Episode 137: A Sustainable Approach To Macro Tracking With Emily Field

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Thanks for joining us for episode 137 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Today we are excited to be interviewing Emily Field!

Emily Field is a real food dietitian who teaches women a balanced eating approach so they can finally break up with depriving diet behaviors and nonsense food rules for good. Through flexible dieting, and tracking macros, and tailoring nutrition around effective exercise, her clients are stronger, leaner, and more confident than ever before. They are typically enjoying more food and stressing less about their eating habits. You can learn more about Emily at EmilyFieldRD.com.

Tracking macros is an effective way to reach body composition goals. Oftentimes just thinking about strictly tracking everything you eat is just overwhelming, especially in social situations.

Emily Field joins us today to share a sustainable approach to tracking macros while cultivating healthy eating habits. With flexible dieting, Emily makes macro tracking a sustainable part of daily life that’s compatible with changing situations.

Join us to hear how tracking macros is a better approach than tracking calories, how it can help you have more food freedom, and who flexible dieting is a good fit for.

Emily is also sharing practical tips that you can use today such as tools to get you started tracking, how to split up macro amounts during the day, and tips for eating in restaurants.

Here is some of what we discussed with Emily:

  • [00:03:49] Emily’s journey to specializing in flexible dieting
  • [00:06:03] Definition of macros and flexible dieting
  • [00:09:08] How flexible dieting can help you have more food freedom while improving your metabolism
  • [00:13:08] Why tracking macros is a better approach than tracking calories
  • [00:20:11] Who flexible dieting is a good approach for
  • [00:23:27] How to begin tracking macros
  • [00:29:51] Tips for eating in restaurants and how it’s okay not to track 100% of the time
  • [00:36:24] Tools to get you started getting a macro prescription
  • [00:39:03] How to split up macro amounts during the day
  • [00:41:44] Emily clears up the controversy after her interview with Business Insider
  • [00:45:46] Emily’s Macros Made Easy program


Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone! Welcome to Episode 137 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my co-host Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hi everybody!

Kelsey: We’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me at KelseyKinney.com and Laura over at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com.

We’ve got a great guest on our show today who’s going to share her insight into flexible dieting and how it can help you reach your body composition goals. We’re so glad that Emily is joining us and we think you’ll really enjoy this episode.

Laura: If you are enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that way you never miss an episode. And while you’re in iTunes, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well!

And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer or suggest a guest that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: But before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Kelsey: Welcome back, everybody! Today we are so pleased to have with us Emily Field. Emily Field is a real food dietitian who teaches women a balanced eating approach so they can finally break up with depriving diet behaviors and nonsense food rules for good. Through flexible dieting, and tracking macros, and tailoring nutrition around effective exercise, her clients are stronger, leaner, and more confident than ever before. They are typically enjoying more food and stressing less about their eating habits. You can learn more about Emily at EmilyFieldRD.com.

Welcome, Emily!

Emily: Thanks for having me!

Kelsey: I’m super excited to talk to you today because I think this is a topic that a lot of people possibly don’t know about I think it can be a really effective tool to helping people achieve their goals in a way that’s manageable and gets them to their goals faster than they would otherwise.

I want to know a little bit more about your journey to becoming an RD that kind of specializes in macros and flexible dieting. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Emily: Sure. I know a bit about your past and being an RD being taught in a traditional way, but I didn’t learn much about macronutrients in school or like even manipulating them to help somebody achieve a certain health goal. So it was much later in my career that I kind of arrived at this.

Actually it’s funny because I read a lot of Laura’s articles on Chris Kresser’s website and listened to Chris Kresser’s podcast. It probably changed the trajectory of my career back like four or five years ago. What I learned from that is to embrace whole real foods and really shaped my understanding of Paleo and whole real foods, and balance, and things like that. I started to use some of the tools that Chris Kresser had on his website and I started to shape my understanding of what real food nutrition should look like with my clients.

The natural progression for somebody is once they are embracing whole real foods and then once they’re starting to feel really good in their skin, there’s kind of this next level, this curiosity. Like things are going really well, so what’s next? It kind of just naturally falls into helping somebody understand how much to eat. And that’s where flexible comes in. It’s about the amounts and what balance of foods they should have in order to achieve the results they’re looking for.

Kelsey: Makes sense. You sort of went through your own version of that process yourself which led you to realize that this was a really awesome tool that you could use not only with yourself but with your clients too.

Emily: Absolutely. When things are going really well…we obviously want to rule out when somebody is struggling with sleep issues, skin issues, digestive issues, like they’re really struggling with energy and stuff like that, we want to get them feeling good. And then at this the next progression, the next step is oftentimes look at how much and then where we can push their metabolism, and where we can push their athletic performance, and different things like that.

