Using methods like tracking macros or counting calories for weight loss is very effective. It’s one of our favorite ways to educate members about food intake and help them reach their goals. However, there are safe and not-so-safe ways to approach tracking food.
Unfortunately, sometimes this can be taken to extremes. For example, calorie deficits that are too low or excessive, or exercising with the goal of burning more calories than necessary, increasing the chances of fatigue, burnout, and injury!
A topic that often coincides with this type of mindset is: undereating to compensate for a day of overeating.
When you’ve been tracking macros or calories for a while, you’ll come across times where you may overeat* a little. Social situations, misreading labels or just feeling extra hungry one day are all common examples. If you have a high motivation to reach a certain goal weight, you may take measures to “cancel out” any overeating that occurred, in an attempt to keep yourself in a calorie deficit for the overall week.
Please, don’t do that. There are some serious and very important reasons to avoid this practice:
1. It’s known as a bad habit for a good reason.
It can be a slippery slope of “borrowing” macros from one day to the next. If this becomes a habit, it could ultimately take away from the important aspects of being consistent with your nutrition.
Start the day fresh with a full menu for the day. Don’t allow yesterday’s actions to bleed into today’s. If you find it’s something you’re doing often, it may be time for an environmental overhaul or a refocus on your goals to help you out!
2. You will continue the cycle of overeating.
You’ll be hungrier on the days that you undereat, which will make you more likely to overeat again. Suddenly, one day of overeating becomes a rollercoaster week of overeating, undereating and overeating again. You’ll have a better chance of getting back on track by eating your regularly prescribed macros the next day. Just brush it off and move on.
3. It will affect your performance.
If you’re trying to make gains in the gym, perform well on the field or just generally have enough energy to get through your day, you should get back on track with a full day of calories and macros. Undereating can mess with your energy levels and ability to recover. If performance is important to you then you can’t afford to be dwelling on the past and undereating in the future.
4. It will make it “okay” to lose control in certain situations.
Any diet plan you’re on now can have a lasting effect on how you approach your nutrition later in life. So if you want to improve how you approach the buffet at a party and get better about going out without going over, then don’t let the idea of “borrowing macros”’ be an option. You’ll be giving yourself permission to overeat any time you’re faced with a social situation, which, let’s face it, can be a lot of the time.
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: It isn’t okay to punish yourself.
It doesn’t matter how much you reassure yourself that you’re doing the right thing—restricting your food when you’re already in a calorie deficit is not serving you in any way mentally or physically. In order to reach your goals, you need to love yourself, forgive yourself and have the ability to leave off days behind you.
The best athletes in the world have bad training sessions and competitions all the time, but they have the ability to put it in the past and keep pressing forward. Those who dwell are never able to keep pushing forward with success. It’s the same for everything in life—including your nutrition and weight loss goals.
You are an amazing person who is doing a challenging thing and you can’t expect perfection, but you can expect yourself to get up and try again the next day.
*Overeat—in this context, to eat more calories/macronutrients than your weight loss plan prescribes.