You’re following a macro-based nutritional protocol. You get to the end of the day and realize you’ve gone over on your macros for the day. Perhaps you didn’t prep well. Maybe you didn’t take the time to play macro tetris in advance. You may have opted for some foods that were more calorically dense, or had a big spike in hunger at the end of the night. Regardless of the reason, you find that you ate more than your macros, and aren’t sure where to go from here.
I get this question often by clients, and before I respond, I consider 2 things:
1. How’s your mindset?
2. What are your goals?
I often work with clients who struggle with mindset related issues around food and training. Years have been spent labeling food, obsessing about intake, and believing that food has to be earned. If you feel you have to undo a bad day, or feelings like guilt or shame become overwhelming after one off weekend, it’s probably best for your mindset to just get back to your plan ASAP. One off day won’t do a damn thing, but a spiral of shame can have an impact.
Our goal is to move away from things that don’t serve us, especially situations that instill the idea that we can’t be trusted with food or have to offset what was done. Let quality of life matter, know one day in a surplus is not catastrophic, and try to decrease power around food. Beliefs that you have to be perfect, or that you must weigh less to matter more aren’t true. And they won’t be fixed by dropping your calories for a day because you hate yourself for going over. So if you ate more than your macros and are asking, “now what”, the right question might actually be “so what?”. Let it go and move on.
With that said, I also have several clients who can see nutrition logically and don’t tie emotion to an off day. Some of these clients haven’t had to deal with mindset-related issues, while others have but spent a significant amount of time creating cognitive change and overcoming them. For those clients who also have a goal of fat loss we can look at nutrition a lot like a budget. If we consider weekly calories over daily calories we can start to give ourselves some wiggle room. Spend all of your budget on a Friday and Saturday? Be prepared for your ass to be broke the rest of the week. Maybe you’re cool with that but maybe you’re not, and then it’s a lesson learned to dial things in.
If your mindset is solid, maybe you can play with intake by lowering it after a high day. But don’t minimize the roles food quality, consistency and time play in your progress. Oh, and don’t use it as an excuse to eat like an asshole.
As with many nutrition questions, the answer is “it depends”. This is why working with a coach is so helpful- you deserve someone to help you explore the right choice for you.