Macros. Not only are they the foundation for gaining muscle and losing fat, but they're the perfect starting point for meal prep. Whether you're a meal prep guru or a macro-counting enthusiast, you might not realise that the two can go hand in hand to accelerate your progress and save time.
So, what are macros?
You've probably heard of counting calories, measuring your body and working out fat percentages, but macros have only really come into the mainstream in the past few years thanks to fitness enthusiasts sharing their tips and advice on Instagram and Youtube.
Macros, short for macronutrients, describe the three key food groups human beings need to function. While we wish that meant pizza, chocolate and ice cream, it is in fact protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Proteins help repair muscle (think legumes, seeds, animal products and soya-based foods) while healthy fats keep you satiated (think avocados, eggs and dark chocolate) and carbs give you energy (think oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potato).
The key to all this is establishing the macro split you need to achieve your goals - whether that's burn fat or gain muscle. Meanwhile, calories are key if you're looking to simply lose or gain weight - eat more to gain, eat less to lose.
But if you're looking to get fitter, leaner and stronger then macros are key because it's all about where you get those calories and nutrition from.
How do I get started?
Set a goal. This is crucial, as your goal guides your eating habits. Work out how many calories you need and from there, break this down into macros and ultimately, you can plan your meals from there.
This is a good foundation to build your meal prep plans around (yep, this is where meal prep comes in!). By creating a meal plan based on the calories and macros your body needs to function and ultimate gain muscle or lose fat (or maybe both), you have a map by which you can plan a week or a month's worth of meals and prep ahead to save time and money and help you stick to your goals.
So, it all starts with working out your macros - and there are plenty of macro calculators online that you can use for free, so put down your pencil and paper and give this simple, quick calculator a go. Once you have your macro split into grams, the next step is choosing the right food to eat and how to get the right quantity of macros within your set meals.
For example, if your recommended macros are 50g of fat, 180g carbs and 121g protein (which equates to just over 1650 calories per day, according the macros calculator above for someone of average height and weight looking to lose weight), the challenge is then to translate this into healthy meals. Perhaps you want to eat three meals a day with a third of your fats, protein and carbs included in each to keep things simple.
On that basis, you can create health meals that help you hit your targets, and of course, supplemented with the right exercise regimen, you'll soon hit your goals!
Where does meal prep come in?
Regardless of your lifestyle, meal prepping your food ahead of time is a great way to save time, money and effort. Planning your meals to have the perfect amount of macros and prepping them for the week ahead means you can guarantee that you're getting the nutrients you need every day to help you towards your goals.
Our single, double and triple compartment containers are ideal for storing your meals in the fridge or freezer, popping in the microwave then cleaning in the dishwasher. They're BPA-free and reusable too, so you'll never run out of storage again!
Create a simple weekly meal schedule, re-using as many meals or ingredients as you like, and work in your protein, carb and fat-rich ingredients based on the amount you need. Look at incorporating snacks too, if you're struggling to reach your target. Protein can often be tricky, so look into the best protein powder to suit you and maybe bake your own protein snacks to eat throughout the week.
How do I stay motivated?
Inspiration is all around us these days thanks to social media. Find bloggers, Instagrammers and Youtubers who share their meal and macros inspiration to find meal ideas and keep you motivated. Maybe even start your own! That sense of community is sure to spur you on. Why not check out the Igluu Instagram? We share inspiration and motivation to help keep our meal preppers on track.
Similarly, taking progress photos can help you monitor how you're doing and will also give yourself a bit of motivation to stick at it. Once you see results, you'll never look back. Tracking your daily food intake and exercise can also really help. Apps like MyFitnessPal and LifeSum let you input all your food and activity, and track your macro and calorie intake in the process.
It might take you a few weeks to get into a new routine, especially if you're trying macros and meal prepping at once, but the two really do go hand-in-hand to help you stay on track, get the right amount of macros and calories and reach your target!