Kelsey: For people who maybe are not familiar with these terms macros and flexible dieting, can you explain to us what that means exactly?

Emily: Sure. Macros stands for macronutrients and those are the big nutrients that make up all of our food, so the proteins, the fats, and the carbohydrates. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates contribute to calories. They contribute to the energy that we get from our food and all our food is made up of those three things.

Flexible dieting is just the approach or the method in which you would track the food that you eat and how much protein, fat, and carbohydrate comes from those foods, and manipulate your diet in order to get a certain amount of protein, fats, and carbs throughout the day. Does that make sense?

Kelsey: Yes. Like Laura and I always talk to our clients and we’ve talked on the podcast before about, if you’re trying to increase your carbs for example, a lot of people don’t know what that means beyond just like maybe having another serving of whatever carb they’re having at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

But when you’re flexible dieting, I think at least to me the main difference is that we assign numbers. It’s a little bit different than just kind of looking at it on your plate, although that’s the eventual goal is to be kind of better at eyeballing things I think so that you don’t have to track so much and be logging things on My Fitness Pal all the time. But I think that it’s a really good tool to get people to be able to know exactly what amount of food and what amount of carbs, fat, and protein really works well for them to achieve their goals.

Is that sort of your end goal for a lot of your clients too where eventually you want them to just be a little bit better at eyeballing things so they know kind of what they’re aiming for in terms of numbers but how that looks on their plate?

Emily: Absolutely, yeah. I don’t imagine my clients or even me tracking my food forever. I dip in and out and a lot of my clients that have let’s say graduated working with me, they’ll dip in and out of strict tracking for whatever reason. Maybe strict tracking comes back when they’re wanting to get ready for a physical event. I work with some Olympic weightlifters and getting down to a weight class is really important to them. So they’ll tighten up their eating habits and go back to tracking, which just means that they’re dialing in their nutrition to make sure they’re getting enough fuel for their workouts but not anything extra. Or maybe they’re jumping up in a weight class and wanting to put on some math. I mean it’s different for everybody.

But you’re right. We just don’t have a really good understanding of what 20 grams of carbs looks like, or what 10 grams of fat looks like. When you start tracking your food and start tracking your macronutrients, you can get a really good picture of what does half an avocado provide you, or what does a small sweet potato provide you. That can be really helpful.

Kelsey: Yeah. What you just said sort of jumped out to me as something that for some people can probably feel a little bit too controlling. I think that’s something that a lot of people do struggle with where maybe they were calorie counters in the past and they’ve kind of like yo-yo dieted over the years and things like that. Maybe there’s a fear of food eventually because there’s maybe even disordered eating in their past. This kind of tracking, can this work for somebody who has some level of a fear of food, or calories, or those sort of things? Can this work for them?

Emily: I absolutely think so. Obviously I’m going to judge every client as they come in just to see where they’re at. Maybe we’ll take the approach in a different way depending on how riled up they get about numbers and tracking their food because they do have to know a little bit about themselves and where their triggers are.

But by and large most people are eating more because they feel more food freedom when they track macronutrients. And the reason why is because when you have three little numbers to be looking for instead of a sweeping number of calories, you actually end up feeling better on the…I still call it a diet, but I usually say the words eating pattern.

Because you’re having a balance of macronutrients in some way, your blood sugar actually ends up being more balanced which oftentimes means less snacking….and then just definitely better energy and higher kind of drive and motivation. We’re not having these like blood sugar lows. If you’re too low calorie, we all know the situation where you’re feeling hangry and just tired. That’s just no mindset for starting a new eating pattern and new diet.

What I find is after somebody starts tracking their macronutrients and they are looking to hit certain specific goals or even ranges of goals, they’re just generally feeling better and their energy is up so it doesn’t feel like white knuckling it through a diet anymore. It feels a lot better.

Kelsey: Yeah. I think this is something that Laura and I see a lot with our clients and I assume you probably do as well where a lot of people, especially women, although this certainly happens with men too, but they tend to not eat enough. I do think that once you get like a macro prescription and you start tracking things, you sort of see what you might normally eat and how that compares to what you probably should be eating. And for a lot of people, it feels like a ton of food.

But you’re right. They end up feeling so much better because their meals are balanced first of all so their blood sugar is a bit more balanced, but also just eating enough in general makes a huge difference. Is this something you see a lot?

Emily: Absolutely. I think the main comment I get after week one or week two of somebody really trying to hit numbers or ranges of macros is that they feel fuller, they have more energy, but they’re like how do I eat this much food and how am I going to lose weight by eating more?

