“What the HECK is a macro?!” -Me, like three months ago
In the past year, I started hearing more and more about the IIFYM way of eating. IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros.” It all started with me watching one of the most fit people I know finish her workout and promptly start eating donuts.
“Huh,” I thought. “Teach me your ways.”
I love clean eating; when I adhere to it, my body feels great and my mind feels clear. However, I am a college student on a meal plan, and sometimes, eating perfectly clean can be a challenge.
Okay, make that a LOT of the time.
When I moved onto campus and I exchanged my chicken-and-rice-in-tupperware ways for the school’s food, it certainly impacted my health in a negative way. Not quite a “freshman-15-as-a-transfer-student,” but to the point where I felt less confident in certain clothing items. And I am NOT about that life.
Perfectly clean eating will not be able to happen until post-graduation. So, I started looking for different options, and a few months ago I started researching the concept of eating within your macros. It seemed difficult, and so I decided that it probably wasn’t the option for me.
Until two weeks ago when I just decided to pull the trigger and go for it.
AND I LOVE IT.
Sure, tracking macros as a college student is not the easiest thing, but it can definitely be done. Here’s how:
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT MACROS ACTUALLY ARE
Okay, if you have been reading this piece so far with my opening statement (“What the HECK is a macro?!) in mind, never fear friend! “Macro” is short for “macronutrient.” To simplify, macros are the three basic groupings of food: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Eating according to your macros simply means getting the right amount of these things each day.
2. USE A CALCULATOR TO DETERMINE YOUR PERCENTAGES
Save yourself the trouble of trying to calculate what macro percentages your body needs and use a calculator. You could use this one or this one (or some other one you prefer more). Keep in mind that your macro percentages are going to change based on whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight.
3. TRACK EVERYTHING
The only way this works at college is if you TRACK EVERYTHING. I personally use the MyPlate app because it allows you to enter the calorie number and macro percentages generated by the macro calculators, and holds you accountable to that number. Plus, very little will actually need to be manually entered thanks to their large database.
Whatever app or system you use, track what’s on your plate before you take a bite! Get into that habit, and it will be easy to remember to do so.
4. WATCH OUT FOR FAT
The one thing that has been tripping me up over the past few weeks? Fat, because there is FAT IN EVERYTHING a college cafeteria serves. It has simply required more diligence and some creativity, but if you’re eating from your caf as well, it’s definitely going to take more work to maintain proper fat percentages, seeing as that is typically the smallest percent of what you’re eating.
5. FIND PROTEIN WHEREVER YOU CAN
My macro plan wants me to be eating almost 200 grams of protein everyday. Hah. Hah. HA. I never realized how difficult it is to get protein, specifically CLEAN protein, from the food available on my meal plan. So, get creative! Add protein wherever you can get it; if you’re willing to spend the money, protein powder or protein water are great options.
6. BE A CONSCIOUS EATER
Most importantly, THINK before you put something in your body. Sure, it may fit your macros, but is it truly going to fuel your body like it needs to be fueled? The beauty of IIFYM is that it gives you the leniency to eat junk food when you’re truly craving it as long as you have macro space left, but this system still shouldn’t be exploited as an opportunity to simply feed your body garbage.
Your body is what keeps you going-treat it with kindness and fuel it well!