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The Power of Averages 🧮

nutrition Sep 06, 2022

I never thought I would actually get any use out of my Maths degree, but I actually think looking at average calories for the week/month/year is one of the biggest factors of success I’ve had with myself and my clients’ body composition.


(Actually, averages are more like Junior Cert Maths, but anyway…)


I used to give my clients calorie and macro goals to put into MyFitnessPal.


I got the same from my coach.


I used to see each day as a pass or a fail.


Because I saw each day as a ‘fresh start’ - it meant that if I went over my calories for the day, I would just keep going and not track - as if those calories didn’t actually count.


It all changed when I was working with a client who was working night shifts.


She would have days where she could be awake for most of the day and night, and other days where she was asleep most of the day and night.


Having a daily target didn’t make sense for her because some days she would be starving and other days she wouldn’t have time to eat her calorie allowance.


So I opened up Google Sheets and set up a little table to give her a weekly allowance rather than a daily allowance.


This very easily allowed us to view a daily average too.


And hence the very first ‘OH Fitness Furnace Tracker’ was born.


Over the years, we have made it a little prettier and more practical, but the benefits stay the same:


It allows for consistency over perfection.


Take this example where the client’s target is 2500 *average* daily calories.


In the first example, you can see they are nailing it each day on plenty of calories, but Saturday comes along and somebody buys them their favourite donuts which resulted in an extra 700 calories than planned. 


But look at the average. It only rises by 100 to give a daily average of 2600 for the week. A relatively small change in the grand scheme of things.


The client doesn’t need to reduce calories the next day or implement any restriction to “make up for it”. There will be less negative self-talk too.


In this second example, the client knows that they have a big weekend coming up and actually plans their calories in advance to have 3000 calories Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They then worked backwards to use the rest of their allowance throughout the week.


As they went through the week, they replaced the planned calories with what they actually had, and the daily average still came in under 2500.


No guilt. No restriction. No “starting again on Monday”.


Just to note - I usually advise against dropping calories too low on any day as this can lead to being too hungry to actually stick to the plan. Plus we need to be aware that saving calories for alcohol etc means the opportunity cost of using those calories for nutrient dense food.


Sometimes it can feel “too good to be true” but when my clients see the changes in measurements alongside these averages, they start to learn to trust what their body can handle while being in a deficit.


I am sick of seeing people making themselves miserable just to change their body shape, when it can be done so much easier.


If you need help with this - The Furnace is currently on sale at €69 per month for 3 months. 


Feel free to reply if you have any questions or click below to get started!


Thanks for reading,


Siobhan “Always above average (cals!)” O’Hagan

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