There have been some pretty common questions I’ve received relating to my Macro Counting Experience, so I thought I would do an FAQ post.
Q: What exactly do you eat?
A: Check out MyFitnessPal log. I record everything. Everyone does macro counting a little differently. Some people don’t do grains because they have issues with grains. Some people are more vegetarian. This is just what is working for me, and you can find what works best for you.
Q: How often do you eat?
A: I typically have three meals and a snack, sometimes a couple of small snacks. On Training days I add Pre/Post workout meals. The food log doesn’t allow me to have more meal categories, so if there is ever a bunch of entries under Snacks then it is because I had more than one so there is no way to tell what time of day I had them.
Q: How much time do you spend logging your meals, and figuring out how much of what foods to eat?
A: In the beginning I spent more time, but now that I have common meals and foods saved, I don’t spend much time at all. It helps that most foods have a bar code that I can scan. I would say that I might spend 5-10 minutes total a day logging food. I know now how the macros are split out in the primary foods I eat so it is easy to look at the Nutrition breakdown throughout the day and figure out what else I need to eat. On days that I eat out it might take longer since I’m eating different from what I normally eat and that shakes things up a bit. But it is not bad at all.
Q: How do you get everything set up in MyFitnessPal for logging your food?
A: Create a MFP account and log in on the website. You cannot customize some things using the Phone App for MFP so it is best to get on a computer or tablet and go to their website. Once there, go to Settings, Select “Diary Settings” and select that you want to track Protein, Fat and Carbs. Also, set your Meal Names to be “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, PreWorkout and PostWorkout”. Set your Diary settings to Public if you want Moderators in the forum to be able to view your Diary.
To set up your specific Macro Goals in MFP, Select the “Goals” menu item and once there Click on the “Change Goals” button and select “Custom”. Once there input your TDEE calorie goal. In order to specify exact grams from your TDEE calculation you need to go here Enhanced MFP Macros and install the tool. This will then allow you to select “g” in the Nutrition Goals drop-down box and specify exact Macro Goals. If you don’t want to do the custom Macros, just use MFPs % option and get it close in MFP, but you will then have to remember what your specific goals are whenever you are reviewing your daily macros consumed so that you can make adjustments in your head.
When using the app on your phone, using the bar scanner to scan the barcodes off your foods is the simplest way. Almost everything you buy has a bar code. For items without a bar code, just search for the food name and select the closest match. When at a restaurant, type the restaurant name along with the item name and select the closest match. If you can’t find a restaurant item, just add the individual food items using the closest match you can find. This won’t always be exact but that is okay – just try to get as close to accurate as possible.
Q: Is it easy to eat this way, and was it hard to get used to eating so many carbs?
A: YES, it is VERY easy to eat this way. After a couple of months it just feels natural and is pretty much my lifestyle. It was actually very hard to mentally adjust to eating so many carbs. I had to really just trust the process because every night I battled mentally with taking in so many carbs and feeling “guilty”, but every morning (after the first couple of weeks) I woke up feeling lean and my abs felt “tight”. So I started every day feeling great about it but for about 7 weeks ended every day wondering and doubting. It also helped that every workout day was another reminder I was doing something right because I felt so good and always had some kind of PR. It was around 7 weeks when I was talking to a friend about my macro counting program that I realized that I was no longer doubting the process anymore.
Q: How quickly did you start to see results?
A: This happened slowly over the course of several weeks. At first I wasn’t sure if certain things were signs of it working. The most immediate sign was how I felt in the gym, and that was definitely IMMEDIATE. My mood and energy level changes were also pretty much immediate. Physical changes were slower. It was little things like my legs feeling tighter, my calves feeling smaller, and cutting my shins while shaving my legs. I noticed that my shoulders seemed more defined and along my traps area and near my neck, seemed smaller (I didn’t realize a lot of that was FAT!). In the second month I noticed more abdominal definition, mostly along to top of my abs, along with my love handles area getting smaller. Nearly 3 months in and I’m wearing jeans I hadn’t worn in almost 3 years.
Q: How did you measure your success with macro counting?
A: The gym primarily, and bodyfat tests second! If I felt awesome in the gym I knew I was doing things right. I watched the scale but always knew that it wasn’t likely going to change much and that I needed to watch for the “average” weight rather than exact weight. I only dropped 2.5 overall pounds during the first two months. Had I used the scale as my focus of measuring success I would have felt like an utter failure because 2.5 pounds seems like nothing. But I felt awesome in the gym and in doing before and after body fat tests as well I could see that it was 5 pounds of fat GONE, and 2.5 pounds of muscle GAINED!
Q: Is the program worth the money?
