Nearing the end of the first month of the year, long past the January 19 date research predicts most people are likely to have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, many adults may be feeling defeated. If losing weight and getting in better physical health is a goal that has been difficult to achieve and restrictive diets hard to maintain, a flexible eating plan that focuses on macronutrients may be the answer.
Instead of cutting out entire groups of foods or strictly counting calories, a macro diet focuses on eating a specific amount of macronutrients found in protein, carbohydrates and fat. A macro diet includes healthy portions of whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, potatoes and fruit, lean proteins and good fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. And because the plan is flexible, allows for a few cheats like dark chocolate and can be tailored to individual tastes, it may be easier to maintain over the long term.
Tracking macros can become challenging because many foods contain a mix of carbs, protein and fat. But the good news is that many newer activity trackers, apps and smartwatches include a macronutrient tracking function. That new Fitbit you got for the holidays? It not only can track your steps, heart rate and sleep, but it can also set a calorie limit based on your weight goal and calculate your macronutrient intake.
If weight loss isn’t your health goal this year, a macro diet can also help individuals add weight, lose fat or gain muscle. To increase muscle mass it’s also important to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine and eat enough lean protein.
For those who don’t have an app or device to calculate their macro ratios, a general guideline is:
- If you exercise for 1 hour or less daily: 30% high-quality protein, 30% healthy fats, 40% healthy carbs
- If you exercise for 1–2 hours daily: 30% protein, 25% healthy fats, 45% healthy carbs
- If you exercise for 2+ hours daily: Consider seeing a certified sports dietitian or specialist.
Source: MyFitness Pal
Working with a nutritionist who can also take your body type, age, medical history and goals into account may help individuals meet their health and wellness objectives. Learn more about starting a macro diet by following this link to CookingLight.