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The Lazy Macros Approach to Diet – Part 2

The Lazy Macros Approach to Diet – Part 2

I’ve gotten quite a lot of feedback and questions about Lazy Macros and wanted to expand on my last blog post. Definitely check it out if you are new to Lazy Macros, but it is the #800gChallenge® + Protein (How much protein?! See the blog post).


With Lazy Macros, you are doing the #800gChallenge (800-gram challenge) and adding protein… AND eating whatever else you want. No restrictions. No eliminations. That may be more than 800 grams of fruits and vegetables, that may be more protein, and that also can be whatever other snack, foods, oils, etc., make up your diet.


In a standard macros approach, you weigh and measure everything you eat to hit certain protein, carbohydrate, and fat gram totals. In Lazy Macros – you aren’t doing that! It really isn’t that precise, hence the name “lazy.” Instead, you are:


  1. weighing the weights of fruits and veggies to total 800 (or more) grams, and
  2. using nutrition labels or weighing protein sources to reach a certain number of protein grams.


The truth is, you don’t know what your macros are on the Lazy Macros approach.


But the reason it can be effective for controlling intake is that fruits, veggies, and many protein sources are not calorically dense. So you fill up on these items and then do not have as much room for the nachos, ice cream, pizza, beer, etc. What I’ve found is that Lazy Macros is my minimum effective dose in terms of nutrition strategies. It’s the least amount of work to put in to get the results I want. It keeps me honest about my intake in a way that supports my health, body composition and performance, but it is also sustainable. And, I don’t feel like the process is too cumbersome with day-to-day life demands. Here’s the deal: it might not be your minimum effective dose. You might be better off with macros, Paleo, “just” the #800gChallenge® (800-gram challenge) or any other diet approach. Read on for some clarification about Lazy Macros and potential pitfalls.


What foods counts towards your protein target?


You can count whatever foods have protein in them towards your protein target. But, the more precise you want to be… the less “lazy” this is and the more it’s just macros. So, I generally count foods where I’m getting at least 10 grams of protein in the serving I’m about to eat. Counting foods where I’m getting 2 or 3 grams of protein just makes this tedious. Why is 10 the cutoff? To me, it’s enough to make me “pay attention.” It’s a real dent in my protein total. But there is no magic in the number.


While you should use nutrition labels when available, another rule of thumb worth committing to memory is that 1 oz of cooked meat is approximately 7 grams of protein. Yes, that value changes slightly based on the protein source, but remember this is “lazy.” Lazy means we are good with approximations.


One more note. Generally, 800 grams of fruits and veggies contain roughly 10 grams of protein. So, since I’m hitting also eating that, I do remove 10 grams from the protein total I am trying to hit. For example, I’m trying to hit 135 grams of protein a day. I know I will get ~10 grams of protein from my #800gChallenge®, so my goal from my protein sources becomes 125 grams.


But you aren’t counting fat?


Nope! We aren’t counting a lot of things with this method. And therefore, It IS possible to eat too much fat, or even total calories, with Lazy Macros. Maybe you eat your Lazy Macros and then also have pizza and a pint of ice cream… because that is “allowed.” It is possible to chow through a bag of peanuts and three beers at a baseball game. Any diet where you are NOT controlling for all grams of protein, carbs, and fat, you can eat too much and not lose weight.


In some ways, the Lazy Macros approach is like other quality-food focused diets (e.g., Paleo). The main difference, which makes it slightly less susceptible to this overeating phenomenon however, is you have a certain measurable baseline to hit of protein, fruits, and veggies. This reduces the likelihood of overeating processed food because you are too full of the good stuff.  


Watch Out For Mixed-Macronutrient Protein Sources


Out of convenience and taste, we often reach for protein sources that aren’t really protein sources. There are a ton of foods like protein bars, dairy products, eggs, and fattier cuts of meat, which on a calorie basis aren’t protein sources! They are often better sources of fat and in some cases, carbs. These can REALLY stymie our goals on a Lazy Macros approach, because as you are targeting a certain amount of protein you are inadvertently eating a lot of calories from carbs and fat. So, ideally, your protein should come from foods where the overwhelming majority of calories are from protein (Hint: When looking at a nutrition label, the protein grams should be higher than carb grams and more than double the fat grams per serving to qualify).


Is this for me? 


There is no way to know until you jump in and give it a shot. Don’t worry about getting the numbers exactly right. The benefit comes from doing and you will get better as you go in terms of estimating and hitting your targets.


Like any diet approach, if you don’t see the results you want, it is worth it to do real macros. It is more time-intensive for sure, but the payoff is you quickly learn why you aren’t making progress with your diet. 

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