Macro counting, IIFYM, weighing, logging, and everything else related to Flexible Dieting to the untrained eye can be very confusing and definitely overwhelming. I wanted to comprise a list of, what I thought to be, the most important tips I would want to give myself way back, when I first started counting macros for myself.
This list I have comprised is in no particular order, but I have trimmed it off to make it my TOP 10.
1. Scales – Without a doubt, you WILL NOT be able to flexible diet without a scale in the beginning. Once you get comfortable in gauging portions, then the scale becomes less necessary. Scales can vary from price, size, weighing options, and more. Scales will range anywhere from 10$ to 300$ and more! In my personal experience you don’t need to drop tons of cash for a decent scale. On the left in green I have the Joseph and Joseph travel scale for 30$ and on the right I have the Pampered Chef scale that runs 41$. I actually have 2 of the black scales as I weight a lot of stuff and I keep one for grams and one for ounces.
2. Tupperware/Hot Serve Dishes – We need a place to store all of that delicious food we create don’t we? I cannot recommend enough on getting yourself a vast supply of various sizes and styles of Tupperware and hot serve dishes. Why is this important? Well for one, if you get into meal prepping this will make like so much EASIER! I also love using my containers that are microwave safe, so I can meal prep right into the dishes ill be taking to work with me. Again, the goal is to make life as easy as I can. I will also recommend when purchasing Tupperware, look for ones that are easy to clean, stack/store well, and are universal.
3. Zip Lock Bags – This falls right in line with with Tupperware. At the end of the day it is all about making life easier. These will help with meal prep tremendously, especially with dry ingredients. Ziploc bags help sort items for the week, they help to pre-weigh ingredients, and make a quick storage container. Make sure you always have a box on hand!
4. Accountability – Accountability I feel can be a huge part of sticking with Flexible Dieting. We not only want to see progress and results, but we also like to hear feedback from other people. Accountability helps keep us on track, focused, and moving in the right direction. Accountability can come in many different forms. Two routes I can recommend, 1. Take progress pictures and daily/weekly weigh ins. Keep comparing to track progress, or 2. Seek out the help of a coach. I have been working with WAG or Working Against Gravity for almost 2 years now and it has been great. Having a coach will not only provide you with guidance, knowledge, and that ultimate factor of accountability. You will strive to work hard so you can send them a great check in every week.
5. Support Group – I cannot stress this step enough. Most people who IIFYM or flexible diet at least from my experience are typically on their own in a local standpoint. I currently do not have anyone in my immediate area that Flexible Diets, and can relate to what I do. Sometimes that will make life hard when trying to eat out with others, cook with others, attend events and more. Flexible dieting can be overwhelming by itself, not having anyone to confide in wont help your situation. Social media has become great for finding friends of similar interests, and IIFYM or flexible dieting falls into that. Ive met many friends online who have grown into great friends, who I now use as a support system. Chris, or The Physique Mechanic has grown to be one of my closest friends, and one of the most important members of my support group.
6. Macro Tracking App – A good Macro-nutrient tracking App ranks up there with having a good scale. I currently use My Fitness Pal (MFP), but I know there are numerous food tracking apps available. Find one that works well with you. Having a reliable tracking app can help in a host of functions. Makes daily tracking easier vs having to pen and paper everything then add it up, as MFP will automatically keep track of your Protein/Fats/Carbs as well as fiber, sodium, and more. They typically have HUGE databases filled with pre entered food, so if you happen to be eating out, cant find a label, or need to guesstimate it will make life a bit easier. You can even make friends on MFP, help track each others progress, and see what others are eating. Helps tie into that support group. The recommendations are not the best, but they will even help you set up a base split for your macro nutrients(protein/fat/carb)
7. Excel – Excel is an excellent program to help track progress. I could recommend tracking daily weight, macros, fiber at least, and once a week take measurements in different areas of the body. I would say chest, stomach, and waist would be the most important, but you could also add in arms and thighs. This gives you a database of your progress. With this spreadsheet I can now track week by week, month by month, and look to see where I might need to make changes in my intake. Th example shown below shows calories per day, proteins, fats, carbs, sugar, and fiber. At the end of the day it falls down to what you think is important. Currently I track calories, fats, proteins, carbs, fiber, daily weight, and weekly measurements.
8. Calculator –Now this might seem a bit obvious of an essential, but I think its a valuable piece of my macro counting arsenal. Now it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or super complicated, just something that is easy to use, read, and store. I personally have a good sized calculator with bigger buttons and a nice big screen. Just makes life easier when I am trying to make a recipe or figure servings and I don’t have to fiddle around punching buttons I don’t want to hit. Now I’m sure your saying, well Dusty what about my cell phone? True, you have a calculator on your phone, but if your trying to make a recipe on MFP, listen to Pandora, charge your phone, text your friends, and watching the video your trying to mimic I find it easier to lessen the load on my phone and use the calculator. This also comes in handy if my hands are full of ‘mess’ and now I will get it on my calculator vs my phone. Calculators have many places in the macro tracking world. Use them to subtract pan weight vs food weight, figure out number of servings or grams per serving for a recipe, and more.
9. Macro Calculator – This is an essential start to your macro counting journey. You will need to figure out your starting point and get your initial set of macros. Few ways to go about this, 1. Hire a coach and they will do it for you. 2. Use a paid service like Avatar Nutrition, again they will set them for you. 3. http://www.IIFYM.com has a free service where they help you set it up. 4. Lastly you can start very basic and just take your weight x 10-14 based on your activity level, 10 being very sedentary and 14 being very active. That gives you overall calories, then you will just need to decide your macro split between Protein/Fats/Carbs. Each persons split will vary.
10. Macro Friendly Cookbooks – Last but not least, you will need an arsenal of healthy, easy to follow cookbooks designed for macro cooking. Sometimes converting recipes from standard form can be a bit confusing. Good thing we here at The Flexible Baker HQ got you covered. I am including my first e-book that has 12 delicious dessert recipes varying from muffins, cookies, cakes, brownies, and more! Step by step designed for the macro counter. Stay tuned for the release of my new e-book about to drop! That one will all be about donuts!