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Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Ever feel like a tired and overly drained work horse whose hooves are about to fall off from constant dieting?

If you're in touch with this emotion (and not a constant Yo-Yo dieter), you may be in your last leg of a CONTEST PREP or ONLINE CHALLENGE.

Let me quickly summarize something for you.

Calories become VERY scarce when in sub-optimal levels of bodyfat. So scarce in fact it is aptly coined as poverty eating!

So what's the link to POV macros?

The term POV (not to be confused with point of view) is short for poverty and refers to a state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount with calories and nutrients. However, this is usually only for a selected period of time.



Ok, so you're probably wondering why on earth would someone be consuming a ghastly amount of low calories?

Perhaps they've read somewhere that in order to lose weight, one needs to only be eating 1200 kcals?

Perhaps they saw a picture of an instagram model with a caption of "on 1200 kcals atm..."

Aside from perhaps the blind and uneducated leading the blind and uneducated, a more plausible explanation may simply be an athlete having undergone a very rigorous and linear program whilst dropping calories over time for 'x' outcome.

In short, Poverty Macros most often applies to individuals whom are in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time.

This includes:

  • Athletes currently on their last Contest Prep leg

  • Individuals getting ready for a photo shoot or sporting event

  • Yo-Yo dieters suffering from various Chronic dieting Illness



POV Macros most often involves a state of controlled starvation whilst dieting to achieve 'x' outcome.

The journey to achieve 'x' outcome can almost certainly come at a cost as several metabolic and biological adaptations occur including changes in:

- Hunger levels

- Daily mood

- Performance Biometers

- Health markers

- Hormonal balance

^All in the name of Fat loss![3]

Whilst Performance generally takes an immense level of intensity, it also takes its toll on the endocrine system. There is evidence that most conditioned athletes may at some point suffer from impaired testosterone production, elevated cortisol levels and HPA axis dysfunction[8].

In some extreme low calorie phases of eating, studies find long term persistence of hormonal disruption stems from pro-longed bouts of significant weight loss![4]

For individuals whom have not gone through the appropriate 'ins and outs' of dieting, may also likely suffer from social physique anxiety and thus chronically diet to stay lean and/or further develop an eating disorder post diet.[5]

The good news is if you've been dieting 'right' and gone through at least some form of an:

✔️ Initial Consult/Screening process

✔️ Off-peak/Peak planning and preparation

✔️ Exit Strategy i.e. Reverse/Recovery diet

Chances are you may likely have lowered the adverse ^rebound effects whilst simultaneously setting yourself up for some form of continual success.

So if you're in a post contest/sport dieting phase and lucky enough to still be sporting a 6-pack! Yay for you!



Ok so...we know one of the first things to go when dieting down are calorie dense foods, this is commonly a no-brainier move as consuming high calorie foods = less net food volume.

Being on POV macros will force a dieting individual to seek lesser caloric dense foods i.e. wholesome nutrient dense foods in favor of greater satiation. In other words:

Low calorie dense Foods = more bang for your (kcal) buck!

Furthermore if you are on POV Macros, it is paramount to always have an arsenal of go to 'low kcal' foods in your pantry...


Lets briefly cover a few examples of how low kcal foods can (arguably) allow you to have some form of satisfaction after consumption whilst on POV macros...



One of the nutrients individuals on POV macros often struggle with are Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates not only play a Physiological role in every day function but also play a Psychological effect [1].

Note: it's not uncommon for cravings of sugar/carbohydrates to increase dramatically when in POV Macros.

Whilst there is evidence of non-afflicted self control in glucose (carbohydrate) reduction [7] There are current findings suggesting Psychological effects are further enhanced once carbohydrates i.e. Rice/Sweet Potato are dramatically reduced or removed.[6]

One great low Carb/High fibre source alternative are Vegetables. Vegetables are a great food source as they offer both the health benefits of Trace Minerals and Fibre (feeling of fullness), greater food Volume and Low Calories on a gram per gram basis.

Typical alternate low calorie Vegetable sources include:

- Salad Vegetables i.e. Tomato, Cucumber, Radish, Lettuce can all be categorized similarly being under <5g carbs per 100g.

- Pumpkin, peas and beetroot slightly higher between 5-10g of carbs per 100g.

