In today’s episode, I discuss the difference between calorie counting and macro counting. You’ll walk away understanding the hierarchy of nutrition and how you can benefit from paying attention to macronutrients. If you’re looking to feel more balanced with your food choices, remove the morality of food, and make nutrition something that is both enjoyable and sustainable, this episode is for you! So let’s dive in.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/143
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- Macro Counting (3:19, 40:27, 52:45)
- Macros 101 (4:21, 44:04)
- Calories and the three main macronutrients (7:52, 10:09, 16:55)
- How the hierarchy of nutrition impacts your body composition (11:43)
- Fat, carbohydrates and protein (17:43, 20:17, 22:20)
- Reasons why paying attention to macronutrients is so beneficial (25:14)
- No. 1: Macro counting helps you maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss (26:32)
- No. 2: Macro counting helps you to keep your food choices balanced (33:25)
- No. 3: Macro counting helps to remove food labels, the morality of food (36:58)
- No. 4: Macro counting is both enjoyable and sustainable (50:17)
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 143
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
What's the difference between calorie counting and macro counting? 0:47
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And today we're talking about a topic that I get asked about a lot. When people start hearing about this term macro counting, it's very natural to start comparing it to things that you already know. And many of us have heard of calorie counting, maybe you grew up with your mom counting calories and that's something that you're very familiar with and you understand. And so this question naturally arises, well, what's the difference between calorie counting and macro counting? And why do I teach my clients macro counting to use as a tool in their finished journey? And that's the question that I'm going to be answering on today's podcast episode. That means by the end of this episode, you will understand a little bit better the tool of macro counting, why it can be so effective in your journey, why it's something that I highly encourage my clients to utilize in their journey and how it can really change the game when it comes to body composition changes. So that means not only fat loss, which many women want, but also gaining more muscle and body composition kind of encompasses both of them, it's essentially changing the way that your body looks. So when you look in the mirror, you look physically different. Because of those body composition changes. And macro counting is really great for improving your body composition. And being able to reach some of those fitness goals.
The value of understanding the why 2:20
So by the end of this, this podcast episode, you're going to understand that you're going to understand the why behind it. And I think understanding the why is so valuable. Once we understand the why it can be easier to start to talk about the how to and the strategies and you know the next steps, but you have to understand the why to really be invested in something or to really put the effort into it. And there is effort that is required with counting macros, it's a tool and there's effort required with utilizing that tool. And when you understand it, you understand the value, it's you can realize that it's not wasted effort, that effort that you are putting in is not wasted, it is in line with the result that you would like, and it becomes a lot easier to invest that effort, invest that money, invest that time, invest that energy, when you can understand how it's moving you a lot closer to the goals that you have set for yourself.
Macro counting as a tool and not as a diet 3:19
Now if learning how to utilize macro counting in your unique journey, because I say this over and over again. But macro counting is a tool, there's not just one way to do it. It's not a diet. Diets, and we're gonna talk a little bit about this in today's episode, but diets have a right way to do them and a wrong way to do them. And it has lists of things you can do and things you can't do, things you can eat, things you can eat, timing, where you can eat and timing when you can't eat. And that's a diet and there's a right way to do it and there's a wrong way to do it. And we're going to talk about how sometimes people bring that mentality into macro counting the macro counting isn't that way it is a tool, and it can be utilized in a bajillion different ways and customized to you, your body, the goals that you have set for yourself and what you want to put into the process. And so macro counting is not monolithic. It's not just one thing. It can be a lot of different things based on how you utilize that tool.
Macros 101 4:21
And if learning how to utilize that tool for your unique journey is something that is interesting to you. That's exactly what I teach my clients inside of Macros 101. So Macros 101 is my signature coaching program, where I help you to learn how to take this tool of macro counting, and utilize it to be able to create a customized, enjoyable and effective plan. Right? So we want both, we want it to be enjoyable. And we also want it to be effective. I want you to reach your goals. And so often, many of the women who come to me have some experience in the past where they really believe it's either or like either it can be enjoyable, or it can be effective, and it can't be both. And what I help clients to find is that middle ground where enjoyability and effectiveness overlap, and you're able to have both. And you're able to utilize macro counting, again, in a unique way. You like the way that you use it for your body and your goals, and your lifestyle is going to be different from somebody else. And so that's what we do inside of Macros 101, we only open the doors a couple of times a year, that allows us to really serve our clients at a higher level, we invest a lot of time in coaching, because coaching is what really helps women to get the breakthrough that they need. Coaching is taking content, learning knowledge, and making sure you're able to apply it. That's what we do with coaching. And so because we have such in-depth coaching, we only open the doors a couple of times a year so that we can really serve those women who join at a very high level. And the last time we're going to be opening doors in 2021 is August 30. So if you are not on the waitlist for Macros 101, I highly suggest getting on there. That's who we open the doors to first we give the waitlist people first for sure of joining the program. So when you get on the waitlist, it doesn't, you're not committed to anything. There's no like, there's no commitment other than putting your name and email. There's no real commitment. But what it allows you to do is to be able to hear about the opening first and be able to say yes, I want to join and get in the program and get started. So if you have not yet joined the waitlist, go to bicepsafterbabies.com/waitlist. And we'll be opening doors on August 30.
