I talked about this before but I think it’s worth repeating. The way you make tracking macros easy and enjoyable is by having a diet structure. A plan you eat by every day.
I have two diet structures, one for cutting and one for bulking. They are very similar:
The main reason people get burned out by tracking macros is because they eat different foods at different times every day. They wake up with the mentality that they have a certain calorie budget to spend today and they start to think of all the different foods that they could eat.
This is fun at first because you get to eat all the foods you love without any guilt. But this soon turns into anxiety as you think about food too much.
The worst days are those when you eat too much in the first part of the day and you have very little calories left for the evening. The anxiety you get from not allowing yourself to eat that evening is unlike any other feeling I’ve tried. It sucks, it’s a constant feeling of slight discomfort.
All of these problems can be solved by a diet structure. Once you find an enjoyable way to spread your food throughout the day, turn that into a habit.
The diet structure will dictate what you eat at any given point of the day. This will free a lot of mental energy for other things and will make tracking macros much easier.
For example take a loot at my diet structure for cutting:
I know that my first meal will include protein and fiber. That’s it. I’ll never have pizza or pancakes in my first meal because it doesn’t fit the structure.
If I’m going to have pizza I’ll have it my last meal which is the largest.
I’ll never have sweets in my first meal either. If I want chocolate I’ll have that in my second meal, where I have more fat available.
You know what this does? You never have to think about food and yet you can eat anything you want. The decisions of when you’ll eat and how is made beforehand.
In addition to this, since I implemented this diet structure idea, I didn’t have one single binge eating day. Binge eating is very common with people who track calories and the main reason for it is thinking about food too much.
So my advice is this: set up a diet structure like I did.
Here are the steps to setting a diet structure:
- Choose a number of meals
- Choose the times of the day you’ll have those meals
- Split up your calories between those meals (make the last meal the largest)
- Choose macro ranges for each of those meals (save most carbs for the last meal)
Once you have a diet structure, you need to follow the golden rule: Stick to the structure. Don’t deviate from it.
Tips on making macro counting easy
There are two ways to track macros:
1. Weighing and tracking everything using an app
2. Eyeballing portions
I think both are useful and should be mastered.
When weighing food I do this:
My first meal is very flexible. While sticking to the diet structure in terms of the calorie range and macro split of the meal, I put food on the plate without deciding a number of grams beforehand.
Because you have all your daily calories available you don’t need to be precise. After the meal I take all the values and add them in the calorie counting app.
The same strategy applies for my second meal. While sticking to the diet structure in terms of the calorie range and the macro split, I choose food without deciding the number of grams beforehand. Again no need to be precise because you know you have a lot of calories left.
After the meal I take the values and add them in the app.
Now for my last meal, the process is reversed. I look in the app and see how many calories and macros I have left. For this meal I decide the grams of food before I put it on the plate. This way I can hit macros to the gram if I want to. I don’t recommend you do that of course but you could if you wanted.
When you don’t weigh food, the same process applies but this time you eyeball portions.
If you’ve been weighing food every day for a few months you are probably at the point where you can just look at a meal and tell me pretty accurately how many calories and what macros it has. Eric Helms said something very funny in an interview. He said that after a few months of tracking macros you become like Neo in the Matrix, when you look at food all you see are numbers.
So I eyeballing portions shouldn’t be difficult.
You set up meals so they fit the diet structure. The first two meals are flexible and the last meal fills up the rest of the calories.
That’s my take on counting macros. Questions? Feedback? Leave a comment below and let me know!
My diet when Lean Bulking
My current lean bulking plan comes from the Greek God Program. It may seem unusual to use intermittent fasting while gaining size but this is to avoid fat gain as much as possible.
By using IF you prevent overeating when lean bulking and the better you stick to the macros every day, the better lean gains you’re going to make.
In my first year following the program I managed to gain a lot of weight while keeping fat gain pretty low. You can see my one year transformation here.
Most people manage to make lean gains with this protocol. If you want to read more success stories, click here.