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The Ultimate Guide to Macronutrients

Time to Rethink Everything You Know About Macros

A Micro Look at Macros

Let’s Start With the Basics: What Are Macronutrients?

The fitness industry loves to throw around “macros” like we’re all just supposed to know what that means. And even when they do define what they are, no one actually explains how they affect our metabolism and biology. So, rather than assume that you already have a PhD in Physiology, let’s start with the basics and make sure you understand what macros are and why they matter–because they matter a lot!

If you’re alive, you’ve already had a lot of experience with the six basic nutrients. These are protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients–you get them from consuming the others (or from supplements). You can also get some water from eating (speaking of, it’s time for a hydration check! Grab a tall glass of water; this is a long AF article). That just leaves the macronutrients–protein, fat, and carbs.

Lots of folks seem to think that tracking their macros is the end-all-be-all of losing weight and looking hot. And while tracking macros with the right intentions is perfectly fine, the minute you start tracking every morsel you eat and stressing out over it, it’s no longer something that’s going to help you in the long term. Knowing how to measure the appropriate serving size of protein for your body is a great example of appropriate macro tracking, but tracking every calorie like calories are your enemy definitely isn’t.

Don’t Worry - There Are Only Three Macronutrients to Think About

About that acronym we promised: PHFF covers all of the macronutrients you’ll ever need to know–Protein, Healthy Fat, and Fiber. Technically this doesn’t include carbs, but we’ll get to that in a sec.

The P Stands for Protein

Protein is crucial for every cell in your body (muscle, skeletal, organs, hair, skin nails–everything!). This is why it’s crucial to have an adequate intake of protein. Protein is also the most satiating nutrient, meaning it makes you feel full and shuts off our hunger signals. Finally, since our body has to break down protein into its building blocks (called amino acids), protein takes more energy for our bodies to metabolize. This is known as  the thermal effect of food, and that’s really what makes protein the  MVP macro for fat loss.

The HF Stands for Healthy Fat

Healthy Fat is our body’s superpower–it can slow down time. OK, it may not literally slow down time, but it does slow down digestion and the rise of blood sugar levels. This means it keeps us feeling full and satiated since it takes longer to digest, and it makes sure our blood sugar levels stay slow and steady.

When you’re feeling fuller longer and don’t experience those sharp blood sugar spikes and crashes, you don’t get those brain signals demanding more sugar and carbs ASAP. In other words, eating healthy fat is the best way to curb those common mid-afternoon/late-night cravings that can result in a PB-and-Oreo binge. 

Finally, fat is needed to absorb lots of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and even to synthesize hormones. If protein is the building block of tissues, then fat is the building block of the brain. Without fat’s fatty acids and the neurotransmitters it produces, you can kiss learning and memory goodbye.

The F Stands for Fiber

Fiber is here, not only because fiber is crucial to avoid…certain issues…but because we don’t want to include all carbohydrates in PHFF. Don’t get us wrong; carbs are great–they’re where you get fiber from, and they help break down spare fatty acids and proteins. But carbs can also wreak havoc on blood sugar levels when consumed by themselves

This is where PHFF comes in. When you consume fiber-rich carbs along with protein and healthy fat, this dramatically slows the uptake of sugar in the bloodstream. Steady blood sugar keeps the body in fat-burning mode. In other words, PHFF slows blood sugar while still getting you enough glucose, aka sugar or energy. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy–your brain, nerve cells, and developing red blood cells can’t function with it. Carbs really are a friend–they’re just that friend who requires constant supervision.

Are Macros Healthy? I Heard I Should Avoid Some of Them

The only thing avoiding macros is good for is winding up six feet under. It is impossible to avoid macros. Instead, your goal should be to make them a friend rather than a foe so you can thrive rather than just survive. Now that you know what each macro does for your body, you’re probably beginning to see why diets that focus on restricting specific macros or eating the smallest portions possible are not a great idea.

