Forget What You've Been Told
Throughout our culture, we are taught that certain foods are “good” and certain foods are “bad.” It’s evident everywhere you look.
Everyone has their own conceptions of what is considered healthy from low carb, vegan, paleo, keto, vegetarian, and many more. Do you notice that there is a million different definitions of healthy? (I’ll touch on this in a later post).
For the sake of this post, lets consider “healthy” as high quality, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods. Is that ok with you?
Most people think that in order for them to reach their fitness or body composition goals, they have to cut out all the “unhealthy food” out of their diet and eat this extremely rigid diet. Studies have shown that those who have a rigid/strict diet actually put them at a higher risk to binge on the food they were trying to eliminate.
I am a firm believer that if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. But having the “perfect” diet is not synonymous with having a “successful” diet either.
Plus if you eat a super strict/boring diet, then you pretty much alienate yourself from society as well and who wants that? You will find yourself saying, “sorry guys I can’t go out to eat and watch the Final Four because I can’t mess up my diet or go off my meal plan.”
What if I were to tell you that you don’t have to be that person!?
The Perfect Diet For YOU
First, you need to ask yourself when starting a diet is, “Can I see myself doing this diet for the rest of my life?” If not, then it is the absolute wrong diet for you! You will eventually fall into one of these three categories:
- You’ll get tired of the rules and quit your plan before reaching your goals.
- You will reach your goal and then get tired of the rules and quit.
- You will reach your goal and maintain our progress, but you’ll be so miserable that being lean isn’t worth it anymore. Then you quit and/or go crazy.
Now we need to ask ourselves these simple questions:
- Do you want to lose fat and stay lean with minimal effort?
- Are you tired of losing 10 lbs and then regaining it all back after your diet stops working?
- Are you tired of giving up your favorite foods in order to lose weight?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, Flexible Dieting is for you!
The Decision That Changed Everything
Just over 3 years ago, I decided to give Flexible Dieting a try. I’ll be candid and tell you that deciding to start flexible dieting is in the top 3 of the best decisions I’ve ever made! (It’s up there with my religious denomination and starting my business, if that gives you any perspective.)
My relationship with food is amazing now! I see food as fuel now and do not eliminate any foods from my diet. If I am craving ice cream, I most definitely will be having ice cream!
I started this blog because I work with people on an everyday basis who struggle with their relationships with food. I was once one of them. They are constantly stressing themselves out with eating clean 24/7 and if they eat a type of food that is considered “bad”, then they beat themselves up about it. This type of relationship with food has led to so many people to developing eating disorders.
- What are the foods that you eliminate from your diet when you try to lose weight?
- Does this lead you to binge on those foods?
If you answered yes then you are not alone my friend! Flexible Dieting has changed my life and I want to help you learn everything you need to know in order for it to change yours as well!
Lets get into what flexible dieting is, how it works, and how you can integrate it into your life so you can get that 6 pack you’ve always wanted or even get back into those high school jeans of yours!
"Flexible Dieting allowed me to stop worrying about food. I no longer saw food as "good" or "bad" but instead I saw it as fuel for my workouts. This mindset change allowed me to have a much better relationship with food and in return I was able to eat ice cream and transform my body while doing zero cardio!"
So What Is Flexible Dieting!?
Flexible Dieting, also known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), is most simply the tracking of your macronutrient intake to achieve a health and body composition goal. Your macronutrients are your proteins, carbs and fats. These macronutrients are the nutrients you need in large amount and are what give you your calories.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Most people are familiar with counting calories, but Flexible Dieting (IIFYM) focuses on tracking your macronutrients.
So you and I are more focused on hitting 175g Protein, 140g Carbs and 60g Fat, which equals 1800 calories rather than just 1800 calories.
- Protein: 175 x 4= 700 calories
- Carbs: 140 x 4 = 560 calories
- Fats: 60 x 9 = 540 calories
When all these 3 are added up, you get a total of 1800 calories. Why does this matter for you to get the specific amounts of macronutrients in order to reach 1800 calories!? I'll touch on that next.
Calories vs. Macronutrients
Well calories in vs calories out is what determines weight loss or weight gain but macronutrient ratios are what influence our body composition rather than just weight loss or gain.
- Sufficient Protein intake is necessary to preserve muscle mass.
- Sufficient Carb intake is necessary to provide your muscles with enough energy (glycogen) so you can hit your workouts with high intensity.
- Sufficient Fat intake is necessary for production of vital hormones (hormone synthesis) that set the tone for all of the functions in our bodies.
Who Would You Rather Be?
So the question arises, would you rather be a lean 165 or a skinny fat 165? This is why counting macros is far superior to counting calories because it allows you to focus on improving body composition, not just focusing on the scale. I’ve had clients who’s weight stayed the same or went up when we switched around their macronutrient profile even though their goal was weight loss.
Just look at Alex, pictured above, who was skinny fat in his before picture. In 2 months time, he dropped 7% body fat and gained 17 lbs! Not only that but he was able to eat twice as many calories due to his increases in muscle mass! That’s pretty damn awesome! Getting leaner and building crazy amount of muscle. I think we all want that and it is living proof that macronutrient ratio is more important than just counting calories!
Ohh and don’t forget about his girlfriend (Perrin, testimonial above) that did the same thing! Flexible dieting turned them into a power couple!
Pop Tarts vs Sweet Potatoes
Ok…. Now to get to the part where it is going to sound like voodoo or magic, or whatever you want to call it. What you eat to hit your macronutrient targets is secondary in importance when we are talking about strictly body composition. So what does this exactly mean?
