You may have heard it said that while energy balance determines whether weight is gained or lost, macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) determine whether that change is fat or muscle mass. Though that is a gross oversimplification, macros play an important role and need consideration. Simply put, get them right and you’ll reach your physique goals quicker and more painlessly than if you ignore them.
The topic of micronutrition may sound boring but you can’t afford to ignore it. Long-term micronutrient deficiencies will impact your health and torpedo your training efforts. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be complicated. By observing a few simple rules of thumb regarding your daily fruit and vegetable intake you can safeguard against deficiencies.
This series is written in order of importance. So implement it in this order. You want to add in the least amount of complication that you can to progress. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. If you’re completely new to this, consider focusing on calories first, then macros, and forget the other points for now.
In the majority of cases people successfully diet (for a time) without counting calorie intake, just by purposefully lowering (or eliminating) carb intake. This lowers the water and muscle glycogen balance in the body considerably, and in the initial week there is a whoosh of weight loss which is often confused with fat loss.
Weight loss then slows down considerably.People get frustrated with the lower rate of weight loss, but they persist.
Eventually the progress stops as energy needs decrease (through various mechanisms, the slowing of the metabolism being just one). They need to make a reduction to their calorie intake, but as they haven’t been counting they can’t gauge that effectively, so they decide to start counting for the first time, perhaps finding a guide like this, which involves a calorie/macro intake calculation.
The calorie calculation will not take into account for the slightly lowered metabolism from the period of dieting, so it will be slightly too high.
Furthermore, calorie requirements tend to be set a little higher than they should because people underestimate how much body fat they carry and this affects their calculations.
When people start setting their macros also, they’ll be reintroducing carbohydrates into their diets, which will bring about an increase in water balance and glycogen balance. This is confused with fat gain.
The sum of it is that people often set their calorie intake a little high when starting (a minor issue which can be corrected after tracking for a few weeks with an adjustment), but they get confused or panic when they gain in scale weight, not realizing that it’s water and muscle glycogen. They quit, thinking they have screwed up, or they simply don’t have the patience to wait for a few weeks till they have established a baseline from which to adjust. Don’t make this mistake.