Why I Love Macro Counting (IIFYM)

Macro counting, flexible dieting, If It Fits Your Macros. Many names for it. I have been doing flexible dieting for about a year and I used it for my bikini contest prep even.

Here is a good blog post guide on how to macro count. I thought I would direct to a good article instead of trying to rewrite something written a million times. I also suggest checking out Layne Norton for info and blog posts. Likely the most famous flexible dieter.

This post isn't about how to macro count, but why I love it and think its appropriate for majority of people. Mama Lion strong wrote a blog post about how it can be hurt a few with eating disorders and I agree, but for the most of us it's a great tool to have. 

So flexible dieting is all about obtaining a certain amount of calories, with ratios of fat, carb and protein designed for the type of activity you are doing. Calorie deficit = weight loss, calorie maintenance = body recomp/fat loss without weight loss, calorie surplus = weight gain. When you are tracking these three main macronutrients you are eating "what fits" into them.

oreos

So say you love oreos (okay so I do) and it's something you would like to eat. You plan to fit two oreos into your plan at the end of every day. (okay so this is what I do). As long as I'm eating within my fat, carb and protein limits (and obtaining a minimum daily fiber intake) I can eat them.

Now obviously if I ate just oreos and protein shakes all day, every day I could keep within my numbers, but I wouldn't hit my fiber intake (which is pretty important) and I would be pretty hungry. Usually these junk type food are high glycemic indexed, so meaning they enter the blood stream quickly and leave quickly. Whole food, generally are slower processed the body so you don't feel as hungry. Most of us flexible dieters say we usually eat 80% whole foods, 20% what we want.

salad

Of course the main reason I love this is because I get to eat the things I love and crave. Without the guilt. This is a big one. My entire life I've grown up in a society that says cookies and cake are bad. Feel ashamed for eating those awful things and get started on your diet tomorrow for doing it. How many times have you been at a party or something and your friend turns to you and says "I can't believe I ate this and that, I'll punish myself in the gym tomorrow for it" Or "I guess it's only salads all next week to make up for all this crap I ate"? Or you buy a bag of said Oreos, eat an entire row or bag and feel terrible after. Aside from the sugar rush tummy ache. But what if you planned to eat two Oreos each night? Or planned on having that McDonald's burger on Tuesdays because Tuesdays at work are always busy? Planned it to fit into your macros. And ate whole foods the rest of the day and stayed within your macros? Where would the guilt and shame be? Lost, that's where.

The thing I've struggled with in the past is the spiral. I ate this and feel crappy about it, so the rest of the day is lost. Continue eating like this today and start again tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and I eat a donut at break and think the day is lost and yesterday repeats itself. There is guilt that goes with "failing" at my diet that day. But now I eat something unplanned, like when my oh so adorable daughters bat their eyelashes for a donut at the shop next to the gym. I get one, eat it, enjoy it and adjust my foods the rest of the day to make sure I stay within my numbers. Look at that, true "guilt free" foods.

donut

Now the other part I love about this type of eating style is it fits whatever you eat! Paleo? Still can count macros. Gluten free? Vegetarian? Organic whole foods only? You can still count macros. I am a vegetarian and eating mostly whole foods and organic. I use foods in a holistic manner, by eating certain foods that help ailments and so on. For example I had some gallbladder issues this winter and I was eating foods that specifically helped me with it and avoided the ones that hurt me more. All while staying within my macronutrient range.

I'm not going to say I don't go off track, or occasionally "yolo binge" etc. But that's part of being human and the past 29 years of being made to think that's basically the way we should eat. Old habits die hard. That's also part of the perseverance training, to get back on that damn horse after unplanned "carb loading". Ha ha.

Macro counting may not be for everyone, It does require some work. The first few weeks are a pain trying to set up foods, navigate how things fit and weighing/measuring everything. But eventually it gets easier and you learn how to count with eyeballing even. I can look at a food and give you a pretty good idea of what the macro profile is now.

If you are interested in macro counting, I strongly recommend the above blogs, plus doing some research online. Some of the calculators online are pretty aggressive and I don't agree with. But one I think comes pretty close is macronutrientcalculator.com .

Some of the things you will need to start are:

  • A food scale
  • Calorie counting app, My Fitness Pal, Calorie King, Bodyspace are all popular.
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Thanks for reading, and no matter your "eating style" as long as it makes you happy and gets you the results you want, tell others to piss off and enjoy.

