The big difference between counting calories and tracking macros is that calories focus on quantity, while macros focus on quality. Macros are the building blocks of your food, and most items you eat provide two or even three macronutrients - (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat)
Tracking macros encourages you to make healthier nutrition choices. A healthy diet plan consists of a balance of all three macros, so it ensures that you consume enough of each while fueling your body with the right amount of energy.
Monitoring calories is still important whether you are trying to lose weight or put on muscle, but it is when you are able to track your calories as a secondary data point to your marcos, that you will see the best results. Research has shown that when you have a calorie deficit and keep your protein high, that's when you will lose the most weight.
Protein : Has 4 calories per gram and is made up of amino acids that are the basic building blocks in the construction and repair of tissue such as muscle. Protein is also an essential tool for recovery, ensuring you keep your gains in the gym.
Carbohydrate: Has 4 calories per gram that are made up of sugars and starches. Carbohydrate is the main energy source for the body and brain and needs to be consumed in the largest amount of all of the macronutrients. When consumed and broken down by the body, carbohydrates provide the major source of energy to fuel our daily activities in the form of glycogen that is stored in the muscles and liver.
Fat: Has 9 calories per gram and our bodies need this to help with the absorption of vitamins and the regulation of hormones. They can also be used as an alternative fuel source when glucose is in short supply by being converted into ketones and distributed throughout the circulatory system. All cells in the body consist of a small fat membrane and so it is important to consume good fats to ensure proper cell function.
At the end of the day the body needs a balance of good fats, proteins and carbohydrates to perform optimally in the gym and throughout the day. The body is pretty amazing and is naturally designed to be metabolically flexible. This is where it can switch from using carbohydrates to fat for fuel if needed.
So next time you are planning your food for the day make sure you have a balance of good healthy options from all three macronutrient groups. If your daily nutrition is lacking in one it can affect your performance, recovery and how you absorb nutrients every day.
Did you know that the body can't tell the difference between any of the different types of stress. Your body can be stressed from being over-worked, a hard workout in the gym, or drinking a strong cup of coffee. This is because the stress hormone cortisol is released in the body as a result of the stressor or stimuli. Stress is one of the biggest causes of inflammation, poor recovery and illness. If your cortisol remains elevated (or out of balance), your body will not recover. Over stress can impact your hormones, which can lead to low testosterone or estrogen in females, digestive issues, plateaus, regression, mood imbalances, lowered immunity, and a lack of “pep in your step” for the gym.
Unfortunately, managing stress is often easier said than done. Many of the stresses in our daily lives, like social media or your email inbox are small in comparison to some of life’s greater challenges. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s helpful to keep things in perspective.
A slight change can make all the difference in decreasing your internal stress. Here are some simple strategies to help you manage day to day:
Protein Banana Bread
Nutritional Facts ( Per 1 Serving )
Total Fat 3.8g
Total Carbohydrates 38.3g
400g mashed (very ripe) banana
50g liquid honey
150g greek yoghurt
1 cup plain white flour (or wholemeal would work fine too)
1 tsp baking soda
62g vanilla protein powder (I use Optimum Nutrition but any protein will work)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Mash the banana and add eggs, honey and yoghurt. Mix together protein, flour, cinnamon and baking soda, and slowly sift in to the wet ingredients until it is well mixed - I use a whisk but it depends on how well mashed the banana is, whether this will work or not!
Line a loaf tin with baking paper and transfer the mixture to the tin. Pop in a preheated 150 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Check at the 30 minute mark. It will get very dark on the top but will be just cooked on the inside. I actually like to slightly under-cook it, as it makes the loaf a bit more moist once its cooled.
You can drizzle some 95% dark chocolate on top if you want, this is not included in the macro breakdown though.
This is macro friendly if you don't eat the whole thing!
So often in life, we favour one side of our body. You may be right-handed, left footed or just generally stronger on one side, due to a lifetime of using that side of your body more. Over time, this can make us ever so slightly imbalanced (or maybe even heavily imbalanced). One way to both identify and treat these imbalances, is with unilateral training. This form of training focuses on single arm or single leg movements where motor and neuromuscular control becomes a big focus. This could be in an exercise like a single arm shoulder press or a lunge. If you are not using unilateral training in your programming, you may be missing out on an opportunity to both heal and challenge your body in new ways.
Unilateral Training helps with:
- Strengthening areas that usually don’t get focused on
- Aid rehabilitation
- Focus on motor and neuromuscular control
- Improving muscle/mind connection and muscle activation
Next time you are in the gym, try adding some unilateral training to your workout. I challenge you to find out where your imbalances are so you can work on improving them!
I am a big advocate for eating a variety of foods that give you a return on your health in terms of nutritional value. Oats are one of those foods and come in a few forms, but the most commonly consumed is whole grain or rolled oats; the variety that makes your stock standard porridge. Oats contain some unique characteristics – in particular the powerful soluble fibre, beta-glucan and antioxidants called avenanthramides which help to lower blood pressure and also have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects. Oats are also high in protein, vitamins and minerals, with links to reduced risks of heart disease, regulated blood sugar levels and healthy gut bacteria/digestion. Long story short, a quick and easy way to improve your overall health with one meal, is to add in a bowl of oats to your day.
Here are a couple of tasty breakfast options to try:
Apple & Cinnamon Overnight Oats:
½ cup Rolled Oats
Half an apple – chopped into small cubes or grated
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
150 grams of Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)
50ml of water to loosen
Combine all ingredients in a small container or jar and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to soften – eat cold
Vanilla Protein Oats with Blueberries and Banana
½ cup Rolled Oats
Half a cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of water
½ scoop of vanilla protein powder
150 ml Almond Milk
Make the protein shake with the almond milk and set aside. Combine the oats and water and microwave for 1.5 minutes. Add the blueberries and cook for another minute. Slice the banana on top of the cooked oats and pour over the protein shake. The protein shake acts as both a sweetener and to cool the hot oats. Use a large bowl as the oats will bubble and if the bowl is too small it may overflow and make a mess of your microwave! You don’t need to restrict your oat consumption to breakfast either as they also make a great snack. As a bonus, with these recipes you also get a serving or two of fruit, which is always a good thing. Enjoy!
Always take into consideration your goals and nutritional requirements when making changes to your diet.