Unfortunately that’s just the messaging that we get from all over that we need to eat less and move more. You’ll hear me say it here and I’ll say it everywhere; that only makes you tired, and cranky, and hungry, and frustrated, and overtime will slow your metabolism. That’s why there’s this pervasive yo-yo dieting of jumping down in weight and then just piling back on after you’re done with that diet. You’ve slowed your metabolism down. I love flexible dieting because it protects your metabolism, if not improves metabolism, and just makes you feel overall much better.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. When we’re thinking about I guess calorie tracking versus macro tracking, I would assume both could probably get you to your goals. I wouldn’t necessarily say that you’re going to feel as good going through it tracking both those things. But can you kind of tell us a little bit of the difference between the two and why you feel like counting macros is a better approach?

Emily: Well I like to say that your body is counting macronutrients whether or not you are. You need a certain amount of protein, fat, and carbs every single day. If you have more or less of something, it’s going to come in the form of piling on some weight, body fat, storing the extra calories as body fat if we don’t need it, or not recovering while we’re not getting enough protein. There’s consequences good or bad to not meeting your macronutrient needs.

When we’re tracking calories, you certainly could lose weight. But I think by and large most people are interested in trying to lose unwanted body fat and then protecting that lean muscle that they built or that they’re trying to build through exercise. And they’re really interested in more… I assume that your clients are similar to mine, just looking for a leaner physique, looking to fit in their clothes better, looking to have more energy. You can absolutely guarantee that with macronutrient tracking vs. calorie tracking because you might be losing weight, you’re under eating your needs certainly, but you’re just losing weight, and we don’t know where that weight is coming from. Versus in macro tracking we can honestly say if you are losing weight or you’re taking measurements, you’re losing body fat, that unwanted body fat, and  preserving the lean muscle mass.

Kelsey: Got it. And of course that’s going to make a huge difference in body composition for a lot of people. And you’re right, even though we all say we want to lose weight, really what we’re saying is we want to change our body composition by losing fat mass. Right?

Emily: Yes.

Kelsey: I think that’s really, really wonderful. I would add too, and I kind of hinted at it before that for a lot of people I think when they’re only tracking calories, you can end up sort of not balancing blood sugar well and maybe not eating enough protein or not eating enough of some certain amount of macronutrient. Not only are you then just losing weight and potentially muscle mass versus fat, but also you tend to if you’re not eating enough of any of these particular macronutrients, you’re not going to feel great either.

Emily: Yeah. I like to put it back on my client and ask them how they would feel looking at a plate of 500 calories worth of let’s just say like gummy bears, which might be even just like a handful, a large handful of them versus 500 calories of another carb food like broccoli.

Most people that are coming into macro tracking have a good background of like what whole real food looks like and what they should be eating. It’s not a mystery what they should be eating as far as like food choices go. So they might automatically go towards broccoli. But they’re going to feel a ton different and fill up in a totally different way if they’re shaping their calories around a macronutrient like that versus a food like gummy bears.

Kelsey: Right.

Emily: Kind of not making sense there in my head, but you know what I’m trying to say is like 500 calories can take any form and in a candy bar, it takes up no room in your stomach. And yes, you might lose weight by having a candy bar every day in a calorie deficit. But if you’re not meeting your macronutrient needs for the rest of the day, you’re not going to feel as great and your blood sugar could spike and dip and do all these erratic things that don’t make us feel great.

Kelsey: Right. Exactly. Wasn’t there some professor who ate like Twinkies all the time and he showed that you could lose weight on that, which proves that definitely calories do matter, but you’re not going to feel good at all. I can’t imagine he felt good eating Twinkies all the time.

Emily: Yeah. I think his write up was super interesting because his family meal time was so much different and he was missing out on so much because we forgot a lot of times when we’re dieting or changing our eating pattern that food is so much more than just nutrition and just fuel. It’s a social event, a cultural thing and it relates to a lot of different areas or life. He definitely commented on yeah, I lost weight and that’s the proof. But weight isn’t what we’re looking for. Most people are looking to change their body composition to look and feel leaner.

Kelsey: I think you bring up a really good point about just the social and cultural aspect of food. Just bringing it back to what we were talking about before with people maybe with a history of disordered eating or something like that where there is that inherent fear of food at least somewhat still.

I think that kind of being able to look at their food and know what they should be eating and kind of have this less fear around food and more food freedom as you put it, I think that can really help to improve other areas of their health including their social life because they don’t feel like they can’t go out to eat anymore because they won’t be able to stick to whatever plan that they’re trying to do or they just don’t know what they’re getting into at a restaurant.

With the type of meal tracking and flexible dieting they you teach with your clients, is eating out a part of that? Can people do that in a way that still kind of sticks to whatever plan they’re trying to do?