The value of paying attention to specific macronutrients over calorie counting 6:36
All right, so let's dive into the topic at hand. What the heck is macro counting? Why should I do it? Why is it valuable? Why is it beneficial? Why should I put my time, money and energy into this tool? How is it going to benefit me? And how is it different from counting calories, again, something that most of us have grown up understanding, we understand counting calories. And we're gonna talk about how we can take that concept and apply it one step further and why there is value. I am not one of these people who's like more is better. You've probably heard me say a lot of times on the podcast that more is not better, more is just more. So sometimes we get into this belief that the more complicated something is, the harder it is, the more moving pieces there are, the better something works. And I want to reject that notion full out because it's not true. The more complex something is, the more complex it is. It doesn't necessarily make it any better. And so moving from calorie counting to macro counting is not about adding more. It's not about making it more complex. It's not about making it harder and that's why it's so effective. But we are going to talk about why there is value in going from calorie counting to actually paying attention to specific macronutrients. And that's what we're going to be talking about today.
So let's start with some basic concepts so we're all starting from the same foundation. What is the difference between calories and macronutrients? So calories, again, as most people understand is that our when we eat food, our body extracts energy from that food and utilizes that energy to be able to breathe our heart, go for a run, stand up all day, right our bodies is utilizing energy and so we have to have an energy input in order to then have that energy output. And so calories is the energy that our body extracts when we eat food. And, you know, you can look on the back of a package and you can find out how many calories are in it. And if you want to find out how many calories are in an apple, you can go to a you know a calorie database and find out how many calories are in an apple and how much energy your body is extracting from that food. So then, when we take that one step further, we start to understand that not everything that is in our food, gives us calories, your vitamins, the vitamins that are in your food, don't give you calories. The minerals that are in your food don't give you calories. What gives you calories in your food are essentially the macronutrients and there are three main macronutrients and one like other macronutrients that we'll talk about as well, but three main macronutrients and that is your fat, your protein, and your carbohydrates. Those are the parts of your food that your body extracts energy from. It's the things that we need to eat macro meaning large, so the things that we need to eat the nutrients that we need to eat in large quantities that our body utilizes fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Now there is a fourth macronutrient it is not an essential macronutrient and that is alcohol. So alcohol is actually its own macronutrient and is the fourth macronutrient but it's not one obviously, I've never drank alcohol, you can go your entire life, not drinking alcohol and be completely fine. But it is one of the macronutrients and has a different composition to the other three macronutrients.
Macronutrients contribute calories 10:09
So when we understand okay, carbs give our food calories, protein gives our food calories and carbohydrates give our food calories, we can start to realize, too, that they give our body different amounts of calories. A gram, if you remember back to your science class, a gram is a unit of measurement. So that unit of measurement is a weight, one gram is a weight. And so we can tell, we can know that, hey, if I have one gram of fat, so let's pretend you took some butter and you took a gram of butter, which is essentially all fat. That gram of butter would give your body nine calories. So one gram of fat is equivalent to nine calories, our body extracts nine calories from that gram of fat. Now for protein, it is four calories per gram. So if you take, let's say some chicken and you take one gram of chicken, your body is going to extract around four calories from that gram of protein. And it's the same for carbohydrates, your body extracts about four calories per gram of carbohydrate. So nine calories per gram for fat, four calories per gram for carbohydrate, and four calories per gram, or protein. And then for the fourth macronutrient, which is alcohol, it's actually seven calories per gram. Okay? So we understand calories are where our body gets energy from, and macronutrients are just really the different parts of our food that contribute calories.
How the hierarchy of nutrition impacts your body composition 11:43
Now, why is this important? Like, again, why do I care? Why can't I just pay attention to overall calories? And that's a really great question, because, and this is where I'm going to kind of take a side tangent, and we're going to come back, and we're going to answer that question that I just posed. But when we start to talk about creating physical change, when we start talking about creating body composition change, we have what is known as the hierarchy of nutrition. So I want you to imagine a pyramid with a wide base and a little top. And on the hierarchy of nutrition, the things that are lower on the pyramid, right, so the wider base, play more of a role in your body composition changes than the things at the top, there isn't just one thing, that is the end all be all, when it comes to body composition, there's multiple factors. But that doesn't mean that all of those factors matter as much. So there's different relativity in how impactful they are in changing your body composition.
Calories in vs. calories out 12:55
So for the hierarchy of nutrition, at the base of the pyramid, we have calories in versus calories out. And you've probably heard this a ton right? Weight loss isn't a matter of calories in versus calories out. Now, that's a very simplified explanation, but to an extent, yes, that is how the laws of thermodynamics work. If you expend more energy than you take in, you will see weight loss. If you take in more energy than you expend, you will see weight gain. And if you take in the same amount of energy as you expend, then you will see maintenance, okay, so that is at the base of the pyramid and meaning that is one of the most important influential factors in body composition changes.
Now one step up from those calories are macronutrients. So paying attention to how many protein versus carbs versus fat you are taking in, and why macronutrients are so important. And I'm gonna dive into this a little bit deeper and just here in a minute. But macronutrients determine what is gained or lost. So calories determine whether or not you lose or gain and macronutrients play a role in what is lost or gained. Are you losing fat? Are you losing muscle? Are you losing bone tissue? Are you losing water? Like what are you losing or gaining and your macronutrients contribute to that significantly, we're going to put a pin in that we're going to come back to that but I want to keep moving up the hierarchy of nutrition. So the base is calories in versus calories out. The second level is macronutrients.
The third level is micronutrients. So I mentioned there are things in your food that don't actually have calories, things like your vitamins, things like minerals, and those are important for our bodies to perform and to run well. We all know that our body needs nutrition, needs nutrients, not just macronutrients, but we need those micronutrients as well, right. Eating vegetables, as is beneficial, eating fruit is beneficial. These give us some of those vitamins and minerals that our body needs in smaller quantities, but that are still really essential for us performing and being fully fed nutritional wise. So then number three is micronutrients.
