It seems like these days everyone is hopping on the flexible dieting train and counting macros. Most, like myself have found it to be the most freeing “diet” we’ve ever been on, while others get completely stressed out over the weighing, logging and hitting their numbers.
If you haven’t found what works for you, and want to give counting macros a shot—or feel like you’re overcomplicating things, these tips should help.
Don’t use online calculators
If you want to calculate your numbers yourself, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you are new to counting macros, I would strongly advise you don’t use the online calculators. Those things leave far too much room for user error.
Why? Because some people overestimate their activity. Some people see the number of calories and think it’s too much or too little and will adjust until they see a number that looks better to them. Some people will try to be too aggressive, while others will be too lax. Basically, since you don’t know much about it, you’ll allow your own bias, along with bullshit that has been ingrained in your head over the years and end up with numbers that just won’t suit you.
If you want to calculate your own, I highly suggest snagging a copy of Krissy Mae Cagney’s book, Flexible Dieting 2.0 (Get 30% off with code XTALROSE) When I calculate numbers for people, I use her formula. The book itself is a fantastic resource, so wherever you are in your counting macros, flexible dieting journey—I highly suggest it.
Having someone else calculate
If you are not up to the task of calculating your own numbers or don’t trust yourself to be accurate (and I can’t say I blame you) then having someone else do them for you is more than fine. Anyone can do this—just like anyone can use an online calculator. However, you need to be responsible and do your due diligence.
If you’re going to pay someone, check into the person. Ask to see client results and ask people who you know worked with them, how they are. Same goes for someone you aren’t paying (who can be just as good). When you get your numbers ask why they were set the way they were if they weren’t explained to you. Do not be afraid to ask questions!
Regardless of who does your numbers, you need to educate yourself. There are plenty of coaches out there with full blown nutrition degrees (some even semi-famous) practically starving people out there with their bunk meal and macro plans. Be careful.
Don’t solicit the peanut gallery
If someone does your numbers for you, do not go and solicit the peanut gallery. I see this all the time. I understand that you’re probably having anxiety and want to double and triple check, but you are only accomplishing one thing here—and that’s stressing yourself out more. Everyone has an opinion, and you will get the full range of them, leaving you to feel lost.
If you have a coach or someone did your numbers for you– talk to them. That’s what they are there for and they will not think you’re bugging them. Do not bring it to the internet. Express your concerns, question them until you are satisfied with the answers and put some trust in them. You are NOT going to blow up overnight.
It’s not a lot of food
We are all used to seeing the 1200 calorie zone as THE perfect number for weight loss and anything too high above that we deem as “a lot of food” or “seeming high.”
Why is it that we only think calories are “too high” when we decide to follow a diet or start counting macros? Most people don’t consider or even know how much they are consuming when they are out there being unhealthy. What if it’s 3000 calories? What if some days it’s only 800? What if your new numbers are exactly the same as what you’d eat when ‘off the wagon’ but they’re a better ratio?
The fact of the matter is, is that the more you weigh, and the more activity you do, the more you need to eat. Someone weighing 180 with 5 hours of activity per week is going to have different numbers from someone who weighs the same but has 15 hours of activity per week. Just like someone who is 130 and wanting to maintain, will look different than someone 115.
Slow is better
I know we are all desperate to see results, especially when starting something new, but you need to chill a bit. You didn’t put the weight on overnight, so it’s not going to just magically float off your body after doing the right things for two weeks. And if you’re trying to gain muscle, you’re most likely going to have a long road ahead of you. It takes more than the right combo of lifting weights, cardio and eating right– it all takes discipline as well.
It’s all about patience. The slower you see results the more lasting they are. This is a lifestyle, I know you’ve heard it a million times. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you get to where you want to be are you going to just stop? Throw up your hands and say, “Okay I’m here! Now I’m done.”
NO. You aren’t. Because once you get to where you want to be—that place will have changed. You’ll want more. You’ll have new goals, aesthetic or performance related. And you’ll keep going. If you just drop it all, the chances you’ll go back to the way you once were, are a lot higher.
Use tools besides the scale
I will tell you right now if you are only weighing yourself to track progress, you are doing it wrong. The scale can only give you a number. It can’t tell you that you’re up 3lbs because you ate too much sodium last night, or that since you started a new program your muscles need to hang on to water for recovery. All you see is the 3lbs and freak out, instantly telling yourself that what you’re doing isn’t working.
Weighing yourself is only one piece of the puzzle. Weekly measurements, progress photos and periodic body fat tests are important for getting a holistic look at your progress.
Remember, it’s just food
It’s just food. It is there to fuel you, to enjoy and to manipulate to reach your goals. When you know every gram of macronutrient that hits your mouth, it’s easy to make a change and see what that one thing does.
Is it the end of the world if you don’t hit your numbers exactly? No, but if you fall within 4g and are as accurate as possible, you will know what needs to be tweaked if you hit a wall or plateau.
Log before you eat. Plan ahead. Meal or food prep if it helps. Play around with serving sizes and food choices until you get what you need. Then be consistent and accurate by hitting your numbers and weighing everything. Stressing will not help you reach your goals. Take the emotion out of counting macros and you’ll learn to enjoy the freedom that comes along with flexible dieting.
Want to see more posts on counting macros and flexible dieting? Give a shout in the comments below!
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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