Health and Fitness Fridays: Macros Part 4 – Carbs

So here we are on the last of the big three macro nutrients, carbohydrates. I must admit, while my numbers for fats have been where I have had problems, it’s the carbs that really taunt me. I definitely have a weakness for those starchy foods.

Thankfully as part of losing weight I managed to conquer those cravings and my carb ratio has been very good. But if I were to just have a big “cheat” day, it would be full of those glorious carbs. Omnomnom.

So what are carbohydrates?

Scientifically they are a molecule “consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, usually with a hydrogen: oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water); in other words, with the empirical formula Cm(H2O)n (where m could be different from n).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohydrate

But really we are not here for the scientific definition of a carb.

In terms of diet, carbohydrates are used by the body for energy, by converting the carbs to glucose. The body can store glucose for the future or use it right away. Carbs are also good for keeping our central nervous system functioning properly and keeping our digestive system moving.

Carbohydrates get a bad rap because they are added to a lot of processed foods in their sugar and starch forms, but they are an essential part of your diet. Carbs can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, grains, seeds, legumes.

How many carbs should I consume?

It is recommended that carbs make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories. I have my carb macro set to 45%, which gives me 252g of carbs a day, and I generally don’t have a hard time hitting that level.

But how you make up those carbs is also important.

If you are following the “If it Fits your Macros” diet then in theory you can consume those carbs in any form. But foods with added sugar and refined grains don’t offer much nutrition for the number of calories they have. Instead try to eat carbs that are made of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

You can find more information on carbohydrates at the below links:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705?pg=1

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm

Weekly update

PhotoGrid_1427469434147 With the exception of yesterday, this week wasn’t bad. Yesterday we went to Costco and ate dinner there, so my fat intake was definitely over and my protein intake was low. Damn fries!

Other than that I felt like I was very much on point this week. I had to supplement my protein with powder on a couple of days, but that wasn’t a problem.

The other thing I have found is that when I am on point with my macros my calories are lower than they have been in the past and I don’t feel the cravings that I used to get.

Health and Fitness Fridays: Macros part 3 – Fats

Of all the macro nutrients, fats were probably the ones I was the least aware of. I mean I knew not all fats were bad for you, but which ones and why I had never bothered to figure out.

This week changed all that, I read up on all the fats and reviewed my diet to see where I fit in.

I found great information on www.heart.org and there was a bunch of articles regarding the different fats. Most of what I will be sharing I found out on this site. They also had a calculator to help set your fat macro with regards to the different types of fats.Capture

Fat tends to get a bad rap. It has been blamed for raising cholesterol and increasing risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. While this isn’t entirely untrue, it is not all fats that cause these problems. The big culprits here are saturate fats, hydrogenated oils and Trans fats. These are the fats that you want to avoid. Unsaturated fats, like Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, are an essential part of a balanced diet.

ginormousThis infographic is a good breakdown of the fats, what foods to find them in and their effect on the body.

So how was I doing with fats? The short answer is not well. But I already knew that. Part of the reason behind reviewing my macros was that I was eating too much fat. Some days it was 50% of my intake, which is not good.

It’s not all bad news though. On normal days, my consumption of trans fats is very low and my saturated fat intake is right where it should be. (One recommendation said saturated fats should be 1/3 of your fat intake).
The problem with my fat intake occurs on my bad days. This is where my saturated fat goes through the roof. Usually it’s PhotoGrid_1426864912814only one or two food items that cause this, so this is
what I need to watch.

With the exception of Monday, this week I was much better at hitting my overall percentages. But I had a few days where I went over on my fat. Specifically, wings night on Wednesday was a killer.

I also found it hard to really track my fats because many labels don’t list the unsaturated fats. They have saturated or trans because that is mostly what people care about.

One of my goals for next week is to look more closely at my saturated fat intake to see where I can cut back on that, especially on my bad days.

Stay Tuned next week is carb week!

Health and Fitness Fridays: Macros Part 2 – Protein

Ok to start, my weekend was a bust when it came to calories, so I didn’t even look at my macros. Between a Roller Derby party and my husband’s birthday, it was just not happening. I figure the week starts on Monday anyways, right?

Since I have been way off on hitting my protein, I figured I would focus on that one first. And it turns out that this is really the number you should calculate first and the others will follow from that. At least I got something right!

As I worked through a bunch of online calculators, one thing became apparent. MyFitnessPal had given me way too much protein    . Over 200g a day! No wonder I wasn’t able to get that amount every day. I think if I was body building I would need to hit that many, but in my current exercise regime, this is too much.

So let’s talk a bit about protein.  

What is protein and why is it important?

The short answer is that protein is the building blocks of cells. Protein supports growth and maintenance and also provides energy, making them an important part, if not the most important part, of a healthy diet.

One thing I learned this week was that proteins are not stored, they are used up by the body and constantly have to be replaced. This makes getting enough protein daily very important.

How much protein do I need?

The answer to this question is not always clear. There are a number of ways to calculate protein based on body weight, lean body weight, percentage of calorie intake etc. So you have to pick the method that works best for you.

Here are a few methods that appealed to me the most. This was mainly because they didn’t make my calorie goal super low and seemed to give me a reasonable amount of protein to eat in a day.

http://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/

http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2010/08/how-much-protein-do-we-really-need-part

http://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

One constant among all the calculators was that the more active you are the more protein you need, so I based my calculation on this.

I took my lean body mass (115lbs) and multiplied it by 1.2. This gave me a protein goal of 137g a day or about 550 calories from protein.

What foods are high in protein?

Another thing I learnt this week was that some foods that I thought were high in protein actually belonged in another category. Nuts, for example, have protein but they actually belong more in the fat category because you gain

Here is a little cheat sheet of what foods fit in what category. But basically most meats will be high in protein (but may also be high in fat)

 My Week in Review:

Well we already know that my weekend was a bust, but Monday I was at it full force. I went through a bunch of calculators online and finally settle on the one from flexible dieting http://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator It set my macros up as follows. I used this one as it seemed to give me both a decent calorie goal and a decent amount of protein to eat. `

Here is a breakdown of how week 1 of focusing on my macros turned out.

Screenshot_2015-03-12-11-13-14Monday – donuts in the office. Could fit them in my calorie goal, but would obliterate my carbs and fat goals… no donut for me! I still need 31g of protein today, so looking for high protein snacks that will not kill my other two macro categories. Ended up having protein powder and then blew it at the end of the night when there was leftover popcorn after practice.

Tuesday – Was over on my protein and just under on everything else, so I call this day a success. I didn’t alter my food much either, except for adding in protein powder in the afternoon.


Wednesday
– A vendor brought us lunch, which made it hard to calculate. I ended up over on all categories. That being said my macro ratio was still pretty good and I wasn’t over board on any one categoryScreenshot_2015-03-12-11-13-32

Thursday – I felt really good about today. I was over in my protein, just right in my fat and under in my carbs. I even had to eat straight carbs in the evening to make up that  I was also a good 150 calories under my calorie goal and did not feel the munchies, so that is good news.

Friday – So far so good today, but the challenge will come this evening as we usually are a bit more relaxed in our eating on Friday and Saturday night. I hope I can stay within my Macro goals.

Generally speaking, I found it easy to hit my macro goals without changing what I was eating too much. I was just more cognizant of what I was eating. Hopefully that will continue as I focus more on the other macros.

Stay tuned for next week when I take a look at fats.