Debunking Diets: The Macro Diet
If you have tried to google the macro diet before, you may have been left scratching your head with all the information out there!
In terms of nutrients our body needs, we often talk about macronutrients and micronutrients. True to their name, macronutrients are substances our body requires in large amounts, while micronutrients are required in small amounts. For our diet, macronutrients consist of 3 things: fat, protein and carbohydrates; micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health say there is more to weight loss then simply counting calories, and that choosing high quality foods is important in helping individuals consume fewer calories – It is not about how many calories, but what types of calories are in your food.
Tell me more about macronutrients!
Fat: are important for brain development, cell functioning, hormones and absorbing vitamins found in food. Healthy fats include nuts and nut butters (ie almonds and walnuts), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia), olives, olive oil and avocado.
Protein: are building blocks for muscle and are needed to for proper cell, tissue and organ functioning. Good protein sources include: chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein powder, and tofu.
Carbohydrates: are the primary energy source in the body. Good sources of carbs include: oatmeal, sweet potato, brown rice, veggies and fruit and whole wheat.
What is the Macro Diet or Flexible Dieting
The macronutrient diet, or macro diet for short (also sometimes called the IIFYM diet – if it fits your macros), focuses on whole foods. Rather then depriving your body, you are focusing on optimizing it with proper nutrition. It is similar to weight watchers and calorie counting in the sense that you need to track what you’re eating and stay within a certain range. It emphasizes eating nutrient dense whole foods, with some room for special treats. The difference lies in the balance of the foods, rather then straight calorie counting. The balance of the nutrients can be changed based on body type, goals, activity level and medical history.
I always tell my patients to think – high fat, moderate protein, and lower carbs. This may be a shift then what we are used to thinking. The specific ratios to follow depend on a variety of factors, so it is best to consult your naturopath, nutritionist or health care provider before beginning. Once you begin, percentage goals can be adjusted based on rate of weight loss or change in exercise level.
In general, I get my patients to try and aim for:
You can also take into consideration total calorie intake and further break down these percentages into grams of each macronutrient.
A general rule is:
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Carbs = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
Once you know your breakdown of macros, you can track your food online or using an app. There are many apps out there so give them a try to see what you like. The most common and free one is myfitnesspal. I usually recommend more flexibility in tracking at the beginning to get used to the system and to not overwhelm yourself. After a few weeks of tracking, you will begin to learn which foods are higher in certain macros and what to add in or swap out to meet your target ranges. Tip: try and include all 3 macros in each meal!
Meal planning is also very helpful! For some great recipe options check out this link HERE.
However, weight loss and healthy eating is not a one size fits all and this is true of the macros diet. It can be time consuming (especially at the beginning) and not ideal for people who tend to focus on food consumption in an unhealthy way. Speak with your naturopath today about how to tailor your diet for best results!
Macro Sheet Sheet Image from: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Macros-Cheatsheet-44787536