In my last post I went over the 12 Best Foods You Can Eat and the post before that I went over the 12 Worst Foods to Have in Your House. Today I want to talk about how I balance the two. Yes, balance! I know I can’t imagine my life without ever having a soda or a cupcake again (hence me not naming the post 12 Foods to Never Eat!). Life and food are meant to be enjoyed. =)
We are all probably well aware of the three macronutrient groups; carbohydrates, protein, and fat. With all the different diet fads over the last few decades, one or more of these groups has been labeled a bad guy. I know I have avoided (tried to avoid at least) all kinds of fat since the 90’s. When I was vegan, I was low on protein (despite really trying to get enough in my diet). And when I was doing Keto, I avoided carbs like the plague! I believe that avoiding whole macro groups left me feeling tired all the time.
The truth is, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of all the macros. Take carbs for instance, I think we can all see how there is a big difference in a doughnut and an apple. Likewise, the healthy fat in an avocado is completely different than the fat in hydrogenated oil.
So, how do I put all this knowledge together to form a realistic diet? First of all, as I mentioned above, I do enjoy some unhealthy (but damn tasty foods) on occasion. My rule of thumb is to eat healthy most of the time. I do have a diet Coke once a week or so. I’ll have a doughnut, cookie, cake or other treat once a month or so (Keto killed my sugar cravings). I’ll have a hotdog or other processed meat, once or twice a year during a summer cookout. There is a lot to be said for not depriving yourself. There is also a lot to be said for eating to nourish your body.
Now on to the question of balancing the macros. There are so many different ways to balance these, probably the most popular ratio right now is 30% fat, 30% protein and 40% carbs. This was where I started but now I am trying 50% fat, 25% protein and 25% carbs. I’m feeling really great using this ratio! It was a little tricky to translate these ratios into how many grams of each macro to eat. I found this really nifty calculator to help out in the calculations. I’m aiming for a calorie budget of 2,000 per day. Based on that, my ratios look like:
Fat – 111 grams
Protein – 125 grams
Carbs – 125 grams
I should note that most of my diet is plant based. Almost all my carbs are from fruits and vegetables. I do eat some whole grains each day. (and of course, as mentioned above, refined carbs once in awhile). Most of my fats are likewise plant based, avocados are a fav. I do however occasionally eat butter and whole fat greek yogurt. My proteins are more varied. I still use vegan protein powder in my smoothies. But now I eat grass-fed beef, and poultry. I’m also experimenting with eggs and cheese as the protein base of meals. Oh, I can’t forget about nuts, seeds and legumes! These are still favorites from my vegan days.
I have a few different tools that I use to plan my meals. I use My Fitness Pal to log and keep track of meals and recipes. I also use measuring spoons, cups, and a digital food scale to actually make sure that I’m eating the correct amount of each food. But the thing that has made the most difference is planning my meals the day before I eat them. I have to say that it got really tedious looking everything up constantly so I made myself a handy, dandy, chart with the breakdowns of macros for the healthiest and most common foods that I eat. It has really helped make planning meals a breeze. Now not only do I know each meal will be balanced but I really look forward to what I will be eating the next day.
In my next post I’ll go over calories out. I did a lot of research and learned a lot about working out and have come up with a game plan that actually seems doable!