You want to eat because you need to eat. As a matter of fact, undereating actually slows down your metabolism. Ever go on a diet, lose weight, then almost immediately gain it all back? That’s because your body pumped the brakes and slowed everything down so that your organs could continue to function despite the sudden lack of calories. And when you went off the diet, your body didn’t get the memo; it just kept burning fewer calories even though you started eating more, leading to weight gain.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you drive your car to and from work every day on one tank of gas. Then let’s say there’s a gas shortage, so you’re only able to fill your tank ¾ of the way each day. You still have to get to work, so you’ll get creative. You either have to use less gas (buy a hybrid!) or find a shortcut. You can’t just keep using the same amount of gas and not expect to wind up stranded on the side of the road. Your body does the same thing when you stop giving it adequate fuel.

But don’t let this scare you if you’ve been dieting for a long time and suspect your metabolism isn’t doing so hot. It can be built back up to its former strength by eating enough calories–particularly the PHFF macronutrients.

Why Do Macros Get a Bad Rap?

People love to hate on specific macros. For at least a half-century now, we’ve see-sawed back and forth between fat being the supposed bad guy, to carbs…Honestly, we’re just waiting for protein to be hated on at this point.

The truth of course is that no macro is bad on its own. Macros only become unhealthy when we make them unhealthy with overprocessing, the addition of high fructose corn syrup, and maybe even a little too much genetic modification. When highly processed boxed and frozen foods and sugar-laden beverages are the staples of our diet, macros will naturally get a terrible reputation that they don’t really deserve. 

Real macros - or real food - help more than they harm; fake macros - or fake food - like the ones we’ve only recently invented rarely help at all. Macronutrient balance is still the key to a healthy diet, just as it has for as long as humans have been around.

Now that you know what macros really are, you don't have to think poorly of any of them anymore. They're the building blocks of our bodies–the one thing we can't do without! So the next time you hear someone hate on carbs or fat, tell them that they shouldn’t talk about themselves like that.

How Many Macros Do I Need?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to macros; the amount of balanced macronutrients you need each day may be totally different from the amount your friend Susan needs. This is why a PHFF mindset emphasizes understanding your own body, rather than just counting calories. Fueling your body properly and decreasing hunger pangs is way more effective than just plugging numbers into an app.

Your macro needs depend on how much you move, the type of movement you do, how much lean muscle mass you have, how much sleep you get, your hormonal health, and whether or not you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or a certain age--basically everything.

The secret to counting macros isn’t to know exactly how much you need, but how to adjust your consumption to fit your specific and ever-changing needs. That’s why we talk about ranges and how to use those ranges to adjust to what the body currently needs.

PHFF Ranges per Meal

Protein at 20 - 40 grams
Fat at 10 - 30 grams
Fiber 5 - 10 grams
Carbs 30 - 40 grams from starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, beans, crackers, etc. PHFF starches are eaten 1-3 times per day pending on factors like your activity level. It’s also important to note that starchy carbs don’t include food like dairy products, nuts, or vegetables in PHFF.

Protein is the starting point. We don’t care what your metabolic health looks like, or how many calories your body currently requires each day when you begin PHFF–your muscles MUST get adequate protein, period. The simplest way to find your protein target is to take your weight in pounds and multiply it x 0.8. So if someone weighs 150 pounds, 150 lbs x 0.8 = 120 grams of protein per day.

“But I weigh 220 pounds right now, that puts me at 176 grams of protein per day!” No worries; another option is to use your desired body weight x 1.0 and use that number instead. What really matters is making sure you’re consuming enough protein to support your lean muscle AND keep you highly satiated.

How Many Calories Are in Each Macronutrient?

Calories are stupid, but here’s their relationship to macronutrients. Macronutrient calories are:

Protein, 4 kcals/gram.
Fat, 9 kcals/gram.
Carbohydrates, 4 kcals/gram.
Fiber–we don’t digest or absorb fiber, so we don’t get calories from fiber (technically fiber might have a fraction of a calorie, but it’s way too small to worry about).
And a bonus: Alcohol is 7 kcal/gram, but isn’t a nutrient. Yikes.

