I’ve gotten a few questions lately about macros- what does that word mean, why am I counting them and should you count them? So, I thought I would address these questions on here as opposed to trying to do it on Instagram.

Before I write out my take on macro counting I need you to read this: I’m happy at the weight that I’m at- I’m 5’4 and the last time I checked I weighed right around 135. This seems to be a healthy weight for me. In fact, as I continue to up my protein and carbs and weight train that number may go up. I’m looking forward to gaining some much needed muscle. Also, don’t put too much stock into my very limited knowledge on this subject. I highly recommend that you do your own research to see if this is right for you. I’m still so new to all of this!

I’ve learned so much about my body and real food through the Whole30 program and have spent the last two years navigating life after Whole30 and what that looks like for me, as an active person and as a runner.  I had noticed a lower energy level, especially while training for long distances, so I knew something had to change. I started tracking with My Fitness Pal {MFP-get the app in your app store} and very quickly realized that I was not getting enough carbohydrates or protein.

A typical day would look like this for me:

I was eating all whole foods, nothing processed, and a pretty decent amount of food. I never, ever skip meals {hopefully you can tell this from my Instagram account} and I always eat until I’m very satisfied- three meals a day plus a snack. You can see that while I was getting plenty of healthy fats, which are so good for us, I wasn’t getting enough carbs and some days I wasn’t getting enough protein. Therefore, I was dragggggging. Especially on days that I ran anything more than 4 or 5 miles.

Enter MACRO counting.

The term “Macro” comes from the word Macronutrients and if you enjoy the science behind this term and why counting them might be good for you, check out this article on FitDay.com. They’ve done a great job of explaining it better than I can.

I’m not using any type of coach. I may one day, but for now I’d rather not spend the money. {Chiropractic care is expensive, y’all!} For a while I just used the default settings on the MFP app but after reading about macro counting and running I’ve adjusted my numbers a bit. My macro count, for now, is: 160C/120P/53F. That’s 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. I find that most days I hit my protein goal and get close to my carb goal {this is hard for me since I eat very few processed carbs. I can only eat so many potatoes!} and almost always go over my fat goal. And I’m ok with that. If I wanted to get super serious about it I know I could get some professional help {or a coach}. But I’m not trying to be a fitness model here. Just trying to be aware.

Macro counting, for me, has been about awareness. It’s made me more aware of the nutrients in my food. I’m LOVING the science-y part of MACRO counting.  Whole30 changed my relationship with food- I eat so many more whole foods now than I used to, with the occasional processed food or pizza thrown in the mix, but macro counting has opened my eyes to a more balanced way of eating. I may not know the exact macro count of every meal but I do know that I’m getting plenty of protein and carbs now. There will most certainly be days where I just can’t. I know I won’t track every single thing on these days. But because I have a great foundation to build on, because of Whole30, I know what food freedom looks like and that may mean that I’ll let my hair down a bit on these days. But I will not be eating weird baked goods with protein thrown in. I know a lot of MACRO counters do this. I just can’t. My body needs whole foods.

Here’s what my day looks like when I hit my MACRO numbers:

And I feel SO much better with that about of carbs/protein in me.

The second reason I’m macro counting may be a little controversial in a world of “only self-love” on social media. Because I want to change my body composition a bit, doesn’t mean I don’t love my body. I’m thankful that this body has done some amazing things- it’s carried two 8+ pound babies, it’s run three marathons and a few half marathons, it’s snuggled babies, parasailed, stopped many a goal in soccer, it’s skied down mountains, it’s skied across lakes, hiked, four wheeled… I’m proud of this body! But, I’ve been putting in time in the gym and at home- working hard! And I still feel like I could change my food up a bit to change my body for the better. I still feel like I have a layer of flab covering these muscles. They’re under there! So, I’m do a little experiment with macro counting to see if I can change this.

I know changing my body composition, losing fat and gaining muscle, will change my running for the better. I’m excited to see what happens.

Is macro counting right for you? I can’t answer that. It’s not for everyone. If you’re starting from square one, I would highly recommend a round or two of Whole30 first. I cannot say enough about this wonderful program. It will change you forever if you do it correctly and let it work it’s magic.

Should I macro count while doing Whole30? My answer: NO. Let the Whole30 program work it’s magic. I would never suggest that someone count anything while doing Whole30- not calories, not fat, not protein or carbs. Whole30 by itself is hard for most people, especially that first round. Counting anything while on the program would have stressed me to the max and I don’t think I would have survived my first week, much less 30 days.

Are you MACRO counting?? I’d love to hear about your experience!


2 replies
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    Thanks for writing this! I was one of the people who asked you on Instagram 🙂 I’ve been paleo for years and have done a few W30-60s. But, like you, I’ve got a small layer of fat covering what I think are some hard earned muscles under there that I’d like to see. I’m on the fence about macros – W30 is so intuitive and easy (eat food, not food like products) that IIFYM seems so hard… I did it one day for breakfast and lunch (just entered what I ate) that when it was time for dinner and I had to match the macros left I gave up 🙂 How are you going about your days? Are you planning them out before your day?

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      AH! I’m so sorry I’m just now seeing this. I would highly recommend continuing to eat the same way you have for a few days while entering your foods into the MFP app. Don’t sweat your protein/carbs/fat amounts. Then after you’ve done it for a few days, go back through and pay attention to your percentages. I did this and it really helped me to have the change in mindset that I needed to be able to grasp Macro counting. I was not able to do it overnight, so don’t sweat it if you aren’t able to either. Take a few weeks to slowly do this. Thats what I did and it helped make it less stressful. And YES!! I absolutely pre-enter my foods into the app. This way I can play around with serving sizes to get the exact numbers I need the next day. On days where i don’t make those numbers, I give myself grace… This is also super important. Good luck!!


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