Emily: Yes. We have a lot of strategies to help you make better choices at restaurants because we all know restaurants are two or three times as many calories as maybe we would have at home just because of extra cooking oils, and seasonings, and sauces, and different things like that. So chances are you can eat exactly right off the menu in very rare occasions. Rarely are you going to find somebody that has the calorie needs to be able to house like a 1500 calorie meal in one sitting.

But that said, we can definitely make changes to what you order. I would always recommend no matter if they’re flexible dieting or not that you choose which food you’re going to eat before you go because you have a more mindful decision about that food and what you’re going to be eating.

Certainly my clients are not giving up their social life. They’re not not going out to eat. They’re not bringing food scales to the restaurant either. I don’t want to give that impression you have to weigh and measure your food 100 percent of the time in order to see benefit or see the results that you’re looking for while tracking.

Kelsey: Awesome, yeah. Who is a perfect fit for macro tracking and flexible dieting? Is there any types of people that you can think of that really would do well with this?

Emily: Yes. Probably the people that resonate with the information most are going to be chronic under-eaters, whether they know their chronic under-eaters or they’re accidental chronic under-eaters. When I say this, I mean somebody that’s been restricting for a long time and maybe they’ve been told by a coach or a trainer that they just need to eat more and they feel powerless in that. They feel like I just don’t know how to do that because I need some structure, I need some guidance.

That’s what flexible dieting does for them. They know their metabolism might be damaged or they know they could be able to do more with their athletic performance, but they need to be eating more food and they just feel paralyzed to do it because they’re scared to gain weight. For those people I think it’s a great choice.

I think certainly yo-yo dieters. I would consider this your last effort to improve your metabolism. It will definitely improve your metabolism if done right because we kind of slowly add food back in in a way that makes you feel comfortable so that you’re not gaining weight but even almost always losing body fat at the same time. Those yo-yo dieters that want to not feel like they have to resort to 200 calories or even less in order to lose weight.

I’d say somebody who has specific performance goals like weight lifting, endurance sports, any sport really if you want to make sure that your best fueled for your activity, and best recovered from that activity, and to perform do those four, five, six day a week practices. Flexible dieting could be great because it helps give you those targets to hit to make sure that you’re eating enough.

I’d say a lot of my clients are those people that have great nutrition. They are meal planning, they’re prepping, they’re choosing great things when they’re out, they have a good meal routine, but they’re just kind of looking for a next level and they’re curious where they could push their body, which I think is a super fun place to be. We may do fun things with macro tracking that involve carb cycling, and intermittent fasting, and maybe pairing certain nutrients on certain days according to the activity. So it just provides that kind of next level approach if you just kind of want to take it up a notch and you’re curious how far you can push your body.

Kelsey: Interesting. I love that you said under-eater are kind of a really great fit for this because I totally agree. I think we’ve hit on some of those points as to why and I would say the biggest one probably is just that it makes you feel a little bit more comfortable increasing your calories and obviously your macros over time just because there’s kind of a plan in place. It doesn’t feel like just doubling your meal sizes and trying to like force yourself to eat a bunch more.

I like that you mentioned there’s kind of a slow progression that you can go with if it feels a little scary and you can do it in a way that increases your metabolism slowly over time so there isn’t like this massive weight gain as you just jumped to a much higher calorie level.

I want to talk a little bit more about what this looks like exactly. So if somebody is thinking this is resonating with me, maybe I want to start tracking my macros.  What does that even mean? What does that look like on a daily basis? You mentioned weighing and measuring things. Let’s talk about kind of what somebody has to do in order to actually track their macros?

Emily: As a very beginner if you’re curious about starting and want to just know what next steps would be, I’d say just download an application to your phone like MyFitnessPal or FatSecret. Both of those are my two favorite for tracking macronutrients. These are apps. I would just encourage you to spend two weeks tracking everything that you eat as best you can, as accurately as you can in the app without changing anything. I just would like for you to see where your macronutrients fall at the end of the day on average. Maybe there’s a typical calorie and macro range you hit on weekdays and there’s a typical calorie and macronutrient range you hit on weekends. It’s just all for insight.

Then when it comes to tracking and then also trying to hit targets, it means that you’re maybe looking over your day and making small changes to breakfast. Maybe for a beginner let’s just start with breakfast. Maybe you’re manipulating up the protein a little bit because you notice by the end of the day it’s not that high. It’s maybe your lowest macro.

Maybe it’s making small changes to dinner to have lower carb because that tends to be one of our biggest meals, our heaviest meals. Maybe you want to dial back the carbohydrate and that comes from just eating a little less than the serving size or choosing less starchy carbohydrates and grains and more non starchy carbohydrates like unstarchy vegetables.