Meal timing 15:16
One step up from that is meal timing, that people get really wrapped up with meal timing, you know, is there an anabolic window? Do I have to eat a certain amount of time with, you know, after a workout? What happens if I intermittent fast? Is it better if I eat in the morning or the evening? Should I stop eating up, you know, before 7pm? A lot of questions I get all the time around meal timing or nutrition timing and by the time you're getting up to nutrition timing, it is just the impact that it has on progress towards your goals is so very small. And what I find is that people focus on nutrition timing without focusing on everything else that is underneath nutrition timing on the pyramid. And so you're putting effort into something that moves the needle very small.
And then the last step up from that, at the very top of the pyramid are supplements. And again, supplements like move the needle, maybe like one to 2% they just don't move the needle that much. And yet, people spend a lot of time and money on supplements, you can just like spend money and ingest them. And so a lot of times people will just throw money at supplements thinking that they're the magic bullet when in reality, again, they're at the very top of the pyramid. If you have everything dialed in below that on the pyramid, then you know maybe supplements can provide that last, that last like a couple of percent. But there is no way that you should be focusing on crazy supplements before you have everything below that in the pyramid actually dialed in.
More about macronutrients 16:55
Okay, so let's go back down to our macronutrients. Because what I said previously was that calories in versus calories out, determine fat loss or determine whether you lose or gain and macronutrients determine what you lose or gain. So the reason behind that, so that you understand that a little bit more, is because each macronutrient does something a little bit different inside of your body. They have different roles. There's a reason that we have carbs, there's a reason that we have protein, and there's a reason that we have fat and they do different things inside of your body. So let's run through that. So that you have an understanding of why it would make sense that we need to have a certain amount of each of these important nutrients to be able to run our body most effectively and efficiently.
Let's start with fat. So fat is a macronutrient. That is very calorically dense, if you remember, fat has nine calories per gram versus carbs and protein which has four calories per gram. So it is more calorically dense. However, it plays a very important role in our body, especially when it comes to hormone production. So one of the things I see oftentimes is when women drop their fat too low, and this happens a lot when people just start counting calories, they start cutting out fat, I don't know how many you guys remember the low fat craze of the 90's. We made this leap in logic that because fat is calorically dense, that if we just went fat free on everything, then we would be able to lose weight. And it didn't work out the way that we thought it but I remember that like low fat calories I grew up on like margarine, not butter. Actually remember when I got into college and actually started purchasing butter instead of margarine, but I grew up on margarine. I grew up on my mom substituting applesauce for fat. So like when she was cooking bread, she would substitute in apple sauce to be able to cut the fat down. I remember one time in particular, she was so funny, she made a pie. And she took out the shortening in the crust because I had a lot of fat and she substituted applesauce for the shortening and the crust. Oh my gosh. Like I still remember when we went we'd like the pie to look delicious. And so we went to eat it. And my mom literally couldn't cut the crust. It was like rubber. It was just rubber and you could not eat it. And that to me is just like the epitome of this low fat craze that we went through in the back in the 90's. But fat plays a really important role in hormone production and you need hormone balance in order to help your body to release fat. And so a problem comes when women cut their fats too low they often will have issues with hormone production. Fat also helps you to absorb nutrients. There are fat soluble vitamins that our body needs in our dietary fat in order to absorb those vitamins from those foods. So fat is really important. And you can see that you don't really want to go too low on fat. Of course, you don't want to go too high on fat because when you go too high, we have overall increased caloric consumption, which can cause weight gain. So there's a sweet spot, right? Not too low on fat, not to rely on fat.
Moving on to carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, our body utilizes glucose, which is a carbohydrate as the main source for energy. So our body really likes to run on glucose, it is a quick, efficient way for our body to utilize energy. And so a lot of things that, you know, carbohydrates are easy to convert into glucose, which is what our body runs on. And fats actually can be converted to glucose, as well as protein. Protein can also be converted to glucose. And that is because our body really likes glucose, it likes to run on glucose. So when you start thinking about things like keto, there's a reason that keto, that our bodies don't shut down when we go on keto. And that is because our bodies can take that excess fat that you're eating and actually convert it into carbohydrates to be able to use. And so that's what happens, your body can convert it into glucose, it can also use ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver when there's not enough insulin, and it's an alternate energy source that your body can use. But our body doesn't prefer to use ketones. It's kind of a backup, it's like the backup energy source, our body prefers to use glucose. So carbohydrates are very beneficial for energy. And for anybody who is doing any kind of performance. Working out of the gym, lifting weights, running, you are going to do so much better if you have carbohydrates if you are being fueled by carbohydrates. And so when we start talking about performance, carbohydrates are very important for feeling like you have enough energy, being able to perform well, being able to have quick access to energy when it comes to that energy expenditure. So we want to make sure that we have enough carbohydrates. But again, we want to make sure we don't have too many carbohydrates, because then we start getting into weight gain. So there is again a sweet spot for the amount of carbohydrates that our body needs without going too high.
