meal prep tips

JUST ASK JO: How do you figure out your macros?

QUESTION: 

Hey! I’ve been following you for awhile and I hear you talk about macros. How do you figure all of that out?
Thanks!

Thanks,

Emily

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ANSWER:

Macros are defined by your goal, and they have to be calculated according to your lifestyle, weight, and some other info. That's why macros are different for every individual.

A macronutrient is a type of food (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the human diet. 
— Webster Dictionary

Many people make the mistake of restricting their caloric intake to an extreme in order to achieve a specific goal. However, your body needs all the macronutrients not only to feed itself and fulfill certain biological processes but to have the necessary energy for your lifestyle and daily tasks. In addition, you can't forget about the energy you need to exercise and the nutrients you'll need to rebuild your muscles after you've trained. Especially if you're training hard!

I don't count my macros are strict as I used to like back in my competition days. But from time to time I do like to plug in my food intake into My Fitness Pal to see if my intuitive eating is aligned with science.

There are tons of Macro Calculators online, but the best one that I have found is through IIFYM (https://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/). It's really easy and walks you through all the steps. You'll first want to calculate your TDEE by inputting all the required information: age, height, weight, activity level, and goals. A lot of this is based upon your daily activities and the amount of exercise you can realistically commit to.

SO YOU'VE CALCULATED YOUR MACROS NOW WHAT...

Once you've calculated your macros, the fun begins. You can either have IIFYM create a meal plan for you or you can create your own meal plans that fit your macros using My Fitness Pal.  When I was competing I had coaches who would do all the calculations for me and adjustments. As you continue on your macro counting journey you'll want to check your progress every two weeks and adjust your macros accordingly. Your body will evolve as your exercise levels continue to progress, you'll want to make sure your macronutrient intake evolves with it. 

The other thing you can do is count your macros throughout the day while keeping your eating more flexible. So what I mean by that is: plug in the macros that were calculated for you into an app like My Fitness Pal, then start inputting your food and meals throughout the day. As you do this you'll notice that your tracker will tell you how many macros you have left to "spend" for that day. Personally, I don't like this method because I don't have the control to plan out my meals ahead of time and it would probably stress me out if I had XX amount of protein left to eat and it was already 8PM and close to my bedtime. Some people love this because it's more flexible than prepping meals. For some its stress inducing. 

A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

What are macros?

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Macros are short for macronutrients. By definition, a macronutrient is a type of food (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the human diet. There are three main ones: proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. Alcohol is considered a macronutrient as well. You can learn how to calculate that into your meal plans here.

The one thing to keep in mind is that in the world of macros, a carb is carb whether it comes from sugar or starch. But that doesn't mean to go crazy and eat candy or baked goods to meet your target macros. So use trust your intuition and go for the foods you believe will fuel you properly. I mean is a pop tart going to fuel you the same as a sweet potato or brown rice? Probably not. The same goes for fats, but we all know that there are good fats and healthy fats. Stick to the good ones

Everyone's philosophy on food is different.

The reason why our society is so confused about nutrition and food is that everyone's food philosophy is different and every diet contradicts another. Macro counting is not a diet, but it is a form of understanding your body's needs on a level that can be calculated by macronutrients.

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IN CONCLUSION

What I suggest is to test out macro counting for a few months to see if that works with your lifestyle, your goals, and keep a food-mood journal while you're counting your macros. Your food-mood journal is a tool for you to start learning how to listen to your body and it's messages. Jot down what you eat and how you feel, both right after the meal and two hours later. Try it for a week! Notice how your body feels and how the changes of certain macros affect your mood.

Hope this helps! I'd love to hear from you. Do you count your macros? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to meal prep like a BOSS!

The most questions I get about own fitness journey is around meal prepping and meal planning. They typically are "How do you start?" "Where you start?" "How do you know what to prep for?"

Now first and foremost I think the most important thing to remember about nutrition plans is that proper ones are personalized and catered to the individual's goals. Not everyone's meal plans will be the same because not everyone's body is the same nor are their goals. As far as what you'll see me lean towards more often when creating my meal plans are simple meals that don't require a ton of prep and are not a lot of fuss when it comes to eating. My meals are typically animal protein enriched and a balance of carbs and fats. If you're looking for some recipe ideas feel free to check out my Food + Recipes section or #gofiteats on Instagram. 

So here are some things to note before you get started, I like to eat the same variation of proteins for 2 weeks and will switch up the proteins depending if I'm getting bored. I do this so that I can see if there's any physical reactions to the things I'm eating such as bloating, lack of energy, too much food, not enough food, etc. I spent about a year and a half prepping for body building competitions and because of that experience I've become more in-tuned with what works with my body. For example, I function better when I have healthy fats in my diet, so I don't cut out olive oil, avocado, nuts, or fatty fish. I have a rule of about 30% of my diet requires that when I'm trying to maintain my current health state or gain more muscle. If I'm trying to lean out or cut down, I'll reduce my fats to about 20%, but only for a small period each time to make sure that I'm not completely denying my body of important macro nutrients. 