If you were to focus on calories alone to dictate your diet, you’d be tempted to cut out fat. At its 9 kcals/gram, it’s more than double the calories of protein and carbs. But, knowing what fat does for you, that’s not a good idea. Typically what we see when people cut fat is that they get hangry and bored with their food, because fat makes food taste good. This leads to overeating due to hunger and the craving for delicious tastes and flavors.

It’s not that calories don’t matter–they definitely do. But focusing on calories exclusively is not a good weight loss strategy. If that worked, 90+% of diets wouldn’t fail. We’d all just track our calories, eat less, exercise more, lose weight, and be happy! 

But what this typically ends up looking like is: eating less, exercising more, getting hungrier and hungrier, overeating, gaining back any weight we lost, and continuing to ride the shame spiral until we throw up our hands and start Googling. Maybe that’s how you wound up here! When we don’t eat enough food, the body demands more of it. Biology beats willpower every time.

When we do macronutrients the PHFF way and just focus on the approximate amount of macros we eat at each meal, it’s still very possible (and probable) to eat in a caloric deficit without having to count calories. That’s because you’re eating for satiation–which is what eating is for. Protein, healthy fat, and fiber are high satiating; that’s why they deserve so much emphasis.

Macronutrient Sources: What Are Macros in Food?

Focusing on PHFF macros is way more fun than worrying about calories. When we think about limiting calories, we think about foods like low fat yogurt, oatmeal, chicken salads, tuna and a number of other foods that quickly get boring. But when we’re looking at macros instead of calories, we can get way more creative.

Take, for example, some of our favorite foods:

Breakfast Option 1: Full-fat greek yogurt parfait with raspberries, coconut flakes, and cashew butter

Breakfast Option 2: Cheesy scrambled eggs with tomatoes and a side of blueberries 

Lunch Option 1: Avocado Chicken Salad with sourdough crackers 

Lunch Option 2: Adult Lunchables with turkey, cheddar, grapes, and olives 

Dinner Option 1: Lentil pasta primavera with olive oil and herbs 

Dinner Option 2: Steak tacos with avocado, onion, and cilantro

I’m getting hungry just writing about it!

Sooo… How Do I Track These Things?

The way to correctly track macros may be different from what you’re expecting. It doesn’t involve putting your weight and activity level into an app and letting it compute a certain amount of calories and macro ranges. This is how most people do it, but it isn’t the best way. 

When you do it this way, you’re relying on an app that can’t take any unique thing about you into account. It also forces people to under-eat, or sometimes even over-eat to ensure that they get in all of their macros. This method actually didn’t come from the fitness industry–it came from clinical nutrition. We would only use this method when working with a hospital patient who needs nutrition support.

Outside of that, the best way to “track” macros is by building your meals and using a range of all the PHFF parts as a guide. It’s best to start with protein and build your meals around that.

When you appreciate that your body doesn’t operate like a calculator, you begin to listen to your body’s natural cues for needing more of something–like protein if you’re hungry too soon after a meal.

To give one colossal example (and listen up ladies, we’re talking to you here) - most of you eat way too little protein and underestimate the importance of lifting some weights and growing those muscles. Undereating protein and being undermuscled is a primary reason menopausal women struggle so much with their weight. Insulin resistance and hormonal chaos doesn’t help either, but even that can be supported with more protein, less carbs, and stronger muscles!

Relying on an app to tell you when you’re allowed to eat more of each food group is a great way to be completely unaware of what your body needs. An app can’t replace your self-knowledge, and treating an app as though it can causes a lot of people major confusion.

Helpful Hint: Where to Find the Macronutrients on a Nutritional Label

First things first–ignore the Daily Value percentages. Those are based on the 2000 kcal diet, which may be fine for some, but not everyone eats that way or needs to eat that way. Remember, we’re after PHFF macros, not calories. Instead of calorie counting, use the nutrition label to guide you when looking at macronutrients, like grams of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber per serving.

Also, since servings feature on nutrition labels, be aware that you don’t need to use serving sizes to dictate how much you eat. Instead, use them to figure out how much of each macronutrient you are actually eating. For example, a serving size of cottage cheese might have 12 grams of protein in it, but if you eat 1 cup of it, then you are actually getting 24 grams of protein (which would put you into the protein range you should aim for).

