Last week we covered what to do if you are tracking macros and are coming up short (under-eating your macros). This week we tackle the opposite problem: what do you do if you are tracking your macros and are either going over them or are still feeling hungry?
Similarly to last week, I think the first step is to give yourself GRACE. Be gentle with yourself - you did not fail because you either went over your allotted macronutrients or you met them and are still hungry. It’s just food, life goes on!
The second thing I would urge you to do is talk to your coach! Let them in on the situation, tell them how you are feeling (both physically and emotionally) and they will likely have some recommendations for you. Navigating the macro world solo? It’s hiiiiiigh time you got someone in your corner… get yourself a coach who will be able to help you align your lifestyle with your goals!
Beyond being gentle with yourself and talking to your coach, I have a few more recommendations on how to navigate going over your macros or meeting them but still feeling hungry. Here we go:
Take a minute to check in with yourself. Press pause on the daily grind, and really get curious about how you are feeling right now. Are you feeling actual hunger, or is it really stress, boredom, uncertainty, etc. that you are experiencing?
Once you are clear(er) on what you are actually feeling, you can act on the root feeling rather than its manifestation. Feeling bored? Call a friend, go for a walk, get your colouring book out, you know the drill! Feelings stressed? Do something to clear your mind: make a list (check it twice), go for a walk, meditate, etc.
It is also entirely possible that your perceived hunger is a manifestation of a habit of yours. For instance, you may be used to having something sweet after dinner every night, but this habit isn’t necessarily serving your current goals. The beauty of habits is that they are learned, so you can change them! Try replacing your daily dessert with a cup of herbal tea. Brushing your teeth works too.
If you’re feeling unexpectedly ravenous during the day, it might be that you are actually dehydrated. Reaching for a big glass of water when your stomach starts to grumble might be enough to tie you over until your next planned meal. There are of course a number of other health benefits to being appropriately hydrated daily, as we covered on Instagram recently.
Food log audit
Look back at your food log and review your recent food choices. Are there any lessons you can draw from your choices as it relates to hitting your macros and pursuing the goals that they stem from? For instance, you might realize that if you are trying to lose a few pounds, and that your carbohydrate is set to a moderate amount, then a bagel and fruit salad for breakfast might lead you to surpass your allotted amount of carbohydrate. A food log is a great source of information, and you can use it to inform future choices.
Track energy and workouts
Look back on your overall energy expenditure, workouts and general perceived energy levels recently. Has your exercise routine, intensity or duration changed? Or has your workout routine stayed the same but you are dog-sitting and walking 2 hours a day? Or maybe your activity level and workouts have been consistent, but your sleep has not? All these variables could have an effect on your energy (i.e., food) needs, so take a good look back on the last few days and talk to your coach!
Track your zzz’s
Speaking of sleep, has your snooze routine changed lately? If you’ve been skimping on your beauty sleep, it is very possible that your hunger is skewed. Talk to your coach about it, then draw the blinds and climb into bed! I realize such a literal solution isn’t always attainable, but it is highly likely that chronic sleep deprivation or poor sleep hygiene are not aligned with your health goals, so you better look into it, babe.
More practical considerations
Use your macro buffer
Can you use your “macro buffer” to satisfy your hunger? If you are truly hungry (see above) and are adamant about sticking to your numbers as closely as possible (because it matches your goals), then going over your protein and carbs by 5-10g and your fat by 2-5g is better than giving in entirely and completely blowing it. This might take some careful consideration and use of high-volume foods (think cauliflower rice as opposed to white rice, and chicken breast as opposed to bacon) but it is worth considering. Once again, talk to your coach for ideas!
Going over one macronutrient?
If it looks like you are going to end your day by going over just one macronutrient, you may be able to buy yourself a little flexibility by rejigging your macros for that day to hit your protein and calorie targets only. However, take note of that adjustment and let your coach know, as this may impact your athletic performance the next day (you want to document the adjustment so that you can connect it to any potential adverse effects in the gym, for example feeling a little less energetic after a day where you over-ate fat and under-ate carbs).
Consistency is key
Appetite is not a bank account, and you can’t rob Peter to pay Paul. In other words, going over your macros today DOES NOT MEAN you should “make up for it” the next day. If you went over because of some questionable planning on your part, well guess what? You get to practice better planning tomorrow! In any case, don’t subtract macros or calories from the next day to “compensate” for what you ate today. This sort of behaviour can easily lead to a messed up relationship with food and tracking, which is clearly the last thing anyone needs. Struggling with this concept? Once again… talk to your coach about it! Or reach out to me, and let’s have a conversation around it.
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 just going to embrace this feeling of starvation in the pit of my stomach as a sign that I am getting closer to my goal.” I understand where you are coming from, but I would argue that no 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 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.