Nutritional Hierarchy: The Key to Prioritizing Your Macro Budget

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Last week I broke down the parallels that exist between budgeting your money and budgeting your macros (catch up on that post here). Start managing your macros like you manage your money and you’ll see sustainable results with minimal deprivation.  So on that note, let’s dive into what this looks like when applying to your macro priorities.

The easiest way to learn how to meal plan, and then to be successful with it, is to understand how to prioritize your nutrition and be aware of the nutritional hierarchy.

Understanding this concept plays a crucial role in your approach to your nutrition and reaching your goals.  I know how overwhelming the feeling is the first time you see FOUR numbers: calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat; and then you are told to “hit” them. Then you start hearing things like “re-feed day” or “pair your workouts with 60-70% of your carbs”, and it’s really easy to panic and let yourself get entirely overwhelmed.  Don’t! This is why we prioritize.

Keep it simple, and once you master the basics, you get to utilize all the advanced skills! Basically, don’t jump the gun before you have mastered the basics. For example, if you have not mastered carbs and fats yet, you should not be worried about nutrient timing. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a client who has not hit their protein ONCE has asked when we are going to start carb cycling--slow your roll girl!

Today I’m going to break down the basics IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE and explain its significance.

1. CALORIES:  If you’re brand new to tracking, these should be managed first and foremost due to calorie balance being primarily responsible for weight gain and loss.  Hitting macros also means hitting calories, but since so many beginners struggle to hit their individual macros, I remind my newie tracking clients that the total calorie intake will always be king when macros get screwy.  Remember when you plan ahead, if you hit your macros, you’ll hit your calories.

2. PROTEIN: If you like looking like a lean strong bad ass chick (as I prefer for myself haha), protein should always be prioritized before carbs and fat.  Someone eating 1600 calories and 120g of protein is often going to look a lot stronger (think jacked shoulders, shaped arms, lean waist, and stacked booty) than someone on 1600 calories and 80g of protein.

In order to maintain and develop muscle mass, you should be eating protein at each meal. Protein does not yield energy. However it is also responsible for catalyzing biochemical reactions, repairing/replicating your DNA, maintaining immune and cellular function/structure, and more fascinating sciency stuff I won’t bore you with today!

3. CARBS & FATS: Your human fuel! Training requires fuel… but so does living, breathing, thinking, and all the things we take for granted that our body does for us daily. This is why you need to consume enough carbs and fat to support your LIFE, not just what you do in the gym. Carbs and fat also both play a crucial role in bodily functions, as every tissue and cell in your body needs carbohydrates and fats to function optimally.

Start planning your meals based on this hierarchy to set yourself up for maintainable success.  Keep these priorities in mind as we go into part 3 of the series next week!

~Sarah