So glad to be with you on DAY 2 of your healthy, new adventure! Now that you know a little bit about what a macronutrient is (carbs, fats, and proteins), let’s talk about those more in depth. A strong understanding of what macros you should eat and what they do in your body is important to being successful here in ProjectU. So, here’s what we need you to know:
Protein: You need protein for growth, tissue repair, immune function, to make important hormones and enzymes, and to preserve lean muscle mass. One reason why calorically-restrictive diets don’t produce the results people want is because they cut ALL macronutrients, including protein. This results in a loss of muscle so people may lose weight, but their body composition doesn’t improve. They simply become smaller versions of what they were before. ProjectU is different in that it preserves the muscle mass you do have and builds more. As you lose fat throughout the program, a more “toned” physique is revealed because your muscle mass stays intact. Muscle also helps boost your metabolism so that the whole process goes more quickly. You want muscle (even if you’re not after the body building physique) because it helps you become stronger so you can DO more things and will help you have a more desirable body composition appearance. So, if you want to build muscle for function or for appearance, you need protein. Protein is found in poultry, fish, meat, eggs, and dairy (to some degree).
Fat: First things first–eating fat will not make you fat. You need fat to provide energy, make you feel full and satisfied, to absorb vitamins, to maintain healthy cell membranes, and for normal growth and development. There are three types of fats: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. We won’t monitor your consumption of these during ProjectU, but keep an eye on saturated fats as they’re known to increase your risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are found in things like avocados, coconut/olive/avocado oils, and nuts. These are great sources of fat.
Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates are needed in a healthy diet. As you go through ProjectU, you will experiment with different carbohydrate amounts and find the range that works the best for you as an individual. Avoiding carbohydrates all together is bad science, but you should monitor them and try to get them from the best sources possible. Carbs are used for energy (they’re the quickest energy source for your body), organ and central nervous system function, and intestinal health. You can find carbohydrates in vegetables (especially starchy ones like sweet potatoes), grains, and fruits.
A food is a food: nothing more, nothing less. Pizza is a food. It has a nutritional value (calories) and a nutritional makeup (carbs, fats, and proteins). Pizza is not the devil. Eating pizza does not make you a failure. Pizza, and all other foods, are like bricks. They are not inherently good or bad. What you DO with the brick makes its function good or bad. If you use the brick to build a hospital to help people, the brick is being used to do good. If you use the same brick to throw at a person’s head, the brick is being used to do harm. But at the end of the day, the brick is just a brick. The same is true of food.
At the end of this 8-day ecourse, you will be given a set of macronutrient goals for each day. These will change from week to week (and sometimes from day to day). Your only goal at this point is to eat the right combination of foods to meet your macronutrient goals. They can come from whatever sources you choose. We encourage you to eat whole foods as much as possible, but when you’re first starting out with tracking your macros, as long as you hit them, you’re good. We’ll refine your food choices as we go. So, your only responsibility is to hit your macro goals every day, by whatever means necessary.
Speaking of food choices, we have so many emotions tied to foods that it can make evaluating a food’s nutritional makeup (carbs, fats, and proteins) complicated because some foods are emotionally charged. We may love a food and associate it with good feelings (your grandmother’s chicken soup) or love the food and associate it with guilty feelings (pizza, ice cream, etc.). But we want to help you to shift the way you look at foods. They are simply foods. No need to feel guilty (which often leads to a binge) because you ate a particular food.
While no foods are off-limits, some foods will serve you better than others. For instance, if I’m hungry, a slice of pizza may not give me the most food for my macro allowances. My favorite pizza has 34c, 13f, and 13p per slice. For those same 34g of carbs, I could have 6.5 cups of broccoli. If I’m hungry and want more food volume (more food to fill my stomach), the broccoli would definitely give me more bang for my carbohydrate buck. It doesn’t mean that choosing the pizza is wrong or makes me a bad person. If you want the pizza, have it, as long as it fits within your macronutrient goals of the day. Watch this video to get a visual of idea of what we mean: What 200 Calories Looks Like.
As you work through ProjectU, you may begin to notice that certain foods make you feel badly (bloated, swollen, upset your stomach). WRITE THIS DOWN: how you feel and what you ate! Keep a journal and note what foods make you feel poorly. This will be important information as you learn to fuel your body. When these ugly reactions happen, it’s because certain foods are causing inflammation within your body. Inflammation can lead to all sorts of health concerns, so if you find that a particular food causes these issues for you, you’ll want to minimize your exposure to that food. These trigger foods will be different for everyone. Maybe I tolerate dairy just fine, but it makes you sick. Then you should avoid dairy. If gluten doesn’t bother you but leaves me feeling bloated and gross, I should avoid gluten and you don’t have to worry about that. Everyone’s guidelines will be different. We’re trying to find what works for YOU.
Now you know more about what macronutrients are and their functions, so here’s your assignment:
- Go back to yesterday’s journal/blog/etc.
- Write down today’s date. Answer the following questions:
- What misconceptions did I have about carbs, fats, and proteins?
- Looking at what I ate yesterday, where can I identify foods as carbs, fats, or proteins? (If you had oatmeal for breakfast, for instance, that’s primarily a carbohydrate. If you had a salad with meat for lunch, the meat served as a protein and the salad was a carb.) Go through a label as much as you can. You’ll get better at this as we go along.
- What emotional ties do I have to food? Am I an emotional eater? (eat because of how you feel not because of hunger or because you need food)
- What can I do to let go of whatever guilt/love/emotional ties I have to food so that I can see them for their function: to fuel the body?
Great job! Talk to you tomorrow!
All the best,
Ashley and the ProjectU Team