This spring I’m committing myself to a 12-week cut – a deficit of calories while focusing on my macronutrient goals – sometimes referred to as Flexible Dieting or IIFMM (If It Fits My Macros). I’ve calculated my macronutirents based on wanting to cut unwanted fat while also maintaining muscle and strenght. I used the formula, so to speak, found on Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting to calculate my caloric intake and how many protein, carbs, and fats I’ll need to consume to reach my goal.
I ended up starting my cut about two weeks because I booked a spring break trip to Los Angeles in April so technically my cut is two 6-week cuts. This is the first time I’m doing a cut this way and so far I’ve been surprised with results I’ve seen after only the first few weeks. During my previous cuts, I’ve leaned more towards removing carbs from my diet, but after doing research on maintaining muscle and strength while cutting fat, I discovered Flexible Dieting. Flexible Dieting allows you to calculate how many calories you should be eating based on your exercises and lifestyle. Then you calculate how many macros you can have based on your goal – building muscle, maintaining, fat or weight loss.
I’m a pretty small person – 5’1″ and 110 pounds. My job can be fast pace, but generally I’m sitting at my desk most of the day. My exercises are pretty intense and I can workout around six days a week – I shared my full spring workout program last weekend. All of these are taken into consideration when I calculate my calories and macros goals for my cut:
I’ve been tracking my food on MyFitnessPal this past two weeks and I’m surprised at how quickly I meet my macro goals whiling staying at a caloric deficit and feeling full. Usually by the time I’ve eaten 1200 calories I’ve met my protein and fat macros. That leaves me a little extra wiggle room for carbs in the evening, which I did on purpose so I could have a snack in the evenings. I’m even happy to report that I’ve lost one pound and I’m already seeing some changes in my body composition. I didn’t think I was going to lose any weight during the cut because I’ve rarely lost weight during my previous cuts. Crazy I know, but I think counting macros and Flexible Dieting might be my new favorite thing.
In order to compare how many calories I’ve eaten in the day to what I’ve outputted, I have MyFitnessPal synced with my Fitbit. On my Fitbit dashboard I’m able to see if I’ve burned enough calories to be at a deficit for the day. On an average day, I burn about 1800 calories. On workout days, I usually burn 2000 to 2100 calories. I should mentioned that I have Fitbix Flex which does not measure heart rate, but estimates calories burned on steps per day, steps during active minutes, and age, height, and weight.
THE NUTRITION PLAN
I wanted to create a compiled list of recipes I could choose from during meal preps and cooking during my cut to make everything easy to calculate. Within the plan, I also included the links to recipes for credit and to make it easy to add the recipe to My Fitness Pal, however make sure to edit the recipes once imported. I’ve found that My Fitness Pal can import too many servings if measurements are in front of an ingredient. You can download my plan here.
*Please keep in mind, that the nutritional information on my plan has been calculated by me personally using MyFitnessPal based on individual ingredients and measurements. Any of the calories and macros will vary every time the recipe is prepared*
To store my prepped food, I’ve be using my Easy Lunch Boxes which are both freezer and microwave safe. I was going to purchase some meal prep containers on Amazon, but I’m too worried they’ll be too flimsy to use for a long period of time. I already love the Easy Lunch Boxes so I went ahead a purchased another set. So far, I’ve prepped fish with veggies, crumble skillet dishes, and soups/chilis in larger batches and stored them in the freezer for future use. Recipes like stir fries and salads I’ll continue prepping on Sunday’s and eat them within the week.
To measure my ingredients and snacks, I purchased this food scale on Amazon. Measuring food in grams or ounces is the most accurate way to count calories and macros compared to cups or measuring spoons. At the end of each day, I’ve been going into My Fitness Pal and adding all of my meals for the next day to calculate my calories and macros. Then based on what I’ve inputted I can add in snack or event treats that I can have throughout the day. My work environment often has baked goods and treats, and I’ll still be able to enjoy those every once in a while so long as I know else I’m eating in a day.
What about snacks?
I am one of those people that snacks a lot throughout the day, so I included a list of healthy snacks that can be eaten on the go. I’ve already gotten in the habit of weighing out my almonds by the gram and dividing them into snack size bags so I can easily toss them into my lunch or purse throughout the week. I’ve also created a “snack container” in the kitchen that holds almonds, fruit, rice cakes, oatmeal protein cookies (recipe in the nutrition plan), and so on. This is also something I’d like to implement in the fridge, dividing cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, carrots/veggies, hummus, and cheese sticks so I can easily and quickly pack my lunch.
The idea is to have portioned, healthy snacks ready so I’m not tempted to just grab whatever is in the cupboard.
Drinks & Supplements
This year I started getting more into supplements, including a new protein powder and energy mixes. With the amount of protein I’m aiming to eat, it’s imperative that I’m drinking enough water. On an average day, I’m already drinking at least 64 ounces of water – an active day is usually 80 ounces. The past two weeks I found that I was drinking even more water in order to feel full but also help with the digestion of the added protein. Not being able to digest protein, can lead to feeling tired, groggy, or overall not well and I want to avoid that.
My favorite drink to have with my lunch is sparkling or seltzer water. Some people try and avoid carbonation, even in seltzer water, but hey we all have weaknesses. Seltzer water is one of the few fun parts of my diet and I want to hold on to it, plus it can help will the sensation of satisfactions after eating – I’m OK with that when I’m eating a salad.
For supplements, the one I’ve been enjoying the most is the Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy, Fruit Punch. This mix contains 160mg of caffeine in addition to BCAAs which can promote muscle recovery. I’ve been drinking this in the mornings in place of a cup of coffee which also cuts about 20 calories from my day. This is my first time taking BCAAs so I’m still trying to determine if they’re helping my muscles recover faster. I will say that I didn’t take any after my chest workout this past week and I felt sore longer than the previous week. Could have also been the increase in reps. I’ll update my opinions on BCAAs later.
So far I’m really happy with this nutrition plan and how it fits into my lifestyle. In a few weeks, I’ll post an update on any changes I’ve made or adjusted as I get more into the program.