Those are the small things that you would do in the beginning. Certainly you’ll want to get a macronutrient prescription. That means that this is either set by a coach, or an online calculator, or you can even use MyFitnessPal in the beginning just to kind of like get you thinking about this.

But you’re going to want to put it in your current weight, and your height, your activity level. Find a calculator that takes into account a bunch of different measures and see what it spits out for you. What are the recommendations that it spits out for you for you to maintain your weight, or lose weight, or gain weight, or whatever according to your goals.

You’re going to be starting to manipulate your typical eating pattern, the one that you’ve been kind of logging over the last two weeks or so to fit the prescription that you’ve been given. And it doesn’t happen overnight. I think you’ve had some experience with this, right, Kelsey? You’re kind of tracking and manipulating your decisions around food to kind of hit these goals by the end of the day.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you recommend that people just kind of take stock of what they’re currently eating and what that macro breakdown looks like first because I think that’s really eye opening for a lot of people. I know that when I have clients do this, sometimes they’re really surprised. They’re like oh, I’m really not eating a lot of protein or I’m eating way less carbs than I would have guessed I was.

It basically kind of leads them to almost make the decision themselves of where things need to go up or down.  I’ll kind of just lead them in the direction that I think would work for them. But often they’re thinking the same thing from the beginning too just because they’re looking at that thing like oh this is different than I really thought it would be.

Emily: And then comes the fun part where I think we talked a bit about the yo-yo dieters and the chronic under-eater where they almost have this mentality of all or nothing. They’re either on their diet or off their diet. What I love about flexible dieting is that I totally disregard the terms first of all and say there are no good and bad foods. It’s just simply food. I want people to start getting used to making the choice to have treats, and sweets, and restaurant food as they wish, but like build it into their day.

So when they start to get more comfortable with this, and they are eating really well…and I’m sure in the beginning when anyone starts something they eat really, really whole nutrient rich foods and they are feeling great. Because it’s that all or nothing attitude, and they feel afraid to maybe build in a Snickers bar, or like ice cream, or going out to eat, or whatever. I always encourage my clients especially if it’s in the beginning to continue to track and just know how much that’s contributing to your macronutrients. And then the next time you go and do it, try building it in your day little bit better.

I think the thing that actually ends up happening first is people’s initial reaction is just to stop tracking if they don’t have a planned meal, or didn’t have their meals set out for the week, or they had a happy hour come up. They just stop tracking. And that’s not the point. I want you to see what those foods and those drinks do to your macronutrients. I guess it can vary. But like for a lot of people, it’s not really blowing your calories or macros out of the water as much as you thought they were.

Kelsey: Right, right. I’m laughing at myself because I’m one of those people sometimes. I do the same thing that you’re mentioning too, like I kind of go through cycles with tracking. I’m trying to get back into it right now for example because there’s some fat that I’d like to lose.

Our listeners probably know that I went through some pretty significant health issues last year, kind of gained a good bit of weight from being in a moldy apartment and not feeling great with that situation, and not being able to exercise a whole lot. I keep kind of going through cycles of tracking to lose a little bit of weight at a time.

But I’m one of those people that tracking is just not where my brain wants to go. If there is something like I go out for drinks or something, it just becomes so overwhelming to track that because I’m not at home, I don’t have my measuring cups, or scales, or whatever so.

Can you give us some tips for people who maybe are like me who when they go out to eat they tend to just not track stuff because it feels too overwhelming?

Emily: Yeah. I’d say there are a couple choices that you have. The first one is like I’ve said this before is to look at the menu before you go and pre-log the food that you think you’re going to have. This kind of not only holds space for you to eat around that and allow for that in the context of your whole day and still keep you on track with your goals.

The second choice would be to eat whole real food when you go to that restaurant. Instead of having an endless, bottomless chip basket, we’re really getting our nutrients and our calories from foods that fills up and make us feel good. Those are going to be your real food proteins, and your nutrient rich carbs, fruits, and vegetables, and some fats that you can definitely recognize well that’s in the form of like hard boiled eggs, or avocados, or coconut, butter. Stuff like that instead of in the example of chips, it’s very hidden fat. It’s deep fried food. You can’t really see that and it really doesn’t fill us up that much.

You can try to estimate what you had at the restaurant because you can recognize what’s on your plate. After tracking I’m sure you become…most my clients would say this, they have a much better understanding of what a serving of protein looks like in a 3 ounce form, or 4 ounce form, or 5, or 6, or something like that.

Just like kind of casually logging those foods after the fact can be really helpful just to know that you are not blowing your calories completely out of the water, or that you did and just to kind of leave it alone and just to start over the next day.

