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Coach Mary’s Tasty Tips #6

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Hi guys!

The last few weeks we’ve been talking about the different kinds of
macronutrients, what they are, which foods are rich in each one of them, what
they are used for and how that they are stored in our bodies. Even though we
talked about each one individually, all foods contain all three of them in
different amounts and we cannot exactly isolate them on our day-to- day lives.
Today I want to talk about all three macronutrients together and how you can
use them to track and adjust your diet.
I mentioned before that we use carbohydrates mostly for energy, protein to
build structures such as muscle, and fat for energy and to make important
hormones. In reality though, these three are consumed, digested, and
absorbed by our guts at the same time, and the presence of one can affect
the digestion of another. For example, the hormone insulin, which is one of
the main hormones that regulates carbohydrates in our bodies, not only
stimulates the storage of glucose in the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue, but
it also stimulates fat storage and increases the uptake of amino acids to form
proteins. Looking at things from a different perspective, fatty acids, when in
excess, can block the effect of insulin in our tissues and lead to insulin
resistance (or even progress to diabetes). The main message I want you to
take from this is that these nutrients do not exist in isolation in our lives, so
there is a need to have a good balance between them and ingest each one in
moderation, avoiding excesses in one of them. This brings me well to my next
topic: macronutrient counting.
We have all heard of “counting macros” at some point in our lives, but not
everyone knows exactly what this expression actually means. In very simple
terms, counting macros just means to count the macronutrients (and
inevitably the calories) present in the food we eat throughout the day. All
foods contain different grams of each macro, and a gram of each macro
contains different amounts of calories. As a quick reminder, one gram of
carbohydrates or protein contains 4kcal, one gram of fat contains 9kcal, and
one gram of alcohol contains 7kcal (yes, alcohol has calories, even if it is
clear and looks just like water). Just to give you an idea of what one kcal
actually is, one kcal (which is the same as one Calorie – note the capital C
there) is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one
kilogram of water by 1 0 C. Pretty much all you need to know is that it is a unit
of energy that is used to calculate the energy we consume in food and/or we
spend during the day or while exercising.
Counting macros can be used for many different reasons. It can be used as a
tool for dietary change, whether that is to lose, gain, or even maintain weight
(this usually requires having a specific goal that you are trying to achieve), or
it can be used as an informative tool, to allow you to have a better
understanding of what and how much you are eating. It can also help you
recognize if you are getting too little/too much of one specific nutrient or type
of food. For example, if John is curious to measure how much he eats per day
and wants to figure out whether or not he is getting enough vitamins or if he is
eating too much fat on a regular basis, he can count and track the macros of
each one of his meals throughout the day, add them up, and figure it out.
Another example would be Jane that is trying to lose some weight, so she
plans her meals and snacks ahead in order to achieve her daily goal of 1900
calories and a calorie distribution of 40% from carbs, 30% from protein and

30% from fat (more on calorie and macro distribution another day). These are
two basic examples simply to illustrate my ideas, but counting macros really
can be adjusted to anyone and to their individual needs and goals.
Now that we discussed some of the reasons why people count their macros,
let’s talk about how to do it. First of all, one of the most important and basic
things you need to get if you are interested in counting your macros is a food
scale. Even though it is possible to estimate the quantities and weights of
some of the foods you eat, weighing them on a scale is the most accurate
way to do it, so please please please go buy a food scale today if you plan on
putting some effort into bettering your diet. I am by no means saying that you
must now weight all your food for the rest of your life, but I do advocate for
you to give it a try and get a better idea of what serving sizes and specific
weights look like. You only need to do this for a few days or weeks to get an
idea, and from then on you will probably be able to “guestimate” the amounts
without having to measure them with the scale. The second thing you need is
a place to record the macros and calories, and this can be either the old
school pen and paper with the help of food labels, a phone app such as
MyFitnessPal, or an excel spreadsheet. Personally, I prefer the MyFitnessPal
app because it has a very comprehensive database and it allows me to scan
food labels if I want to add a specific food; plus, I know I always carry my
phone with me, so it is the easiest and most convenient way for me to track
my foods at any time of the day.
Once you have all you need to start counting, you just need to start weighing
and recording what you eat as accurately as possible. This requires a bit of
patience during the first couple of days, but it does get easier as you get used
to it. It does help if you cook most of your meals at home as you will know
exactly all the ingredients in them. Some of the apps out there even allow you
to create recipes and pick how many serving sizes it makes, which can be
very helpful. The weighing and tracking of your food can be done either ahead
of time by planning your meals, or throughout your day as you eat each meal.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them, so feel free to give
each of them a try and see which fits you better. If you have a not so good
self-control around food, planning your meals ahead of time can be very
beneficial and help you achieve your goals.
Lastly, I just want to mention a few things that are important to remember
when you weigh food: be aware that cooked and raw foods weigh differently
and have different nutritional information in the apps and food labels, take
notice and make good use of the “tare” button in your food scale to easily
weigh different foods, and make sure to record everything you eat, including
little snacks and treats if you want to be serious and precise about counting
your macros.
There’s a ton more that can be said about this topic so I couldn’t fit it all into
this one post. Nevertheless, I hope this was a good introduction to the topic
and that you are excited about getting out there and give this a try! Cheers! 
Coach Mari