Over the last few weeks, I’ve been tracking macros on MyFitnessPal. Initially, I was doing it to try and get back on Keto. (By “back on,” I mean I did it for two weeks before a vacation once.) Unsurprisingly, I bailed on Keto (nothing is low-carb enough!!!). and I then decided my #newyearnewme would be about counting macros instead. I’m currently using this calculator, which I found via this highly reliable fitness Instagram. I’m not even being sarcastic—there’s very good advice on there. My biggest challenge with macros so far has definitely been keeping my fat content in check. Within a week, I realized I knew way less about which foods are high fat than I thought. For example, I had a day of what I considered very healthy eating (salads! oats! grain bowls!), and then discovered my diet had been 60% fat. And this is why I have trust issues. So, I did some research into which of my “healthy” choices were causing that high fat content. I’m not talking about obvious fats—you should all know that baked goods are full of bad fats and avocados are full of good fats. These are the sources of fat you’re not as likely to guess as, say, a fried chicken sandwich or a BLT with mayo.
Disclaimer: Everyone’s dietary needs are different, and many diets may call for higher fat content. I am not advocating for a universal low-fat diet, so do not come for me. Rather, I am hoping this information may be illuminating to some of you (read: I don’t want to be the only one who didn’t already know all this).
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really known a lot about the nutrition content of falafel. It felt like a kind of dietary gray zone. Not as healthy as a vegetable, but probably better than cheese. Right? Not really. While trying to design a low-fat grain bowl at Tender Greens, I was pretty shocked to see that the steak topping was lower in fat than the falafel option. While falafel can be a healthy dish (the ingredients themselves are nutrient-rich), I’d somehow forgotten that it’s typically deep-fried. This adds, in scientific terms, a sh*t ton of fat to your meal. FWIW, the “baked falafel” option at Tender Greens was way healthier—but unless a menu specifies “baked,” you should assume it’s deep fried, and therefore higher in fat.
Tofu is a similar deal to falafel—it’s all about how it’s prepared. While tofu isn’t deep-fried quite as often as falafel (though still more often than you’d think), it’s really good at soaking up whatever it’s cooked in. And given that tofu on its own has just about zero flavor (it’s okay, we can all admit that), it’s usually cooked in a bunch of oils, sauces, etc. So tofu on its own? Low-fat, healthy option. But the way it’s usually prepared in restaurants can make it a higher-fat option than something like chicken.
Okay, this one errs more on the side of “foods we knew were high in fat.” But take a minute and actually consider how many “healthy options” feature nuts as a key ingredient. Protein bars that pride themselves on not adding sugar? Full of nuts. Overnight oats? Probably filled with nut butter (or WTF are you doing). Even a lot of salads and bowls will add nuts as a topping, plus, almonds are constantly touted as the ideal mid-afternoon snack. We also all know the problem with nuts—they are impossible to portion for how calorie-dense and fat-dense they are. And anyone who says they’re full after 6 almonds is a dirty liar.
So, while nuts are full of technically good fats, it’s still super easy to go over on your fat content goals if all the healthy options you’re choosing are nut-heavy. So if my breakfast included 2 tbsp of almond butter (18 grams of fat and it never feels like enough), maybe I don’t also have have a nut-based Lara Bar at 4pm (9 grams of fat), and snack on nuts at 6pm (19 grams of fat). That brings my fat content from nuts alone (not even the fun fats, like sauces and cheese and sugar) to 46 grams, when my daily goal is 48. (Let it be known that my total fat content for that day wound up being 90+ grams. This sh*t is hard!!!)
I know! I said this list would be about non-obvious sources of fat. Yet here I am basically listing the liquid form of fat and saying “surprise! This is fat.” Sue me, but also listen because this is probably the #1 thing that people forget to count in their diets. One tablespoon of olive oil has 14 grams of fat. One tablespoon of butter has 12 grams of fat. (The type of fat they offer is different. Here is a long article on different fats and how they affect you.) Even at home, I struggle to cook something edible using less than 2 tbsp of one of these. It can be super tempting to just log the one chicken breast you cooked in there, but unless you’re using a cooking spray, you have to account for the fats it absorbed.
Well, that’s the end of my tirade on fat, and now I never want to look at a nutrition label again! Remember, the worst thing you can do with your diet is eat in a way that makes you miserable, because you know that sh*t won’t last. My fat content is still way too high most days, but I’m figuring out what a low-fat day I can live with looks like. At least it’s not Keto!