The third thing would just be…. if you truly get triggered at restaurants or it’s an event or a social thing and it’s all about the social and not a lot about the food and you don’t really care, it’s perfectly fine to ditch tracking in those situations. You just kind of have to level set with yourself about your goals.

That’s my role as a coach is just to kind of play that on each shoulder just saying this is your life and go free, be, do whatever you want to enjoy it. And food included, and social events included. But that means that you might be a little slower on the fat loss, which is okay. That’s life.

So unless you’re trying to compete in something that requires you to be at a lower weight class, or you’re in bodybuilding, or figure shows and things like that, I’d say there’s absolutely room for you to skip tracking on a night if it feels too overwhelming and you just want to enjoy yourself.

Kelsey: Yeah. I’ll say I am by far not the best tracker that has ever lived, by far and. But just doing it even like 80 percent of the time can get me to my goals. I tend to go in cycles like I said before where I’ll lose a little bit of weight, so maybe like five pounds at a time. Not nothing of course and it still takes me a good amount of time to do that, but I also feel like I’m not being so strict and so controlled with my eating. There is room to go out for a night or go to Thanksgiving and not worry about tracking all of that stuff.

Because for me the social aspect of food is really fun and really enjoyable and I don’t want to be that person who’s like worried so much about needing to track everything that I am eating in a social situation. It’s just like not where my brain wants to go.

I love that you mention that maybe the fat loss might be slower. It can still happen. It might just take a little bit longer, but you can also kind of build in that untracked social food time

Emily: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean the whole point of this is to find a sustainable eating approach. This is just one tool for you to use. I think for many people unfortunately, we’re really inundated with quick fixes and quick fixes require you to be extremely rigid. That’s what you think of as a diet and that’s not any way to live obviously because it hasn’t panned out for your long term. That’s why I love flexible dieting because it’s absolutely sustainable and manipulatable to your lifestyle.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely I’ve found for myself and certainly for my clients too that like we were saying before, once you start tracking a little bit…and just to kind of go through what that looks like first of all: When I’m at home, if I can, if it’s a meal that has pretty separate pieces that are easily trackable, I’m weighing some stuff either cooked or uncooked depending on how I want to measure it just what makes more sense, or measuring things with cups, and teaspoons, and all that kind of stuff just a track that. Just so people get a sense.

But once I’m doing that for a couple of weeks, it becomes very, very clear as to how much I’m eating even when I’m not tracking. My clients have the same experience. I assume yours do too where they just start to just understand what should be on their plate if this is the goal that they’re trying to go for. I think that’s a really great tool to have.

Obviously for somebody with some degree of a disordered eating history, I think it can be triggering. That’s why it’s important to have that conversation with your client, like you were saying, Emily, to just sort of figure out where they’re at with that, and if it would be triggering, and if it is the right approach for them in the first place, or if they need to do some work on their mindset and things before they get to the point where they might be able to do that appropriately.

But I think for most people being able to kind of see what their macronutrient levels look like once they’re tracking for a little while is so helpful because then eventually we can move away from tracking at least all the time and there can be untracked meals, but we at least have some sense of what we’re doing.

Emily: Yeah. There is no longer this like all or nothing attitude and like I’m off my diet, or I’m on my diet. And that’s what I love. We are all ultimately looking more towards intuitive eating and mindful eating. We want everybody to be doing a little bit more of this and I think this can be the bridge to that for sure.

Kelsey: You mentioned that there’s a couple…like you can just use an online tool to get a least an initial macro prescription. Do you know any of those websites off the top of your head that we could link to for people to kind of just get started with this?

Emily: A really easy one would be IIFYM.com. IfItFitsYourMacros.com is what that stands for. That’s what you oftentimes see in the world of macro tracking. IIFYM. That’s one that you could start with.

I tend to see that clients who do this one are going to see a very high carb kind of number come back to them, which is completely fine. That’s what it’s there for. Just do the prescription, see where you’re eating, and compare it those goals are. Typically the protein is right on par. And so that would be your first point of change I think in your diet would be to increase your protein to hit the goal.

Another one that’s just a simple one is on bodybuilding.com. You can just google search. I can find you the exact link, but bodybuilding.com, in Google just add macro calculator to that. There’s a couple other ones that are under certain coaches that I follow.

But by and large, if you don’t want to start with a calculator, maybe use the calculator to find a calorie number that you should be hitting. And then I usually take that and I say well what’s 25 or 30 percent of those calories, and find how many grams that would be in protein. Or in MyFitnessPal you actually can put in your calorie level and then kind of play with the proteins, fats, and carbs percentages. That is a really good place for beginners. You can just dial it up in MyFitnessPal to say I want 25 percent of my calories really becoming from protein, and I want 40 percent of my calories to really be coming from carbs, and then the leftover as fat. That can be a good way to start as well.

