Revisiting the macro puzzle & weight loss

Revisiting the macro puzzle & weight loss

The key to losing weight is diet and keeping it off requires a lifestyle change. Everyone knows unhealthy ways to shed pounds but all of these methods do not offer a permanent solution. Weight loss requires daily consistency and making health conscious decisions. In the beginning, this was so hard but over time, the newly established habits become your new norm.

When I decided that I wanted to lose weight last July, I didn’t commit to a full lifestyle change. I established a 5 day lifting schedule but refused to change my food. I continued to go out to eat and drink assuming the work that I did in the gym would outweigh my daily unhealthy food choices. False. I only lost 5 lbs during the first 90 days of my workout program. My composition changed but the scale barely moved.

Luckily, the changes in my body motivated me to take the next step which was hiring a nutrition coach. I received my macro numbers and started counting on 10/1/2021. I was not provided meals so the macro food puzzle was left up to me to put together.

I would like to remind you that I used to eat every meal out and not eat breakfast so this was a big adjustment. I was encouraged to cook meals versus a prep service because only I could control the seasoning and oil used. I could not go from 100% dining out to meal prep so I did wean myself into the diet that has now become my lifestyle.

I cooked my first round of prep meals for 4 days of lunch and dinner. I remember being completely overwhelmed because I decided to do two proteins, two carbs and two veggies. As time went on, I prepped more simply but I was scared to not have variety in the beginning because it was such a big adjustment.

Each meal included:

  • 4 oz of protein

  • 3-4 ounces of vegetables

  • 20-22g of carbs like 1/2 rice or farro or 70g yam

Meal prep blog here

These are still the serving sizes that I follow. I make daily adjustments if needed.

What else did I eat?

For breakfast, I ate an English muffin with 5g of butter and a protein shake. I eventually switched to oatmeal because so many stated it kept them "fuller longer." I encourage you to choose whichever carb you prefer to kick off your day between 20-35g. Most mornings, I would eat this breakfast and head straight to the gym.

In the beginning, I ate an RX Bar every day however I realized later on I could get more from eating egg whites and a piece of bread for the same macros. I didn't make this switch until February.

I often ate Starbucks Egg White Bites or even the Turkey Bacon Egg White sandwich for a morning snack as well.

I had a rice cake daily and usually a 28g serving of nuts (dry roasted, salt free cashews or peanuts).

I enjoyed having freedom and putting my 'macro puzzle' together daily. Above were my main staples for many months. Over time, you get tired of the same things even when you have a good amount of variety.

The simplest way to count macros would be to establish your own puzzle based on your macro breakdown and preferences and repeat it daily. I didn't want to eat the same thing everyday but both ways are correct. You have to do what works best for you. No one knows your body better than you and it is imperative to find meals that satisfy you. I am purposely overusing the word 'you' because this is all about you and your preferences. This is what worked for me but you're going to have to find what works for you. It will take some time but you'll identify the critical pieces to your macro puzzle. If you hate your meal prep, it will not be sustainable. Identify what you like and how it fits in the puzzle. Rest assured you can make changes and have as much variety as you prefer.

How did I wean into my new 'lifestyle diet?'

After I made it through my 4 days of prep meals I would have a dinner at Chipotle or Cava. I would measure ingredients and log it. What I could eat would depend on what was left in my macros. If I had fats left, I could get guacamole and the amount of rice depended on my remaining carbs. I always logged higher when in doubt. When you eat out, it's very easy to exceed fats and carbs and fail to meet your protein goal. If you have a planned meal out, keep your fats and carbs low throughout the day to help compensate for a higher calorie meal.

I would then prep again for the next few days and repeat the cycle. After a month I was able to eat 100% prep with the exception of my Starbucks snack and one fast casual measured meal a week.

I lost weight immediately when I started counting macros. I continued to lose 2-3 pounds a week for months.

At 5’6” and 159 lbs, my original macros were:

  • 200g Carbs

  • 120g Protein

  • 50g Fat

How many calories? 1700 - 1800 but it is irrelevant. The macro numbers drive your total caloric intake. Forget about calories and focus on your breakdown of protein, fat and carbs.

The other part of the diet change is the frequency of your meals. I am always eating a meal or snack every 2-3 hours. Eat smaller meals often. Forget the mindset of 3 meals a day. Always be eating and completing your macro puzzle. 

I never tracked the % of macro by meal. I tried to keep it relatively balanced but I simply completed the puzzle each day. I'm not saying my way is the superior method but it's how I did it. I do not make sure that 30% of my meals are carbs for example. I let it happen naturally and have found the foods that I prefer to eat before and after working out. It's truly changed how I view food and I now have a better understanding of what my body needs.

Remember, habits are reinforced by results. Consistently count macros for two weeks. Did you lose weight? I am suspecting yes. If not, were you consistent every day? Once you start losing weight, it's easier to make meal decisions. Use your results to fuel your motivation and discipline.

It is overwhelming at first. It is hard breaking bad habits and rewiring your brain. It can feel easier to stay the same. You may not have support to change and in fact, you may be encouraged by others to remain as-is. I assure you though that while it is difficult, it is worth it. Stick it out for a few months. Treat it like your job. Your body and your mindset are important. Take pride in properly fueling your body. Recognize that you are in the process of a physical and mental transformation.  

You get more flexibility the longer you follow the lifestyle. I stayed away from 'cheat' or 'refeed' meals the first month but added in pizza on Friday nights. This meal lets your body know that you're not going to starve it. The trick with this meal is that it's a meal and it doesn't mean the weekend. Do not erode your weekday success for two days of binging. Choose one night where you have some wine and your special meal. It takes discipline and setting boundaries but you are capable. How bad do you want results? Your daily actions determine your success and the length of time it will take to achieve. 

I promise that I am still working on my macro meal planning program. I'm not a nutritionist but I will share what worked for me. My goal is to have this available in August.

Up next: Filters, editing and angles - why my content is raw


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