In my first blog for Tammy I discussed why the majority of people who lose weight struggle to keep it off long-term and gave some tips on how to keep the weight coming off by avoiding plateaus. In the second blog we talked about flexible dieting and the importance of avoiding super restrictive diets. If you missed those articles I do recommend going back and reading them first, in order, as what as of the things I’m going to tell you today won’t make sense without doing so.
So now that you know about flexible dieting and the importance of hitting your macronutrients (regardless of what actual foods get you there) the next part is figuring out what YOUR macros should be, because it’s completely difference for everyone. Even two people with almost the exact same stats (height, weight, age, activity level, etc.) could and probably do have different metabolic rates. In fact how many times you’ve dieted over the course of your life can negatively impact your metabolism. So things like how many times you’ve crash dieted, how recently you’ve been on a low calorie diet, etc. can severely impact your metabolic rate.
This is why it’s so important for you to track your intake and adjust. Just because some calculator out there tells you how many calories you should be eating based on your stats, doesn’t mean those numbers will be right for you. But what it does do is give you a fair starting point. It will at least hopefully get you in the ballpark, but it’s up to you to track and see if it actually works for you or not. This is what any good coach for you will do. Calculate with their best estimate of what will work for you based on the info you give them. Then track and adjust based on how things are going. Take away calories if you aren’t losing weight, and yes, even add in calories if you are losing too fast.
So how do you find out how much you should be eating? It starts by finding a TDEE (Totally Daily Energy Expenditure) calculator online. This will tell you roughly how many calories your body burns in a day, so you have an idea of how many you should be eating. Once you calculate your TDEE I recommend eating about 300 calories less than that number at first. Then you track and see how it works. But it’s important to not get tied up in how things go in just a week. You must give it time to see and you also need to track more than just weight. You also have to remember that as you lose weight and time goes on your metabolic rate WILL slow down (there is no avoiding this) so you have to pay attention and make adjustments. No set of numbers will work forever. Just keep in mind scale weight is just one tool and one measurement. Take progress pics, measurements, judge by how your clothes are fitting, how you feel, etc. and BE PATIENT.
The best calculator I know of is at IIFYM.com. You can use their IIFYM calculator to not only get your TDEE, but they will also help you come up with your macros as well. You can find that calculator here. I think it’s important to point out protein is the most important macronutrient to hit consistently. It’s the main driver for not only building muscle but maintaining it in a deficit not to mention it’s very thermogenic so your body expends more energy. Typically I recommend people to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight , but if you have a lot of weight to lose that’s probably not very realistic. In that instance I recommend about 1 gram per pound of roughly what your goal weight is. That said, if you aren’t used to eating a lot of protein you may find that difficult to reach at first. If that’s the case start lower and slowly add protein each week until you can get where you want to be.
Another form of flexible dieting that seems to work well for others is one I learned from my old coach Chad Dolan with Denovo Nutrition and that is instead of tracking all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) you only track protein and fiber (I recommend always tracking fiber anyway) and you don’t worry where the rest of your calories come from regardless if it’s carbs, fat, or even more protein. This actually allows for an even more flexible approach to dieting and the difference is likely negligible. At least for those just looking to get in shape and aren’t trying to compete at an elite level of a sport. Which style you like is up to you, and you may want to try both for a while and see which one you’d like better.
I think it’s also important to point out flexible dieting DOES NOT mean stressing out about nailing your macros perfectly each and every day. It doesn’t mean being paralyzed by the fear of every going over your numbers. Nor does it mean you should always try to be under them. The point is to get CLOSE and be FLEXIBLE. At the end of the day it’s total calories and adherence to a plan that’s more important than anything. But at least with flexible dieting you can choose to eat some of the foods you love in moderation and keep yourself from feeling so restricted. Will you nail everything right away? Of course not. You will make mistakes. You will have frustrations. But like with anything else, the more you do it the better you get at it and the more comfortable you will get with it.
So now you know how to come up with your macros and you know that while certain numbers will work for a while they will not and cannot stay the same. Your metabolic rate changes and your numbers will have to change with it. But what about exercise you ask? I’ve been going on and on about nutrition for 3 weeks now. No worries, I will delve into that next time! Trust me, there are just as many myths regarding exercise for weight loss as there are with regards to nutrition.
In the meantime if you are ARE looking for a coach to help put everything together and take the guess work out of everything I am accepting new clients. Just head here and sign up and we can get started. Otherwise if you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time… Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are super sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll love it.