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The importance of macros and where dairy fits in

Emily Shaw for Progressive Dairy Published on 22 May 2020
Emily Shaw

Hello readers! I’m Emily Shaw, and I’m a Pennsylvania dairy girl who now resides in the sunny state of Florida. I am currently an online personal trainer through my business Dairy Girl Fitness.

I grew up in youth dairy organizations through my family’s show herd, Linden-Loch Holsteins. Along with my love for the dairy industry, I spent the rest of my free time playing an array of sports year-round. This is where my passions for dairy and health came from, and it helped form the idea for my personal training business.



From my time spent in youth activities to being involved in various clubs and obtaining my bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management at Pennsylvania State University, I always knew I wanted to be an AGvocate and a voice for the dairy industry. If those involved in the dairy industry don’t tell our story, others will continue to do so incorrectly.

I started Dairy Girl Fitness over two years ago as my way to show others you don’t have to cut dairy and other animal products out of your diet to be healthy. I also aim to help women feel strong, confident, and healthy and let them know that they deserve to feel that way. My goal is to show women it is not selfish to prioritize your health, and you don’t have to do it in a restrictive, unsustainable way. I want the business to represent a strong, confident and hardworking group of women.

So now let’s talk about one of my favorite ways to help women feel their best.

We all want to feel healthy, right? But how often do you start working toward a health and fitness goal, and you feel overwhelmed or confused, so you throw in the towel? The missing piece for most is understanding how big of a role nutrition actually plays in your life and, more importantly, understanding that is much simpler than many people try to play it out to be.

I hear many people say, “I eat healthy, but nothing is changing,” or “I cut out entire food groups because someone told me it would help me lose weight, but I couldn’t stick with it.” The most important thing it comes down to when trying to find a way of eating that helps you reach your goals is that you need to be eating the right amount of calories and doing it in a way that is sustainable for you. And one of my favorite ways clients and I like to achieve this is by counting macros.


“OK, Emily, cool, but what the heck is a macro?”

Glad you asked. Macros is short for MACROnutrients, and macronutrients are needed for our bodies to properly function and perform their best. There are three groups of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each food has a different breakdown of macronutrients that will ultimately make up the amount of calories food has. Depending on your body, goals, activity level and overall health, each person has a different breakdown of the amount of protein, carbs and fats that will work best for them.

For someone to lose weight, they need to be consuming less calories (that break down into macros) than they burn through the day. Then, for someone to gain weight, they need to be eating more calories than they burn in a day. So let’s dive into each macro group a little more.

Protein provides the building blocks of the body – and not just for repairing and building muscle. Every cell, from bone to skin to hair, contains protein. Protein has 4 calories per gram and can be found in foods like beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs and egg whites, quinoa, nuts and beans.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our muscles, brain and central nervous system. Carbs also have 4 calories per gram and can be found in foods like fruit, starchy vegetables, breads and grains, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, candy, cookies and sweets.

While not the preferred source, fats also provide energy to the body. They also support many bodily functions like nutrient absorption, hormone regulation, blood clotting, building cells and muscle movement. Fats are the most calorie-dense macro group at 9 calories per gram and can be found in foods like butter, other high-fat dairy products, whole eggs, high-fat beef, pork and fish, nuts, oils, avocados and in many sweets as well.


All macronutrient groups are important and serve a specific purpose for your body, so please don’t feel like you need to restrict one area to meet your goals. “Counting” macros is an incredible tool to teach you more about the food you consume, because it teaches you about portion sizes, the different nutritional content of foods, how to balance out your meals through the day and how you can fit all types of foods into your day while still reaching your goals. That includes dairy and meats too.

There are no “bad” and “good” foods, in my book. There are some foods with more calories and less important nutrients, and then there are some foods with less calories and more important nutrients. But when you count macros and see how you can fit different types of foods into your day and understand there is no one specific food or group that makes you lose or gain weight, that’s when you can create food freedom for yourself.

My clients and I like to follow the 80/20 rule. I encourage them to make up around 80% of their eating whole, nutrient-dense foods and with the other 20%, they can fit in the fun foods – the date night out, the ice cream outing with their kids.

With dairy products, I use them every day to help me hit my macro goals, especially in the protein department. Along with hitting my protein goal, I want to be doing it with a high-quality, complete protein source, which dairy fits right into. I always keep my house full of creamer; whole, skim and chocolate milk; whey protein powder; Greek yogurt; cottage cheese; cheese; cream cheese; butter and, of course, ice cream. Dairy is a nutritious food group that science proves time and time again is a valuable part of someone’s diet and can help you reach your goals.

Your nutrition doesn’t have to be perfect to work, and it doesn’t have to totally control your life. But taking the time to learn more about food and how incredible properly fueling your body can make you feel is something that will benefit you for a very, very long time. Taking care of your health and fitness is meant to add to your life, not take away from it.

Cheers, friends! With a glass of milk, of course.  end mark

PHOTO: Emily Shaw’s Dairy Girl Fitness Facebook accountability group has 815 members, and she has more than 13,000 followers on Instagram. Photo courtesy Emily Shaw.

Emily Shaw is a personal trainer with a dairy background and a growing influencer presence on social media.