Find out why counting calories to lose weight isn’t enough for sustainable fat loss and what you should do instead!
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Tracking Macros Vs Counting Calories To Lose Weight

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For years we have been told that counting calories to lose weight is the most effective method, and although not entirely incorrect, it is dangerously incomplete. Learn about tracking macros instead and use the 4 macro food list cheat sheets that can be printed for a quick reference of food ideas to hit your target macronutrients.

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Remember back in the day when weight loss programs were all about counting calories? When the only thing anyone cared about was creating a calorie deficit?

Thank goodness those were the good old days because if you are still counting calories or you are in a weight loss program that tells you the “bottom line” is about creating a calorie deficit all I can say is come to the light.

My goal for you is to transform the way you think about food and fitness so as to not only lose fat, but also to ENJOY food as fuel to empower effective exercise in order to live strong and well for the time we are given.

No counting calories necessary. So what do we track instead? I talked all about the power of tracking macronutrients in this post, and you can download the podcast episode below for later!

Macronutrients (or macros) are the main nutrients that fuel our body and fall into 3 main categories – carbs, fat, and protein.

We track macronutrients because the calorie is not created equal.

A sweet potato, for example, is approximately the same amount of calories as a handful of pretzels and yet the nutrient density of the two is incomparable.

Sweet potatoes contain:

  • beta carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin E
  • fiber
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Anthocyanins

A handful of pretzels contains:

  • fiber,
  • iron,
  • zinc
  • folate

If they have been enriched, that is.

The point is this.

We need to retrain our minds to think differently about food (it was meant to be enjoyed!!) and equip our bodies to metabolize food in such a way that improves not only external fat loss but the visceral fat that lines our organs and arteries.

So today my clients are going to rejoice because I have finally gotten around to compiling 4 macro food list cheat sheets!

Learn more about how to lose fat by eating the RIGHT FOODS at the RIGHT TIME for the RIGHT REASONS below!

    4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets

    Keep scrolling for the printable macro cheat sheets.

    4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets

    Learn more about how to lose fat by eating the RIGHT FOODS at the RIGHT TIME for the RIGHT REASONS below!

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      4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets

