Listen– I’m a math teacher. Numbers are my jam. So when I read about flexible dieting and tracking macros to lose fat, baby I was all in. As long as I hit my macros every day, The Internet promised I would lose weight! Easy as Pi (hahahaha).
I had a lot of success eating Keto last summer, losing about 12 pounds between August and January. Plus like, if you just substitute cauliflower, cream cheese, or bacon for any starchy carb you’re probably good to go. I wasn’t strictly tracking calories– really just eating meals that hit the LCHF ratios and kept me full. If I had to guess, I would say that put me around a 1500 calories/day average. Exactly ZERO exercise was happening during this time.
In the end, I quit Keto-ing due some some extremely uncomfortable digestive issues and also because thinking about and planning what I was going to eat next was taking up a lot of my time. I was spending hours on the MyFitnessPal app adding food and manipulating my meals for the next day to hit the right ratios. I like to eat but I didn’t like thinking about food all the damn time.
I should have remembered that when I decided to try flexible dieting aka If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).
So I tried out the macro calculator on IIFYM.com, which takes into account several different factors before it spits out custom grams of protein, carbs, and fats to consume each day to help your reach your goals- i.e. fat loss or muscle gain, etc. The algorithm suggested the following based on my age, current weight, level of daily exercise, and more:
Enter me, jumping for joy over all the bread and pasta I’m about to reintroduce into my diet. Going from 30 grams of carbs to 162 grams is like having Christmas every day. I’m looking at you, PB&J. I also sprung for the IIFYM custom macros blueprint, which is compiled by a real person using a lot more parameters. Because if I spend money on it, it has to be better right? Here’s what it suggested:
Real talk: this seems like a lot of food. Way way more than I feel like I was eating before. I decided to go with the first set of numbers since I was already struggling to eat that much.
Honestly it was the increase in protein that I had the hardest time reaching. Guys, you don’t happily go from eating Jalapeno Popper Chicken to shoving your face with lightly seasoned baked cod just to hit your protein and enjoy it. You just don’t.
I did get some great protein powders– the Molten Chocolate Lava from Unico Nutrition and this awesome sample pack of flavors from Syntrax. These helped a lot because they both taste great mixed with water and I was basically drinking the Unico powder post-workout and a Syntrax packet with lunch just to get close enough to hitting my protein macro that I didn’t have to eat 2 cups of scrambled egg beaters with dinner every night.
Full disclosure: I don’t use a food scale to measure out everything I eat. They aren’t expensive and can help ensure that you’re not over or under estimating on food quantity, but using one is not something that would be sustainable for me. While I like to eat, I don’t like to obsess about food or spend extra time in the kitchen being that meticulous. It’s just not my style. I DID however use measuring cup equivalents when possible and logged everything in MyFitnessPal before I ate it.
Over the next 3 weeks I gained 4 pounds.
Maybe I should have been taking measurements. Maybe I should have been more exact in my food measurements. Maybe some of it was water and some of it was muscle. But whatever the reason, my scale was on a clear upward trend.
So here’s my plan: I’m going to listen to my body and eat only enough food to fill me up rather than forcing it down just to hit a macro. I think I can do this while still making healthy food choices but without quantifying every damn molecule of food I eat. I know that lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats are going to be the best foods for fueling my workouts and daily activities.
For right now, this seems like the best way to move forward with my goals without sucking all of the joy out of the journey.