What is flexible dieting and how to get started

Alexandra Grapa
January 9, 2019 5 min read

Stick to your fitness goals

It`s a New Year and most of us want to make the "Change" , that twist for the better when it comes to our nutrition and fitness levels. But most of us have a hard time changing our diet completely and starting strong in the gym. Small steps will get you closer to your goals than no steps at all.

I`ll be focusing on the diet part today, and specifically on Flexible Dieting, what it is, and how to start.

Maybe you heard about Flexible dieting before , also known as If It Fits Your Macros- IIFYM, it`s simply the counting and tracking of macronutrients such as protein , carbohydrates and fats to achieve your body goal. It`s very popular between people active or not, with a good fitness routine or known athletes, because they like to enjoy good healthy meals but also cheat a bit with some "bad" food occasionally.. as long as they fit their macros.

There are three main macros : Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. Every gram of macronutrient has a calorie value.

1 gram of Protein – 4 calories
1 gram of Fat – 9 calories
1 gram of Carbohydrate – 4 calories

You can go 2 ways : the typical calorie counting – Eating 2000 calories a day and calculating only the amounts of calories OR calculating macronutrients – eating 150 g Protein, 179 g carbs, 80 g fats. The second is more effective because it influences body composition rather than just weight loss or gain.

Proponents of IIFYM(if it fits your macros) say that it is safe to consume any food or drink , be it a burger, a milkshake or chocolate bar , as long as it fits your macros and you stay in the daily macronutrient quota of protein, carbs and fats.

I agree with the fact that maybe you won't gain weight if you`re still in a calorie deficit, but how will you feel? Like I say all the time: How much we eat determines if we`re fat or thin, and what we eat determines how we feel! So.. talking about health, too much bad food with poor ingredients, and no micronutrients(minerals, vitamins, and nutrients ) will not make you feel great. You can stay in a caloric deficit eating 3 times at McDonalds, counting the calories, working out, but will you feel good? Is that food helping your body? Your mental health? No, it will not!

Even though Flexible Dieting follows the belief that there are no miracle weight loss foods. No good or bad foods, just macro ratios. They believe that for example eating a McGrilled Chicken burger that has 25gr protein/ 33g carbs/ 15 fats = brown rice and tuna with the same amounts. The say that both are the same macros so both will achieve the same results in your body composition.

I don`t really agree with that. In my opinion fitness and physical health go beyond what you see in the mirror. You can gain muscle or lose fat but it doesn`t say much about your internal health. I want to promote foods that will help you fight diseases; keep you energized and I can honestly say I never felt like that after a full menu at McDonalds even if it did fit my macros.

If you want to try it, don`t go too crazy on the "bad" foods. IIFYM may prove a useful strategy in the short term, as it promotes adherence in the face of an unhealthy diet lacking nutrients. This should not be taken as justification or gorging on everything in sight, especially if you have already an unhealthy relationship with junk food .

So How do you get started on Counting Macros?

Take in consideration that the amount of macronutrients a person needs varies from person to person. Your amount is called "your macronutrient ratio". You have to calculate it based on your height, weight, activity level, age and goal.

You can choose to talk to a dietitian for the best micronutrient breakdown, or try online macro diet calculator/ meal planning apps.

1. You need to have a food scale in your house- to see exactly how big your portions are. You`ll get used to it and you`ll get good at eyeballing your favorite foods.

2. Macro ratios can be tricky so try and stay within these guidelines to ensure you are getting the right nutrition.

For adults 19 yo and older- the macronutrient breakdown recommendation is 45- 65% calories from carbs, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat. This is a wide range that covers people with all sorts of different activity levels.

3. After you calculate your personal calorie goal you can use apps or sites to estimate your current needs for maintenance and then reduce or add by 10-20%.

4. There are some studies that say that most women need a lower ratio of carbs than most men because of the difference in hormones. Regardless of your gender, if you continue with your macro diet , adjust it according to how you`re feeling.

5. If you are hungry , add more protein as it is the most satiating nutrient. Fiber is also filling.

6. If you`re not losing weight , lower you carb intake with dinner.

7. If you`re tired , add more fibrous veggies to ensure sufficient micronutrients and energy.

8. You`ll need to use a bit of trial an error as you`re counting macros to adjust the macro ratio to meet your specific lifestyle, body and goals.

Bottom line, the reason that people use this is because if offers VARIETY. Some people just don`t want to eat the same foods every day. As long as you stay healthy and moving , getting closer to your goals, keep up the good work!

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