Flexible Dieting: Weekly Calories vs Daily
When I started taking into account what I was eating every day, I learned at a staggering rate about the nutritional profiles of the foods I ate as well as developed a much clearer understanding of what I should be consuming on a daily basis.
(For my article about tracking please see http://ohmic.com/dont-need-meal-plan/)
The knowledge I gained thru tracking has allowed me to efficiently hit my health, fitness and aesthetic goals however along the way I also realized how tough it was to stay on track when your calorie goals are measured one day at a time.
Tracking calories is one thing, but staying on track to achieve a specific goal, whether it be weight loss, weight gain or maintenance can be extremely difficult without accountability. I found myself tracking my calories but nothing stopped me from routinely going over, or under, with tomorrow being the justification; I wasn’t holding myself accountable.
And the fact my daily intake was identical from one day to the other meant I’d lose sight of my goals; days turned into weeks, weeks into months. At a certain point the lack of flexibility would get to me and I’d fall off the wagon.
Eating the exact same amount every day was difficult because sometimes I wanted to eat less and others I wanted to eat more. Not listening to my body and focusing on the target created an inner battle. That’s until I realized I could budget calories on a weekly basis rather than daily.
The Solution: Weekly tracking vs daily
I don’t want to take credit for this discovery because I saw more than a couple of videos that demonstrated the effectiveness of weekly goal budgeting. I do however want to share it with you because it’s made losing (and gaining) weight much more digestible and has become one of the most powerful tools in my arsenal.
The basic logic is if I’m eating at a calorie deficit to lose weight and I’m consuming 2000 calories/day, then that’s 14,000 calories/week. By simply looking at the big weekly number I can budget in 1,600/day Monday-Thursday to be able to eat 2,500/day Friday-Sunday, or 2,000/day on Friday and Saturday to eat 3,600 on Sunday. As long as I hit 14,000 calories by the end of the week, it’s a successful week!
Any combination can work, as long the weekly goal is met, whether it’s losing or gaining weight. I know 2,000 calories/day will allow me to lose around 1lb/week, so 8 weeks would be 8 lbs and 20 weeks would be 20 lbs.
The weekly budgeting allows me to listen to how my body’s feeling and so I eat accordingly; if I’m not particularly hungry one day I won’t force myself, but when I want to gorge, I will (within reason of course).
Protein + Fat
The flexibility makes life much easier but I still like to make sure I hit my daily protein and fat intake targets. These macronutrients are essential for hormonal health, our metabolism and to build and repair muscle, among other things.
Am I ignoring carbs? C’mon, don’t tell me you’ve ever had to struggle getting your carbs in, I know I haven’t! But on the low calorie days and in general, I always make an effort to get my greens in because of their rich source of micronutrients.
Macros (macronutrients: protein, carbs, fats)
Just like calorie budgeting, weekly macro budgets can be set as well. If you were a little low on protein a few days or really went overboard on fats on others, then using the same logic you can adjust so by the end of the week your macros fall in line and your goals remain unscathed!
After say 4 or 5 weeks of successful budgeting (in this case at a deficit), I like to reward myself with a week at calorie maintenance. So instead of 2,000/calories per day I’ll have 2,500, for a weekly total of 17,500 calories. It’s a nice reward and using the same weekly tracking method I can eat a lot more and not gain a single pound. Then I’m ready and motivated to tackle another 4-5 weeks!
Weekly tracking has really helped me hit my goals without ever feeling like I was on a strict diet. The flexibility has allowed me to budget for big, food-rich events and easily plan and adjust accordingly. Listening to my body has made the process extremely intuitive and as long as the weekly goal is met, then it’s just another successful week to be proud of!
Let me know if you found this helpful!