Earlier this week, I had an interesting text exchange with a new coaching client wherein she mentioned how she is learning to "save" calories/macros for a special treat later in the day. This exchange led me to an "OMG!" moment; to wit: calories/macros are your budget and what you eat are your withdrawals. AND, if you're a good budgeter (may not be a word, but IDGAF) - even when you're "dieting" - you might be able to "save" some of your budgeted calories/macros for a treat! Imagine that!
Look at it like this: If you have a budget of $1,750 and you spend $300, how much money do you have left to spend? $1,450, right? The very same principal applies to not only calories, but also your "budgeted" macronutrients.
If you are given a calorie "budget" of 1,750 calories, and you eat a breakfast that is 300 calories, you're left with a "balance" of 1,450 calories (your breakfast is a "withdrawal" from your daily calorie "budget"). If you then have 12 oz Coca Cola (which is 140 calories), your remaining balance is 1,310 calories. Now, if you have just a "bite" of your kid's ice cream, that's a withdrawal too(!!!!), so it MUST be accounted for. Trust me, those "I'll-just have-a-bite-of-this-cookie,-but-I-won't-track-it" moments can add up to some seriously unaccounted for withdrawals; leaving you overdrawn, but THINKING you still have calories in the bank, and then getting pissed at yourself OR me when you're not making the progress you SHOULD be making.
We are going above and beyond just counting calories here, however. The reasons for focusing on your three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) are - at the very least - twofold:
how you manipulate your macros directly effects how your physique adds muscle/fat, maintains muscle, and loses muscle/fat. Once you've reached lower a body fat percentage, manipulation of these macros will also directly affect how your physique APPEARS on an almost daily basis.
Pulling some macro numbers out of my giant caboose, here are some likely scenarios for how you could effectively use your budgeted macros and screw them all to Hell within the same meal:
Let's say your macro budgets are:
200grams Protein (each gram of protein = 4 cals, so 200 x 4 = 800 cals)
250grams Carbs (each gram of carbs = 4 cals, so 250 x 4 = 1000 cals)
80grams Fats (each gram of fat - 9 cals, so 80 x 9 = 720 cals)
Total calories: 800 + 1000 + 720 = 2520
Your daily calorie budget is, therefore, 2520 calories. You cannot overdraw on that account. AND, you must do your best to get within 5-10 grams of EACH macro.
For the sake of brevity, let's say you have a GIANT ASS brunch on Sunday that withdraws 120g of protein, 200g of carbs, and 75g of fats. First, you must be full AF, because you really went overboard. But, secondly, what is your remaining balance? 80g of protein, 50g of carbs and 5g of fat. Awwwww, that sucks ASS, right? Well, you shouldn't have been such a fucking glutton at the brunch! Actually, you can still enjoy a pretty decent dinner with what remains of your budget, but it's not going to have any butter, cheese or oil...looks like chicken breast and grilled veggies for dinner, and you, my little friend, did NOT save anything for a fun treat!
This is how we LEARN, people! This is how we see RESULTS, people! It's work, but trust me when I tell you, it gets easier. Also, trust the fuck out of me when I tell you that the lower your calories/macros get (as you lose weight/fat/diet, you must continue lowering your "budget" to continue seeing progress - THIS IS WHY WE START HIGH and we don't rush the process!), the more healthful choices you're required to make to hit them.
On the flip side, if you eat a well-budgeted breakfast, lunch and dinner, you sure as shit likely have "saved" some spending calories/macros for ice cream with your kids later in the evening. And I don't mean just a bite; I mean your very own fucking cone! *gasp* AND, you can still expect to see positive results!
P.S. Now, I know there are the naysayers reading this and saying to themselves (or aloud because they're just.that.upset.), "Is this chick fucking NUTS?!?! That's way too much work! FUCK.THAT.!) To those of you who just want to "wing it"; who are just going to do it themselves by eating healthier ("I'm just going to do it myself and try to eat healhier!"), or eating 100% "clean", or eating 100% keto, or eating 100% fly by the seat of my fucking pants OR by exercising more and more and eating less and less, I say, "I wish you all the success in the world! But when that stops working and/or you gain back the weight you initially lose (PLUS more), just let me know, and I'll be happy to help you without even saying "I told you so".
P.P.S. Thank you, Brittney, for the inspiration, and keep up the great, hard work!
~Brooke J. Savage
NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Online Fitness & Nutrition Coaching | Accountability Coaching | Personal Training | Macro Plans