      4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets
      4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets
      4 Macro Food List Cheat Sheets
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      Protein is the key to sustainable fat loss. If I were to break it down to one food or food group, in this case specifically lean protein. Protein is the building block for muscle and the support system. Your body needs to function well, welcome to the M perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on. We’re women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation. One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host on a Fullmer today. We’re talking about why you need to stop counting calories. And track macronutrients instead for decades, at least the majority of my lifetime, the health and wellness industry has told us to count calories. The message is this, that in order to lose weight and get. You need to live in a calorie deficit, work off more calories than you eat. And boom, you lose weight. This concept is not incorrect, but I would argue that it is terribly and even dangerously incomplete. Ana, why you might ask is counting calories a problem. Well, I’m so glad you asked don’t you love this one way conversation. We’re having. And this is the reason you need to stop counting calories alone because calorie counting does not account for nutrient density. Let me say that again, calorie counting does not account for nutrient density tracking and understanding. Nutrient density is the key to unlocking the power of food as a means of living well and losing. What is nutrient density and right as it matter, let’s unpack this a little bit and stay with me because we are going to give you lots of incredible resources by the end of this podcast that you do not want to miss. Macro nutrients are the basic building blocks of our total caloric intake. Carbs fats and proteins. So let me start with something here. When we’re talking about building blocks, we’re going to unpack this one by one, or maybe I should say we will stack them one by one, but at the base of this nutritional piece. When we determine how to calculate your nutritional needs in order to live well and ultimately lose fat. The very bottom of this pyramid is caloric intake. I am not ignoring calories. I’m simply suggesting counting calories alone is a very insufficient and incomplete means of losing fat or weight. So the building block here at the base is total caloric intake. The step above. Is breaking down those total calories into macronutrients. Those are the basic building blocks of your total caloric intake, broken down into three main groups, carbs fats and proteins micronutrients. However, are the layer above that yet we then take those macronutrients carbs fats and proteins, and we break them down even further into micro nutrients. Is where calorie counting, especially falls short. Let’s break it down in this hand. Pretend I have a sweet potato. In the other hand, pretend I have a handful of pretzels. They are approximately the same amount of calories. They are also the same macronutrient. Those first two building blocks are equal. Same amount of calories. Approximately there also would both fall into the macronutrient that is carbohydrates, handful of pretzels and a sweet potato. The now that’s assessed their micronutrient density here is where it breaks down. Sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, vitamin C potassium, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin B five, vitamin fiber chlorogenic acid anthocyanins. Don’t even ask me what that is, but I know it’s important and the body likes it. I think that’s a mineral don’t even know, but the point is very long list of things the body wants and needs to optimally function. Well, now let’s look at that handful of pretzels. If they have been enriched, they may have fiber, iron zinc, and fully, completely different micro nutrient density. The point is this tracking macro nutrients and prioritizing nutrient density is a mindful approach to eating and a more effective method of sustainable fat loss. There is one key word there that I want you to understand. Sustainable fat loss. One of the reasons that it is more sustainable is that when you understand why you are fueling your body and what you are fueling it with food becomes much less burdensome and you learn how to in fact, leverage what you are eating to live, lean fit, and well, as opposed to the deprivation mindset of counting calories. Let’s chat though. Let’s rewind a little bit in that statement and let’s chat for a second about the idea of mindful eating. We’ve heard a lot about the idea of mindfulness, the practice of mindfulness. It was originally derived from a Buddhist concept, a form of meditation. The idea being you’re fully engaged with an experience, including how you physically feel and emotionally perceive that experience in real time. In other words, being actively mindful of your present situation. So when we talk about mindful eating the goal is to replace the autopilot approach to food that has been cultivated over time in our lives with a more conscientious. And intentional approach. This involves sort of actively changing our eating practices. These might include eating slowly and without distraction. I don’t know about you. That’s very hard to do as a mom of three very young children, but trying to figure out ways to incorporate that listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full. There are various ways to change this habit. There’s another podcast coming where I’m going to talk about 21 tips to prevent overeating learning how to only eat until you’re full that’s coming. Stay tuned. This thing’s fishing between true hunger and non hunger triggers for eating, engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors, learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food. I talk with my clients about this concept. Eating to maintain overall health and wellbeing. Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure appreciating your food, or I would argue enjoying your food. Cause I fully believe food was meant to be enjoyed, not something to feel guilty about. So let’s talk, practice. They, in my life, one of the most beneficial changes I have made to incorporate this practice of mine. Eating actually came about. When I started to implement intermittent fasting into my life. This is a practice that we incorporate in my program, the faster way to fat loss with Ana my clients learn how to incorporate the 16 eight method. I think this is the most beneficial intermittent fasting practice. And I started this years ago probably for almost five years ago now. And then I started intermittent fasting and it means that I fast for 16 hours and I feed, or I eat my eating window is eight hours for me. I practice 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Zack primarily does 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. But when I changed this practice, one of the things that I noticed was how quickly I would eat food off of my kids’ plates. I did it without even thinking about. Breakfast was a great example. There might be a leftover sausage or half a pancake, and I would find myself just eating it right off of their plate. But when I started doing intermittent fasting, I had to force myself not to eat outside of my eating window, which meant not eating until 10 o’clock when my kids usually would eat earlier in the morning. So one of the mindful eating concepts that really struck me how many extra unnecessary calories I was putting in my body. Especially because they were usually relatively empty calories without even realizing it. And for me, it was eating leftovers off of my kids’ plates. So one way I have combated that even within my eating window is if there’s like one sausage left, for example, I will wrap up the plate with that one sausage and put it in the. To be clear if there’s only two bites of the sausage left. I do not keep that. I know there’s very hungry people in the world. I’m very well aware, but a couple of bites, I don’t keep that, but if there’s a full pancake that isn’t totally doused in syrup, I’ll put that in the fridge. I’ve learned to stop just picking stuff off of my kids’ plates and eating it is the point moms and dads, both. This is a simple, sneaky way of preventing unnecessary, extra calories, mindless. Calories calories that you are not intentionally thinking, how will this be feeling? My body will just feel my body in a way that is supporting lean disease fighting muscle, or is it just simply unnecessary calories? Don’t eat leftovers off of your kids’ plates. That is just one way of eliminating unnecessary. From your diet and practicing, mindful eating. Here’s the thing though. I want you to take it a step further. Mindful eating is important. Yes. There are habits that you can implement into your life to be more intentional about your eating habits. But I like people to learn how to take it a step further. My clients, we go into depth with this, but I want people to be mindful of how, what you are eating is actually fueling your body. Meaning we’re taking these macronutrients and trying to understand how are they actually fueling my body? Why does my body need an optimally function with carbs? Yo, don’t be eliminating entire food groups from your diet. The body was meant to function optimally with carbs, but the right carbs at the right time for the right reasons. So I want you to take it to the next level. I want you to start thinking how your body is physiologically, responding to the food you’re fueling it with and how this can power effective exercise or effective movement in your life to make you stronger and ultimately live a better quality of life. Let’s start bridging the connection between what you are eating and why you were eating it. Let’s talk about cars. Carbs are the quick energy source you need to fulfill your day-to-day activities. Meaning this carbs are the first go-to source of fuel that your body will reach for, for any day-to-day activity. Even just as you are sitting, as I’m sitting here talking, my body is demanding energy. It needs energy. The first energy source that is using is carb. When we talk about carbohydrates, I want you to prioritize high nutrient density carbs. Let me be clear about something. I also talk to my clients about this low nutrient density carbs are not off the table, but you need to understand. While you’re eating what you’re eating and the benefit of what you are eating. Start thinking about the carbs that you are putting into your body. I am going to list high nutrient density carbs that I encourage my clients to reach for first. Let me also say this. If you’ve not heard my podcast on whole food nutrition or read my blog post, whichever you prefer, I highly recommend that you look at it because I go into a lot of depth on what is the difference between natural food, organic food, artificial food. Does it make. I can tell you this. Yes. I believe it does make a difference. And the bottom line is this that I want you to avoid artificial ingredients and processed food. I want you to think natural food. If it is from the earth where it can give birth, that’s probably fair game. There’s a million versions of that quote. That’s what I’ve said for years, natural foods. So just here, these food lists with that idea in mind. Hi, nutrient density carbs that you should be reaching for first to fulfill your macro nutrient goals. Apples bananas, grapes, pineapples, Kiwis, mangoes, oranges, raisins dates, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries strawberries, watermelon cantaloupe, honeydew, dried mango, apple. I mean really dried fruit in general. No added sugar, please. Applesauce. Same idea. Try to avoid any added sugar, yogurt, kidney beans. Keenwah rolled oats, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chick, pea, pasta, peas, sweet potatoes. Potatoes tomatoes, corn onion, green beans, Brussels spouts, squash, peppers, snap peas. These would all be considered higher nutrient density carbs. Again, we want those micronutrients. We want to fuel our body with those micronutrients. We want more of that. Now let’s talk about low nutrient density carbs. Again, these are all natural carbs. There is nothing wrong with eating these. The key is you want to reach for the high nutrient density. First, these are still in our pantry. They just are not our go-to source of carbohydrates. So let’s give some examples. Some of these literally are coming right out of our pantry from our grocery list. Veggie straws. Remember I got three young kids, veggie straws, granola, rice rolls, tortilla chips, tortillas, granola bars, bread, bagels, Mac and cheese pea. Chris cauliflower straws, sweet potato chips, fruit bars. Pippies honey maple syrup. Cauliflower pizza, crust, rice noodles, English muffins, noodles, pasta, sweet potato fries, protein bars. I want to give you a really clear example here. The difference between these two lists. Notice I said pasta on both lists, but notice the difference traditional pasta, I would say is a low nutrient density carb. It’s natural. Pass does