And then the third macronutrient is protein. Protein is utilized in our body to repair tissue. So yes, it can be utilized to, you know, build muscle, it can also be utilized in our ligaments and our joints, to be able to constantly repair itself. You know, as we go through the day, we're breaking down tissue, and our body's repairing it. Kind of like our skin, how you know, our skin, like, turns over every so many days. Because that's just how our body runs, we're constantly repairing it. And that repair process is done with the amino acids from protein. So when proteins break down, it's broken down into amino acids and our body utilizes that to be able to fix our tissue. And so it's very important, you want to make sure that you have enough protein if you don't have enough protein, no other macronutrient that can do the things that amino acids do. So that's a really important point that I just said, and I don't want to skip over that.
Balance with caloric intake and caloric expenditure 23:19
Fats, there's nothing else in your body that can do the same thing as fats. There's nothing else in your body that can do the same thing as protein. Now, I did talk about how carbohydrates, fat can be turned into carbohydrates and protein can be turned on carbohydrates. So carbohydrates are actually not an essential macronutrient, which is why keto becomes a thing where people eat very, very low carbohydrates, and they don't die because of it. Because their body can utilize other ways to be able to get energy. But there's nothing if we don't eat fats, our body can't do anything to be able to get those fats. And if we don't eat protein, our body can't do anything to get protein. So those are both essential macronutrients. And then carbohydrates may not be essential, but our body definitely prefers them. And again, if you're someone who is active, you're gonna have a lot more energy and ability to perform when you're eating the right amount of carbohydrates. So we want to make sure that we have enough protein in our dietary intake, but again, not too much, because we have that balance with caloric intake and caloric expenditure. So at this point, you're starting to understand why when we start to pay attention to calories, and not macronutrients, we can have an imbalance in these important functions in our body. So what I see, traditionally, when people say I'm going to go on a diet, and I'm going to, you know, lower my calories to be able to create a caloric deficit. They just start slashing calories, willy nilly, not really paying attention to what they are slashing and typically people end up not consuming enough protein and end up consuming, you know, way too much fat or carbohydrates. And we have an imbalance in those macronutrients. And so we're not in those sweet spots, again, where you're getting enough but not too much of each of the macronutrients.
Reasons why paying attention to macronutrients is so beneficial 25:14
And so when we take it one step further and start paying attention to macronutrients, we're able to have better body composition changes. And I'm going to dive into the reason why that is. So that's the next thing that we're going to discuss. But I needed to go over the basics, the foundation, the fundamentals, so that when I start talking about why the heck, paying attention to macros is so beneficial, and it's not just extra energy, and it's not just extra time, it's not just extra effort that is just wasted, it actually produces a better result, right? More is not better, more is more, but in this case, by layering on that extra piece of actually not just paying attention to how many calories you're consuming, but actually paying attention to how many of each of the macronutrients consumed, you get a better result. And I don't know about you. But if I have to put in a little bit more energy and effort, and I get a much better result, I'm willing to put in that extra effort and energy. Okay, so to answer the question, Why the heck should I care Amber? Why should I move that next step from caring about calories to actually caring about macros? What makes it so much more effective, there are really four reasons for things that we're going to talk about.
No. 1: Macro counting helps you maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss 26:32
Number one is when you pay attention to your macronutrients and to the macronutrient breakdown that you are eating, you are able to maximize fat loss, and minimize muscle loss. So remember, when we talk about calories, determine whether you lose or gain, whereas macros determine what is lost or gained. Let me give you an example. When people go on keto, they tend to lose a lot of weight very quickly, which is one of the reasons people get really excited about it. They're like, Oh, my gosh, in a week, I lost 10 pounds, this is amazing. Like it works so well. You know, I should keep going. What it's important to understand is that weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. Your body is composed of so much more than just fat. It's composed of bone, and organs, and muscle, and water, like all of these other things. And so just because the scale goes down or up, does not mean that fat loss or fat gain contributed to that fluctuation of the scale, it's why you can get on the scale in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and having three completely different readings is not because you gained fat or muscle during that time, but appreciable fat or muscle in a eight hour period. It is because your body has water fluctuations, and that causes that change on the scale. Okay, so we can see, I can go from, you know, I can gain two pounds during the day. But just because I have a weight increase does not mean I have a fat increase. In fact, it's probably the food that I ate that weighs something, it's sitting there in your stomach, water weight, I'm drinking a lot of water, I'm more hydrated. So when you step on the scale and the scale goes up, that does not necessarily mean that you have gained fat.
Create a caloric deficit 28:30
So when we start talking about moving from calories to macronutrients, we are able to make sure we're in those sweet spots for each of the macros. So that yes, we are creating a caloric deficit, you have to create a caloric deficit. Okay, that's the law of thermodynamics, we cannot get around it, we have to create a deficit. And when you have enough of each of the macronutrients, you're able to make sure that your body is well fueled, so that it releases fat and doesn't break down muscle tissue. Our body can use muscle tissue for energy. And you know, to really simplify it when your body is in a caloric deficit, it's going around your body and it's looking for what it's going to use to be able to get you the energy that you need. And we really want the body to pull from fat, we want it to pull from fat storages. But our body can and will pull from our muscles as well if we don't have a balanced macronutrient intake. And so what happens a lot of times is if you're cutting calories, you may see the scale go down but in addition to losing some fat, you're probably losing some water and you're also probably losing some muscle. And at the end of the day, losing muscle may make the scale go down faster. But I will tell you it will never get you to where you want to go. Because as you lose muscle mass, your metabolism drops. You don't look the way that you want to look, you may be skinnier, you may have a lower weight but aesthetically, you don't actually look the way that you want to look. And so, yes, you know, we want to see the scale go down but we want to see the scale going down because you're losing fat, not because you're losing muscle.
