Chasing that Bikini Bod? Make Macro-tracking your Best Friend is a piece by Waithera Mbugua
In the words of my favorite fitness influencer on IG, eating healthy should be a lifestyle, not a life sentence. When most people start their fitness journey, they eliminate almost all foods they deem unhealthy – wheat, rice, and all carbs in general. Uum for me, life without chapo is really not worth living. And because I like looking and feeling great – YOLO – I found ways to eat my chapo and still maintain my ideal weight and that, my friends, is in macro-tracking.
So, macros… we have, for the better part of our formative years been taught the three main food groups that the body needs to stay healthy and strong; Carbohydrates for energy, Proteins for body-building, and Vitamins for immunity. What they forgot to mention was fats… healthy fats, found in avocado, nuts, and cheese among other foods.
What are Macronutrients?
They are nutrients from three food groups that fuel your body – protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. These our body needs in various quantities depending on a few factors such as activity level, and so they make up the bulk of what you should eat daily. Vitamins are micronutrients – not unimportant in any way, but the body doesn’t need them in the same quantities as macronutrients. That said, please eat all the leafy greens your body can handle and your skin will thank you.
Now, let’s break down the three main food groups.
- Carbohydrates – Energy-giving Foods
No healthy diet will require you to skip these as they are the main source of energy for the body and we all need that to do anything worthwhile, right? The devil is in the details. What makes up good carbohydrates? Basically, anything that is not processed will be more beneficial to the body that its processed counterpart. Beans, oats, squash, quinoa, rice – white or brown – chapatti – in moderation – and potatoes – sweet or Irish – are some great sources of carbohydrates. Interestingly – and most people don’t realize this – some veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, and root veggies do contain carbohydrates.
- Protein – Build that Muscle
Want to build some muscle? Then you really need to up your intake of protein. While each gram of protein contains about four calories – depending on the source, 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight is the recommended amount per day for a person that doesn’t spend half their day in the gym. Physically active people need more – 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilo of body weight a day. So if you weigh 60kgs, you’re looking at 120 grams of protein a day. That, and a stellar workout plan, will help you get that coveted body you can take to the beach on holiday. How do you know when you’ve hit your target? We’ll get to that soon.
- Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are underrated, yet they are boost metabolism, elevate the mood, and regulate hormones. Some readily available sources include avocado, nuts – macadamia, peanuts – dark chocolate, cheese, oily fish, chia and sunflower seeds, and eggs. You want to eat this in moderation because too much of any of them would be counterproductive.
Tracking your Macros
Macro goals vary from one person to the next as they are determined by your activity level, height and weight, age, and goals. Let’s take the most common caloric requirement – 2000 calories per day. This is the average for a typical adult who wants to maintain healthy weight. If this person wants to shed some fat, then they’d need to eat at a 20% deficit, which puts their caloric needs at 1,600 calories a day. One of the most popular macro-tracking apps, My Fitness Pal, recommends a 50-25-25 ratio for carbs, proteins, and fats. Note: this changes depending on your needs. You could reduce your carb intake by 20% and increase protein to 30%.
Now, the math to help with macro-tracking: every gram of carbs contains 4 calories and the same for proteins, while a gram of fat is 9 calories.
Macros per day for a 1,600-calorie diet will look as below;
50% Carbohydrates: 1600*50% = 800 calories and 200g
25% Protein: 1600*25% = 400 calories and 100g
25% Fat: 1600*25% = 400 calories and 44g
Once you have these numbers, feed them on your preferred macro tracker and start entering each meal you eat to see how much of these macros your meal contains. If you make this a habit, you will not only manage your weight like a pro, but you’ll also develop a healthy relationship with food. Apart from My Fitness Pal, you have Lose It, Fitocracy, My Macros+, and Nutritionist.
How Long till you get that Bikini Bod? Well, people lose weight at varying rates, but a 0.8-1.2kgs loss a week is considered healthy. If you couple macro-tracking with a regular workout regime, then you will be fit enough to summit Mt. Kenya with your squad!