Top 5 Tips for Tracking Macros

As many of you probably know, I currently track macros (and have been for about 7-8 months now). I started after my first visit with a sports nutritionist and have continued on ever since. While some days I give myself a break from it (it can get tough at stressful/busy times), I ultimately want to continue doing so because 1) it helps me reach my goals 2) it gives me consistency and 3) I can track my progress. For more of the truth behind macros, check out this post.

Now for you, whether or not you count macros I want to provide you with a list of my top 5 tips for tracking that you can then use and customize to fit your needs, lifestyle, goals, etc. These are just my opinion of the most important ones, the tips that really will help you start counting and continue doing so in a way that best fits your life. So without further ado here is tip #1….

#1: Read the nutrition labels

If you’re going to be tracking what you eat, then you probably should know what’s actually going into your bodies to make up those macro numbers. Not only that but it’s important to realize how a food is going to affect your macros and eating for the day. Maybe you didn’t realize a food was so high in fat-now would be a good time to see if it could realistically fit into your macros for the day or what kinds of switches you may need to make. For example, I only buy fat-free yogurt because I would rather spend my fats on other things such as nut butters, oils, avocado, etc. However, when my fats got higher, I tended to buy fattier meats such as 93/7 ground turkey (rather than 99/1) in order to better fit my macros in for the day.

#2: Get a Scale

First and foremost let me just say that a scale is not 100% necessary, but it is a big step in guaranteeing as much as accuracy as possible–which can be very important in most cases of tracking macros. This is especially crucial in the beginning, when you’re first getting started with weighing, measuring, counting, etc. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, there are some things I can decently eyeball (such as avocado, veggies, or cheese) when I have to (i.e. eating out or in a rush), but even now I aim to use my scale as much as possible to ensure that I am accurate in my food tracking.

#3: Plan/Prepare Ahead

This tip can be especially helpful to those with very busy lives like myself. I know some people that put their food into their trackers as they go, but for me, it is much easier to ensure that I hit my macros and don’t stress at the end of the day, if I plan my meals out the night before. Also, going off this tip is to find a way to track your macros whether that be through an app, excel, paper, etc. I suggest using myFitnessPal (MFP) app, but there are other options as well. To plan, I just add everything that I am going to eat the next day into MFP and then if need be I can easily rearrange or add/take away foods to hit my macros rather than stuffing random foods in or going over at the end of the day. Preparing your meals also helps so that you can have meals and snacks prepared to bring do that you know you have foods to keep you on track instead of worrying about finding something macro-friendly while out and about. (**But if on occasion you have to get something out and it isn’t perfect, don’t stress!)

#4: Find foods that work for you

This one is killer! I used to always try new foods and add random foods in each week and then stress about hitting my macros each time. Instead find the foods that works for your lifestyle, your preferences, your body, and your macros and stick to them! This does NOT mean you have to eat the same old boring chicken, rice and veggies for every meal like some people think–you can still enjoy foods, eating what you like and switching things up. But, it is much easier when you stick to the foods that you know are easy to fit into your macros and then change stuff up once your macros decrease, increase or change. For example, I love oatmeal and sweet potatoes, but when my carbs got very high, I had to eat less of these. Otherwise my fiber would be in the 45-55g range–which was way too high and was causing me issues! I still incorporate sweet potatoes and oatmeal into my diet; however, I use less amounts and instead eat more white rice, cream of rice, white bagels/english muffins, etc.

#5: Be patient

Patience is key! You cannot track macros for 2 days and expect instant results–like anything in life! It may take a few weeks of experimenting, trying different splits out, until you find what works best for your body, your activity level, your lifestyle, and your goals–the answer isn’t always easily found! But don’t get discouraged because over time you will find what works for you and it will be smooth sailing (for the most part) from there. Be determined to reach your goals, be patient, and be consistent–and I promise you macros will work for you just like they do for everybody!

Good vs. Bad Food

Let me just start this off with there is NO. SUCH. THING. I just feel like I had to get that out there first to all readers whether you clicked on this because you were interested in learning more, you think there are good and bad foods, or you thought to yourself what does this *&#$ know,  I’mma prove her wrong. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you did. I have a very important message–one that is very personal to me and my experiences–that I want to share with everyone. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts that I’m going to attempt to neatly pack together so stick with me, you won’t be disappointed you did.

As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m actually eating a giant salad–what most people in the health/fitness industry would call health and #micros. Me included. There is no doubt that salads full of veggies have plenty of micronutrients as well as many healthy ingredients. But that does not mean that it is a “good” food nor that you are better than someone eating pizza, a “bad” food. During my ED, this was mentally a big obstacle I struggled facing and living. I would feel superior for eating “clean foods” and look down upon those who didn’t. I would see someone who was skinnier than me eating a burger and fries, or a slice of pie, and think ugh they eat whatever they want (“aka bad”) and still look like that, why can’t I. I’m not kidding–they were horrible thoughts (so was wanting to be as skinny as possible) and they were centered around thinking there was such thing as good and bad food.

