Unintended Consequences of Macro Counting

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When counting macros, you’re gonna be annoyed at first.  Really annoyed.

The first month is complete hell.  You’re totally unsure of yourself.  And scared you’re doing it wrong.


But a few weeks pass, and you get better.  Like any skill, macro counting needs refinement and practice.

With tenacity and consistency, over time, some crazy stuff starts to happen.

Most aren’t even aware it’s happening until they stop and look around.

Which can occur quite easily.

Sometimes you lose yourself in the counting, the weighing, the measuring, and the obsessing.

What are your INTENDED consequences of macro counting?

1.  You lose fat.

If you hit your macros, and you’ve set them up intelligently, you’ll be under your caloric maintenance.  Assuming, of course, that your initial macro setting is for a cut.

Which is the case for most people.

The increased protein intake combined with the appropriate amounts of fat and carbs for your training goals will cause fat, and MOSTLY fat, to be lost from your body.

Which is better than simply losing weight.

If you choose to count calories and not macros, you’re risking catabolism (muscle loss).

And if you choose cardiovascular activities on top of simply counting calories?, your lean body mass will be stripped faster than Kate Moss’s at an all-you-can-sniff coke binge.


2.  You keep sane while dieting.

Make no qualms about it.  Dieting sucks.

Especially “traditional” dieting.

Salads, tofu, and rice cakes.  Aren’t those the dieting staples?

They shouldn’t be.  Fat and protein are way more filling than carbohydrates.

In the 90’s, we were all sucked into the thought that fat = fat.  Which simply isn’t true.

Raise your protein and fats?  Combine them with fibrous veggies?

Your “diet” feels a little less like a “diet” and more like a “kick-ass way to live”.


3.  You optimize your weight training sessions.

Lifting heavy is awesome.

Nearly every person who lifts heavy regularly kicks ass in their normal lives.

It’s science.

But all that wear and tear requires recovery.  Namely in the form of carbs and protein post-workout.

Intelligently setting your macros and eating according to them optimizes your sessions, allowing you to properly recover – even when in a deficit.

Lose fat and get stronger.  It’s the Holy Grail of the fitness community.


4.  You optimize your hormones.

Another word about low-fat dieting.

It makes you feel bad.  Depressed.  Deprived.  Starved.  Furious.

It messes with your hormones over time.

Raised fat amounts due to proper macro counting keeps all those magical little chemicals firing the way they should.

Increased energy, improved mood, better sleep, optimal……um…….”performance”.

All of that and then some.


Those consequences are what we are TRYING to do.  They’re some of the INTENDED consequences of macro counting.

The unintended are more subtle.  You’ve gotta look for them.  But they’re there.


What are your UNINTENDED consequences of macro counting?

1.  You begin to naturally gravitate towards whole foods.

You’ve got a set amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

You need some fat to hit your numbers.

What comes to mind?

Butter?  Oil?  Ranch dressing?  Peanut butter?  Eggs?  An avacado?

You know what doesn’t come to mind?

Processed bullshit.

Now, using IIFYM philosophies, there’s always room for a treat.  But 9 times out of 10, when planning your meals, you’ll begin to shift your thought process.

And if you’re in tune with your body, you start to realize how much BETTER it operates when fueled on natural, whole foods selections.

Which is surely not a bad thing.


2.  You begin to consume more vegetable material.

You’ve got finite amounts of your macros.

What “others” are there?  Freebies?

All the fibrous, colorful, or leafy veggies you can muster.

Your meals end up looking like this:  A.  Meats    B.  Carbs    C.  SHIT-TON OF VEGETABLES

A. and B. are for your macros and your taste buds.  C. is to help that meal last longer and provide some filler.  We might get hungry during the fast if we don’t get our daily fiber.

And you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think meat/carb/veggies isn’t a fantastic option for a healthy, well-balanced meal.


3.  You find your actual, real caloric maintenance.

When you first start macro counting, you probably estimated your caloric maintenance.

You saw all kind of acronyms – “BMR”, “TDEE”, “NEAT”, etc.

They’re interesting metrics, for sure.  But they’re all simply ways of calculating how many calories you need.

When you start counting, you start to figure out how many calories you truly, actually use up in a day.

Now, this number can change over time.  It can be manipulated, it can raise/lower, it can be increased over time by reverse dieting, etc.

But having a good idea of the ballpark of your true, working caloric maintenance is an excellent tool to have in your toolbox.  For now and for the future.


4.  You start to get an idea of how much you should (and shouldn’t) be consuming.

You start to understand how to “eyeball” food amounts.

You begin to estimate weights of meat with shocking accuracy.

You begin to instinctively understand how much pasta/rice/potatoes would equal one serving and not five.

You start to become aware that Tim Horton’s bagels have considerably more than one serving of bread.

These are understandings of basic, human nutrition that will bode well for you as you progress.


5.  You (can) become unnecessarily obsessive.

This is the one negative.

Hitting your macros is a solid objective when trying to improve your body composition.

But being overly neurotic isn’t optimal for anyone.

If you ever ask yourself, “How can I eat 3 more grams of fat and 11 more grams of carbs?” – you’re looking at this in the wrong way.

It’s called “flexible dieting”.  Be flexible.  Relax.

Be in the ballpark.  And forget it.

If you ever say, “That doesn’t fit my macros; can’t eat it,” then you’re missing the point.

Are there times where you’ve used up your caloric allotment and you can’t have it until the next day?  Of course.

But if you completely deprive yourself of something you love because you can’t combine those macros on that day……..you’re destined to fail eventually.

Knock that silliness off.


6.  You (probably) will eventually move towards organic selections whenever possible (and cost effective).

If you’re not progressing, you’re standing still.

First, you master your macros.

Then, you obtain leanness and master your body fat percentage.

Then, you raise your calories, either in a bulk, or a reverse-dieting situation.

What comes next in the quest for health?

You’re already eating whole foods.  The next step?  Go organic.

You begin to incorporate organic foods into the mix.

You start small.  Some veggies.  Maybe some beef.

And guess what happens?  You feel even BETTER.

You start to realize how real food is supposed to taste.  From cows and chickens that roam free and eat grass.

And although you cringe at the thought of hairy-arm-pitted pretentious hippies, you start to believe this is the way nature intended your food to be raised and prepared.  In a field.  Without drugs.  The way God envisioned it.

It’s hard to argue with that.


7.  You start to realize you don’t need to count anymore.

Once you’ve been doing this long enough, you start to realize how much food maintenance requires, how much food fat loss requires, and how much food muscle gain requires.

And you start to think maybe you don’t need to count any more.

It’s like the kid who gets the training wheels taken off………………and makes the startling discovery…………that he ACTUALLY knows how to ride a bike.

It takes some time.

And some reflection.

And some self-assessment.

But isn’t that the ultimate goal?

To be able to eat healthy, remain lean, keep optimal health, and live an energetic existence from here on out……..without obsessively tracking tablespoons of peanut butter?

Sounds like a noble goal to me.

Happy macro counting, everyone!


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