If you missed part 1, you can find it here
6) Weekly/monthly totals
48 hour goals are great when you need flexibility on 1 or 2 days in a given time frame. Small over-runs or unexpected social events may mean you need a bit of flexibility in your targets to help you manage things and so dropping the calories from the next day can be a great tool to use.
However, as mentioned in the last post, this should not be used as a punishment strategy for over-running and there are obvious scenarios where this unrealistic. The last thing we want is to create unsustainable targets for the next day and cause a downward spiral of adherence.
When there is an over-run of more than 1/3 of your day’s intake, it may be more useful to view nutrition targets as a weekly or even a monthly target.
It’s probably easiest to demonstrate with a numerical example, if maths offends you, maybe just skip straight to point 7!
You’re PropaneProtocol macro targets are : 200/200/100 = 2,500kcal
In a given week, let’s say you have a wedding, a stag do, an after-party, a meal with your friends, you meet you parents for lunch on the weekend and your colleague dared you to eat as many digestive biscuits as you could in 5 minutes. And somehow, your willpower and motivation to stick with the diet failed every time. Hey, these things happen!
So, you need a way to capture your calories on a weekly basis. We recommend a spreadsheet with columns for protein, carbs, fats and calories. This spreadsheet should also ideally calculate your total weekly calories. This is the exact set up you get with the tracker.
So, assuming you’re trying to hit your calories +/-10g for carbs and protein and +/-5g for fats, you could have eaten 210/210/105 (2,610kcal) each day without having an overrun, this would be a total weekly intake of
2,610 x 7 = 18,270
So, you’re able to tell from your spreadsheet if you go significantly over this, I usually use an acceptable tolerance of 5%. So, if your total calories are more than 19,200kcal, we need to make some adjustments.
So, after your week of booze, debauchery and biscuits, your calories are (let’s say) 20,000kcal for the week.
20,000 – 18,270 = 1,730 of over-run
1,730 / 7 = 247kcal per day
So, the next week, you need to drop your daily calorie intake by 250kcal each day to smooth over the week you just had. Simples.
For simplicity, I’d make sure I hit my protein intake each day and just shoot for a calorie intake of 2,250kcal each day. You could alternatively take the calories from carbs (4kcal/gram) so drop your target by 65g or so.
Unnecessarily complicated? Maybe. But sometimes a little prep and planning behind a laptop can facilitate a flexible lifestyle.
7) Protein only days
For those who’ve followed us a while, you’ll be aware of our previous experiments with ADF. Now, I rarely, if ever, suggest this to clients. The margin for error and scope for overeating is just too large. However, if you find yourself in positions where you KNOW there will be significant calorie excess then you could always throw in a day where you drop carbs and fats to nil and exist on only whey shakes/lean meats/egg whites for a day. Just be aware of the likely desire to over-eat the following day and plan appropriately.
I advise at most 1-2 per week and used only when needed.
8) Manage satiety to create more discretionary calories
Thanks to Yusef, we now have a very comprehensive guide on satiety and all of its inner workings.
It goes without saying that the number one cause for dietary derailment is the failure to effectively manage hunger and satiety and implementing the advice in his article can have a profound impact on how you feel on your diet.
But how does this make us more flexible?
Well, flexibility is simply the ability to adapt to situations as they arise. The more discretionary calories you have on a given day, the better you can adjust on the fly.
So, the more satiety per calorie you can get, the more calories you’re likely to have free for that burger with friends or few beers after work. (Yes, alcohol is OK! Here’s how to manage it)
If you eat a lunch of 500kcal and feel hungry 2 hours later because you chose 2 donuts and a protein shake (because IIFYM BRAH!!) then you’ll be dipping into your calories for the day pretty soon after and the discretionary “balance” you’ll have by the end of the day will be small.
If however, you maximise the satiety value of the meal, you may be hunger free until much later on and have a larger “balance” to spend on whatever your social life calls for.
9) Forget about macros altogether
I consider this tip to be more damage control when things get out of hand rather than something I’d use with regularity. Not because it isn’t effective, just because it is Expert level difficulty as far as diet management is concerned.
Something Alberto Nunez mentioned in our interview is that the ultimate end goal of macro tracking is to at some point in the future is to be able to maintain your chosen body composition through simply eye-balling and eating by hunger cues – truly Jedi status.
This can obviously be very, very difficult to do and will take years of practice but eventually , with tracking over time, you do start to get and understanding of how you feel after given quantities of food. You’ll even start to second guess myfitnesspal when something that supposedly contains 250kcal left you feeling very satiated for hours.
There is however a simple way we can use eyeballing. Let’s say that for whatever reason, you can’t track macros – disaster, right?
For the period in question, guess as best you can with what you’re eating. Make a conscious effort to opt for protein dense meals, throw in a shake or two and eat to satiety. Basically, you want to be eating to the point of feeling reasonably full but no stomach distention and never letting hunger become all consuming, it should only ever be an intermittent distraction. Also, maintain a regular eating schedule (8am, 12pm, 3pm, 7pm), this will discourage eating just for the sake of it.
Try your best to measure your morning weight as often as you can. The goal here is to keep your average weekly weight within +/- 3% of the weight you were before the period of no tracking.
Then, simple, if you’re continuously gaining more than 3% per week, include strategies to decrease your food intake. Eat one less meal per day, have a large glass of water before meals, try to finish lunch while still a little hungry. Evaluate your progress and repeat.
10) Change your mind-set
I’ve saved the best tip for last. When concerning yourself with diet its important to really evaluate why you actually care.
Remember, flexible dieting is there for a reason – to help you enjoy the opportunities life throws at you. It’s there so that when your friends call you last minute to meet them for drinks, you’ve got the tools to manage that. When you’re away for a fortnight without food scales or internet, you know how to cope.
However, the whole point of this quickly disappears when macros become a source of stress.
If the worst case happened and you couldn’t track macros for months on end or you overeat every day for a year, sure, you’d gain some fat and maybe not make the progress you desire, but so what?
It comes back to why you’re doing all of this?
Are you training for a bodybuilding show? A powerlifting meet? A photoshoot? If yes, then there are ways around any situation, no situation you’re in will force you to derail from the plan if its flexible enough.
If not, then you can always just let it slide and when the situation allows, get back to the plan when it’s convenient. Life’s too short to miss out on opportunities because you don’t have the macros. I’m not saying devour 12 Kirspy Kreme in front of the TV each Friday because “YOLO”. I’m saying that life is for living and if a drink with a friend you’ve not seen for months comes around and you decline because of your fitness pursuits, maybe its your mind-set that needs work, rather than your macro tracking ability!