FLEXIBLE DIETING: MAKING IT FIT YOUR MACROS
Tracking your macros is the number one technique that will help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. It is also the easiest way to become informed about what you are eating. Tracking and manipulating your macros can help you gain muscle, lose fat, or both! Making variations in your nutritional intake can mean the difference between shedding stubborn fat and plateauing.
For a review on what macros are click here, then common back!
Here’s a Summary
Macros are just proteins, carbs, and fats. Protein & carbs offer 4 calories per 1 gram of protein or carb whereas fats offer 9 calories per gram.
Protein is a combination of crucial amino acids that aid in recovery repair and growth throughout the body. Protein is very important to eat at every meal and has been shown to be beneficial for those looking to lose weight or gain muscle. Examples: Egg, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, fish , legumes, soy
Carbohydrates are our primary energy souce. Your brain and muscles actually prefer to use carbs for fuel. When you eat carbs, your body converts them to glucose and stores them as glycogen. AND In order to burn fat we first need to burn out glycogen stores.
How do we deplete glycogen stores you ask?
By engaging in speed burst training or heavy weight exercises!
Carbs can be simple or complex. Complex carbs digest slowly and provide a steady source of energy due to high fiber content. They contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Some examples include oats, brown rice, and starchy vegestables like sweet potatoes. Simple carbs: digest slowly and are often lighter in colour. Exampels are white rice, breads, cookies and candy.
Fats: keep us satiated and are stored in our bodes as triglycerides. Fats are an essential nutrient and important for healthy hormones, cognitive function, heart health and recovery. Fats do not make you fat, sugar does so make sure to eat adequate healthy fats like avocados, EVOO, nuts & nut butters, egg yolks
Flexible Dieting or the “if it fits your macros (IIFYM)” Approach:
IIFYM allows or moderation and flexibility. After setting your daily target macros (which we’ll get to shortly), you’re encouraged to consume a variety of foods to meet your goals. After all, you can get calories anywhere, but you have to get your macros from specific sources..
When you use the IIFYM approach there is less feelings of deprivation because literally any foods can be consumed as long as they fit your macro goals. Although you can eat anything that fits the ratios, you will fast track your success when consuming whole foods. I also promote being gluten free & dairy free 90% of the time.
Benefits of IIFYM
- IIFYM avoids the mental “off limit” struggle
- Social Situation Success- no more feeling left out
- Research supports this type of approach
- Study compareing a restrictive approach vs. IIFYM found the IIFYM group to have a lower BMI, have more self control and less psychological stress related to weight and food. (1)
- Can be combined with carb-cycling for even better results
Things to Ensure:
- Consume adequate calories and don’t miss macros. I see this too often NO more under-eating ladies.
- Adequate protein for your activity level and fitness goals. I personally stick with 0.8-1.0grams of protein per/lb of body weight.
- Stay away from catastrophic carbohydrate choices like sugary treats, and candy. Most are high in sugar and devoid of fiber creating blood sugar imbalances that leave you hangry and low in energy.
- Adequate essential fats: make sure to be choosing healthy fats not pizza, cheese and ice-cream. If your fat sources are only coming from these types of food, we have a problem. We need healthy fats to improve heart health, cholesterol levels and promote a learned body composition (2,3,4)
How to track macros:
1) Download My Fitness Pal
Start by entering your current weight, your goal weight and amount you want to lose per week (do not go over 1.5lb/week this is too much inflammation/stress on your body and risks loseing muscle mass). Once you do this MFP will calculate your daily caloric totals and suggested macro percentages.
2) Choose a Macro Split
You can use the My Fitness Pal calculated macro ratios that were calculated for you but often I notice this is too low in protein and fats. My typical fat loss split is 40% and 30% carbs and fats. These options are great starting points but ideally you want to see a nurtionist to great a custom plan for you.
Question: Should my Macros be the same every day?
Answer: It depends on your goals and current exercise routinue. I support and personally use a carb cycling approach. In my Weight Loss on the Wild Side program we stay tight on our macros most days except on low carb and high carb days. This keeps the body guessing and prevents damage to our thyroids ,which low carb too long may do.
Our carb cycle is combined with strategic exercise plans. The type of exercise you do should dictate what you eat and when you eat it. This is one of the most overlooked components of most nutrition plans.
In my Weight Loss on the Wild Side Program we do two low carb days a week and consume high carbs during my heavy weight and most challenging workout which is on LEG day.
I hope that this was helpful for you!
PS. If you are interested in my Weight Loss on the Wild Side program, sign up to join me for my next round on April 3rd and lets get lean, fit and healthy, the right way.
- Timko, C. A., & Perone, J. (2005). Rigid and flexible control of eating behavior in a college population. Eating Behaviors, 6(2), 119-125.
- Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 233(6), 674-688.
- Kidd, P. M. (2007). Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Alternative Medicine Review, 12(3), 207.
- Hill, A. M., Buckley, J. D., Murphy, K. J., & Howe, P. R. (2007). Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1267-1274.