So you have been at this flexible dieting thing for some time now. Things were going well and then all of the sudden you realized that at each check-in your coach has continuously begun shrinking your macros. In the beginning it wasn’t too bad since you felt like you had more than enough food, but now the thought of losing more food is cause for anxiety. You just spent the previous week optimizing your macros to fit in your favorite treat but now your coach has gone and screwed that up. Now you are freaking out because you are fearful that it is not going to be enough food and you are going to be starving.
It is important to remember that your coach is adjusting your macros to meet your specific goals. Your coach is only here to help and is not trying to make you miserable. With that said… below are some helpful tips to get you through managing shrinking macros.
Gain a New Perspective. Attaching anxiety to your weekly check-ins is normal but it is important to try and avoid feeling this way so we can prevent resentment towards the goals you have worked so hard at achieving. Understand your coach is only cutting these numbers to help you reach your goals. Each week you may find your coach cutting 10-20 grams of carbs. It is important to focus on what 10-20 grams of carbs actually is. If you shift your focus and realize 10-20 grams is just a 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt, that is a much easier concept to wrap your head around. If you can begin to understand that you can go without 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt for the day, it will make the adjustment a little easier.
Prioritize. One of the beauties of flexible dieting is that it allows for you to work in your favorite treats now and then. When macros are being cut, however, it is important to prioritize which treats are actually a necessity. Sometimes have one or two treats every day isn’t going to line up with your goals. But although you may need to cut out treats, know that you can save them for your refeed day! This will give you something to look forward to and help keep you on track.
Food Choices. This one may seem obvious but there are may ways to stretch out your meals and make them last! A good place to start is to cut down your portion sizes. Instead of eating a cup of rice, think of cutting that in half and adding in some more veggies to help satisfy your hunger. It can also be as simple as swapping out your protein shakes for real meat instead!
Simple swaps would be like trading white rice for riced cauliflower, or oats for shredded zucchini. You can mix the two together, so that you're still getting the same 'total volume' in your meal, but the macronutrient intake will be very different.
Another good option would be to eliminate the sugary options and see if you can get some low-sugar alternatives. A great example is jam; getting the no added sugar kind (my favourite is Smucker's brand, "50% less sugar" not "sugar free" because that's made with Splendia) can add up to a lot of saved carbs!
Shift Meal Times. If you are feeling the hunger cues late at night, consider shifting your meal times. Maybe try pushing back your first meal by a few hours and saving more food for later in the day when you are feeling the cravings. Space them out appropriately and always remember to time them around your workouts.
Frequency of Meals. When first beginning your program, you may have found that you were eating every 2 hours to try and fit in all the macros. Now that your macros have been cut this may not be the best strategy. Instead of having several meals in the day try and shift it to just 3 larger meals with no snacking in between.
Appetite Suppression.This is not going to my first go-to solution but it will help. First and foremost make sure you are optimizing your nutritional content throughout the day. If you are still struggling there are some appetite suppression tricks out there. For example, caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant that you may want to consider trying out when the hunger attacks. There are a lot of sugar free products out there can also be used to help trick your appetite. Or simply, try drinking more water!
My "appetite hack" is to chug a glass of cold water with BCAAs (loving watermelon flavour from Canadian Protein!) as it seems to push away any hunger cues long enough for my next meal.
Attitude Shift. This one is going to be key. If you begin to obsess and become fearful of being hungry, you are going to have a hard time adjusting to your lower macro numbers. Take control of the situation and understand that your body is being nourished with all the food that it needs. Trust your coach and know you are on the right track to reach your goals.
Nobody said working towards your goals was going to be easy. To truly get the results you want to get sometime it takes a little bit of willpower and perseverance. No matter what stick to the plan and trust the process. Having slip ups is only going to stall the process so stay committed. Save the treats for those refeed days and enjoy them!
Reference: NB Nutrition, 2016