As much as we try and be consistent, and hit macros closely every single day, sometimes life gets in the way.
I know myself, while I don’t put pressure on to nail my macros to the precise gram all the time, I do try to keep accountable, and get to within 5 to 10 grams of my protein and carb targets, and within 2 to 5 grams of my fat.
If I manage that, I consider it a good day.
That doesn’t always happen though, and it could be the case that you miss your macros.
Maybe that comes about because you go out to eat, guesstimate the food before you go, but when you get there the dish is actually much higher in calories.
Perhaps you eat all your food, and still feel hungry, so decide to give yourself some leeway and go a little over.
Or maybe the opposite happens – you sit there and night just feeling stuffed, and don’t want to force down anything extra, so finish the day under your targets.
Whatever the case may be, it isn’t the end of the world.
Here are my top tips for what to do when you miss your macros:
We’ll tackle going over your numbers first.
1. Ease Back the Next Day
There’s nothing wrong with reducing your calorie intake slightly the next day.
Provided you don’t get into the habit of doing this, and hitting different numbers seven days a week, you’re going to be okay if the weekly calories and macros still come in the same.
Say for instance you overshot by 25 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fat, simply take these off your targets for the next day.
If you went massively over, then reducing by the correct amount over two days might make more sense. So if you indulged in an extra piece of pie at 60 grams of carbs and 30 grams of fat, lower your carbs and fat by 30 and 15 grams for each of the next two days, or by 20 and 10 the next three days.
2. Add Cardio
You don’t want to get into the habit of seeing cardio as a punishment for over-eating, but every now and again you can justify some extra food with a bit more activity.
Personally I’d favour adding an extra short HIIT session, by warming up for a few minutes, knocking out four to eight 15-second intervals with a minute or two between each, then cooling down for two to three minutes.
You could go for 20 to 30 minutes steady state though, or even add in some low-intensity activity such as walking.
3. Take Out Re-Feeds
Are you having re-feeds or high-carb days?
If so, remove your next one or two and class your accidental high day as your re-feed.
This means you don’t have to drastically slash macros, but does help to reinstate your deficit.
4. Accept it and Move On
Don’t beat yourself up about a lack of accountability.
We’re all human, and you can’t be expected to be perfect all the time. If it was a case that you had a major binge, then trying to rectify this by slashing calories the next few days could actually do more harm than good.
Provided you’re not a few weeks out from a contest, and the binge was a one-off, you can likely write it off, use it as a learning experience and move on without worry.
How about if you go under your macros?
It may sound crazy to those on a low-calorie diet, but when bulking or reverse dieting, there will be times when you just can’t stomach more food.
Here’s what you need to do:
5. Add Calories Tomorrow
In the same way you deducted calories for an over-shoot, you can add them if you go under.
This is easier to do than having to lower calories, as an extra bowl of ice cream, a few slices of bread, or every IIFYM-er’s favourite – the Pop Tart – could be added to tomorrow’s macros.
6. Drink Your Macros
Full up and can’t eat any more?
You can get protein in liquid form with a shake, add fats with oils, or drink carbs from fruit juice.
Better still, make a big smoothie with some whey protein, full-fat milk, almond oil or peanut butter, a banana, and coconut milk or water, and you’ve got some easy calories that won’t make you too stuffed.
7. Consider Your Food Choices
Perhaps you’re trying to eat too clean?
Being healthy is great, but 400 grams of carbs from oats, broccoli, sweet potato and whole-wheat pasta will fill you up a lot more than 200 carbs from “clean” sources and 200 from junk.
If going under your macros is a consistent problem, look to eat a little more junk.
8. Reduce Activity
Struggling to eat enough and still doing cardio?
Then cut it!
Cardio is great for keeping you fit and healthy, but it’s a high calorie-burner, and can rob you of precious energy and nutrients that could be put towards building muscle.
Eliminate or at least reduce your cardio, and you can potentially lower your macros slightly, making it easier to stay on track and gain muscle.
9. Look for Balance
Don’t expect to be perfect all the time, but aim for 90% consistency or higher with your macros.
If you’re regularly missing them, take a look at your diet, your training schedule and your food choices to see if there’s anything you can change to make it easier.