Rather than ever assuming that a food is “good” or “bad” again based on a quick glance at the nutrition label, use the label to see for yourself if this food can be worked into one of your balanced meals. If not, how could you pair it with other foods to increase its protein, fat, or fiber? Put on your detective cap and do some investigating to see how it might fit into one of your meals.

Getting to Know Your Macros, Chapter 1: Protein!

“What does protein do for your body?” How long have you got? Every cell in your body craves the macronutrient protein, and when it comes to our daily intake, protein is the most satiating nutrient. It keeps us full, shuts off those pesky hunger signals, and revs up our metabolism. 

25-30 grams of complete protein (“complete” meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids, especially the wondrous blood-sugar regulating and wound healing leucine) builds muscle mass and slows muscle decay. Animal sources of protein like chicken, pork, steak, tuna fish, and salmon fish are excellent sources of leucine. One large egg alone has .6 grams of leucine, making it a quintessential high protein food. By the way, incomplete proteins like collagen (which lacks the indispensible amino acid tryphotan) still count towards hitting your protein goal!

Plant sources of protein do contain leucine as well, but at much smaller amounts than animal proteins. The difference between plant and animal protein (which we talk more about here) is the amino acids they contain and the differing amounts of those amino acids. Both are beneficial! Animal protein contains higher amounts of vitamin D, B12, and K, heme-iron, zinc, and omega 3. Plant sources are higher in fiber, vitamin C and flavonoids. A diet that consists of a variety of these proteins naturally provides you with a wider variety of nutrients.

Protein supplements can also be a great way of helping us reach our protein intake goal. That being said, supplements are just that–supplementary. They should be used alongside food sources of protein. When looking for a good protein powder it is good to keep a few things in mind:

  • It should offer at least 20 grams of protein per serving

  • It should have limited sugar, artificial sweeteners and/or sugar alcohols

  • It should be low in inflammatory oils

You should also look for label verification and reputable brands when shopping for a protein supplement.

We frequently advise our clients that women generally don’t eat enough protein (to clarify, most of our clients are women). Our overarching recommendation is 0.8 grams protein per pound of body weight. This can be overwhelming for some who are significantly overweight, so instead we ask them to shoot for a target of 100-150 grams daily. What we ideally want is the consumption of 1g protein per pound of lean body weight, but this can be difficult to determine if one doesn’t know their body fat percentage/lean body weight. 

So, for example, if you weigh 123 lbs and have 20% body fat, you’d need 98g (80% of 123) protein per day to maintain healthy muscle tissue. While 100-150g is a really wide range, almost all women will fall within this range no matter what their body weight is.

The Question You All Came Here For: Is Protein Good For Weight Loss?

The rumors are true and the hype is real–a high protein diet is good for weight loss! Hunger is the #1 driver of overconsumption, and protein sends hunger running for the hills. Protein also contains amino acids, the building blocks of our muscle, which directly impacts our metabolic rate. 

Not only is muscle largely responsible for a healthy metabolism, it also creates desired body composition. Everyone wants to lose weight so that they look toned. Well guess what–”toning” is muscle, and muscle is only possible with adequate protein.

The Thermic Effect of Protein

It takes energy (aka calories) for our body to break down, digest and absorb food. About 10% of our daily calories are used just for this. Protein uses the most energy of any macronutrient for our body to digest. In other words, higher protein intake means more calories get burned to break down and use the food that we eat. This is called TEF or the Thermal Effect of Food. It’s another reason why protein is so great.

Does Protein Boost Metabolism Then?

Protein helps us build muscle. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn at rest (like when we’re chilling on the couch). So, does protein “boost” your metabolism? You could say that, but really it’s the replacement of fat with muscle that boosts metabolism–which is exactly what protein helps with!

Would You Recommend a High-Protein Diet for Weight Loss?

We prefer to think of optimal protein intake, rather than “a high protein diet.” What is optimal for YOU? That’s what matters most. A high protein diet is generally thought of as a diet that is primarily animal protein and low on carbs and fat–in PHFF, that’s the last thing we want! We want you to prioritize protein, eat the optimal amount for your body, and fill in the rest of your diet with other delicious, nutrient-rich macros.