Kelsey: Got it. We’ll link to both those links you mentioned. Obviously too you can work with a coach like Emily, or I know Laura and I work with macro tracking in our own practice too. So if you feel like that is a little overwhelming and you kind of want somebody to take into consideration your exercise habits and any health conditions that you have, it’s always great to work with somebody one on one as well just because it can be personalized.

Emily: That’s the difference between working with a coach and having an online calculator. Just knowing what your food preferences are can shape your macro prescription, or what health history you have, and different things like that.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. When somebody has a macro prescription, let’s say they’re not working one on one with someone, they just kind of got it off a calculator, do you recommend that pretty much all of their meals look fairly similar in terms of the macro ratios? Or are there people where it might make sense to have like way more of a certain macro at a certain time of day versus another?

Tell us a little bit about how somebody can either determine if they should be splitting it up differently, or if you just recommend for most people when they start to just kind of split it up equally throughout the day.

Emily: I think it helps for the beginner to split it up equally throughout the day just as they are starting to learn what portion sizes look like and what their macronutrient prescription feels like. What I recommend you do is just take your individual proteins, fats, and carbs and divide by how however many meals you like to have in a day, so three or four is typical for most people, and then those who act as your checkpoint macro. You’re trying to aim for these smaller numbers in each one of your meals in order for you to hit your totals by the end of the day.

Once you’re really comfortable with that and things are going really well, then it might be fun to play with maybe spiking your carbs before a heavy workout and then maybe having a heavier carb meal after your workout as well so that you can feel really great and fueled, have more sugar in the blood when you work out, and then definitely replenish those glycogen stores after a workout.

That’s highly individual. It’s also kind of slanted towards the sports that I usually work with which would be CrossFit, and weight lifting, and different things. But there are other sports and different activities that maybe you would want to do in the more fasted state. So maybe you would save your carbs for a couple of hours after your workout or maybe later in the day if you’re a morning workout person. Does that make sense?

Kelsey: Yeah, totally. So for the beginner it sounds like just kind of split it up equally throughout the day and then see how you feel there. And then as you get more advanced or if you’re doing particular sports that kind of lend themselves to either more carbs or less surrounding them, you can play around with them at that point.

Emily: Yeah, it’s highly individual. Back to this food freedom and like tuning into yourself, the power of macro tracking is that ultimately once your metabolism is healthy, and you’re at a comfortable weight for you, and we’re really just manipulating your body composition, we’re just aiming for the totals to add up at the end of the day. So there’s a lot of things that we can do in the context of your whole day whether that’s split up into smaller meals, or have larger meals, or more meals spiking of the blood sugar and stuff, there’s kind of some freedom for you to enjoy kind of what you want at those times.

Kelsey: Cool. I want to ask about… because recently there’s been a lot of articles coming out that that quote you about burgers and fries. I want to hear from you about this because I think it was kind of fun to see all those articles come out, but I think that maybe your words were a little bit twisted so I want to get the real scoop from you. Tell us about this situation, and kind of what you meant, and what the message you really want to send out to the world is.

Emily: Thank you for bringing it up because I think if anybody hears this interview and they go and google Emily Field, RD, that’s like what’s going to come up. But essentially I was interviewed by Business Insider and the woman was asking me all about my approach to blood sugar regulation and kind of balanced eating and we just briefly touched on macronutrients. Essentially I was trying to teach her that similar to what we’ve been saying is that if you have balanced meals with kind of an equal proportion of proteins, fats, and carbs or at least buffering those carbs that you eat with some protein and fat, you’ll have balanced blood sugar throughout the day.

Balanced blood sugar as we all know leads to better energy and fewer hangry episodes. We just feel generally better. And that’s really the root of macro tracking and it’s kind of where it starts. We want to have that mastered before we start manipulating amounts.

We were talking about fast food. We were actually not even talking about fast food. It got manipulated on the Internet into big news that I said something about fast food. We were just talking about maybe better choices and she was asking me, so it kind of makes more sense you would have want to sit down to a burger or two burgers instead of a burger and fries because the fries represent a huge load of carbohydrates that you may not need, and essentially that would spike your blood sugar and bottom you out a couple hours later leading to the roller coaster blood sugar that we are trying to avoid. And I agreed with her. Yeah, I mean in certain situations it might be completely up your alley to have one burger or two burgers instead of a burger and fries because of the balance of those macronutrients and that relationship on blood sugar.

Kelsey: Yeah, got it. Okay.

Emily: So what ended up happening is the headline became “dietitian recommends two burgers instead of a burger and fries”, and then the picture was like In-N-Out Burger, and then that just erupted into McDonald’s. It was just all over the place.

