Perhaps the most concerning misconception in the world of healthy eating is that to get fit, you’ve got to eat less.
We hear harrowing stories of people restricting themselves to ridiculously-low daily calorie intakes, banishing carbs and existing on kale salad.
Madalin Frodsham‘s viral before and after picture is the proof we all need that strict calorie counting can not only be dangerous, but totally ineffective.
Let’s just preface this by saying no, I did not have an ED. When I was eating 800 calories a day, I thought I was healthy. I was eating healthy food, but hardly any macronutrients. I was curious to find out what my macros were like before I actually started counting my macros, so I entered my old foods into @myfitnesspal to find out. I was quiet astonished to see how little protein and carbs I was eating. 800 calories seems absurdly low as now I need minimum 1500 calories to be full, but at the time 800 calories was keeping me full because that’s what my body was used to. After a while though, salad simply wasn’t cutting it, and for all the restrictions I was placing on my diet, I simply wasn’t seeing the results I had anticipated. So I got in touch with a PT and nutritional coach and got my macros sorted. When he first told me to eat 50% carbs I nearly died! I was eating about 10% carbs before and could not fathom how 50% carbs would not make me fat. I also freaked out at all the calories. I’ve been keeping an excel spreadsheet and in the first week of being on macros my average calories for the week was a little over 1000. I remember how hard I struggled to actually eat the size of my meals. I would just put my lunch next to my desk and eat it over the course of 3 hours as I couldn’t eat it in one sitting! Now my stomach can take way more and is much happier! In the second week I was averaging 1600 calories a day! It didn’t take long for my body to catch up. A part of me may always have that mindset that relates not eating with weight loss and “being good today”. Sometimes I may forget to eat lunch just because I got busy and for a second I will revert back to old thinking, and think “ohh, I’ve done really well today and haven’t eaten much at all.” That’s why I love tracking my macros. It will tell me “Maddy, you need to eat more. Go eat 3 potatoes”. And I’ll pat myself on the back for being healthy and doing really good today! If you’re under feeding yourself in an effort to lose weight, don’t do what I did for so long. Don’t waste your time eating salad when you could be eating sweet potatoes and banana pancakes. Eat more and get fit. It actually works ????????
In an Instagram post, Frodsham revealed that she used to consume just 800 calories a day – and considered herself healthy.
“I was eating healthy food, but hardly any macronutrients…. 800 calories seems absurdly low as now I need minimum 1500 calories to be full, but at the time 800 calories was keeping me full because that’s what my body was used to,” she wrote.
“After a while though, salad simply wasn’t cutting it, and for all the restrictions I was placing on my diet, I simply wasn’t seeing the results I had anticipated.”
Watch: A delicious quinoa recipe to try. Post continues after video.
The 27 year old then went to a personal trainer and nutritional coach to learn about macronutrients, the actual make up of calories. Macros are divided into three groups – carbohydrates, fat and protein.
The coach advised a major overhaul of her diet.
“When he first told me to eat 50 per cent carbs I nearly died! I was eating about 10 per cent carbs before and could not fathom how 50 per cent of carbs would not make me fat. I also freaked out at all the calories,” she wrote.
The average recommended break down is usually 20 per cent protein, 50 per cent carbohydrates and 30 per cent fat.
Carbohydrates provide 16 kilojoules per gram, protein provides 17 kilojoules per gram and fat provides 37 kilojoules per gram. (Post continues after gallery.)
Documenting the process, she says at first her body struggled to adapt to the bigger meals.
“Now my stomach can take way more and is much happier! In the second week I was averaging 1600 calories a day! It didn’t take long for my body to catch up,” she wrote.
Now focusing on the nutritional content of food and eating 1800 calories a day, there are still days when that old frame of mind creeps in, but she reminds herself that it’s about the kind of calories she eats, not the numbers.
A typical day on a plate for her looks like:
Breakfast: Protein shake with a banana and oats.
Lunch: Low fat creamy chicken, creole chicken or lemon chicken (I’m a bit chicken obsessed!) with quinoa or sweet potato and steamed veggies.
Snack: Oat and applesauce muffin or a sweet potato and zucchini brownie with strawberries and dark chocolate.
Dinner: Wholemeal pasta with bolognese, a whole wheat quesadilla, vegetable fritters or lentil curry with naan bread.
“That’s why I love tracking my macros. It will tell me ‘Maddy, you need to eat more. Go eat three potatoes. And I’ll pat myself on the back for being healthy and doing really good today,” she wrote.
“If you’re under feeding yourself in an effort to lose weight, don’t do what I did for so long. Don’t waste your time eating salad when you could be eating sweet potatoes and banana pancakes. Eat more and get fit. It actually works.”
Matching with my @womensbest today ???????????? don’t let the smile fool you though, I was pretty useless through BBG abs today. I’m not motivated and on a high all the time! I dragged myself out of bed because I hate to miss Mondays, it puts me off balance for the week. I did the workout though and got through all the circuits in the end. I had to take a lot more pauses and really had to psyche myself up in between each exercise ???? I had the Olympics on in the background which is inspiring but I just wanted to stop and watch ahaha. Nothing like watching amazing athletes whilst sitting on your butt eating crap right?! It would have been easy to skip my workout today but I always just make myself show up. I try and give my ????% in each workout that I do but sometimes just turning up deserves a pat on the back ???????? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Some days you’ll binge on junk food, other days you’ll miss your workouts, other mornings you might end up hungover! Don’t think this means it’s all over. Don’t guilt yourself about an overindulgent weekend. Accept it, and move forward! Be proud of your small achievements (GUYS I CAN DO A PUSH-UP!) and acknowledge what you need to work harder on. This isn’t a quick fix solution to lose weight. This is a way of living. I don’t want to just keep this up until I finish the second round of BBG. I want to keep doing this my whole life. It has to be sustainable. You have to enjoy it and make it work for you. I love sleeping in with my boyfriend on a lazy Sunday, I love frozen coke and popcorn at the movies and I love a cheeky espresso martini! So don’t feel bad about enjoying the things you love about your life, everything can be done and enjoyed in moderation. I’ve learnt to love working out in the morning (though not today! Haha) I love feeling organised and prepping my lunch for the week, I love researching and baking new healthy recipes and I love all the amazing women I’ve met on this journey! Keep going and be kind to yourself, you deserve it ???????????? #womensbest
Since sharing the image yesterday, it’s been liked over 13,000 times, with many comments stating they were unaware of the truth about calorie counting.
However, while 90 per cent of responses have been positive, there have been a few negative comments.
“There’s always going to be a few people that try and bring you down, with the most negative comments being that 1. You looked better before or 2. You don’t look any different at all. I’ve heard both so many times that it doesn’t bother me,” she told Mamamia.
“I’ve had a few people comment that to be on 800 calories day, I MUST have had an eating disorder. This comment is probably the most hurtful as it’s so untrue. I genuinely thought I was healthy when I was eating 800 calories a day, I was just uneducated.”
Looking at macros rather than just calories is a good way to remember that every food (yes, especially carbs!) have a valuable place in your diet.
But as with any diet or food plan, it’s important to not get carried away with obsessively counting any aspect of your food to the point that it replaces the joy of eating.
Everyone has different needs and body reacts in different ways. To find out what’s best for you, consult an expert who can put you on the right path.