*Disclaimer: I am NOT a nutritionist, dietician, etc. I’m just sharing my own personal knowledge and experience as someone who has used “flexible dieting” for nearly a year for various goals (weight loss, maintenance, and weight gain). *
Counting macros, flexible dieting, and “if it fits your macros” style nutrition is one of the biggest topics in the nutrition and dieting world right now, and with good reason. Most people find solace in a practical nutrition approach that doesn’t focus on a giant list of “do” and “do not eat”/good or bad/clean or “dirty” foods and when done correctly, “flexible dieting” produces some really impressive results. People feel better, perform better, and look better while not having a terrible dieting experience. But like anything else, there are some key misconceptions and points that need to be addressed:
1. You can’t live off of poptarts and protein shakes: “Macros” counting is about determining quantity, not quality, of food. Can you be paleo and count macros? Sure. Can you be vegan and count macros? Of course. So technically you could live off of poptarts and protein shakes... but your gym performance, your health, and your recovery is probably going to suffer.
2. You can get totally jacked/shredded/lean as eff eating some doughnuts and doing some deadlifts: While you certainly CAN eat doughnuts while losing fat and deadlifts are highly encouraged, the reality is that for every doughnut some instagram fitness chicks posts, she’s eaten 5 other meals made up of “boring” food like meat, veggies, and starches. Just like anything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Balance is the name of the game. Eat the doughnuts without guilt when you want them and eat well the rest of the time.
3. Consistency is better than perfection: Yeah, I’ve eaten some strange meals to meet my macro requirements (oatmeal and chicken anyone?) but the reality is - you are not going to hit your macros perfectly every single day. And for the vast majority of us, that’s okay. Consistency is far more important than perfection. If you’re reaching your goals most days of the week for most of the time, you’re probably doing just fine.
4. It’s not a one and done deal...but you need to work the program: Nutrition requires near constant tweaking and self experimentation. There is no “one and done” calculation or caloric intake or requirement that will work for you, 100% of the time. This is where having a coach becomes extremely helpful - they can help you evaluate what needs changing. With that said, you need to actually work the program as intended. So before you dismiss it as ineffective, you need to put the time in.
5. Caloric requirements matter: Eating inside of your caloric requirements is the most important component of any type of physique change (fat loss, weight gain, maintaining, etc.). I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble that believes that calories fundamentally do not matter but alas, they do. Calories are not the be all end all of nutrition but they’re a pretty damn important factor when it comes to body composition change. Macro requirements, or even considering modifying macronutrients should be couched in the understanding that it’s calories first, macros second.
Want more info on flexible dieting? Check out this post.