How does paying attention to your macronutrients help you to maintain muscle during a caloric deficit? 30:12
And so how does paying attention to your macronutrients help you to maintain muscle during a caloric deficit? Well, there's two tools that we essentially have that really help to protect that muscle mass, especially when we're in a caloric deficit, and our body is looking for fuel.
Tool no. 1: Consuming enough protein 30:30
And that is eating enough protein. So dietary protein, the reason that this is valuable, is because as your body is going around looking for energy, it can utilize those amino acids in your bloodstream for the things that it needs for the tissue repair, even energy if it needs too, without having to break down existing muscle tissue. Your body is always going to want to use what's readily available in your bloodstream before it wants to go to storage stores. And that is because it costs energy to pull things from those stores. So if you're consuming enough protein, if you have those amino acids floating around in your body, you can utilize those amino acids without having to break down muscle tissue. So the number one tool is consuming enough protein.
Tool no. 2: Lifting weights and progressive overloading 31:15
And number two tool is lifting weights and progressive overloading, lifting heavy challenging your muscles. It's almost like again, I'm you know, I'm taking the science and like simplifying it down. But it's almost like, if you're utilizing your muscles, it's almost like a cue to your body that, hey, I'm using this, like, I need this. It's essential for me to like, use these muscles. So go pull from fat, so we're just instead of muscle storage. That's essentially kind of a cue that you're giving your body. So I get the question a lot, Can you count macros without lifting? The short answer is absolutely 100% yes. Now I get why people ask that question: one because you probably see people who count macros that they are lifting weights and the reason is what I talked about his body composition is not just that we want to gain muscle, we want to, like protect the muscle that we have and lifting weights as a tool to be able to protect that. But I think that the reason that people ask this question is because they are comparing, not lifting, not counting macros, with lifting and counting macros. If you're comparing those two things, then lifting and counting macros is gonna get you better results. But if you go back and you compare not lifting, not counting macros, which is where a lot of people are to not lifting and counting macros. You are going to progress further, you are going to have more success. Even if you don't add on weightlifting, which I want you to, I would love it if you would add on weightlifting, it's my goal to have more women lifting weights, there's so many benefits to it. But if you're like nah that's not for me, is there still benefit to adding one of the two? Absolutely, adding one rather than zero of those tools to your you know, to your plan is always going to be more beneficial. So if you are not lifting, counting macros is better than not counting macros. 110%. Okay, so number one is that macro counting helps you maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss.
No. 2: Macro counting helps you to keep your food choices balanced 33:25
Number two, having an idea of your macronutrient breakdown helps you to keep your food choices balanced. It makes you more mindful of food quality versus just quantity. So if you're just paying attention to calories, let's say you know you're eating 1600 calories a day, that's your deficit. Can you go to McDonald's and eat 1600 calories and see weight loss and even fat loss? Yes, you can. Okay. In fact, there's been research studies Mark Hao he was one who ate Twinkies and was still able to lose weight. So Lee was someone who trained for a bikini competition in Ada Snickers every single day. So can you fill those calories with, you know, things that are maybe lower food quality and still hit those calories? Yes. But what happens if you are consuming all, you know, Burger King in order to hit those 1600 calories? Well, you're probably going to be very low on the amount of protein that your body needs and very high on the amount of carbohydrates and fat. So when you do that, yeah, you're hitting your calories, but you're not finding that sweet spot for each of the macronutrients. And so what happens is people just focus on quantity, they just focus on the calories instead of being mindful of the quality of the food that you are eating. So when you count macros, you have, you know certain amounts of each of the macronutrients that you are focusing on attaining, and that is going to force you to probably eat more protein than you typically are eating, it's going to really guide you in making sure that you have a balance between the macronutrients. And in order to create that balance, in order to get enough protein without going over your carbs. And without going over your fat, it's going to lead you and guide you to more nutritionally dense foods, more whole foods. You're not gonna be able to hit your macros at any Burger King all day long, you just won't. And so it's a way of guiding you towards that balance without restricting things. We're gonna talk about that a little bit later. But this is not about restricting things. It's not about saying that you can't eat things, it's not about saying you can't eat Burger King. It's just helping to guide you to understanding that like, I can't eat Burger King for every single meal and still hit my macros, I have to include some other high protein, lower fat, lower carbohydrate foods in order to hit those numbers. So when you're calorie counting, I kind of liken it to like, having a dartboard and blindfolding your eyes, and then like trying to throw a dart at the dartboard and hit the middle, like hit that sweet spot. It's not gonna work very well. Whereas macro counting is like taking off the blindfold, stepping a little bit closer, and then you know, aiming for the center, are you going to be able to hit it a lot better than if you just do it blindfolded? Of course you are. And that is the difference between macro counting and calorie counting, could you hit good macronutrient ratios if you're just calorie counting, maybe, maybe on accident, you could like one day, but how much more likely if you're paying attention to it and using that as a guide, are you going to be able to not only hit your calories, but also fuel your body in a way that makes it performance best when you're macro counting, that is the likelihood that you're going to get there is so much higher.