A: Yes, especially because you get access to the forum. When I first bought the books I didn’t dive into the forum very much. I regret that, as it might have motivated me to start sooner. But now that I am involved in the forum, and use it regularly I find it AWESOME! The moderators are wonderful, and are always readily available to help you along your ETP journey. They will answer questions right away, address any concerns you have, and motivate you. The forum alone is worth the $$$!
Q: What if you are working through an injury?
A: There are MANY people in the forum working through injuries. There is a forum category just for that where everyone discusses their issues, questions are answered, advice given, etc. There is always help available!
Q: How do I figure out what I should be eating?
A: It is best to get a Coach to help you calculate your macros.
But, even better is to join the Forum and post in the Newbie section and ask for help from the moderators. They will help you figure things out specific for you. Before doing this though, it is best to track your food for at least 3-4 days so that you know what you are currently eating and what your current macro consumption is. This information will help you determine where to start because if you are currently eating VLC (very low carb, 75g or less) you may want to work your way up to your suggested macros. Working your way up gives your body (metabolism especially) time to adjust. This will help avoid some of the feelings of bloating that might occur if you just jump right in. Avoiding that will help your motivation because nobody wants to start something new feeling bloated and gross – then you’ll just think this is crap and stupid! ha ha
Q: How much should I work out?
A: That answer is very individual. For me, I have found that 3 days of CrossFit (strength & metcon) is best, along with maybe some running and/or heavy lifting on the weekends if I have time. This works for me because when I go to the gym I give 100%. I don’t like to back off and give less effort and because of that if I go several days in a row I end up having awful workouts and will be feeling tired, cranky, and just plain crappy. So staying away from the gym in between workout days allows me to go all-out and give that 100% effort that I like to give because I’ve had 48 hours to recover and refuel. But everyone is different, and it will be up to you to try different things to find what works best for you. Generally, less working out if you really want to lean out because more of your days will be “Control” days.
Q: Do you ever eat training day carbs on rest days?
A: YES! I have noticed that if I sleep terrible (5 hours or less) and that day is a Rest day, eating training day carbs helps keep my energy balanced and I’m not quite as negatively affected by the lack of sleep. I’ve also noticed that after a competition I’m quite hungry for a couple of days and eating training day carbs helps me recover faster. This is why it is important to track your food and really pay attention to your body and how you respond to sleep, stress, and working out.
Q: What if I’ve been doing counting macros for several weeks and I don’t notice any changes?
A: Then it is time to hit the forum and start asking questions. The moderators can review your food log, find out what your workouts are like, and help tweak things to see if some changes help speed your results up. Some people need to make several changes to get it just right FOR THEM. And, even if you have great results in the beginning as you go along you may have plateaus and need to make tweaks. It is an ever-evolving process and as your body changes your needs may change as well. Try not to be discouraged and ALWAYS ask for help.
Q: Did you do anything specific prior to starting to count macros – to get ready for it?
A: Not on purpose. I actually did Whole30 for six weeks. I did it to break my sugar habit, which it was super helpful for that! I think that doing Whole30 really helped me to be successful with ETP because I really got over my bad habits and that was most important to me at the time. Plus, it was during Whole30 that I realized I was not eating enough food in general. When I saw my less-than-stellar bodyfat results after so many weeks of Whole30 I was disapointed and knew that although it had been good for me, it wasn’t working to help me put on muscle mass. It was then that I had also been seeing more chatter on my FB groups about ETP and remembered I had bought the books. So I started asking questions and decided to go straight from Whole30 to ETP! It was a great way for me to do it but only you can decide what might work best for you.
Q: How long are you going to count macros for?
A: I have no intentions of quitting. This plan works so well for me, and after so many weeks of it I feel like this is my new lifestyle. It is the only nutrition plan I have ever stuck with for more than 6 weeks. It is also the only nutrition plan I’ve been on that I don’t feel like I am starving all the time, and I don’t feel like I have to deprive myself of things I love. Since Whole30 broke my sugar habit, I don’t even miss the sodas and candy, and really don’t crave them at all anymore. When I do have sugary things like a piece of cake, a cookie, or maybe a Reeses cup it is actually almost too much and a small bit is PLENTY! I have sugary cereal (my favorite is Lucky Charms), but it isn’t so much sugar that I get derailed like I might if I were to drink a 20oz soda.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I use BlueBonnet Grassfed Whey-Casein protein powder daily, typically 2-3 shakes because I have a hard time eating enough protein most days. Sometimes I take Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and multi-vitamin supplements. I typically only take the vitamins if I’m not getting out in the sun or feel low energy even with eating enough and hitting my macros.