Kelsey: I think the underlying message there is important, which is just that I think honestly like you said in certain situations it could be up someone’s alley to do that and probably in other situations it might not. Let’s just cut out the fast food part of this and just think more in terms of like how much carbohydrate somebody might need and what they want to buffer that with whether that’s protein, or even some fat, or both of those things together.

Everybody’s a little bit different and you kind of have to just see sort of like what your personal blood sugar… I was going to say tolerance, but that doesn’t make sense. But basically how your insulin sensitivity is, how your body is responding to carbs, and how your body responds to carbs plus this amount of protein, or this amount of fat, or both together and just kind of make your own choices or work with somebody who can help you determine what the right choice for you would be.

For some people that’s going to be eating the equivalent of two burgers, or some people they’re going to need more carbs. I think that for most people, you’re right, like having a little bit extra protein there is going to make more sense than having extra carbs.

So I just wanted to ask you about that because I’m sure like you said if people are Googling your name, that might be what’s coming up for them so I wanted to give you a chance to just talk about that a little bit. Thanks for explaining that.

People are probably kind of riled up about macros now and thinking maybe this is a cool thing for them to jump into. I know you have an awesome course called Macro’s Made Easy. Can you tell us a little bit more about that if somebody might be interested in joining that?

Emily: Certainly. Macros Made Easy exists as a course that you can jump into at any time of the year as a self-study version, meaning all the tutorials, the videos, the cheat sheets, the guides are available on instant download. Or you can participate in Macros Made Easy Live which is essentially all that in a month long form where I walk you through lesson by lesson with you in a group setting hosted on Facebook.

This is coming from my public health background and my Public Health Master’s recognizing that everybody has different learning styles and maybe you’re the type of person that just wants to get their feet wet with macro tracking and they want to know the ins and outs of kind of taking it to the next level. Maybe teaching it to yourself is the best way for you to learn and so Macros Made Easy DIY is what you need.

Other people just really need handholding through it and maybe need to work through and problem solve. Maybe they’re more on the beginner end of the spectrum. That Macros Made Easy Live just offered a couple times a year is the option for them.

But essentially Macros Made Easy, the point of it is to help you make macro tracking a sustainable part of your day because nobody actually talks about that. I recognize that there are a ton of coaches that prescribe macros. You can find anything and everything on the internet about how to track macros, so that need is covered. But people aren’t really talking about how to fold it into your day sustainably.

If you’re the head of household and you’re prepping meals for the rest of your family, or if you’re the only one tracking macros and nobody else in your family is, you want to eat out, you want to learn how to build and treats, it covers all the what if and how to situations that come up and all the questions that kind of bubble up to the surface when you start tracking.

It’s great for the beginner tracker and also for the veteran tracker who just kind of wants to take it to the next level, and learn how they can teach it to their clients, and different things like that. I’ve loved offering it over the last year. It’s kind of gotten a few facelifts since March when I first launched it and I’m just loving the content that’s there right now.

Kelsey: Awesome. I think it’s a great course. And you’re absolutely right, there’s a need in the market, or there was a need in the market for something that talks about like how to actually do this in a way that makes sense for most people. Because yeah, you can like be really, really strict about it. That’s sort of what probably is covered and when you do Google this kind of stuff, you’re seeing this is like what I have to do every single day. There’s no flexibility in it necessarily because just I’m sticking to this macro prescription and it really inhibits my ability to eat out or like plan for my family and all these situations where it’s too strict necessarily for that to work.

I love that you’ve created this program and I think it really helps to allow people to make these changes in a way that feels, like you said, sustainable for them, and it feels like they can make it work no matter what their lifestyle is right now, and they can really fit in to their current situation. It’s an awesome program.  We’ll link to it for anybody who’s interested. Do you know now when the next live course will be? I think you’re running one right now.

Emily: I’m running one right now. It’s the last one of 2017. I am looking at some time toward the end of quarter 1 in 2018, but I’ve just got a lot on my plate and a lot of really cool stuff coming up so I’m not exactly sure.

If you’re on my email list or you visit my website and click on “Work With Me” you can learn more about the course and sign up to get notified when I run another one, which is what you want to do.

Emily: Perfect. We’ll link to the course itself, we’ll link to your website so people can get on your newsletter so they can know when the next live one will be going out.

But I just want to thank you for chatting with me today. This was awesome! I think hopefully people got a good overview of what macro tracking looks like, and how to do that, and how to get their prescription and get started with it. If they want to learn a little bit more and dive deeper, they can check out your course.

Emily: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me!

Kelsey: You take care, Emily.

Emily: Thank you.



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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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