You may have heard the term “macro-friendly” in relation to food or recipes and thought, “what the heck does that even mean?” If so, you’re not alone.
Whether you’re new to macro tracking or you’ve just never understood the term and what makes something worthy of the title, I’m going to explain it to you (per my own understanding and definition!) in this article.
I'm Tami, a Certified Macro Coach, Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer!
Here at Fit Healthy Macros, the recipes that we create and share are all recipes that are macro-friendly, which is why I want to take a minute to explain this concept and highlight the benefits. Let’s clear up the confusion!
Snag a sample of our famous weekly macro meal plans!
Get a sneak peak of a members-only weekly macro meal plan!
What Does it Mean to be Macro-Friendly?
Our interpretation of macro-friendly is a food or meal that’s high in protein and lower in carbs and fats. A macro-balanced diet tends to favor the prioritization of protein while maintaining optimal carbohydrate and fat amounts.
Another way to define macro-friendly is to consider that the food you’re going to eat will easily “fit” into your macros. The beauty of tracking macros is that you can eat any and all foods that you want, so long as you can fit them into your daily macro allowance. By choosing foods that are high in protein and lower in fats and carbs, it’s easy to fit them into your diet and make the most out of your nutrition plan, both from a satiety and an enjoyment perspective.
The idea is that you want to be able to eat a lot of food (volume) without making a huge dent in your macros. Think high volume, high satiety, but low in calories. Macro-friendly meals ensure that you’re getting a lot of high-quality food that will fill you up and nourish your body without taking away a lot of your macros. Choosing macro-friendly foods and meals allows you to find room in your day for treats and other foods that might be more calorically dense.
Why Choose Macro-Friendly Meals and Foods?
Now that you know what macro-friendly means, let’s talk about the benefits of choosing macro-friendly foods.
- Increased Satiety - Satiety is the state of being satiated or feeling full and satisfied. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight, it’s important to feel full so that you’re not constantly going off your plan and over your macros. Satiety is largely linked to protein-rich foods, which is why choosing macro-friendly, high-protein foods and meals will be beneficial for you and your adherence to your plan.
- You’ll Eat More Volume Foods - A food that is, by definition, macro-friendly is likely to give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to serving size. This means that you can generally eat more volume of macro-friendly food than you can a non macro-efficient food but for the same amount of calories.
- You Have More Calories For Foods You Love - When you make the majority of your meal and food choices macro-friendly, you’ll have more room for higher-calorie foods in other parts of your day. For example, if you love eating ice cream, you can easily reserve plenty of calories for your nightly bowl of ice cream by making sure that the foods and meals you consume earlier in the day are high protein, high volume foods that fit into your macros. A good tip here is to pre-log your day, starting with logging the treat or calorie-dense food first and then working the rest of your day around that food or meal.
Common Macro-Friendly Swaps
Let’s put this together and showcase some common macro-friendly swaps that can help you to implement more macro-efficient foods into your nutrition plan so that you can reach your goals while feeling satisfied and never deprived. Our macro-friendly grocery list will provide you with plenty of inspiration as well!
Just so that we’re clear here, I am in no way demonizing any of the foods that we’re swapping with. There’s a time and a place for each of them! Whether or not to swap food for a macro-friendly version is a very personal decision and one that will likely be made on a case-by-case, meal-by-meal basis. Additionally, your swaps will likely depend on what phase you’re in (calorie deficit, calorie surplus, or calorie maintenance).
Whole Eggs/Egg Whites
Eggs are a staple in many people’s breakfasts, but a whole egg is higher in fat content with the following macros: 80 cals/6g protein/5g fat. A macro-friendly swap would be to use egg whites in place of your whole eggs. Egg whites have the following macros: 15 cals/3.5g protein/0g fat.
Whole Milk/Unsweetened Almond Milk
Whole milk is high in fat and calories with 150 cals/12g carbs/8g protein/8g fat per serving. The same serving of unsweetened almond milk is 30 cals/1g carbs/1g protein/2g fat. While almond milk is significantly lower in protein, this swap would allow you to add in protein from other sources that aren’t so calorically expensive i.e. protein powder.
Flour Tortilla/Lavash Wrap
A large flour tortilla will come in at around 300 cals/46g carbs/10g fat/7g protein, whereas a Lavash wrap like Jospeh’s will offer 100 cals/14g carbs/4g fat/10g protein. This swap is a very logical one to make as you’re saving yourself 200 calories and consuming more protein.
Peanut Butter/Powdered Peanut Butter
Peanut butter, while delicious and amazing, is high in calories and fat. And while it always has a place, sometimes you just can’t fit it into your daily macros and you need a more macro-friendly swap. This is where powdered peanut butter will come in handy. You’ll get that same creamy, peanut butter taste, but without all the extra fat and calories. Regular peanut butter serves up 200 calories/16g fat/8g of protein), whereas powdered peanut butter will give you 50 calories/1g fat/2g of protein - major savings!
I love a good rice bowl, but they’re often very calorically dense. A good swap for rice, when tracking macros, is to use lettuce or greens in place of your rice. A bowl of lettuce will provide significantly more volume with a lot fewer calories. For reference, a bowl of lettuce will only cost you about 5g of carbs while a bowl of rice will net you around 45g of carbs. Sometimes, you can do half and half and get the best of both worlds! That’s one of my favorite macro hacks.
Full Fat Icecream/Protein “Ice Cream”
If you’re like me, you always factor a daily treat into your macros. Sometimes, full-fat ice cream fits and makes sense, and other times it doesn’t. In these cases, swapping your ice cream for a protein ice cream or shake is a great option! Making protein shakes and healthy ninja creami protein ice creams is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen, and ever since I got a Ninja Creami, my obsession has only grown. A half cup of full-fat ice cream contains 260 calories/13g fat/30g carbs/5g protein whereas a protein ice cream made in a Ninja Creami can get you a full cup for 214 calories/24.5g carbs/4.9g fat/18g protein.
Wrapping Up The Macro-Friendly Topic
For those who are newer to macros and macro tracking, getting to know the lingo and the ropes will take some time. There will without a doubt be a learning curve, but before you know it you’ll be able to easily identify macro-friendly foods and meals. The key to learning is doing. I recommend downloading a macro tracking app and just start logging your foods!
Take some time to really see how each food or meal that you’re consuming on a normal basis “costs” you when it comes to your daily macro bank. You’ll quickly start to see places for improvement. Also, take some time to do more research into topics like how to stick to your macros because that information will help you make great choices while never feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
Lastly, you can alleviate a lot of frustration and lessen the learning curve by following a macro-friendly meal plan that includes high protein, macro-based recipes like the ones we share!