So, think prioritize protein instead of “high protein.” You don’t need to only eat protein to reap the benefits. Not to mention, a high protein diet is extremely expensive and often not attainable.

PHFF is the opposite of short-term extremes; it’s all about long-term balance. PHFF calls for the Goldilocks approach to protein intake. We don’t want too much or too little–we want just right, and that means just right for you.

Helpful Hint: A Handy List of My Favorite High Protein, Low Calorie Foods

Now that you know the protein ranges that you should aim for and where to find them on the nutritional label, you can go out and discover a plethora of delicious meals on your own. However, in order to get your imagination going, let me tell you about my favorite go-tos for high protein, low calorie food!

  • Plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is one of my favorites because you can load it up with other nutrient dense foods like berries, nut butter, and coconut to create a filling, sustainable meal or snack. You can also just mix it with a little protein powder for a super quick high protein, low calorie snack.

  • High quality protein powder. There is nothing quicker, easier, and higher protein than a high-quality protein powder with very few ingredients. A few of my favorites are Kion, Be Well by Kelly, and Eat Wholesome. 

  • Sirloin steak. It’s filling and delicious! Leaner cuts of steak are one of my favorite ways to eat protein with a side of high fiber veggies, or as steak tacos. 

  • Cottage cheese. I especially love Two Good cottage cheese because it’s higher in protein than other cottage cheeses and it’s super creamy and delicious. You can also get these in single serving packs, making it easy to bring along to work. 

  • Shrimp. Seafood gets a bad rap for being difficult to prepare, but shrimp is actually super easy to prep. It will thaw in just a few minutes under water and only take another couple minutes to cook through on the stove in a little olive oil or butter. Add a splash of coconut aminos, rice, and veggies for a quick and easy high protein meal. 

  • Ground beef - Another quick and easy one to prepare–super versatile and inexpensive! 

  • Beef sticks. Paleovalley, Thrive Market, and Chomps all have high-quality beef sticks that are a scrumptious high-protein snack.

  • Cheese sticks. Another high-protein snack that is easy to grab that both kids and adults love! We usually classify cheese as a fat, but string cheese is particularly high in protein and usually clocks in at around 7g protein per stick.

Protein Sources

Not sure where to start on your PHFF grocery list? We recommend this flavorful variety of great protein sources:

Yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken breast, chicken thigh, turkey, ground turkey, tuna, salmon, mahi mahi, shrimp, beef, lamb, tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, chickpea or lentil pasta, edamame.

Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein: Which is Better For Weight Loss?

Plant-based protein is protein, too! All types of protein have important functions in the body, no matter where we obtain them. However, when we’re looking at weight loss in particular, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to plant versus animal protein. So let’s look at the “protein density” of animal versus plant protein.

In order to eat 30g of protein while eating a steak, you would have to eat 4 oz of cooked sirloin, which clocks in at 230 calories. To eat 30g of protein while eating black beans, you’d have to eat 2 cups of beans at 450 calories. To eat 30g of protein while eating edamame, you’d need 1 ½ cups at 300 calories. And to eat 30g of protein while eating peanut butter, it would take almost ½ cup of peanut butter at 735 calories.

The reason these plant-based proteins have more calories and are less satiating than animal protein, is because they generally contain more fat or carbs than actual protein. For example, 2 cups of black beans have 88 grams of carbs and ½ a cup of peanut butter has 65g of fat. Because of this, we have to look at plant-based proteins a little differently.

If we’re trying to get high amounts of protein for satiation and muscle building, it’s going to be more difficult to do that with plant protein. But that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight if you’re a vegetarian. It just means you’ll want to be more conscious of including protein at your meals, and one way to do that is by using a high-quality plant-based protein powder once a day.

What’s Your Take on Protein Shakes?

We are HUGE fans of protein shakes. They’re so easy and, let’s be real, protein is the least convenient macronutrient. The key is quality and balance–we aren’t talking about your mom’s Slimfast shakes–we’re talking about PHFF shakes that are well-balanced and filling! Most of what’s on the market is absolute garbage, however there are more and more companies creating quality powders lately.

