The macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) make up the bulk on the foods that we eat, which is why they are the largest (or macro) nutrients.
With macros, you can make a lot of different adjustments based on your goals. When I say goals, it could be a wide range of things, such as losing weight, or bulking up.
So when it comes to the macros, are there specific ratios that are more ideal for weight loss or weight gain?
How To Adjust Macros To Meet Your Goals
Macros are the easiest nutrient to change to make big results in the body. And the amount that you consume will play a role in your gains and losses.
Once you dial in a macro ratio that works well for your body, then you'll want to adjust quantities.
The ways you do this will all be explained in this podcast episode with Allison Jackson. She also teaches what some meals might look like to get the macros in certain ratios.
What To Expect From This Episode
- [2:15] What is Allison Jackson's process for getting ready for figure competitions
- [3:15] Allison helps others to reach their body goals
- [4:15] Nutrition is more important to lose the weight than the fitness aspect
- [5:00] Why is it important to focus on your macronutrient ratios
- [5:45] Is the 40/40/20 ratio of macronutrients the ideal ratio for weight loss
- [6:15] Can you consume too much protein and have it damage your kidneys
- [6:45] Do you change your protein amounts during your building phase or leaning phase
- [7:15] Does Allison focus on quality of food, or just the macros
- [8:30] When you get really lean, what happens to the functionality of the body
- [9:30] At your leanest stage, how well does your brain function
- [10:45] What are some good ways to track your food and macros
- [12:15] How accurate is calorie/macro tracking
- [13:00] When switching between building and leaning phases, Allison changes her macros which will change her calorie count
- [13:30] Sometimes people reach a plateau and stops losing weight, what can cause this
- [16:15] How can people continue to stay on their plan while they have work events or when life gets in the way
- [18:00] What are some of your meal prep meals do you like to make
- [18:45] Do you have specific meals or macros that you try to get in around exercise
- [19:30] What are Allison Jackson's most effective workouts she does during the lean out phase
- [20:30] Women can be afraid to "bulk up" too much, what do you say to that
- [21:15] What would be an example of a dinner plate following a 40/40/20 macro ratio
Resources From This Episode
Some of these resources may contain affiliate links, which provides a small commission to me (at no extra expense to you).
Transcript For Episode (Transcripts aren't even close to 100% Accurate)
Bryan: 00:15 We are almost at the point where people start thinking about their health goals for the new year. And one of the most common goals is to lose weight. While weight loss has many different factors that can help or inhibit the weight to come off. One of the major components is the amount of macronutrients that you eat. So how do you determine exactly how to adjust your macro nutrients for weight loss or weight gain? Keep on listening and that is exactly what we'll cover today. What's up everyone? I'm Bryan Carroll and I'm here to help people who have an injury or illness that holds them back from enjoying the outdoors. And today we are going to be talking all about the macros. You don't know what macros are. It is a proteins, carbs, and fats that you consume. So before we dive into this episode, if you are wanting to find the right nutrition plan for your body and get started on reaching your health goals and check out our nutrition coaching options, we make tailor made plans unique to you and make adjustments as needed so you can reach your goals in a healthy and safe way. No more yoyo dieting, just lasting changes that are simple and easy to manage. So to learn more, go to summitforwellness.com/nutrition now let's go talk with Allison Jackson all about the macros.
Bryan: 01:31 Allison Jackson is a founder of Allison Jackson fitness. She loves sharing her knowledge and expertise to help corporate moms get lean eating foods they love so they can be at their best. Allison has spent the last seven years training and competing and figure competitions, even winning her pro card so she has a crystal clear picture of what it takes to get to your ideal weight and stay there. Thank you Allison for coming onto the show.
Allison: 01:55 Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Bryan: 01:57 Of course. And in your bio, you talked about competing and I just asked you if you're still competing and you said that you competed a week ago. So can you just talk about kind of the process for competing and what it means to get your pro card?
