Over the course of the past half a dozen or so weeks, we’ve covered the bases on all things macronutrients (macros) and how you can best utilize certain strategies for each when putting together a balanced diet. Today I want to come full circle and put all the pieces together. While all the macros are great on their own, it is when we put them together that the real magic happens. So lets talk about balance.
I know most of us already know we need to eat a balanced diet, yet somehow we still struggle with this concept. Usually because it’s just flat out easier to grab for one thing than try and make a full blown meal. And yes, I get it. I’ve been there too! Where the last thing I want to do is prepare anything and all I want to do is reach for a piece of cheese or some nuts. But here’s the thing, yes nuts and cheese are great options for snacks, but even better when paired with other macros. And it doesn’t have to be work or take that much thought to do this.
Here are some healthy and simple snack ideas utilizing the concept of pairing macros together.
Chicken breast and almonds
Celery and nut butter
Tuna wrapped in lettuce
Veggies and cheese or nuts
Sprouted wheat bread with avocado and/or meat
Tuna wrapped in whole grain wrap
Veggies and Hummus
Hopefully you get the gist. It can be really simple to combine macros to get a more complete, balanced snack.
Now, what if you are not a snacker, but you still want to try and achieve a balanced diet? I am so glad you asked. Instead of giving you an endless list of meal options, let me give you some strategies to employ that help you better achieve balance and, better yet, take advantage of the best times to eat the best combination of macros.
1. Save most your carb intake for the post-workout window
Well not really, but enjoy all the carbs at least! 🙂
I know how much we all love our carbs, but whether we want to admit it or not, they likely don’t love us very much 😦 They can actually downright sabotage a healthy meal plan if you’re not careful. Because here’s the thing about carbs, our body needs much less of them than we think it does. Unless you are a highly active individual or an athlete, you are very likely consuming more carbs than your body needs. And if you are not a naturally trim individual, it’s just this excess carb intake that is standing in the way of you achieving the health and fitness you desire. Now you’re probably shouting “why me!” if you’re one of these people, and maybe rightly so. We’re not all dealt a perfect hand when it comes to our genetics and our ability to utilize carbs for energy, but that’s life. If we can recognize it, learn strategies to combat it, and move on with our lives, it wouldn’t feel so catastrophic to say NO to pizza when all your friends tempt you with it. You’ll simply say, “you know what, I didn’t get a workout in today, so I think I’ll pass, but thanks for the offer.” Done and done. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself in these moments, because likely no one else will. You are your own best advocate for change. Never forget that.
2. For fat loss, the majority of your diet should consist of protein, veggies and fat (with most of your carbs coming from fibrous vegetables)
Again, this pretty much goes hand in hand with point 1. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, which are dependent upon body type and activity level, but this is a general rule of thumb, not a hard and fast one. It’s just a normal part of human physiology to utilize carbs for energy and when you are not utilizing enough, unfortunately those yummy carbs like to store as fat. I know, big bummer! But here’s the thing, you can either dwell on this fact or use it to your advantage. Meaning, rather than get all bent out of shape over your body’s lack of ability to utilize the carbs you so desperately want to eat, you give it the carbs when you know it can actually utilize them best – POST WORKOUT! Yes, we’re talking about earning your carbs. But lets be honest, what don’t you have to earn in this life? And what’s one more thing you have to earn really? Suck it up and treat yourself when you most deserve it. Otherwise it’s really not all that special anyways, right?
3. For muscle gain, your diet should be a relative balance between carbs, protein and fat (depending on your specific goals)
In this case, in order to gain muscle, you need more calories and you need more calories of all types, not just more carbs, like most people believe. You are likely working quite hard to gain muscle and need to replenish your energy stores often and completely. Now I know what you’re thinking, if you fell into #2, I’ll just become a bodybuilder! That way I can eat all the carbs I want! Sounds good in theory, but here’s the thing, muscle gain is something that requires a lot of commitment and determination, maybe as much commitment and determination as resisting carbs. So really it’s a battle on either side. You just have to choose which one is worth the fight for you. In the end, these are both just strategies to achieve balance and outcome-based goals. There are many different paths you can take to reach both, but the overarching strategies are often quite similar.
4. Eat less move more is a recipe for failure
This is about as far from balance as you can get. And is something that has been touted for years as the best way to lose weight. Guess what? “They” were dead wrong! In the short term, eating less and moving more will make you lose weight, but in the long run it will actually sabotage your weight loss goals. Why you might ask? Simple really. You’re body needs energy to survive (at a baseline level). The amount of energy each person requires varies based on body type and activity level. Now this is where is gets a little tricky for most. Often people who need to lose weight think they need to severely restrict their calories to do so, putting themselves into the magical caloric deficit, but here’s what they don’t realize. Because of their larger body composition they actually NEED more calories to sustain life. In other words, their basal metabolic rate is actually higher than a fit person. But wait, before you go thinking this is a good thing, there’s more. Houston we have a problem! Most overweight people eat WAY beyond their basal metabolic weight and do not burn enough calories to justify the surplus of calories. So they often find themselves in the dreaded binge and purge cycle which never ends, rather than seeking to find true balance. Now lets talk about the move component of eat less, MOVE more. What do you think the basic problem is with this concept based on what we just discussed? Your body needs energy to MOVE more and if you’re eating less, it’s likely you do not have the energy required to move more. It’s basically the ultimate catch 22! So how do you find balance? It’s pretty simple really.
*Your input should match your output*.
So what does that mean? Lets break it down into 2 strategies and it will make the most sense:
1- Eat More, Move More
Your body requires more energy, so give it what it needs, just keep it in check. Figure out your resting basal metabolic rate and do the math to figure out where your baseline should be. If you’re active, increase your calories incrementally according to the type of movement you are doing.
2 – Eat Less, Move Less
Your body requires less energy so don’t over fuel it. This is actually a great strategy to employ when you travel and your activity level is lower than usual. Eat less than you normally would to keep the balance and gradually increase your calories as you become active again.
If you want to learn more about these 2 strategies and how you can unlock certain hormonal benefits using them, I strongly encourage you to read *Lose Fat Here* by Dr. Jade Teta of Metabolic Effect. He goes into great detail about how these strategies help you achieve great balance and body composition change.
Well I think that’s a wrap for this series. I hope you have found some nuggets of useful information that you can start applying in your life right away. As usual, take some time this week to look at the balance, or lack thereof, in your life as it pertains to your nutritional intake. See if there are some tweaks you can make, if only small, to start pointing the needle in the right directions. Like anything, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush it. Focus on progress not perfection. Little gains are all it takes to build a little forward momentum.
#strongerme #forwardmomentum #fitnessfoodie