Have you ever read a post or watched a video on Instagram from a self-proclaimed fitness expert in their late teens or early 20’s claiming you can eat anything you want, so long as you meet your macros?
What a load of bullshit!
When it comes to eating healthy, nutrition quality always trumps arithmetic.
In case you don’t know about macros (short for macro nutrients), allow me to explain. Counting macros means calculating the caloric ratios of food required to meet your daily energy requirements.
This gets broken down by the total number of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fats. For example, you may need 3,500 calories per day to meet your physique goals and you’ve established your ratios as 30% calories from protein, 30% fats, and 40% carbohydrates.
You will need to weigh or measure what you eat and input that information into an app, and/or trust nutrition labels. A quick refresher — there are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. If you have an alcoholic beverage add 7 calories for every gram consumed.
If we use the example of 3,500 calories, the macro-nutrient breakdown looks like this:
- Protein: 262.5 grams
- Fat: 117 grams
- Carbohydrates: 350 grams
Ok, and? Do you feel full? Hungry? I don’t know either…
I fucking hate counting calories. It’s not useful for 99% of the population. If you’re a competitive bodybuilder or an elite level athlete you might need to use this method for assessing your food intake to achieve specific goals or sport requirements.
For the rest of us there are easier ways, like using a simple, visual hand-sized portion guide instead.
Bro Science is NO Science
The current body-building, bro science trend says that, ‘So long as you balance your macros you can eat whatever you want.’
Wait. What? No! HUH?
“So, like, I can eat McD’s for lunch and a bunch of other crap, throw in a big salad, and if my macros are right, I’m good?”
You good? No. Sorry, dumb ass.
We don’t eat “macros”, we eat food.
People love to lie to themselves to feel better about the bullshit they’re doing. Some feel like they’re smarter than everyone else by cheating the system.
The truth is that foundations do not change. Healthy food is healthy food. If you put the healthiest food in your mouth most of the time, you’re taking care of your body most of the time.
When you eat crap all the time it doesn’t matter how well you balance your macros. If you eat crap all the time you will become crap! Maybe not in a week, a month or a year, but in time the damage from eating nutrient-poor, over-processed foods, chemicals, and preservatives will catch up with you.
What drives me crazy are the so-called fitness experts on Instagram who take pictures of the crap they’re eating, claiming that you can get away with it so long as you count and meet your macro-nutrient goals.
Counting calories doesn’t tell you about food quality.
Calorie math won’t tell you whether the food you’re eating is adding value to your body.
You can get 2,000 calories from healthy, nutrient-rich meals spread over a day.
Or you can get it from a large Frappuccino and a couple of pastries. (Which one do you think is a better choice?)
As we’re fond of saying, a high-quality machine needs high-quality fuel. If you’re working on building your body or a strong performance, put premium gas in the PN athlete tank.
What ever happened to eating healthy?
Meeting you daily macros doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy. It ONLY means you are meeting your macros.
Counting macros has NOTHING to do with the quality of the food you’re eating.
Most of the people promoting the “macro-counting-trend” are often bodybuilders trying to gain weight. On the one hand some are taking steroids. In that case, they might as well abuse their body more and eat as much calorically-dense processed food as possible to get bigger. calorically
What some of these macro-counting-nuts don’t seem to realize — as they’re munching their protein bars loaded with 30 grams of processed sugar and sipping their “sport drink” made with flame retardant — is that if they took a few hours a week to shop for healthy food and cook real-food meals in advance, they could meet their “daily macros” and be far healthier.
The macro-counting advocates also believe that so long as you get your daily protein amounts, it doesn’t matter what kind of protein it is.
Eating healthy is simple.
There, I said it. And I’m going to say it again, but with emphasis.
EATING HEALTHY IS SIMPLE
Counting macros is complex. And the more complex and cumbersome a method the less likely we are to stick with that method.
The solution is simple: eat healthy foods.
Choose healthy, quality, non-processed proteins in their natural state like,
- meats and fish (cook them of course);
- fresh fruits and vegetables from the market or the produce section of the grocery store;
- beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and;
- unprocessed, simple, whole grains (steel-cut oats, quinoa, bulgur, brown or wild rice).
Don’t count calories
Don’t follow some YouTube “star’s” nutritional guidelines. Don’t follow the latest trend or fad (soon enough there will be a new one). Instead, learn about your body and your needs. Understand how you feel and respond to eating certain foods. What happens when you eat more or fewer meals per day? How is your digestion and energy when you combine certain foods at the same time?
These are not a challenging exercises. Rather it’s about stopping long enough to pay attention and notice what you’re eating. Sit down to enjoy eating and reduce distractions. Put your attention on the food in your mouth. How does it taste? Chew slowly and thoroughly. Notice how much more you taste by taking the time to chew completely. By the way, your gut will thank you for chewing and breaking down your food more, making it easier to digest.
Slow and steady wins the race
This statement is so true when it comes to eating for health. Quick-fix diets and rapid weight loss usually come with a high price to pay, in the form of damage to your health.
Have you ever “inhaled” a desert? Then gone back for more? I sure have. What a waste. What a waist-line! Oh snap!
Try to take the time to savour your next dessert. Notice every mouthful. Notice the various tastes, the sweetness, the feel of the fat in your mouth. Notice how you are feeling: are you responding or reacting emotionally or physically? I’ve found by doing this awareness exercise I’ve realized things like,
- “Oh that was too sweet. Now I don’t want any more.”
- “I really don’t like this after all. It’s giving me a sugar headache.”
- “OMG this dessert is incredible! I’m going to try to slow down and enjoy the incredible sensations on my tongue and the sheer enjoyment of this delectable delicacy! My brain is all a’tingle like fireworks on New Year’s Eve!”
OK, so the last example was extreme, BUT that’s what I mean by being mindful and paying attention to your food. It’s worth noticing how you feel 30 minutes after eating food. Has you mood or energy changed? Are you having a physical response? Sometimes I’ll get what seems like a nervous cough, or body twitches from too much sugar.
When you take time to notice what and how you are eating you will know when to stop eating. You will know when you’re full. You will also know if the food was good for you or a load of crap.
Remember… you can’t eat macros. 🙂
Originally published at eatmovebe.com on August 29, 2017.