Allison: 02:13 Sure. So it usually starts around 16 to 20 weeks out depending on how much weight you have to lose, which is usually around 15 pounds. And it's just basically slowly taking that weight off cause you want to strip down the fat, keep that muscle. So it's all about macros, which we'll talk about later. But you know, each year it, it gets, it feels like it gets easier and easier, but your body just comes back in a different way. And in terms of getting my pro card so there's different associations and each one has different guidelines and different pro cards. So I wanted my pro card and the a MBF and I just, this past weekend one it for the OCB, which was a lot harder. And it is means I could compete for money. So I'll be making my pro debut next month.
Bryan: 02:55 Wow. And yeah, the body definitely does kind of learn to lose weight more efficiently. I used to wrestle and I could lose weight about 25 pounds over the course of two to three days. And now, now there's no way I would even want to do that. But yeah, definitely know how to cut weight super quick and that's the unhealthy way. So let's dive into your background a little bit. Tell us a little bit about you.
Allison: 03:21 Sure. So I am married, I have two teenagers. I actually work full time in corporate communications, but my side hustle is coaching and doing fitness competitions. So I actually help others, you know, reach their their body goals when I can.
Bryan: 03:37 And what got you so interested in the fitness side of it?
Allison: 03:41 So, it's funny, I used to read my dad's muscle fitness magazines back when I was in high school and used his weight bench in the basement. I just loved how people could transform their bodies using weight training. So it was always a bucket list item to compete. So I finally started seven years ago. I thought it was a one and done and I just keep do it at year after year.
Bryan: 04:00 And since you do a lot of stuff with bigger competitions, what have you found to be more important? Is it the exercise portion or is it the nutrition portion?
Allison: 04:10 Definitely the nutrition, which I know most people are surprised to find out. They think I spent hours in the gym, but it's 90% about the nutrition. I mean the weight training is important, but the diet is what really gets you where you need to be.
Bryan: 04:21 And why is the nutrition side so important?
Allison: 04:24 So, you know, it's what your body takes in and how it you know, so when it comes to macros, it's protein, carbs and fats. What's really what those, those percentages are at how your body consumes them and takes them in and how it's burned essentially. But yeah, it's all about the nutrients and how your body [inaudible] metabolizes them.
Bryan: 04:47 And then you, you put a lot of focus on the macros of proteins, carbs and fats. Why is it so important to focus on the macros instead of just eating for how you feel?
Allison: 04:59 So it's interesting with competing and figure competitions and macros, it's all about building muscle, retaining muscle and losing fat. So, you know, back when I was trying to lose weight when I was pregnant, I used weight Watchers and it was a point system where you just ate whatever you want it. So I can eat cake all day, still be with them, my points, but my body wasn't, you know, changing the way I wanted it to. With macros and like I call it a bodybuilding diet where it's 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. You're really retaining that muscle building muscle and you know, minimizing the fat intake. So I just think it's, for me it's been kind of like the mystery solved, you know,
Bryan: 05:39 [Inaudible] you said 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat. Is that kind of the perfect ratio or is that the perfect ratio for you?
Allison: 05:47 It's generally when it comes to bodybuilding and retaining muscle building, muscle losing fat, that is kind of the ideal ratio. And it's funny cause people look at like the zone diet and some of those diets they follow a similar breakdown.
Bryan: 06:01 And when it comes to protein, is there at a point where you can be consuming too much protein? Like it could be too much for your kidneys?
Allison: 06:09 Definitely. So generally speaking I tried to and what I coach my clients to do is consume about one gram per pound of body weight. So for example, I'm taking my off season body weight as 140 pounds. So I generally will consume 140 grams of protein and that is, you know, throughout my prep off-season et cetera.
Bryan: 06:31 Do you change how much protein you take depending on where you're at with your competition? Like how much mass you're trying to put on and whether it's your gain phase or your lean phase, do you change the protein amount?
Allison: 06:45 Mildly? Like I might grow up by 10 or 20 grams in the off season when I'm in building mode. So I'll be taking in more calories. So obviously my grams of protein, carbs, everything will be a little bit higher. But then when I'm cutting, that drops not as significantly as the other areas. Protein base generally stays the same, a little bit higher in the off season.
Bryan: 07:05 Do you also focus on the quality of the food that you're eating as well or are you just focus on the macros?
