How to Handle Tracking Macros and Coming up Short

I know I wrote about how macro counting is not for everyone earlier this week, but hear me out… if you’ve decided that it’s a good strategy for you, you are not out of the woods! You can’t - and shouldn’t - expect to nail it perfectly on the first try - or ever. It is with this in mind that I offer some thoughts about how to handle undereating for your macros.

The question of “how to navigate the day without blowing your macros” or “it’s 4pm and I’m almost out of macros, what do I do?” has been covered in lots of other articles (though I will probably give you my take on it another time). But to me, the more interesting question is what do you do if you are left with loads of macros at the end of your day?

The answer no one wants to hear… IT DEPENDS.

I wish I could give you a one-sized fits all answer, but the truth is that everybody’s realities, contexts and goals are different, so what to do in that situation is going to vary on a case-by-case basis. What that said, everyone who ends up in that situation will have to start in the same place:

Give yourself GRACE.

So you had macronutrient intake targets for the day, and it looks like you’re going to be coming up short on them. Big deal! Just let go of it and show yourself a little grace, here. The point of tracking macros is not to do it perfectly for its own sake, but rather to use it as a means to an end - macros are a tool to help you reach a goal you set for yourself. And not hitting your numbers doesn’t mean that you are failing at pursuing your goal, either - it just means that the approach needs tweaking.

Now that we have set the record straight, here are 4 strategies to handle “undereating your macros”.

Plan better next time

Review how you felt throughout the day, if you were hungry but didn’t get to eat enough - perhaps because of stress, a busy schedule, or because you didn’t pack enough food in your lunch - then adjust your plan for the next day.

How are you feeling and what do you feel like eating?

If you realize as you are making dinner that you will be coming up short on your macros, is there a way you can healthily readjust dinner/dessert/bedtime snack accordingly? Tapping into your hunger cues and what your body is telling you is key here, it is all too easy to rely on just the numbers and forget how you are feeling.

Not sure how to go about solving this macro tetris puzzle? Talk to your coach! That’s what they’re there for.

Make note of it and talk to your coach about it.

Whether you are hitting your numbers or not, your coach NEEDS to know! They are not there to play “food police”, but rather to help you reach your goals and be your best self. That process is iterative, meaning that you get to refine it each week using the feedback and information you give them! All that to say that if you find yourself struggling to hit your numbers, your coach needs to know, as they have a number of strategies up their sleeves to tweak the process.

Don’t go HAM.

Bottom line, realizing you are coming up short on your macros is not a reason to overeat or go HAM. If you feel like it you can allow yourself a little flexibility and fit in a bit more “fun foods” (foods you don’t regularly eat because they don’t always align with your goals, but that don’t make you feel physically or emotionally bad in any way), then go for it if you feel like it.. If you’re not feeling that hungry, or you feel “off”, then don’t force food down just for macros sake - but take a minute to explore what your body might be in particular need of at this point. Maybe your lack of hunger is a reaction to stress? Or you are particularly tired? Notice and act on those needs, because #selfcareiseverything.

Do these approaches change based on your goals?

You might be tempted to think “this is all well and good Clo, but my goal is to lose weight, so I am going to take this undereating day and run with it”. Conversely, maybe you are wanting to gain weight and you are thinking the opposite: “I’ll fall right off the gainzzz train if I undereat”. I understand where you are coming from, but I would argue that neither scenario is a case for hitting your macros no matter what.

I think that regardless of your goals, your macro prescription is just a suggestion, and a way to get more information about how your body processes specific amounts of foods. Regardless of whether you are currently in a calorie deficit, surplus or maintenance, review the four strategies highlighted above and see what you can glean from them. Still unsure? Talk to your coach about it!

Still have questions about how to (or whether to) hit your macros? Hit me up! I’d love to help.