Stressed About Macros? Here is Where You Should Start and How!
Are you new to tracking macros for weight loss? Your carbohydrates, fats, and proteins? Maybe you’ve attempted to track them, but not really sure how, what amounts you should aim for, or just simply overwhelmed with trying to balance all 3? Take a breath, and relax. We can help!
First, know that logging meals and tracking macros shouldn’t be a life-long habit – it’s a short-term tool to help you reach your goals. Thinking of it in this way, can help take the pressure off of feeling that you are starting something you won’t be able to stop. Because you’re not! View it as a short-term means of learning about your body, what helps you lose weight sustainably, and what sort of balance helps you maintain it long term. Also, keep in mind that it can be your friend off and on throughout your life to help you if and when you feel off balance with your health and weight.
Secondly, start small, and start with protein! Here I’ll provide you a few reasons for why starting with protein is the way to go.
#1 Muscle Mass Preservation and Growth
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are essential to so many biochemical processes within our body, such as our immune system, hormones, and gut lining. More obviously, they make up our muscles. Making it crucial that we consume adequate amounts of protein, so that our body can break it down into its component parts, amino acids, and use them to help support our muscle mass and other essential systems.
If we aren’t getting adequate protein from our diet though, our body will be resourceful and go to where protein can be spared (our muscles), break it down, then use those component parts for essential functions throughout our body. Not exactly something we want to happen, in fact, it’s the opposite of what we want to happen! We want to consume enough protein to go around and support all of our systems.
When we eat a meal, carbohydrate and fat breakdown begins in the mouth, while protein breakdown begins in the stomach. It needs the stronger acid and enzymes located in the stomach to help break down the strong bonds, and help ease it’s continued digestion into the small intestine. So it ends up taking longer for our bodies to digest protein, helping us feel more full, quicker.
Protein also stimulates the release of hormones that trigger our brain to recognize that we are full – called Peptide YY, and Glucagon-like Peptide 1 (1). We call these satiety hormones, or appetite suppressors. So eating appropriate amounts of protein at each meal, and with snacks, can help reduce your total calorie intake naturally, by helping regulate your hunger/fullness cues.
#3 Simply Easier to Plan For
As a society that focuses a lot on meat (here in the United States that is), why not go with that, and use it to your advantage for health and weight loss? Since we tend to think often about what meat/protein source to build our meals around, or choose at restaurants, let’s start there and fine tune your amounts and choices to support your goals!
Now that you have learned about why protein is important to start with, here is HOW:
How Much Should You Consume?
The Recommended Daily Intake for protein is .36 grams per pound of body weight. Which should be seen as the baseline minimum to strive for. This amount can vary based on age, sex, activity level, etc. and at STRONGLIFE, we help our patients fine tune their protein levels, specific to them and their goals. But, this is a start for you on your own!
Ex: You weigh 200lbs x 0.36g = 72 grams of protein per day
Track and plan!
Tracking is most helpful, and although you may track all your calories between proteins, fats, and carbs, remember – just worry about getting the protein where it needs to be, and allow the rest to fall into place. You can fine tune those later when you become more confident and used to the amount of protein to be consuming.Some people find it helpful to divide their calories of protein between 3 large meals, or divide them up between 3 meals and 2 snacks. Either way, make it work for YOU. But as an example here is what it could look like as reference:
Breakfast – 3 large scrambled eggs = 20 grams of protein
Lunch – 2oz grilled chicken breast (no skin) = 17 grams of protein
Dinner – 3oz grilled steak = 23 grams of protein
Snack 1 – ½ scoop of whey protein + almond milk = (roughly) 12 grams of protein
Remember that this is a process, progress over perfection. Learn along the way, adapt, and really work towards making this your own!
“I hope that you found these tips as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then I would encourage to visit our website at www.stronglifefunctionalmedicine.com to see how we help our patients improve their health and to find if you are a good candidate for a Functional Medicine approach.”
At STRONGLIFE Functional Medicine in Lithia, FL, Dr. Justin Scott can help you address any underlying issues, whether you realize they’re there or not, and improve your overall health.