, and 320 calories or 36 g of fat. Those two donuts at breakfast alone used up 25% of my carb intake while barely helping me with my protein intake! No wonder my health was at risk.
At the end of the day, if you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. BUT meeting your goals will be much easier if you track and meet your recommended macronutrient breakdown.
For example, you can off-balance fat burning hormones by not consuming enough fat. You can lose muscle by not consuming enough protein if you’re calorie deficient. And you can also grow tired while training if you decrease your carbohydrates. Balance is key!

To begin, you need to find out how many calories you need per day to meet your goals and the macronutrient breakdown without those daily calories. Then, I suggest using a tracker, like "My Net Diary", to tracking down every calorie and macronutrient you eat. 

There is no magical supplement or vitamin that can balance out a bad diet or negative mentality. In order to make a change, you must make sure your foundations are strong. Consuming clean foods, ignoring calories, fasting, and supplements will never replace a strong foundation. Also keep in mind that my macro breakdown will be different from yours! Don’t make your fitness journey about weight loss, but about loving the skin you’re in.
 

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