a very natural food. Okay. It doesn’t have to be processed or artificial, but traditional pasta is relatively speaking. Just sugar carbs. Basically get broken down for all intents and purposes into the same warehouse in your body as sugar, which is why you have to be careful. With the amount of carbohydrates, however, chick pea, pasta, I would argue as a high nutrient density carbohydrate. There are more micronutrients in chick, pea, pasta than in regular pasta. Also, I am going to give you a quick tip on carbs. This is my high dollar quick tip on carbs. You ready for this? You have tried it all. Worried you will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed want to achieve fat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your diet. Well, now you can, in the virtual faster way to fat loss with Ana. The six week fitness nutrition program, you will learn how to pair effective 30 minute workouts with all natural evidence-based nutritional strategies to leverage what you eat. And when you eat to reset your metabolism and burn fat fast, even that stubborn belly. I am a dual certified nurse practitioner, passionate about teaching sustainable strategies to promote fat loss and prevent disease. I have cheered on thousands of clients who have done just that with the faster way program in my six week program, the average client currently shed seven inches of body. 93% report, more energy and 89% state that their mental health has improved 100% of clients report. They feel this program is sustainable. Curious to try the program, but not sure if the strategies will work for you. Try the faster way strategies for free head to and sign up for my free seven day fast. Accelerator course today and start your own transformation story. What is the easiest way to tell if a carbohydrate is high density or low density, nutrient density? That is, can you guess? I feel like I’m a teacher right now. Can you take a guess? Raise your head. I’m just kidding. Don’t raise your hand. Somebody might think you going crazy. Okay. The biggest difference is this a tip on knowing the difference between high nutrient density and low nutrient density carbs is fiber fiber content. If you are questioning, you are looking at two options, they’re both carbs. And you’re wondering what should I prioritize? Prioritize the one that is higher in fact. Fiber. Yes, it is a carbohydrate, but it is broken down differently by the body. And to make it very simple, it is not quite seen the same as a non fibrous carb, where you’ve got more concerned about blood sugar and how it’s converting. Into glucose. That was a really poor explanation, but I don’t need to get overly technical with this. The bottom line is that fiber is seen a little differently by the body in a positive way. So high nutrient density carbs tend to be higher in fiber. This is in fact why in my program, when we calculate. The macronutrient of carbohydrates, we actually calculate total net carbs, which is total carbs. Minus fiber. We take fiber out of the equation. If it’s a fibrous carbohydrate, like the grams on the nutrient labels say fiber, we take those out. So your total net carbs are carbs minus fiber. So prioritize carbs high in fiber. That’s my high dollar one liner. Let’s talk about fat, the macronutrient of fat fat. There’s so many different ways that fat supports our body physiologically as women. Hormone function is a huge element. This is why some women I’ve actually had clients do my program to gain weight, to gain fat. And the reason is because women actually need a certain body fat percentage in order to have optimal hormone function. So fat is very important. Now you have to be careful and I won’t go into this here. This is a different podcast for different time. You can eat too much fat, even too much healthy fat fat is still fat, which is why we need to track it carefully and understand how our fat is breaking down. This is the macronutrient. People tend to eat too much of myself included. So just be careful with fat, but it is also the second energy source for the body after carbs. When carbs are depleted, that is our next energy. That is also very important. So there is such a thing as healthy fats. You might recognize these as being called omega-3 fatty acids, and I do recommend that you prioritize food that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. I have some exciting news for you. These lists that I’m reading these macro food lists. They are available on the show notes as a print out they’re available on my If you’re watching this on YouTube in the show notes description here on the video, there is also a link to the show notes on my And you can print out these food lists. Okay. On the fat food list, I have an asterisk beside the food. That are higher in omega three fatty acids. You want to prioritize these foods. All right. But all of these are still good sources of. Walnuts butter, tuna protein powder, PS, our favorite protein powders or gain. I am an affiliate of that program. I need to disclose that I love organ powder. That is what we use in our house. Extra Virgin olive oil, canola oil, chia pudding. I cannot get my head around. Chia pudding. You guys. I have tried, I have had clients bless their heart. They have sent me their recipes. I don’t know. I can’t do it. I’m continuing to try. It’s tough. Chia pudding. Listen, if you’re listening to this and you have a really good chia pudding recipe, send it my way. It is a micro, nutrient dense powerhouse. I should like it. I’m having a hard time though. Flaxseed hemp, part salmon, chia seeds, eggs, beef sticks, ground beef, bacon beef sausages, pork sausages, chicken sausages. We, a lot of chicken sausages in our house. Oftentimes they can be relatively lean. Some are higher in fat guacamole, pistachio. Yogurt almond butter, peanut butter, cashews, pecans, almonds, olive oils, Manny. There’s others. These are just ones that, you know, obviously they can cross more than one macronutrient, by the way. Let’s talk about the third one, protein, my personal very favorite macronutrient protein is the key to sustainable fat loss. If I were to break it down to one food or food group in this case, It is protein just as we generally consume too much fat, a common trend that I’ve seen among my clients is we do not consume enough protein, specifically lean protein. Protein is the building block for muscle and the support system. Your body needs to function and function. Protein is key. One of the best reasons to track macronutrients, even if you are already fit and a healthy body fat percentage, it is an education in