How to Choose a Nutrition Strategy and Four Tips for Tracking Nutrition and Flexible Dieting
This is a guest post from Hunter Munch, a Little Rock-based fitness coach and a regular contributor to masonfit.com.
Progress is rarely linear and tends to leave even the most resilient frustrated and doubtful that they’ll achieve their fitness goals. In turn, this doubt casts a shadow on our capabilities and confidence. This can be a slippery slope, but it’s important to know you’re not alone in times of stalled progress. Everyone deals with it.
Today’s article will dive into tips for choosing a nutrition strategy, my recommended strategy, and four tips for success with this strategy.
Choosing a Nutrition Strategy
Any regimen, fitness or not, needs structure, scheduling, and planning. This is essential in preparing for a worst-case scenario and creating consistency to build the correct habits. Set a plan in place to fit your goal and stick with it. Day in and day out, trust the process.
Trusting in the process is much easier when you trust where it’s coming from. Before following any program or strategy, check credentials, read others’ opinions, and learn how these plans work before you blindly follow a program. Always know why you’re doing something and how it should be working. Knowledge is power.
Once you choose a program or nutrition strategy to follow, expect it to take time. Think about the first few weeks of any diet you’ve ever tried. What do you remember? If you’re like most people, you didn’t see much progress early on and threw in the towel early. It’s important to remember that fitness and health is a lifestyle, not a magic trick or instant results.
No matter which strategy you go with, sticking to it and remaining consistent will produce results. Over time, the knowledge acquired from trying different strategies will ensure you avoid anything too drastic or unhealthy. Health should always be the number one priority and if that is compromised, it’s time to re-evaluate your plan.
My Recommended Nutrition Strategy
Okay, on to the strategy I recommend – tracking your calories and macronutrient intake. This is also known as flexible dieting or if it fits your macros (IIFYM). I recommend tracking because to become successful in any facet of life, including fitness, calculated progression is key. Guessing where to go or what to do next has never been how I approach success. You have to understand exactly what you’re doing before you can get better at it. Below you’ll find four tips for success with tracking your dietary intake.
1. Dealing with Hunger on a Caloric Deficit
Volume eating is the key for warding off hunger when dieting. Supplementing your meal plan with large meals of foods like vegetables, fruits, and other high-volume foods will leave you full and satisfied without consuming large amounts of calories. Salads are a personal favorite. Water can also help here. Drinking plenty of water kills two birds with one stone, being that hydration is essential to body function and fat loss.
Meeting calorie goals is fairly simple but when you throw in macronutrient ratios, it takes a bit more planning. In most cases, the problem will come down to not getting enough protein and then making a mad scramble to finish their day with protein-only foods.
To set myself up for a successful day of stress-free tracking, I start my day with lean meats to fill my first couple hundred calories with protein. This makes the rest of the day easier and allows for normal meals.
2. Removing Obstacles Through Planning
Potentially the hardest part of any eating regimen for goals is the same reason we make impulse purchases – emotion. We are bombarded with a plethora of external stimuli on a daily basis that has the potential to ruin our progress. Having a plan and premeditated routine for certain scenarios can help greatly with impulse eating decisions.
Let’s say you make plans on Tuesday to go out with friends on Friday night. You don’t think much about it until you get to the bar and end up having beer and nachos, pushing you over calories and erasing a week’s hard work!
This could be avoided by planning ahead for the event to have a few drinks and some food while still hitting your macronutrient and calorie goals. It’s definitely possible to maintain a fun, socially healthy lifestyle while dieting.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Put your plan together, remember why you are doing this, and stay on track. The best you is just one decision from being made.
3. Stay as Close to Your Macronutrient Goals as Possible and Avoid Doing Too Much
It won’t help you lose weight faster if you are consistently under your calorie/macro goal. Once you have determined levels that will produce results, there’s no need to stray from it. Your body can only change so fast and attempts to speed up beyond its capabilities will only produce negative results like a slowed metabolism (adaptive thermogenesis) or muscle breakdown. Find the macro and calorie levels that you need and stick to them!
Related: Nutrition Made Easy 2.0 teaches how to calculate metabolic rate and calorie/macro ratios for beginners.
4. Consistency and Repetition
Diet and food consistencies lead to better macronutrient and calorie adherence. I recommend MyFitnessPal for tracking because it can store certain foods and meals. Meaning you can easily track the same breakfast, lunch, or dinner on multiple days. This removes take guess work on planning your day for eating.
The beauty of tracking is that you can produce almost guaranteed results once you have determined your calorie/macronutrient goals. Seeing early results and progress is a key for long-term success. Once you see that it can be done early on, the fire will be lit, and you will find an endless stream of motivation. Good luck and thanks for reading!