- Potatoes, parsnips and corn. Slightly higher at 10g - 20g carbs per 100g. Dietary Fats also play a more Physiological effect as calories drop as a primary inhibitor in the role of hormonal balance and regulation in Females.[2]

Protein typically almost always remain the same if not increased to improve satiety.

However if you've become accustomed to consuming i.e. steak alongside eggs and Peanut Fat sources will need to be subsidized in other food sources containing less amount of Fats.



Artificial sweeteners have become a prominent role in many of today's dietary products offering far fewer calories and packing a stronger sense of 'sweetness' when compared to its sugar counterpart.

Whilst helping to promote weight loss & deemed mostly safe even for diabetics consumption, some research suggests artificial sweeteners are deemed safe for consumption as they aren't metabolized by the body[9].

Much is still being uncovered on the influence on metabolism and the microbiota in conjunction with artifical sweetener consumption. A recent study looking to determine the effects of NNS's (Non-Nutritive Sweeteners) i.e. Sucralose & Aspartame consumption on the microbiota found little to no differences on gut microbiota composition[10].

In lieu of this, concerns of toxicity non-metabolized compounds leading to carcinogenic suspicions has been observed in vast over consumption of artificial sweeteners[11]. For the much newer generation of sweeteners it is difficult to assess and may be too early to establish any significant evidence about possible carcinogenic risks from a single substance according to current literature.

Recent years has also seen a production rise in Higher in protein, low-fat & fat free alternative yogurt sources. These are proving very popular in most bodybuilding and diet communities especially during most dieting phases. As they are relatively low in calories, it generally takes a significant amount of over-consumption to start breaking the calorie bank!

Here are a few examples of 'go-to' low calorie/sugar free options: - Fruit - Sugar-free lollies - Sugar-free gum - Artificial sweeteners - Honey

- Aeroplane Jelly Light

- Diet soft drink

- Egg Whites

Egg white omelettes are also great alternative on a gram per gram basis. Coupled with Lower Carb sources you can quickly learn to become creative with Lower Calorie foods.

For more savory, nutrient dense foods, try alternating with low carb bread, Wattle Farms wraps (sourdough, wholegrain and lite white) a combination of Vegetables and protein source for improved Satiety.



Being on POV Macros isn't for everyone, nor is competing at a bodybuilding stage or sporting event...

For those whom are in it for the long is always recommended to be in the process of shortly thereafter dieting back up to increase metabolic capacity and improve overall health and well-being for long term success!


1, 2. Eating for a Purpose: Basic Concepts on Nutritional Value (2015) - Measuring Energy Intake. Macronutrients - Carbohydrates , p30. Fats , p32 & p33

3. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Norton LE. Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2014 Dec;11(1):7.

4. Sumithran P, Prendergast LA, Delbridge E, Purcell K, Shulkes A, Kriketos A, Proietto J. Long-term persistence of hormonal adaptations to weight loss. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011 Oct 27;365(17):1597-604.

5. Haase AM, Prapavessis H, Owens RG. Perfectionism, social physique anxiety and disordered eating: A comparison of male and female elite athletes. Psychology of sport and Exercise. 2002 Jul 1;3(3):209-22.

6. Front Psychol. 2018 Jul 5;9:1005. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01005. eCollection 2018.Mental Work Requires Physical Energy: Self-Control Is Neither Exception nor Exceptional.

7. Psychol Sci. 2016 Sep;27(9):1207-14. doi: 10.1177/0956797616654911. Epub 2016 Jul 11.The Bitter Truth About Sugar and Willpower: The Limited Evidential Value of the Glucose Model of Ego Depletion.

8. Healy ML, Gibney J, Pentecost C, Wheeler MJ, Sonksen PH. Endocrine profiles in 693 elite athletes in the postcompetition setting. Clinical endocrinology. 2014 Aug 1;81(2):294-305. 9. Artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute: Are they really safe? 10. The Effects of Non-Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners, Aspartame and Sucralose, on the Gut Microbiome in Healthy Adults: Secondary Outcomes of a Randomized Double-Blinded Crossover Clinical Trial 11. Artificial sweeteners – Do they bear a carcinogenic risk?

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