the food trends of your day-to-day life. When I first tracked macronutrients, this was years ago, maybe shortly after I started intermittent fasting. I actually don’t remember. I was shocked how much fat I was consuming and how little protein I was consuming. And I love protein. I like to call myself a meatatarian quite accurate. I love my protein and yet I was shocked how little I was still consuming. So we want lean proteins. Those of you who have high cholesterol in the family, be aware of your risk factors, another podcast for another day, but know your risk factors because it will, should, and will guide your food choices. For me, high cholesterol is something I have to be very, very careful of breaking it down even further into your high cholesterol. Mine is my LDL. We have a genetic predisposition to heart disease in my family, again, another podcast for another day, but I have to watch my saturated fat. Even though I’m a healthy body, fat percentage. And fact, I lean towards the lean body fat percentage category, but I still have to watch my saturated fat. So know your risk factors when I talk protein is key. I am not giving you license to eat a burger, every meal. All right. You still need to understand the importance of the food that you’re consuming even within these macro nutrients. So lean protein really is key. I’m going to give you a whole list here. A lot of these are also perfect for my vegan vegetarian client. All right. Or for those of you listening. Here we go also a quick tip. If you have not listened to my whole food nutrition podcast or read the blog post, you want to prioritize meat that has no added hormones or preservatives. It doesn’t have to be organic. Organic is the easy button, but otherwise no added hormones or preservatives. Please for your sake. All right, here we go. Ground Turkey, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, pork Tenderloin, pork chops, bacon ground beef roast beef flank steak, shrimp Juna Mahima salmon Cod ham deli, meat, tofu, eggs, protein powder, black beans chickpeas, flax seed, almonds, cashews, hemp hearts, college and peptides hummus, chicken, sausage beef, sausage, pork sausage chia pudding. There’s that she had putting again. Got to get it. Apples, beef jerky, beef sticks, chicken burgers. Oh, I have chicken burgers on there twice. Huh? Apparently we love our chicken burgers, but all for those of you that print off these food lists, you’ll have chicken burgers on it. Twice. Salami keenwah rolled oats, peanut butter, almond butter. I mean, the list goes on and on the idea is you want to prioritize protein, lean protein. Specifically these cheat sheets are available. These food lists, as I mentioned to help you prioritize your pantry. Fat loss is not just about calories in and calories out. You guys all know how I feel about weight loss. I hate to even use the term because weight and the number on a scale is a terrible reflection of your overall health or even your fitness and nutrition goals, podcasts coming on that as well. I’m all about body fat percentage. For so many reasons, we’re going to talk about it, how to measure it at home. So many good things coming, but weight loss, fat loss, it is not just about calories in and calories out. That last happens when you mindfully fuel your body with the right food at the right time for the right reasons, muscle gain happens when you strengthen your body with the right exercise, as well as feeling it with the right foods, simply put. That last happens in the kitchen. Muscle tone happens in the jail. Primarily that is simplifying you very complicated process, but I want you to understand nutrition is 90% of the fat loss pie chart. It is 90% of living well and tracking macro nutrients is a more efficient way of accomplishing that goal. So we understand that calories alone are not enough, right? We have this nutritional pyramid, this nutrition for fat loss, pyramid calories make up the base. My clients, when they come into my program, we use a formula, a formula people, not just, well, this is the, this is what I want to weigh. So this is how many calories need to consume. No, no, no, no. Forget that. There’s going to be a formula that we use to calculate the amount of calories that your body requires based on your activity level, your age, your gender, your current body density, et cetera. Total caloric intake is important. Yes, that is the base. But then we need to determine how many macro nutrients should be broken down within that total caloric requirement. That means a certain percentage of carbs fats and proteins. We determine that, and we come up with a specific personalized gram goal. So you need X amount of grams of fat a day. You need X amount of grams of protein a day. This is where programs come in. You can certainly start tracking your food. I think it is a great education, but the problem is if you don’t know how to interpret what you’re tracking, it’s very difficult and can just feel overwhelming. Cause tracking foods like a full-time job. I always tell my clients tracking food is not the end goal. It’s an education, it’s a temporary goal. Um, we do it temporarily to recognize food trends so that you can start understanding why you’re eating, what your. So the bottom line is this in my fitness nutrition program. We learn how to eat the right foods at the right time for the right reasons. I would love to have you join my program. There’s a lot of other good programs out there. Make sure they account for macronutrients, not just count. I think that is the most optimal way of going about it. You can click on the link, certainly in the show notes to see when my next round starts of the fast rate of fat loss with Ana, I would love to coach you through your own fitness, nutrition journey. We need to retrain our minds to think differently about. Quit counting calories to deprive yourself of food and start tracking macronutrients to fuel yourself with the essential life-giving micronutrients, because ultimately food was meant to be in. I will see you next time here on the podcast. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. If you are watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode before. If you are listening via your preferred podcasting platform, would you help keep us on the air by rating our show and leaving an honest review of your thoughts from today in case you haven’t heard it lately, your story matters and you are loved. This is your host on a former, and I will see you here next time on the, in perfectly empowered podcast.

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