Smutty Fitness: the macro diet

October 13, 2015 16:20:56 Posted at October 13, 2015 16:20:56
Hayley Posted by Hayley
AKM-GSI/ Splash News

Hi Hayley,

I am a mid-40s woman who has struggled with weight gain since having children (add in: love of wine and good food, very sedentary job and perimenopause for some extra issues).

In the last 6 months I have put a lot of effort into increasing my activity level. I do HIIT classes 3-4 times per week. I was following a Paleo diet for 4 months but then switched to a macro program my gym is promoting. I'm sure you are familiar with the concept, but just in case: I have a certain amount of protein (142g), fat (53g) and carbs (213g) I have to eat per day. It doesn't matter where they come from (although they encourage healthy food, it is not unheard of for people to get their remaining macros in for the day by way of jujubes and other assorted goodies). 

In 6 weeks I have lost about 14 pounds (scale varies - sometimes stalls then down) but more importantly my clothes fit better and I can see a reduction. I am eating far more food than I ever have while on a diet/watching what I eat and am losing weight. For the most part, this eating plan is really easy to follow (it requires me to be attached to my phone to log every morsel into MyFitnessPal though).

I recently reevaluated my 6 month progress through the "Bodpod" at my doctor's office which showed a fat loss of 6.7% and muscle gain.

So, I am happy with the progress and feel somewhat encouraged that I am not losing muscle BUT this feels a bit too good to be true (seriously, I am eating a LOT of carbs and losing weight). I am a big believer in knowing whether science is behind a theory and having tried a lot of fad diets in my day, I want to make sure I am following a healthy program.

What is your thought on the macro program: the new Atkins, or a reasonable way to fuel your body?

I look forward to hearing from you.


A macro diet is simply a diet that focuses on calories in vs calories out and setting a percentage of what calories come from what macronutrient. What are macronutrients? They are nutrients that give you calories, and because the word macro means large, these nutrients require large amounts. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all considered macronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, things that are found in nutrient rich foods. But a macro diet doesn’t seem to care about the quality of the food, just what macronutrients it contains. So people who eat a McDonald’s burger are going to gain the same macronutrients as someone who may decide on a healthier meal like grilled chicken, whole grains and steamed veggies. Based on a macro diet they will lose weight. 

Currently, you are consuming 30% of your diet from protein, 25% from fat and 45% from carbohydrates. Based on your current body weight you are eating 40+ grams more protein than the recommended 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Now, it isn’t bad to go over on protein and if you are going to go over on one macronutrient, protein is your best bet, but I would like to recommend a few changes. 

As you start to drop weight, you are going to need to cut back your calories AND increase your exercise. You need to continue to challenge your body and if your calorie consumption remains at 1900 calories (as it is right now) you are going to stop seeing the weight come off. I also think you may want to cut the carbohydrates a bit and add more fat to your diet. Try consuming 40% carbs, and 30% fat and protein.  Also, don’t pay attention to the “it doesn’t matter where your calories come from” theory. Yes, according to some, it doesn’t matter where you get your macronutrients from, but filling your body with minerals and vitamins is so important. So if you are low on calories opt for an apple, or some veggies and homemade hummus and leave the candy alone. 

Being attached to your phone and having to record your food all the time isn’t sustainable, so take this time now as a way of learning how to fuel your body and then eventually you won’t have to constantly record your food intake. Life is about living, so once you feel like you have reached the point of where you want to be, find balance. Learn to control portion sizes rather than calorie count and focus on filling your days with healthy, real foods. 

Hope this helps. And remember to send your own Smutty Fitness questions to me here.

Attached - Busy Philipps at the gym with her husband in LA on Friday. 

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