- Ex. Your friend eats a pop tart for his snack and you eat a sweet potato.
- Both are carb heavy choices
- One is considered "good" and one is considered "bad"
- As we stated above, carbs in the pop tart and carbs from the sweet potato both turn into energy (glycogen).
- So since our bodies do not necessarily distinguish between sources in regards to glycogen production, both will have the same affect in our bodies.
- The same can be said if I were to get a burger from McDonalds or if I cooked my own burger at home with 96-4 lean ground beef. The amino acid profile (building blocks of the proteins) would be the same.
Ok so you must be thinking that I am advocating that you can only eat McDonalds, Poptarts, Ice Cream, Pizza, and any other food you once thought were off limits and still get shredded/toned/whatever you want to call it!? Well yes…….. and no
Acute vs Insidious Damage
Just as why I advocate the flexible dieting strategy to anyone and every one because it is the diet you can use for the rest of your life, I also advocate that our diet should be a tool to ensure that we live a long and healthy life!
- Acute symptoms and affects are what you will see in the short term
- Insidious symptoms and affects are the small changes that you will see in the long run.
- Most people think in the short term and do not think of the long term repercussions of their decisions. The same can be said with our diets.
- Ex. So lets say that our diet is consists of low quality protein sources like McDonalds, micronutrient sparse pop tarts, and a large amount of our dietary fat coming from the trans fat that tags along with our McDonalds.
- When our main carb source is of the high glycemic version (sugary, highly processed, low fiber), we put ourselves at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
- Not saying that high glycemic carbs are bad but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet and should be consumed around your workouts.
- A diet high in low quality, highly processed meats leads to a increased risk of cancer.
- The lower the quality of meat, the more trans fats and carcinogens it contains, thus increasing our free radical production (free radicals are what turn into cancer)
So if we take the route of taking in low quality sources of food to reach our body composition goals, we are putting our overall healthy at risk. We might not see any short term, acute problems to our health, but in the long run, the insidious damage that will occur will lead to us increasing our risk for developing cancer later on in life. Just think, somebody doesn't just wake up at 50 and get cancer. It is something that is a result of a lifetime of experiences that the body has been through. So take my advice in the next section because ain't nobody got time for cancer!
The Perfect Ratio For Health and Performance
The 80-20 Rule
- 80% of your daily calories come from healthy (high quality, minimally processed, micronutrients dense) foods that you enjoy.
- 20% of you daily calories come from those foods that are at the opposite end of the spectrum that you once thought were off limits.
- 3 meals per day for 7 days = 21 meals
.2 x 21 = 4.2 (so lets just say 4)
- Number of meals per week to incorporate my favorite foods: 4 meals per week
- The Best Diet is the one you can stick to.
- By not putting any foods off limits then you substantially reduce the risk of binging, developing an eating disorder, excessive concern with body size/shape, and an increased risk of rebound weight gain after dieting.
- By all means am I not advocating that you can’t eat 100% "clean"! If you thoroughly enjoy eating 100% healthy, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods, then go for it!
So What Is Flexible Dieting!?
- A diet that allows ALL Foods and is more focused on the hitting of our overall nutritional needs.
- A diet that allows ALL meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, nuts and legumes (beans) without demonizing any whole food source.
- A diet that is not a diet. It is simply nothing more than an understanding that all foods can be had to achieve sufficient nutritional intake for health and body composition. Life balance is the key to long term dietary success.
- Is a form of eating that allows you to enjoy foods without guilt of self punishment.
What You Learned Today
- Eat smart and flexible, not stupid and restricted.
- Food is not meant to stress you out! It’s a tool that helps us live the life we desire!
- If you are currently doing a diet you do not see yourself doing for the rest of your life, STOP immediately.
- Eliminating foods you love from your diet sets you up for failure and science shows that.
- Calories in vs calories out = weight gain or weight loss
- Macronutrient Ratios = Body Composition = No more skinny fat!
- The 80-20 Rule = 80% from “healthy” foods, 20% from foods you once thought were off limits
Your Homework 🙂
- You will need to order a digital food scale. This is the one I have.
- Also, Download the Myfitnesspal app on your phone and start playing around with it.
Here’s a great tutorial done by a friend and fellow flexible dieter.
- Start tracking your intake if you can because in the next post I’ll be outlining how to figure out your macros and you’ll need to of tracked 3 days of your normal intake as the first step.
- Important! Please do not change your eating or use the macros myfitnesspal has given you. This will ruin why we are doing the 3-days of tracking. This 3-days of tracking is to see where your metabolism is at right NOW. Don't change a thing of how you normally eat.
if you do all this before the next post, you’ll be ready to go then!
Click here to read the next post where I will give you a step by step guide on how to calculate your own personal macro ratios based on your goals, activity, and body type in order to create the best diet for YOUR LIFESTYLE!
The "One" That Makes Or Breaks It………..
Would love to read in the comments what that one food is that would make a diet impossible to stick to if you were told that this food was off limits. Mine is rice cakes (yes I know that is lame). Feel free to make fun of me below and don't forget to share yours as well!
If you enjoyed this post and want that step by step guide sent directly to your email, subscribe so I can send you that and much more info to turn you into a master flexible dieter!
And being the nice person I am 🙂 Here's the next post I promised again so you can just keep those gainz a comin!
Thanks and God Bless!