We know that eating a high-protein breakfast reduces overeating and prevents weight gain compared to a low protein breakfast. Not only that, but a high protein breakfast helps prevent the blood sugar rollercoaster and gears up the body for the rest of the day. 

So we REALLY want to make it easy for people to access a high protein breakfast, and frankly eggs are tough. To get even 20g of protein with eggs, you’ll need to eat 4 eggs. That’s fine for some, but many people struggle to eat that many eggs (I personally can only eat 2 before I start to get an upset stomach). Plus, many people just don’t have time to prepare breakfast in the morning. So protein shakes are a quick, easy option that still gets the job done.

The biggest downside is quality. Most pre-made protein shakes are chemical concoctions worthy of a Hazmat team. Unfortunately, a lot of the brands you’ll find online that are inexpensive are packed with cheap fillers and artificial ingredients. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to pick out a good quality protein powder.

Alright, What About Protein Supplements?

We live in a world where convenience is a necessity. Sure, eating a grass-fed steak or organic chicken or wild-caught salmon might be a better source of protein, in that they’re filled with other important nutrients. But they’re expensive to buy and often labor-intensive to prepare. This is why a once-a-day usage of protein powder is A-OK.

We also love creatine. It’s a widely studied supplement that is shown to support muscle growth, and we know that muscle = metabolic money. If we had to bet my cars on a supplement helping someone lose fat, we would bet on creatine over a “fat burner” any day.

Aminos are also an excellent supplement, especially for those who are vegetarian and not getting a lot of complete proteins. Branched-chain amino acids used to be all the rage because we know that it’s the BCAA’s that actually contribute to muscle repair and growth. However, what we now know in 2023 is that our body actually utilizes BCAAs MUCH more effectively when taken together with other essential amino acids. So I would recommend getting a product that includes all 9 essential amino acids, not just the 3 BCAAs. Kion is the brand we use and recommend.

Getting to Know Your Macros, Chapter 2: Healthy Fats!

Fat is often treated like the Big Bad Wolf of the nutrition world, but the benefits of healthy fat are huge. Knowing good fats and what healthy fats to eat completely changes the dietary game from flavorless self-torture to appetizing self-discovery. So what are healthy fats, and what are foods with healthy fats in them that we should prioritize eating?

Generally, we want to be eating at least 60g of fat per day for hormone health. That’s the baseline. Beyond that, an appropriate range for fat intake while trying to lose weight is 0.3 - 0.8g of fat per pound of body weight. This is a wide range, but on the higher end of that fat range, we’re looking at low carb diets. On the lower end we’re thinking of more balanced macronutrient diets.

What we recommend for people on the PHFF plan is 1-3 servings of fat per meal, with 1 serving equally roughly 10g of fat. You can even start with 1 to 2 servings and build up to 3. We do this because we want our clients’ meals to keep them feeling full for around 4 hours. Fat slows digestion and helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer. If we find a particular client is getting hungry after 2 hours, we first look at whether they’re getting adequate protein. Then, we check if they’re including fiber. Finally, we consider adding another serving of fat.

If you’re looking for some healthy fat inspiration, here’s our guide on how to cook with healthy fats.

The Four Dietary Fats

Differentiating between the four different kinds of fat makes a world of difference to our health and our future. These are saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat. Let's discuss each of these in more detail so that you know which are chow-down material and which are sketch.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are needed to maintain essential biological processes. This is one of the types of fat that often gets a bad rap, but when we look at the results of long-term studies, the evidence against saturated fat is actually quite weak. What’s important when consuming saturated fat–as with any fat!–is to focus on whole-food sources like whole-fat dairy, full-fat coconut milk, and grass-fed beef.

Monounsaturated Fat

Monosaturated fats appear to reduce cardiovascular diseases such as heart problems. They also improve cholesterol levels and reduce both blood pressure and inflammation. They’re found in olives, avocados, and some nuts.

