Tracking macros is a very powerful tool to change your eating habits and reach your body composition goals. However it has a big fault: the human nature. We’re no robots and life can hit us hard and disrupt even our best laid out plans. If it was that simple, dieting would be incredibly easy, you just fill out your macros every day and everything will be fine. But what happens when we slip?
Underreporting macros is the number one cause of stalling progress and frustration for dieters all around the planet. It is just so easy to forget something and as you get leaner, your brain actively tries to make you cheat to keep you from “starving”. Suddenly you come up with good reasons why chocolate is really important for your diet compliance and why eating just a little bit won’t hurt your progress. This is why Chantal and I decided to lock away our nut butter and chocolate hoard in the cellar and it turned out to be the most productive cut we ever pulled off.
Will there be no joy?
This doesn’t mean that you cannot have your favourite treat, you only have to make sure to fit it into your macros. I don’t think that you have to completely ban certain foods from your diet as long as you track them correctly.
An exception to it is to be made for so called trigger foods: foods that literally make you loose control over yourself and can risk binge eating on them or make you crave more of other foods. Not everybody is prone to it, but still you have to keep this in mind and watch yourself closely.
Eating out or “the great unknown”
Social eating can be very tough when dieting. Most of the time you eat at a restaurant, which is in itself a big challenge for even the most experienced “trackers” as you simply don’t know how exactly a dish is prepared. Even if you did your homework and looked at the menu beforehand, selecting something that fits your goals, estimating macros and planning your day around it, you will not be able to control what you can not control: how much butter does the cook use to bind your pepper sauce? How much fat does your ribeye steak really contain? Did the cook drizzle some olive oil over your steamed veggies?
Eating out can be even more challenging if your are hungry and/or fatiqued after a long, hard day. Are you strong enough to resist the fresh baguette the waiter puts in front of you? Just one slice isn’t too bad, isn’t it? Maybe you could have a second slice, just to taste the hand made butter with it … you see where this is going, don’t you?
Just take a sip!
The social component of eating out could also turn out to be difficult for you. Surrounding yourself with other people who are not dieting will make it much harder for you to stay on track. Everybody is ordering beer or wine and you’re sitting there with your glass of tap water … maybe a glass of wine to go with your main course is okay?
Then the food arrives, you get your healthy steak with veggies and everybody around you indulges in the most obscene comfort food you can imagine. The friend next to you is blown away by his delicious cheese burger and offers you a bite. Will you turn it down? Another one couldn’t finish his french fries and asks you if you want to finish them. There are only a few left, what could be wrong about it?
No more cheating.
When eating at home, things are much easier to manage, but you still have to be completely honest with yourself and your coach. Track everything, also the tiny bit of olive oil you need for cooking. Or the few strawberries you eat as “dessert”. Just a sip or two of your husband’s wine? Please also track this, it all matters in the end.
“Your body is always tracking macros, even if you aren’t.”
– Mike Vacanti
With those few non-tracked tastes, bites, licks or treats, it can be pretty easy to completely ruin your diet progress. If you put yourself on a 500kcal deficit, you should be able to loose about half a kilogram of fat per week (0,5kg body fat = about 3500kcal). 500kcal seems to be a lot of food and that’s right! If you choose lean protein sources and low carb veggies, it will result in a generous meal. But with energy dense foods mentioned above, things are different!
Some french fries, some slices of bread, a little butter and you can say good bye to your energy deficit! Or if you are like me, and enjoy a nice, heaping, dripping “teaspoon” of peanut butter straight out of the jar, it will be enough to sabotage any progress for the day.
Just count everything
To wrap things up, let me tell you that I don’t want to accuse you of sneaking in untracked macros. Not everybody does it (I certainly did) and I hope your dieting journey will go on without any of the problems I discussed above.
This article is for those who need a little wake up call and a tough reality check to get back on track. So don’t be offended, I just want you to get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
How consistent are you with your macro tracking? How did it affect your diet progress? Tell me in the comments, I am interested in hearing your experience.
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If you struggle with your diet and/or training, don’t be afraid to reach out for help!