An increasing number of dieters are learning how to track macros and utilise IIFYM (if it fits your macros) to lose weight. If you eat less than you burn you will lose weight. So why aren’t you losing fat on IIFYM? There are a few common pitfalls that can slow progress and hinder results.
1 – Not weighing food.
Tracking accurately means weighing what you eat (using grams for more accuracy). You don’t necessarily have to weigh everything, but trying to eyeball portions of meat and potatoes or assuming that you’ve only had 1 serving size of cereal can accumulate to throw your numbers out quite a bit over the day. The less fat you have to lose and the lighter you are, the more strict you have to be to get leaner. Don’t believe that you can’t get more accurate and that you are already 100% all the time. It’s easy to lie to ourselves and have selective memory when tracking.
2 – Eating mostly packaged or processed foods that aren’t easily trackable.
This is where food choices can improve results through being more consistent. A protein brownie purchased may have a nutritional label based on the average content. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the brownie has 2g of fat instead of 9g. Or maybe you are tracking “banana cream pie 1 slice”, but you have no idea if the macros are anywhere near similar to your slice or how big a slice is meant to be. This all adds up if you are eating lots of these kinds of foods instead of easily trackable whole foods. Alternatively you can bake your own protein brownie (or pancakes or waffles.. om nom nom), and know that your numbers are going to be fairly accurate. Foods like chicken and fish, veggies, rice, oats and potatoes are popular among those on cutting diets as they are going to be very consistent to track.
3 – Having Cheat Meals Every Week.
Having a binge like cheat meal can easily screw up your caloric deficit for the week. Maybe you want to have a free meal where you don’t track so you can be social once a week, but that is very difference to having an “eat til you feel sick and pass out into a food coma” meal. You could utilise refeeds instead where you have planned higher carbs that are tracked and measured without totally blowing your week of dieting. Again some can have cheat meals and still lose weight, but if you are struggling to lose, skipping the weekly binge will keep you in a deficit so you can crush your goals sooner.
4 – Not counting your vegetables.
I’m all about eating a buttload of veggies on a daily basis. High fibre high water content foods allow you to eat more volume for less calories which is more filling when dieting. If you eat a shit tonne of vegetables when you are hungry because some bro coach told you there is no need to track them, this can easily reduce your deficit so that you don’t lose weight. Many diet plans include “free foods” that you can have ad libitum. Depending on the degree of leanness you are trying to achieve you may need to track everything for some time to be mindful of where your calories are coming from. It’s not always necessary to track fibrous low calorie veggies to lose weight, but if your stuck it can help. Tracking veggies will also help you make sure you are meeting your fibre intake while getting a good variety of micronutrients. Tracking Apps like chronometer are great for giving detailed info on this.
5 – Setting Macros too high.
You may have used an online calculator or formula to get your perfect numbers. Maybe you even paid someone to do them for you. But consider that your daily energy expenditure is not static and neither is your weight. As your energy expenditure changes or as your weight and bodyfat change, you may need to adjust numbers to account for several variable including metabolic adaptation. I see people bragging about super high carb and fat numbers, but they are sporting a less than average physique. Don’t think just because someone on instagram is eating 5000 cals today and is getting lean that you should be on the same numbers (or that they aren’t using illegal performance enhancing drugs). Instead of comparing yourself to others, stick to your numbers and only make changes based on progress and personal goals.
6 – Overestimating your caloric expenditure.
I used to hit the stairmaster thinking I was burning 500+ calories in a session according to the machine. I had a calorie target per week for my cardio workouts. Little did I know that the machine is a damn liar! If you want a more accurate caloric estimate then use a heart rate monitor with chest strap where your height, weight, etc are entered. If you are doing a group class that boasts it burns over 500 calories per session, consider that the more you do it the more efficient your body becomes at it. The fitter you are the less calories you will expend on this. The more cardio you do the less effective it becomes. There are always those gym goers spending half of the week ellipticizing or grinding away on the treadmill that never seem to change shape. This is why I like to base my workouts are getting stronger, and keep cardio as a tool for when fat loss stalls.
7 – Expecting Change Overnight.
Like any changes you make to improve health and body composition, patience is key. You aren’t going to be awesome at tracking macros instantly. Everyone sucks when they start. Get over it. Having unrealistic expectations after only tracking for a few days will lead to dissatisfaction and despair. Instead of focusing on a long term goal, focus on winning the day. Think about hitting a new highscore every time you get closer to your numbers each day. Move slowly and steadily forward without losing momentum by implementing habits to combat personal obstacles. Don’t be a jerk to yourself when you don’t succeed right away, instead use it as fuel to push forward. Persist and resist until tracking your intake is second nature. The longer you do it the more enjoyable and easy it becomes.
8 – Avoiding Lifting Weights.
Weight training has countless benefits to your health and body composition. It will help you look better, not just smaller. Prioritising weight training in any fat loss program will aid in preserving lean mass. Your muscle mass affects your metabolic rate, the more you have the higher your metabolism is. If you diet without strength training you are more likely to look softer rather than the tight toned look you were going for. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy things if you want to look bangin’.
9 – Lack of Consistency with Your Numbers.
There are several ways to calculate your individual needs for protein, carbs, fat and fibre. There is no one perfect formula that all experts agree on. But skipping from one to another because you can’t decide which one is best will not serve you well. Instead of second guessing your numbers, stick to the same ones consistently for the best results. If you have no idea where to start, iifym.com has great free calculators to get you started on the road to your goal body.
10 – You Under Report “Healthy” or “Clean” Foods
The health halo effect deceives people into thinking certain foods are inherently less fattening. Just because coconut oil is “healthy” or you are adding “good fats” doesn’t mean they are magical substances that cannot be stored as bodyfat. I’m not saying not to have these, but don’t go adding foods because the person offering samples at the organic health food store said it’s a food that you can eat as much as you want because it doesn’t turn to fat (this has happened to me on more than one occasion, no wonder consumers are confused).
Tracking your macronutrient intake is an awesome way to keep yourself accountable. It is a good tool to make yourself aware and mindful of your consumption habits. Just like being smart with your finances, the first step is knowing your numbers to become more aware of areas you can improve. It is by no means an easy way out, but can be much less stressful than food avoidance and strict rigid meal plans with no room for choice, life or happiness. If you have stalled or plateaued for some time, sharpening up your macro tracking skills could make the difference between an average and an impressive body. Eating ice cream and getting lean is merely a numbers game.