Food is food, made up of different amounts of calories and macronutrients. And while yes some foods/meals/ingredients have more nutrition or health or benefit than others, food itself cannot make you fat or cause you to lose weight or be good/bad. Amounts and quantity does this. You could eat nothing but fruits and veggies all day, go over your caloric expenditure for the day and still gain weight (and vice versa with eating nothing but junk food but eating less and losing weight). Specific foods do not cause this therefore they have done nothing to get the label of “good” and “bad”. This is entirely something come up with by society, the diet culture/industry, etc. and it’s wrong! It leads to disordered thoughts, restriction, and overall an unhealthy and unbalanced  lifestyle. Heck this thinking even led me to staying away from white rice and white potatoes for THE longest time (even though I love white rice) because some idiot in society had deemed it “bad” or less than brown rice and sweet potatoes. It’s not bad; it has less fiber, it’s different, but it’s not bad, good, better or worse.

So now that we have established that, let’s see why people think this way. Mostly it’s because people who lost weight cut out all carbs and ate nothing but boring salads all day so we think we should follow that. Especially because that one guy ate pizza and cookies and gained weight, so we must stay away from those foods, they’re BAD. Well let me tell you the person lose the weight because cutting carbs cuts water weight and b) salads and healthier foods tend to have less calories therefore allowing person to lose weight. And the person who ate junk, ate too much of it. Again it’s the amount not the actual foods. Of course there are foods that are more or less nutritious, but that doesn’t correlate to good and bad. Everything in moderation is okay. Make sure you hear me loud and clear and understand: MODERATION IS KEY!!! Get the good vs. bad food thinking out of your mind and focus on finding a balance that is sustainable.

So here’s my suggestion when it comes to this thinking. Whether it be an 80/20, 70/30, 90/10…use this balance. Fill most of your diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, rice, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. AKA foods that have more healthy ingredients, benefits, and overall may be healthier for you.  But still find room for those items that are less nutritious too. Maybe that’s ice cream or a burger for you. For me, for the most part, it’s sugary cereal in my dessert bowls, Halo Top ice cream, and granola/granola bars; occasionally it’ll be pizza, froyo, burgers, etc. But no matter what I eat, it is not good nor is it bad. It’s food, it’s fueling my body and it’s making me happy.

Healthy, Lower Carb Substitutes

I want to provide helpful content to y’all so as I was devouring my spaghetti squash for lunch I thought why not do a post on lower-carb options? Now please note, I am not stating that carbs are bad and I am not advocating low-carb in any any!! (Unless of course you’re on prep). Carbs are GOOD, carbs are FUEL–they’re necessary for our energy, strength, functionality, etc. However, I know not everyone’s carbs can be up super high like bodybuilders, reverse dieters, those in recovery, etc. There are people out there who have a lower carb diet and don’t eat 250, 350, 350+ carbs a day. Even for those on higher carbs, these substitutes can be a good way to increase veggies and save carbs for elsewhere too. Plus they’re all too dang delicious to not try.

So with all that said, here are some ideas for lower-carb swap outs and substitutes that are just as delicious as the originals, when needed.

1. Spaghetti Squash

This one had to be first because it is my NUMBER ONE! Sorry for the all caps, but seriously if you have NOT tried it yet…just go do it. Right now, I’ll wait. To me, spaghetti squash sometimes tastes better than pasta (yes, I just said that) and it is a perfect substitute because it’s all veggie. The texture is spot on and it’s as flexible with your toppings and mix-ins as regular pasta. This is the recipe I use. You can also just cook the spaghetti squash the same way without mix-ins and add your own after it’s cooked too. You could also mix regular pasta with spaghetti squash.

2. Zoodles

Zoodles are another low-carb pasta substitute, but to me this takes a little more work and a little less exact match as the spaghetti squash, but still delicious! You will need a spiralizer of some sort to create the noodles out of the zucchini, and then either can eat them raw or cook them. I prefer to cook them a little (to soften them) with my sauce, meat, and veggie additives. You could also mix regular pasta and the zoodles too.

3. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can be substituted instead of sweet potatoes either making them as fries, cubes, chips, etc. I’ve never made fries out of them, but I do know some stores even sell them cut up like fries either fresh or frozen so check your local grocery store. I have used cubed squash though in random bowls like I would potato.

4. Lettuce Wraps/Boats

Although some people may cringe at the thought of replacing breadier (is that a word? it is now) carbs with lettuce, but it can still be done and made delicious! I have made chinese chicken wraps with lettuce and have been meaning to try taco lettuce boats (basically a taco in a cup of lettuce instead of a tortilla). Lettuce could also be used as a bun for burgers or sandwiches. They do tend to fall apart a little more if you over-stuff them, but the crunch from the wrap is great texture with the meal!

5. Salad

Lastly, I know this isn’t really a subsitute because salad is a meal/food anyway, BUT almost anything you make can be turned into a salad if lower carbs are needed. Examples include taco salad, burger salad (burger and toppings just mixed with lettuce), chinese salad, etc. Just do be careful that you don’t add too many other less-nutritious options to the salad that it actually becomes worse for you.