No. 3: Macro counting helps to remove food labels, the morality of food 36:58
Okay, number three, is that macro counting helps to remove food labels, the morality of food. Sometimes we like this food as good food, and that food is bad food. And food is amoral. Food is not good or bad. We tend to like to put labels on things. But in reality, food is amoral, it is neutral. It's not either good or bad. It simply has certain macronutrients in them. And your body needs a certain ratio of macronutrients throughout the day. And so one of the biggest benefits of women starting to pay attention to macronutrients and starting counting macros, is moving away from the good versus bad food mentality. Ice cream is bad. Broccoli is good. You know why that is harmful? Why is it harmful to labeling foods good versus bad? Because it sets up a restriction, it sets up a mentality of you know, I can't have that, or even the leap of logic that if I eat something that's bad, that means I am bad. Have you ever had the experience where you eat something and feel guilty afterwards or you eat something and you feel really shameful about that afterwards? That's because you've created this idea of good versus bad foods. And when we feel guilt, and when we feel shame, we typically do that to ourselves because on some level, we think that it's going to motivate us towards the positive change that we want. We think by labeling something bad, and then feeling guilt when we eat it, that somehow that's going to keep us from eating it in the future. But what actually happens is it makes you more likely to consume it. Because when you feel guilt and shame, do you make really logical forward facing future pacing decisions? Or do you tend to make really crappy decisions when you're in that guilt and shame, and mostly it's the latter for most people. We sit in that group in shame, and we're like, oh, I messed up, I'm just might as well throw in the towel. I might as well eat all 12 of these cookies instead of just the one that I ate. And then we get into this, you know, binge-restrict cycle, we get into this, I'm just gonna finish off the day, I'm gonna finish off this pint of ice cream. I'll start again tomorrow, or I'll start again Monday, and you keep going through that cycle. And I see that cycle for so many women.
The intention is good but the strategy is broken 39:35
And I want you to hear me, if this is you. Your intent is good. Your intent is if I make something off limits, if I tell myself it's bad, if I have shame or guilt when I eat it, your intent, you're doing that to yourself because you think in the end it's going to produce a positive result and it's going to keep you from doing it. Your intent is good but it ain't working. It ain't working and the reason that I can tell you that it's not working is because if you've been through that cycle of bad food, can't eat that food, eat it, feel guilt and shame, binge on it, start again the next day or start again the next Monday or start again the next new year. And you have been through that cycle more than a handful of times. It's not working, it's not getting you where you want to go. So yes, your intent is good but it's a broken strategy.
Understanding that there’s nothing off limits 40:27
So when we can make food neutral, not good or bad. And just look at it as an apple has a certain number of carbs, fat and protein, a piece of cake has a certain number of carbs, fat, and protein. And I can fit both into my macros, I can prioritize what I would like into my macros. Yeah, if I eat the cake, I may have to consume some more protein elsewhere in the day, and I may have to limit my carbs and fat elsewhere in the day, but it's not off limits, you can absolutely fit any foods into your macros. When macro counting kind of made its transition from the bodybuilding world macro has been a thing in the bodybuilding world for a long time and it kind of made its transition from the fitness competitor world into more of a general population. When it did that, it was called, If It Fits Your Macros, that was kind of the term that was used or flexible dieting, this idea that If It Fits Your Macros, you can eat it, if you can fit it into your macros, then you can eat it, there's nothing off limits, if it fits, you can eat it. And we've kind of gotten away from that term. I haven't seen that term as much as we've moved to more like a general population. Now most people call it macro counting. But it's as understanding that there's nothing off limits. There's no food that you cannot eat, everything is opened up to you. And it's about fitting it into your plan, fitting into your day and being able to enjoy the foods that you want to enjoy while still hitting the targets that you've set for yourself.
Macro dieter identity 41:57
Now, I want to have a heart to heart with some of you who have been counting macros, or maybe have counted macros in the past and essentially have turned it into yet another diet. I see this all the time. We call it the macro dieter identity. And I would say I mean at least half of the women who come to me to be coached, who come into Macros 101 who have counted macros in the past, fit into the category of a macro dieter, or instead of a macro scientist, which is what I teach you to do inside of Macros 101. So what is the macro dieter? The macro dieter has made that leap into counting macros but they've brought all of the baggage and understanding and experience of diets and dieting into counting macros. So they've just replaced their diet with now a new diet of counting macros, and they've created a diet again, where it's like, hitting my macros is good, not hitting my macros is bad. And so then what happens is when they go over their macros, they stop tracking. They don't, you know, eat all the cookies because I've already gone over my macros and then restart again the next day. That is a macro dieter perspective. Just like you know the binge and restrict cycle of telling yourself you can't have something when we move to this place of hitting macros good, not hitting macros bad. We are just bringing those, like diet mentalities into the whole process. And if that's been you in the past, you're in good company, because a lot of coaches teach it that way. Where it's like, if you don't hit your macros well I don't know how to help you. Like this is some coach I hear this about, like, yeah, you hear macros, good job, or like No, you didn't hear macros, well what's wrong with you? Like, what are we gonna do to make you hate your macros? Because that's the way you're going to be successful.
Become a macro scientist 44:04
So what is the alternative? The alternative is becoming a macro scientist. The macro scientist is one who has truly removed those labels, and removed all the emotion that can be around food, and starts to look at it as data and logical and following the data rather than using emotion to guide your next choices in your journey. So people always ask me: Amber have I been counting macros? First of all, guys, I know the name Macros 101 is not a great name. Because people were like, Oh 101 it's like a beginner course. And if you haven't ever had any kind of macros then yes, like Macros 101 will teach you all the things that you need to know and it will teach you so much more. So whether you've been counting macros for zero days or like three years, if you have found yourself falling, especially for those of you who've been counting for a while. If you find yourself falling into that macro dieter, where it's like, you know, you ride the emotion, it's like a step on the scale, and you feel great about yourself, when it goes down and bad about yourself when it goes up. When you hit your macros, it's a great day and when you don't hit your macros, you stop tracking. If that's you, and you are that macro dieter, there's still a lot of progress for you to be made as you start to step into the macro scientist. And that's what I teach you inside of Macros. 101. So I know that the 101 makes it sound really super basic, I promise you, if you are somebody, even if you've been using macro counting for the last three years, if you're somebody who hasn't gotten the results that you want with the tool of micro-counting, it means you're not using it correctly for your goals, or for your body or for your lifestyle. And if that's the case, then Macros 101 is for you. And that's where I'm going to teach you how to do that. And for those of you who may doubt that that is a place that you could ever get to where like food wasn't this big emotional journey or your fitness journey wasn't this big, emotional thing and it became more logical and rational and data driven.
