Custom Meals vs Custom Macros: What’s the Difference?
When we are looking at the BEST way to eat, there can be some confusion. One trainer says this, one trainer says that. All of the competitive ideas can really cloud your judgement on what is going to be BEST for your body.
The key is in that last statement.
“What works best for YOUR body.”
This is going to vary person to person. Some people do well with grains, others don’t. Some people do well with carbs, others don’t. It just depends. With this much variation, you need someone who has your best interest in mind to help you out. Someone who uses the proper foods and works WITH you.
Typically, you will have a coach or trainer who will use one of two methods. Individualized meal plans, or custom macros.
What are individualized meal plans?
You may or may not have some experience with this. With this method, your coach or trainer does a series of interviews to find out more about your preferences, activities, and etc. With this information they can then build you out a custom meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat.
This is a very useful and powerful method because it pretty much always works. There is no question in what is consumed (unless the client is lying) and this allows for control. If something isn’t sitting well, then that one thing can be eliminated or replaced. It is similar to a controlled experiment. All of the variables are known and can be tweaked as they progress.
Typically, there will be a structure that fits the client’s day. For example, the plan may call for “X” foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks are programmed as well to fit the caloric needs of the client.
With this method, there is no guess work. The client doesn’t even have to make decisions on what to eat. If this is a trouble area for them, which is the case for most, this is a great solution.
Results are almost guaranteed.
What are custom macros
Macros, or macronutrients, consist of the breakdown between protein, carbs, and fats. This gives you a total number of calories as well. The ratio is created based on the client’s needs. For example, if they are a very active person, they may have a higher carb amount. If they are looking to gain some muscle mass, they may have a higher protein macro to hit.
This allows for a great deal of freedom for a client. They can really eat whatever they want to hit those numbers. Scientifically this leads to changes in the body through caloric deficit or surplus. The idea of freedom is what makes it so attractive for clients in the first place.
However, there are flaws to this design. With too much freedom comes the room for error. As they are trying to hit a certain goal, they have to be pretty accurate in measuring their intake. Measuring your intake can be difficult for some. It requires lots of weighing and self-discipline to work.
It sounds great, but it isn’t perfect.
Why meal plans are better
This option is superior in a few ways.
First, as stated, there is less room for error. The client knows exactly what to eat. They can hit their goals without as much guess work or effort. They just have to follow the given foods.
With macros, there is a lot of self-discipline involved. This can lead to measurement errors and false reporting. Some clients may think they can “eyeball” their food for this and end up missing the amount they need. The need for specificity is high here, and it gives too much autonomy.
The food choices for meal plans are another benefit. As a coach, you can put the good foods in there for them. They know what it is, and they eat it. There is no guess at whether or not they are putting quality food in their body.
Quality of food should always be emphasized if you are a coach.
This is where the problem arises with macros. The idea created during the “If It Fits Your Macros” era, is that you can eat whatever you want if it meets your macro goals. This led to people eating poptarts, candy, chips, and junk to hit certain numbers. While they may have lost some weight or even gained some muscle, were they healthy? That’s still up for debate, but most claim to have felt terrible.
The body wants good food, and this can be ensured during meal planning.
If you were to compare 40g of carbs from a sweet potato versus 40g of carbs from a poptart. They are not the same. The vitamin and mineral content are different, and the potato is actual food.
This concept applies for proteins and fats as well. The real thing is always going to be the better option for your clients!
Through this discussion I’m sure that you can see the difference. If you are looking to get consistent and pretty much guaranteed results, meal planning will be the best bet for you. Having a great coach will make this even more effective.
Macros can be effective, but the room for error is too high. It creates too much autonomy for the client and can lead to disaster!
The priority is always going to need to be on GOOD food as well. This is how you can best feed your body. Through proper meal planning for your needs, the best food can be chosen and used. With macros, the idea is to really eat “anything” and reach your goals. This leads to a lot of low quality food choices.