Macro counting is helpful for me for a lot of reasons. You can read more about what macros are and how they work here. The biggest help for me is making sure I am eating enough carbs and fats to support my training. I think with the popularity of low carb diets, over the years it just became my default to eat a lot of veggies and protein. I use My Fitness Pal to track. I do not pay for the premium version, it isn’t worth it for me personally.
However macros are also extremely helpful when you are away from your kitchen and don’t have control over your food, but still want to make balanced choices. We all get a certain amount of protein, carbs, fats – eventually adding up to calories – that our bodies can handle in a day. By counting macros, it is much easier for me to eat out and enjoy my food, without feeling like I can only order the dry grilled chicken with steamed veggies.
For the most part, if I am on vacation, I really don’t worry about counting. There was a period there for a while when I was WAY too attached to tracking my food. I think I’ve gotten much better at being more balanced about it these days. It’s not stressful for me to not track my food anymore – I eat until I’m full, and I have bites of whatever I want. Sometimes I overeat, and that’s ok too. This Sunday was a good example of where traveling and macros come in handy. We had been in Tahoe for the Friday and Saturday. I indulged in wine, burgers, chips, cookies, ect. I didn’t count or measure anything. Sunday we were just driving home, and I wanted to eat within my normal ranges.
I woke up starving, and John said he would stop by Starbucks for me. I got a medium coffee with nonfat milk, and a reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich. These are SO tasty!!! I guesstimated about a quarter cup nonfat milk for 21 calories/.1F/3C/2P
Macros: 230 calories/6F/28C/16P
I wasn’t hungry until lunch – which was Taco Bell. John absolutely loves Taco Bell haha! I really like it too. Their Fresco menu has a lot of really “macro friendly” items on it. But I was REALLY craving a quesadilla. Taco Bell also has a really great online nutrition calculator. I don’t like the jalapeño sauce on the their quesadilla – so I just looked up what the macros would be for a chicken quesadilla without the sauce, and that is what I put in My Fitness Pal.
Macros: 440 calories/20F/37C/27P
My Fitness Pal has a lot of items already in the database. However sometimes customized orders might not be in there, or they might not be correct. My Fitness Pal will let you add custom foods – which was what I did for the no sauce-quesadilla.
Go to add a new food, hit my foods & click create a custom food on the bottom:
Then you just fill in the screens. I don’t worry about all the other stuff outside of carbs/fat/protein. Sometimes I will do sodium and such, but usually not.
By the time we got home and unpacked, going to the grocery store for fresh veggies wasn’t in the cards. Chipotle it was. I got a burrito bowl. Chipotle also has a nutrition calculator. I got a chicken, brown rice, black beans and fajita veggies.
Macros: 530 calories/14F/62C/44P
These three meals are a total of 1200 calories/40F/127C/87P
I got hungry in between meals and snacked on an apple and a Quest bar. From Friday morning to Monday morning, my weight actually went down a little bit.
I’m not saying eat fast food every meal of the day all the time. Would fat from nuts and avocados have been better than fat from Taco Bell cheese? Yes. However, that doesn’t mean you can NEVER have Taco Bell. You should be eating whole foods with a lot of nutrients more often than you are eating take out/processed food. You don’t have to track every morsel that passes your lips, but it is also ok to track your food. As you can see here, it actually gave me MORE freedom.
I hope that helps those of you traveling this summer! What are your favorite fast food places?