Counting macros, (a.k.a. flexible dieting) is one of today's most popular types of structured nutrition plans for weight loss. By dialing in the ratio of macronutrients in your diet (carbs, protein, and fat), many people experience fitness gains, better energy, and increased lean muscle mass, while maintaining flexibility (and joy!) in their food choices.
However, naysayers argue that counting macronutrients means disregarding micronutrients (the vital vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in your food), at the expense of overall health. But as anyone who counts macros will tell you, this just isn’t true. Here’s why macros and micros actually go hand in hand.
1| Macro-friendly meals tend to be nutrient-dense When you track your macros you develop a keen sense of your food’s “value.” And pretty soon, you realize that the most filling foods are also the most nutritious.
Say your target macros for your lunch are 26 grams of carbs, 23 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat. You could certainly eat an RX bar and a few slices of deli turkey and hit your macros. On the other hand, you could eat a hearty mound of romaine lettuce, a salmon burger, a handful of diced bell peppers, a tortilla like this one, and a teaspoon of olive oil drizzled on top. We know which meal we’d choose. The latter is not only more satiating, but it has more of the stuff your body thrives on, including lots of Vitamin A (from the lettuce), Vitamin C (thanks to the carrots), Vitamin B6 (courtesy of the salmon burger)
And if you’re concerned about tracking foods that don’t come with a nutrition label, not to worry. Macrostax has you covered. With 800,000 foods (and counting!) in their database, you can be sure that includes fruits, veggies, and anything else that doesn’t come in a box or a bag.
2| A little flexibility goes a long way when it comes to managing unhealthy cravings For many people, the words healthy and lean are synonymous with steamed broccoli and deprivation. Unlike nutrition strategies that require strict adherence to a specific diet or a selection or “clean” foods, Macrostax offers something different—flexibility.
When we mentally label a certain food as “bad” or “off-limits” we tend to crave it. This doesn’t mean we’re weak or undisciplined; it simply means we’re human. Instead of completely denying ourselves the foods we love, be it a scoop of ice cream or a bag of chips, only to binge on them at the end of a bad day, Macrostax gives you the flexibility to enjoy your favorite “treats” in moderation. It might mean scaling back the fat or carbs in your other meals and snacks that day, but just like you might budget your money by choosing to bring lunch instead of buy when you’re saving for a vacation, it’s about priorities. And prioritizing the occasional “splurge” could be the difference between another failed diet and a sustainable nutrition strategy.
3| Knowledge is power. (In other words, you know better than to trust alcohol nutrition labels)
According to a quick Google search, a five-ounce glass of red wine has 4 grams of carbs. That’s just a fraction of the carbs found in a large apple. And when you consider the antioxidants red wine is known for, that vino looks downright healthy, right?
Alcohol is, in fact, its own macronutrient. But unlike carbs, protein, and fat, it is not necessary to sustain life, nor does it contain any nutritional value. Worse, alcohol has a major effect on your metabolism; when alcohol is in your system, your body stops everything (including fat burning) to process the alcohol. Because alcohol nutrition labels are not regulated by the FDA, this isn’t readily apparent to the average consumer.
Instead of relying on nutritional labels to track alcohol consumption, Macrostaxers use a simple formula that accurately accounts for all the calories in a given drink. Using the formula, that glass of wine is actually worth 33 grams of carbs (slightly more than that large apple).
It can be easy to forget that liquid calories do, in fact, still count. But by counting them accurately, you might find it easier to say no thanks to that second or third drink. Consider it a bonus that limiting your alcohol makes it easier pass on dessert.
4| Macrostax may improve sleep, which can reduce unhealthy nighttime snacking
Macrostaxers don’t just experience fitness gains and weight loss—many say it improves the quality of their sleep and even helps them stay energized on fewer hours of sleep. Take Jenn, for example. She started Macrostax at 25.6% body fat, frustrated that despite her healthy diet and consistent CrossFit regimen, she wasn’t leaner. Less than a year in, she’d not only dropped 20 lbs of fat, putting her at 16.9% body fat, she’d also dropped her daily 45-minute nap.
So what does sleep have to do with health, nutrition, and weight loss? According to science, a lot. Based on data from over 3,000 subjects, a new study published by University of Arizona Health Sciences found that poor sleep quality was a major predictor of nighttime snacking and junk food cravings. Chris Sanchez, one of the main authors of the study, said, “This study shows how sleep and eating patterns are linked and work together to promote health.”
Still not convinced dialing in your macros will help you meet your micronutrient needs? Just go to the Macrostax Recipes Facebook group or check out the Macrostax Macro Friendly Cookbook. Spoiler alert: You won’t find sugar-free jello, cool whip, or diet soda in either one.
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