When looking to enjoy the holidays while still keeping an eye on what you eat, here are some ways to track your macros in order to not let your gains slip.
With the holiday season fast approaching, it is important for us to take a look back at the year we had and see all of that hard work and progress paid off. Sure you may have hit some bumps along the way, overindulged here and there, but you made the conscious effort to keep plugging away at your bodybuilding goals in order to see those gains you desire most come to fruition. Now with family events and reconnecting with old friends, some of those old habits you thought you kicked may creep back in. But don’t fear, there is a way to still keep your progress without sacrificing any of your gains.
Counting your macros and keeping track of what you eat can really help you keep off some unwanted weight this holiday season. You don’t have to be super strict with this and count every single detail, although you can if you want to, but it is a good idea to at least have a gauge of where you’re at, especially after all of that progress you worked for. Setting certain calorie or macros goals for yourself is one sure way to make sure you hit your goals.
The benefits of tracking your macros are great and will of course help physically, but also mentally, giving you confidence to know your routine is starting to work for you. By promoting weight loss and improving your diet quality, you are setting yourself up for whatever comes next by choosing more healthy, more sustainable foods to increase exercise performance and those big lifts. Helping you stay organized and on track is just one way to offer structure to our otherwise busy lives, but structure that can transfer over to other aspects of our lives since our diet encourages a better lifestyle overall.
What Are Macros?
Macros, short for macronutrients, are three basic aspects of every diet and include the “big three” groups of foods being protein, carbs, and fat. These are considered macronutrients because they are needed in large quantities, as opposed to micronutrients which our bodies can run on little of them. The highest percentage of each is how the food is classified (1). For example, if chicken has roughly 20g of protein, 1-2 grams of fat, and 0g carbs, then it is classified as a protein source. Each has their own unique role and function in our bodies and should be taken seriously when we consume them.
Quick Breakdown Of Macros
The building blocks of the cell, protein is pivotal in the role of muscle building and maintenance, recovery, and appetite control. A necessary component of muscle growth (2), protein must be present to see those big gains come to fruition. Consisting of 20 amino acids, there are nine that are essential meaning they have to be consumed by food, so getting adequate amounts of protein for your body is key.
Carbs are the body’s main source of energy and are necessary for your brain to fire on all cylinders. Carbs are made from starch, fiber, and sugar which your body breaks down into glucose which can then be used as energy to power any grueling workouts or just get you through the day (3).
Fats are vital for brain development and assist in hormone production as well as the bioavailability of fat soluble vitamins (4). Requiring more energy to burn, fats aid in body temperature control but also can increase the feeling of fullness to keep you from snacking on unwanted calories.
Best Ways To Track
Figure Out Macro Ratio And Calorie Count
To figure out the amount of calories you need to consume, it is vital to determine your resting energy expenditure and your non-resting energy expenditure. It is also important for you to accurately gauge your output level when it comes to exercise so you know how many calories are leaving your body by working out, on top of what you burn naturally. Depending on your diet, when you go to break down your macro ratio, figure out what works best for you. If you are seeking to build muscle, you will definitely want more protein. For someone on a ketogenic diet, more fat and fewer carbs will be sought after.
With so many apps out there to help you track, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that works great for you. If going the hand-written route is more your speed, then grab a journal and start writing. It is really all a personal preference, as long as it is accessible to you, then you will be well on your way to successfully tracking your macros.
Look Into A Food Scale
A food scale can be a great tool to help you determine the weight of foods that don’t have a nutrition label or some identifying feature so you can accurately continue to track them. Inexpensive, small, and convenient, these are great to keep in your kitchen drawer.
Keep Yourself Accountable
It can be so challenging to want to snack and drink and munch away on that great holiday food, but keep yourself accountable and don’t let any distraction ruin your goals. Remember what got you to where you are and keep that hard work and determination in mind when you look at the dessert table. You can enjoy those sweet treats, but only in moderation, in order to keep your bodybuilding goals alive and well.
The holiday season can be a blast, reuniting with family and friends, especially after this roller coaster of a year we’ve had. With so many temptations creeping up on us, it is important we hold onto our goals as best we can so as to not ruin all that hard work we’ve done throughout the year. Counting our macros can be helpful in keeping us on track while still enjoying this much valued time with those we love.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Vergnaud, Anne-Claire; Norat, Teresa; Mouw, Traci; Romaguera, Dora, et al. (2013). “Macronutrient Composition of the Diet and Prospective Weight Change in Participants of the EPIC-PANACEA Study”. (source)
- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
- Jequier, E. (1994). “Carbohydrates as a source of energy”. (source)
- Milner, John A.; Allison, Richard G. (1999). “The Role of Dietary Fat in Child Nutrition and Development: Summary of an ASNS Workshop”. (source)