Allison: 07:13 So it's interesting. When I'm in competition prep and I'm trying to lose those last few pounds and I'm like, I'm following my macros to the T, what is the problem? I do find if you take in, we call it, you know, the bro diet unprocessed, you know, the chicken, the broccoli, the sweet potato, the Brown rice, like that unprocessed food. It's amazing that you could help you cut a kickstart, the fat loss when you eliminate the protein powders and some of the more processed protein.
Bryan: 07:38 Okay. Do you ever add in? Some micronutrients as well, like some greens powders and stuff that don't add a whole lot of macros to your diet but do give you a lot of the extra vitamins and minerals and whatnot,
Allison: 07:52 You know, occasionally I do. I'm a big proponent of supplements are exactly that supplementing your diet. So I try to get as much as I can from whole foods. But the most I do is a multivitamins and fish oil. Cause I do find that even when you add a little bit like the collagen and the greens and stuff, they can depending on from, you know, in prep or off season can add to your macros and add calories.
Bryan: 08:18 And I'm curious for the competition styles that you do, what's your body fat percent range that you need to be in?
Allison: 08:25 So I need to be right around seven or 8%.
Bryan: 08:29 Seven or 8%.
Allison: 08:30 Yeah. Wow.
Bryan: 08:31 That is extremely late. So let's talk about that a little bit actually, because when you get to that extreme is one really hard to maintain, but two, it can do a lot of different things to your body, especially menstrual cycles and whatnot. So can you talk about that process?
Allison: 08:47 Absolutely. So I, I always tell people, cause people are like, Oh, you're so disciplined, you're so healthy. It's, it's a means to an end. I need to get to that point for like a day or a week or a month depending on how many shows I have. But it does impact your body in a number of ways. So to your point about losing your cycle, a lot of times women will get to that low body fat percentage. They'll lose their cycle. Well, if you're a young woman who still wants to have a family and children that that could be detrimental to your fertility. So there are some negative connotations aside from constantly cold when I don't have any body fat. I mean body fat, you know, holds in the warm. So you constantly cold, you're hungry, you're cranky, you're hangry. All those things.
Bryan: 09:30 And how bout your brain function? Cause I know a lot of people they start to lose like that ability to be able to focus.
Allison: 09:36 Yes. Yes. So towards the end of prep I'm in low, low, low carbs, so a hundred grams, 75 grams and there is, I call it baby brain. You know when women are pregnant and the baby rant, I call it low carb brain. I mean I you, you really need carbs to function properly. So that is you are in a fog. You can't read. I have to write everything down. I can't remember anything.
Bryan: 09:59 Have you ever played with ketones for that point in your all right, your competition to continue to have that brain function but utilize the ketones like beta hydroxybutyrate or something similar to that in order to increase your brain function?
Allison: 10:15 I haven't, I haven't at all. That's interesting. I didn't realize that that was a you know, like it would help with the brain function aspect.
Bryan: 10:24 Yeah. I can go directly in to your brain cells, which can help with your focus and your ability to be able to do any type of work. So it would be interesting to hear if you ever do play with that report back to me and let me know if that helps at all.
Allison: 10:39 Yeah, I have, I have some homework to do now and that's okay.
Bryan: 10:41 Well so if people want to start paying attention to their macros and what it is they're eating, what are some good ways for them to be able to track it and have a somewhat accurate way to be able to see what it is they're eating?
Allison: 10:57 Sure. So what I always recommend my clients that anyone who wants tips on, on tracking and macros is download my fitness pal. It's free. It's a free app for your phone. You could download it, use it on your desktop or your phone and it will show you your calories as well as your macro breakdown. And it's free. There is a premium version. I use it because you could customize your macros. It gives you a little bit more flexibility. But the free version is totally fine. I used it for years. And the great part is you can actually scan barcodes. So if there's a barcode on your food, you could just scan it and it'll automatically plug in the calories and macros. Making it super easy.
Bryan: 11:33 Does it give you other data as well? Like are you able to track where you're at with your weight or body? A percent body fat percent or anything like that as well.
Allison: 11:42 You can log your body weight and it also will track things like sodium, sugar, fiber a bunch of different nutrients and vitamins as well. So it is great because, you know, for me towards the end of my prep, again I have to watch my sodium and my water intake so it, I could actually track and through the premium version you could set goals for yourself. So I could, I can monitor that as well.