Not having an emotional reaction to food 46:06
I really want you to, well, first of all, I'm going to share a story with you about my dad. My dad is a great man. I love my dad, he grew up on a farm. And I mean, if there's anybody in the world who loves vegetables more than my dad, I have not yet found them. My dad is like a bunny rabbit. I really want to get him a shirt that says kale no. But with kale, I mean just like carrot like everything, all the vegetables, my dad can eat vegetables, like literally all day long. He just loves them. And you know what, he doesn't really love chocolate cake, or chocolate in general, he's just not a big fan of chocolate. My son got that. He's like, he doesn't like chocolate. I don't get it. But whatever. Right, so they don't like chocolate. I like chocolate. So theoretically, let's pretend that both my dad and I went to a party. And there was some chocolate there. And I wanted that chocolate. But I told myself I could not have that chocolate. It's like this wrestle. And maybe you can, you've experienced a sport like this wrestling with yourself, like part of you wants the chocolate, but part of you doesn't want the chocolate because you want to hit your goals. And it's like this fight between two sides of yourself to like, oh, which one's gonna win, am I gonna have the chocolate or not gonna have the chocolate, where's my dad doesn't have that experience. Like, he goes to the party and he's like, oh, chocolate, I don't really like chocolate, I don't really want chocolate. And that's it like he doesn't fight with himself about it, it's, it's just not a big deal. He doesn't even really want it. And that is a place that everybody can get to now. Maybe it's not the place where you never eat chocolate again. But can you get to the place where you are able to actually like, not have that emotional reaction to food 110%.
Possibility of moving from abstaining to moderating 47:52
I remember an experience and I've had multiple experiences. But one client sticks out to me in particular, I was working with her in Beyond Macros 101 which is our continued coaching program that happens on the back end of Macros 101. And she was related to me and many of you listening may be able to relate to this as well. She just can't keep candy in the house, that her friend has like a bowl of candy on her counter and she's like, I could never do that. Because if I had a bowl of candy there, like I would eat it all. And so I just don't even have candy in the house. And I remember my conversation with her and it just kind of like working through this idea that that isn't a possibility for her. And you know, we kind of left this with some, you know, new steps that she was going to take and some first steps you should take but this idea that like I let her know that that is a possibility. Like you can't actually get to that place. Even if you feel like you have no control around cookies, or candy or ice cream or whatever and you feel like you just have to abstain from them. There you can move from abstaining, to moderating. And I remember, I mean, this was probably four or five months later getting on another coaching call and her giving an update. She's like, it's been magical. She's like, I have a bowl of candy on my kitchen counter. And I don't really want it a lot of the time. And when I do want it, I eat it. I eat some candy and I enjoy it and it's great. But it's not this emotional thing where it's like, every time I see candy, I'm fighting against myself about whether I'm gonna have it or not. She's like, a lot of times I can just walk past the bowl and like not even really want it. And I remember it so clearly because she truly believed that that was impossible for her. Like she really was like, that's not gonna ever happen. And it did. And so if you're one of those people who's listening to that, and you're like, you feel that you're like I just had to like get all the food out of my house like I just need to like get it out of my house. I can't have it around, that's the solution. I want you to know that there is another solution out there and as you start to step into that identity of the macro scientist, that is what transpires. Is it like you get to that place where just like a vegan isn't, most vegans are not sitting there like going, Oh my gosh, should I eat the meat should I not eat the meat, like, I don't even really want the meat, you can get to that place with foods, even foods that you maybe have struggled with in the past.
No. 4: Macro counting is both enjoyable and sustainable 50:17
Alright, and final point number four, macro counting is truly enjoyable and sustainable. So, in order to do something, well let me backup. In order to get results, you must do something for a period of time, you can't just do things like, you cannot just eat well, one day and like, boom, you have the body that you want. Right, it takes time. And so doing it for a long period of time, sticking with something for a long period of time, is the way to get results. And when we create a plan, that is actually something you enjoy, and you actually like the plan, are you more likely to stick to it long term? Yes, the more you enjoy something, the longer you will stick to it. And the more likely you are to be able to sustain it long term, right? We can do crappy things for a while, we can suck it up. We can do the hard things and things that we don't really like to do, we can do that for a while but we cannot do that forever. And so creating a plan that is enjoyable and sustainable is the way to be able to not only get to the goal that you've set for yourself, but be able to stay there for the rest of your life. And with macro counting, again, macro counting is a tool, it's how you utilize it. So if you are cutting macros and you are not enjoying the process, something needs to change. Okay, there is a way to create a plan using macro counting, using that as a tool to be able to fit your lifestyle in a way that is actually enjoyable to you. Again, that's a lot of what I coach people through and teach inside of Macros 101. But for example, when I first found macro counting, first started counting macros, my goal was to get a six pack. Every single night I ate ice cream, I fit ice cream into my macros every single night because it was something that I enjoyed. And it was something that was kind of like my celebration for doing it. It was something that I looked forward to during the day, I ate ice cream every single day. And I was able to get a six pack. The reason is, because I enjoyed the process, I was eating the foods that I liked, I didn't have to cut out things, I didn't have to restrict food, if I wanted it, I could fit it into my macros. And so being able to have that balance, being able to create a plan or program that is actually enjoyable for you is going to go a long way in terms of getting the results that you want.
