My client had a Krispy Kreme donut yesterday. An actual full on, calorific, soft, doughy, piece of deliciousness.

Did I tell her off? Did I cut her calories down? Did I put her on low carbs the rest of the day? No, I actually said to her ‘Winning at life’ with an emoji and let her get on with her day.

The reason being, as her online coach (someone who designs bespoke nutrition and exercise plans for clients who I never actually train personally) I didn’t freak out at ‘donut gate’ is because it fitted her macros. Flexible dieting, a tool that I use with all my clients, enables them to have the flexibility of fitting in ‘not so diet friendly foods’ into their daily lives without hindering their results.

What is a macro I hear you ask? Macro stands for macronutrients. Your macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fats. Along with calories, I work out my clients’ macros for them tailored to their body type and goal to get them the best results. The client who I mentioned above has now lost 11.5lbs in 12 weeks. This has included a birthday where several days were off plan and a couple of festivals (which were pretty boozy…)

The beauty with flexible dieting and counting macros is that it gives a client the freedom to enjoy a social life and foods that would usually be strictly off bounds for someone trying to drop body fat. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told ‘I’ve done every diet under the sun – Cambridge, Juice Plus, Lighter Life…’ etc etc. The fact is, all diets work. For fat loss to occur, calories in have to be less than calories out. This is called a calorie deficit. All diets are based around creating a calorie deficit. However, the reason people fail at sticking to a diet is because, usually, it’s unrealistic. It’s not sustainable. People get bored. They want a glass of wine at the weekend and because they’re ‘not allowed it’ it makes it all the more tempting. Suddenly, they are two bottles in thinking ‘SOD IT!’ and ordering a pizza to go with it.

Then comes the guilt. The feelings of failure. Of all those days or weeks of your diet and now it’s all been undone. What’s the point in continuing? May as well give up. In fact, make a weekend of it. No, make a week of it. And now you’re back to square one. Sound familiar?

Strict diets do not work. For example, you’re told to drink a shake for breakfast and lunch then have a healthy dinner. Sounds simple. ‘I can do this’ you think. It takes no time (because time is something no one seems to have) and you’ve seen photos on the internet of people dropping a stone in two weeks. What an incentive! Now lets REALLY look at that scenario. You’re going to be having the same meal for breakfast and lunch every day. Food tends to be an enjoyable experience for most, just the pleasure of actually chewing food. Well that’s out the window except for just one meal. What fun is that?

Next, you are probably consuming around 1000-1200 calories a day. Now, here comes the science bit. We all have what is called a BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of calories we burn in a comatose state. This doesn’t take into account the average person getting up, going to work, pottering around, working out. These are the calories you would burn if you were to literally lay in the same place all day and for your organs to function. Most women’s BMR is around the 1200 mark so ask yourself – why would you want to eat the same amount or even less than what your body needs just to stay alive? Imagine what that is actually doing to you, from a health prospective if anything. Forget aesthetics, how is that remotely healthy?!

I would love to know the percentage of dieters who regain the weight they have lost (and probably put on more) from doing fad or extremely restrictive diets. The results you see online? Where are these people now. Are they STILL having 2 shakes a day or blending all their food? Have they kept that stone off? I doubt it.
It is also incredibly unhealthy and actually pretty near damn impossible to lose a stone of fat in two weeks. To lose 1lb of fat you must create around a 3500 calorie deficit. So this means, through diet or training or a mixture of both, you must burn off 3500 calories more then what your body needs to stay the same weight. That equates to 500 calories a day to lose 1lb of fat a week. So lets say your body needs 2050 calories a day to maintain your weight. This is the average woman pottering around in day to day life and training 3 times a week. If she were to consume 1550 calories a day (2050-500 = 500 calorie deficit) she would lose 1lb of fat a week roughly. So that ‘lose a stone in 2 weeks’ you saw would mean you would have to create a 3500 calorie deficit PER DAY to be pure fat loss. Probably not going to happen is it? What you will probably lose is a mixture of water, muscle and fat. Less muscle = less calories burnt throughout the day. Which leads me to my next point…

So why not just consume 1200 calories a day and lose 1.7lbs a week? Because your body is clever. There is a debate as to whether the whole ‘starvation mode’ response actually exists, however, it seems from personal experience working with clients to be that when people create large calorie deficits (this excludes obese clients where larger deficits actually seem to work fine) the metabolism slows and fat loss stalls. Then, when the client gets sick of seeing no change and eats whatever the hell they want, the weight they have lost creeps back on and then some. And around in circles they go. You want to create enough deficit to lose body fat but not lose muscle. Muscle is your weight loss weapon! It means you can become a calorie burning furnace! It means even when you’re sat on your bum all day at the office, if you have enough muscle your body is constantly fired up. But to maintain muscle whilst dropping body fat you need enough protein in your diet. And this is where macros come into play.

Without adequate protein, your body will break down muscle easier than it will body fat when dieting. So then not only will you not look lean and toned and all your hard work at the gym won’t show but you’ll also lose muscle and lower your metabolic rate. Making fat loss even harder! Starting to see where I’m going with all this?

Not only all this but certain people require different macronutrients to others. For example, you have 3 body types; mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph. Depending on which body type you are will depend on what type of training will benefit you more, how many calories you’ll need and how many carbohydrates you’ll need. It is not a one size fits all. I have had many clients who’s macros I’ve worked out based on their stats only then to have to change because their metabolisms are either better or worse than expected. I suffer with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and I find that my body cannot metabolise carbs well despite training hard 6 times a week. Hormonal imbalances also play a part and it’s important that any fat loss plan you do takes into account all these aspects. Everyone is unique and individual and your macros should reflect your body type, your stats, your training and your goals.

So before you get sucked into another fad diet think long term; am I going to be able to stick with this? You CAN have your Kripsy Kreme and eat it.

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