A lot of people ask me how I decide what to cook to hit my macros. I wish there was an easy peasy answer. The truth is, when I first began counting macros it took a lot of trial and error. Below is what I found worked best. If you don’t know what your macros are yet check out this post.
Step 1: Figure out what I WANT to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Check out the recipes section of my blog) For this example i’m going to use “Chikudo”.
Step 2: I go into My Fitness Pal (MFP) and either create a recipe by entering my own or add one from a website I like. The servings is based on the number of meals a recipe creates. If I’m meal prepping, this is 8 or 10 servings. After MFP creates my recipe with the ingredients I entered I TRIPLE check that it found the correct ingredients. I include any oil or spray I’m going to use when I prep the food and make sure no ingredients have calories but 0 for any of the macros.
Step 3: I then go to the Monday of the following week and add all three main meals using the recipes from my My Fitness Pal or what I feel like eating, eggs, avocado, oatmeal for a meal instead of a recipe.
Step 4: Then I scroll down to the bottom of Monday and click “Nutrition”
Step 5: I Look at the “Macros” section of the page. This helps me to figure out what macros my next meal/snack really needs to target. Based on what you see below and knowing what my own macros are I know that I have a long way to go to hit my fat and protein macros.
Step 6: Find a recipe or think about what you can eat that will help you get one step closer to reaching your target macros. This is when I would likely add in my regular go to foods like my Protein Waffles which I know will get me 30 grams of protein closer to my goal. If I plan on eating fruit I add that in now also because fruit is high in sugar and carbs.
Step 7: Next, figure out what I can do to increase my fat consumption. This might mean entering an avocado or cheese into MFP and seeing how that affects my overall macros..see image below. Now i’m not sure if this is because I paid for the premium version of MFP but under macros it has sections on “Highest in Carbs”, “Highest in fat” and “highest in protein”. I look how these numbers change AFTER I add a bunch of recipes and food into MFP. That way, I figure out what foods I need to cut out or adjust the portion size (bigger or smaller) or adjust the recipe..add more meat or less potatoes.
If you aren’t sure what foods fit into which macro check out this post: whole foods
I continue to tweak my foods until I get as close to my macros as possible. It is up to you if you want to plan out ALL your macros or leave some for you to play around with (if you’re going out to eat, like daily variety, etc).
Step 8: If you’re meal prepping, I then make a grocery list of what I need to buy at the store.
Step 9: Now comes the really important part. After you’re done cooking WEIGH EVERYTHING!!!! Why is this important? If I make 10 servings of “Chikudo” I need to make sure that I end up with 10 servings of EXACTLY the same weigh..give or take up to 5 grams. This ensures that the macros you entered are accurate for what you’re eating. WEIGH your RICE/MEAT/FRUIT!!!! You would not believe how inconsistently you can fill 1/3 cup of rice. I’ve definitely experiences a 50 gram difference depending on how densely I fill my measuring cups. All these little inconsistencies add uncounted calories/macros to your daily intake.
- After I prep, I go through the whole upcoming week and I add in every meal/recipe that I am going to eat. This helps me stay on track and know what I have left over (if I didn’t plan out every meal/snack).
- If I’m going out, I pre-look at the menu, calculate or approximate the recipe and add it into MFP FIRST!!!!! Then I add in the foods that I’d like to eat and see if I’ve gone over my macros. Sometimes this means I won’t be able to eat much the rest of the day because of what I want at the restaurant (this makes me sad …and often change my order to something that won’t totally destroy my macros).
- When it comes to adding exercise into MFP I don’t consume those extra calories that MFP suggests because I worked out. If my target macros is 170c/145p/52f I stick to that despite my exercise level.
- Eating the same things helps keep things simple
- you will eventually figure out what things you like are really helpful in hitting certain macros. (ex. egg whites, oatmeal, low carb veggies..for a list of things I like click here)
- If you go over, don’t stress, you’re human! It’s important to incorporate foods you like and treats like froyo and cookies. Tracking your macros may open up a whole world of possibility into what you can eat! Enjoy it!
I like how you broke everything down! Now my questions are, how do you figure out your macros? And do you need to get this myfitnesspal app?
If you click on the categroy Macros you can see how I calculated mine. There are other apps to track macros but I find MFP the easiest. You can use the free version which has pretty much everything you need. https://justget.fit/calculating-your-macros/
Weighing my food feels like a lot of work. it is one of the main reasons I haven’t been successful with my macros. I try to ball park it, which isnt effective.
your site is very helpful and clear. keep up the good work.
thank you! Weighing food can definitely be tedious but it’s amazing to see the difference between what you think one serving is, and what one serving actually is! =)
I just started trying to count my macros (with a TON of help from you, thankfully!) and have been trying it out with MFP, and while I’m inputting all of my meals and seem to be cutting relatively close to my macros, I still have a significant amount of playroom with my overall calories. Would I just have to tweak my meals/recipes to hit my targets for both calories and macros?
Way to go Abby! Honestly, counting your calories and macros is redundant. 1g carb equals 4 calories. 1g protein equals 4 calories. 1g fat equals 9 calories so…essnetially if you are hitting your macros, you are eating your intended amount of calories as well. Keep in mind the FDA allows companies to round down the grams of nutrients in their food so it’s very possible your numbers won’t be perfect, but they should be very very close. I always try to be within 5 grams of my goal. If that doesn’t make sense let me know and I’ll try to explain it another way. Keep up the good work!!
This is so informative! I just added you to MFP as I am new to macros. I see the results from you and many others (check out @browngirlifts on IG! She’s near Vancouver too), but I still have this fear that so many carbs (mine come out to about 150g) will set me back on my fitness and baby weight loss journey. But I’m sure it’s all in my head. Anyway, thanks for your posts!
Thanks! Definitely eat those carbs! They are essential in helping you reach your goals and having your body perform at its best! =)
Hi do you have any plan for gluten free I have celiac
Yes I offer gluten free plans. Plans do include things like oatmeal in which case you would have to buy gluten free. Everything can be adapted to fit your needs =)
This will probably sound like a ridiculous question, but what is the purpose of weighing food? Is it simply to measure the portion consistent with a predetermined serving size?
If you’re counting your calories or macros you need to know exactly how much of something you’re eating. If i need to eat X number of grams of protein, the only way I can know I’ve done this is by weighing my food.
Hey Nikki! What’s the easiest way you like to weigh all your cooked food? Even if it’s a lot? Sorry if you’ve already gotten this question. A scale is just so big you know? Thank you! You inspire me so much!
Honestly I just weight all my rice, sweet potatoes and meat after they are cooked and then I weight my oatmeal dry. Make sure you deduce the weight of the container or use the tare function. Before i meal prep I know how many grams of each item I need so I just follow my recipe. If i made a big pot of food, and i know the macros per servings ex. 4 servings…i divide the whole meal/pot of food into 4 equal servings sizes. Hope that helps!
Is it okay to eat oats everyday I feel like it’s bad cause I start everyday off with carbs and sometimes I put a banana in with the oats too.
Oats are a great complex carbs that are slow digesting, keep you full longer and don’t spike your insulin. I personally have oats almost every day. Including a banana is up to you. Personally it depends on my sugar intake for the day and what else I’m eating. I focus more on macros, sugar and fiber so apps like my fitness pal are great for helping make decisions.