October 6, 2021
One of the most challenging aspects of being on a macros-based nutrition program is finding foods to meet your goals at the end of the day. Everything seems like it’s going well, but then you hit an unexpected snag. Breakfast may have been pre-programmed, but you missed part of lunch, and dinner was heavy, so now you're asking, how do I find food to fit my macros? Or what if you had all five programmed meals but decided to go out for dinner instead? Don’t worry; not hitting macros happens to everyone once in a while. Learn how to plan smarter to hit macros exactly and what to do if you fall short at the end of the day.
Make sure you have a plan already in place to recover your macros when things get a little off track. Your recovery plan should require very little thought and even less prep because meeting your goals at the end of the day shouldn’t feel like a chore; otherwise, it is unlikely you will be able to make it happen. Use this framework to help find an easy way to fit your macros:
When a food is described as a single macro food, that means it provides calories primarily from only one of the three macros, rather than a combination of two or more macros as other foods often do. There are several single macro foods in the protein, fat, and carbs categories, so getting familiar with these options will help you choose a smart fit to reach your goals at the end of the day. Some common examples include chicken breast and egg whites for protein, fruits and grain products for carbs, and nuts and avocados for fat. You can prepare a few single macro foods to keep in the fridge ahead of time to portion out during the week if you need an emergency fix to hit your goals.
To meet your targets, prioritize your deficits in order of size. If you are missing a large number of carbs and also some fat, start with carbs and then work to address the fat afterward. Solving the most significant deficit with the smaller target also in mind will help you decide between single macros, combination macros, or smaller meals with balanced macros that will best suit your needs. Meeting more than one macros goal with just one meal can make recovery significantly easier. Try to notice which macros targets you are likely to exceed on a normal day. If you struggle to get protein before maxing out your fat allotment for the day, then make sure you focus on protein before fat.
The amount of macros concentrated in a portion of food helps to determine the macro density of that food portion. For example, our single macro foods from the protein category would be considered “protein-dense”. Foods with more calories per serving are considered “energy-dense” and foods with a higher concentration of micronutrients per calorie are considered “nutrient-dense”. Some foods contain more energy or calories per serving than other foods do. If you have difficulty meeting several goals, you want to seek out foods based on macro density to match your remaining macros for the day. And by selecting less energy-dense foods, you can make smaller changes to your daily totals, giving you more opportunities to ensure your macros work out perfectly.
Hunger is impacted by two specific aspects of macros: nutrients and density. When you build and stick to a rigid plan for weight gain or loss, you may forget other important aspects of nutrition, like vitamins and minerals, that are vital for high-performance. Particularly with the onset of exercise, your body can feel hungry if it's not getting the nutrients it craves. The other part of hunger is macro density. Foods with lower density can be consumed in greater quantities than those in higher density; this is something to consider if you’re craving a snack, as lower density foods can allow for larger volume snacks that may feel more satisfying.
One of the most significant variables in maintaining an on-track nutrition plan is restaurants. Some people avoid them altogether, but that approach isn’t a long-term solution. If you take actionable steps to control your nutrients, you must reconcile that good health is a long-term commitment.
Everyone makes mistakes. Remember that mistakes are part of learning and growing. You won’t always meet your macros to the number every single time; you won’t always get it down to the calorie when you count. The most important aspect of macro nutrition is committing to a healthier lifestyle and taking actionable steps to achieve it. Forgive yourself if you make mistakes. Just don’t forget to learn from them to do better next time.
To make meeting your macros goals accurate and stress-free, download the Prospre meal planning app to create nutrition-focused meal plans.