While I love carbs and they are definitely important and necessary, sometimes you need to eat lower carbs in life or in a situation, OR you just want to eat lower carbs. That’s okay as long as you are making sure that you are getting enough carbs for your body, your needs, your activity level, etc. These options are all veggies so they still do have carbs, but they are lower-carb substitutes for you to try. If you have any other ideas or recipes you love, please share them in the comments section below!

 

Quick and Easy Breakfasts at Work

Since I’ve started working full-time at my internship this summer, I’ve had to learn how to work around my workout, work schedule as far as eating goes. No, it’s not as easy as it was at school because I can’t whip something up fresh whenever I feel like it. This is especially true if I workout before work, which I usually do since I often am too tired to want to workout afterwards. But this means that breakfast is at my desk, and it needs to be big and filling in order to refuel my workout and fuel me for my day. (Read here for why breakfast is so important)

Because I didn’t want to get bored with food, and too much oatmeal hurts my stomach, I came up with a few creative solutions to make for breakfast at work. I make all of these the night before as I am packing my lunch and snacks for the next day, and just reheat it (if need be) at work. Now, I know not everyone’s work is the same so maybe you can’t eat at your desk/work or you don’t have a kitchen close to use and if so, some of these ideas will work and some won’t. But for the most part, I bet everyone has the access to some type of kitchen area and can make these meals work for their next breakfast at the desk! I have included my meals/recipes and occasional pictures (not the best quality since taken on my iPhone, but they work!) Also, if you don’t workout before work or need to eat at your desk, here are some other great healthier breakfast alternatives to fast food for your morning!

Let’s get to it!

1. Savory Egg/Egg White Stuffed Crepe

I found inspiration for this on Instagram, and then confirmed it to fit my needs. Also, note that my pan I cook the eggs/whites in wasn’t big enough to make it thin and crepe like, so after trying to the first time, I just made it the bottom layer of my dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg and 2-3 egg whites
  • Oatmeal/Cream of rice (amount of choice)
  • Peanut butter/Powdered Peanut Butter  (I use PB2)
  • Fruit to top (I use strawberries and bananas)

First, cook the beaten eggs/egg whites in a pan on medium heat. Cover the pan to let it cook the top too (bubbles may form, you can pop them). Check on it every minute or so and when it is cooked enough on top and bottom (usually 3-4 minutes), flip it then take off the heat. Add the egg crepe to the bottom of a tupperware.

Next, cooked oatmeal/cream of rice as says on package. I personally mix the two because I need to keep my fiber lower (I get way too much) so I do 20-30 g oatmeal and 1-1.3 servings cream of rice. While that is cooking in the microwave, cut up and prepare your fruit toppings and  seal in a plastic bag or small tupperware. Once the cream of rice/oatmeal is done, add it to the top of the crepe in the tupperware (you can also mix in protein powder before putting it onto the crepe). As far as toppings go, I add peanut butter to the tupperware meal. I have PB2 also in a small container to mix with water in the morning and then after heating up the breakfast, I add the PB2 and fruit!

2. Egg Scramble

Eggs are super easy to whip up the night before, store in a container and heat up the next morning! Add in veggies, meats, potatoes, etc! To get more carbs, I usually add hashbrowns, potatoes, and/or a tortilla to the eggs (tortilla and hashbrowns pictured). I also will toast an english muffin or bagel the MORNING OF–before leaving for my workout/work–and then just reheat at work. No, it doesn’t stay crispy, but it tastes delicious and works perfectly for me. you could also pack a packet of oatmeal or pre-made oatmeal as well to add carbs. I will also top my eggs with cheese, salsa, reduced-sugar ketchup, avocado, etc. the night before and it works well heated up still.

3. Overnight Oats

These are a classic for anyone who needs a quick, easy, and convenient breakfast in the morning! I either eat My very Berry Overnight Oats or Peanut Butter and Jelly ones (recipe below).

Ingredients

  • Rolled oats
  • 1 cup of Milk of choice (I use cashew milk)
  • Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Peanut Butter (I use natural only; Krema/Crazy Richards is my favorite)
  • Banana, sliced
  • Strawberries (other berries/fruit could be substituted here as well)

In a tupperware or container, add desired amount of rolled oats (I use 50-70 g). Add 1 cup of milk and stir around. Next, mix in desired amounts protein powder (I use 15-20g and PEScience Snickerdoodle is my go-to). Swirl/stir in the peanut butter and stick in the fridge for the next day. I add in the cut up fruit the morning of, but you could add it in the night before as well. Also, crumpling up a rice cake and mixing it in before you eat it tastes great, gives it a nice crunch, and adds extra carbs if you need them.

So there are my go-to breakfast at work! They’re all super simple, easy and delicious–just what I need for my day! If you want other suggestions and tips for staying healthy while working, check out my blog post here! Also, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them below!