I'm 33 years old, 5'2" currently weighing 110lbs and trying to gain about 5lbs of lean muscle mass with no specific target date. My daily macros should be around 1700-1900 calories for this target and I'm following a 40/40/20 rule, meaning that my carbs make up 40%, protein makes up 40%, and fats make up 20% of my daily intake. I like to eat about 1 or 2 really good refeed meals per week. I like to refer my eat whatever the heck I want to meals, as refeed meals vs cheat meals because cheat meals sound as if you're doing something bad when eating a meal outside of your regular plan. Refeed meals are a method that helps to increase the leptin in the body which can help increase metabolism for fat loss. It also helps keep people committed by giving them a small break in their nutrition plans especially while on a weight loss plan. 

Remember folks, food isn't earned; its fuel. Our bodies are earned. 

I'm breaking down my meals for this upcoming week of October 17th - October 22nd.

Below is my macro breakdown for the week. Here are some things that I'll be looking out for as I work through this plan before I make any adjustments:

  • How do I feel before and after a workout?
  • Is this enough food or is it too much food?
  • Am I craving anything outside of this, such as sugars, fats, salts, etc.? (these cravings is your body telling you something, pay attention to it)

Steps for a successful meal prep

Step 1: Plan your meals for the week around your life schedule.

People often start their meal planning feeling like its a chore already because they are looking at it as yet another thing to change or add to in their life. I'd like to suggest to pick a day that you can commit to prepping 3-4 days out of the week worth of food. This way you can keep things fresh and in the event that you want to switch up the flavor of your meal you have a mid week day that you can prep a whole new set of menu items out of the meal plan you've created. Also make a list of the things in your life that are non negotiable and where you might need to eat outside of your meal plan. I touched briefly on this in an Instagram post with regards to the things you love and want to do more of vs the things you're already doing. So now you're going to do this with your meal planning. 

Take out your calendar and start to add the things that you have to do and might require for you to eat out on those days such as meetings, dinners with friends, etc. If you're really working towards a goal, then I would suggest to only have one or two of these social functions in your calendar that will "get in the way" of your fitness goals. Spread those social outings out throughout the month if you can. 

Then start to plan your breakfasts, lunch, snacks, and dinners. 

Prepping meals are great for travel too.

Prepping meals are great for travel too.

Step 2: Make a Grocery List

Now that you know what you want to cook, it's time to list down those items and go shopping. Take inventory of what you already have in both your fridge and pantry so that you're not buying more of what you don't need or already have available to you.

If you wanna try what I made for the week feel free to copy this list of groceries:

Fruits

  • Strawberries
  • Bananas

Veggies

  • Green Beans 
  • Salad Mix (its a staple for us)
  • Asparagus
  • Lemons

Protein

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • White Fish: tilapia, cod, catfish, or swai

Dairy

  • Eggs or Egg Whites
  • Greek Yogurt

Grains & Good Carbs

  • Oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Sweet Potato (another staple, in case mid week I get tired of rice I'll swap to sweet potato)
  • Rice

Etc

  • Protein bars
  • Protein powder

Step 3: Prepare your kitchen for prepping your meals

When I meal prep I like my kitchen counters clear, my kitchen sink emptied and cleaned out, pots and pans ready to go, and my meal prep containers and scale ready for my 2 hours in the kitchen. I also have my cutting board, knives, and any other items I need out to make things quick and easy when it comes to step 5. 

Step 4: Cook like a MOFO

One you have your kitchen all set up start the cooking. I love to grill most of my chicken or use recipes similar to my Lemon Basil Chicken that require one pan to make things really easy. When I'm using my grill I can grill up several proteins at the same time like chicken and steak while the rice is boiling or the potatoes are cooking in the oven. Strategize your meal planning so that you can use several different cooking elements simultaneously so you don't feel like you're in there for days! One other meal prep hack: grilled veggies are bomb dot com and anything on the gril is amazing because you don't have any pans to wash off. 

Step 5: Measure out your meals and pack them away!

Now that all the cooking is done its time to measure all the items, wait for it to cool down a little, and pack it away. I find a lot of power in meal prepping because its that day where you've realized that you've already done something healthy for yourself every day of the week. It's that moment of gratitude and feeling of accomplishment that really helps to start your week of the right foot.

Hope this helps and comment below if you have any tips for meal prepping, I'd love to hear them!