Some do well with counting macros or calories because it offers a sense of control. Especially in light of all the conflicting advice and agenda-driven bullshit that comes with the diet industry.
Yet it has its drawbacks, from the accuracy of the numbers being used, to that precious control eventually becoming a psychological prison.
I know people who get anxious at the thought of NOT counting, to the point vacations and restaurant meals become stressors instead of stress-relievers.
Another less talked about wrinkle is how focusing on numbers can cut off muscle gains at the knees.
These days someone looking to add muscle might work off of “maintenance calories plus 200 a day.” Some “lean gainers” even try to gain on an extra 100 calories a day.
Not surprisingly older bodybuilders will roll their eyes at this, and with good reason.
The numbers they use are rough estimates at best, and let’s not forget that gaining muscle after the newbie stage is HARD, even described as “the last thing your body wants to do.”
Most intermediates don’t train “enough” to grow (not progressively enough, not frequently or hard enough, or just not smart enough). They also don’t rest or restore enough.
And they often don’t eat enough. Which is why the notion of a hard-training lifter measuring out rice and chicken to the gram or leaving a meal still hungry is so misguided.
When gaining, calculate your numbers but use them as a guideline, even a daily minimum. Nothing more.
So if you’re trying to gain muscle, have hit your macros for the day and are STILL hungry, then eat a little more. And let your OBJECTIVE results over the following weeks or months dictate your adjustments.
This is the opposite of dieting, when numbers should be a daily (or weekly) maximum, and the prevailing attitude being “you’re hungry? Good. You should be. Cause you’re dieting.” #ScrewYourFeelings
This isn’t “bulking up” — it’s simply respecting the complexities of metabolism vs. energy balance and putting your body in the best position to make progress.
So while it’s not bulking up, it’s certainly not “lean gaining your way mediocrity” either.