Bryan: 12:05 And how accurate is like calorie tracking or macro tracking? Cause obviously there's a lot of variance with what people enter in. So on a typical scale, is it like accurate within 20%, or is it even more accurate than that?
Allison: 12:22 I would say it's accurate within 20%. And it really depends on are using a food scale to measure. Are you using your hand, you know, are you ballparking it? I think it's as accurate as what you're putting in there. And it's funny cause you'll see that has thousands and thousands of entries and some of them have little green check marks. Does that means people validate it? Is that information correct? Yeah.
Bryan: 12:44 And then you're using my fitness pal in order to track your macros for your gains period. And when you're prepping for shows, so are you just changing the overall calorie count that you're intaking or is there other things that you're changing when it comes to trying to lean out as well?
Allison: 13:04 So I basically changed my macros, which in effect changes my calories. So it'll vary from week to week and each week I'll change, you know, from carb cycling which something we use to try to cut weight as well. But basically every time I changed the macro is it'll change the calorie count.
Bryan: 13:22 Have you seen with your clients where they're tracking their food and there'll be eating less and less calories, however, they're still not losing weight and they're kind of getting frustrated by that. What, what is causing that? Why would they not be eating as much as I used to, but still not losing the weight?
Allison: 13:38 So I think a lot of times people don't eat enough calories to lose weight. So a lot of times I'll put clients on 1600, 1800 calories and they're like, are you insane? I'm never going to lose weight on this while I'm like, you're not losing weight on 1200 and I can't take any more away. You know what I mean? Like, so sometimes people really need more calories than they think and the body thinks it's in starvation mode, so that latches on and doesn't want to drop the weight when they're eating super low calories. Okay.
Bryan: 14:02 Are you also using some kind of fitness tracker to measure calories burned throughout the day? Like people have Apple watches now, I have my Garmin watches. There's a lot of different options out there. Do you use that as well?
Allison: 14:15 Yeah. So I use a Fitbit and you could actually tie in your Fitbit to my fitness pal and it does it with a lot of other ones too. Garment I think does as well as the Apple watch. So I do tell people as well. And if you don't have a fitness tracker, I always say just track your steps with your phone. Most phones have a built in step tracker. But yeah, there is a way to be able to tie in your exercise to that as well
Bryan: 14:38 In a how accurate typically are those type of devices for telling you how many calories you burn.
Allison: 14:44 Okay. So it's funny, I I always tell people to go online, they had the, there's so many different calculators, but you could actually look at what you're, the sole metabolic rate is based on your height and your weight. And I tell people to look at that and that is, you know, what your body needs to burn doing nothing but just existing. I always think that's a good baseline versus the trackers. I mean you know, it's like, I dunno how accurate they are, but I try to just use them as a guideline.
Bryan: 15:16 Yeah, I've been really curious about that too. Like now we have the risk-based heart rate trackers, which is nice, but they're not always accurate as well. But if they were completely accurate, then we could get a pretty good idea of how many calories we're burning throughout the day. So I think it depends on the technology and the watch. And it also depends on how tight you have the watch because a lot of people wear loose watches and that's not gonna attract accurate heart rates. So there's a lot of different variances there. The other thing is since you work with a lot of busy corporate moms is when you are at work and you either have, even though you're taking clients out to dinners or something or people bring in donuts into the corporate office or something like that, how can people stay disciplined with their meal plans? And then how can people make sure that they set their meals ahead of time instead of trying to do everything on the fly.
Allison: 16:17 So I always say either plan to fail or fail to plan. So I'm a huge proponent of meal prepping Sunday nights that's what I do. I meal prep and it takes an hour to 90 minutes, I'll prep for the whole week. So my lunches and my dinners and snacks and that's what I always tell people. Make sure you have something handy that you can eat. Cause you never know when you're either going to be stuck somewhere or you're going to be confronted with a dozen donuts at work and you want to make sure that you have healthy options. Cause I think a lot of times that's what happens to people is, you know, they get, they get they get railed on, you know, all of a sudden it's like, Oh I'm starving, I have nothing at hand and you just eat, you know, whatever's in front of you. So I totally think meal prepping and planning ahead and having stuff, even if it's a protein bar in your purse or in your car or your office, makes a huge difference.
