How to Hit Your Fat Loss Macros without Tracking

“Entering everything I eat into MyFitnessPal is one of the most fun things ever!” said nobody.

When did it become acceptable for us to turn our meals into a pie graph?

Your weight loss has either plateaued, stalled, or isn’t going as fast as you like, so you’re told you need to “get your macros right” — and there’s an app for that, so …

You enter your stats into macros calculators and find a different result each time you use a different one. Which one do you follow?

You went over (or under) your macros and you’ve got another meal left for the day. Now what?

You cook a meal based on a recipe’s carb count, only to find out it has way more carbs than what the author claims after you enter it into your app. Where’d you go wrong?

Yet even when the pie graph looks perfect, you’re still confused because the experts you trust disagree with each other:

  • too much protein, not enough protein
  • push more fat, too much fat
  • count total carbs, count net carbs
  • calories still matter, no they don’t. Who’s right?

I think you’ll agree with me when I say …

If it’s hard enough to resist a warm chocolate chip cookie, then why make it more difficult by tracking macros if it just makes things more complicated?

Aren’t we all just simply after results?

How did we go from how do I eat to lose fat, to … how do I get my macros right?

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. 

The Law of the Vital Few

Also known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule which is a concept developed in the context of wealth and income distribution.

But in fat loss, it can be applied as roughly 20% of your eating efforts will lead to a vast majority (roughly 80%) of your fat loss results.

In other words, what is going to give you the best fat loss bang for your eating buck? Where does that 20% lie? 

Where the experts all agree

It’s not what you eat, it’s what you don’t eat: added sugars, refined, and processed carbohydrates. They come out of a box, a package, or produced by a factory.

It’s in the quality of the food that you eat. Real, whole, unprocessed-minimally processed foods. Those that look as they do in nature.

That’s it. That’s where the leverage is. You already knew this: avoid sugar and starch.

But I’m different, you say.

And you’re absolutely right. Which is exactly what fueled the tracking macros argument in the first place. But you can account for your uniqueness and still get results without counting.

Here’s how… 

Realize that you’re not in a weight stall or plateau

Just because your weight isn’t “dropping off” as quickly as others’ before and after photos, doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.

Someone who weighs 300 lbs will lose more than someone who weighs 150 lbs in the first week because there are more pounds to begin with, but the percentage loss could be the same.

Men tend to lose weight faster than women. Larger individuals lose faster than those who have less to lose. And those last 15-20 pounds will come off the slowest.

A half a pound of weight loss per week is not a stall. But that’s hard to see on the weighing scale because your weight fluctuates throughout the day, and month (for the ladies) due to water retention.

An “early” plateau doesn’t even tend to happen until the 6-month mark and that’s because of a lack of adherence.

If you’re seeing results, keep doing what you’re doing. Tracking isn’t the answer, patience is.

But what if you’re really in a stall? 

Tweak instead of track

Your mileage will vary depending on where you are in the insulin resistance (aka carb intolerance) spectrum, i.e. how much weight you need to lose, how long you’ve carried the extra weight, to having illnesses associated with metabolic syndrome, all the way to Type 2 diabetes.

The further you are in the spectrum the more intolerant you are to sugar and starch.

Assuming you’ve got the “vital few” taken care of in the form of hidden sugars — and assuming you’re in a true stall…

Here are some examples on how to make fat loss happen again without tracking. 

Carbs in fruit. Fruits have plenty of sugar. Berries in the form of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are good choices. But you may have a lower tolerance to sugar in fruit in terms of fat loss.

If that’s the case, consider cutting them back to a handful (cupped hand), or making it an occasional treat (special occasions, Holidays), or eating them when you’re in the weight maintenance phase. 

Carbs in vegetables. Some vegetables have plenty of carbohydrates. Cut back on high carb veggies (e.g. potatoes, yams, beans, corn, peas, etc). Often, this will be enough. Continue to eat any and all leafy greens liberally.

But if your tolerance is lower, consider staying between 1 to 2 servings of above-the-ground veggies (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, etc). Make a fist, that’s 1 serving. 

Protein. Protein can turn into sugar through a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis.

What’s “too much” is a hot topic of debate for several reasons, so expert recommendations vary between 50 g – 120 g per day.

First, find where you stand in the daily recommended range. The size of your palm is around 3 oz of meat which is approximately 21 g of protein.

Many people achieve fat loss with carb restriction alone, but protein is also implicated because it raises insulin. So individual tolerances, and other health goals (besides fat loss) affected by protein come into play.

Adjust to a lower daily intake, if you need to cut back. Eating fatty cuts of meat will also help you stay in the ballpark (e.g. rib eye, pork belly, chicken wings and thighs, salmon, tuna, mackerel). 

Fat. Fat is fuel. It’s safe and reliable in replacement of carbs. It’s leverage against hunger and cravings. It has little (if any) effect on insulin . So have it with your meals, not in addition to.

Grilled blackened salmon on a bed of spring mix topped with avocados, almond pieces, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil… that’s a low carb, high fat meal.

But if you’re having bulletproof coffee with your meals instead of a meal replacement, you’re eating 2 meals in one sitting.

And if you’re snacking on fat bombs in between meals just for the sake of “pushing” fat, that could be why you’re stalling.

Keep the high fat inside your meals, so your body gets a chance to burn your stored body fat as fuel which then results in fat loss. 

Calories. We can get to an agreement without getting into a debate on whether or not calories matter if meal composition gives you metabolic advantage. How? Because we can all agree that there is such a thing as eating too much.

If you’re feeling like after Thanksgiving dinner, that’s too much. If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, that’s a meal you don’t need.

It can be hard to use hunger as a compass if you’re not sure when to stop eating because you’re not sure what “full” is, or if you’re not sure what real hunger feels like.

Try intermittent fasting (IF). It helps you get familiar with hunger, and it spontaneously reduces the likelihood that you eat too much.

If you haven’t done it before, start by avoiding snacks in between meals and then progress to skipping a meal. Ask your doctor first if you have any medical condition or if you’re on any medication.

If you’re already doing IF but still find yourself in a plateau, try “changing it up”. Our bodies adapt because it’s designed to restore balance, so mixing things up to keep it from settling in helps.

For example, do IF 5 times a week instead of 3 , throw in a 20/4 one day instead of a 16/8, eat more on some days by eating 3 meals inside your eating window instead of 2. 

There’s a better way

Imagine how easier it would be if you didn’t have to get stuck, stressed out, and confused about all this tracking.

It’s not the only way to get the results you want. Even if everyone else is doing it. Even if the experts say you should.

It’s your journey. You get to choose your own “how”. All you have to do is follow some basic principles by focusing on “why” fat loss occurs.

So think about your next meal. And instead of figuring out how to get those percentages right, think about how you can adjust your meal to follow one basic principle of fat loss.

Because each time you do, you’re one step closer to your goal, your way.


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