Polyunsaturated Fat

When it comes to polyunsatured fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are our main focus.

Omega-3, which comes from sources like cold-water fatty fish and some plants such as walnuts and seeds, decrease the risk of heart disease by 35% (which is a much higher percentage than statin therapy!). And that benefit occurs from a dosage of only 200 to 500 milligrams per day. These are also essential for brain development, which is why you’ll often see omega-3 fatty acid supplements marketed for memory and concentration improvement.

Omega-6 fatty acids come from a variety of plants and animals but are primarily found in industrially processed oils like canola, vegetable, corn, soybead, rapeseed, and sunflower. They’re essential to our survival in small amounts, but we often eat these fats in excess because of the amount of oils we consume. The overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids raises inflammatory metabolites, increasing systemic inflammation in the body (more on why that's bad news for people trying to lose weight in the next section).

Trans Fat

There are some naturally occuring trans fats in animal products, and artificial trans fats are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils. When it comes to this particular kind of fat, it could be said that the less, the better, because for every 2-percent increase in calories from trans fats, the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes nearly doubles.

Healthy Fats for Weight Loss: Yes, They Do Exist!

If you’re at all familiar with diet culture, you know that fat is often accused of “making us fat.” Is that really true though–does fat make you fat? 

No. 

There are good fats for weight loss, specifically fats that are high in Omega-3s. These fats can help to reduce inflammation, which is extremely beneficial, not only to our long-term health, but for assisting with weight loss. 

If your body is constantly “on fire”, its first priority will be putting that fire out–not losing weight

Additionally, healthy fat is critical for aiding in the absorption of crucial vitamins like A, D, E, and K; regulating body temperature; supporting the immune system; keeping hormones balanced; and making our food taste good (which is critical for avoiding unhealthy snacking!).

Does Fat Burn Fat? It Sure Does! Here’s How

Like fighting fire with fire, fighting unwanted body fat by eating fats that are good for you is the way to go. Fat takes longer to digest, so it helps keep you feeling fuller, longer. When you eat non-fat, or all reduced fat items, you’re continuously hungry. This means you end up eating more overall than if you’d thrown some healthy fats in there. Fat is also a crucial fuel for our muscle, and as we've already discussed, muscle is super important for our metabolism.

Healthy Fat Sources

Whole food fats are our favorite because they keep us fuller, longer. We've made it pretty clear  how important satiety is, and the roles protein, healthy fat, and fiber play in getting there. So fat sources that ALSO contain protein and fiber and naturally going to have the added bonus of being extra satisfying. These include: avocado, coconut, seeds, nuts, olives, and cheese.

“All fat” sources are also great options, but just know that they offer less of a satiety factor. These include: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, coconut milk, and heavy cream.

Getting to Know Your Macros, Chapter 3: Fiber!

Dietary fiber. We’re all told we need plenty of it in our diet. But what are the actual health benefits of fiber, and how can we get more fiber in our diet? Unsurprisingly, the best way to maximize the benefits of fiber is to eat the very best sources of fiber, which we’ve listed for you a little further down the page.

Focusing on fiber allows us to choose the carbohydrates that best support our bodies. Fiber is a type of carb that humans don’t digest. Most carbs are broken down into glucose (sugar) in the body, but fiber doesn’t play by those rules. Instead, fiber passes straight through our digestive system.

As a whole, we don’t consume enough fiber. Americans are especially guilty of this. There are lots of reasons why. Eating highly processed foods contributes to this, but we’re convinced that the low-carb and keto trend has compounded the issue.

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

There are two different kinds of fiber to think about. The first is soluble fiber, which helps to slow down digestion and keeps us feeling full. It’s the fiber that feeds our prebiotics, our good gut bacteria. It also helps decrease cholesterol and blood sugar.

Insoluble fiber just adds to the bulk of stool and helps keep you “regular” (aka, prevents you from being constipated).

However, these differences aren’t terribly important to think about unless your doctor has told you to eat or avoid certain types of fiber. In general, just eat fiber!

Does Fiber Help You Lose Weight? You Better Believe it Does!

