Monday, March 3, 2014

Whole30 Calorie- and Macro-Tracking

Tracking of some sort -- whether it be calories, points, blocks, macros (percentage of carbs, proteins, and fats), or other arbitrary jargon -- is all the rage in nutritional plans and diets.

In fact, when I have been in the midst of hardcore exercise and diet, I have been a slave to MyFitnessPal, tracking every gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that has gone into my body. (And if you don't recall any of this, just click on the Meal Planning tab at the top for a bazillion more examples.)

I spent hours upon hours upon hours of researching the macro breakdown of each and every food, figuring out how many pieces of string cheese to pair with each apple, calculating exactly how many servings I needed to break the recipe into to fit my allotted amount of carbs and proteins, weighing each slice of cheese and handful of almonds, etc.

And, it "made" me eat certain things when I wasn't hungry (or wasn't hungry for them), made me eat more than what satiated me at times, and did not allow me to eat other times when I was legitimately hungry.

It. was. stressful. And it did nothing to teach me about my body and its "for real" nutritional needs.

Another key component of many diet and exercise plans is regular measurement in regard to weight and inches. Again, this is something that I did all the time: every single morning (until last April), I stepped on the lovely digital scale.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, I gauged my worthiness on the number that popped up.

Counting calories, tracking macros, stepping on the scale -- are all not recommended (and completely ill-advised and considered "rule-breaking") by Whole30 because "you count more than your calories do."  (Whole30 does suggest stepping on the scale on Day 0 and again on Day 31 to see overall -- not day-by-day progress, and they also advocate taking Before/After photos so that we can actually see changes. I did both of these super-fun things prior to starting the challenge.)

Essentially, one goal of Whole30 is to make participants more in tune with their bodies, specifically what their bodies need and when. Furthermore, Whole30 intends to "change your relationship with food, heal the gut, reduce systemic inflammation, restore a healthy metabolism." None of these goals and purposes can be measured by obsessively tracking calories or macros or points or blocks or whatever else.

Instead, the further one goes in the program, the more one will be able to use things like mood, emotions, cravings, athletic performance, energy levels, and, well, hunger as factors to determine if I'm eating enough, if I'm eating when I should, etc.

As a rough guideline as to how much to eat and when, Whole30 has a meal-planning template:

There is no measuring, no weighing, no counting. Rather, servings are determined by size relation to one's hand: palm, finger, open or closed handful, etc.

It is so. much. easier.

Granted, I think I am still figuring out appropriate serving sizes, especially in regard to protein in the morning: I am to have 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein each morning, and I think I've been having closer to two. Right now, though, that may be genuinely what my body needs. Whole30 is, without a doubt, a process, and I'm still trying to figure out how the portions best suit my body's needs.

Interestingly, my mom asked me the other day if I had entered my meals into MyFitnessPal for a rough estimate as to how many calories I was consuming, what the breakdown of macros was, etc. Essentially, I told her everything that Whole30 said about not tracking these things, but I decided to give it a shot for two days anyway.

First, I have to say that I will not be doing this for the remainder of my Whole30. It was stressful. I am a perfectionist, and I hate seeing the red "you are over your calorie allotment" pop up on my screen. And, it takes a heck of a lot of time! It has been so nice to not weigh/measure/count but rather just cook and eat my food.

But, in case y'all are interested, here is the breakdown for yesterday and today. (I understand that today is not yet over, but I already know what I am going to be eating, so here is the breakdown.)

Sunday, March 2nd: 1,793 calories
Monday, March 3rd: 1,513 calories

Another reason this stressed me out was because the number of calories is way higher than what I am used to. I mean, MyFitnessPal tells me I am to be consuming 1,310 calories per day. However, what MyFitnessPal does not take into consideration is the fact that these are good, whole nutrients, not processed crap that used to be in my body: "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" is false.

Here is the macro breakdown, with Sunday on the left and today on the right:

As you can see, I am consuming a lot more fat than protein or carbs. While I cannot find an ideal macro breakdown for Whole30 anywhere (because you aren't supposed to be tracking this stuff), I assume I'm doing well.

First, I'm following the meal-plan template pretty much to a T.

Second, another goal of the program is to be fat-adapted rather than sugar-burning. I will definitely go into this more in a different post, but I know that I'm well on my way to getting there, and it is a good feeling.

So, let's wrap this up:

  • Counting calories, macros, blocks, points, etc. does not tell me much about what I'm actually eating and instead stresses me out to a ridiculous extent
  • Stepping on the scale is not healthy to my psyche
  • I will not be doing these things for the remainder of my Whole30 :)

See you later with a recap of Day 8!

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