Bryan: 17:05 And when you're prepping your meals ahead of time, are you making the same meals for the entire week or are you changing it up?
Allison: 17:14 So I generally eat the same breakfast and lunch cause it's just me. So I ate the same thing every day cause it's simple. But I do have a family to feed, so I will make something dinner different for dinner every night. And there's this just a little bit different than mine. So whereas I might have rice cauliflower, they'll have regular rice. But I do make something different every night and I try to make it so that it's easy to just have a dinner prepped and cooked. So for an example like sheet pan chicken fajitas, I'll have the sheet pan with the chicken, the onions, peppers, ready to just throw in the oven when I get home. So I'm, I try to make meals a different meal dinner every night.
Bryan: 17:50 Oh, that's actually a really good point. So do you put stuff like make the meal and then put it in a dish that you can freeze and then pull out when you're ready to use it and then throw it in the oven or something like cook or what are some other strategies that you have that are similar to the sheet meal?
Allison: 18:06 So I do the sheet meals. I do Crock-Pot, so I'll put it in the crockpot and then thrown in in the morning. It's ready when I get home. We do in the summer, a lot of grilled meals in the winter, a lot of crockpot meals. But I do try to just prep it and have it either in the fridge or do your point in the freezer. And then just pull it out and pop it in the oven. And I try to have like make it within 30 minutes from a oven to table. Okay.
Bryan: 18:31 And then four macros after or around exercise, you have specific timing for when to consume certain meals or certain types of macros.
Allison: 18:42 So I always say before and after your workouts are always super important to have. You know, a decent like 200, two to 200 and 300 calories of protein and carbs before and after your workouts, depending on your goals. I mean, if you're trying to build muscle, you tried to lose weight. That I always find is good. That's what I do as well. But other than that, it's, you know, a lot of people are intermittent fasting these days. It's whatever is going to suit your needs as long as you're within your calories and your macros for the day. So if you like to eat one giant meal, that's fine. If you like to eat six meals throughout the day, that's fine too. But at the end of the day, it's the number of goals and macros for the day.
Bryan: 19:19 Yeah. One meal to get all your macros. That sounds, sounds like you're packing in a lot of food. What are some of your most effective workouts that you like to do, especially on your when you're getting leaned out?
Allison: 19:34 So a lot of weight training, I, and I shouldn't say a lot, like 45 minutes of weight training. I try to do minimal amount of cardio. I just use it for fat loss. So in my off season, I only do maybe 20 minutes, three times a week of cardio but 30 to 40 minutes of weight training six days a week. But you know, for a person that's just trying to get into shape, I think a full body circuit, a mix of weight training and cardio three times a week is totally more than enough to, you know, meet your goals of like weight loss.
Bryan: 20:05 And when you're doing cardio, are you doing steady state cardio or in a rolls or what are you doing there?
Allison: 20:10 So it's a mix. I'll either do 30 minutes, a steady state or 20 minutes, a high intensity intervals. So depending on how much time I have when I'm in the mood to do.
Bryan: 20:20 And for the people that are worried about putting on a ton of muscle, what do you have to say to them?
Allison: 20:28 I love that cause I, cause I that makes me laugh cause here I am killing myself trying to gain muscle and I'm lucky to gain like two pounds a year. You can lift super heavy, you could lift every day, you will not get huge guarantee it. You will not get you unlucky to gain two pounds a year of muscle.
Bryan: 20:47 And that's with someone being extremely strict and on point with what it is they're doing. So yeah. Well are there any other things about the macros that you want to make sure we touch on before we start wrapping up?
Allison: 20:59 I would just say give it a try and try to eat a nice combination of protein, carbs, and fats at every meal. It's just about having a balanced diet. Try my fitness pal and test it out and see, I think people would be very surprised that they don't eat enough protein and too many carbs.
Bryan: 21:15 Can you give a couple of quick examples of what a [inaudible] a dinner plate it might look like so that people kind of have an idea of what a 40, 40, 20 ratio of macros would look like?
