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.
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.
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.
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.