Fiber is crucial for balancing blood sugar. It decreases blood sugar spikes, which in turn reduces insulin (which can cause weight gain). In other words, it would be very difficult to lose weight without adequate fiber.

Fiber expands in the stomach and helps us quickly release the hormone leptin, which tells our brain that we’re full and helps us stop needlessly snacking between meals. We talk about leptin in more detail in our guide to blood sugar

It’s also fantastic for gut health–prebiotic fiber feeds our good gut bacteria and helps it grow. Probiotic supplements are great, but if we’re not getting enough fiber to “feed” that healthy bacteria, it won’t do much.

Finally (if you needed another amazing reason for getting more fiber in your life), fiber also moves through our system, picking up toxins (including cholesterol) and eliminating them through our poop. Cholesterol alone doesn’t cause weight gain, but it tends to be found in foods that also have considerable calories and saturated fat. In this respect, fiber is like a lint roller moving through the body, clearing out unhelpful remnants.

Here’s Some Good Sources of Fiber to Get You in Fat Burning Mode

I bet if I were to ask you what a high-fiber lunch looks like, you would probably say a big green salad. But look at this:

Your average side salad:

  • 2 c spinach—1.5 g fiber

  • ½ c chopped cucumber—0.5 g fiber

  • ½ c chopped tomato—0 g fiber

  • ½ c chopped broccoli—2.5 g fiber

Total: 4.5 g fiber

Versus–

High fiber side salad:

  • 1 c shredded cabbage—1.5 g fiber

  • 1 c shredded romaine—1 g fiber

  • ½ c shredded carrots—1 g fiber

  • ½ c chopped broccoli—2.5 g fiber 

  • ½ c marinated artichoke hearts—7 g fiber 

  • 1 tsp chia seeds—2 g fiber

Total: 15 g fiber

See what we mean? The swapping out of a few small ingredients makes a huge difference for our fiber intake!

Our other favorite sources of fiber include:

  • Chia seeds. They are incredibly filling because they’re packed with healthy Omega 3 fats and protein. They go great in smoothies, on Greek yogurt parfaits, chia pudding, and even sprinkled on salad.

  • Raspberries and blackberries. Fruit is a great source of fiber, and these particular berries are practically BURSTING with it. They’re also super low in sugar.

  • Avocado. Yep, avocado is not just a healthy fat; 1 large avocado can contain 10g of fiber! It’s a great way to double up on fat and fiber.

  • Lentil pasta. Sure, whole lentils have more fiber and are more of a “whole food” than lentil pasta. But lentil pasta is a delicious, high fiber alternative to regular pasta and can be a great substitute for comfort foods.

Making Macros Work For You: The PHFF Diet

All of the above just goes to show why the PHFF diet is so effective and all-around AWESOME. Rather than wasting precious time counting calories, feeling hangry, and treating food like it’s the enemy, it is so. much. better. to just let these three innocent macronutrients be our allies and live our lives feeling healthy and full. With the delicious and powerful macros on our side, we are much better prepared to do battle against junk foods and end up feeling sexier and happier.

You quite literally cannot go wrong with PHFF; it’s not something you can fail at. PHFF is a foolproof way to ensure that you are giving your body everything it needs to work optimally, without having to measure or track anything! By using PHFF as a guide to create your meals one at a time, you have the freedom to never “go on a diet” again. Not only will you reach your goals–you’ll feel your best. It’s not normal or natural to feel like sh*t all the time–so don’t!

Our clients often get hung up on the nitty-gritty specifics of PHFF early on, but the more that you get used to just following its flexible structure and figuring out what’s most physically satisfying for you, the more successful you’ll be. This isn’t a numbers game; it’s personal.

Summing It All Up

If you’re ready to ditch dieting and counting calories forever, then PHFF is for you. This has been an awful lot of information, but think of this page as your walking stick–it will be here when you need it, to give you that extra bit of stability and support as you trek ahead to your physical peak without any fear of falling. We recommend bookmarking this page for easy reference!

Next Steps

Ready to understand your own body and how to apply PHFF to it so that you never, ever have to diet (or track macros) ever again? Sign up here!

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