Macro counting is a tool to have moderation 52:45
Now people always ask me, do you still track macros? I do not. Macro counting, again, is a tool and it's like training wheels on a bike. Is it going to help you find balance? Yes. Is it going to help you find moderation? Yes. Is it going to stop you from swinging from that binge-restrict cycle? Yes. And once you find that balance, you can take you can and I want you to take the wheels off the training wheels off. So it's like, once you found Oh, here's where it balances. Here's what it feels like, here's what it feels like to fuel my body. Here's how it feels to eat the right amount of nutrients. Then I want you to take those training wheels off and be able to live your life with that newfound balance. But the problem is, so many of you guys are swinging. It's like a pendulum. you're swinging from one extreme to the other. Right? Go start the diet, cut out all the foods, then eat one of them. And so now you feel guilty and shameful. And now you eat 12 cookies, you swing to the other side, right? It's like a pendulum. And what we want is to find where the pendulum was just hanging, right, that pendulum not swinging and there's no back and forth. It's just like you found moderation. And so many of you are swinging on that pendulum. And there's no way like, you're just like, blazing through moderation. And you feel like you can't stop the pendulum. And what macro counting has allowed me and so many of my clients to do is to actually have that pendulum stop to actually feel Oh, so this is what it feels like to have moderation. This is what it feels like to eat a cookie and enjoy it and not have to have 12. I can eat one cookie and enjoy it and not have any guilt or shame and not have it go on to eating the whole entire package. And that is what is available for you when you find that moderation. And once you've found that moderation, you can start to take the training wheels off because you've now instead of swinging back and forth and falling off your bike, you now have found that balance and you can continue to ride on. So do I track macros now? No. Every once in a while I'll like kind of check in and see like where I'm at but I've gone to the point where I understand portion sizes, I understand how much protein I need to eat, I understand what is in my food, I understand what makes me feel good, I understand what helps me to perform well. And I'm able to do that just by eyeballing it without having to track. Macro counting is a tool. It's not a diet, it's not even a way of life, I resist the idea that you should need to track macros for your entire life. I think if you have to track macros, to be able to maintain something, you are trying to maintain something that is an unmaintainable for your body, even if that's like a little bit heavier, even if it's like 5-10 pounds heavier, but you can maintain it without tracking macros. My opinion is, if the weight that you are trying to maintain can only be done, if you continue to track macros for the rest of your life, then you are trying to maintain an unmaintainable weight. And we need to adjust our expectations. Macro counting is a tool, use it. Get familiar with it, have it be an educational experience, understand how to become that macro scientist, understand how to have data drive your decisions rather than emotions. And at the end of the day, be able to find where that moderation and that balance is and stay there without having to continue utilizing the tool. That's what I want for you. And if that's what you want for yourself. That's exactly what we do inside of Macros 101. So if you haven't signed up for the waitlist yet, go to bicepsafterbabies.com/waitlist and we will be opening the doors to Macros 101, August 30. If you have liked what I've talked about in this episode, if this has been interesting to you, and you want to learn more, and you want to be able to take these concepts and apply them to your unique journey. That's exactly what I coach my clients through inside of Macros 101, so make sure you get on the waitlist.
Please support the podcast by sharing to others 56:50
And then my second request is if this podcast has been this podcast episode has been beneficial for you if you've learned something, and there's somebody who's coming to mind that maybe would benefit from this information, would you please go ahead and just share the podcast episode with them. Shoot him a text, send it over social media, post it to your account. But if you found value in this, if you've had a moment where like, Oh my gosh, I learned something, or I've never thought about it that way. If something in here spoke to you, who in your life can you share this with, it would be beneficial for them. That means the world to me when you share this content. And I think the more that we can really help women to step out of this black and white good or bad, you know, restricted and binge dieting mentality and really step into the scientist identity. The woman who is able to make logical decisions, use the data and understand her body takes the tool of macro counting and actually tweaks it and makes it work for her. Rather than feeling like she has to fit herself into a certain way that it's done. The more that we can get more women on track with that the better our world is going to be. So this one was a little bit of a longer one. But I hope that you found some value in it if you did post it on Instagram, tag me. Let me know what you learn from this episode and how you're going to start to apply it. And again last call. If you haven't gotten the waitlist bicepsafterbabies.com/waitlist gets you on the waitlist for Macros 101, we open for the last time in 2021 on August 30. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
Hold up, sister friend. Do you love Biceps after Babies radio? If so, the best way to say thank you is to subscribe to the podcast and leave a review on iTunes. I know, every podcaster wants you to leave a review, but it's because those reviews help the podcast to reach more people. And I do truly want to know what you think. If this particular episode resonated with you, will you also please share it? Either send the link to someone who would find it valuable or take a screenshot and post it to your social media and tell your friends and family why they should listen. Make sure you tag me @biceps.after.babies so I can hear your feedback and give you a little love. And you know, if you aren't already following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's the perfect time to hit that follow button. Thank you for being here and listening to Biceps after Babies radio.
Kelley Mackay says
Thank you so much for the wealth of information! I love learning from you!