I Will Be Your Ox: Demonstrating MAC-Considerate Macro Counting

One of the biggest frustrations I’ve encountered is a familiar one.

Great, counting macros (or diet X, Y, or Z) worked for you, and yes you look great and are killing it in the gym, and yes, you say counting macros or diet X, Y, or Z is awesome because you can still indulge in guilty foods and make three new PRs in a month….but….so what?

What does that look like?

How do I do it?

Getting My Head Above Water

When I first started counting macros I was told the first two weeks would be really hard. And they were, but not just because I was hungry. It was because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

I didn’t know how to plan a well-rounded breakfast and lunch that would leave me with more than carbs for dinner.

I didn’t know how to plan my meals so that they were all meals, and not snacks because I didn’t leave myself with enough macros to play with.

Why, instead of just being told that the first two weeks would be hard and then let out into the world to figure it out, why wasn’t I provided with some tangible how-to advice and resources that would make those first two weeks much easier?

Why is this so often the case?

We Need Oxen

I believe the jump in and figure out how to swim approach and how scary it makes taking the first step toward a new diet hack is why the recipe sections at the back of fad diet books are so popular. People want to be shown how to do it. They don’t know how, and figuring it out on their own is hard.

In Biblical times, new oxen were trained by being yoked together with an older, experienced ox who would show them the ropes.

People need their oxen.

Your Ox for Today

Now that I’ve spent a few months sharing my story with you, it’s time to stop adding to the frustration. I should have done this sooner. I will be your ox for today by showing you what my own personal journey looks like in practice. Disclaimer: I am still learning and I still need to make many improvements (for example, I still need to eat more vegetables and fiber-rich foods in general). This is what has worked for me; please don’t copy it verbatim, but use it as a starting point for you, as you figure out what works best for you. Let’s embark on this journey together, and learn and grow together.

When I first started macro counting, I felt I was eating pretty darn healthily. I rarely ate out, and prepared all of my food at home. I wasn’t eating enough vegetables but I was doing better than I was. This is a real day in my life in December 2018:

By the end of February, I had finally read the book “The Personalized Diet” by two of my favorite, most respected scientists, Drs. Eran Segal and Eran Elinov of the Weizmann Institute, and had also written my own in-depth article on the microbiome and diet. As a microbiome scientist, I was mildly embarrassed that I hadn’t taken my microbiome into account more, or sooner. So, I began to make a really purposeful attempt to increase fiber — microbiota associated carbohydrates, or MACs—to not only continue to receive the benefits from counting macros, but to also further enhance the health of my microbiome, and perhaps my own health as a result. As you can see from one day in February, I still have room for improvement, but I’d say February was going much better than January. I had also started taking pictures of my food, so the photos from February are actual photos of the meals I prepared and ate (the ones from December came from Creative Commons).

So, there you have it. THIS is what MAC-friendly macro counting looks like, at least for Embriette Hyde. I still need to incorporate more vegetables — an ongoing personal struggle. But, I’m on my way! I hope you’ve gained something useful for this post, and that each and every one of you can find your own ox to help you through your own personal journeys.