What if I told you to forget everything you ever knew about dieting?
What if you could let go of the severe food restriction you have around eating certain foods?
What if there was a way to break free of the all or nothing mentality around “dieting”, and believe that there is a way you can still enjoy the foods you love while still being able to reach your weight loss goals?
You’ve probably heart the phrase, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Well, not in this case! I'm going to teach you how you can still eat delicious food & lose weight! If any of those three questions above left you with a glimpse of hope in being able to successfully lose weight and keep it off, without feeling absolutely miserable, deprived and #hangry all the time, keep reading on’ because I’m about to throw some knowledge bombs down! Let’s dive in...
If the whole “macros” thing is new for you, you’ve come to the right place - because in this article, I’m going to explain to you what macros are, why they’re important and how tracking macros and following a flexible diet literally changed my life! Tracking my macros was the ultimate game changer for me in not only reaching my 20 lb weight loss goal (and keeping it off for the past 3 years), but being able to have a normal, social life without feeling guilty about the foods I was eating!! Gone are the days of low carb diets that - let's be honest - make us feel like total crap. Gone are the days of super restrictive diets that only leave you feeling #hangry all the time with no results to follow. Being able to eat foods I genuinely enjoy, without that nasty guilt trailing behind me and learning to eat MORE food and lift weights is how I became so successful and passionate about coaching my clients about flexible dieting.
So what does following a "flexible diet" really mean? The terms "flexible dieting", "if it fits your macros" and "IIFYM" are interchangeably used when you're tracking macros. Macros are what calories are made of. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats and they each serve a different and important role in your body (more on that later). Typically, your body requires a specific amount of each depending on many factors including your age, height, weight, activity level, etc. so this will be different for everyone. The amount of protein, carbs and fats you eat every day make up the total amount of calories you consume on a daily basis.
The principle behind following the IIFYM diet, is that you can eat the foods you enjoy, as long as it fits your macros. So yes, you can eat your favorite foods, like pizza and bagels, if they fit into your macros that day, AND you can still reach your health and fitness goals! Now that's not to say you can or should consume donuts and candy all day in order to meet your daily carbohydrate goal - you want to be mindful of your sugar, fiber and sodium also. This "rule" of paying close attention to your micronutrients as well, prevents you from eating a bunch of junk food to "meet" your macro goals for the day. However, it does provide the flexibility and freedom of you being in control of the foods you want to eat and ensure they are within your daily calorie and macro allotment goals.
The Roles Protein, Fats and Carbs play in our diet
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. Consuming sufficient dietary protein is essential in tissue turnover. Protein is an essential nutrient, because nine of the 20 amino acids in protein are considered “essential", meaning our bodies cannot produce them, so we must get them through diet. Consuming sufficient dietary protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS), improves recovery, can increase lean body mass when combined with resistance training, and helps our muscles grow.
However, protein isn’t just for getting jacked. Higher-protein diets have also been demonstrated to be superior to isocaloric (equal calories) low-protein diets with regards to fat loss. This is likely because the TEF (thermic effect of food) of protein is about 30% more compared to carbohydrate at 5-10% or fat at 0-3%.This elevated TEF is likely due to the way high-protein meals increase our energy expenditure.
Fats, aka lipids, come in a diverse array of forms such as fatty acids, oils, waxes, and steroids. Unlike carbohydrates, lipids are essential nutrients, because our bodies cannot synthesize certain fats called essential fatty acids (EFAs). Fats perform a variety of important processes in the body, including forming part of the lipid bilayer of cells, regulating membrane permeability, serving as a source of fat-soluble vitamins, and as a storage reservoir for energy. Lipids are very efficient forms of energy storage because they contain 9 calories per gram, over double what carbohydrate and protein contain, and they’re stored more efficiently in adipose than carbohydrate or protein. Keeping your fats at an optimal level is also important for your hormonal balance.
When it comes to fatty acids in particular, there are saturated fats (SFAs), which are solid at room temperature, and unsaturated fats (UFAs), which are liquids at room temperature. Amongst unsaturated fats, there are monounsaturated fatty acids (aka MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka PUFAs). Trans fats are unsaturated fats that contain a “trans” bond instead of a “cis” bond. Trans double bonds don’t typically occur in nature and they’re typically man-made as a replacement for things like butter. Generally speaking, we want to keep our trans fats to a minimum through our dietary intake.
CARBS: The four primary functions of carbohydrates in the body are to provide energy, store energy, build macromolecules, and spare protein and fat for other uses. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are sugar molecules. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of three main nutrients found in foods and drinks. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs. One of the primary functions of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy. If your body has enough glucose to fulfill its current needs, excess glucose can be stored for later use.
Most of the time, the brain uses almost exclusively glucose for fuel. However, during times of prolonged starvation or very low-carb diets, the brain shifts its main fuel source from glucose to ketone bodies, also known simply as ketones. Ketones are molecules formed from the breakdown of fatty acids. Your body creates them when carbs are not available to provide your body with the energy it needs to function. However, even though ketones are the primary fuel source for the brain during times of starvation, the brain still requires around one-third of its energy to come from glucose via muscle breakdown and other sources within the body.
Now that we have a better understanding of how each macronutrient plays a vital role in our bodies, let's review a couple frequently asked questions.
FAQ: What's more important? Calories or macros?
I answer this question in detail right here
FAQ: Are calories and macros the same? If I'm hitting my macros, am I hitting my calories?
If you are hitting your macros, you are essentially hitting your calories. Macros (remember - protein, fats and carbs) makeup your total calories. Let's see how we would calculate this!
Let's say your daily macro goals are the following numbers: 140g protein, 50g fat and 170g carbohydrates
There are 4 calories per 1 gram of carbs
There are 4 calories per 1 gram of protein
There are 9 calories per 1 gram of fat
So for example,
140g protein * 4 = 560 calories
50g fat * 9 = 450 calories
170g carbs * 4 = 680 calories
=1,690 calories for the day
The key point here that I want you to keep in mind, is that most of your food choices should still consist of making nutrient-dense, nutritious choices i.e. choosing whole foods, consuming whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods, etc. but you do have the flexibility to enjoy foods you love without guilt, without restricting yourself and without it working against you!
Not sure how many calories you should be eating to reach your long term weight loss goals? I highly recommend getting a personalized macro calculation!
You'll get a completely customized macros-based nutrition plan, including your specific calorie and macro goals, and "Intro to Macros" nutrition guide. As an added bonus, you also get an opportunity to schedule a one-on-one 15 minute call with me! The purpose of this is to provide you with a detailed roadmap so you can get started on crushing those weight loss goals in the fastest but healthiest way possible!
Research studies referenced:
"Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit ...." 27 Jan. 2016, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/01/26/ajcn.115.119339. Accessed 2 Jan. 2018.
"An isoenergetic high-protein, moderate-fat diet does not compromise ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18618943. Accessed 2 Jan. 2018.
(n.d.). Biochemical, Physiological, and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition .... Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://evolve.elsevier.com/cs/product/9781437709599?role=student