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Is it true that vegetables are a “free food” and don’t need to be tracked?
Do I count vegetables in my macros or are they free calories?
Out of the 200 emails, we get every day, this question is asked probably 5 times. Having helped over 16k clients lose weight, I can’t even count the number of times this fat burning question comes up.
It’s a great question and the answer is a complicated one but can be summed up by answering a simple question. What do you do with the vegetables, are the truly a free food?
Do you dress them up in little astronaut suits then parade them around pretending they are little space aliens looking for a new planet to occupy or do you eat them? If you eat your vegetables, then the answer is simply yes, you should count them in your daily macros.
Intrigued? Read on friend. Read on.
Should You Track Vegetables And Fruit With IIFYM?
You’ve already received your macros from our Macro Calculator and you’ve probably heard that you really can’t get enough vegetables while on a weight loss program. Fruit and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, rich in antioxidants, loaded with fiber, and contain hardly any calories. Plus, they can be eaten and prepared in so many different ways, there’s really no reason to ever get bored of them. What’s not to love? This is where so many get the idea they can be a “free food”.
On the fruit side of things, these foods are also full of antioxidants and many deemed ‘superfoods’ because of their sky-high nutritional profile. They do contain natural fruit sugars, but since Mother Nature created these, they are generally much more acceptable to eat in the eyes of the general population (and the sugar damning media).
But this still leaves the question; Do I count vegetables towards my weight loss macros?
The answer, most often, is a resounding yes, you should count your vegetables when following a weight loss program. Just because fruit and veggies can be great for your health, doesn’t mean they cannot wreck your fat loss diet!
This is one of the biggest things we try to get our clients to understand. Health food (or healthy food) still has calories, and calories add up, and can most certainly cause weight gain. This is why it is uber important that you log every single thing you eat every day. Vegetables included! Stop the “free food” madness!
As with everything related to IIFYM and your diet plan, the key is first knowing how many daily calories your body requires to function (your TDEE). Then subtracting the right amount of calories from that number to create your fat loss deficit. This is one of the MANY strategies we do for our clients that follow our Custom Macro Blueprint. Those that follow our simple instructions not only lose weight and burn fat at an alarming rate, but they do so while eating the foods they love and don’t even feel like they on a diet plan!
Here’s what you need to know about IIFYM, macros & tracking vegetables for weight loss
Precise macro tracking is key to sustainable weight loss results!
So if you are just using the IIFYM diet plan to get healthier and to ensure that you are eating the right balance of foods, you may not need to be too strict with yourself and track every single vegetable that passes your lips. If you happen to eat two cups of spinach and estimate it at only one cup, no big deal. This will only be a couple calories out.
But, if you are hoping to see maximum results and truly want to take your diet to the limit, you must track everything. It’s perfectly possible for people to eat 100-200 calories per day full of vegetables if they have a hearty appetite and really enjoy these types of foods. Which is why the idea of “free food” can be detrimental to your weight loss progress.
If you aren’t accounting for the veggies you eat, at the end of the week, you may not see your desired rate of weight loss achieved and this could largely be why. The more accurate you are with your tracking, the more you can guarantee that you see the weight loss results you’re looking for. We see this time and time again with our clients. Those that are accurate with tracking, burn the most fat in the least amount of time.
Too Much Fiber, Can Cause Problems
Another big reason you may want to focus on tracking your fruits and vegetables is due to them being a high-fiber food. Which is great… in moderation.
If you take your fiber intake from say 10 grams per day all the way up to 30 or more, you can rest assured it’s going to cause some stomach related issues. You’ll feel bloated, uncomfortable, and maybe even suffer a cause of serious diarrhea.
What you need to do is increase your fiber intake in a slow and steady fashion. If you are tracking your macros, this is going to be that much easier to do.
You’ll also be more aware of how quickly it will add up and which fruits and vegetables are the highest in total fiber content. This can be helpful for both keeping your fiber intake in check while also helping you learn how to boost your fiber should you need to into the future.
Fruit Sugar Still Impacts Blood Glucose
Another reason to track especially your fruits due to the sugar found in fruit which will still influence your blood glucose levels. Some people mistakenly believe that because all fruit is natural, it’s perfectly fine to eat in abundance.
While you should be taking in some fruit on a daily basis unless you are on a very strict low-carb diet plan, the fact is that sugar is sugar and if you eat too much of it, it can still cause a problem.
Especially if you are someone who is suffering from diabetes or who is concerned about the condition, you’ll want to be watching your fruit intake closely.
Managing sugar is key to diabetes, so fruit sugars must be monitored very closely and tracked super accurately. Another very important consideration we have to be mindful of when working with our clients.
Diabetes is no joke and can be deadly! With the right coach to help you navigate your IIFYM diet plan, you will have a much better go at dieting for fat loss.
Likewise, different fruits do have varying sugar contents themselves so by tracking this in your planner as you use your IIFYM diet plan, you can come to learn which fruits are the best to keep your overall sugar intake in check.
If you aren’t tracking, you may never know this information unless you decide to do the research on the fruits themselves.
How To Track Macros and Vegetables for Weight Loss
So now that you know why you should be tracking your fruits and vegetables with your diet plan, the next question that may come up is how to track them properly.
You may have heard some people say that since they contain so much dietary fiber, you don’t track them like you would other carbohydrates. That 10 grams of carbs from broccoli say is much different than 10 grams of carbs from brown rice.
The answer to this is that it is and it isn’t. What you need to remember is that the calories in fiber are not fully absorbed like calories in non-fiber carbs.
Generally speaking, you can account for about 2 calories per gram of fiber, rather than the 4 calories you get from a typical gram of carbs.
In essence, if you really wanted to get precise about it, what you would need to do if you were tracking this way is account for the fiber carbs separately from the regular carbs, another service we offer our clients that follow our Custom Macro Blueprint.
For instance, if your serving of vegetables in question had 10 grams of carbs and 6 of those were fiber, this essentially means that the fiber carbs would account for about 3 grams of carbs (since there are 4 calories per gram and fiber only has 2) and then you have the remaining 4 grams of carbs left over. This means that serving of vegetables would be counted as 7 grams of carbs towards your daily total.
Now, this is quite complicated and few people need to take it to this extreme. Instead, just count the carbs and call it a day. Any extra boost you get from having those fiber carbs in there will just help keep you leaner in the long run.
Still confused? Click here to hire an IIFYM Coach to design a Custom Macro Blueprint for you.
I can pretty much sum up this entire article in one short blurb:
There are only 3 reasons not to count vegetables:
1. You don’t eat any
2. You want an excuse to eat as much as you of something and hope there is no consequence.
3. You don’t care about being accurate with your food tracking.
End of story!