One of the biggest challenges with flexible dieting is tracking and hitting macro goals. Most of my online clients in the transition from eating set diet plans to tracking macros are facing the challenge of consuming their set number of carbs, proteins and fats and overall calories. Having tracked my nutrition with flexible dieting for over 5 years now, I’ve come up with several strategies that you can use to successfully eat enough calories to burn fat and build muscle.
PLAN YOUR DAY
One of the best ways to stop you from falling short of hitting your calorie or macro targets is to plan your day ahead either first thing in the morning or the night before. You know that old saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’; it’s so true when it comes to nutrition and sticking to your diet. If you leave yourself with too much freedom, you’re setting yourself up for disaster when you’re out and about and especially in the night when you’ve run out of DMU’s (decision making units) and want to eat the first thing you can see!
Prep your meals, pack them in tupper wear and get on with your day. If you’re struggling to cook or you can’t cook then use a food delivery service to send to you healthy, nutritious meals to help you stay on track at the busiest of times. I’ve been ordering food from Yolo Food Company and find it really helps me stay on track at the busiest of times.
EAT ‘NON-BRO’ FOODS
If you’re someone who typically finds it hard to eat but know you must eat to get enough calories to burn fat or build muscle then you NEED to prioritise getting in those calories no matter what – Under eating is equally as bad an over eating when it comes to changing your body composition.
Assuming you’re eating plenty of healthy wholefoods and you’ve reached the point of feeling sick if you see another stem of broccoli or sweet potato, it’s time to go ‘non-bro’! ‘Bro foods’ by definition, are typical foods you’d eat to be healthy. They are your usual fitness fanatic foods like: sweet potato, brown rice, oats, broccoli, etc. By eating ‘non-bro’ foods you’ll be able to hit your calorie and macro goals a little easier without feeling sick.
Side note: Theres absolutely nothing wrong with eating ‘bro’ foods, it’s what I eat 90% of the time!
If you’re still not sure what ‘bro foods’ are and want to eat a healthier diet then grab my free Macro Friendly Cheat Sheet below:
Easy to consume carbs like dried fruits: dates, apricots, raisins and dried pineapple are awesome for filling up your carb calories! Packed with carbs and easy to eat, this is a sure-fire way of getting in more calories if you’re struggling to eat more carbs. You’ll also get the all-important fibre from these foods to help keep your digestive system healthy and give you regular bowl movements (taking a poo). Try to avoid simple, processed sugars, as these will provide little benefit and no micronutrients for your body. Keep them to a minimal making up no more than 10% of your carb intake.
On the other side of hitting your calories, you can eat more dietary fats; higher in calories (9kcals per 1 gram) and very easy to consume. One of my favourites is nut butters (I love Meridian Almond Butter & Peanut Butter!), one teaspoon can have as much as 150kcals and you’ll barely notice you’ve eaten a thing. Adding nut butters to smoothies, porridge or on rice cakes can not only increase your calorie intake but also provide you with more satiety (keeping you fuller for longer). Just be careful not to overdo the serving as the calories can rack up pretty quickly – try weighing out your measurements with digital food scales.
Other easy to consume fats include: olive oils, dark chocolate (85% or above), nuts, seeds, avocados, all of which can be added to meals and snacks to help you reach your calorie and macro goals and give you added health benefits.
Note: If you really struggle to hit your calorie goals for the day, fats are the easiest way of bumping up your intake. Quick and easy to consume and tastes delicious!
If you’re still struggling after mixing up your carb sources and adding more fats; which I find hard to believe then you can go all-out ‘dirty’ and eat non-nutrient dense foods simply because they’re higher in calories. The benefit of this is you’ll easily consume your calorie targets however; you’ll be depriving your body of micronutrients that you’ll get from your wholefood counterparts. You MUST ensure that these foods only make up 5% of your diet however. You can’t get away with eating a whole load of non-nutrient dense foods and expect to get results and have optimal health. Every now and then it’s fine but make sure the majority of the time you’re eating high nutrient-dense foods.
Another tip I give to clients struggling to eat is having blended meals – no not blended tuna with rice and broccoli – urgh!
I give the option of blending a time released protein powder with oats, milk (any kind), fruit and other goodness such as greens powders for those extra micronutrients. Smoothies are great for easy to consume calories as it requires very little effort from your body to digest plus there’s minimal chewing involved. You can load up the extras like nut butters and really create some calorie dense shakes full of goodness. I highly recommend you use this to your advantage if you have a small appetite or strapped for time.