 

Jen

 

Update

A month ago I wrote a little post called The Project. Introducing you to 3 people who I am coaching through nutrition and blogging about their results. I'm sorry I haven't updated as much as I'd like, we've been moving and it's hectic!

Anyways. I wanted to share a little bit of their results and what they had to say about it. Perception is quite the thing. We may think we see no progress but the rest of the world sees it all. Or we may see little progress and think "what a waste of time" but in fact that small progress but be huge to someone else.

Jenn

In the first month Jenn has done very well. Some "cheat" days where macros were forgotten about and some workouts missed. Guess what? This makes her human like the the rest of us. And guess what else? She still had results. She kept getting back on that horse the next day and she has results to show it.

  • Weight - Down 4 lbs
  • Chest - Down 0.5"
  • Waist - Unchanged
  • Hips - Down 2.75" (WOWZA!!!!)
  • Thigh - Down 0.5"
  • Arm - Down 0.5"

I've put Jenn on a plan to loose on average 1 pound a week. So it looks like she's on track. I know it might not be aggressive enough to some or to her (her goal is about 35 lbs), but two things I want to point out.  Firstly it didn't take 3 months to gain weight, so slow and steady is the most sustainable way to loose weight. And secondly our marathon mama here does A LOT of cardio training for her half marathon in two months, traiathalons and so on this summer. Steady state cardio like what she is doing lets your body adapt to it. So it's harder to use cardio to burn off extra fat like in others, in conjunction with the caloric deficit. This is all said, I think she has done amazing! The perseverance in this busy working mom of two is downright inspiring.

Vanessa

Vanessa also endured some personal stuff that put her off track some days, but again still had progress! I'm even amazed the one night she came to my place with some friends and we were wine drinking fools and she kept to the no alcohol for the first month part. Good on you girl!

  • Weight - Down 5 lbs
  • Chest - Down 1.5"
  • Waist - Down 1"
  • Hips - Unchanged
  • Thigh - Gained 1.5"
  • Arm - Down 1"

I've also put Vanessa on a 1 pound a week deficit. She started HIIT cardio and lifting heavier weights. This would be why she's gained that 1.5" in the thigh. For someone tall like her, that can be a difficult thing to do! Her goal was originally to loose 15 lbs. The last check in she said "I'm not sure I'm going to get to my weight loss goal with the muscle I am building, but I feel good about where it is going". There ya go. What's that saying? Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about how you get there. She wants to look a certain way based off a weight she was before. But if she looks that way and weighs more does the number really matter? Good for you Vanessa!

Here is a side by side of the first month's difference for Vanessa.

SideBySide

Dylan

The strong silent type. Ha ha. I ask each of these three a bunch of questions at check in and he never has much to say. But let me tell you the strong in that part is real. He's been pretty on point with his nutrition plan and macro counting and his results are damn impressive.

  • Weight - Down 14.5 lbs !!!!!!!
  • Chest - Down 1.5"
  • Waist - Down 2"
  • Hips - Down 1.5"
  • Thigh - Down 1"
  • Arm - Down .5"

Any females reading this wishing they were a man? Ha ha. I kid I kid. I've put Dylan on about 1- 1.5 lbs a week loss. I wasn't sure on his numbers exactly because there was some additional factors for him. Some cardio/supplements he was taking that may or may not have messed with his metabolism a bit. But here we are. I even almost upped his calories after the first two week because of a 10 lbs jump! He' s also missed a few workouts from work and had to change his cardio plan a bit because of an injury, but he keeps on trucking along. Great work, well on your way to your goal of coming down 25-30 lbs. Can't wait to see you after the three months with that commitment!

All three of them started with a daily meal plan for the first two weeks. One I worked out specifically to their macro numbers. After the second week I spoke more about macros, what they are and how to swap foods out. Because I can only imagine how sick they were of the same thing everyday. No alcohol was for the first month. Alcohol is one of those funny things, that once consumed, makes us forget about calories and macros. Think back to all those late night pizza binges after the bar! Now they are all free to swap out meals and food within their daily goal numbers. I've helped them with being able to calculate alcohol into their plans as well, putting no foods really off limits, just kept in moderation to reach their goals.

Thanks for reading!

Take care,

Jen