I’ve been testing out new “healthy pumpkin pie” recipes trying to come up with a good diet/IIFYM friendly option and you know what I realized? Healthy pumpkin pie sucks. It just doesn’t compare. So instead I decided to write about how to continue counting macros during the holidays.
Scroll down for a sample full day of eating with a slice of pumpkin pie worked in!
The fact of the matter is that most of us want two things: we want to enjoy our favorite foods and we want to hit our fitness goals. Most people think that these are mutually exclusive, but they are not. You can DEFINITELY do both at the same time. That’s what IIFYM is all about.
Now, not everyone wants to be counting macros and if that’s you then check out our general tips for sticking to your diet during the holidays. BUT, if you’re team IIFYM and are not overwhelmed by the idea of tracking your food intake, then please continue reading!
During the holiday season, baked goods, candies, and social get togethers are everywhere. It is so difficult to lose weight during this time. In fact, most people tend to put on weight with a goal to hit the gym & diet hard in the new year. This can be a major setback for those of us with big health & fitness goals.
The beauty of IIFYM is that if you can fit your favorite “treat” into your allotted macros for the day you can still continue to make progress. But, what happens if your macros aren’t high enough to allow any wiggle room?
Here are your options:
Jump up to maintenance macros- if you’re in a deficit, increase your calories to maintenance for the next 3 months. Keep your protein goal the same, but increase your carbs and/or your fats. You may not lose any weight, but you also won’t gain anything either. This means you won’t have to start the new year playing catch up. Also, diet breaks are always a nice change of pace.
Bulk- So many people in the IIFYM community like to “bulk” during the holiday season. A bulk is when you consume a surplus of calories combined with heavy lifting with the goal of building muscle. Yes, with muscle gain, comes fat gain, but it will be purposeful fat gain. Also, if you stick to a lean bulk, the fat gain will be minimal. I love this article on bulking, it offers a great analogy that makes it easy to understand.
Just focus on protein- Most unhealthy foods are higher in fats. For me, I never have enough fats to justify eating unhealthy foods. There’s just not enough wiggle room in my macros. If you don’t want to change your calories, you could just focus on hitting your protein goal and not worry about carbs or fats. Just make sure you don’t go over your total calories. You will still make progress. It may not be as effective as tracking ALL your macros, but it will still be effective.
Give yourself a refeed day- I go into more detail on refeed days here, but basically you’re adding in more calories on these days mainly in the form of carbs.
Now that we’ve gone over the basic strategies of IIFYM that you can use, let’s talk about budgeting in those treats 😉
Here are some tips we like to follow during the holidays (and anytime we want to add in a treat):
Stay on top of your workouts. Your macros are calculated with your workouts in mind. If you start skipping days, you will gain weight unless you adjust your macros accordingly.
Don’t drink your calories. Calories in drinks add up so quickly. It’s just not worth it. Water will be your best friend.
Never cheat twice. In a day. In a row. Meals, snacks, however you want to interpret this rule, it works. Most of the time I will have room for 1 treat. I may technically have room for 2-3 but if I choose this route, it makes my macros really tight for the rest of the day and just harder to hit. If you do end up “cheating” more than once in a day, protein shakes are your best friend. They are typically low in carbs & fats making them super macro friendly. We love vegan protein shakes.
Plan in advance. If you know you’re going to go out to eat for dinner, pre-enter that meal into MyFitnessPal at the start of the day so you know what you have left to work with for your other meals. If eating out, I will save plenty of fats & carbs for that meal. This usually means breakfasts consisting of egg whites and protein shake lunches. This is a great day to load up on the veggies. Focus on the high volume foods so that you’re not starving all day. This is a typical breakfast for me when I’m trying to stay “low carb.” You might be surprised to find out that 1 serving of potatoes actually has less carbs than a piece of toast!
Spread it out. Let’s say you’re gearing up for a big splurge. Maybe a 2-3000 calorie splurge. There’s no way to fit that into your macros, unless you want to go without eating all day. One option a lot of IIFYMers will do is to spread those extra calories out throughout the week. This means the 4-5 days leading up to the cheat day, you will eat a couple hundred calories less each day and “save” those calories for your cheat day. Our bodies don’t necessary work on a 24 hour clock like we do. Some people even look at their macros for the week instead of daily. Do keep in mind, you will most likely gain water weight the day after your “cheat day.” Just remember it’s water weight from all the extra carbs. In fact, maybe even wait a few days before hopping on the scale again.
Watch your portion size. One serving of potato chips is just as satisfying as 3 servings. The difference? 1 serving will almost always fit in your macros, but 3 might not. I personally think that the problem during the holidays isn’t all the delicious food, it’s the amount of it we choose to eat. If you have a hard time eye-balling measurements when you’re out and about consider using a pocket sized food scale. Yes, they do make those! So cute and perfect for on-the-go. They also make great stocking stuffers 😉
Let’s talk pumpkin pie.
Okay, so since pumpkin pie inspired this post, I’m going to give you a sample day of how I might fit this in. First off, let’s take a look at the macros. I love Costco’s pumpkin pie, so I will use the nutrition facts for theirs.
This plus the macros for 2 servings of Reddiwip equals 15 g fat, 48 g carbs, and 5.2 g protein.
That’s actually not terrible. It’s a little carb heavy.
The first thing I would do is log this into MyFitnessPal. I am currently eating maintenance calories, so I have quite a bit of carbs to work with. But, let’s pretend I didn’t.
My day would probably be something like this:
Breakfast: 1 egg, 3 egg whites, 1 serving cubed potatoes & 1 serving sugar free ketchup.
Snack: apple slices
Lunch: Blackened chicken salad without the beans (to help save carbs).
Snack: Protein shake
Dinner: 4 oz turkey breast, herb mashed potatoes mixed with pureed cauliflower (for volume), turkey gravy, & steamed veggies.
Dessert: ONE slice pumpkin pie with 2 servings whipped cream.
If I had any extra carbs left, I would probably fill them with fruit. As you can see, it’s not a bad food day. The pumpkin pie fits and leaves me with plenty of room for other food.
What I love about tracking is that it eliminates guilt. It’s easy to feel guilty for indulging in this or that. But when you are aware of the macros you realize that as long as you watch your portion size (or limit yourself to 1 serving), it won’t hinder your progress.
A lot of times we just assume that our indulgence put us way over our calorie goal, when in fact it usually doesn’t.
Follow these simple tips and keep hitting your macros, even during the holidays!