If you’re familiar to iifym, then you may have heard the term “pov macros”
This pretty much means that you don’t have a lot of calories each day – you may be on comp prep, or at the start of a reverse diet to increase your metabolic capacity. I know before I got on to flexible dieting I was guilty of consuming too fewer cals so when you haven’t got much room to move, you need foods that are lower in calories so you get more of it!
There are a heap of foods that allow you to get more “bang for your buck” so during a comp prep in particular if you have come down from higher fats and carbs, then it can be useful having some of these foods up your sleeve.
Carbs would probably the biggest one people struggle with if/when they get reduced. Most vegetables are pretty low in carbs, so they are always good for volume. Broccoli, green beans, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, carrot, cabbage, spinach, silverbeet onion, cauliflower and asparagus etc are all low in carb content (roughly 5g or less per 100g), so you could easily have a huge plate of this, and it wouldn’t eat in to too much of your carb allowance. Salad vegetables like tomato, cucumber, radish, and lettuce are the same, all under 5g carbs per 100g. It can be harder to feel full off just salad vegetables though.
Pumpkin, peas and beetroot are a little higher between 5-10g of carbs per 100g. And then things like potatoes, parsnips and corn are higher again, around 10g – 20g carbs with some types of potato being at the higher end of that, or just over. It also depends on how you cook it!
Steaming and stir-frying are pretty low fat ways to cook - stir-frying in a non-stick pan and without adding oil. Soy sauce with a little bit of a honey is a great way to add flavour to veges, and also using garlic/onion, spices and herbs will add a tonne of flavour without having to add fat.
Baking is another good way of cooking veges (especially potato, parsnip, beetroot and pumpkin) as you can do this without adding fat, and just add salt and pepper and/or spices. Spray cans of oil are handy to have if you do want to use some fat for cooking, but only a little bit.
Fats – fats can also get dropped during comp prep, and it may be hard to adjust to if you’re used to having a decent amount each day. Protein amount would typically stay about the same but if you’ve been used to having steak for dinner, and/or eggs for breakfast and find that your fat has dropped then you may need to look at ways to reduce fat in other meals or look at alternatives some days.
Egg white omelettes as boring as they sound, are actually not that bad if you add a yolk, some veges, onion, and herbs/spices. If you whisk up the egg whites first (just to soft peak otherwise you get lumps when you add to the yolk), then fold in to the yolk this also makes it “bigger” even though when you whisk its just adding air… If i cook them this way I usually finish in the oven first before folding over, so it stays nice and fluffy. Sometimes just little tricks like this can make a big difference! Loading up an omelette with spinach, tomato, zucchini etc and even a little bit of cheese can turn this in to a decent sized meal.
Speaking of cheese, if you use the finer grater part (small side) you can make a half portion seem like a lot more than it is! This is great for when I make pizza, or have cheese on my pasta or burgers.
Another cheat for cheesy deliciousness is to use a combination of cream cheese and cottage cheese. This makes it higher in protein, but without the extra fat and it still tastes like cream cheese. (Adding sour cream to this combo as well is also a trick I use for some of the cheese sauce in a lasagne.)
When it comes to butter, there is a 50% fat butter that I haven’t tried, but I do have it on good authority that it tastes pretty good, so is worth using so you can have more of it. When it comes to other spreads though especially oil based and marge though I would steer clear personally (unless you like it for some reason…)
Low fat yoghurts are popular during comp preps as well (chobani) and also aeroplane jelly. They have sugar free options, which don’t take much to fit in. BCAA jelly is also handy – simply make jelly using BCAAS (Genetix Nutrition Revive), water and gelatine. Also, BCAA slushys are pretty good in summer too – just crush ice in a blender and add a mix of water and GN Revive.
There are a number of lower fat, or higher protein ice-creams on the market too – Skinny cow brand I have heard is good, much less fat than normal ice-cream but still tastes nice. And Whey Whip (you can get from Nutrition Warehouse) is a protein ice-cream I have tried, much easier to fit in than a normal ice-cream and flavour is really good. There is a new burnt caramel flavour now too!
It seems to be common for people to crave sweet things, especially at night. One other thing I recommend trying, is flavoured herbal tea. They come in heaps of different flavours, lots of fruity ones, and also having something hot can help satisfy that feeling of hunger.
Desperate times can also call for sugarfree gum (last, last resort if you’re really needing something and have absolutely NOTHING left) having too much of this can cause problems though. Same with sugarfree lollies - desperate times, and I mean desperate! Sometimes having artificial sweeteners wont satisfy a craving for sugar anyway so in some instances you could be better off going for something like honey, or fruit instead although this may take you slightly over.
For more savoury foods, if you are sick of eating vegetables all the time, then there is a low carb bread – Well Being brand (green pack, you can get from Coles) “Lower Carb Bread” has 21.7C for 2 slices. Wattle Farms wraps are around the same, about 19C per wrap (sourdough, wholegrain and lite-white) with the lite-white one having a little more fibre (that and the sourdough ones also hold together better than the wholegrain). I used to use these for lunch, and load up with some lettuce/tomato/cucumber/chicken – they’re small, but at least having bread or a wrap can seem more substantial than just veges or salad.
Wholegrain pasta I found had the lowest amount of carbs per 100g (we’re not talking much, about 5g less carbs per 100g, BUT every bit helps!) Rice – wild rice seemed to be a little lower, I have also heard of people making “cauliflower rice” I haven’t tried this though and am not sure I would… Slim pasta I tried once, I was not a fan but some people seem to like it. Its made from a vegetable, so is extremely low in cals and carbs. I have seen people make “pasta” from zucchinis too but again, like the cauliflower rice we are talking serious pov macros to be doing this!
It does pay to check the nutritional labels (usually the 100g part is easiest to look at first to get a quick idea). Sometimes a different brand will have a few less grams of carbs/fats etc not a big difference, but this can add up, especially for a couple of different foods over the whole day!