Every year, on December 31, just before the clock strikes midnight and you’re preparing to chug a bottle of champagne, you vow that this is the year you finally get in shape. Never mind that you’ll probably wake up tomorrow and completely forget WTF happened on NYE, let alone say “no” to that leftover Chinese take-out in your fridge. I know, because like, me too. Diet starts in 2019, amiright? But for those of you who believe that eighth time’s a charm, here are some fitness apps to help you get that New Year’s body. It’s time to use your phone for something other than cyber-stalking your ex and his new girlfriend.
Sworkit hit it big on Shark Tank when Mark Cuban invested $1.5 million in the company. At one point the app was free, but now they’re charging $29.99 a quarter or $79.99 a year. They may sound like greedy f*cks, but they’re actually the cheapest option of the paid apps on this list. Sworkit has a bunch of fans, averaging an impressive five stars on the App Store. With the price you pay, you get access to a trainer who can answer all your burning fitness questions. That’s kinda cool if you’re lonely and bored of bugging Siri or the personal trainer you’re hooking up with. Also, Sworkit utilizes only bodyweight moves (no equipment) so you can literally do their workouts anywhere. That means if you’re looking for an app to use in the gym, you have better options. In order to utilize all the equipment, keep reading.
MoveWith is like having a personal fitness class right on your phone. A lot of the most popular trainers from boutique studios around the country are coaches on this app. Basically, you get a similar workout for a fraction of the price and in the comfort of your own home or gym. The workouts range from yoga to HIIT to weightlifting to guided meditation. They even have life talks, so clearly the variety is insane. You can choose which body parts you feel like working on, and the amount of time you have to work out. The trainers’ voiceovers also make it sound like they’re right there with you, yelling in your ear. Very realistic and motivating for those of us who need to feel a little fear to get moving. Depending on the class you choose, you might need some gym equipment. This app isn’t free, though, and will cost you $12.99/month or $95.99/year.
DailyBurn is not good for commitment-phobes. Instead of starting a workout, the app makes you start programs that last 8 weeks *nervous laughter*. I’m here for a good time, not a long time. But for those of you who need that kind of structure, this app is for you. Each program also comes with its own nutrition guidelines and meal plan to make sure you really see the results. The thought of all this commitment and cooking is giving me hives, low-key, so let’s wrap this up. Once again, this app is not free and will cost you $19.95/month.
4. Nike Training Club
Finally, a free app. Thanks, Nike! Although, I really do spend way too much money on your shoes anyway. I’ll consider this just a mild favor from you to me. This app allows you to pick individual workouts or set a plan that is tailored to your goals. You can choose if you want to do no equipment or full equipment workouts. All that is cool and whatever, but the main reason I am downloading this app is because it lets you workout alongside side Nike sponsored athletes. That means celebrities like Serena Williams, Kevin Hart, Michael B. Jordan, and Cristiano Ronaldo will be sweating it out with you. This is like the ultimate workout porn. If self-love can’t get me to exercise, then the thought of Michael B. Jordan’s abs f*cking can.
Do I know how to pronounce the name of this app? No. Do I use it? Semi-regularly. My ex-boyfriend introduced me to Jefit, and to this day I maintain that it is the only positive thing to come out of that year-long nightmare. But I’ll save the details for my therapist. If you want to tone up but are too afraid to venture into the weight machines section of the gym, Jefit is the app for you. You can search basically any machine in existence and it will explain how to use it with written instructions and an accompanying gif. It also does the same for many free weight exercises, if you’ve ever wanted, for instance, to learn how to do a barbell deadlift without breaking your lower back. It also has preset workouts for each muscle group (think abs day, chest and triceps day, etc.). And the best part: it’s free. Download Jefit and you just might be posting memes about “when you skip leg day” in no time. Change your name to Tyler, effective immediately.
Okay, MyFitnessPal is so popular that I had to include it on the list, but this app’s main function isn’t even really about exercise. It is a virtual food diary so you can stay on top of your intake. If you purchase the premium version, you can also add in your exercise so that it can calculate your expenditure. The forums and message boards give you that community feel if you’re into chatting with random strangers on the internet (and honestly… strangers on the forum board are way quicker to congratulate you on losing two pounds than your bestie over there putting out wine and a cheese plates). There are no exercises or workout plans for you here, though, so maybe use this with another one of the apps above to really stay on top of things.
Images: Nathan Cowley/Pexels; Giphy (2)