Many people think losing weight is all about eating salads and being hungry most of the time or that they’ll have to cut out their favourite foods forever. BUT, I have lost 100lb while still enjoying my favourite foods and treats because I am clever with my food choices.
I don’t believe in banning favourite foods because there is no way I could last without pizza, chocolate or biscuits. For the whole way through my weight loss journey from May 2015 to today, I have tracked my calories to ensure I am in a calorie deficit (apart from cheat days) so if I eat a donut (around 200 cals), I would look to see what I can adjust for the rest of the day, for example I wouldn’t eat the snack I had planned for later on or I’d have a smaller dinner etc. This can be done by using apps such as Samsung S Health, My Fitness Pal or even by reading food labels and using a pen and paper!
The best way to do this is by calculating your daily allowance in terms of your macronutrients (macros)*. Macros are the breakdown of the food we eat and includes carbohydrates, fat and protein – in order to follow a macro tracking approached diet you need to be eating a combination of each of these but once you have worked out your own macros, you can eat what you like if it fits into your daily allocation.
Let’s break it down. A typical 170lb 5ft 4″ female looking to lose body fat and is moderately active can have 1767 calories per day with a split of 177g carbs, 177g protein and 39g fat. For this approach to work effectively, you need to hit these macros every day consistently, but as this method is flexible it’s not that difficult AND you can still enjoy your favourite foods.
So how do I still eat my favourite food?
Let’s talk chocolate! Your body doesn’t eat a chocolate bar and think ‘oh I’m eating something naughty I will gain weight’ it recognises the macro breakdown of the food. For example, let’s compare a handful of cashews vs a small bag of malteasers:
- 30g serving of cashews: 174 cals, 14.3 fat, 9 carbs, 5g protein
- 37g bag of malteasers: 187 cals, 9.2 fat, 22g carbs 3g protein
The results here from both snack options show that they have very similar macros, so while you may be inclined to go for the nuts because they are the ‘healthy’ option, once you take a closer look into the nutrient breakdown you can see you can actually eat the chocolate instead. Of course nuts are still a good choice and they do contain a higher amount of protein and fibre which help to keep full for longer but don’t feel like you have to go for the nuts because they considered healthy. Which would you rather eat? I know I’d go for the chocolate.
With a macro tracking approach (or even just if you’re calorie counting) it’s important to measure and monitor everything you eat. I bought a cheap electronic scale from Amazon and I weigh EVERYTHING! It’s so easy to eat too many calories if you don’t realise what you’re eating. For example, while nuts are considered a healthy option, the recommended serving size is 20-30g which is a small handful. If you grab a big bag and snack your way through it, you could end up eating 500+ calories of nuts in one sitting.
A typical day of food for me:
- Breakfast – overnight oats made with 100ml almond milk, 10g chia seeds, 1 scoop of protein powder and 40g oats, topped with 75g raspberries – 350 cals
- Snack 1 – arla protein yoghurt 140 cals
- Lunch – 150g chicken breast with seasoning of choice, roasted veg, spinach 335 cals
- snack 2 – apple or blueberries and Hartley’s 10 cal jelly 70 cals
- Dinner – lean chilli made with 5% fat mince beef, kidney beans and black beans for extra protein and fibre, served with 125g long grain rice – 500 cals
- Snack 3/pudding/post work out treat – Grenade bar or other protein bar/cookie, piece of chocolate of choice, biscuits/ice cream – up to 300 cals
Ok, so I don’t eat chocolate or cake every day, but if I fancy something I can make it fit into my daily macros and not feel guilty. My go to treat is a Grenade protein bar melted in the microwave for 15 seconds.
What do I do if I go over my macros?
This does happen occasionally, particularly if I’m enjoying a bigger treat than usual on the weekend, but it’s OK, it’s not a big drama and it doesn’t ruin progress as long as a bad day doesn’t turn into a bad week…
Let’s say I have around 100 calories left for the day after I’ve eaten and logged all my meals so I plan to eat 2 Fox’s crunch cream biscuits with a cup of tea after dinner and end up eating 7 (easily done they’re the best biscuits ever invented!), that means my inital plan of eating 120 calories worth of biscuits actually means I’ve eaten 420 calories instead.
This means I will have gone over my daily allowance. In many instances when people overeat they tend to feel guilty and do excessive amounts of cardio to burn off calories. For me, I will adjust and monitor my macros for the following day (or few days if I go over by a lot), so if I’ve eaten 300 calories too many today, I will eat 150 less tomorrow and the next day to balance it out throughout the week.
This approach does work well for most people however it does mean you need to be consistent with measuring your food portions, logging what the food and drink that you have consumed and it means you need to be wary of serving sizes on packages. Like I always say, weight loss is a personal journey and there is not a right or wrong way to do it, it’s about finding what works for you and what will last long term – the most important thing to remember is that results don’t happen over night, it takes days/weeks/months of consistency so if you’re trying out a new method, give it time and keep going!
To find out more about macros and to work out your own, you can find some more info here https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm
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