One of the most common challenges most people are experiencing while adjusting to a quarantine lifestyle is maintaining a clean and healthy diet. Spending every hour indoors can increase the temptation to snack more frequently and indulge in unhealthy foods, which can lead to weight gain. By counting macronutrients, it’s possible to meet your fitness goals and can provide you with a guideline on how much food you should be eating throughout the day.
What are Macronutrients?
Although many people can be intimidated by the idea of counting macros while tracking the foods they eat, it can be relatively simple to learn how to put it into practice. Understanding what macronutrients are is the first step to getting started.
Macronutrients consist of fibers, starches and sugars and must be limited to lose weight and build muscle while practicing a healthy lifestyle. Most carbohydrates are used for energy after they are broken down into glucose in the liver and muscles. Carbs are known to have more calories and should consist of 45 to 65 percent of the calories you consume each day. Beans, starchy vegetables, dairy and grains are all considered to be carbohydrates.
Proteins are also a macronutrient that must be counted and include chicken, eggs, fish, lentils and tofu. They’re necessary for building tissues, cell signaling and boosting the immune system. Finally, fats are also macronutrients and include butter, meat, nuts, avocado, fatty fish and oils.
How to Count Macronutrients
You’ll need to begin by determining your resting expenditure and your non-resting energy expenditure. The resting expenditure refers to the number of calories you burn as your body is resting and your non-resting expenditure is the number of calories you burn while performing physical activity or when your body is digesting food. Online calculators are available to determine both numbers, or you can resort to using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation.
The numbers you come up with then need to be multiplied by an activity factor. Sedentary, light activity, moderate activity, a high level of activity or extra activity are all different levels. You’ll need to consider how much you sit or exercise throughout the day to obtain your total daily energy expenditure. You’ll get the chance to work towards different goals by adding or subtracting calories from the total daily energy expenditure.
If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to cut out more calories. If your goal is to build more muscle, you can increase your calorie intake each day. Carbohydrates should be 45 to 65 percent of your total calories. Fats should be 20 to 35 percent of your total calories and proteins need to be 10 to 35 percent of your calories.
The best way to record and track your macros is with an online app like MyFitnessPal, MyMacros+ or Lose It! You can also take advantage of a digital food scale in the kitchen to weight foods for increased accuracy.
Counting macros can allow you to improve your mental focus and boost your mood, which is crucial during a quarantine situation. Proper nutrition is vital to ensure the immune system can fight illnesses and ailments.
What to Eat
If you’re planning on adopting a diet that consists of counting macronutrients, it’s important to get ideas of snacks and meals you can eat to ensure you have plenty of options and don’t backslide.
Macros snacks consist of mixed nuts, hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, edamame, protein shakes, greek yogurt, turkey, cheese and popcorn. There are also plenty of macros protein bars available to take on the go when you need a boost of energy in-between meals. Snacks like ZonePerfect protein bars are packed with protein and can provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need to support the immune system. Vegan plant-based protein bars are also an option because of their delicious taste and the natural energy boost they offer.
Macros meals include wholesome ingredients that are naturally prepared and can include chicken salad, zucchini tuna cakes, hash brown egg cups, pesto chicken and vegetables, cauliflower crust pizza and steak fajitas.
Finding the right macros recipes and snacks to purchase can reduce the risk of fatigue, brain fog and depression, which can increase while getting through a quarantine.