How To Eat Really BIG Meals (Without Blowing Your Macros)

Posted on Jan 31, 2019

You can’t have ALL the foods ALL the time!

As much as flexible dieting is about eating what you want, and not banning any food, no one (no matter what your macros are) will be able to eat an unlimited amount of their favourite foods all in one day while sticking to their macros – it just won’t happen.

It’s important to be mindful, make smart choices, and factor in what you really want in appropriate quantities, even if that means having a slice of pie one day, a few bowls of cereal the next, and a burger and fries after that.

Thing is though, when big events come up, around certain times of the year, and if you’re away on holiday or vacation, doing this can be seriously tough. Take Christmas for instance – there’s the opportunity to eat so much tasty food at every single meal (and often in between too) and it gets incredibly difficult to resist, or only pick a few bits here and there.

If your whole family are tucking into a huge dinner, complete with a calorie-dense starter and a sugar and fat-filled desert, there’s no way you can fit all that into a normal day’s macros, so you’ve got a choice –

Either stick exactly to macros, and sit there, only eating meagre servings of all the great food, or decide to have a day off and binge.

I’m not a huge fan of either of those approaches but fortunately there is a third option. You can find ways to have bigger meals, or even a whole day of big eating and still stick to your macros and lose fat.


'Pulling Macros'

In the lead up to a big day, you can pull macros in the form of carbs and fats from other days to give you a bit more room for “fun calories” at your meal.

You don’t want to get too extreme with this, and how much you pull should be dependant on what your macros are, but generally, reducing carbs and fats by 10-30% for three to five days beforehand works well.

For example, a female who’d normally eat 150 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat per day could reduce by 30 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fat for five days, giving her an extra 150 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat for the big meal.


Count Calories 

Monitoring each individual macronutrient definitely gives better results that just calorie counting, but in the hierarchy of importance, calories beat macros, as calorie balance is what determines weight loss or weight gain. 

That means if, for one day, you just want to monitor your calories you can do.

If you’re a guy on 200 grams of carbs, 65 grams of fat and 225 grams of protein, that comes in at 2265 calories. For that one day, you could just aim to hit that but have more carbs and fat and less protein. 


Hit Weekly Macros

This kind of ties in with point one, but is a little looser in its approach.

Track your weekly macro intake, with your high-calorie day coming somewhere in the middle of this week. To do this, all you need to do is multiply your normal daily protein, carb and fat intake by 7, and make sure that come the end of the week, you’re at your usual total.


Add Cardio

I wouldn’t recommend using cardio as a form of punishment for over-eating, or even looking at indulgence as a reward for exercising, but at certain times, added cardio can be useful for offsetting a larger calorie consumption.

Again, don’t go too crazy and jump on the treadmill for 3 hours, but there’s no harm in adding an extra interval session on the day of (or even the days before and after) your big meal just so that you burn off a few extra calories.

Even a brisk walk for an hour or so can burn off 300 calories, so might be worth doing to work up an appetite.


Have a New Goal

Around the holidays, you might want to take your mind off fat loss for a little while, and have a new goal of maintenance 

Maintaining is actually quite difficult to do, and something which many people struggle with, as they feel they should be constantly losing weight, but in reality, if you can maintain your weight and body composition through a food-filled week or month, you’ve done well.


Lift More

Why not put those calories to good use with a few extra lifting sessions?

Add in an extra arm workout, or even get to the gym to squeeze in a few more squats and deadlifts before the big event. This could help shuttle the calories to muscle stores to be used for recovery, rather than laying down as body fat.


Eat OR Drink

Over-eating often isn’t a problem for people – it’s the mix of calorie-filled drinks AND foods that causes weight and fat gain. So make a choice – if you want a drink, then be much more moderate with your food, or if you’re happy to stick to water or diet soda, then allow yourself more calories from food. 

As food is far more satiating and provides more nutrients, I’d say the second option is the wiser one.


Have Fun

Holidays and events should be about having fun, so don’t stress too much.

Just remember that enjoying your food and sticking to your plan are not mutually exclusive. You can do both.

Use the tips here, and weigh it up – how strict do you really need to be? If you’re on point 51 weeks of the year, then one week of being mindful, rather than tracking strictly probably won’t do you any harm whatsoever.

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