By now I think we can all agree that not all calories are created equal. You can’t eat a 200 calorie candy bar and get the same nutrients as eating 200 calories of almonds. Diets that promote calorie counting above all else have become outdated, making room for other ways to look at healthy eating. The Macro Diet, aka The Flexible Diet, understands this completely. The macro diet takes into account that a diet should not be considered a temporary change. The diet you choose should be one that you can maintain throughout your life. In addition, adjusting your thinking can help you create a more positive relationship with food and not feel deprived.
What are Macros?
Macronutrients refer to proteins, fats and carbohydrates in your diet. Depending on your goals, the macro diet allows you to adjust the percentages of these nutrients to lose weight, build muscle or boost your metabolism. Just like calories, not all macros are created equal. The fats you find in a candy bar are not the same fats that you find in nuts or dairy products. This is where the flexibility of the macro diet comes into play. If you focus on the percentage of macros that you take in daily, you can get your carbohydrates from different foods - bread, rice, fruit, or once in awhile even a donut. The key is to balance your macros. If you eat a donut, that will consume some of your fat and carbohydrate sections, so for the rest of the day you can fill up on healthier carbohydrates.
How to Get Started
Lucky for everyone, the macro diet is not a one-size-fits-all plan. Everyone is different. We have different dietary needs, different fitness goals and different ways that we want to approach a healthy lifestyle. Taking this into account, the starting point for the macro diet is the same. The first step is to determine a healthy caloric intake for your body type and goals. Factors that may come into play are your levels of activity and whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or become lean. Once you determine this, then you can focus on the portions of your calories that should consist of carbohydrates, fats and protein. This is difficult especially if you have never paid attention to the macros in your diet. Luckily, there are apps such as MyFitnessPal to help you out. They make it easy. You can set your goals and they will give you a starting point that you can adjust as necessary.
Pros of the Macro Diet
Though it sounds complicated at first, the macro diet allows for all food groups. All foods contain macros after all. While you should focus on eating healthy foods such as lean proteins, nutritious fats and fibrous carbohydrates, you are still able to get your macros from other sources of unhealthy food. Well, at least once in awhile. The diet does not focus on demonizing any food or making you feel guilty if you eat a brownie for an afternoon snack. Basically if you choose to eat pizza for dinner, you just need to eat healthier foods to make up the rest of your diet. It is all about balance. No guilt shaming here.
You Can Customize It
The macro diet focuses on what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can adjust your macros at any time. Maybe you start with a lower percentage of carbohydrates but then you realize that your energy levels are low. Just increase it. It is nice to play around with the amount of macros you need and it also keeps eating more exciting since you do not need to adhere to any regimented diet plan.
Complaints About the Macro Diet
Counting Counting Counting
One of the biggest complaints about the macro diet is that it still consists of counting. This is what makes most eating plans seem daunting. However, like almost anything else, there’s an app for that. Apps such as MyFitnessPal automatically determine your macro levels based on your individual goals. As you log your food, you can few the amount of nutrients as well as the percentage of macros you are eating daily. They even show it to you in a cute, colorful pie chart.
It Disregards Food Quality
Some people misinterpret the flexibility of the macro diet for promoting unhealthy eating. If someone just focuses on macros, they may make unhealthy choices because hey, those still contain macros, right? The main focus is to make healthy, nutrient dense food choices. These are the foods that will keep you energized, will keep you full and will leave you feeling great. The best way to approach the macro diet is to think of it as a lifestyle. There will be times in your life where you will eat that extra slice of cake, or have a donut for breakfast, and that is okay. There is room for some unhealthy choices even in a healthy eating plan, as long as you strive to eat whole, nutritious foods for a larger percentage of time.
So is the macro diet right for you? If you are not looking for a quick fix, the macro diet can help you build a healthier relationship with food. Yes, you are still counting and focusing on percentages, but these can be adjusted to fit your needs. Once you learn about healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates, the daily tracking will go away. The macro diet helps you learn about the nutrients within your food in addition to promoting a flexible, healthy lifestyle.
Want to give the macro diet a try? Check out some of these recipes and see how you feel!