Allison: 21:25 Sure. So one of my favorite lunches is [inaudible] tomato bays or rice cakes to raise cakes with like four ounces of Turkey and then half of an avocado. Like that's like my favorite lunch. I know that's probably like crazy. Another thing my family loves to eat is a, we'll do a shrimp stir fry, so Brown or white rice, some broccoli, some shrimp. That's another great healthy meal. And then the sheet pan fajitas are another one. You can do that over riced cauliflower, you can use a corn tortilla. And then put, you know, that free sour creams and avocado. I mean there's so, so many options to, to eat healthy but still make it tasty.
Bryan: 22:04 Awesome. Well my final question to you is do you have a morning routine and if so, what is it?
Allison: 22:10 All right. My, my morning routine might scare people. So I get up at four 20 and I am at the gym and I work out for like 45 minutes and then I come home and I actually I meditate, which has been a game changer in terms of reducing my stress levels and just being able to focus better. So highly recommend if anybody's never tried it to just try it. There's an app called insight timer. It's free and you could do what time do, you could do a guided meditation but huge game changer.
Bryan: 22:39 Awesome. Well people can find you at Allison Jackson, fitness.com. You also have a couple of free resources. One is a five day meal plan, the other one is a free workout plan. You're also found on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and linked in and we'll have all the show notes for that or all the links in the show notes for that. Thank you Allison so much for coming on. We appreciate you coming on to talk all about the macros and I hope people give this a, I try and test it out and see if it works for them.
Allison: 23:10 Me too. Thanks so much for having me. It's been so much fun.
Bryan: 23:14 Macro nutrients are definitely important for energy levels and to manage the amount of food that you eat, but the micronutrients are extremely important for a whole lot of other reasons and the body, a lot of health issues are corrected by working with a micronutrients or imbalances in the body, which is why it is important to eat high quality foods. Like for example in the egg from a free range, chicken can have 12 times more colon than from an egg, from a chicken raised in a cage. So quality can make a huge difference in the new nutrients that you receive. As always, all the links and show notes to this episode can be found at [inaudible] dot com slash 92 and have you had the opportunity to go onto Apple podcast to leave us a quick rating and review those reviews. Help to get this show in front of even more people, which means you leaving a review can help someone get started on their health journey. Who is looking for a good podcast for a support, go to summit for wellness.com/apple to leave a quick review. Now next week I have dr Robert Silverman on the show to talk about how the gut influences how your brain functions. We definitely go deep into that episode, so let's learn a little bit more about dr Silverman. I am here with dr Rob Silverman. Hey dr Rob, what is one unique thing about you that most people don't know?
Dr. Rob: 24:32 Most people don't know that I actually play college basketball.
Bryan: 24:35 Oh wow. How tall are you?
Dr. Rob: 24:37 A slightly over six feet, so they moved me from a shooting guard to point guard.
Bryan: 24:42 Nice, and where'd you play for?
Dr. Rob: 24:45 I played at pace university, a small school in West Chester County where I live
Bryan: 24:50 And what will we be learning about in our interview together
Dr. Rob: 24:53 We were learning all about the gut to brain access and how it's the critical system communicator of the body and everybody's going to want to take better care of that axis after this podcast.
Bryan: 25:04 And what are your favorite foods or nutrients that you think everyone should get more of in their diet?
Dr. Rob: 25:09 My favorite food people are going to laugh is avocado because I'm a fat base person who loves yummy fruit and avocado is a fatty fruit that I love.
Bryan: 25:22 And what are your top three health tips for anyone who wants to improve their overall wellness?
Dr. Rob: 25:27 Top three help tips, which I have. We'll be giving an acronym later. I reiterated number one, GPS, take care of, do take GPS of life. No gluten, no processed food, no sugar. Take care of your DNA, no dairy, no nicotine or artificial sweeteners. Get moving. Let's move. We're supposed to have 15,000 steps a day, and the third one is find something that you love because then you'll never have to go to work and just do it all day long.
Bryan: 25:53 That episode is jam packed with information, and we'd definitely go deep into that topic. So until then, keep climbing to the peak of your health.