Stop Undereating: The Case For Tracking Macros

Athlete Daily- nutrition tips

Ever attempt to correct a bad habit? The unlearning process is exhaustingly slow (and maddening when trying to relearn how to snatch properly). But one thing we should unlearn is what we’ve been told about nutrition and fat loss.

We are bombarded with headlines like “Don’t eat carbs, they’ll make you fat.” Don’t eat too much protein, it’s hard on your kidneys and you will damage them.” No wonder people are so confused about how to eat and what to eat.

In simple terms, are you undereating or overeating? If you’re not where you want to be in terms of performance in the gym or body composition, it’s safe to say that how much you’re eating (energy input) isn’t lining up with how much energy you’re expending (energy output).

You probably think you are overeating because you have more fat on your body than you would like, but A LOT of people are under-eating without even knowing it.

It’s not entirely their fault, that’s what we as a society have been taught to do. This often leads to exercise MORE, eating EVEN LESS. And that’s when progress stalls. Performance in the gym is stagnant, weight loss efforts plateau, all because of too little fueling. (And with lots of fantastic meal services out there, you can’t blame it on time.)

Let go of the idea that you have to undereat every day if you’re trying to lose body fat. If your body wants X amount of calories and you consistently feed it less and less, it adjusts. If you add in intense activity (weightlifting, sprinting, CrossFit), it adjusts to that as well.

Adaptation cannot be stopped. For most people this adjustment increases their cortisol response and their body holds onto fat.

It’s not that you can’t go on a cut occasionally, but you can’t continually expect more output with less input.

If you keep restricting your calories with the expectation that you can continue to train and lift as a high level, at some point your body is going to revolt.


Instead of trying to take away food, focus more on using food to fuel your workouts. The better fueled you are, the more you can train. The more you train, the more your work capacity increases, which will increase the amount of fat you can burn by helping you build and maintain lean body mass.

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Can you drive a farther distance with 2 gallons of gas in your car or will a full tank? A full tank of course. Same thing! MORE food = performance in the gym INCREASES = MORE muscle = PRs and BETTER body composition.

As you embrace the idea of putting performance first and fueling yourself properly, you might notice the number on the scale will go up and down periodically and that’s okay.

This always seems to get overlooked, but it’s important to be aware of. Your weight is not a linear progression from Point A to Point B—it changes based upon how much water you drink, how much activity you get, and how much food you eat.

So don’t freak out if you see a slight increase in your weight on a random Tuesday morning.

Tracking macronutrients quantifies just how much you are eating, so that you can make adjustments as needed. If you never track what you eat, you really have no idea of your food intake or energy requirements, so how can you optimize performance or attempt to achieve your goals?

Tracking your macros saves you from those days when you think you’ve eaten enough and feel satisfied, only to find out later you were 1,000 calories short of what you needed; or from thinking you are in an energy deficit when you’re actually overeating.

Moral of the story? More exercise and LESS food isn’t always the answer.

The secret to dieting is to stop dieting. Learn how to fuel yourself properly, watch your performance in the gym increase, and then go from there.